Riga Looks to Boost Cruise Amenities

Credit: Freeport of Riga
Credit: Freeport of Riga

By The Maritime Executive 02-26-2019 11:01:20

The Green Cruise Port – Sustainable Development of Cruise Port Locations project completed an action plan for Baltic Sea cruise ports including options for the Latvian port of Riga. 

The project was financed from the European Regional Development Fund, and its purpose was to unite the Baltic Sea cruise ports to enable them to jointly examine: sustainable port infrastructure development, environmentally friendly passenger land transport links with ports and the environmental and economic impact of cruise passenger sightseeing on port cities. 

Market trends suggest that the number of cruise passengers worldwide may increase by another third by 2030, and the Freeport of Riga aims to almost double the number of cruise ship and passenger visits. The port handled 75,000 cruise passengers in 2018 and plans to increase this number to almost 160,000 by 2030.

However, existing cruise terminal infrastructure is insufficient. The Riga Passenger Terminal has a good location, but the length of the pier and the surrounding area are limiting factors. The Krievu Island terminal, which is currently being used for cruise ships during peak periods, is not ideal for development as it is a long distance from the city center and is an unattractive environment.

New opportunities are being provided as cargo handling is gradually moving from the historical center of Riga, potentially making space available for cruise passengers and tourists. A pier over 600 meters long pier, as well as access roads and infrastructure, are being vacated in Andrejsala and Ekportosta. 

The Green Cruise Port study has shown that the Port of Riga has the necessary main preconditions for sustainable development of the cruise terminal infrastructure. It highlights the Andrejsala site as a good one to create a sustainable cruise terminal complying with the most demanding environmental standards.

“By putting this territory in order, cruise passengers will be ensured access to the city center on the right bank. This gives us an opportunity to not only efficiently handle the current flow of cruise ships, which tends to grow, but also to implement an ambitious plan, i.e. to make the Port of Riga a place where cruises both start and end,” said Edgars S?na, Deputy Manager for Port Development.

Port CEO Ansis Zelti?š said: “The cruise industry worldwide and in the Baltic Seas region is developing very rapidly. We at the Port of Riga are also happy that the numbers of visits of cruise ships and the numbers of cruise passengers are growing. In the new Freeport of Riga development program, we have set a goal to make Riga an important cruise port in the Baltic Sea region. 

“At the same time we understand that cruise ships have significant impact on the environment, city infrastructure and people. One of the greatest challenges for cruise ports is the fact that the ships get bigger and bigger carrying even more passengers at once. Not only does it require the appropriate infrastructure to accept ships and passengers in the port, but also the introduction of solutions that would minimize the impact of the ships and tourism on the city environment. Our aim is not only to make the Port of Riga frequently visited and important but also a truly sustainable and green cruise destination.”