The Port of Helsinki is Finland's major seaport for imports and tourism. The Port of Helsinki Authority is deeply involved in the metropolitan area's development and business life, operating under five basic principles: customer service, profitability, reliability, constant improvement, and environmental stewardship.
The Port of Helsinki's major trading partners are Germany, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia. In 2008, the Port of Helsinki handled some 10.5 thousand vessel calls and over 11.8 million tons of cargo, including 999 thousand tons of bulk cargo and almost 10.9 million tons of unitized cargoes. Almost all of that cargo represented foreign trade. The Port of Helsinki handled 5.5 million tons of imports and 5.4 million tons of exports of unitized cargoes, including 420 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo and 518 thousand trucks and trailers. Almost nine million passengers passed through the Port of Helsinki in 2008, including 360 thousand cruise passengers.
Services in the Port of Helsinki are provided by private companies, although the Port of Helsinki manages passenger traffic. Operating from the city center, port facilities in Vousaari are important to the Port of Helsinki, serving container and roll-on/roll-off cargo traffic. Passenger traffic is focused in the South and West Harbors of the Port of Helsinki.
Much of the cargo traffic in the Port of Helsinki consists of foreign imports and exports. Containers make up the core of cargo traffic. Cargo throughput in the Port of Helsinki accounts for about a third of all Finnish foreign trade and about two-fifths of the country's seaborne foreign trade. Cargo imports handled by the Port of Helsinki include consumer goods, foodstuffs, raw materials, and semi-finished industrial products. Exports include forestry products, metals, foodstuffs, textiles, and glassware.
Container traffic in the Port of Helsinki moves through Vuosaari Harbour, some 15 kilometers east of the main port. In addition to handling cargo, the Port of Helsinki's container terminals offer storage and inspection services. The Port of Helsinki's Vuosaari Harbour Center covers about 122 hectares of open yards and some four hectares of heated stores. The terminal includes space for dangerous goods, over 340 coupling points for free containers, and 48 reefer points. The Finnsteve terminal container yard has capacity for five thousand TEUs and some 180 reefer plugs inside a one-hectare heated warehouse. Container freight station services for exports include a 1.8 hectare warehouse with container-stuffing services handling 24 containers at one time. A second 2.2 hectare warehouse stores both containers and packaged timber.
Steveco's Vuosaari container terminal has capacity to handle some 400 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo and as many as 150 thousand trailers. Offering space for temperature-controlled containers, the terminal loads/unloads vessels, stores containers, and stuffs and strips containers.
Also in Vuosaari, Multi-Link Terminals Limited has a 5.7 hectare facility with capacity for 4138 TEUs. The terminal offers vessel loading/unloading services, container yard operations, and storage for containers that includes reefer connections for at least 87 containers.
In the Port of Helsinki's South Harbour, Viking Line ABP handles truck and trailer traffic for their ships in the Stockholm and Tallinn service. In the West Harbour, the Eckero Line AB OY and Tallink Silja OY shipping companies employ their passenger ships to handle cargo as well.
The Port of Helsinki is the busiest passenger port in Finland, offering connections to Tallinn, Stockholm, Rostock, Travemunde, and Gdynia. In the summer season, some 17 vessels leave for Tallinn on a daily basis, and the Port of Helsinki welcomes nearly 300 cruise ship calls carrying more than 360 thousand passengers to the Port of Helsinki.