MSC Orchestra arrived to Dubrovnik this morning. It is the first big Dubrovnik cruise ship to bring passengers into the city after a long and costly silent period caused by the pandemic. This 294m long behemoth can house 2550 passengers in its 1275 cabins. It is not new to Dubrovnik as MSC ships are some of the most commonly seen cruise ships in the city’s port. With the city’s tourism sector feeding so many local Dubrovnik families, the long awaited arrival of a thousand or so guests at one time is seen as nothing short of a blessing. This is exactly why Dubrovnik’s mayor Mato Frankovic was quick to point out the arrival of the ship and its significance on his social media.
Source: Mato Frankovic / Facebook
Dubrovnik’s love/hate relationship with modern day cruise ships has been an ongoing state of being for the last couple of decades or so. The cruise ship industry brought to the city a quick way of recuperating large numbers of guests after the Croatian Homeland war of the 1990’s, which left the city’s economy in a total shambles. Soon after the first ships started arriving back to Dubrovnik, it became clear that Croatia’s southernmost city is a perfect short stop port for many. Cruise ships brought with them large number of guests and did wonders in prolonging the tourist season.
Of course, it’s not all good news. A large amount of people coming to the city for a short time means crowded streets and traffic jams once again, an old Dubrovnik problem. For many, the experience of Dubrovnik became lessened by the fact the movement along the main areas was at times very difficult. Overcrowding and the strain placed on the infrastructure became a real issue. Dubrovnik’s image of a pleasant destination perfect for longer stays is now under threat.
With all this being said, it will be very interesting to see how cruise ships are going to fit into Dubrovnik’s tourism picture this year. There will be a few of them, most probably with reduced capacity and sales. This might be a unique opportunity to see whether cruise ships and Dubrovnik can finally settle their differences.
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