The capacity of cruises on a few Tallink's routes has increased this summer but the company's main focus is still on Tallinn-Helsinki route, said head of shipping line Tallink Paavo Nõgene, who added that passenger numbers between the Estonian and Finnish capitals had recovered 60-65 percent of their pre-pandemic figures.
Nõgene told ERR the cruises on the Tallinn-Åland and Tallinn-Turku routes have not been made to the same extent as before this year, but there is still demand for the cruises on these routes, but in general there are fewer cruises than last year.
Nõgene added: "We want to keep distance opportunities on our ships. We do not sell ships in full, but we sell a limited number of tickets."
On Monday, a special cruise to Saaremaa is to depart from Helsinki. Nõgene said that more than a thousand Finnish tourists have bought their tickets for that route.
Nõgene explained that adding several different excursions are planned for the Finnish passengers to Saaremaa on Tuesday. He added: "We have used every opportunity to help different regions and their tourism businesses to recover."
Nõgene says there is hope that the cruise ship will be able to depart on the same route next summer as well, although the special cruise ship sails only once this summer.
The planned Riga-Saaremaa cruise was canceled due to low demand, but the special route between Riga and Åland will depart three times this summer, he added.
More than half of Tallink's passengers on the Tallinn-Helsinki route
Nõgene also said that passenger numbers between Estonia and Finland, hit hard by the pandemic, had started to recover.
"Estonian-Finnish traffic has recovered by 60-65 percent compared to last year. It is too early to say what will happen in the autumn," he said, adding that Finnish people mainly come to Estonia, not the other way around.
At the same time, many Estonians have gone to discover Finland by car this year, said Nõgene.
The future of traveling to Sweden is not clear
Nõgene says he has no idea when the Tallinn-Stockholm route will resume again. However, Swedish cargo transport has sailed from Paldiski on the Tallink ships.
Nõgene adds: "There are people who go to work in Scandinavia in addition to transporting goods. The ships have had a few passengers with cars traveling to Sweden."
Cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Finland is important, he said, adding hopes that neither tourism nor freight transport will fall again or collapse.
Nõgene added: "I think that the most important thing for Estonia is the end of summer and autumn as Latvia, Estonia and Finland need to keep the number of infections low."
Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein