Valletta Cruise Port welcomed the Carnival Cruise Line brand in Malta, with the arrival of the cruise ship Carnival Vista. The ship was greeted by the lively tunes of a Maltese village band courtesy of Valletta Cruise Port plc.
In an address, the Minister for Tourism, Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis said this development was very exciting and that the islands looked forward to enhancing the relationship between the Maltese Islands and Carnival Cruise Line. Another interesting development is that approximately 80% of Carnival passengers are from the United States. This will help to diversify Malta’s cruise line market. Dr. Zammit Lewis said there was no doubt that the cruise market has taken on a critical importance within Malta’s tourism industry. A substantial number of first time visitors return for a longer stay, generating further business in tourism.
2015 was an absolute record year for the industry in Malta as 307 cruise line vessels entered the Grand Harbour. According to figures published by the National Statistics Office, these vessels carried more than 670,000 passengers, up by 30% from 2014. Minister Zammit Lewis said the trend was continuing. Malta has just registered an exceptional rate of cruise tourism in winter. 17 cruise ships called in our port between January and March 2016, 8 more than last year. Nearly 40,000 passengers arrived in Malta in the 1st quarter of this year, an increase of 90% over the same period of 2015.
“The results attained reflect the drive by all stakeholders to develop our product and promote Malta’s increasing attractiveness and popularity as a leading cruise destination in the Mediterranean, in what is a highly competitive market,” stated Dr. Zammit Lewis. The success in this industry is the result of efficient and concerted collaboration between various parties. He reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to increase efforts and investment, for further growth in this industry, and stated that the excellent results achieved indicate that Malta is on the right track.
Meanwhile Valletta Cruise Port’s CEO Mr. Stephen Xuereb commented that in 2016 Valletta Cruise Port is welcoming more than 74 calls from Carnival brands which include amongst others Costa and AIDA, with over 150,000 passengers onboard. 7 of these calls are by Carnival Vista with over 27,000 passengers.
“Valletta Cruise Port has just invested 1.5 million euros in Forni Terminal to accommodate the increasing flows of passengers onboard the larger ships. Improving the infrastructure on Quays 4/5 and towards Lascaris Wharf is critical to the continued growth of the industry in Valletta. We are currently working on these plans looking to the future,” commented Mr. Xuereb. “This year we have been vested with Best Mediterranean Port & Destination 2015 by Cruises News and Best Terminal Operator 2015 by Cruise Insight. Special thanks go to all the personnel of Valletta Cruise Port, who together with local stakeholders relentlessly work to ensure that Malta is professional, efficient, reliable and flexible in meeting expectations on all fronts”.
Before leaving port, passengers and crew onboard Carnival Vista had the opportunity to follow a historic re-enactment by Inguardia showing events happening during the times of the Knights of St. John, courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority. As the Carnival Vista exited the historic Grand Harbour, a gun salute from the saluting battery of the Upper Barrakka Gardens was given courtesy of Mifsud Brothers Ltd.