The European Commission gave on February 9th 2009 its green light for the launch of the “Marseilles-Provence Cruise Terminal”. The new cruise terminal in Marseille will be jointly managed by a consortium comprising of Costa Crociere, MSC Crociere and Louis Cruises.

The “Grand Port Maritime de Marseille” (GPMM) decided on April 4th 2008 to award to the consortium comprising of Costa Crociere, MSC Crociere and Louis Cruises, management control of the Leon-Gourret pier, the cruise terminal of the Marseilles Port that is now to be renamed as “Marseilles-Provence Cruise Terminal”. Having now gained the European Commission’s agreement, the materialization of this project is expected to begin soon. This is the first time, in the history of French ports that the State, via GPMM, and private companies collaborate, in order to develop Marseille into a major cruise hub in the Mediterranean. The agreement is valid for twenty-five years.

Costa Crociere, MSC Crociere and Louis Cruises chose to join their efforts to pursue the redevelopment of the port. More specifically, the three cruise operators will invest 8 million Euros and the port authorities an additional 4 million so as to extend the port to the North and widen the quay in order to increase capacity. A new parking area will be constructed while the cruise passenger reception areas will be revamped. The “Marseilles Provence Cruise Terminal” logo embodies this renewal and reflects the design and the colours of the new terminal.

Particular attention will be paid to the improvement of the quality of services offered at the new terminal, as well as to issues relating to social and environmental responsibility. The specifications of this agreement contain several requirements that the three signatory companies must abide by for the benefit of the Marseille community and the tourists who disembark there on a daily basis.

Finally, several hundred jobs will be created from this initiative, which aims to increase the number of annual passengers passing through Marseilles from 530.000 to 1 million by 2011.
Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere – "The objective of this partnership is to guarantee excellent service to all passengers disembarking at Marseille, while supporting the growth of the cruise industry at a local and national level. The direct management of the Marseille cruise terminal will help us sustain the growth plan that we have defined for the next few years, guaranteeing further development of our activities in Marseille, our main French port and port of call for our ships since the 1980’s, where we christened our latest flagship, Costa Serena, in 2007. Furthermore, this agreement is fully in line with our direct management policy for cruise terminals, a policy we were the first to develop in Europe, and that has already yielded extremely good results in Savona, Barcelona, Civitavecchia and Naples."

Giacomo Costa Ardissone, President of the joint-venture and CFO of MSC Crociere – "We are very proud that the three major cruise companies have been united in Marseille to guarantee the success of the joint plan for the development of the Léon-Gourret pier, improving passenger services and achieving the ambitious goal of one million passengers per year in 2011 at this new terminal. Our company aspires to use all of its know-how to support this new consortium and to share our sense of hospitality and unique style with the citizens of Marseille and our partners. Therefore, this year three of our ten ships, renovated or built at Saint-Nazaire, will drop anchor at Marseille: MSC Fantasia from March, MSC Splendida in July and MSC Lirica in September.”

Stelios Kiliaris – CEO Louis Cruises “Marseille has been one of Europe’s most important ports since 600 BC when Ancient Greeks founded the old port of the city. It is therefore a great pleasure for us to cooperate with two of the largest cruise operators as part of the consortium that will work closely with the local authorities in placing Marseille at the position it deserves in the world cruise market, the top! Being at the very heart of Europe and the Mediterranean, Marseille is an ideal cruise terminal for sailings to both Western and Eastern destinations. Its long and important history; its strategic location and above all the involvement of the main European cruise operators will undoubtedly lead to the establishment of Marseille’s cruise terminal as a major cruise hub. That is a commitment we have all gladly undertaken and will most certainly honor”.

The partnership created by MSC Crociere, Costa Crociere and Louis Cruises accounts for 85% of the Marseilles cruise market.