The port of Civitavecchia is witnessing a remarkable surge in cruise activity, with an unprecedented number of guests arriving at its docks. In 2023, the Italian cruise hub has shattered its own records, handling over 3 million passengers, surpassing the pre-pandemic high of 2019.
By placing more effort into becoming a major turnaround port, and the construction of a brand-new cruise terminal, the port of Civitavecchia expects to welcome over 3.5 million cruise passengers in the year 2025.
Record-Breaking Passenger Traffic
Civitavecchia, the port city that acts as the gateway to Rome and Vatican City, has long been one of Europe’s busiest cruise ports, with all major cruise lines using the port intensively as a starting and endpoint of their cruises. In 2023, the cruise port exceeded the previous record of 2.69 million cruise passengers. The cruise port welcomed its three millionth cruise passenger, a number that will likely grow to some 3.29 million.
The remarkable feat was announced by Pino Musolino, the president of the central-southern Tyrrhenian port system authority, alongside John Portelli, the general manager of Roma Cruise Terminal – a joint venture of Costa Cruise, MSC Cruises, and the Royal Caribbean Group.
“The 2.69 million passengers totaled in 2019 was already a record for this port. But the 3 million reached now are a historic record compared to all Italian ports,” said Pino Musolino.
Looking ahead, Civitavecchia is expecting the numbers to continue growing further.
John Portelli, the general manager of Roma Cruise Terminal: “Having reached our target of 3 million guests by October 31, 2023, we’re now aiming even higher, expecting to close the year with 3.29 million. Our sights are set on hosting 3.5 million guests by 2025.”
The port’s strategic focus is also shifting towards welcoming more turnaround passengers – those who embark and disembark at Civitavecchia, as opposed to merely transiting. In 2019, 38% of the port’s total cruise passengers were in this category, a figure that has risen to 47% in 2023.
Economic Impacts and Future Developments
The rise in turnaround passengers is significant for the local economy, engaging a wide range of services including port workers, security personnel, and local hospitality businesses.
“Turnaround passengers have a ripple effect on the local economy, benefiting hotels, bed & breakfasts in Civitavecchia and Rome, and creating job opportunities for hundreds,” Portelli remarked.
To drive continued growth, Civitavecchia is building a new cruise terminal, the Bramante Cruise Terminal, which will be inaugurated in 2025. The cruise terminal, which will cost around 6.3 million euros, is named after Renaissance architect Donato Bramante.
The new cruise terminal is expected to modernize the guest experience at Civitavecchia, an aspect where the port has been lacking in recent years. The terminal will offer state-of-the-art facilities and services, reinforcing Civitavecchia’s position as a leading Mediterranean cruise destination.
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The expansion of the Bramante Cruise Terminal in Civitavecchia represents a strategic investment by Roma Cruise Terminal, amounting to 30 million euros since 2007, which includes the construction of the Amerigo Vespucci cruise terminal in May 2018. The initiative is particularly timely, considering the shifting landscape of the European cruise industry.
As some major European ports, such as Barcelona, are adopting a more restrictive approach towards cruising – for example, Barcelona’s recent partial ban on cruising – Civitavecchia stands to gain from this trend.
This will strengthen Civitavecchia’s role as a Mediterranean cruise hub and promises substantial economic benefits, as the influx of cruise ships and their guests can stimulate local businesses, create job opportunities, and contribute to the region’s overall economic growth.