With the summer cruise season off to an official start today, Amsterdam and the surrounding area will be welcoming various cruise ships from around the world on a weekly basis over the next few months. The number of sea cruise ships to call at the Amsterdam region is expected to reach 184, 142 Amsterdam and 42 IJmuiden this year, along with more than 1,700 river cruise ships. This will bring the total of cruise passengers to over 775,000.
Several new ships operated by major shipping companies will be making their first-ever visit to Amsterdam this year. Celebrity Cruises is premiering the Celebrity Silhouette, which can carry up to 2,850 passengers. MSC, too, will be sending out a larger ship than last year: the MSC Splendida, which, with a length of 333 metres, is the largest ship ever to visit Amsterdam. Additionally IJmuiden will welcomes three AIDA ships on a Maiden Voyage this year. The cruise market is booming and has seen an increase in both the number of guests and the choice of destinations – a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years. With the addition of the new large sea lock, the port will be able to comfortably accommodate this growth.
River cruises are similarly growing in popularity. The total number of river cruise ships to call at Amsterdam increased from 1,483 in 2013 to 1,685 in 2014 and is expected to pass the 1,700 mark this year. US-based shipping company Viking River Cruises had 8 brand-new ships christened in the Port of Amsterdam on Tuesday, 24 March. Amsterdam has seen a growing number of Viking ships dock on its shores in recent years. Shipping company Uniworld christened the luxury 5-star river cruise ship the SS Maria Theresa in Amsterdam on Thursday, 26 March.
Tourism is an important cornerstone of the economy
Tourism is one of the key economic drivers of the Amsterdam region. Millions of tourists visit Amsterdam every year, including nearly 800,000 cruise passengers. Port of Amsterdam CEO Dertje Meijer: ‘Amsterdam is an immensely popular destination for tourists keen to discover all the attractions our city and the region have to offer. Tourism also generates considerable income for both the city and the region as a whole: shipping companies and their passengers spend around € 90 million here annually, while the cruising industry has created roughly 1,100 jobs in Amsterdam. The port is working on an ongoing basis to keep optimising our facilities.’
René Kouwenberg, Director of Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, is looking forward to the upcoming cruise season: ‘Amsterdam will attract almost as many cruise ships this year as in the record year 2012, when we welcomed a total of 144 ships. We were also informed this February that Holland America Line’s brand-new MS Koningsdam cruise ship will homeport at Amsterdam from 2016. We are pleased to welcome Holland America Line back after several years of absence and could not have asked for a better gift in our anniversary year.’