Valletta Waterfront welcomes half-millionth cruise liner passenger in 2008
The Valletta Waterfront recently welcomed the arrival of the half-millionth cruise passenger for 2008. The passenger, Shannon Berg, of Jacksonville, Florida, was onboard the spectacular Norwegian Gem which cruises Mediterranean destinations.
Ms Berg is travelling with her husband Stephen and this was the first time they were visiting Malta and the Mediterranean. Visibly excited, Ms Berg said striking the luck to be the ½-millionth cruise liner passenger will mean that Malta remains her lucky charm for the rest of her life and she will only be too glad to return and enjoy seven full days of “Maltese charm”.
“This unexpected twist of luck during our holiday is such a pleasant surprise and a direct demonstration of the centuries-old hospitality the Maltese are renowned for,” said Ms Berg. “I now look forward to skim through the surface of this promised gem today to then delve deeper into the beauty of the place on my return as a guest of the Maltese people.”
To celebrate the event, which is an important milestone for the local cruise industry and the Valletta Waterfront’s cruise liners passenger terminal in particular, Ms Berg was awarded a return flight for two from a destination operated by Air Malta, courtesy of the national airline, and a seven-night stay at The Palace boutique hotel in Sliema for two, together with spa treatments and a free dinner. She was also handed a commemorative plaque by Bristow Potteries and a Malta 360° book.
For the day, the Bergs received a VIP treatment together with another four friends they met onboard from Kentucky and Chicago coordinated by VISET Malta plc, operators of the Valletta Waterfront. They were taken on a personal guided tour to the Tarxien Temples and St John Cathedral and treated to lunch at the Valletta Waterfront. Avis Malta and Heritage Malta supported the tour.
During his welcome address, VISET Director Joe Demajo said the cruise liner business is a significant contributor to Malta’s tourism industry and one which is gaining a steady momentum with more cruise liners including Malta among their ports of call. “This is good news not only for VISET but also for the trade and the rest of country as visiting passengers leave revenue in other sectors and, even more importantly, collect Malta’s business card to visit again for a longer stay.”
Mr Demajo said by the end of the year, the total number of cruise passengers is expected to reach the 530,000 mark. This is a handsome increase over last year, when 478,893 cruise liner passengers visited Malta. When compared to the 313,611 passengers in 2005, when the Valletta Waterfront was inaugurated, the leap in quantity demonstrates that the hard work is reaping interesting dividends, he said.
Today’s was the 28th visit of the Norwegian Gem to Malta since it started operating on last May 6. During this period, the Norwegian Gem alone brought some 75,000 passengers to Malta. Furthermore, total embarking passengers this year amounted to almost 6,000, confirming Malta’s potential as a homeport and its suitability for turnaround operations, said Mr Demajo.
Dr Chris Said, Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information, said: “My special thanks to VISET for their commitment and professionalism in promoting our country across the globe. I say our country for a reason because I am sure that the success of VISET lies of their holistic approach, a vision that goes beyond their private establishment and their close surroundings.
“I attribute the exponential success of VISET primarily to their hard work but also to their ability to read market signals and their consistent believe that Malta’s geographical and logistical position has the potential to make Malta one of the top players in the Mediterranean cruise industry.”
Mr Demajo also handed out gifts to the crews of the Norwegian Gem and the other cruise ships in port on the day, the MV Discovery.