'Stagnant' port is missing out on cruise ship chances
At a time when ports from northern Norway to Gibraltar are investing in new berths and port infrastructure to attract more business from cruise ships Falmouth is in a permanent state of stagnation,says the Packet's In Port correspondent David Barnicoat.
Cornwall is missing out on a golden opportunity with its biggest port, Falmouth, wallowing helplessly in a sea of apathy. For the discerning cruise ship passengers Cornwall offers world-class scenery, heritage sites, and beautiful gardens to explore.
Unless Falmouth has a new deep-water berth the county will not attract the large cruises ships on a regular basis. Peel Ports part owners of Falmouth docks need to show their hand soon as to which way it wants to invest and develop the port. The only way forward is a team effort from all the parties involved.
A&P Falmouth port operations director Mike Reynolds is off to Miami Beach next week for the annual Seatrade cruise shipping convention where he will talk with other port representatives who are keen to attract the big cruise companies to individual ports throughout northern Europe.
Some European ports have already firmly grasped the initiative by joining forces to promote themselves to the major cruise companies. Cruise Atlantic Europe (CAE) comprises eight ports in five countries of the Atlantic front, Lisbon, Porto (Leixões), A Coruña, Bilbao, Brest, St Malo, Dover and Cork.
One only has to look at the geographical location of the ports to see that Falmouth would fit in nicely with Dover, Brest and Cork to enhance cruise ship itineraries. Although many of the CAE ports can accommodate the 300 metre long ships at alongside berths.
GP Wild Limited, world experts on the cruise industry were appointed by Cruise Atlantic Europe to undertake a consultancy project to assist with promoting cruise tourism in the Atlantic Area. GP Wild quickly identified that there was no specific Atlantic Europe cruising ground. The company's research pinpointed prospects for cruise tourism in the CAE region both from existing markets and new markets.
Basing its strategy on GP Wild's report the Cruise Atlantic Europe group has gone from strength to strength with business already up by 29 per cent. Cruise visitors to the member ports are expected to exceed 1.25 million this year with all reporting growth as cruise traffic in the region continues to rise. Clever marketing of the region coupled with major investment in Bilbao, A Coruna, Lisbon, St Malo and Porto and has accelerated the business.
Helena Fernandes from the Port Authority of Leixões said: “It comes as no surprise that cruise visitors are on the rise as switched on cruise operators have realised that operating in the Atlantic Europe region provides some incredible incentives.
Operating cruises to this selection of ports can both save money in terms of fuel costs and lower port charges but also provides an opportunity to increase revenue by promoting profitable shore excursions. It's a win-win situation and we would encourage all cruise operators to take advantage of the region.”
Fernandes adds: “Our success proves that Atlantic Europe is becoming more than just an option for cruise operators when ships are re-positioning to the Mediterranean. There are increasing opportunities for short cruises in the region with the added appeal of embarkation from multiple markets.”
57 cruise vessels visited the Port of Cork during 2012 bringing almost 100,000 passengers and crew to the region and the port is scheduled to accommodate 64 vessels in 2013. The Port of Cork reports that cruise passengers contribute £34m and 197 jobs to the local economy. Crew accounted for £2.5m and 15 jobs.
Bergen, Hammerfest, Greenock, and Gijon are just a few ports within Cruise Europe, an organization established to promote the industry in the region, who are boasting an increase in cruise activity and revenue. Bordeaux port has invested £500,000 in a new berth. Pilots are being trained on a new simulator.
Even the small port of Scabster in northern Scotland recognizes the importance of the cruise industry. It is expecting nine calls and an estimated 2,888 passengers this year compared to 10 and 2,234 respectively in 2012.