UK-based Global Ports Holding, the world’s largest port operator, has secured an agreement to run operations at the Bremerhaven Cruise Port in Germany. The company currently manages 27 ports in 14 countries worldwide.
Global Ports Holding Awarded 10-Year Agreement
On September 6, 2023, the Bremerhaven Cruise Port became the latest to award a concession agreement to Global Ports Holding (GPH). The 10-year contract has a 5-year extension option, and takes effect in January 2025.
The port operator considers Bremerhaven as a key step in its expansion into the Northern Europe market, considering its ideal location as a homeport or port call on Baltic Sea and Scandinavian cruise itineraries.
The Bremerhaven port operates the Columbus Cruise Center, where in 2022, roughly 230,000 cruise passengers were recorded. About 90% of those guests were embarking or debarking ships home-ported at Bremerhaven.
The port routinely welcomes ships in the fleets of Europe-based lines such as AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises, with frequent calls by other lines including Costa Cruises and Oceania Cruises, its schedule shows.
AIDAaura, as an example, currently is sailing a 21-day cruise roundtrip from Bremerhaven that departed on August 19. Port calls include destinations in Scotland, Iceland, and Greenland before the 1,266-guest ship returns to the German port city on September 9.
The new agreement is between GPH and Bremenports GmbH & Co., on behalf of the city of Bremen, located on Germany’s North Sea coast.
“I am delighted that Bremenports has awarded GPH the cruise port concession for Bremerhaven Cruise Port. This concession represents another significant step in our ambitions to grow our global cruise port network and to expand our operations in Northern Europe,” said Mehmet Kutman, Chairman and CEO of GPH.
“The award is a further endorsement of our operating capabilities and the benefits our stakeholder partnership approach can bring to cruise destinations, passengers and the local population. The GPH team look forward to working with all stakeholders to build further on the success of Bremerhaven Cruise Port,” Kutman added.
The Bremerhaven Cruise Port is in the process of expanding port facilities as part of a multimillion-euro investment by local government. While GPH is known for upgrading infrastructure as well as passenger terminals as part of its agreements with ports, no details of the company’s plans for Bremerhaven were contained in its announcement.
However, the company is scheduled to outline its plans for the cruise port in late September. GPH typically focuses on creating custom operating models for each port it manages, while addressing the needs of passengers, cruise lines, crew, ports, regulators and destinations.
Expansion Continues in North America, Caribbean
While GPH continues to expand in Europe, the company also has expanded its reach in the Caribbean, to large and small ports.
On August 9, 2023, the port operator announced it had signed a 30-year concession agreement with the government of Saint Lucia to operate the Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port in Castries, Saint Lucia. The pact carries a 10-year extension option.
In the summer of 2022, GPH signed a 30-year concession with the San Juan Cruise Port in Puerto Rico. That agreement was valued at $75 million, plus an additional investment of $100 million towards critical infrastructure projects.
GPH also manages the large port of Nassau, Bahamas, where it recently unveiled the first phase of a $300 million investment to upgrade and expand the cruise port at Prince George Wharf.
Construction work at the Port of Nassau, which is the Caribbean’s largest and can accommodate 30,000 cruise passengers per day, will continue into 2024 as the project’s Phase 2 is completed.
GPH also appears eager to bring small ports under its operations. In late 2022, it signed a 10-year management pact with the British Columbian cruise port of Prince Rupert, a frequent stop for cruise ships heading to Alaska from Vancouver, BC, and US cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.