Cruise record calls for more piers

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Another record number of cruise ships sailed in and out of Oslo this past summer, and around the entire country as well. The booming cruise business presents demands for more and longer piers to accommodate them, not least in the capital.

The often huge, white vessels are no longer sailing up the Oslo Fjord every morning, as high season ended last month. A few ships are expected in December, though, in connection with Christmas cruises.

By the end of September, a total of 149 cruise ships had tied up in Oslo, disgorging a record 269,000 passengers from 134 countries into the city.

German, British and American visitors made up the largest numbers. The total visitor count was up 12.5 percent, according to newspaper Aften .

“The ships are bigger than they used to be, and despite hard times, the cruise lines managed to fill them up,” Margrethe Austad, marketing boss for the Oslo Harbour Authority, told Aften .The Oslo city government has thus ordered a study of how the city can accommodate the cruise business and its projected growth. More huge ships are coming out of shipyards and prospects are high that more of them will sail to Norway.

From Hjortnes on the west side of Oslo’s harbor to Ormsund in the east, plans will be discussed for new, longer cruise piers. Austad sees a need for up to seven berthing areas by 2025, up from three today.

Bergen, Geiranger, Stavanger and Flåm are the other Norwegian ports getting the most visitors. Traffic was up 22 percent in Bergen this year, and up 33.2 percent in Geiranger.

“Cruising is getting steadily more popular both in Norway and in the rest of the world,” she said. With passengers and crew spending around NOK 405 million in Oslo this year alone, it likely will pay off to be ready for more.