The event serves as a meeting place for safety, security and emergency preparedness for cruise activity in Norway. It has grown to become an important arena for dialogue between public authorities and the cruise industry, with a common goal of ensuring safe and efficient cruises. The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) and the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) are co-organisers with Cruise Norway and AECO.
The whole cruise industry in one place
This year's program was broad and attracted a record number of participants from several levels of businesses and industry. Representatives of cruise lines operating in Norway and shipping companies considering calling at Norwegian ports were present. So were representatives of cruise operators of smaller expedition cruises. In addition came a whole range of professionals with interest and expertise in fields that were relevant to the assembly.
"It is important that authorities and industry work together to find solutions to common challenges. Among other events, we use this conference to share information and update each other, and together we show the direction we envisage for cruise traffic in Norway," says Frigg Jørgensen, director of AECO.
Latest news on framework
Topics such as rescue operations, tugboat capacity and environmental preparedness were on the agenda. The innovative governmental information services BarentsWatch presented their free application ArcticInfo that has grown to become a very useful tool for maritime operators of Arctic waters. This year, the border police participated for the first time, to share how they work with border control for cruise traffic port calls.
"The cruise conference is important to us," says Truls Andre V Gabrielsen, Commercial Manager of GAC Norway.
"GAC assist different kinds of shipping companies. For me, this is a great meeting place for building connections and for a useful update on current issues relevant to my work. I share much of the input I get with customers and employees," he says.
"One of the things I appreciate about this conference is the broad selection of speakers who all contribute to great insight. This time I particularly liked that the police/border control were on the agenda, as we know that there will be several new rule changes coming."
The NMA and the NCA contributed with briefs on latest news on topics such as maritime safety, environmental preparedness, a regulatory update and trends on cruise traffic and the pilotage services. The audience also got to hear speakers share their experiences and developments of both large cruise lines and smaller arctic expedition cruises.
An important meeting place
"The attendance clearly shows that this is a relevant arena," comments NCA General Director Einar Vik Arset.
"The cruise destination of Norway is a strong brand that both the authorities and the industry must take joint responsibility of keeping sustainable and attractive - both in the short and long term. The framework for the industry must be predictable, and maritime safety must have the highest priority. It is important that the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the Coastal Administration set the agenda together with Cruise Norway and AECO."
Maritime Director Knut Arild Hareide agrees:
"We have everything to gain from having a good dialogue with the cruise industry. It is a large and important industry which has really taken in the importance of the green shift – And that with a whole new approach than just a few years ago," he says.
Frigg Jørgensen from AECO calls for framework tool that supports the overall strategy that is being put in place.
"We are experiencing political will to increase cruise traffic in Norway, but there are also critical voices working against, who address challenges that we must and will tackle.