Port of Kiel marks 2,500th cruise ship visit. Cunard’s “Queen Elizabeth” is the anniversary caller

Ostseekai Cruise Terminal at the Port of KielKiel is today (Saturday, 13th Aug.) celebrating the arrival of its 2,500th cruise ship visitor Cunard Line’s “Queen Elizabeth”, which berthed this morning to mark the event.

She followed “MSC Musica”, “AIDAluna” and “AIDAvita” into the port. The President of the City of Kiel, Hans-Werner Tovar paid tribute to the occasion during a reception at the Ostseekai Cruise Terminal.

“2500 visits are an enormous accomplishment and one achieved over many years of partnership and co-operation involving the port itself, shipping companies and service providers. I am proud that Kiel is one of the leading cruise shipping ports in northern Europe”, he said.

To commemorate the 2500th visit, an artist’s wooden sculpture of a pile mooring was unveiled at the terminal. Dr Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (Seehafen Kiel GmbH & Co. KG) said “sea tourism has grown faster than most other sectors and cruises are today one of our port’s most important businesses”.

Anja Tabarelli, who is the Sales and Marketing Director of Cunard Lines in Germany, said “Kiel is my home town and so I am personally very pleased that we are able to celebrate this anniversary with our “Queen Elizabeth”.

When she called here for the first time in July 2012 as the youngest of the Cunard Queens she was celebrated by the people of Kiel into the early hours of the morning. You could say that there is already a very special relationship between the ship and the port, with the result that we are always happy to come back here.

We will do that next year as well and we look forward to our call on June 21st 2017 and to celebrating with our guests and the people of Kiel”.

The first cruise ship to visit Kiel, according to the ledgers of the Port Administration, was the Reederei Hapag-Lloyd’s “Europa” (IV) which berthed at the Bollhörnkai on June 23rd 1974. A total of four cruise ship visits were recorded in that first season – two by “Sagafjord” and two by “Europa” (IV).

During the 1980s and the 1990s, Kiel was visited by ever more cruise ships. Regular callers on the Kiel Fiord were well-known German ships like “Berlin”, “Europa” (V), “Astor” and also the “Arkona”. Inside just ten years between 1984 and 1994 the number of visits rose from 14 to 66. There was a completely new development at the end of the 1990s when the former Reederei Festival Cruises stationed a ship in Kiel for the whole of the season.

From 1998 the “Flamenco” and later the “Mistral” were involved in as many as 19 Baltic and Nordic cruises a year. Because of the experience gained at this time with ferry services, existing terminal facilities and service packages, Kiel was able to quickly develop into one of the leading departure and destination ports.

In 2002 the Costa Shipping Company stationed the “Costa Marina” in Kiel. It was followed by AIDA with the first “AIDAblu” (2004) and by MSC with the “MSC Lirica” (2006). In 2007 Kiel berthed 100 cruise ships in a single season for the first time.

Up to that time cruise ships had been handled along with ferries at the ferry terminals but because of the development of ever bigger ships it became clear that Kiel would need a terminal just for cruise ships. The new Ostseekai Terminal was built in 2006 in readiness for the next generation of cruise ships and was formally opened on April 24th 2007 with the maiden call of the “AIDAdiva”.

“The Ostseekai is one of the most modern and efficient terminal facilities in the whole of Europe”, said Dirk Claus. “Located in the centre of the city it can handle ships which are 350 m long and carry 4,000 passengers”, he added.

The biggest cruise ship to call so far has been the 143,000 GT “Regal Princess, which berthed last year. Cruise ship highlights at the Ostseekai Terminal have included the naming of the “AIDAsol” for AIDA Cruises in 2011 and that of “Mein Schiff 4” for TUI Cruises just last year.

Kiel is, today, the base port for all the cruise shipping companies operating on the German market. In addition it is also one visited by international shipping companies like Holland America Line, P&O Cruises and the Cunard Line. The company which has recorded the most visits to Kiel so far is MSC, with 327, followed by AIDA, Hapag-Lloyd and Costa. A total 4.5 million cruise ship passengers have to date travelled to and from Kiel. Because of its investment in Berth 1 in the Ostuferhafen Kiel has, since 2014, also been able to accept three big and several smaller cruise ships all at the same time.

Dirk Claus said “we are in a very good position with our terminal facilities. The developments of the past year and an increase in passenger totals of nearly 30% point this up”.

(Port of Kiel)