Cruise Survey
Results 2023.

Cruise passengers and crew in 2023.

Overview & Methodology

What do cruise passengers and crew say about our port?

Cruisedestination Kiel.

With 1.2 million cruise passengers in 2023, Kiel is one of the largest cruise ports in Northern Europe. We were interested in how satisfied our guests are with our port and what economic role cruises play for Kiel. The Institute for Tourism and Spa Research in Northern Europe conducted a comprehensive survey of 1,092 passengers and 396 crew members for us in 2023 from July to September.


Turnover passengers were interviewed at the beginning of the voyage and stopover guests on their return from an individual or organised day trip. The surveys were conducted on cruise ship calls of different sizes and passenger structures, irrespective of the season and day of the week.

Expenses & Revenue

Cruise passengers and crew spend money during their stay in Kiel. In total: 29 million euros.

Revenue through the cruise business in Kiel

Would you have expected it? The total annual revenue amounts to 29 million euros and is made up as follows:

Overnight accommodation

Passengers stay overnight in Kiel before and after their cruise, spending an average of 60 euros per person/night. This results in a gross turnover of around 10 million euros for the local hotel industry. The effect increases by 5.4 million euros if overnight stays in the region of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg are also taken into account.


One third of the sales effects for Kiel are attributed to the booking of a car parking space for the duration of the cruise.

Daily expenses

During their stay, passengers spend an average of 14.40 euros per person per day on catering and shopping. At an average of 24.53 euros, the expenditure of guests with a stopover is significantly higher than that of turnaround passengers (12.43 euros).

Expenditure by the crew

Crew members spend an average of 57.08 euros per person per day in Kiel. In contrast to passengers, other purchases and food are the main areas of expenditure.

Kiel beach at sunset
Picture: Tom Körber

Arrival & Sustainability

By train, car or plane - sustainability is also playing an increasingly important role when travelling. And how is it for cruise passengers?

Arrival behaviour

We wanted to know how cruise passengers travelled to Kiel. And this is how it looks: Over a third of passengers use the train to travel to Kiel. Compared to the 2013 survey, the proportion has risen by 3 per cent. 25 per cent of passengers travelling by other means of transport (car, plane, coach) consider taking the train, but decide against it. The main reason: the lack of reliability of the railway. Interestingly, 72 per cent of those who travelled by train are satisfied or very satisfied with their journey.

Half of the passengers (51 per cent) travelled by car, on average in groups of three. Only a small proportion arrive in Kiel by coach (4 per cent) or are shuttled from the airport by coach (8 per cent).

But what do these results from cruise passengers in Kiel tell us? Let's put it in relation to the general choice of means of transport by German travellers. The results are provided by the NIT's annual travel analysis. In 2023, the aircraft is the most popular mode of transport for the first time, at 47 per cent. In comparison, only 5 per cent of German travellers use the train, while 34 per cent use the train to travel to Kiel for a cruise.

Impression: Sunset cruise ship and starboard basket

Sustainable travelling

We asked passengers how important sustainability was to them when travelling. The result: for a third (27 per cent), sustainability was an aspect in addition to other things when choosing their trip. A higher value (17 per cent) compared to the NIT 2023 travel analysis.

Turnaround & Overnight stays

When someone goes on a journey - then it should be full of experiences and relaxation from start to finish. That's what our travellers plan in Kiel:

Time before vessel departure

Around one-fifth of passengers travelling on a cruise decide to stay in Kiel for an average of 1.2 nights before the start of their cruise. Reasons for this: Visiting restaurants, shopping and sightseeing. Even after their cruise, 11 per cent of cruise passengers extend their stay by an average of 2.1 nights - for further activities in the region or for shopping and sightseeing in Kiel's city centre. This means that cruise passengers account for around 15 per cent of total overnight stays in Kiel and a total of around 250,000 overnight stays in northern Germany. How much time do the other turnaround passengers spend in Kiel before departure? First of all: Many shipping companies now work with predefined arrival times in order to make checkin as convenient as possible. The figure has therefore changed compared to the 2013 survey. From an average of 5.3 hours at that time, the average stay has been reduced to 60 minutes.

Come back soon

48 per cent of passengers think: Kiel is worth a return visit soon and plan to do so within the next three years. The main reason for not returning soon was the desire to get to know as many different cities and countries as possible.

Expenses in passenger turnaround

During their stay, travellers spend an average of EUR 12.43 per person, of which EUR 5.66 per person are spent in restaurants. Compared to 2013, spending on gastronomy has fallen due to the shorter waiting time before check-in (- 38%). On the other hand, expenditure on overnight stays has risen to 60 euros (+ 7 %) per person per night.

Stopover & Excursions

On shore in Kiel. Our port scores points for its city centre location and easy accessibility to sights in the region.

Shore excursions

If you arrive in Kiel by cruise ship, you can already see the city centre from the ship. When you disembark for a shore excursion, you have several options for exploring Kiel and the region: on your own, with an organised excursion or you can do both. This fits in well with the distance our guests would like to travel to an excursion destination: almost 50 per cent would like to reach their destination within an hour.

What do passengers with a stopover here do most often? Here too, the port scores points with its proximity to the city centre: sightseeing tours are the most popular, followed by visits to restaurants and shopping trips. Passengers who go on their own excursion spend an average of 3.7 hours on the move.

What other activities would our guests like to see in Kiel? They would like to go to concerts or visit leisure parks and gardens.


During their individual exploration of the city, passengers with a stopover spend an average of 24.53 euros per person in Kiel. Essentially on shopping, cafés and restaurants.

Picture shopping tour city centre
Picture: Kiel-Marketing, K. Steigueber

Crew & Feedback

More than half of the crews shop in Kiel‘s city centre.


The port of Kiel is popular with the crew, who particularly appreciate the port's city centre location and the Seamen's Mission. The crew spends 57.08 euros per person in Kiel during the ship's time in port.

Download of the survey results as PDF

Download the results as PDF