Number of Tourists Visiting Riga by Cruise Expected to Rise Next Year

Since cruise lines are planning their itineraries as many as several years in advance, the Port of Riga already knows the schedule of cruise ships stopping at the port next year. So far, 85 cruise ships have announced their intention to dock at the Port of Riga during the next cruise season, five ships more than this year. There is another positive trend — these ships will be much bigger in size, which means a larger number of passengers can be expected. At this point, it is estimated that at least 85 thousand tourists will visit Riga by cruise, which constitutes a 15 % increase compared to 2019.

Currently, the cruise industry is characterised by a clear trend involving the construction of increasingly larger cruise ships. This was particularly highlighted during the recent cruise trade show and conference “Seatrade Europe 2019” by both industry researchers and experts, as well as representatives of cruise lines who handle cruise ship chartering and itinerary planning on a daily basis.

“We need to be aware that cruise ships that are longer than 300 metres will visit Riga with increasing frequency. As soon as next year, big ships such as “Mein Schiff 1” and “Costa Favolosa,” each of which can carry up to 4,000 passengers, will enter the port,” indicated Mr. Edgars Sūna, Deputy CEO of the Freeport of Riga for Port Development Matters. He emphasises that the infrastructure of the Port of Riga must be suitable for docking large cruise ships with an appropriate sailing basin, turning basins, modern moorings and passenger embarkation terminals. “The development plans for the Port of Riga envisage transforming the former coal loading area of the Port of Export into a cruise ship dock in the nearest future. It already has an infrastructure that is suitable for big ships, yet needs to be adjusted for cruise purposes.  Another important aspect is the proximity of the Port of Export to the city centre, which gives cruise ships a significant docking advantage,” stated Mr. E. Sūna.

Cruise trips are one of the fastest growing tourism segments worldwide, involving around 30 million passengers every year. Market trends show that by 2030, the number of cruise passengers globally is likely to increase further by at least one third, leading to new tourism routes and market niches. According to data collected by the Freeport of Riga Authority, this season the largest groups of tourists visiting Riga by cruise ship were from Germany, the US, Great Britain, Finland, Australia and Russia.