Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2021

1 6 4 Aris Batsoulis tells Rebecca Gibson about the fundamental role MedCruise is playing in bringing safe cruising back to ports and destinations in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas MEDITERRANEAN: INTERV IEW A powerful partner M edCruise, the world’s largest cruise port association, marks its 25th anniversary in 2021. We ask Aris Batsoulis how he navigated the challenges of Covid-19 since he was appointed as president in October 2020, as well as his plans to continue expanding membership and enhancing MedCruise’s strategic role within the cruise sector. What are your priorities as president of MedCruise? I’m honoured to be president and my immediate focus has been to manage the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis that continues to negatively impact our members’ activities and pause the continuous growth our industry has experienced since 1990. Cruise is the most affected maritime sector and many ports have seen vessel calls decrease by 90 per cent compared to 2019. We aim to provide our members with the essential tools for creating and guaranteeing conditions for safe cruise ship and guest visits. We’ll achieve this by collaborating with our partners, cruise lines, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), local authorities and destinations. How are you working with your members and other key stakeholders to safely resume cruise operations? In the early days of the pandemic, we formed an internal Covid-19 Committee of Experts, which works closely with partners such as the European Maritime Safety Agency and the EU Healthy Gateways joint action to shape the decisions taken on protocols for mitigating the risk of Covid-19 and restarting cruise activities. We consider information from CLIA about the mandatory core elements of health protocols while we develop our own proposals. In addition, we organise regular virtual ‘morning coffees’ to allow our members to exchange ideas with colleagues in an informal way, as well as e-meetings where cruise executives update our members on specific health protocols. We’ve also developed a new edition of our MedCruise Professional Development Course, which will involve our members inviting stakeholders – including municipalities, tourism boards, destination boards, local health authorities and chambers of commerce – “ Many Mediterranean ports have worked intensively to create safe conditions for cruise guests” Aris Batsoulis, MedCruise President The new MedCruise video marketing campaign showcases some of the best aspects of cruising in the Mediterranean and adjoining seas