Number of passengers on Helsinki ship routes increased – cargo traffic dropped from previous year

Neljä naista ja matkalaukkuja laivaterminaalin lähtöaulassa.

In 2023, the number of passengers travelling through the Port of Helsinki increased by more than 12% from the previous year. All in all, a total of 13.9 million tonnes of goods were transported via the Port. This number is 8% lower than that of the previous, record-breaking year. Over the course of the year, the Port had a total of 7,321 ship calls (-1.3% from 2022).

“In recent years, we have been living in a drastically changing operating environment, and the year 2023 had two sides for the Port of Helsinki. Our passenger traffic kept recovering, but at the same time, the prospects of cargo traffic grew dark due to the energy crisis and the decline of the general economic situation,” explains CEO Ville Haapasaari from the Port of Helsinki.

The Port of Helsinki Group’s total amount of cargo traffic was 13.9 million tonnes (-8.2%).

Most of the goods transported via the Port of Helsinki are unitized cargo for Finland’s foreign trade, i.e. cargo transported on lorries, trailers and containers.

In 2023, the amount of unitized cargo was 11.5 million tonnes (-8.7%) in total. There were a total of 6.3 million tonnes (-6.1%) of exports and 5.2 million tonnes (-11.5%) of imports. 

644,000 heavy vehicles transported a total of 8.1 million tonnes (-7.9%) of goods. A total of 452,000 TEUs* (-8.1%) of containers were transported; the amount of container cargo in tonnes was 3.4 million.

The Port had 7,177 (-1.5%) ship calls by vessels transporting a total of 13.4 million tonnes (-11.3%) of foreign cargo. The number of coastal traffic ship calls was 54 (+86%). These vessels transported a total of 553,000 tonnes (+508%) of cargo.    

Cargo traffic20222023Change in %
Unitized cargo traffic, tonnes12,605,00011,511,000-8.7% 
  Import, tonnes5,906,0005,223,000-11.5% 
  Export, tonnes6,699,0006,288,000-6.1% 
Bulk product traffic, tonnes1,558,0001,525,000-2.1% 
Break bulk, tonnes879,000765,000-13.0% 
Total foreign traffic15,090,00013,387,000-11.3% 
Coastal traffic, tonnes91,000553,000+507.7% 
TOTAL CARGO TRAFFIC, tonnes15,181,00013,940,000-8.2% 
Containers, TEU  492,000  452,000  -8.1% 
Containers, tonnes3,806,0003,418,000-10.2% 
Total vehicles, pcs702,000644,000-8.3% 
Total vehicles, tonnes 8,806,0008,104,000-7.9% 

Passenger traffic increased

The number of passengers travelling through the Port of Helsinki kept recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic years, although this increase slowed down towards the end of the year. The combined total number of passengers in liner and international cruise ship traffic was 9.1 million. 

A total of nearly 8.9 million passengers used liner traffic**, which was 12.2% more than the previous year. Once again, the most actively used route was that between Helsinki and Tallinn, with a total of 7.2 million passengers. The Stockholm route was used by 1.5 million and the route between Helsinki and Travemünde by 166,000 passengers.

Liner traffic20222023Change in %

Helsinki had a total of 90 ship calls in the international cruise season, which was a clear decrease from the previous year. Still, the number of international cruise visitors remained at the level of the previous summer, as the vessels carried more passengers. All in all, Helsinki was visited by a total of 163,000 international cruise passengers.

Traffic prospects in the current year

“In terms of passenger traffic, our ship routes still have a partial shortage of international tourists, but we believe that Tallinn traffic holds further growth potential. The Stockholm route appears to be picking up steam as well, as Viking Line’s MS Cinderella will return to the Helsinki–Stockholm route in March,” says Haapasaari about this year’s prospects.

“As for cargo traffic, the beginning of the year is looking slower than usual, but we are expecting a turn for the better in the second half of the year.”

* TEU = twenty-foot equivalent unit.
** liner traffic = regular ship traffic that operates according to a schedule, e.g. RoPax ferries operating between Tallinn and Helsinki.

Port of Helsinki Statistics January–December 2023

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