The 2011/2012 cruise season in Buenos Aires officially opens next Wednesday with the arrival of the Norwegian flagged ‘Fram’. Until next May, 158 calls are expected in the port of Buenos Aires totalling 400.000 visitors which represents a 15% and 21% increase respectively over the previous season.
Buenos Aires authorities describe the coming season as encouraging and better than 2010/11, pointing out that 72% of visitors are foreigners mainly Brazilians and Germans.
According to the International Association of Cruise Companies in 2009 the number of passengers world wide totalled 17.5 million, which was 22% above 2005 and the “estimates for 2013 are closer to over 19.5 million”, said Herman Lombardi Tourism and Culture minister from the City of Buenos Aires.
Lombardi said that the Costa Group originally was planning to operate three cruise vessels in South America but they have decided to incorporate a fourth unit. “This way the company will be offering an additional 31.222 beds, compared to the 164.270 already provided between December 2011 and March 2012, which represents a 43% increase of the offer from Buenos Aires compared to a year ago” said Lombardi.
Costa Magica, Costa Fortuna and Costa Victoria are scheduled to operate from Buenos Aires and Costa Pacifica from Brazil. To these must be added three cruise vessels from Ibero Cruceros belonging to the same company: two from Buenos Aires and a third from Brazil.
MSC Cruises have planned to extend the season until April 2012. “When the last MSC leaves April 14 from Buenos Aires it will be sailing to Southampton and Cherbourg in France” revealed Lombardi who added that the bed capacity compared to the last season has gone up to 41.000 from 35.000.
Buenos Aires City polls from last season indicate that 72% of cruise visitors were foreigners (51.3% from neighbouring countries, mainly Brazil) and the rest Argentines. A majority of Brazilians and Germans (80%) insisted that “it was very important” that the cruise vessels call in Buenos Aires, and so did 75% of US visitors.
The average group of cruise passengers is made up of 3.4 people with 39.9% families (mainly Argentines and Brazilians), 28% couples, 27% friends and 4.6% singles. Almost half of the visitors spent at least a night in Buenos Aires because they boarded in the Argentine capital.
For the first time Buenos Aires will be receiving the exclusive Journey from Azmara and the Seabourn Sojourn, launched June 2010 with 450 passengers and 340 crew members. The vessels with the largest number of passengers are Costa Magica and Costa Fortuna with 3.400 visitors and 900 crew members, and Star Princess with 3.200 passengers and a crew of 1.100.
The longest vessels, since Navigator of the Seas cancelled the schedule, are the MSC Musica and Celebrity Infinity with 294 metres.