The Baltic gateway: building a dedicated cruise terminal at the Port of Kiel



Ulf Janke, Port of Kiel, Germany


With cruises in northern Europe becoming more and more popular, Kiel is investing in a new passenger terminal. In order to take great care for the growing number of passengers and to prepare for ever bigger luxury ships, the former ferry terminal at Ostseekai will be converted into a dedicated cruise terminal with two new ship berths. Reconstruction works started in June 2006 and are scheduled to be finished in spring 2007. The new quay site and terminal represents an investment of more than €20 million, cofinanced by the federal state of Schleswig- Holstein.

Long tradition in passenger service

Kiel, located in the most south western part of the Baltic at the entrance to the Kiel-Canal, has a long history and experience in ferry traffic to Scandinavia, and a high numbers of passengers pass through the port every year. In 2005 more than 1.3 million passengers made a trip from Kiel to Oslo (Color Line) or Gothenburg (Stena Line). With the introduction of the new Color Line flagship, COLOR MAGIC, in autumn 2007, figures are expected to increase once again. In recent years, services to Russia and the Baltic States have also developed a lot. There are daily departures to Klaipeda and sailings twice a week to St. Petersburg. Kiel is a gateway to the Baltic.

On the basis of well established ferry traffic, Kiel had good preconditions for developing into a cruise port as well. The cruise industry is rapidly growing, especially the continental European markets, which help contr ibute to this positive development. The port of Kiel is taking advantage of the trend towards sea tourism. In only a decade, the number of cruise calls in Kiel has increased three fold, and there are more than seven times as many passengers. Today, the Port of Kiel is among the leading German turnaround ports for cruises.

During this year’s season, 18 different vessels will call the port 92 times with some 140,000 passengers embarking or disembarking the luxury ships. The reason for this success is the geographic location of Kiel in south western part of the Baltic, allowing for attractive seven day itineraries to the metropolis’ of the Baltic as well as to the beautiful fjords of Norway, or a combination of both routes. Kiel has great hinterland connections and can easily be reached by car or train. The international airport of Hamburg is just 60 minutes away. Uniquely, Kiel offers ship berths right in the middle of the lively city centre.

Third passenger terminal needed

For the first time ever, during next year’s season, from the end of April to September, more than 100 cruise calls will be effective in Kiel, half of them by large cruise ships with a capacity above 1,500 passengers. With the increasing number of calls and the trend to bigger ships, Kiel has reached the limits of its current infrastructure. Apart from the two existing ferry passenger terminals at Norwegenkai and Schwedenkai, which are partly used for cruise traffic, there is a need for a new and dedicated third passenger terminal for the cruise operators.

Kiel has therefore decided to invest in a comprehensive reconstruction of the 1960 built quay site at Ostseekai, where short sea passenger services to Denmark were handled until 2003. This quay site, which is directly opposite the old town and the castle of Kiel, is currently fitted with three RoRo ship-berths with a length of 90, 120, and 200 metres respectively, and at a water depth of about 7.50 metres. As this is not sufficient for today’s cruise ships, a complete conversion of the quay wall takes place.

Rebuilding of Ostseekai

Reconstruction of the old ferry quay into a highly modern cruise terminal began in June 2006 with the demolition of the pier heads, the RoRo loading-ramps and the former passenger walkways. The first step of the newbuilding is the pressing of a new sheet pile wall forming two ship berths with a length of 350 metres and 280 metres respectively. Draught at the new quay wall is at minimum 10 metres.

Steel and concrete construction will last until early 2007 when bollards and fenders will be fitted. The new quay wall is built a couple of metres into the sea, generating additional and well needed terminal handling area e.g. for provision and general ship supplies. The area between the terminal building and quay wall will be filled with sand and receive a strong surface to resist high pressures.

Passengers will leave or embark the ships via two brand new weather protected gangways to and from the terminal. The existing terminal building was last modernised back in 1989 and will be adapted to its new role during winter time. The signed contract includes the modification, enlargement, refurbishment and new decoration of the waiting and embarkation hall on the first floor. The Ostseekai is designed to accommodate passenger changeovers for two ships at the same time and offers cruise ship passengers high quality service.

On the ground floor, the former freight hall will be converted into a specious baggage handling centre with check-in counters and distribution system to the ship. Suitcase security checks will also be in effect here. The Ostseekai fully complies to ISPS code regulations. At a later stage there are plans for an observation platform and a restaurant to be mounted on top of the building.

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