Icelandic town already looking to record cruise ship summer in 2013

Carnival, the biggest cruise ship company in the world, has decided to add Ísafjörður in northwest Iceland to its list of destinations in summer 2013.

The company has booked docking in the town for six famous ships: the Aurora, Arcadia, Oriana, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II (often called the QE2).

All of the six ships are very large and Queens Victoria and Elizabeth are among the most luxurious cruise liners anywhere, Westfjords news site BB.is reports.

Another big cruise company, Aida Cruises, will also start sailing to Ísafjörður in 2013.

As well as this, Holland America Line, which runs ships including Maasdam and Prinsendam, has decided to start calling at Ísafjörður again in 2013 after several years’ gap. The town’s regular cruise ship customers have already started booking docking for 2013.

This year was already a record breaker for the town, with 35 cruises booked to land — although five were cancelled at short notice. Next year looks good too:

“Next year is nearly sorted, although there can always be some changes which come up nearer the time; but advanced bookings for 2013 look very good — Ísafjörður looks like a real hot destination for that year,” says Ísafjarðarbær harbour master Guðmundur M. Kristjánsson. Asked what the town has to thank for its increasing popularity, Guðmundur says it is the reward for all the marketing in recent years. “We have been conscientious about attending overseas conventions and getting ourselves known among the ship companies,” he told BB.

He says that pre-bookings for two summers ahead have never looked as good as they do now — adding that the town needs to decide fast how to deal with all the extra traffic. All the ships will not be able to dock on the quayside and some will need to lay at anchor; meaning work should begin soon to widen the channel, Guðmundur believes. Cruise ships are a big part of the harbour’s business and increasing numbers are a good thing for the harbours service and the entire town, he adds. Many hundreds of local people earn welcome extra money on ‘cruise ship days’ in a wide variety of ways such as making food, guiding tours, helping in shops and cafés, driving coaches and manning the welcome/tourist information booth at the quayside. Ísafjörður is one of eleven cruise ship ports in Iceland.

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