Investing in cruise success

Cruise numbers are continuing to rise in Malta and Gozo as the government commits to infrastructure improvements and stakeholder collaboration

Investing in cruise success
Valletta Cruise Port in Malta welcomed a record 682,222 cruise passenger movements in 2016

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Mediterranean sister islands Malta and Gozo are welcoming more cruise ships than ever before as capital city Valletta gears up to celebrate being officially named the European Capital of Culture in 2018.

In 2016, Malta hosted 81 ships from 42 different cruise companies and recorded 682,222 cruise passenger movements – a 2% rise from 2015 and an all-time high for the Mediterranean island. Meanwhile, smaller island Gozo handled nearly 7,000 passengers during 19 cruise calls – double the number in 2012.

Several ships made inaugural visits in 2016, including Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, which first called on 9 May and then made a further seven calls, bringing more than 27,000 passengers to Malta’s shores.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star also berthed in Valletta for the first time on 14 October. The ship will return in 2017 and offer a combined total of 20 departures from the port alongside Norwegian Spirit, amounting to more than 45,000 passenger movements.

This year, Malta aims to handle more than 330 port calls and 700,000 passenger movements. A homeporting contract for P&O Cruises’ Oceana will help Malta to hit this figure. In addition to sailing 27 departures from Valletta as part of a Fly-and-Cruise programme, Oceana will make five day calls, bringing a combined total of 110,000 passengers to the island.

The Malta Cruise Network Forum, which was launched last October, will help Malta to develop initiatives that promote and strengthen its cruise sector. The committee includes representatives from the Tourism Ministry, Malta Tourism Authority, Valletta Cruise Port, Transport Malta, the Ministry for Gozo, Malta International Airport, Heritage Malta, the Ship Agents Association, the General Retailers and Traders Union, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Foundation for the Development of Tourist Zones.

“Stakeholder collaboration is vital to ensure that the cruise industry continues to have a positive impact on our islands,” says Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holdings. “This will help ensure that passengers, crew and cruise lines alike have the best possible experience of what we offer, also with the vision that we will have them back on a longer stay.”

Following the recent €1.5 million (US$1.6 million) upgrade of Forni Terminal, a project to widen Quays 4/5 at Valletta Cruise Port is in the pipeline. Other plans include redeveloping the Old Power House to create additional check-in terminals and more cultural and entertainment facilities on the quayside.

“Continuous timely investment in our infrastructure and service delivery is paramount for us to remain competitive,” remarks Xuereb. “Malta is a vibrant destination and this is reflected in the port of Valletta and all the ongoing activities around the Grand Harbour region and the capital city. Our distinctive capabilities include a central position in the Mediterranean, sound port infrastructure and services, destination attractiveness and a diverse product offering, outstanding service delivery, and more importantly our reliability and flexibility.”

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