Cruise ship season has started in Tallinn, with a German ship disgorging the first 2,000 day-trippers of the year.
The season is projected to be on the scale of last year's, with 430,000 tourists from 150 countries expected to disembark before the season winds down in late September. Last year's totals were over 440,000 passengers, a 13 percent increase from 2010.
"The summer schedule will be fairly challenging on some days and the significant increase in the number of passengers will require additional large-scale investments," said Sirle Arro, Port of Tallinn's passenger and cruise ship division director.
Those days will be August 8 and August 25, when over 8,000 tourists will call on each day. The biggest single ship will dock on May 25, however, and the greatest number of ships - six - will be in port on July 15.
The scramble for better infrastructure to serve the hordes has been in the news recently, with the city of Tallinn brazenly proposing that the port authority go halfsies with them. The port politely turned down the profit-sharing idea .
Nevertheless, this year, the first impression is likely to be much more integrated for visitors, as Tallinn's gateway to the sea - the cruise ship part of it, at least - has been revamped. "With a new operator, our main goal is to take cruise area commerce to a new level and shape a commercial maritime gateway for Tallinn with only Estonia and Tallinn-themed merchandise on sale," said Arro.
She said another keyword was that this year, Tallinn is the beginning and end terminus for some cruises, which is new in 2012. In other words, passengers will be flying to Tallinn for a cruise holiday.