Port Bilbao (Spain) celebrates record 2022 cruise season with 78 ship calls to Getxo Terminals

   February 1, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

With the arrival of Fred Olsen’s ship Borealis on December 17th, 2022, Port Bilbao (Spain) closed a successful cruise season, boasting a record number of calls/passengers.

In 2022, cruise ships (with LOA lengths between 126-348 m) made a total of 78 calls to the cruise terminal in Getxo. 108,154 cruise passengers arrived in the Basque Country (1,066 embarked/1,022 disembarked, with the remainder being transit passengers). 

The Port Authority of Bilbao stated that in addition to those post-pandemic figures on traffic flow, the recovery had been rapid, and "with figures previously unheard of in the Basque Country.” 

In 2019, a total of 50 cruise ships called, but in 2020 (because of the COVID crisis) sailings were suspended in Spain and in most other countries. The services restarted in August 2021, with a total of 14 cruise ships stopping over. 2022 saw more cruise ships arriving but with fewer guests onboard until later in the season.

Throughout 2022, cruise ships arrived both from companies regulars to the port and from those calling for the first time. These included 20 cruise ships on a first call as well as a number of days where there were 2 or 3 ships calling on the same day.

Cruisers sailing on an itinerary from Bilbao contribute to tourism in the region, often spending a night in the port city before embarkation which gives them the chance to enjoy local attractions.

Facilities/services on offer include flexible and helpful management/turnaround handling, and Wi-Fi at the terminal. The proximity of Getxo to the airport makes it possible to provide turnaround operations.

In spite of the difficulty of forecasting, the goal for this current year is to exceed the number of calls in 2022, presently estimated at 80+. As the Port Authority of Bilbao pointed out:

“This is a type of traffic that needs to develop over time. If we are going to attract, little by little, new business and new companies, we need to demonstrate repeatedly that we are capable of offering a good service.”

A stand-out consequence of their efforts in this field for 2023 is the May turnaround of Oceania Sirena on a 25-night itinerary to Israel. Another is the 6 calls to be made by MSC Cruises.

Bilbao cruise port terminals

In addition to intense commercial activity, meetings, contacts, and visits, the Port Authority will continue to take part in different fairs/events in the sector, to promote Bilbao/Bizkaia/Basque Country as a cruise ship destination.