Record cruise season expected in Tallinn, but no special measures planned
The Port of Tallinn is forecasting a record number of cruise ship calls and tourists in Tallinn this cruise season. The spread of the novel coronavirus worldwide has the Estonian port services provider on higher alert, and the company confirms that it is in constant communication with the Health Board.
Last year's cruise season, which typically begins in late April and lasts through mid-October, brought a record-setting total of 656,000 tourists from 175 different countries to Tallinn. Estonia's other cruise destination, Saaremaa, saw a total of 3,900 cruise tourists last season.
This year, the Port of Tallinn is expecting a record number of cruise tourists once again — some 660,000 tourists, as 77 different ships are expected to call on Estonia's capital city, Port of Tallinn Cruise and Ferry Business Manager Ingrid Berezin told ERR. Cruise ships are currently scheduled to call on Tallinn a total of 336 times, down from last season's 338.
All kinds of transport have been the subject of extra scrutiny since the novel coronavirus began to spread worldwide. The most significant cruise ship-related incident to date took place in Japann, where Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess was placed under quarantine with 3,700 passengers on board earlier this month.
Siiri Lõhmus, head of safety and security at the Port of Tallinn, told ERR that the company is preparing ahead of the cruise ship season for even the most extreme situations, including the quarantine of an entire cruise ship. "Exact measures would depend on the unique circumstances of each case as well as the Health Board's instructions," she said.
According to Lõhmus, Tallinn's Old Harbor is currently already operating in accordance with Health Board guidelines, which are being updated on a continuous basis. Also being followed are epidemic control regulations which have been implemented at all border points in Estonia.
"We are exchanging information with the Health Board on a continuous basis," the safety director said. "Travelers at the Old Harbor are already being informed by means of informational pamphlets provided to us by the Health Board."
Whatever the Health Board requires of the port for the prevention of the possible spread of the virus will be done, Lõhmus stressed.
Tallinn season begins April 22
This season's first cruise ship, the Viking Star, is scheduled to call at Tallinn on April 22 carrying 900 passengers. Also scheduled to call at Tallinn that month are two bigger cruise ships — the MSC Poesia and the Sky Princess, with respective capacities of 2,600 and 3,000 passengers. The MSC Meraviglia, carrying 5,000 passengers, is scheduled to call at the Port of Tallinn on May 7.
The 2020 cruise season will wrap up on October 17 this year, when the Aidaaura, carrying 1,250 passengers, calls at Tallinn's Old Harbor.
According to current bookings, the first cruise ship is scheduled to call at Saaremaa on May 15 — the Astor, carrying 350 passengers. The biggest cruise ships scheduled to call at Saaremaa have a capacity of 1,250 passengers. The final booking of the season is for September 11.
Last year, 75 different cruise ships called at Tallinn a total of 338 times, bringing a record 656,087 tourists to Tallinn between April 27 and October 19. This surpassed 2018's total by more than 21,000.
One third of cruise tourists to visit Tallinn were from Germany, one fifth from the United States and one in ten were from the United Kingdom.
Cruise ships called at the Port of Tallinn-operated port in Saaremaa eight times last season, bringing a total of 3,836 tourists to the island. The majority of cruise tourists to visit Saaremaa were likewise from Germany.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla