Bilbao sits on Spain's northern coast in the Basque region near the border with France. It is the most important port in Spain. In 2016, the Bilbao cruise port reported a 19% increase in ship calls over 2015 (51 calls) and a total of 85071 cruise passengers (an increase of 21% over 2015).
The city is home to the new Guggenheim Museum, which stands above the banks of the Nervian River. This amazing artwork houses some of the greatest modern art, including works by Miro, Matisse, Chagall, Picasso. Also worth seeing is the Museum of Fine Arts. The city has taken care to preserve its unique Basque heritage. 16th century may be explored in the Gothic Barrio. Old Town's notable landmarks include the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral of Santiago, Plaza Nueva (19th century), Renaissance churches (San Nicholas, San Antonio, Santos Juanes.
Established as a settlement of ironworkers and mariners, the town prospered in the textile trade in the 16th century and in trading with Spain's American colonies in the 18th century.
Port Bilbao (aka Superpuerto) is located on Bilbao Abra Bay, along Ria de Bilbao. Port's main facilities are in the neighbouring municipalities Santurtzi and Zierbena, located approx 15 km (9 mi) to the west. The seaport complex covers a land area of approx 3 km2 (773 acres) and water area approx 17 km2 (4186 acres). Harbour's waterfront has a length of 17 km (11 mi).
As a cargo port, Bilbao is ranked Spain's largest and country's 4th busiest (following Algeciras, Barcelona, Valencia). On March 27, 2011, the French shipping company BRITTANY FERRIES started a weekly scheduled service on the route Portsmouth-Bilbao (via Roscoff France) with the Cap Finistère ferry.
For FY2017, Port Bilbao reported a 7% shipping traffic growth (or an increase of 2,2 million tons over FY2016) to a total traffic volume (excluding local shipping and supplies) 34,2 million tons.
The main increases were of liquid bulk cargoes, natural gas (+811,000 tons), gasoil (+470,000 tons), crude oil (+277,000 tons). The main dry cargo increases were scrap iron (+120,000 tons), iron and steel products (+101,000 tons), other minerals (+94,000 tons).
Container shipping traffic in 2017 reached 604,870 TEUs (containers), or 1,37% increase over 2016. The growth in reefers (refrigerated containers) was 2%. A total of 5514 units were shipped as "heavy load" or "project cargo" due to their great weight or dimensions. This type of cargo shipping grew by 23% over 2016.
In 2017, port's passenger shipping traffic (ferries and cruise ships) traffic decreased by 2 % (to a total of 186,546 passengers). The port handled a total of 123 ferry and 61 cruise ship calls (51 calls in 2016). Cruise tourists are now handled at the new Getxo maritime station (opened in 2017).
The port mainly serves European Atlantic shipping traffic (market share 41%), followed by North American Atlantic and African Atlantic. By countries, the port's main traffic is with the UK (16% growth). Mexico and the USA. Port's turnover in 2017 increased to EUR 68,8 million (+5,47% compared to 65,2 million in 2016). Port's net bank debt remained at EUR 139,8 million.
Bilbao cruise port
Port's cruising season runs between early April through early November.
During season 2016, the cruise port was visited 51 times (an increase of 19% over 2015) and handled a total of 85,071 passengers (an increase of 21% over 2015). Statistics also showed that of all cruise ship tourists, around 58% were from the UK and around 14% from the USA.
In 2015, the port's cruising sector estimated impact on the region was around EUR 7,27 million, also generating EUR 0,81 million fiscal return.
On June 29, 2017, at the port's new cruise ship terminal was hosted the "Bilbao Bizkaia Cruise Forum". The event was aimed at a worldwide audience of professionals within the cruise port sector, travel agencies, auxiliary industry, tourism-related institutions, tour guides, managers of hotels, restaurants, museums, shops and all other local businesses that benefit from the Port Bilbao's cruise shipping services.
On February 16, 2018, the port (via the newly formed ITSAS GAS company) conducted its first ship-to-ship LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkering. ITSAS GAS is a joint venture of Port Authority of Bilbao, Basque Energy Entity (Government agency), Remolcadores Ibaizabal and Naviera Murueta (shipowner of Oizmendi). The LNG bunker supply vessel Oizmendi (fka Monte Arucas) was previously refitted to enable to hold (together with its conventional fuel tanks) two additional LNG tanks (capacity 300-m3 each), where the gas is stored in a liquid state (at -161 C) reducing its volume 600 times. The ship's reconstruction works took over 7 months, cost EUR 5,5 million and were done at Astillero Murueta shipyard.
Bilbao cruise terminal
On December 23, 2016, started interior works on the new cruise terminal building, following the structure's completion in November 2016. The new facility is located at cruise ship pier 3, This is the port's 3rd berth in Getxo.
The winning bidder for the construction works was a temporary consortium working with EUR 4,6 million budget.
In summer 2016 (April through June) was built the reinforced concrete structure. Works included foundation and forging of the terminal building's mezzanine and first floor.
Between July-October 2016 was completed the facility's metal structure, serving as support for the roof. Followed works on the building's air-conditioning, electricity, flooring, painting.
On the quay was constructed an outside gangway bridge for passenger embarkation/disembarkation (to and from the building). These works alone cost approx EUR 1 million.
The terminal building's height is 15 m (50 ft) high, with a covered area of 3200 m2 (34500 ft2). It is designed as a rectangular glass container and consists of 2 main floors (mezzanine in between). The lower floor has a tourist information desk, reception and check-in counters (for embarking passengers). Here are also the luggage collection area (for disembarking passengers) and the waiting hall. On the mezzanine level is the terminal's VIP Lounge plus offices.
Bilbao's new cruise terminal project also included upgrading the existing pier with long-stay parking (capacity 222 cars). The parking can also be used by Bilbao residents in no-ship days (when there are no docked cruise ships).
Additional 31 car lots were created for the terminal's staff, plus 10 lots for taxis and 40 lots for tourist coaches.
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