Bilbao Cruise Terminal Construction On Track For Spring Opening

Interior works on the Bilbao Cruise Terminal have begun following the completion of the structure in November. Located at the second cruise vessel pier, it is the third Port of Bilbao berth in Getxo and is due to give a further boost towards increasing tourist traffic arriving in Biscay by sea.

The successful bidder for the works, a temporary consortium formed by Giroa, SAU – ExcavacionesViuda de Sainz SA, is working with a E4.6m budget. Between April and June, the reinforced concrete structure was built, including the foundation and forging of both the mezzanine and the first floor for passenger embarkation/disembarkation. From July to 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 autumn rains.

The placing of the curtain wall around the building marked the half-way point of the works. Work is now underway on the more weather-sensitive items such as air-conditioning, electricity, floors and painting. Meanwhile, on the quayside, the outside gangway is being constructed for direct passenger embarkation/disembarkation to and from the building. These works are being carried out by Prosertek at a cost of approximately €1m.

In terms of the terminal design, special attention has been given to the data provided by major cruise operating companies for international vessel safety and security norms, in addition to the references from the best terminals in the world. This, together with the application of high standards of quality and safety, will place the terminal – 15m high and with 3,200m² of useable surfaces – at the forefront of those in Europe.

The terminal has been conceived as a rectangular glass container, that fits in naturally with its surroundings, and caters to passenger and luggage flows with 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.

In response to the Getxo Town Council request, the port authority will provide the pier with 222 long-stay parking places destined for passengers beginning and ending their voyages in Getxo. These can also be used for residents when no cruise vessels berth. Another 31 places will be created for staff working at the terminal itself, of which eight will be for people with reduced mobility, as well as 10 for taxis and 40 for coaches.

This year has seen an increase in cruise traffic arriving in Biscay through the Port of Bilbao. From April 5, when the first cruise vessel of the year docked, until November 3, with the arrival of the last, 51 vessels have called, an increase of 19%. A total of 85,071 passengers visited, 21% up on the previous year. The British account for 58% and the Americans 14% of the total passenger numbers.

This season, eight cruise vessels have made first-time calls, including Celebrity Constellation which remained in port overnight bringing 2,291 passengers; Navigator of the Seas on three calls including one in August on her maiden voyage (3,899 international passengers) which coincided with the Bilbao Festival Week; Celebrity Silhouette with 2,813 mainly American passengers; and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral and Boudicca on
October 4.

Pullmantur has opted for Bilbao as an embarkation/disembarkation port, with two calls from the Monarch; and it has also been the season when companies as P&O, Oceania, and TUI have consolidated their trust in Bilbao in terms of transit calls. There were also calls by vessels from Hurtigruten, Princess, Ponant Cruises, Silversea, Costa Cruceros, Crystal, Lindblad, Sea Cloud, Noble Caledonia, Holland America 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 the economy. Last year, cruise tourism generated an estimated impact of €7.27m on the region’s GDP, supporting 145 jobs annually and generating a fiscal return of €0.81m.

(Cruise Europe)