Bordeaux air draught is now 53m and Pauillac pontoon development is underway
Late last year the work on matching the height of the powerlines to the two bridges in Bordeaux was finished. Hence all three now have an air draught to 53m allowing larger vessels up river. The city centre berths can accommodate ships up to 262m in length.
This year there are 57 calls and 45,000 passengers visiting, with 90% being overnight and some even staying for two nights/days.
Presently about 80% of calls are from the smaller, luxury ships coming into the city centre whilst 20% are from the larger vessels, stopping at Le Verdon at the mouth of the river. Although nautically easy, it is two hours’ drive from Bordeaux.
Hence there is a project to develop a new facility at Pauillac, which is worth visiting in its own right, being 18th century and located just 10 minutes from some of the most well-known wine estates in the world. La Route du Vin takes passengers into Bordeaux one hour’s drive away, along a very pretty road with opportunities for stops.
A new pontoon is envisaged, 700m from the city centre. A walking path will be created between the two. Technical studies undertaken so far have established that dredging will not give rise to any pollution and that a floating pontoon is preferable to ad fixed one, due to the 5m tides.
Laurence Bouchardie, head of development and marketing department and Cruise Bordeaux manager, Port of Bordeaux Authority, was keen to highlight the value of membership to Cruise Europe in Bordeaux’s search for a solution. “We used CE members to find a solution and benchmark different options in Europe. We are visiting Cork with Bordeaux pilots and we will soon be in Liverpool so that we can see different options which both work well.”
This Pauillac facility would cater for ships up to 360m in length and with 10m draught. “The cruiselines are very excited about this,” she added. There is also strong support for a terminal here and the next step, now that the technical studies are achieved, is to design and finance the project. “We hope to have this done by 2022”.
When it comes to turnarounds, the quay within Bordeaux city centre is within a Unesco-classified area so it is not possible to have any form of shelter. However several recent turnarounds for 200 to 300 passengers took place successfully despite having no facilities.
For larger ship turnarounds, covered storage facilities are required. Bouchardie commented: “I am discussing with the city of Bordeaux the possibility to have a temporary storage/tent for three days in the nearby gardens. This year we have partial turnarounds but as we have an international airport, many cruiselines are considering partial as with luxury they don’t board everyone in the same port.”
A couple of luxury brands are even requesting full turnarounds in 2020 and 2021.
Bouchardie is only too well aware of the need to have strong ports either side of Bordeaux in terms of itinerary planning: “Nantes Saint-Nazaire and Bordeaux are stronger together with new terminal projects. If you have more facilities, then companies consider building an itinerary in the same region. They use less fuel when they can sail in the region”.
“Within Cruise Europe we need to cooperate in a very local area in the same country because we need to give the companies itinerary ideas.”