Port calls by cruise ships also registered 17% year-on-year growth, to 132 from 113. São Miguel leads in the number of port calls, with 60, as well as in terms of passengers, with 76,000.
The number of passengers who arrived in the Azores aboard cruise ships in the first half of this year was up 69% on a year earlier to 115,000, with 132 port calls by such ships, up 17% from the first half of 2022, according to the public enterprise that runs the Portuguese archipelago’s ports.
According to Portos dos Açores, the archipelago logged “the best first half” of any year in the cruise tourism sector “by surpassing the record number of passengers, reached in 2018 with 113,000 people, and [of] calls, verified in 2022, then with 113 visits.”
Compared to the same period in 2022, the data recorded in the first six months of this year represented growth of 69% in terms of number of passengers, from 68,000 to 115,000, and 16% in terms of crew (from 51,000 to 59,000), states the company in a news release.
Port calls by cruise ships also registered 17% year-on-year growth, to 132 from 113, which the company said is thanks to the “attractiveness of the destination, the positioning in the Atlantic routes and the increasing affirmation of expedition cruises.”
By island, São Miguel leads in the number of port calls, with 60, as well as in terms of passengers, with 76,000.
With 26,000 passengers and 24 port calls in the first half of this year, Terceira was the second busiest island, while Faial had 19 port calls and 8,000 passengers.
Portos dos Açores states that “the archipelago is becoming increasingly relevant as its whole, for its diversity and, simultaneously, complementarity,” adding that “April was the month in which the Azores’ ports recorded the highest number of calls, a total of 57, although May, with 45, also took on particular prominence.”
In the first half of 2023, 15 cruise ships made inaugural visits to the Azores.
Portos dos Açores estimates that by the end of this year there will be 72 more port calls by cruise ships, bringing another 55,000 visitors to the archipelago.
The last scheduled stopover for the first half of this year took place on Sunday morning, with the arrival of the ship Norwegian Getaway at the Portas do Mar Mar Maritime Terminal in Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel.
The vessel, which is making the Atlantic crossing to Lisbon, has 3,837 passengers on board, mostly from the US, and will be in Ponta Delgada for about 11 hours, according to Portos dos Açores.
The company also stresses that “ever more” cruise ships visiting the Azores are designed “with the most innovative technologies in defense of the environment,” with “regulations on energy efficiency, water resources, waste disposal, emissions to the atmosphere and protection of biodiversity” of the places where they sail.