The Importance of Cruise Port Infrastructure and Attractions
Photo by Brian Major
Just as cruise ship maintenance is vital to keeping existing fleets up to par with brand new vessels, sustaining modernized port infrastructures and local attractions is also important to attract and keep cruise traffic. Recent global discussions and upgrades have renewed interest in destinations and home ports according to their curb appeal and ease of access.
For instance, as the burgeoning cruise market in Asia expands, docking facilities are at a premium, and Seatrade Cruise News reported on their current state and future outlook. Putting it in perspective, Japan is the region’s most visited country followed by Korea, China and Singapore with five ports seeing 110 to 402 turnarounds operating from each. As such, Korea is expected to have 13 total berths by 2020.
Closer to home, Port Canaveral, Florida just completed $48 million dollars in improvements to Terminal 5 as inaugurated by Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Valor earlier this month. Among the upgrades were an overall expansion to cater to bigger 3,500-guest ships, an elongated 120-foot pier, a 1,044-stall parking garage and new boarding bridges. That is to say as ships get increasingly larger, ports need to boost their abilities to accommodate them.
Also in Seatrade Cruise News recently is Montreal in Quebec, Canada that is preparing for its upcoming 375th anniversary in 2017. As such, the Montreal Port Authority’s Alexandra Pier and Iberville Passenger Terminal will be updated in time for the celebration to the tune of $35 million. The report states that the upgrades will overcome “signs of aging and operational obsolescence” by improving port and terminal integration with Old Montreal itself, creating a green rooftop terrace and providing residents with better river access. Meanwhile, Quebec’s Trois-Rivieres has already debuted a new terminal at Harbourfront Park.
Of course, ports-of-call are just as crucial to the equation as points of embarkation and disembarkation. Older and smaller ports often rely on ships to anchor and guests to tender ashore, but the process is inconvenient. Icy Strait Point in Alaska recognized this and has opened a new floating pier to be used starting this season. Now passengers can simply step ashore quickly and easily.
READ MORE: Top Cruises With Extended Stays in Port
Paramount to any destination, is a good selection of shore excursions and local attractions beyond the port to keep one’s attention, particularly for destination-centric cruise line’s like Viking Ocean Cruises. Chairman and CEO Torstein Hagen last week chatted about the company’s new Into the Midnight Sun itinerary in Norway to say, “I think as we develop the shore excursion program, which we will figure out a little bit better, then I think this is very, very popular.”
Certain iconic destinations will always have built-in popularity regardless of their port facility conditions and shore excursion offerings, but even for those, it can never hurt to improve them on behalf of repeat visitors and cruise line’s seeking to diversify their options from competitors with unique choices. After all, even as cruise ships become more and more destinations unto themselves, the primary reason people travel is to visit attractive ports abroad.
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