Ship travel slowed down by restrictions

Ship passengers at the passenger bridge, arriving in Helsinki.

Due to travel restrictions brought about by the covid-19 pandemic, the Port of Helsinki’s total number of passengers only reached 3.7 million, which was clearly less than in the first year of the pandemic.

In the second year of the pandemic, Finland continued to impose strict travel restrictions. Internal border control in the EU’s Schengen area ended on 25 July 2021, but was restarted on 28 December.
In 2021, the total number of passengers to pass through the Port of Helsinki was 3,749,000. (2020: 4,757,000)

Liner traffic carried 3.7 million passengers, which was clearly less than the number of passengers recorded during the first year of the pandemic, decreasing by 21.4%.


Passenger traffic

Liner traffic 2019 2020 2021 Change-% 21/20
Stockholm 2 262 000 376 000 399 000 +6.10%
Tallinn 8 925 000 4 097 000 3 150 000 -23.10%
St. Petersburg 196 000
Travemünde 158 000 84 000 102 000 +21.40%
Mariehamn 48 000 50 000 72 000 +42.80%
Others 24 000 149 000 16 000 -89.50%
TOTAL 11 614 000 4 757 000 3 738 000 -21.40%

Tallinn route still the busiest

As usual, the majority of the passengers, 3.2 million (-23%), travelled the route between Helsinki and Tallinn.
Helsinki and Tallinn lived in many ways as a twin city during the pandemic as well, with both travellers and labour moving between the cities. RoPax traffic over the Gulf of Finland plays an important role in the everyday routines of people and the business sector alike.

The number of passengers travelling between Helsinki and Stockholm was 399,000 (+6.1%), as vessels were unable to start operating between the capitals of Finland and Sweden until the summer.
The Helsinki–Travemünde route saw 102,000 passengers (+20.7%). There was no traffic at all on the route between Helsinki and St. Petersburg in 2020 and 2021.

City centre’s passenger harbours

2019 2020 2021
Passengers of liner traffic 11 614 000 4 553 826 3 507 119
Passengers of international
cruise traffic
605 000 11 000
Vehicles 1 836 000 1 319 000 1 252 000
Ship calls 5 578 4 330 4 413

Passenger traffic gradually recovering

It is believed that passenger numbers will start recovering over the course of 2022, returning to their pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2023 or in 2024 at the latest.

It is believed that cruise traffic will recover in the 2022, approaching its pre-pandemic level, at least in terms of ship calls, if not passenger numbers just yet.

A short cruise season

M/S Artania.As restrictions on entry were lightened, international cruise traffic could be started again in early August. The first ship to arrive in Helsinki since 2019 was M/S Artania. The last ship visited Helsinki on 22 October.

The total number of ship calls over the shortened season was 14. They provided nearly 11,000 international cruise passengers with a chance to experience Helsinki and the metropolitan area. However, this was a far cry from the passenger numbers of record years, which was extremely unfortunate for the tourism sector in Helsinki and the metropolitan area.

The majority of cruise travellers came from Germany (80%), the UK (11%) and the USA (6%).
Read more about the cruise season

  • The cruise sector carefully prepared for safe travel. The Port of Helsinki has also been working with operators, such as cruise ship companies and agents, to develop models for cruise travel in which health and safety is taken into account in everything – both aboard the ship and during visits ashore. Operators are cooperating closely with the healthcare authorities of the ports of call. The safe model for cruise travel facilitated a safe cruise season.
    Read more about the cruise season start
  • International cruise traffic is one notable form of tourism that should be developed responsibly and in cooperation with different operators and stakeholder groups. The Port of Helsinki was awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label (page in Finnish) for sustainable travel operations in 2020. The Port’s action plan was updated and the label was renewed in 2021.