First cruise ships to dock in Estonia in July

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Ships in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) hopes the cruise season this year will not be off completely and a few dozen cruise ships will arrive in Estonia in July.

Tallink is currently organizing cruises on the Baltic Sea, but people are not allowed off the ship in destinations. This rule could changing at some point in July, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

A new cruise terminal Port of Tallinn is currently being developed and once coronavirus restrictions ease more, the first cruise ships will be able to dock in the terminal in July.

"We actually have a rather concrete inquiry from MSC Cruises, who would like to make their first visit to Tallinn in July. Of course, there are still cruises from pre-coronavirus times in the schedule, but they are successively cancelled," said Port of Tallinn marketing manager Sirle Arro.

The inquiry in question has to do with 14 trips from July to October. While there were 334 cruise ships visiting Estonia in the summer of 2019, the port does not dare dream of such numbers.

"These numbers can certainly not be compared to times before the coronavirus. Rather, we are talking of maybe 30 ship visits, no more. Rather less than more and the second half of summer is when we expect them," Arro said.

Cruise company Tallink is currently organizing cruises but does not allow travelers off the ship in destinations.

"Everyone who wishes can come on five-hour cruises on ships Megastar and Star - go from Tallinn to Helsinki and back or from Helsinki to Tallinn. It is used quite a lot. Finns especially, who are used to buying goods in Tallinn, now these purchases are made on the ship and they do not go on the ground in Tallinn. From the start of June, Silja Serenade will go from Helsinki to Tallinn, which is a 22-hour cruise for the Finnish market," said Tallink chairman of the board Paavo Nõgene.

Tallink is also offering domestic cruises on the Stockholm-Visby and Nystad-Visby routes, set to begin in July. Nõgene said it still too early to say whether or not a line between Tallinn and Stockholm will be opened in the second half of the summer.

Ville Jehe, owner of the Pegasus restaurant in Old Town Tallinn, said is tough out there for restaurants without tourists. "You have to remember that this crisis has taken restaurants to a situation where they have lost all stock and if you look at their balances, they have loans or debts in the form of state taxes up to €100,000. You need two or three good summers to make up for this crisis period," Jehe said.

"If we look at the effect of tourists, it makes up 60-70 percent of revenue for restaurants in Tallinn in summers," he added.

At the same time, Jehe said he is awaiting tourists who stay in Estonia for a longer time, as cruise visitors do not have much time to visit restaurants.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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