Port representatives are at the main international trade fair of the sector as preparations are being made for the start of a new season to begin on 12 April, with the expected arrival of 80+ cruise ships.
The Port Authority of Bilbao, with the collaboration of Bilbao Turismo and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, is promoting cruise tourism at Seatrade Cruise Global, the largest cruise fair in the world, which is being held from 27 to 30 March in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The fair, held at a convention centre 40 km from Miami, brings together leading professionals from the sector in an exhibition area spread over 32,500 m². The Basque Country representatives will showcase the attractions of Bizkaia and the Basque Country, as well as the modern facilities available at the port of Bilbao in Getxo to host this type of tourism. They will also network and develop contacts with companies in the sector at the stand set up for the occasion.
One of the stand-out features of the port to be highlighted at the fair is the BilbOPS project to deploy OPS technology on the docks where cruise ships berth, supplying power to the vessels from the grid. This project, which is already underway and is due to be operational by 2025, is further proof of the progress and commitment of the port to providing an optimum service for cruise ships.
New record season with two turnarounds
In 2023, the cruise season will kick off on the same day and with the same ship as last year, with the arrival on 12 April of the 330m long Sky Princess of Princess Cruises (Carnival Corporation). In the course of the year, this cruise ship will visit Bilbao four times, and the Port Authority will hold a meeting with representatives of the company at Seatrade Cruise to further enhance the already excellent relations between the two organisations. The shipping agent of the Sky Princess is Transcoma.
Around 80 cruise ships are expected to dock in Bilbao in the course of the year. A new company, Ambassador, and fourteen new vessels will be visiting the port for the first time, and some will call up to four times, such as NHG’s Norwegian Getaway.
In this respect, special mention should be made of the two turnarounds, or closed loop, cruises, i.e. the two cruise ships that will start and end their route in Getxo, with the subsequent embarkation and disembarkation of all passengers. The first, on board the spectacular cruise ship Sirena of the Oceania shipping company, will start on 2 May and will end on 27 May, after a trip that will take tourists to Israel. The second circuit, on board NHG’s Norwegian Gem, will also depart from the terminal in Getxo on 7 September and will return on 19 September after a tour around northern Europe.
Furthermore, there will, as last year, be cruise passengers embarking in Getxo, whilst others will spend the night in the port. A series of prestigious shipping companies such as Cunard, Oceania and Disney, which will return with a new ship (Disney Dream), will once again confide in the port of Bilbao, and emblematic cruise ships such as The World (Residences at Sea) and the Anthem of the Seas (RCCL) will be returning to Bilbao, the latter making four calls. MSC will also dock on six occasions, one of them with the new cruise ship MSC Fantasia.
Finally, and once again this year, the Port Authority will provide the shipping companies that so request it with a shuttle service to bring those passengers who prefer to make non-guided visits to Bilbao back to the terminal.