New Cruise Europe Member: Visby

Artist's impression of the new pier (Courtesy Region Gotland)Region Gotland (RG) is joining forces with Copenhagen Malmo Port (CMP) to develop cruise-based tourism in the Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland by building a cruise berth in Visby.

Being financed and built by RG, the berth will be able to accommodate two large cruiseships (each of 340m in length) simultaneously. It extends 530m, including abutments, into the sea. The construction of the pier by Danish contractor, Aarsleff AS, has commenced, and will be ready in the spring of 2018.

Monica Frisk, managing director Gotland Tourism Business Association, commented: “The environment and the Baltic Sea are important to us. The vessels will therefore be able to discharge their wastewater into our treatment plant on land, thus helping to prevent any additional contamination of the Baltic.”

An equalising tank with a capacity of 1,200m3 is being built beneath the land area by the berth. The sludge can then be used in biogas production on Gotland.

CMP will be RG’s tenant, charged with the task of selling Gotland as a destination to the cruiselines. Arnt Moller Pedersen, coo cruise & ferries CMP, commented: “We have already received the first bookings in connection with commencement of the new facilities.The construction of the new pier in Visby is progressing according to schedule, and the dredging is near completion. Following this, the establishment of the pier and the various land constructions will be initiated, to enable us to welcome the first cruiseships in April 2018.”

Despite the fact that Gotland is used to handling thousands of visitors every year, a new Destination Development Program begins this fall, aiming to further develop Gotland as an international cruise destination, while also considering sustainability.

“One of the most comprehensive research programmes on tourism in Sweden at the moment – Sustainable visits research programme – takes on a sustainable perspective of how this new development will affect a small and precious island like Gotland,” said Frisk. “The port of Visby and Gotland has had a place on the cruise map for many years, but the new pier in 2018 will give this Unesco World Heritage site an opportunity to develop and strengthen its position”.

This year 43 calls were made to Visby bringing 39,036 passengers with 48 and 44,000 respectively scheduled for 2017. This summer maiden visits were made by AIDAvita, AIDAaura, Mein Schiff 4 and National Geographic Orion.

The island of Gotland, with its walled town of Visby, is one of Sweden’s most popular summer destinations and an outstanding tourist attraction. Already settled in the Stone Age, Visby reached prominence in medieval times when it was annexed by the powerful Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchants in Northern Europe. By the 13th century, Visby was a prosperous commercial centre that minted its own coins and had a code of law. There are medieval fortifications encircling the entire settlement.There are 96 medieval churches on the island, 10 of which are in Visby, as well as many other historical and cultural sites.

Tourism today strongly relies on the island’s numerous beaches and temperate climate. The latter is responsible for roses blooming almost year-round, sometimes even as late as Christmas. This phenomenon has earned Visby the name, Town of Roses and Ruins.

Every August there is a Medieval Week which attracts 40,000 visitors. One of the highlights is the joust, a medieval spectacle with knights, parades and acrobats entertaining young and old.

The current top three excursions are: the medieval town of Visby with a visit to nature reserve Hogklint; a scenic tour of Gotland’s west coast; and Faro and the footsteps of Ingmar Bergman.

The first takes place on foot and bus and includes the Botanical Garden, the 11th century Santa Maria Cathedral and a drive to limestone cliff, Hogklint. The second includes a medieval country church, cobblestone beaches, the Gannarve stone-setting burial place from the Iron Age and lunch at the 16th century mansion Stelor. The third was the setting of a number of films made by director and writer Ingmar Bergman who lived there. The Bergmancenter focuses on his life and artistic achievements. Fishing villages and the unique rock formations, named Rauks, are also part of the tour.

(Cruise Europe)