How are ports are investing in their success?

A look at the best ways ports’ are investing in local improvement to sustain five-star service
How are ports are investing in their success?
Valletta Cruise Port is benefitting from investments in local infrastructure

By Jacqui Griffiths |

This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

By investing in local improvements, a port can truly flourish. Take Le Havre in France, for example. Located on the route between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, it has made it onto the list of top cruise destinations in Northern Europe by being marketed as ‘Le Havre, the Gateway to Paris’. However, in recent times, the port has made a number of new developments that has enabled it to become a cruise destination in its own right.

In 2017, the 500th anniversary of Le Havre saw the city and port come alive, with festivities and special events taking place over a five-month period. All across the city, from the historic docks to the shopping district and the beach, art exhibitions, street parades, theatrical performances and boat races took place, making for a summer to remember. These promotional activities saw Le Havre Tourism and its Cruise Department win an industry award for destination of the year. Building on this success, Le Havre has created a ‘Summer in Le Havre’ programme for 2018. 

Elsewhere in France, investment in collaboration is paying off for Toulon Bay Ports. All the players in the Toulon port community are working hand in hand to improve port services. Working groups are organised regularly to address issues with the aim of delivering adapted and efficient solutions to customers and operators. And the whole community – both the port and the city – is currently working on a new cruise pier and terminal project. Work is expected to begin by the end of the year, with the aim of delivering the new facility by the end of 2020. This will offer better capacity for all types of cruise ships and ensure a smooth experience for both guests and crew.

Malta’s Valletta Cruise Port is also taking a collaborative approach. Its healthy rapport with industry stakeholders is further being strengthened given that Valletta Cruise Port now forms part of Global Ports Holding. This synergy allows stakeholders to efficiently and effectively respond as a unified team through the Malta Cruise Network Forum. In addition to this, planning permits are in hand to widen the Pinto 4/5 quays by 15 metres, resulting in a second berth capable of welcoming the large resort type vessels. With this development, Valletta Cruise Port is future-proofing its operation and investing further in resources and innovation to ensure it is at the forefront to welcome industry growth.

Expansion is well under way at Israel’s Haifa Port too, where a great deal of investment is being made to update the passenger quays. Originally built in the 1930s, the quays benefit from an outstanding location close to the heart of the city, but they are also relatively old. This year saw the completion of an extensive multi-year project, which included the renovation and reopening of all the terminal's passenger quays, with a total length of 900 metres. The terminal's façade was also given a facelift, thanks to funding from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Buses can now welcome incoming tourists right next to the ship, or in the terminal’s parking lot. Passengers who choose to stroll into the nearby downtown area can reap the benefits of a new campaign that lets them enjoy discounts at all businesses, restaurants and bars next to the terminal, upon presentation of their cruise card. 

It's a similar story at the port of A Coruña in Spain, where developments are being made to accommodate growing numbers of cruise calls and increasingly bigger ships. The cruise berth located in the city centre, which is 500 metres long and 11 metres deep, is unable to accommodate more than two big ships on the same day. Demand for multiple cruise calls is increasing, especially during May and September, so the port has begun discussions with its port operations and infrastructure departments in order to adapt nearby commercial and cargo docks. The aim is to make A Coruña an unforgettable cruise call and deliver a memorable experience to guests from the moment they disembark at port. 

While this level of expansion isn’t possible at the more remote port of Kirkwall in Orkney, it is still working hard to improve the customer experience. The port is just under 10 minutes’ drive away from the cruise ship berth, so transporting over 130,000 passengers and 40,000 crew annually into the town can be logistically challenging. To overcome this, and to enhance customer service, the harbour authority has contracted four large bendy buses, each with a capacity of 135 passengers. These buses have been branded with the destination’s website At a cost in the region of £170,000 (US$221,000) for the season, the port believes that this facility is well worth the investment. 

While the approaches taken by these different ports are very different, whichever way they choose to do it, investing in port infrastructure and services is clearly a key way of enhancing the guest experience and driving cruise growth. 

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