Year of Megayachts in Dubrovnik: More than Ever Expected in 2022

Daniela Rogulj

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This year’s first cruiser sailed into the port of Gruž on Thursday. Namely, it was the MS Bolette with Dubrovnik captain Jozo Glavić, carrying about 600 passengers.

This is not the first time Bolette visited Dubrovnik. This cruiser was already on tours that included Dubrovnik, only then its name was Amsterdam, and Holland America owned it. Now, it is owned by the shipping company Fred. Olsen Cruise Line. Captain Jozo Glavić made history when he passed through the Corinth Canal with the largest ship ever, the Braemar cruiser owned by the same company.

Announcements for this year’s cruising season were commented on by the director of the Dubrovnik Port, Željko Raguž, and the director of Dubrovnik Port Authority, Blaž Pezo.

“The arrival of the Bolette is the first harbinger of a great season ahead in terms of cruises. We are also looking forward to Viking Sky, Viking Star, Athena, and Arethusa, which will arrive in mid-March, after which sailing will be more frequent, according to the announcements,” said Blaž Pezo for Dubrovački Dnevnik.

Raguž pointed out that this is the best year ever for megayacht arrivals, but the same cannot be said for cruisers.

“More megayachts than ever are expected this year, even more than in 2019. We are talking about yachts over 100-150 meters, the announcements are excellent, and we expect to break all previous records,” said Raguž.

As for cruisers, he claims, it cannot be compared to 2019 but can with all previous years.

“We are working following the decisions of ‘Respect the City’, so we will not accumulate that number in the future to be much higher than it will be this year, so we can say that we are almost at full capacity,” said Raguž.

Pezo pointed out that last year was a ‘solid cruise season’ in which we were visited by 139 ships and 110,130 passengers.

“Given that there were none in 2020, we are satisfied with the result in 2021, or 30 percent of 2019, which is a good base for this season in which we plan to expect 70 percent of 2019,” said Pezo.

He added that they are optimistic about the 2022 season.

“According to current announcements, in 2022, we expect 343 cruise ship arrivals and about 530 thousand passengers, which is fully in line with plans for sustainable tourism development in the destination. Therefore, the maximum number of passengers on cruises in Dubrovnik throughout 2022 is 4,000 passengers at a time, or an average of two ships at berth,” Pezo explained.

Last year, city tours for cruise tourists looked quite different than in the pre-pandemic years. Last year, guests toured the city with strict measures; they could not enter restaurants, souvenir shops, or boutiques. There were pre-arranged spaces where the group could be, organized transportation, and passengers could not contact tourism staff without prior arrangement.

“On cruise ships, all passengers, as well as crew members, are vaccinated. Regarding the testing and application of epidemiological measures, the procedures are standardized in this segment of tourism,” Pezo explained.

However, this year should return to the ‘old normal’ and the extinction of the ‘bubble model’ of cruising tourism.

“It seems that this is no longer the case as it was with the ‘bubble model’ and everything should be as it was before the pandemic,” Raguž is optimistic.

However, he adds a dose of caution to the good news.

“There may be one decision in May, and then another in July, so it is still questionable. We hope that all these ships will come according to plan. Before the pandemic years, ships would come because there were huge penalties if they were a no-show, and now that’s no longer the case in a pandemic. It is enough to check out seven days in advance so that they are not punished in any way, so we need to take everything with some reserve. But, if last year we had five times fewer ships, and all the announced ones came, then I don’t think we will come to that as the situation is much better in Croatia and the world than last year,” concludes Raguž.

The Dubrovnik Port Authority is actively participating in the City of Dubrovnik project ‘Respect the City’, which seeks to ensure the sustainability of Dubrovnik tourism. As part of the project activities, the Ordinance on the conditions and criteria for the acceptance and allocation of berths for cruise ships in sustainable destination development was created.

“I especially emphasize that in 2022, an increase in traffic in the pre-season and post-season and a decrease in traffic in the peak months of the main tourist season, July and August, is expected. In this way, the cruise season has been extended from mid-March to the end of November and extends the tourist season, which I consider extremely important for the destination as a whole,” said Pezo.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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