Med Destination Trends on Display in Valletta

MedCruise is taking place in Valletta

“The Mediterranean always wins,” said Captain Luigi Pastena, port captain for MSC Cruises. “The Caribbean offers beaches, China has shopping cruises and in the Mediterranean, we can offer seven different cultural destinations (on a week-long cruise).”

Pastena was speaking at the 52nd MedCruise General Assembly taking place this week in Valletta, Malta.

The group has grown to some 70 ports, expanding along with the industry, according to Airam Diaz Pastor, president of the association and commercial director for the Port of Tenerife.

“We are the world’s largest cruise port association, representing over 80 percent of passenger movements in the Mediterranean,” Pastor said.

The association likes to point out the mix of a product experience in the Mediterranean with various cultures and languages on display with no shortage of port opportunities.

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Among the challenges has been a shrinking region, as geopolitical issues rendered the Black Sea basically off limits, and sent traffic tumbling in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.

“We will go where our guests want to go and feel safe to go,” Pastena added, noting the situation was getting better.

In Tunisia, for example, La Goulette has welcomed back a handful of cruise ships with the situation getting better, although slowly.

Among other MedCruise news, the association now has an agreement with Princess Cruises to provide destination lecturers aboard the company’s ships.

“Our lecturers can speak about the next day’s port,” said Pastor. “They educate the guests with up to the date and local information. People get to know the places better and buy more excursions.”

There is also the potential for guest sourcing in China, as MedCruise is now training Chinese travel agents and maintaining a Chinese-language website.

Craig Milan, vice president of itinerary and destination development for Virgin Voyages, is among the prominent guests at MedCruise. Virgin has announced its first ships will sail from Miami, but is looking ahead to a larger future as well.

“We see Mediterranean as a very viable option … ports here offer amazing experiences,” he said.

“It is a great time to be a port today,” he added. “Many passengers take several cruises; maybe one a year or more, and they are looking for new experiences and generally won’t select the same itinerary again.”

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