Cruise tourists returning to Copenhagen in heavy numbers

On Thursday, the ship MSC Euribia was named in the Port of Copenhagen – a clear sign tourists are returning in droves following the pandemic and the cooling effect of the War in Ukraine

Before the corona pandemic, Copenhagen was a top scorer when it came to the number of cruise ship visits.

The Danish capital is a so-called ‘turn-around port’, where cruises either begin or end.

But after the pandemic – and especially in the wake of the War in Ukraine – it is now other Danish ports that have seen growth in 2023, while Copenhagen has lost momentum.

“I am confident that towards 2024 and 2025 we will probably get back to the numbers we experienced before, although there will also be a change in the industry because more smaller ships will arrive,” said Klaus Bondam, the CEO of CruiseCopenhagen.

Historic event
When the cruise ship MSC Euribia was named by none other than Sophia Loren in Copenhagen on Thursday June 8, it was a big event.

“It is the first time a cruise ship has been named in Copenhagen. So that is big. I hope the event will result in both MSC and other shipping companies ‘rediscover’ the Baltic Sea as a cruise destination,” said Bondam.

It’s part of a trend in which the huge cruise ships are being replaced by smaller ships, of which more are coming. The War in Ukraine has affected Danish cruise tourism, as it has caused the cruise companies to opt out of Russian city St Petersburg as a destination.

A big task is to convince the cruise lines that the Baltic Sea is much more than St Petersburg.

“One of the things our American cruise guests all notice is how easy it is to get around when you land in Copenhagen,” Bondam said.

“In relation to St Petersburg, where there can be challenges with traffic jams, all the other destinations around the Baltic Sea are very easy and efficient to get around. This means that as a guest you can also experience many things in the 8 to 10 to 12 hours you  are in town,” he said.

Overcoming big crowds 
Another challenge for cruise tourism is that cruise guests tend to cluster around only a few attractions when they disembark. It provides local overtourism. Perhaps that is why the trend is now towards more and more tourists demanding places and sights that are not in typical tour packages.

“You want to see something unique and special – and you don’t necessarily have to see everything that everyone else has seen,” said Bondam.

Cruise ship visits in Denmark 2019-23:

• In 2019, Copenhagen was visited by a total of 348 ships, which brought 940,000 guests to the Danish capital.

• In 2023, Copenhagen can look forward to 289 visits – a decrease of 59 compared to 2019.

• In January, the Danish ports outside Copenhagen were expected to receive a total of 230 visits in 2023. This is 44 more than in 2019.

• All stats were correct as of January 2023.

Source: WoCo, January 2023