Bordeaux, the flagship cruise destination

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The number of cruises calling in the Port of Bordeaux continues to grow. Indeed, it has increased from 35 in 2015 to 53 in 2019. Thus, according to the forecast for 2020, this figure is expected to continue to increase with a dozen additional liners expected over the year. This is so long as cancellations do not rain down because of the current global health context…

Is the cruise having fun in 2021?

While uncertainties remain for next spring, in light of the current health crisis, many cruises are already planned. On the one hand, departing from Bordeaux directly, with river cruises already scheduled for April 202, and until the summer. For example to discover the Médoc, going up the river up to Pauillac and Bergerac. Or discovering the Libourne to Royan region, available on the CroisiEurope website.

On the other hand, from Bordeaux, it is the Basque Country, Spain and even Portugal that are available to cruise passengers. With, already, “cruise promotion” to take into account the impact of 2021. To enjoy Christmas on the banks of the region, however, you will have to wait until 2021 for exclusive offers. The charm of the river will have to wait a little longer for the winter glimmers…

Increased maritime and river traffic in line with strategic objectives

Indeed, contributing significantly to the the city’s tourist activity,cruises, “event” boats and even military ships sometimes bring tourists for a few hours or a few days, sometimes the flagship attraction of the moment as was for example the famous frigate “L’Hermione” during its stopover in June 2019.

A growth in activity beneficial to the local economy and territorial attractiveness,provided that it is part of a responsible and informed environmental approach. From luxury cruises to discovery weekends, the boat, the river, are all opportunities to travel in France.

Almost five years ago, Bordeaux Port Atlantique shared its 2015-2020 strategic plan. Among its many objectives: to “develop maritime and river cruises” in collaboration with communities and organisations related to the attractiveness of the metropolis (Bordeaux Metropole, Bordeaux, Magnetic Bordeaux, Bordeaux Tourism and Congress…). Originally aimed at 50 annual ports of call, the Port of Bordeaux reached this figure in 2016.

In 2019, the Grand Port of Bordeaux welcomed 53 maritime vessels,43 of which docked directly at Bordeaux Centre. These data show a 26% increase in passenger numbers between 2018 and 2019, reaching 42,000 people (1). Thus, in 2020, according to the stopover forecasts of the liners of the Port of Bordeaux, 65 boats are planned (2). Weekends or big cruises, there are plenty of opportunities.

In total, the number of cruise passengers has doubled in Bordeaux in 10 years. Thus, in response to the growing demand for cruises on Bordeaux, the travel agency “Destination Cruises” established last September in the regional capital and benefits from the actions put in place. (3)

cruise ship in sea black and white photography

Stopovers and cruise lines that benefit local activity

Beyond the interest in cruises, it is all the maritime activity of the Autonomous Port that sees the five-year plan take shape. Development of ship repair activities and increased capacity for boating on the flot basins side… The Port of Bordeaux articulates its various projects to welcome this growth serenely.

An activity that goes hand in hand with the creation of new jobs to build the neighborhood. And in particular sustainable jobs with, for example, the establishment of businesses related to the development of the port. In July 2019, Yacht Solutions signed a partnership to use the existing infrastructure of the Naval Hub. Objective: development of the finishing and customization of yachts on the site of the Watersheds. (4)

On the other hand, in addition to activities directly related to the port, the tourist activity of the city and the region which benefits from the growing number of cruise passengers and tourists. Thus, on the strength of all the actions carried out for the attractiveness of the territory, in 2019, the cultural places of the city show an increase of 16.8% in visitors, reaching 1.49 million admissions, attributed in part to the opening of new spaces (Museum of Bordeaux, FRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine MECA …).

Moreover, wine tourism also seems to be able to take advantage of the increase in attendance in the Bordeaux metropolis. The Tourist Office met a panel of 39 castles offering tours, which recorded a 10% increase in paid visits.

Cruises and environmental responsibility for the Port of Bordeaux

However, the attractiveness of a territory also lies in the preservation of its living environment. For several years now, Bordeaux and the Metropole have constantly faced the challenge of cleanliness, safety, green spaces, transport… The Port of Bordeaux, in its consequent development, therefore places a special place on the preservation of the environment.

Thus, on December 9, 2019, The City of Bordeaux, Bordeaux Metropole, the Gironde Pilotage and the Grand Port Maritime de Bordeaux, supported by members of the cruise gathered by Cruise Bordeaux, signed the Charter of Good Environmental Practices for the cruise.

This Charter is intended to be adopted by shipping companies whose ships dock in Bordeaux. It goes beyond the recommendations by providing that companies demonstrate the effectiveness of the measures.

Beyond cruises, responsible for the preservation of marine biodiversity, wetlands and water quality, Bordeaux Port Atlantique has been committed to this approach for several years. This is so that the Gironde estuary remains the best preserved of europe’s major estuaries in terms of biodiversity and the environment.

As a manager, the port must preserve this wealth. As a developer, he must integrate it into his development policy (5).

Bordeaux, a responsible vision wider than the Port and its cruises

In this approach, the port is not an isolated player for an ever healthier Bordeaux. Indeed, as announced at the G7 in Biarritz, the city is one of the 9 pilot destinations of sustainable tourism in France. It provides for an ISO 20121 “Responsible International Destination” certification.

A project that is based on 7 commitments. Deployment of soft mobility, fight against waste, protection of heritage, financing of sustainable innovation… This movement also involves visitors, professionals and event organizers.

Among the actions already in place in Bordeaux is the 20-hectare photovoltaic park in the Exhibition Park. Which produces in energy the equivalent of the annual consumption of 5000 homes. Or the introduction of two electric tourist trains to reduce the environmental and noise impact of city visits.

In June 2021, Bordeaux is expected to host the Africa-France Summit on the theme of the city and sustainable territories. Thus, the summit, attended by 54 heads of state and government, will bring together Political, economic and institutional actors from France and Africa.

This is enough to establish the Bordeaux Metropolis as a hot spot for the movement for territories where economic development, tourism and heritage preservation coexist and feed.


(1) Bordeaux Tourism and Congress, press release of February 18, 2020, “BILAN TOURIST 2019: BORDEAUX, ALWAYS ATTRACTIVE”

(2) Port of Bordeaux, Forecast of liners, year 2020

(3) Bordeaux Tourism and Congress, Press File 2020, “Bordeaux, por (e) of the world”

(4) Bordeaux Port Atlantic, Press release of September 18, 2019. “Yacht Solutions develops its business at the Bordeaux Port Atlantiques Naval Pole”

(5) Bordeaux Port Atlantic, Environmental Policy

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