This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Valletta in Malta is a city in flux. Cruise guests will see things happening everywhere they look, which means they will experience a true festa (‘feast’ in Maltese) for the senses during their ship calls.
Although Valletta’s year-long stint as European Capital of Culture 2018 has drawn to a close and the curtain has gone down on its bountiful cultural programme, the cosmopolitan baroque city continues to bustle with activity. The past year has proven to be a veritable renaissance for the city based on a multi-year regeneration programme that places Valletta centre stage. Investment both within and outside of the city walls led to the development of new infrastructural projects, the restoration of public spaces and buildings, a rethink of logistics, and a hive of events available day and night. These new events are sprouting in regenerated buildings to include all manner of artistic pursuits – from art exhibitions and visual experiences, to music, dance, drama, literature and science – all of which are set amidst the capital’s iconic hotspots.
The success of Valletta Cruise Port parallels that of the Mediterranean cruise market and the port has far-reaching aspirations for the future. “We have indications that 2019 will be a record year for passenger movements,” said Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding. “Last year, over 710,000 passengers visited Malta on 322 cruise calls, a reduction of around 8% compared with 2017, which was a record year when 778,000 passengers arrived in Malta. In 2019, we are expecting over 800,000 passenger movements, which will make 2019 the best year for the cruise industry in Malta to date.”
2019 will indeed be a busy cruise season. Highlights will include a number of ‘cruise and fly’ operations by TUI Cruises and P&O Cruises, which will take place on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays between April and October. There will also be several new callers, including TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff Hertz (formerly the fleet’s original Mein Schiff 2) and its new Mein Schiff 2; MSC Cruises’ MSC Bellissima and MSC Grandiosa; Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Edge; Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic; Silversea’s Silver Shadow; Phoenix Reisen’s Amera; and Princess Cruises’ new Sky Princess.
To future-proof its operations, Valletta Cruise Port will invest further in its facilities. Permissions have been obtained to widen the Pinto 4/5 quays by 15 metres, allowing the bigger ships to berth without the need of spacer barges.
However, getting the hardware right is only part of the story. In a service industry, it is also vital to offer software that excels. “Our entire company philosophy is built around hospitality and customer satisfaction, and our company culture is reflective to this,” said Xuereb. “I’m excited by the commitment that our people have for serving our guests and delivering the best experience possible. All this is only possible with the drive, flexibility and perseverance of the people at Valletta Cruise Port and that of the supporting stakeholders.”
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