The works on the new maritime cruise station being carried out by the Port Authority of Bilbao are progressing according to plan, which means that the building will be in operation for spring 2017. The station is located at the second cruise vessel pier and is the third Port of Bilbao berth in Getxo, which will be a further boost towards increasing tourist traffic arriving in Biscay by sea.
The successful bidder for the works, the temporary consortium formed by Giroa, S.A.U. – ExcavacionesViuda de Sainz, S.A., are working with a 4.6 million-euro budget. Between April and June, the reinforced concrete structure of the building was carried out, including the foundation and forging of both the mezzanine dedicated to offices and the first floor for passenger embarkation/disembarkation. Then, during the summer months and until the end of October, the metal structure that serves as the support for the zinc-finished roof was completed in order to make the building entirely watertight in expectation of the autumn rains. The placing of the curtain wall around the building marked the half-way point of the works.
As from now, work will continue on those more weather-sensitive items such as air conditioning, electricity, floors and painting.
In parallel, on the quayside, the outside gangway for direct passenger embarkation/disembarkation to and from the building is being constructed. These works are being carried out by Prosertek at a cost of approximately one million euros.
A cutting-edge terminal
In the building’s design, special attention has been given to the data provided by the major cruise operating companies, to international vessel safety and security norms in addition to the references from the best terminals in the world. This together with the high standards of quality and safety that have been applied, will place this station – 15 metres high and with 3,200m²of useable surfaces – at the forefront of those in Europe.
The station has been conceived as a great rectangular glass container that fits in naturally with its surroundings, bearing in mind the differentiation between passenger and luggage flowswith independent lanes and stairways.
The building consists of two main floors with a mezzanine in between. The hall and tourist information desk will be on the lower floor where embarking passenger reception and check-in will take place; there will also be ample space for disembarking passenger luggage collection. The mezzanine will accommodate the VIP lounge and offices. The waiting area, embarking and disembarking passenger control area and disembarking area will be on the first floor.
Moreover, in response to the Getxo Town Councilrequest, the Port Authority has planned to provide the pier with 222 long-stay parking places destined for passengers beginning and ending their voyages in Getxo that can also be used for
residents at large on the days when no cruise vessels berth. Furthermore, another 31 places will be created for staff working at the terminal itself, of which 8 will be for people with reduced mobility, 10 for taxis and 40 for coaches.
Balance for 2016 Season
There has been an important increase in cruise traffic arriving in Biscay through the Port of Bilbao. From 5 April when the first cruise vessel of the year docked until today with the arrival of the last, 51 vessels have called, which supposes 19% more than in 2015, bringing a total of 85,071 visitors on board, 21% up on the previous year.
A breakdown of passenger nationality shows that the British (58%) lead the way, followed by the Americans (14%).
This season eight cruise vessels have made first time calls: outstanding among these are Royal Caribbean’s Cruises Ltd (RCCL) Constellation, which remained in port overnight with 2,291 passengers; the three calls made by theNavigator of the Seas, also belonging to RCCL, the first of which was in August (on its maiden voyage),carrying on board3,899 passengers of many nationalities, and which coincided with the Bilbao Festival Week; the call of theCelebrity Silhouette,RCCL’s luxury cruise vesselwith 2,813 mainly American passengers on board; and the arrival on the same day, 4 October, of two vessels belonging to the British company, Fred Olsen.
Likewise, Pullmantur has opted for Bilbao as an embarkation/disembarkation port, with two calls from the Monarch; and it has also been the season when such important companies as P&O, Oceania, and TUI have consolidated their trust in Bilbao.
There were also calls by vessels from Hurtigruten, Princess, Du Ponant, SilverSea, Costa Cruceros Carnival, Crystal, Lindblad, Sea Cloud, Noble Caledonia, Holland and Grand Circle.
Cruise tourism is an activity that produces a source of wealth for the Basque Country, due not only to the monetary flow it generates, but also to the boost it gives to our economy.
Last year, this tourism activity supposed an estimated impact of 7.27 million euros on our GDP, supporting 145 jobs annually and generating a fiscal return of 0.81 million euros.