Perhaps one of the most interesting destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Haifa has seen its cruise traffic rise and fall in line with security issues in Turkey and Egypt.
This year the forecast is for approximately 25,000 passengers on 34 transit calls, compared to record-setting 2012 with 118 calls and 170,000 passengers, according to Nathan Yaniv, director of the Haifa Cruise Terminal.
“That was a great year, but we can even do more than that,” Yaniv said. “In November 2012, for example, we hosted seven cruise ships in one day.”
While premium and luxury ships continue to call, the big ships are only expected to return in 2019, when MSC Cruises is coming back, Yaniv said.
Forty-six calls and some 60,000 passengers are scheduled for 2019.
Last year, Haifa reported 36,000 transit passengers on 48 calls.
In addition, Haifa is homeport to Mano Cruises, sailing from March to November, making 60 turnarounds with 50,000 passengers last year. The port also occasionally turns around other cruise ships.
“We are constantly improving our facilities,” Yaniv continued. “Last year we finished the renovation of a 150-meter pier next to the terminal. We are now working on the exterior presentation of the terminal and on improving the air-conditioning system.
“We are also working with the city of Haifa on offering cultural shows aboard the ships while they are here,” he said.
“Haifa is a great starting point to visit Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee, as well as Acre, Nazareth, Caesarea and more,” Yaniv pointed out, noting that more ships were staying overnight.
“The port is also centrally located, providing easy access to the city. The railway station is nearby so it is easy to get to Tel Aviv,” he added.