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Helsinki's record cruise-ship season already in full swing

This summer promises to be another record-breaker for Helsinki when it comes to welcoming cruise ships.

Risteilyturisteja Helsingin Hernesaaressa.
Image: Yle

The Finnish capital is expecting some 400,000 cruise ship visitors this season, which is already in full swing. Wednesday was one of the year’s busiest days, with more than 10,000 cruisers in town. Many of them stepped out of the huge MS Visions of the Sea, a Caribbean International ship that docked at the city’s Hernesaari pier.

Nearly all of those who arrive in Helsinki on cruise liners disembark to explore the city. Some 96 percent of passengers get out to visit Helsinki, compared to the average European disembarkment rate of 82 percent, says the city’s cruise coordinator, Noora Heino.

Visitor numbers are expected to rise by 10 percent compared with last year.

“The cruise companies often get feedback from customers saying that they do not get enough time here. Many cruise visitors come back later for longer visits,” says Heino.

Growth from Asia

Heino notes that Helsinki’s speedy air links to Asia and rail links to Russia make it a very attractive place to begin or end a cruise. She notes that rapidly-growing numbers of Chinese and other Asians are booking Baltic cruises.

This year’s cruising season in Helsinki extends until November, even though the city may not look its best then.

”This year we have vessels from two European shipping lines visiting here in late October and early November. We’re sure that if we have snow by then, that will be very interesting and exotic for cruise visitors,” says Heino.

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