The Azores reach new heights in terms of stopovers and cruise passengers in six months

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The number of passengers arriving in the Azores aboard cruise ships rose from 68,000 to 115,000 in the first half of the year, and port calls increased from 113 to 132 ships, it was announced today.

According to state-owned Portos dos Açores, the archipelago recorded “the best first half” of this year in the cruise tourism sector “surpassing the record number of passengers reached in 2018 with 113,000 people and stopovers, verified in 2022, then with 113 visits”.

Compared with the same period in 2022, the data recorded in the first six months of this year represents a 69% increase in passenger numbers, from 68,000 to 115,000, and a 16% increase in crew numbers (from 51,000 to 59,000), the company revealed in a press release.

Cruise ship calls also recorded growth of 17%, from 113 to 132 ships, justified by “the destination’s attractiveness, its positioning on Atlantic routes and the growing assertiveness of expedition cruises”, according to Portos dos Açores.

As far as the islands are concerned, São Miguel tops the list for the number of ship calls, with 60, as well as for the number of passengers (76,000).

Aerial view of Twin Crater Lakes in rural landscape, Sao Miguel, Portugal
Aerial view of Twin Crater Lakes in rural landscape, Sao Miguel, Portugal

With 26,000 passengers and 24 calls, Terceira is the second busiest island, and Faial had 19 calls and 8,000 passengers in the first half of this year.

Portos dos Açores emphasizes that “the archipelago is becoming increasingly relevant for its entirety, for its diversity and, simultaneously, for its complementarity”.

“April was the month in which the Azorean ports recorded the highest number of calls, a total of 57, but May, with 45 calls, was also particularly noteworthy”, the company added.

In the first half of 2023, 15 cruise ships made inaugural visits to the Azores.

Portos dos Açores estimates that by the end of the year, there will be 72 additional calls, which should bring more than 55,000 visitors to the archipelago.

The last call scheduled for the first half of this year took place this morning with the arrival of the “Norwegian Getaway” at the Portas do Mar ferry terminal in Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel.

Big harbor in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Portugal
Big harbor in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Portugal

The ship, which is making the Atlantic crossing to Lisbon, has 3,837 passengers on board, most of them Americans, and will remain in Ponta Delgada for around 11 hours, according to Portos dos Açores.

The company also points out that “more and more” cruise ships visiting the Azores are designed “with the most innovative technologies in environmental defense”, with “regulations on energy efficiency, water resources, waste disposal, atmospheric emissions and protection of biodiversity in the places where they operate”.

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