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First Cruise Call Returns to Valencia

TUI Cruises ship in Valencia

The Port of Valencia has announced that on June 27 Mein Schiff 2 be the first cruise ship to call since the central government called for a stop in all cruise calls 15 months ago. A second call has been scheduled for July 11.

According to the head of cruises at the Port Authority of Valencia (PAV), Francesca Antonelli, Mein Schiff 2 sails a Spanish-ports only itinerary and will dock in Valencia from Alicante and then go on to Barcelona. "It is important to stress that this first ship to visit us is on a Spanish itinerary,” she said. “Right now, the shipping companies have to redo their routes, reposition their ships, hire crew and, of course, sell cabins. This will take a few weeks and we expect the first international cruise ships to arrive in the Port of Valencia in July."

According to official sources, as of June 7, the ban on the arrival of international cruise ships in Spanish ports is lifted.

The docking of cruise ships in Valencia will be carried out in accordance with a series of health safety measures, following the guidelines offered by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and the Ministry of Health.

"The cruise ships arriving in Spain used to sail itineraries that also include France and Italy. Now, after lifting the ban in all these countries, the green light has been given to resume activity. The cruise lines are already working on positioning their ships to once again provide international itineraries," stressed Antonelli.

She explained that TUI Cruises complies with the safety and prevention measures set out in the "Protocol for the control and prevention of COVID-19 for cruises on passenger ships docking at ports in the Valencian Community" established by the Regional Ministry of Health. In addition, the operator has also established specific measures to manage COVID-19 and contingency plans where they inform port facilities and destinations of the procedures and preventive actions.

"The protocols are comprehensive,” Antonelli said. “They include pre-boarding antigen and PCR tests for all passengers and crew, passenger flow protocols, social distancing, health checks in transit operations such as those that will be carried out in València and, what is very important for our citizens, passengers will visit the city on bubble excursions, not being allowed to go on their own."

Mein Schiff 2 will carry a maximum of 655 crew members and 60% of its passenger capacity, specifically 1,879. It also has isolation and sanitary reinforcement areas to deal with incidents.

The PAV cruise director explained: "During these months all the companies involved (port authority, shipping agents, terminal, tour operators, etc.), the Regional Ministry of Health, Tourism of the Generalitat and València Turisme have worked intensely to guarantee the safety of cruise passengers, port workers and the destination of Valencia at all times. We are talking about safe tourism, with strict safety protocols and new routes that diversify the range of excursions offered by the ships docked in València, prepared for the new normality."

Thus, in addition to the demanding protocols established by the cruise lines to increase the safety of the destination, passengers and crew, the PAV and the cruise community have developed a varied tourist offer in the city and its surroundings with "bubble" excursions. There will be exclusively guided visits, with no possibility for passengers to go on their own, more destinations of interest, small groups and more outdoor experiences. In addition to visiting the city with panoramic excursions by bus, or outdoor routes through the Albufera or L'Horta, there will also be offers in destinations such as Requena, Sagunto or Vall d'Uixó, among others.

The resumption of cruise calls is welcome news. During the past 15 months the city of València and surroundings have lost some 70 million euros of economic activity, according to a study carried out by the Valenciaport Foundation in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

València describes itself as a medium-sized and sustainable cruise destination, with annual growth of 2% and some 400,000 visitors on 200 cruise calls a year.

The forecast for a normal year before COVID-19 was around 450,000 visitors for 2021.

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