Popular European Cruise Port Breaks Passenger Records

Lisbon is becoming ever more popular with cruise lines and guests. The award-winning port recorded record visitor numbers in 2022.

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Cruise ship visits to Lisbon, Portugal, have hit a record high in 2022, with the Port of Lisbon reporting 103 turnaround cruise calls and 88,292 passengers that embarked or disembarked in the port. This is a significant increase from the numbers reported in 2019, with a 43% growth in port calls and a 21% growth in passenger numbers.

Lisbon’s growing reputation as a popular tourist destination and an important turn-around port for transatlantic voyages has led to this increase in popularity among cruise lines.

Not only is Lisbon a picturesque and historic city, but it is also a convenient stop for cruises traveling between Northern and Western Europe to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.

According to the port of Lisbon, in 2022, the port recorded 327 cruise ship calls bringing 492,438 people to the city, representing a growth of 5.5% compared to the 310 calls made in 2019. Of those 327 ships, 103 calls were made to perform embarkations or disembarkations.

Many cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, AIDA, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, and P&O Cruises, have frequent stops year-round in Lisbon, and during the summer, nearly all major cruise lines use Lisbon as a turnaround port or stop on one of their cruises.

MSc Cruise Ship in Lisbon
Photo Credit: Volodymyr Dvornyk / Shutterstock

The port is typically the last port of call in mainland Europe before transatlantic voyages and the first port of call after a repositioning cruise from the United States. The increase in tourism arrivals to the beautiful Portuguese capital city is good for tourism and has a significant economic impact.

According to the Port of Lisbon management (APL): “The interest by cruise operators to embark and disembark their ships” in Lisbon is evident. This is not only good news for the city’s tourism industry, but it also brings significant economic benefits.”

“A passenger embarked in Lisbon spends an average of €367 in the city, according to a study of the economic impact of cruise activity in Lisbon. This means that in 2022, the 45,276 passengers who embarked at the port of Lisbon generated approximately €17 million of direct economic impact.”

Just recently, the port of Lisbon welcomed the UK’s largest-ever cruise ship, the Excel Class Arvia.

Recognition for Lisbon’s Success

Despite having had more port calls, the port of Lisbon did not record an increase in the number of total cruise passengers, primarily due to health protocols on board. For a large chunk of 2022, cruise ships sailed with a significantly lower occupancy than the norm.

Lisbon Cruise Port
Lisbon Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Tanya.tuzyk / Shutterstock)

However, this did not diminish the success of the port and the city as a whole. The Lisbon cruise terminal was recognized as the best in Europe by the World Cruise Awards in 2022, further solidifying its reputation as a top destination for cruise ship visitors.

The Chairman of the Lisbon Port Authority, Carlos Correia, highlighted the importance of this recognition: “This distinction is a clear recognition of the work developed by the port, the city and all the agents involved in the cruise sector, who have been able to adapt and overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic.”

Lisbon offers a variety of excursions for cruise passengers to enjoy. Visitors can explore the historic city center and admire the architecture for which the city is famous. Taking a traditional tram ride through the city is also a popular way to experience the culture and views of Lisbon. 

Wine lovers can take a tour of the nearby wine regions and taste some of the local wines. For those looking for a more laid-back experience, there are plenty of opportunities to relax on the city’s many beaches. 

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