Sweden’s first cruise ship call of the year took place on 15th June.
Passengers were allowed to leave the ship to visit Gothenburg, Visby and Stockholm.
A joint collaboration of ports and regulatory authorities made this cautious restart possible, sending a positive message both to international cruise shipping companies and to the Swedish tourism industry, the Copenhagen Malmo Port Authority (CMP) said.
Throughout the pandemic crisis, Stockholm, Visby and Gothenburg ports worked together to develop common policies and practices to enable the shipping companies to safely restart operations.
“By collaborating with the relevant regulatory agencies to establish joint protocols, unambiguous codes of conduct and practices for cruise ship calls, the shipping companies have had a common policy to adhere to, which has facilitated the restart of the important cruise tourism,” explained Joakim Larsson, City of Stockholm Planning Commissioner responsible for Ports of Stockholm.
Cruise ship operators have also taken the responsibility for establishing transparent and comprehensive rules for calls during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also expedited discussions with ports and regulatory agencies.
“The fact that our Swedish ports worked jointly from an early stage to develop our plans for how to manage vessel calls and passengers has been a success that we are now reaping the benefits of.
“When we in Gothenburg have talked to the shipping companies, their opinion is that we have handled the situation well by continuously adapting our planning and having transparent dialogue to inform of the procedures that apply. We also believe that the Swedish agencies have been very accessible and responsive in supporting us,” added Martin Meriwall, Port of Gothenburg Cruise Operations Manager.
The first cruise ship call was what has been termed a bubble cruise, where passengers remained in their own ‘bubble’ by travelling in specially chartered buses and having their own set times to visit museums so that they would not mix with the local communities.
All of the passengers were COVID-19 tested, and there were significantly fewer passengers on board than on a normal cruise. Strict codes of conduct also applied on the ship.
“It has been both educational and inspiring to work together with Ports of Stockholm and the Port of Gothenburg to facilitate a safe restart to cruise operations in consultation with border police, the respective County Medical Officer, The Public Health Agency of Sweden and the shipping companies. Now we have a very good solution in place and we are very happy to welcome the first disembarking cruise passengers to Sweden,” said Henrik Ahlqvist, CMP’s Sales Director Cruise.
In the Stockholm region alone, the cruise industry contributes €176 mill to the economy, as well as creating 1,100 jobs, which is a significant proportion of the rapidly growing tourism industry.