General Assembly in Almeria, Spain, on October 18th and 19th, with over 90 participants, including 69 delegates representing 39 port members and five associate members, six guest speakers, and five international trade journalists.

The assembly voted in two new port members: Civitavecchia, Italy, and Constantza, Romania. This brings membership to 51 port members, representing 20 countries. Also, six associate members were voted in -- five ship and shore agents: Afrimar (Tunisian Ports), Carimar (Cagliari), Intercruises (Barcelona), Samer Shipping Co (Trieste), and Tura Turizm (Sinop) -- plus one tourist board, a MedCruise first: Turisme de Barcelona (Barcelona). MedCruise now has 12 associate members, and a total of 63 members.

Several important matters of business were discussed at the General Assembly on Thursday, 18 October. These included an overview of the 2007 season; promotion; European Union relations (including a discussion on "shore side electricity" to reduce local air pollution); events; security (participation on the EC's Stakeholders Advisory Group on Maritime Security); professional development ("Ports and Passenger Shipping" course in November); studies (analysis of the economic impact studies done in collaboration with the European Cruise Council and consultants); member port statistics, and a follow-up report on activities in the Black Sea since the MedCruise Black Sea Roundtable in Sochi, May 07.

The assembly voted to hold its next General Assembly in May 08 in Trieste, Italy, on the Adriatic Sea.

Guest Speakers

On Friday, 19 October delegates heard presentations from the following guest speakers:

Philip Naylor    General Manger – Fleet, Marine and Shore Operations, Carnival UK
Luigi Pastena    Port Captain – Marine Operations Department, MSC
Tom Wolber        Senior Vice President, Disney Cruise Line
Hugues Lamy    Director of Marine Operations, Silversea
Sandra Yunta    General Manager, Palacruceros Barcelona Costa Cruceros
Nicolas Mariel    National Expert – Maritime Affairs, European Commission.
 

Guest speakers presented their views of the market, new builds, deployment, itineraries and cruise line–port relations, with insightful reports from Philip Naylor, Carnival UK, Luigi Pastena, MSC, and Hugues Lamy, Silversea, representing a luxury brand perspective.

Tom Wolber reflected on Disney Cruise Line’s first season in the Mediterranean in 2007, and Sandra Yunta described the development of Palacruceros, Costa’s new cruise passenger terminal in Barcelona. Nicolas Mariel presented on the "Blue Paper on a Unified European Maritime Policy", published on 10 October.
Following the presentations, MedCruise set up one-on-one business-to-business meetings between cruise line executives and MedCruise member port representatives, and between member ports and the press.

Western Med Itinerary Conference

In the afternoon of 19 October, MedCruise hosted its first itinerary conference in Almeria, focusing on the issue of congestion in the Western Med. MedCruise president Laurent Monsaingeon chaired the meeting, which began with a presentation by Giovanni Spadoni, port of Livorno, on an analysis of peak days at key ports in the basin. All cruise line guests were present at the roundtable discussion, including Elisabetta De Nardo, Costa Crociere's Port Operations Manager.

The dialogue between the cruise line representatives and the ports was frank. Cruise line reps emphasised a need for guaranteed booking of ship berthing dates, to be provided within a quick turnaround. Several ports stressed the need for flexibility and to evaluate varying vessel sizes in order to maximise capacity on peak dates.

After the itinerary conference, the Mayor of Almeria hosted a “tapas” dinner for members and guests in a cave, home to a flamenco association. Spanish typical food was offered, as well as a variety of traditional flamenco songs and dance performances.

To conclude the event, on Saturday, 20 October, the hosts took a sizable group of members and guest speakers to the 13th-century Alhambra palace and a luncheon in historic Granada.