Located in the extreme south of Chile, Punta Areans, is anticipating a weaker cruise season for this 2009/2010 summer because of the global crisis. The number of calls is expected to drop 12.3 percent (17 less) totalling 79,950 passengers and 38,357 crew members, according to Punta Arenas Austral Port Authority, EPA.
“Some of this summer’s calls have been cancelled and re-scheduled to the Caribbean where they face less problems, higher turnover, and profit margins are more attractive than in the Patagonia and South Atlantic and South Pacific,” said Eduardo Manzanares, EPA general manager.
He added that besides the global recession, some of the “extra-port costs in the region are too high” compared to the Caribbean and this has led to the re-scheduling. Anyhow Manzanares believes that the following season, 2010/2011 should be “back to business as usual” for Punta Arenas and Patagonia.
The Chilean port official confirmed the cruise industry tendency of building ever-larger vessels, up to 294 meters long, with a business model based on massive tourism and lower costs with scale savings. However, there are exceptions: scientific cruises or those who prefer to travel and enjoy the Patagonian fiords with their wild life.
Although the regional cruise season took off mid-September with the Chilean vessels Mare Australis and Via Australis, the first international cruise is scheduled to arrive at Punta Arenas on November 12 – Prince Albert II. The season will close April 21, 2010 with Radiance of the Sea.
Puerto Natales has scheduled six calls this summer: Prince Albert II, November 9 and March first; Fram, November 17; Seabourne Spirit, January 30; Le Diamant, February 25; and Hanseatic, March 5.