15 MAY 2002

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Valletta joins top ten cruise bases

For 2002, Valletta has ranked among the top ten base-ports in the whole Mediterranean and Northern European cruise region, according to the results cruise activity report on the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

The report featured in this year’s first quarter edition of GP Wild’s Cruise Market Monitor – one of the foremost authorities about passenger shipping.

This report further puts Valletta in fifth place in a category of West Med and Atlantic Island ports with which it is grouped. Valletta is expected to host 158 turnaround operations involving the handling of over 78,700 passengers. It is anticipated that at this level it will precede famous ports like Civitavecchia, Tenerife and the French Riviera ports.

Asked for his reaction to the report, Malta Maritime Authority Chairman Dr Marc Bonello expressed satisfaction at Malta’s forecasts but admitted that he was not surprised. "The Port’s beauty and its proximity, both to the airport and to various places of interest, give Valletta a natural vocation for cruise hubbing, not to mention the extensive five star accommodation available and the speedy clearance procedures for cruise turnaround operations. The Malta Maritime Authority has invested a lot in attracting this activity to Valletta."

This report followed the conclusion of the Seatrade Cruise Convention and Exhibition in Miami, Florida. Although late last year, passenger handling facilities in Valletta were handed over to the private sector, the Authority was still present at this event, together with other members of the Maltese port community and VISET, the private consortium that took over passenger handling in Valletta. Although Malta already hosts most of the cruise companies operating in the Mediterranean, substantial interest was shown in the Malta product, particularly in respect of the recently commenced Pinto area project that includes the construction of two new passenger terminals.

Observers commented that the anticipated cruise turnaround figures are yet another milestone in Valletta’s success story, which saw 2001 results breaking all previous records, even as a port of call; with an additional 140 vessel visits, Malta in fact hosted over 273,500 passengers, over 50% more than the previous year. For 2002, the anticipated turnarounds complement over 300 other bookings for cruise vessel calls, with a total capacity of a further 230,000 passengers. Newcomers for this year include newbuildings like P&O Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess, Residensea’s The World, Festival Cruises’ European Stars and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper, apart from maiden calls by Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf, Island Cruises’ Island Escape, Aida Cruises’ Aida Cara and Seetours’ A’ Rosa Blu.

 



Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt