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The cruise ship industry in Denmark



With Copenhagen as the turn-around destination.


Photographs: Pexels

Text: Mariano Anthony Davies


Cruise lines and their more than 1.1 million annual guests contribute more than DKK 1.25 billion to Denmark annually. In other words, each cruise guest in Denmark contributes more than DKK 1,000, mainly to the retail and hotel industry.


The cruise industry has created more than 2.400 jobs in Denmark (2019 figures), and the number of cruise ships that dock at Danish ports has increased by 42% over the last ten years.


Copenhagen Malmo Port (abbreviated CMP) is a major turn-around cruise port in Northern Europe and among Baltic Sea itineraries' most popular departure ports. Among those are the roundtrips to Norwegian Fjords (along Norway's western coastline) and other destinations in Scandinavia and Russia (visiting ports in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Estonia and Russia). In fact, cruises leaving out of Copenhagen comprise about 45% of all ship calls.


CMP is the tenth-largest cruise destination in Europe and is used by many cruise lines as a turn-around destination due to its proximity to an international airport. In 2019, the Port of Rønne became Denmark's second-largest cruise port, with 46 cruise ship calls yearly. Furthermore, the Port of Skagen has also experienced explosive growth, with 38 more calls in 2019 than in 2014.


International cruise vessels that visit Copenhagen during the cruise season either line up at the Langelinie Pier or the harbour area of the Freeport Piers at Nordhavn (North Harbour). The turn-around cruise ships mainly tie up at the North Harbour Piers for embarkation.



"Today, Port Copenhagen has 3 cruise ship terminals - Freeport Terminals (Malmo Port), Langelinie Terminal and Nordre Toldbod Terminal."

The Freeport Piers at Nordhavn and the Langelinie Quay are at opposite ends of the harbour area. Additionally, a new permanent and modern terminal (The Ocean Quay Cruise Terminal) will be established on the North Harbour to service some of the millions of incoming international cruise travellers and crew members with a pier to dock three cruise ships at a time. This is in contrast to the Langelinie Quay, which offers passengers historic terminal facilities in the Langelinie Park area, whose quay was established in 1910 for the embarkation of international cruise liners and still functions as a cruise terminal.


The average cruise ship season in Copenhagen Ports has almost 300-320 cruise ship calls annually, with over 1.2 million passengers and crew members from all over the world visiting Copenhagen by ship. An even larger number of cruise ships are expected when new Cruise Port Terminals and Cruise Ports are established within the growing harbour areas of Copenhagen.


Today, Port Copenhagen has 3 cruise ship terminals - Freeport Terminals (Malmo Port), Langelinie Terminal and Nordre Toldbod Terminal.


  • Free Port Cruise Terminal is in an industrial harbour area located north of downtown. It is used by major cruise line ships for whom its fast-food kiosks, cafes and waiting lounge are an enormous asset inaugurated on May 1, 2014.

  • Langelinie Pier is 3 km away from the central city. The wharf is used by large ships visiting Copenhagen as the call of port. The pier has an info centre and some stores for souvenir shopping.

  • Nordre Toldbod Quay's berth dock serves mainly smaller ships and luxury mega yachts.


New Oceankaj Terminals is under construction and will also have dedicated waste-water handling facilities (capacity up to 300 m3 per hour per ship). This new pier will have connection points every 60 metres. The project is expected to cost around DKK 700 million, with the southernmost part of the complex built on existing land and the remainder requiring landfill.


This new cruise terminal project completion has been postponed due to the Coronavirus crisis. Once completed, it will have a daily 5000-passenger capacity, a quay length of 370 m, a water depth of 12 metres and a 10.000 m2 two-story terminal building that will connect with the docked vessels via 2 gangways (mobile passenger bridges).


Copenhagen continues to be the leading departure port in Northern Europe, with approximately 50% of the calls starting and ending a cruise itinerary in Copenhagen. Cruise ships usually arrive in Copenhagen early morning and depart late afternoon. Therefore, many cruise guests visiting Copenhagen have plenty of time to enjoy the city before and after their cruise vacation.

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