A world-class cruise operation
Valletta’s Grand Harbour is in a league of its own: it is a surprising and rare combination of modern-day facilities and old-time charm. It is an integral part of the capital city, offering a combination of lure and capacity, of excitement and logistics, of attractions and strategic location, of lifestyle and tradition.
This juxtaposition of experiences has earned Valletta Cruise Port a number of awards.
“Valletta Cruise Port’s ethos centres around hospitality and customer satisfaction,” said Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding.
“Our success lies in our passion to provide an immersive, authentic experience, but one which is world-class. Together with other local stakeholders we focus on the delivery of best practices. Our success lies in the drive for excellence by the Valletta Cruise Port team and other collaborators, aiming to exceed the expectations of the cruise lines, passengers and crew.”
As a subsidiary of Global Ports Holding, Valletta Cruise Port has found further strength in being part of the GPH portfolio comprised of 14 worldwide ports, a number set to grow in the coming months.
“As part of GPH, Valletta Cruise Port uses common platforms including key performance indicators, shared software and codes and policies like security. All GPH ports follow a multi-faceted security plan made up of not only ISPS, but also two other international standards,” added Mr Xuereb.
Now in its 16th year of operation, Valletta Cruise Port has exceeded a target it had set itself – that of 700,000 passenger movements, by closing the year 2017 with over 770,000 passenger movements, arriving on board 342 cruise calls. This year augurs to be another positive one. Despite a shaky start to the year due to inclement weather, Valletta Cruise Port is still expecting another successful year of operations, with a number of highlights throughout the year.
Earlier this year, Valletta welcomed over 140 delegates for the 52nd MedCruise General Assembly, including cruise line executives, members of the trade press, top executives in ports and other key decision-makers in the industry. This event provided an excellent showcase for Malta and presented attendees with a key opportunity to discuss the latest developments of the sector and the implications and prospects of cruising in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas.
We expect around 300,000 passenger movements for the rest of 2018, closing the year around the 720,000-passenger movement mark
Valletta Cruise Port also hosted the naming ceremony of the Seabourn Ovation, a first of its type for Malta. The ultra-luxury cruise ship and its guests were treated to a line-up of celebratory events to mark this day, with one of the world’s most highly awarded actresses and singers of West End and Broadway fame, Elaine Paige, serving as godmother. A full orchestra ensemble directed by Sir Tim Rice provided additional entertainment during the ceremony. The evening was capped off with an impressive fireworks display synchronised to music, coordinated and produced by local fireworks’ factory St Mary Fireworks of Mqabba, over Grand Harbour, lighting up the historic buildings and fortifications in the process.
The year is characterised by a busy cruise season, including a number of cruise-and-fly operations. TUI Cruises have been using Malta for their summer homeporting operation since 2011. Additionally, Valletta Cruise Port started operating its second regular homeporting operation, with the P&O Oceana last year, and is currently hosting a similar operation.
“We are expecting another busy September and October. Seasonal cruising is indeed on the increase, with activity peaking post-Easter around April and ongoing until mid-November. We expect around 300,000 passenger movements for the rest of the year, closing the year around the 720,000-passenger movement mark,” commented Mr Xuereb.
“The cruise industry contributed a record €47.86bn to the European economy in 2017, according to figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association in its European Economic Contribution Report. According to independent studies, the impact by the local cruise industry on the local economy amounts to more than €94 million. More importantly, it is estimated that more than 80 per cent of passengers visiting Malta on a cruise return to Malta for a longer land-based holiday. However, it is vital to further invest in improvements to continuously offer an outstanding service to our guests, along with infrastructural improvements,” Mr Xuereb added.
Permissions have been obtained to widen the Pinto 4/5 quays by 15 metres, allowing the bigger ships to berth.
“With this development we are looking at a more attractive and secure operation, without the need for the spacer barges that we are currently using. Cruise ships are getting bigger, with the majority of the 128 cruise ships currently in the order books being large resort ships. We want to future-proof our operation by investing further in our resources and innovating to ensure we stay ahead of our competitors in the region,” added Mr Xuereb.