Passenger Port of St. Petersburg summed up 2019 navigation results
The Passenger Port of St. Petersburg finished the 2019 navigation on October 21, upon departure of the cruise ship AIDAaura. During the navigation period, the Port accommodated 265 cruise liners, on board of which 647,640 passengers in total arrived at St. Petersburg. This year, the cruise season was inaugurated with the cruise ship MSC Poesia’s call to the Port on April 28. Evgeny Viktorovich Pankevich, Chairman of the Committee for Tourism Development of St. Petersburg, made a symbolic bell blow and personally congratulated the five millionth cruise passenger who arrived at the Port. From March to September this year, 68 ships with 165,790 passengers called the Marine Station operated by the Port since November 2018.
As compared to the previous year, the Port cruise passenger traffic has increased by 4%, despite a slight decrease in calls by 5 ships (from 270 in 2018). This is due to global trends in increasing ship dimensions. Based on the existing call schedule, the passenger traffic is forecast to increase in 2020 to 648,000 passengers and 258 vessel calls.
Such results are primarily associated with the great strides that the Northern Capital has made in recent years in improving its image as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. St. Petersburg is a multiple winner of the main international award in the field of tourism: World Travel Awards. This year, St. Petersburg has been recognized as the “Best European Urban Destination.” In the struggle for this title, St. Petersburg surpassed Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Geneva, London, and Lisbon – the last year’s leader.
The year 2019 was marked by the active participation of the Port representatives in exhibition activities. The Passenger Port of St. Petersburg was presented at the largest international cruise exhibition – Seatrade Сruise Global 2019 in Miami and at Seatrade Сruise Europe 2019 in Hamburg. The international exhibitions included business meetings between top managers of “PP of SPb MF” PLC and representatives of major cruise companies and associations such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, CLIA Europe, Cruise Europe. The parties discussed the prospects for further fruitful cooperation and development of the cruise industry in the Baltic Sea region. At the invitation of the Committee for Tourism Development of St. Petersburg, the Port representatives took part in the celebration of the 830th anniversary of the port of Hamburg, Germany, with which “PP of SPb MF” PLC signed a partnership agreement. In addition, we cooperate actively with the ports of the Baltic Sea: this year, representatives of the ports of Kiel, Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga paid official visits to “Marine Façade.”
In 2019, 10 ships first visited the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, including two new ships in May: Viking Jupiter of Viking Ocean Cruises and Nieuw Statendam of Holland America Line. In addition, on August 21, 2019, the water area of the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg was embellished with a unique yacht – Black Pearl, that long ranked first among the largest and most innovative sailing boats worldwide.
According to preliminary results for this year, the largest number of tourists arrived at the Passenger Port from Germany – 25%, followed by tourists from the United States – 19%, and the United Kingdom – 10%.
This year, cruise tourists were served by 159 tour operators, including 20 new companies.
There were 29 days of the maximum load when 5 to 7 ships stayed at the Port at the same time.
As several times during the seasons of 2018 and 2019 the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg faced a daily passenger flow in excess of the estimated maximum throughput of 18,000 persons per day, the Port has successfully implemented a system for regulating the entry of tour operators’ vehicles during peak loads. In the season of 2019, the time-slotting system for passenger and transport operations has continued with minor changes. The main innovation was that, in the passenger operations management this year, the time-slotting system was extended to all vessel calls during the first day of the ships’ stay in the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg. This system gave a positive result, which was especially appreciated by the top managers of cruise lines, CLIA, the state executive authorities of St. Petersburg, and surely by tour operators. In addition, this year, the Port was awarded the prestigious Cruise Insight Award for excellence in cruise ship service. During the ceremony, Bruce Krumrine, the Jury President representing Holland America Line cruise company, also noted the effective use of time slots.
It should be noted that in 2019 the Passenger Port took the first place in the competition “The Best HR Technologies in Petersburg 2019” of the Committee for Civil Service and Recruitment Policy of the Administration of the city of St. Petersburg in the category of “The Best HR Technology to Attract Personnel” under the project to engage students and schoolchildren in labor activities.
The Passenger Port of St. Petersburg continues to address the problem of year-round loading of port facilities, which includes the implementation of several projects. This will allow achieving the targets for the cruise-ferry service development in St. Petersburg and to improve the efficiency of external transport communications in line with the Transport Strategy of the City until 2025, as approved by Resolution No. 945 of the Government of St. Petersburg dated July 13, 2011.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019, the City of Saint Petersburg, Passenger Port of St. Petersburg “Marine Façade” PLC, and “Sovcomflot” PJSC signed an agreement on the development of marine tourism in the Baltic. The agreement aims to create a quality domestic cruise product to promote St. Petersburg as a leading cruise destination in the Baltic Sea region.
To establish year-round water traffic with the possibility of using the marine terminal infrastructure and a checkpoint for operations related to the accommodation of ferries with a freight truck component, the Port continues the reconstruction of the sea cargo and passenger permanent multilateral Russian Federation state border checkpoint. Creating a year-round cargo and passenger ferry service is the main reserve for increasing the total passenger traffic at the Port. It will create the conditions required for attracting ferry lines whose performance directly depends on the cargo component.
The above project is implemented under the Cross-Border Cooperation Program “Russia – Southeast Finland” 2014-2020 as part of the development of maritime communications with Finland. The Checkpoint reconstruction project will not only increase the passenger traffic and establish regular ferry services but also expand the geography of routes. According to the approved plan of production, financial, and economic activities of “PP of SPb MF” PLC for 2017-2021, the total scope of investment in the Checkpoint reconstruction project is 453 million rubles. In September 2019, a tender was held for the right to conclude a construction contract for the Checkpoint reconstruction, the completion of which is scheduled at the end of 2020.
Currently, “PP of SPb MF” PLC continues addressing the issue of implementation of the project on using the Port infrastructure to start and to end Baltic cruises in St. Petersburg. The main idea is that tourists will be able to arrive at the city by various means of transport followed by boarding a cruise ship using the simplified visa regime. In 2019, 19,571 so-called unique passengers passed through the Port, who started or ended their cruises in St. Petersburg (10,167 people arrived, 9,404 people left), which is 30% more than in 2018. Currently, the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg is a transit port; the average stay of one cruise tourist in St. Petersburg is 2 days. In case of forming cruises from St. Petersburg, the stay in the City will be extended by additional 2 days (3 days before the cruise and 1 day after), which will increase significantly the income for St. Petersburg from the tourism industry.
The 339-meter long “Freedom” class ships will enter the Baltic Sea region in 2020. The 348-meter long “Quantum” class ships are also expected to call the future, and to ensure it, the required work is underway. In view of an increase in the ship dimensions, the Port has already implemented the first stage of the project for the reconstruction of Berth No. 7 with the construction of offshore bollards. This made it possible to extend the berth space of the mooring front for the simultaneous berthing of two ships 330 and 294 meters long. The investments in the first stage of reconstruction amounted to 65 million rubles. The completion of the second and third stages of the offshore bollards construction will increase the total berth space by 108 meters for safe berthing and moorage of two ships up to 333 meters long each.
Currently, in addition to the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg and the Marine Station on Morskoy Slavy Square, St. Petersburg admits cruise ships through passenger terminals located on Leytenanta Schmidta and Angliyskaya embankments. In 2018, the Government of St. Petersburg initiated the transfer of berthing facilities to St. Petersburg from the ownership of the Russian Federation. In order to ensure uninterrupted operation of berthing facilities during the navigation period of 2019, the Transport Committee, in cooperation with “External Transport Agency,” “Rosmorport,” and Passenger Port of St. Petersburg “Marine Façade” PLC developed a roadmap for the stage-by-stage property transfer. The design documents of Rosmorport provide for the landing stage reconstruction on Leytenanta Schmidta Embankment; the second stage includes the landing stage reconstruction on the Angliyskaya Embankment.
In addition to its core business, throughout the cruise navigation in 2019, the Port was actively involved in the social, educational, and sports life of St. Petersburg – through organizing and conducting guided tours for city residents, veterans, schoolchildren, and students. One of the outstanding events was the traditional annual sports festival “Nautical Mile” held by the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg for the eighth time. This event brought together representatives of secondary and youth sports schools, students of St. Petersburg universities, representatives of maritime industry companies, and sports organizations. This festival of sports and a healthy lifestyle is traditionally held by the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg with the support of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of St. Petersburg and the Administration of the Vasileostrovsky District. Its participants competed in various athletics and power disciplines: races, relay races, one-mile race, arm wrestling, tug of war, and lifting weights. Together with the Port’s partners, a prize fund was established, and commemorative cups and medals were awarded.
This year, the rowing festival, which also took place as part of the sports festival “Nautical Mile,” moved from the mouth of the Smolenka to Galernaya Harbor of Vasilievsky Island. Despite the St. Petersburg’s inclement weather on this day, all participants were very pleased with the competitions. The Port received much positive feedback after the traditional yacht regatta, which also took place as part of this sports event at the St. Petersburg Trade Union Yacht Club.
In addition, on September 20, as part of the sports festival “Nautical Mile,” the Port carried out the opening ceremony of the new multifunctional sports center, which includes indoor and outdoor areas with a unique view of the new marine façade of St. Petersburg. The sports center is designed for game team sports: basketball, futsal, and volleyball. In winter, a full-fledged hockey field will be arranged in the outdoor area. Aleksey Aleksandrovich Strepetov, USSR Master of Sports, ex-player and coach of Football Club Zenit, handed the Port a commemorative gift in honor of the opening of the sports center – a ball of the Russian Premier League, signed by the players of Football Club Zenit. The opening ceremony was attended by Natalia Antyukh, Chairperson of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of St. Petersburg, and Artem Grechanyuk, Technical Director of BaltTechStroy Construction Company. The total investment amounted to 129 million 170 thousand rubles.
Under social programs, before the start of the school year, as part of the district pedagogical conference “Education on Vasilievsky Island – Out of Time,” the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, together with its partners, presented gifts to 18 families who needed assistance.
This year, “PP of SPb MF” PLC joined the Committee of Trustees and supports the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Memory “International Center for Northern Convoys” to take part in the project of creating the world’s largest Memorial Museum of the History of Northern Convoys. The Polar Convoy Exposition Hall can now be visited at the College of the Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping, which stores museum exhibits donated by relatives of the Northern Convoys participants. The exposition will be later expanded into the Museum of the History of Northern Convoys.
As part of social responsibility and respect to the historical heritage of Honored Sons of the Fatherland and the Russian Navy, “PP of SPb MF” PLC implements the project to restore the memorial at the Nikolskoe Cemetery of the Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery – a tribute to the memory of Ivan Ivanovich Chagin, an outstanding Rear Admiral of the Navy of the Russian Empire and a participant of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. The Battle of Tsushima was one of the largest naval battles in the history of wars, in which the Russian Navy suffered the most severe defeat in its history. The completion of all restoration work and the inauguration of the memorial are scheduled for November 12, 2019, on the anniversary of Rear Admiral’s birthday.
In the next 2020, the Passenger Port plans to accommodate 11 new ships, including Norwegian Escape with a passenger capacity of 4,500 people. The ship of this class is the largest in the fleet operated by Norwegian Cruise Line Holding. Also in 2020, the Port will accommodate the newest ship in the fleet of Princess Cruises, which was launched in 2019 – the cruise liner Sky Princess. In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the most successful ferry operator in the Baltic region – Tallink Group – plans to make vessel calls to the Passenger Port St. Petersburg in 2020.