Stockholm voted best cruise hotspot in Europe

Stockholm has been ranked as the hottest cruise destination in all of Europe, according to the Brits, who voted the Swedish capital ahead of Barcelona, Venice, and the Norwegian fjords in a recent survey.

Stockholm voted best cruise hotspot in Europe

As a city of islands, Stockholm is an ideal cruise destination, and 24,000 British cruise lovers know it. The competition was fierce, but Stockholm was voted the number one cruise destination in all of Europe by readers of popular UK magazine Cruise International.

Claudia Quas, Project Manager of the Stockholm Cruise Network, said there are many reasons why Stockholm is growing as a cruise destination.

“Stockholm hotels and attractions are generally thought of as ‘high class’, and the city itself gets very high customer satisfaction ratings on shore excursions,” Quas said in a statement.

IN PICTURES: Cruising to Stockholm? Check out ten things locals say you shouldn’t miss.

The city’s relatively compact size also makes it easy to see and do a lot in a short amount of time, Quas added. Stockholm offers shopping, history, a royal palace, a stunning archipelago, century-old ships, and numerable unique museums.

Stockholm’s success as a cruise destination didn’t happen overnight, but has rather been a work in progress. Stockholm Cruise Network was founded in 2001 and has been growing steadly. Last year was the busiest season ever for Stockholm ports, with 274 ships visiting the two main ports just during the summer. Quas expects even more ships to visit Stockholm this year.

Stockholm, sometimes called “the Venice of the North”, was chosen over Venice as well as Barcelona, the Norwegian fjords, and St Petersburg. For the past two years Stockholm has been ranked number two, coming in second place to the fjords of its Scandinavian neighbour.

The competition was split into two areas, Europe and the rest of the world. In the “rest of the world” category, Stockholm shares its crown of glory with Alaska.

IN PICTURES: Take a look at the stunning Stockholm archipelago

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How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules