The biggest cruise ship of this year’s summer season arrived in the port of Kiel on Saturday April 28th at the end of a journey across the Atlantic. The 139,000 GT and 333 m long “MSC Preziosa” arrived in the Kiel Fiord in the early morning and was welcomed with a water fountain tribute from one of the port’s tugs and escorted to her berth at the Ostseekai Cruise Ship Terminal.
During an onboard reception later, City Councillor Gerwin Stöcken and port head Dr Dirk Claus welcomed the ship’s captain to Kiel and presented him with the port’s official maiden visit commemorative plaque. Dirk Claus, who is the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co. KG) said: “We are delighted that this summer MSC is once again basing a Fantasia Class ship in Kiel and intends to further expand its commitment here in future. The waters of northern Europe are growing increasingly significant and are attracting ever more passengers and big cruise ships”.
Kiel is continuing to invest in the expansion of its facilities at the Ostseekai Terminal and in the Ostuferhafen in order to continue to guarantee its future customers first class handling quality. At the Ostseekai for instance, a second terminal handling building is being built and in the Ostuferhafen a €2 million baggage hall is taking shape. In addition port access areas and facilities in the Ostuferhafen are being completely redesigned and made more spacious.
From her base port Kiel, the “MSC Preziosa” is undertaking a total of twenty cruises in northern European waters this season and is thus one of the most frequent visitors to the Kiel Fiord. Her cruises – 17 of them starting at the Ostseekai Terminal and three in the Ostuferhafen – will take the “MSC Preziosa” not only to the big cities of the Baltic (from Kiel to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg and back to Kiel) but also along the Norwegian fiords (from Kiel via Copenhagen, Geiranger Fiord, Flam, Bergen and back to Kiel).
"Because of its geographical location”, said Dirk Claus, “Kiel is particularly attractive as a starting point for the so-called butterfly cruises. The combination of Baltic and Norwegian routes is an interesting option for many passengers”, he added. In this respect Kiel serves both as a cruise turnaround port and at the same time as a tourist destination. International passengers who have boarded in Copenhagen bring a lot of international flair to the city of Kiel and take part in day excursions throughout Schleswig-Holstein and as far as Hamburg. Among the favourite excursion destinations are places like the Hanse city of Lübeck, the local region of hills and lakes known as Holstein Switzerland and the seaside spa resort of Laboe.
MSC cruise ships have been calling at the port of Kiel regularly for thirteen years. The start was made on September 4th 2005 by the “Rhapsody” - the year before Kiel was elevated to a start and destination port by the shipping company in 2006. Since then, Kiel has been an integral part of the owner’s north Europe route planning and has, as of now, been visited 350 times by ten different MSC cruise ships.
Dirk Claus said: “The ships of MSC are among the most frequent visitors to Kiel. We are bound by many years of partnership, which we intend to further expand”. To date, well over 1.3 million passengers have boarded or disembarked from a ship in Kiel belonging to MSC and this year they will be joined by well over 100,000 additional MSC guests. During this year’s Kieler Woche sailing regatta – the biggest maritime folk festival and sail sport event in northern Europe – the “MSC Preziosa” can be seen not just once but twice on the Kiel Fiord - on June 16th and on the 23rd . When the “MSC Preziosa” closes her north Europe season on September 1st, the occasion will also mark the 370th visit to Kiel by an MSC cruise ship.
Kiel is one of the most popular German cruise shipping ports, recording 166 visits by 32 different cruise ships. By the close of this year’s season, 600,000 cruise ship passengers in addition to about 1.6 million ferry ship passengers are expected to have visited Kiel.