New passenger terminal for Rīga Port planned

An international design competition for a new, modern, and environmentally friendly passenger terminal in Rīga closes on Monday, March 25. The new terminal could accommodate up to 150 cruise ships and 540 ships per year in the passenger and cargo segments, Latvian Radio reports.

Although the number of cruise ships calling at Rīga has been decreasing in recent years, the number is expected to increase in the future. There are also plans to restore regular ferry services and to redevelop the southern 20 hectares of Eksportosta Port.

Jūlija Bērziņa, Board Member and Project Manager of Riga Ropax Terminal, explained why a new passenger terminal is needed in the Port of Riga:

"At the moment we have cruise ships in Riga partially serviced in the existing passenger port and 16% also serviced in the cargo terminals on Krievu Island, which definitely does not go along with the cruise concept and idea as such.

"Given that the average age of cruise passengers in Europe is around 70 years, docking at a cargo terminal and maneuvering between logs to get out of that terminal certainly does not enhance the perception of Riga and does not encourage a desire to return."

Last year there were 90 cruise ships in Riga and this year 60 are expected. Although cruise ships used to dock in Riga close to the Old Town, at the Vanšu Bridge, Ieva Lasmane, Head of Tourism at the Riga Investment and Tourism Agency, does not think that the distance to Eksportosta will affect cruise ship traffic:

"It's only a little bit further, and the connections are planned both by public transport and, if you're talking about, say, cruise ship passengers, they're bussed from the ferry to the arrival point anyway. The reason why the number of cruise ships is decreasing, not only in Riga but throughout the Baltic Sea, is that the main point of attraction for this Baltic cruise until now has been St Petersburg. In the absence of this stop on this route, some cruise lines have chosen to stop Baltic cruises altogether. But in the future, a new passenger terminal for Riga is definitely needed, both to attract more cruise ships in the future and, when the situation improves, to bring the ferry line back to Riga, as the existing terminal can handle very low volumes.  It is therefore clear that a modern, new terminal would be a major advantage.

Bērziņa, project manager at Riga Ropax Terminal, said that one of the objectives of the new terminal is to restore regular ferry services. The southern part of the 20-hectare Eksportosta will also be developed, with a pedestrian promenade and a children's playground at an estimated cost of €90 million, less than half of which will be covered by the Freeport of Riga Authority and the rest by the private sector.

Construction of the new passenger terminal is expected to start in 2026 and be completed in 2028.

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