Seatrade Cruise Med was returning after a four-year hiatus
For ports around the Mediterranean, 2022 has been a vitally important year in their recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic therefore continued to loom large in discussions in this year’s Seatrade Cruise Med, which was returning after a four-year hiatus, but there were many reasons for positivity as ports shared their continuing commitment to the industry.
The conference opened with addresses from Figen Ayan, president of the MedCruise port association, and Pierfrancesco Vago, global chairman of Cruise Lines International Association and executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise division. Ayan struck an optimistic tone, highlighting the appeal of the region’s history to cruise guests and the fact that there were only two months during the pandemic in which no cruise calls were made in the region.
Vago similarly emphasised reasons for a positive outlook on the return of cruising to the region. “Our ships are continuing to sail throughout the Mediterranean in what has been a great summer,” he said. “Our research shows that 84 per cent of cruisers want to cruise again, while 67 per cent of non-cruisers are open to cruising. Both indicators are now higher than they were before the pandemic, which demonstrates the rise in consumer confidence as our recovery has gained momentum.”
Alongside the conference programme, the presentation of the Seatrade Cruise Awards was held at the show, seeing Galataport Istanbul named as Port of the Year, the Port of Taranto receiving the award of Destination of the Year, and former director of Cruise Baltic Claus Bødker recognised with the Seatrade Outstanding Achievement Award.
Meanwhile, ports and cruise industry partners were sharing a wide range of new initiatives with attendees on the exhibition floor. Among the presentations was the reveal of a new partnership between Intercruises Shoreside & Ports Services and National Geographic Expeditions, who launched a new range of shore excursions named National Geographic Day Tours. The excursions will be available for small groups of around eight to 25 in Mediterranean destinations including Athens, Rome and Marseille.
Global Ports Holding presented its new plans for a 14,400 square metre terminal built from recycled materials at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The network recently completed its concession agreement for three Canary Islands ports, Las Palmas, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, which will include an investment of €40 million ($40 million).
At the stand for port association Cruise Baltic, representatives from the Finnish ports of Helsinki and HaminaKotka discussed the especially challenging situation they face with the loss of St Petersburg from Eastern Baltic itineraries after the imposing of sanctions on Russia. Along with the Port of Tallinn in Estonia, Helsinki and HaminaKotka are working closely together to highlight the continuing appeal of the region for cruise guests, emphasising the short distance between the three destinations in a time of high fuel prices.
The Ports of Toulon Bay, meanwhile, shared details of the progress of its onshore power supply (OPS) project. An investment of €20 million will see three piers at the downtown terminal equipped with OPS facilities by April 2023, with a contract already in place for power to be supplied to a regular ferry service and the feasibility of a cruise contract being explored.
The Ports of Cape Verde presented details about its Mindelo Cruise Terminal project, which is expected to be completed in November 2023. It hopes to attract larger cruise calls with the new terminal, which will be located on the island of São Vicente and represents an investment of €30 million ($30 million).
The French port of Le Havre will also be expanding its cruise facilities with the construction a new terminal capable of receiving three ships. Marine work has already begun on the €100 million facility, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025.