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Will port restrictions change the cruise market?


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What is the future for cruising, and for big ships in particular?
When I started cruising some 30 years ago, cruise ships typically carried 600 to 800 passengers; the 1800 passenger QE2 was regarded as huge. And there were considerably fewer of them than there are nowadays. It was unusual to see more than two ships in port, and usually you were the only one in town. And ports easily absorbed the their passengers. But things have changed and the QE2 would now be regarded as a mid size ship, possibly even a small one. New ships today can carry over 5000 passengers and it is not unusual to see two or more in port. Ports struggle to absorb their passengers.
This has obviously serious long term implications for the cruise industry. Whilst the mass market cruise lines like large ships for their economies of scale and some (but not all) passengers like them for their wealth of facilities, ports increasingly do not. Several have taken or are planning steps to restrict the number of cruise ships and passengers in port on any one day, and to limit the size of ships they will accept. So whilst cruise lines continue to launch ever more big ships, they may find it increasingly difficult to find ports to accept them. They might eventually find them limited to a small number of large ports which can absorb them and spend the rest of their time at sea. Acceptable to the new breed of cruiser who sees the ship as the prime destination - a resort hotel at sea - and may not even get off the ship but not to the more traditional ones who see the ports as the primary destination and the ship as the means of seeing them.

Will the industry continue to design large ships which may be fated to spend most of their time at sea?  Or will these developments result in fewer big ships and more smaller ones. Only time will tell.

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Our last cruise we were almost always docked at a commercial wharf  and had to pay extra to for shuttles  to even get to see the ports advertised.  This was the Royal Princess which at around 3500 pax was a lot of shuttle buses and a lot of waiting in queues.  Of course Princess really wanted us to go on overpriced tours.  

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To answer the question in the thread title - yes.


But it's not just the effects of large cruise ships on a local area. There have recently been demonstrations in the Balearic and Canary islands about the negative effects of over tourism. Local economies need to  diversify away from reliance on tourists. 

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On 6/12/2024 at 12:26 PM, MBP&O2/O said:

Even Venice is about tighten up their regs and are going to clamp down on tour group sizes!

Venice has already banned most cruise ships from docking in the city, they now dock at Trieste and bus passengers in. The main reason given was the damage caused to the wooden piles on which the city is built. but over tourism undoubtedly also played a part.

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On 6/12/2024 at 2:56 PM, Thejuggler said:

Somewhere like Skye will probably end up with restrictions.


The island can barely cope with the visitors arriving by car, adding a few extra thousand arriving by ship doesn't improve things.

I think that most smaller ports will eventually, simply because their infrastructure cannot cope with the number of passengers now being disgourged by the big ships. And smaller ships may also be affected. A stop at Arendal in Norway on my forthcoming cruise on Spirit of Adventure has been cancelled because the port has limited access to ships over 230 metres long; SofA (58K tonnes, 999 passengers) is 234! We are now going to Gothenberg instead.

Edited by Denarius
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