Iceland upgrades cruise ship facilities

2023-10-15T19:41:54+00:00 October 15th, 2023|Ports|

Two Icelandic ports are upgrading their facilities to accommodate larger vessels, according to Cruise Europe posts.

At Reykjavik, a 5,000 sq m terminal on two floors is due to open at 312 Skarfabakki in 2025 and be fully functional by the following year.

Construction of the multi-purpose BREEM-certified building is due to commence in autumn 2023.

“The brief for the project was to design a building that would accommodate different requirements regarding passenger flow and luggage handling in the most flexible way possible. The building should also be a visual landmark at the harbour overlooking the beautiful Faxa Bay, where guests could enjoy the surroundings from outside, as well as inside the building,” explained Sigurdur Jokull Olafsson, Faxaports Marketing Manager.

A black box concept was conceived at the heart of the terminal in order to create a multi-functional open space for turnaround operations. This will be surrounded by a glass structure to bring light and ambience to the building, which will also be used for MICE events outside of the cruise season.

“A terminal is often the first point of entry to any destination so it should be as welcoming as possible,” Olafsson said, adding that Faxaports is investing IKr2.8 bill (€24.3 mill) “because Reykjavik is becoming a key turnaround port in the North Atlantic,” he explained.

This year, 265 calls bringing 285,000 pax are scheduled, of which about 90,000 will be turnarounds. This compares with 184 calls and 170,770 pax in 2022. “The future is growth is in the turnaround passengers, as we are more or less at capacity in terms of pier capacity,” Olafsson said.

Located in Sundahofn, the terminal will be a 3 km shuttle bus ride from the city centre. At present, turnarounds are catered for by a small building and tents on a 619 m long quay.

As for onshore power, the port is working on a three-year plan, with an investment of €20.7 mill, for two high voltage connections by the new terminal.

On 19th September, the Icelandic Minister of Infrastructure formally opened a low voltage 1.5 MVA OPS for smaller ships in the Old Harbour.

Hurtigruten’s (HX) ‘Maud’ was the first to plug into the new service.

Elsewhere, The Port of Isafjordur has invested IKr1 bill (€8 mill) in a pier extension.

This increased the length of the existing pier from 310 m to 500 m, with a water depth alongside of 10 m.

Hilmar Lyngmo, recently appointed Harbour Master, said: “Now the bigger ships, up to 330 m in length, can come alongside the new pier instead of tendering. We now have the capacity at this pier, the two smaller piers each capable of taking ships up to 150 m in length, and at the anchorage.”

There were 136 cruise ship calls in 2019, 209 this year and 213 are scheduled for 2024.

This summer, the town with a population of 3,000 experienced four days when 6,000 pax visited.

Some 10 years ago, this would have overwhelmed the community but it has grown with the industry and is now more accessible to the ships calling, explained Gudmundur Kristjansson, the retiring Harbour Master.

“Post-Covid we had fewer ships with only half capacity, which gave time for services to come back. Discussions are taking place regarding a limit on passenger numbers. Cruise companies are also calling for a limit,” he added.

The cruise industry now accounts for 70% of the annual income of the port, taking over from the fishing sector, allowing it to develop and invest.