Sweden's radical approach to the pandemic (keeping businesses and schools open throughout) is not only benefiting the population but also the cruise shipping industry. And unlike many seaports globally, PoS (Ports of Stockholm) has been open throughout. In 2020, the PoS is expecting 29 cruise ship calls, of which 3 in December.
According to Stefan Scheja, manager cruise and ferry PoS, for the port and the for the city it was fantastic that they could show they had a business that was up and running and that passengers were willing to get on board again and travel around. He added that normally their season ended in mid-October so the winter calls were a fantastic and positive effect of COVID-19.
Whilst TUI Cruises will have twenty ‘scenic calls’ whereby the liners turn in front of the Old City, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will bring crew and passengers into the city from ms Hanseatic Inspiration, ms Europa, and ms Europa 2.
It was in June 2020 that the PoS recognized the possibility of German markets (accounting for about 25% of cruisers to Stockholm) and those close to the Baltic visiting. The Ports developed a COVID-19 Management Plan, which it worked on together with the Port of Goteborg (Gothenburg), and which follows recommendations from the Swedish authorities and the structure of EMSA COVID-19: EU guidance for cruise operations.
Scheja added that any procedures were relevant to the Coronavirus situation at a particular time and recommendations could be altered, in accordance with the authorities, should it change. In the terminal, procedures include plenty of hand sanitizers, signs about social distancing, standard cleaning of surfaces, separate embarking and disembarking.
On September 7, Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa and Europa 2 were the first cruise ships to visit Stockholm and disembark passengers ashore. The luxury vessels stayed overnight with reduced passenger numbers onboard. Passengers are able to go on dedicated shore tours but also visit independently. The crew members can also go ashore.
Although TUI ships do make a technical call during the sailings, nobody gets on/off the ships and, at present, there was no indication that would change.