Costa Concordia accident hits Baltic Sea ports

The Costa Concordia shipwreck is one of several reasons why Copenhagen Malmo Port (CMP) expects its first ever decline in the number of cruise guests and calls. Other Baltic Sea ports are also expected to be hit.

After many years with double-digit growth rates the Baltic Sea cruise market looks set to take a breather in 2014. The cruise business accounts for approx. 13-15 percent of Copenhagen Malmo Port's revenue, and according to COO Cruise and Ferries, Arnt Møller Pedersen, the decline will not be insignificant.

"We predict a 5-10 percent decline in guests and calls in 2014," he tells ShippingWatch.

This year, 356 cruise ships called in CMP, and a total of 840,000 vacationing guests have visited Copenhagen and Malmo, but next year the entire Baltic Sea region will feel the effect of several factors weighing down the combined cruise market.

"The general financial crisis has now entered the newbuilding market, where there's only 5-6 new cruise ships built per year, compared to 10 before. And beyond that, a lot of the tonnage is going to the Far East and Australia where there's a considerable growth in cruise shipping," says Arnt Møller Pedersen.

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The Concordia effect

And the Danish-Swedish berths are also affected by the fact that cruise ship Costa Condordia is no longer sailing guests around in the Mediterranean, he says:

"Part of the decline is caused by the after effects of the Costa Concordia accident, which resulted in a lack of tonnage in the Mediterranean. Following the accident, two ships have been pulled from operation up here to comply with the commitments they had down there, and this is evident when looking at the numbers," says Arnt Møller Pedersen, adding that it makes sense for shipowners to pull ships from northern Europe, where they only sail for five months, to deploy them in the Mediterranean where ships sail all year round.

Just a brief spill

Though there are several reasons for the decline in 2014, Arnt Møller Pedersen explains that it will only be a small spill in the total cruise market.

"Even though we're looking at a decline, this will only be small ripple on the water in the long run, and we expect the number of guests and calls to increase again already by 2015," he says.

The brief growth rate slowdown coincides with the cruise capacity expansion, where 1,100 meters of new berth in Copenhagen will come into use in 2014, as well as the fact that the port's employees will be able to use the three new terminal buildings next year, where the increasingly bigger ships can check cruise guests in and out.

"Of course one could say that this coincides somewhat unfortunately, that we're starting to use the new facilities at a time when thing's aren't improving, but it makes great sense in the long run, that we'll be able to handle the bigger ships even more efficiently," says Arnt Møller Pedersen.

The many annual calls in CMP employ around 3,800 seasonal workers.

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