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Baltic ferry passenger numbers rising following Covid slowdown

More people are taking cruises but increasingly booking trips at the last minute, the ferry firms say.

MS Glory, file photo provided by ferry company Viking Line. Image: Viking Line

Baltic cruise bookings from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia and Stockholm, Sweden are clearly picking up following an extended slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to ferry companies.

Ferry operator Eckerö Line saw nearly as many passengers last month as it did in April of 2019, according to marketing and communications director Ida Toikka Everi.

"It seems that domestic passengers as well as other Europeans are interested in the Nordic countries and Estonia. Finland has been seen in the media around the world, Everi said.

There are virtually no passengers from Russia and Asia these days, but tourism from the Baltic countries has picked up, according to the firm.

In recent months Tallink Silja has also seen a marked increase in passenger numbers, according to the firm's communications chief, Marika Nöjd.

"There have been a lot of passengers, especially [from Helsinki] to Stockholm, including a lot of families with children. Now bookings on trips to Tallinn are accelerating," Nöjd said.

Last minute cruises

Viking Line launched a new ferry, the MS Glory, at the beginning of March and more than 200,000 people have already cruised on the shop, according to the ferry company's communications director Johanna Boijer-Svahnström.

Summer bookings on Viking Line's ferries are looking very promising compared to the past two years.

However, all three of the firms said it was still difficult to evaluate the upcoming summer cruise season as people are increasingly booking their trips at the last minute.

"We hope our ships will be as full in July as during a normal summer, but we can't really say anything about the reservation situation yet, because hundreds of bookings can come the day before, or even the same day," Tallink Silja's Nojd explained.

The firms also said that the increase in passengers was largely due to the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions.