Ancona, Italy, welcomed the MSC Sinfonia in June, the largest ship to ever call on the so-called old port area, according to Rodolfo Giampieri, president of the Ancona Port Authority.

"This is an important result based on hard work," he said, "it shows we are really willing to develop the cruise business. MSC announced the Sinfonia would homeport in Ancona last year and in 12 months we developed appropriate technical solutions to dock a 276-meter-long ship at a 200-meter-long wharf."

He said the port was in an enviable and strategic position for cruise calls on the Adriatic sea.

Cruise passengers docking find themselves near a number of tourism attractions, including medieval-style architecture.

The old port area is ideal for transit calls, as passengers step off the ship in a centrally-located area.

On the drawing board is new infrastructure to accommodate larger ships, including plans to build a new wharf and terminal.

“This year we are expecting 34 calls, with 16 from MSC Sinfonia for a total of about 40,000 passengers,” Giampieri said.