High fuel prices could boost North Sea’s cruise potential

 THE rising price of fuel could prove a major advantage to ports in the EU North Sea Region as they seek to develop and promote much more cruise activity. This was one of the key conclusions to emerge from the opening conference of the new Cruise Gateway North Sea Project.

Summing up the discussions, Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade and moderator for the conference discussions, said: "Cruise lines are very conscious of maximising their fuel economy and are tending to favour itineraries which enable them to steam more slowly in order. That means they are looking for ports which are quite close together – offering a short hop to the next destination."

As the price of fuel continues to increase, the importance of fuel economy will remain high-profile; the North Sea, with its concentration of diversity, offers a wealth of opportunities in this respect, delegates agreed.

More than 120 delegates from the cruise, ports, tourism and government sectors across Europe gathered at the conference, hosted by Port of Hamburg Marketing, to hear key speakers and take part in discussions about developing and promoting much more cruise activity – on a sustainable basis – in the North Sea Region.

The number of people choosing to cruise has grown extremely rapidly in Europe in recent years but the focus has so far been much more on the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas. The partners in Cruise Gateway, an EU Interreg IVB North Sea Region project, want to tackle this lack of maritime identity for the region and create a strong „Cruise Destination North Sea‟ brand.

"Clearly the opportunity is there for the development of the North Sea as a cruise destination. The North Sea Region hasn‟t achieved its full potential and there was a lot of discussion about how that potential could and should be achieved," said Chris Hayman. "Some very good ideas emerged from the conference and clearly there is a great deal to discuss."

He dismissed any ideas that the weather could reduce the North Sea‟s appeal to cruise lines. "There are many cruise customers who are not looking for brilliant sunshine but are interested in cultural visits and attractions," he said. "I think it is a question of identifying opportunities and engaging in discussion with the cruise lines about increasing their itineraries in the region. An awful lot of factors go into the itinerary planning process and it is very important for regions to address all these considerations."

Seatrade supports Cruise Miami [in March] and Seatrade Europe in Hamburg [in September] international cruise conferences. "The Hamburg conference will certainly be an opportunity to look again at many of the issues," said Chris Hayman.

Speakers at the Cruise Gateway North Sea Project conference included Michael Ungerer, senior vice president of AIDA Cruises, who discussed the potential of cruise shipping in the North Sea Region; and Patrick Verhoeven, secretary general of the European Sea Ports Organisation, who talked about the role of cruise traffic in the sustainable development of European port cities.

In addition, delegates heard from Andreas Wankum, Hamburg Parliament‟s tourism spokesman; Michael Eggenschwiler, chairman of the executive board of Hamburg Airport; Sebastian Doderer, project manager of Cruise Gateway and head of project development at Port of Hamburg Marketing together with Nadine Palatz, Marketing Manager at Hamburg Cruise Center; and Mai Elmar, executive director of Cruise Port Rotterdam.

"This was a highly successful conference and a really positive start to the Cruise Gateway project," said Cruise Gateway communications manager Richard Morton. "We know that there are real issues to be tackled as we look to promote more cruise activity in the NSR, while also aiming to promote the region as a „beacon for sustainable cruise‟."

Picture Caption: "Cruise Gateway Opening Conference 17th February 2011" – (from left to right)

Group 1: Sebastain Doderer, Port of Hamburg Marketing; Staffan Ekwall, DG MARE; Nadine Palatz, Hamburg Cruise Center; Patrick Verhoeven, European Sea Ports Organisation; Andreas Wankum, Hamburg Parliament Tourism Spokesman; Richard Morton, Haven Gateway Partnership.

Group 2: Richard Morton, Haven Gateway Partnership; Prof. Dr. Alexis Papathanassis, University of Applied Science Bremerhaven; Helge H. Grammerstorf, SeaConsult HAM GmbH; Valerie Dubuc, Atlantic Alliance, Cruise Europe; Chris Hayman, Seatrade Communications.

Group 3: Joachim Köhn, Hanseatic Cruise Centers; Mai Elmar, Cruise Port Rotterdam; Wim Stubbe, Port of Oostende.

Group 4: Richard Morton, Haven Gateway Partnership; Michael Eggenschwiler, Hamburg Airport; Michael Ungerer, AIDA Cruises; Chris Ashcroft, Ashcroft & Associates Ltd.; Chris Hayman, Seatrade Communications.

Notes to editors:

  • Cruise Gateway, an EU Interreg IVB North Sea Region project, has been set up to consider ways of encouraging and promoting Sustainable Cruise activities in the North Sea Region (NSR).
  • In a programme of research, workshops and best practice visits, the project partners will consider a broad range of topics linked to cruise and cruise potential, including joint lobbying and marketing, the creation of a regional maritime identity and innovative ideas for passenger excursions as they seek ways to develop the NSR as s cruise destination in its own right.
  • The common thread through all of this will be sustainability – including the promotion of environmental awareness and eco-friendly transport structures, and avoiding congestion.

Cruise Gateway North Sea Project partners:

Lead partner: Port of Hamburg Marketing


Port of Kiel (Germany)

Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven (Germany)

Bremen Senate Department for Economy and Ports (Germany)

Cruise Destination Hardangerfjord (Norway)

City of Gothenburg (Sweden)

Copenhagen Malmö Port AB (Demark / Sweden)

Port of Esbjerg (Denmark)

City of Antwerp / Tourism (Belgium)

Port of Oostende (Belgium)

Cruise Port Rotterdam (Netherlands)

Haven Gateway Partnership (England)

Aberdeenshire Council (Scotland)

Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association (UK)


For more information, contact;

Richard Morton, Cruise Gateway Communications Manager,

tel: +44 7769962554,

email: richard.morton@haven-gateway.org