The Freeport of Riga is actively getting ready for the new cruise ship season

Cruise travel is currently one of the most rapidly growing tourism segments in the world, chosen for recreation by approximately 23 million passengers every year. Market trends suggest that the number of cruise passengers may increase by another third by 2030, revealing more and more new tourist routes and market niches. A significant increase in the number of cruise passengers has also been observed at the Port of Riga for several years now. Last year Riga was visited by 86 cruise ships, bringing almost 90 thousand passengers from more than 120 countries, thus hitting a new ten-year passenger record at the Port of Riga. According to the information summarised by the Freeport of Riga Authority, the number of cruise ships continues to grow in 2018 as well: at the moment, 91 cruise ships, including six ships which will visit Riga for the first time, have already applied for entry to the Port of Riga this season.

“An increase in the number of cruises in the Port of Riga is a vivid result of the purposeful work which we have carried out for several years in order to put Riga in capital letters on the world’s map of cruise routes in spite of tough competition, thus proving ourselves to be a safe, hospitable and appealing destination to passengers”, Ansis Zeltiņš, CEO of the Freeport of Riga, is convinced.

Last week on 6–8 March, the management of the Freeport of Riga Authority, together with partners from the Riga Passenger Terminal, Riga Tourism Development Bureau and representatives of travel agencies representing Riga, participated in the largest exhibition and conference of the cruise industry Seatrade Cruise Global 2018, which gathers cruise sector professionals from across the world in Fort Lauderdale, Florida every year.

The goal is to attract interest in Riga among new cruise operators, in addition to already existing ones. “The name of Riga is already known to the industry. By maintaining the high quality of service and competitive tourism offers, we have the potential of ensuring that Riga becomes an even more popular point on the cruise tourism road”, Zeltiņš emphasises, adding that the dredging of the main navigation channel, increasing the maximum depth of the navigation channel planned to be completed by the beginning of this year’s cruise ship season, will ensure a possibility of welcoming even bigger and more voluminous cruise ships in the Port of Riga in years to come.

The Freeport of Riga Authority participated in Seatrade Cruise Global for the 11th year.  This year, Riga’s stand in honour of Latvia’s centenary was solemnly opened by the Ambassador of Latvia to the United States, Andris Teikmanis. During the exhibition, in order to meet the representatives of Riga and discuss future cooperation possibilities, the stand was visited by the managers of the world’s leading cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, StPeterline, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises UK, etc., which suggests that the path chosen by Riga and its strategy in attracting cruise ships were correct, and we have all the possibilities to see more world-level cruise liners in the Port of Riga in the future.

In total, Seatrade Cruise Global 2018 gathered approximately 11 thousand visitors from more than 100 countries. This is the world’s most important event in the cruise sector, where cruise routes of the upcoming seasons are outlined and new, long-term business contacts are established every year. Approximately 700 participants took part in this year’s exhibition.

This year, the first two cruise ships already arrived in Riga in January, but it is planned that the active cruise season will start on 22 April.