Among all the various markets of the tourism business, the cruise ship sector has been one of the most heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions. On one hand, large cruise ships are still unavailable; yet on the other hand, the new season of river cruises has already opened and small cruise ships operators have an optimistic vision of the future.
Going forward into the future, a niche benefit for those vessels appears to be the ability to create custom made individual trips using small cruise ships to visit the historic city ports in the Baltic Sea region. For this reason, the ports in Sassnitz/Mukran, Rostock (city port), Kalmar, Karlskrona, Gdynia and Szczecin are exploring the benefits and opportunities offered by the Interreg South Baltic programme funding. This programme’s aim is to prepare offers for small cruise ships, which call at smaller ports, mainly near the city centre, far from popular cruise ships routes. The mere perspective of an economically viable cruise ship sector allows multi-million euro structural fund grants for the modernisation of city harbours in for example Rostock and Wismar.