For Punta Arenas, extreme south of Chile, this last cruise season was positive while the coming 2019/20 is expected to be even better with some 130 calls and over 94.000 passengers with an estimated increase of 34%, according to Patricia Lopez Manieu, General Manager of the Austral Ports Company, EPA, from Punta Arenas.
During the 2018/19 season the originally estimated 80.000 visitor number was down to 70.229 with a total of 134 calls, of which 96% visited Punta Arenas, 2% in Puerto Natales and 2% in Puerto Williams. The original number was to be some 80.000 visitors but five calls had to be cancelled, four because of adverse climate conditions, which meant 8.600 visitors could not stop at Punta Arenas.
Anyhow overall international cruises completed 77 calls with 62.241 passengers, while the domestic and regional companies totaled 57 calls and some 8.000 visitors. This meant that the number of cruise calls increased 7% over the 2017/2018 season while the number of visitors, was up 2%.”But for the Austral Ports Company it was the best season since 2015/16 when Punta Arenas hosted some 70.000 visitors, said Ms Patricia Lopez.
Looking to the next season, Ms Patricia Lopez anticipated 130 calls and 94.182 passengers, of which 87.500 from the international vessels (84 calls), and some 6.600 from 46 domestic and regional calls
Ms Lopez also mentioned that in 2019/20 new cruise lines are interested in visiting Punta Arenas and mentioned MSC Cruises with the MSC Magnifica, CJ and 2.158 passengers, on a world tour and is expected to visit Chile sometime in mid February.
Princess Cruises is incorporating Coral Princess and Islands Princess, which will replace Star Princess a long standing client of the region. Anyhow, we expect the number of calls to increase since most companies are still in the process of ratifying their visits. Actually at EPA we are particularly waiting for Hurtigruren which is considering Punta Arenas as a 'home port', revealed Ms Lopez
Holland American is incorporating Koningsdam with a passenger capacity of 2.650 which will add to its regular Zaandam, while Viking Cruises, CJ which this ended season called once, is planning sixteen calls with 14.000 passenger for 2019/2020, with Viking Sun and Viking Jupiter.
EPA General Manager also made some reference to infrastructure improvements in the two main Punta Arenas docks. The Prat will be expanded with an investment of US$ 3 million and is expected to be finished next year with a mooring post and an additional dolphin. Likewise with the Maradones dock which will be converted to include working with bulk cargo.
The company is also very much aware that for the 2020/21 season, we should be expecting cruise vessels with over 3.000 passenger capacity, concluded Patricia Lopez.