Companies appreciate the port’s facilities, services, flexibility, the ease of managing stopovers and tourists, the proximity to the airport and the attractions of Bilbao and the immediate area: culture, gastronomy, nature and traditions.
With the arrival of the cruise ship Borealis today, Saturday 17 December, the Port of Bilbao closes a successful cruise season, with a record number of calls and passengers. The 238 m. long Borealis, of the Fred Olsen company and consigned by A. Pérez y Cía, docked at around 08.30 this morning and will depart at 23.00 with some 900 passengers on board.
A total of 78 cruise ships have docked this year in the cruise terminal that the Port Authority has in Getxo, with lengths ranging from 126 to 348 metres. A total of 108,154 passengers have arrived in the Basque Country, of which 1,066 have started their sea crossing here, 1,022 have finished their voyage and the rest are passengers in transit, i.e. cruise passengers who continue their route after enjoying everything that Bilbao, Bizkaia and the Basque Country have to offer. Most of the tourists who visit us by boat are British, followed by Americans and Germans.
For the Port Authority of Bilbao, these results are positive. “In addition to these post-pandemic figures on traffic flow, of great value for the economy of the area, the recovery has been rapid, and with figures previously unheard of in the Basque Country”, the Port Authority explains. In 2019, 50 cruise ships arrived, but in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, cruises were suspended in Spain and other European countries. These services resumed in August 2021, with 14 cruise ships stopping over in Bilbao, and the start of 2022 saw cruise ships arriving but with few passengers on board, “though figures have recovered as the season has progressed”.
Throughout the year, ships have arrived both from companies that are regularly to be seen in the port of Bilbao and from shipping companies that have opted for this destination for the first time, as well as twenty cruise ships making their first stopover. In June and October, up to three cruise ships coincided in Bilbao on the same day, and in April, May, June, August, September and October, two cruise ships were handled on several occasions. Furthermore, many passengers started their cruise itinerary in the port of Bilbao, which contributes significantly to tourism in the region, as this type of tourist usually takes advantage of the journey to the port of departure to spend the night in the city of origin of their cruise and to enjoy the local tourist attractions.
Shipping companies value facilities and service
The companies continue to value the facilities and services on offer in the port, such as Wi-Fi, as well as the operability of the cruise terminal and the flexibility
and problem-free management and handling of stopovers and their tourists. They also highlight the proximity of the Getxo terminal to the airport, which makes it possible to offer boarding operations, the tourist attractions of Bilbao and the immediate area and the different attractions which Bizkaia, Donostia-San Sebastian and Alava-Rioja Alavesa have to offer.
The cruise sector is complex, with many variables that can upset predictions, so it is difficult to make very specific forecasts, but the goal for 2023 is to exceed the number of cruise ships calls this season. As the Port Authority points out, “this is a type of traffic that needs to develop over time. If we are going to attract, little by little, new business and new companies, we need to demonstrate repeatedly that we are capable of offering a good service. One stand-out consequence of our efforts in this field for next year is the turn around in May to Israel, which will depart from Getxo, and the six calls to be made by MSC, a company whose confidence and trust in the Port of Bilbao is progressively consolidating”.
In addition to meetings, contacts, visits and intense commercial activity, the Port Authority of Bilbao will continue to take part, as they do year after year, in different fairs and events in the sector to promote Bilbao/Bizkaia/the Basque Country as a cruise ship destination. These events include Seatrade Cruise Global Miami, the world’s largest cruise event to be held from 27 to 30 March, where representatives of the Port Authority will be accompanied by Bilbao Tourism.