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Antwerp (Antwerpen) is the largest port and biggest city in Belgium, with population over 0,52 million (followed by Ghent). The seaport is located on Scheldt River, and is one of world's top-20 biggest cargo ports, ranked 2nd largest in Europe. Other major cruise ports in Belgium are Zeebrugge (117 km / 73 ml from Antwerp), Ostend (123 km / 76 ml from Antwerp) and Brussels (55 km / 34 miles from Antwerp).
Antwerp became an important commercial port in the 15th-16th centuries, when Europe's diamond industry expanded. Currently, the seaport is ranked Europe's 2nd largest cargo port (following only Rotterdam Holland). In 2015, Port Antwerp reported 15,1% increase (2010-2015) in containership volumes - up to 9,37 million TEUs (containers). For 2015, Port Rotterdam handled 11,577 million TEUs. The seaport employs over 60,000 people.
The port is located at the upper end of Scheldt River's estuary, which is navigable by marine vessels with GT tonnage up to 100,000 tons as far as approx 80 km / 50 ml inland. Like Port Hamburg Germany, Antwerp port's inland location provides better access to Central European destinations in comparison to most cargo ports on North Sea. Port's docks are connected to the hinterland by rails, roads and inland waterways (rivers and canals).
In 2012, the port handled a total of 14220 ocean ships (carrying 190,8 million cargo tons, of which 53,6% TEUs) and 57044 freight barges (carrying 123.2 million cargo tons). 2017 was a record year as reefer shipping volumes (refrigerated containers) when the port handled a total of 9,969 million tons of perishable cargo transported via container ships. This was 7,5% increase over 2016. Container shipping growth (in TEUs) increased by 8,5% - from 704,853 (2016) to 765,105 TEUs (2017).
Deurganck Dock's first container terminal was inaugurated in July 2005. The terminal is located on the river's right bank and doesn't require passing through locks. Its full capacity is up to 9 million TEUs annually. Dock's wharf is made of concrete and has length 5,5 km (3,4 ml). The new Kieldrecht Lock (at the end of Deurganck Dock) allows access to port docks on the river's left bank. The lock was inaugurated in June 2016 and is currently ranked world's largest river lock (building cost EUR 340 million) - followed by Berendrecht Lock. Kieldrecht Lock leads into Waasland canal, from where marine vessels can access port's all other docks on Scheldt River's left bank - Doel, Verrebroek, Vrasene, as well as North and South mooring docks.
In October 2010, the port started an EUR 1,6 billion investment plan (2010-2025) to improve all existing facilities, expand storage capacities and improve services. However, Port Antwerpen has little scope for further expansion. Its right bank (northern) docks reached the border with Holland. On the left bank there is a nuclear power plant. Holland also has territory on the river's south bank, so the port doesn't own Scheldt's outer estuary reaching North Sea.
In 2016, Port Antwerp received over 600 river cruise ships calls, and 25 calls by ocean-going cruise vessels. The total number of cruise tourists was over 100,000. The visiting ocean vessels are usually small-sized luxury ships and mega-yachts. The list of shipowners (ocean ship operators) includes Oceania, Azamara, Crystal, Lindblad-National Geographic, CMV, Plantours. In 2017, the CMV ship Columbus (former Pacific Pearl) became the port's largest cruise ship ever.
In April 2018, the Brussels Belgium-based energy company Fluxys took over the port's concession for LNG-bunkering service for river barges and smaller ocean-going vessels. Fluxys' permanent LNG bunkering and storage facility (at quay 526-528) was scheduled for opening by 2019's end, to complement company's existing mobile bunkering service provided by LNG tanker trucks. In January 2020, to Cryostar Sas (French company specializing in technologies for clean power generation and gas applications) and KC LNG (Kosan Crisplant AS, supplier of equipment and services to LNG and LP gas industries) was awarded a contract for building an LNG-bunkering and truck fuelling facility in Port Antwerp's quay 526-528. Cryostar and KC LNG commissioned the LNG-bunkering facility in 2020-Q1. It serves both LNG-powered river vessels and trucks.
In late-September 2018, MOL Chemical Tankers (subsidiary of Mitsui OSK Lines) partnered with SEA-Invest for building new tank storage (45-hectares cargo terminal serving chemical tankers) at Delwaide Dock. The joint venture terminal project's budget was estimated between EUR 300-400 million. The new tanker terminal covers 45 hectares.
In October 2018, Antwerp Port Authority (management company) started a promo program to expand rail connections between the seaport and hinterland (Hungary and Austria).
- In 2015 were opened two regular rail connections to Hungary (Budapest) and three to Austria (Vienna). In September 2018 was added a new regularly new scheduled cargo train service (by Hupac Intermodal Ltd) between Antwerpen, Vienna and Budapest. The service offers two roundtrips weekly. Other large intermodal rail services providers on these routes are Rail Cargo Logistics (Austria), Lineas Intermodal (Belgium) and Kombiverkehr (Germany), offering regular connections between Antwerpen and Linz, Vienna, Wels, Budapest.
- Railway-transported goods include steel, machinery, railway wagons, wind generators, liquid cargo (chemical and petrochemical products), TEU containers, auto industry goods.
- In 2018, Austria's cargo volumes via Antwerp were 3,5 million tons (14% increase over 2017). Around 15% of Austria's seaport traffic is through Antwerp, which ranks the port 4th (after Koper Slovenia, Rotterdam Holland and Hamburg Germany).
In FY2018, seaport's growth was 5,1% (over FY2017) and the 6th consecutive record year with total cargo volume 235 million ton, total container shipping volume 130 million tons (5,8% increase) or 11 million TEUs (5,5% increase). Bulk cargoes increased 4,5% (liquid-bulk, 76,5 million tons), 5% (dry-bulk, 12,8 million tons) and 1,8% (break-bulk, 15,6 million tons). In 2018, in the seaport were made investments (over EUR 2 billion) by leading chemical companies, including Borealis AG (Austria), INEOS (UK), Nippon Chemical Industrial (Japan), MOL Chemical, Oiltanking Stolthaven Antwerp NV.
Antwerp port statistics 2017
For FY 2017, Port Antwerp reported a record year with freight shipping volume of 223,607 tons (+4,4% over 2016).
- Container shipping volume increased in tonnage by 4,3% (to 123 million tons) and in TEUs by 4,1% (to 10,450897 million containers),
- Liquid bulk cargo increased by 5,7% (to 73,13 million tons). The growth was driven mainly by crude oil (+49,9% / 5,963279 million tons).
- Dry bulk volume decreased by 3,7% (down to 12,2 million tons). Fertilisers tonnage (largest drybulk category) increased by 3.7% (to 3,73 tons). The ore volume increased by 12,7%, (2,39 million tons). Coal shipping decreased by 54,2% (477,515 tons).
- Conventional breakbulk reached 10,27 million tons (+4,8%). Iron and steel imports and exports grew by 7,8% (to 8,35 million tons). Imports of raw iron and steel from India increased by 91% (to 520,209 tons), while the imports from China decreased by 44% (to 657,308 tons).
- Ro-Ro shipping traffic increased by 10,5% (to 5,05 million tons). The number of shipped cars increased by 4% (to 1,238128 million units.
- Shipping trade volume with USA grew by 9,7% (overall), with containerized imports increased by 10,4%. The port's European trade volume decreased by 3,6%.
- In 2017, the port handled a total of 14,223 seagoing vessels (1,7% decrease over 2016). However, these ships' overall GT tonnage increased by 1,4%, (to 406,76 million tons).
Antwerp port statistics 2018
In Juanuary-June 2018, the port handled 118,648,143 cargo tons (6,5% increase over Jan-Jun 2017).
- The main driver was again containerized cargo - 66,298043 million TEUs (8,2% increase).
- Strong growth was in consumer goods, vehicles (5,2% in Ro-Ro traffic), chemicals (8,2%), breakbulk (6,5% to over 5 million tons), liquid bulk (6,1%, to 38,296955 million tons), iron (8,5%) and steel (7,2%) imports, dry bulk (3,1%, including fertilisers 14,4% and sand-gravel 57%).
- European trade grew 14,2% (transhipment freight). North American trade increased 10,3%. Asian trade grew 3%.
- During 2018's first half the port handled 7210 seagoing vessels (1% increase), with total GT tonnage 207,963909 million tons (1% increase).
Among Antwerpen's outstanding features is its system of boulevards (formerly walls encircling the city). The Gothic cathedral Notre Dame (15th century) is country's largest church and has paintings of Rubens. Other popular tourist landmarks are St Paul church (16th century), Town Hall (16th century), numerous medieval guild houses (guildhalls), botanical gardens, zoo, KMSKA (fine arts museum).
After 1576, the city quickly declined as result of religious troubles and under provisions of Peace of Westphalia (1648 treaty which closed the navigation on Schelde River until 1795). Modern city's development started in 1863 when the Belgians performed their navigation rights by making cash payment to Holland. During both world wars (1914-1918, and 1939-1945) Antwerp was occupied by the Germans. In September 1944, the city was heavily bombed by the British during the Battle of the Scheldt.
Antwerp cruise terminal
Larger ships in Antwerp dock at the new cruise terminal Wandelteras Zuid, located near the Het Steen fortress. From here it is 5-min walking distance to the city centre.
Smaller ships dock at the piers Willemdok or Kattendijkook, which are at approx 15-min walking distance from the city centre.
Port Antwerp plans building a new cruise ship terminal, with scheduled completion in 2020. The new passenger terminal is in the city center, located at approx 2 min walking distance from downtown's main tourist attractions.
Port Antwerp cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Antwerp, Belgium. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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