Regardless of the worse-than-expected second coronavirus wave, cruise companies are more optimistic than earlier, and the hope is that, especially during the second half of the year, tourists will start coming back to Tallinn, the state-owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) told ERR.
Some cruise companies have contacted the Port of Tallinn, and, currently, specific terms and safety measures are being negotiated, the authority's communications manager, Sirle Arro, said.
"This is in the hope that the Baltic cruises will restart. The second half of the summer is a more realistic timescale," she said.
If and when will the cruises, with their complement of tourists, start to arrive on the Baltic Sea area and in Tallinn, depends on the infection rate of different states and on decisions on whether the cruise ships can stay moored and on what terms the passengers can come ashore, Arro continued.
Arro said that the Port of Tallinn is currently preparing for cruise season 2021 in any case, and a cruise terminal is going to be ready by the start of July. "We are also negotiating with authorities regarding the safety measures and welcoming passengers. With tourism organizations, we are preparing for achieving a reputation of a safe destination and figuring out which service providers are trustworthy," Arro said.
Cruise trips and tourists are key for the capital's entrepreneurs. in pre-pandemic times, cruise ships stopped in Tallinn over 300 times in the one season, and there were an average of over 600,000 passengers coming ashore to spend money.
According to various data, one tourist spends €60 to €80 in Tallinn in a trip (many cruises only last one day, disgorging their complement in the morning, with sight-seers having to be back on board later that day, if they don't want to be left behind - ed.).
Cruise trips, safest tourism product during the pandemic?
Arro noted that cruise companies are much more optimistic this year than last year, because cruise tourism is considered the safest form of travel.
"According to the new concept, all passengers and crew members will be tested, symptoms will be monitored and temperature measured daily to identify possible virus carriers. Several ships have their own testing centers and smalls labs or they will cooperate with local medical centers," Arro said.
The plan also includes isolating passengers with potential or real COVID-19 symptoms, and their close contacts, in separate cabins. The cruise ships will accept fewer passengers on board as a result, and some cabins will need to be separated for isolation.
Most cruise lines have promised that passengers will be able to come ashore only with the excursions organized by the cruise company, rather than be left to their own devices.
Arro said that first cruises with these safety measures have started, or are starting, in the Mediterranean, for example, and cruises to the Canary Islands meant for the German market have also taken place.
In addition, Israel, which has stood out with its reportedly exemplary vaccination scheme, has started offering cruises.
"At the same time, several companies have announced that they are not planning to start before June or July, and the dates are gradually being postponed," she said.
The airport is still adjusting the summer schedule
It is a tradition at Tallinn Airport that after the arrival of spring, the summer flight schedule will be squared away, when there are more departures at regular times than on the winter timetable. As of this week, the summer schedule is not yet in place, however.
ERR was told by the airport that the final negotiations on the summer flight plan are still underway, and information on where and with which airlines it is likely to be possible to fly in the summer will be provided next Monday.
As of this week, 10 international routes have been opened at Tallinn Airport. You can fly to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Copenhagen, London, Minsk, Oslo, Riga, Stockholm and Warsaw.
Editor: Roberta Vaino