Northern Norway and Svalbard is the realm of the Midnight Sun. As there is daylight around the clock in summer, it is possible to exploit the capacity of the ports in a completely different way than is currently the case.
CNNS: Erik Joachimsen
Avoiding congestion at a port is the most important action a cruise line can take in order to create a call that is as successful as possible. Berths at ports and access to buses and guides are often scarce when the largest cruise ships call. If several large cruise ships call at the North Cape, Tromsø and Lofoten on the same day, this creates dissatisfaction on the most hectic days.
“Fortunately there aren’t many such days during a season. But we have noticed that this can be solved in a relatively simple manner without major changes in the sailing pattern,” says Remi Solberg at Arctic Guide Service.
He runs Northern Norway’s largest guide company, and each year observes that slightly more flexible exploitation of all 24 hours of the day would have solved many of the challenges everyone faces. “By dividing up the day, some cruise ships could call during the day and others in the evening. This should also form the basis for being able to negotiate port fees,” he says.
“In addition, this would enable the capacity for buses and guides to be used in a completely different way. I actually find it hard to understand that more agents and cruise lines don’t see this simple opportunity,” says Solberg, who has extensive experience with the implementation of cruise calls in Northern Norway.
The ports have little interest in investing substantial amounts to avoid a few peaks during the season. Solberg mentions an example that is rapidly approaching: “On June 6, 2014, there are three calls with a total of 6,000 passengers to Leknes in Lofoten. All of these are during the daytime. If we were successful in spreading these calls out over the entire 24-hour period, this would create a favourable win-win situation for absolutely all the parties involved.”
Solberg is therefore encouraging all itinerary planners to keep this in mind when planning future sailings. “Remember that the weather is often much calmer in the afternoon and evening, so there is much to be gained here. The alternative is that one doesn’t get a berth at a port or that there is congestion, and obviously nobody wants this,” says Solberg.