In a major boost to Malta’s tourism, Valletta Cruise Port announced an exceptional year with passenger numbers nearing the 900,000 mark. The numbers surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Revival and Growth in Malta
Valletta Cruise Port revealed a significant achievement for 2023, recording nearly 900,000 passengers. This impressive figure not only marks a 65% increase compared to 2022 and but also surpasses the previous record set in 2019.
The resurgence of Malta’s cruise industry has notably contributed €85 million to the Maltese economy. This substantial financial impact comprises €32 million in spending by cruise passengers and an additional €53 million by the cruise lines, highlighting the cruise industry’s role in bolstering economic activity.
Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding, emphasized during a press conference, “This industry leaves a substantial impact on the Maltese Islands in economic terms: services to ships and services to passengers; flights to and from Malta with an impact on airlines and the airport, with passengers also having the option of spending several days in our country before or after their cruise.”
Looking ahead, Malta’s cruise industry is poised for a major expansion with more than 50 brand-new ships scheduled to be join cruise lines’ fleets by 2028.
Importantly, 11 of these ships are expected to enter the market in 2024 alone, bolstering the already-thriving cruise tourism in Malta. Xuereb feels this influx of cruise ships will help the port surpass the 900,000-passenger movement mark in 2024.
Malta’s Minister for Tourism, Clayton Bartolo, added, “As a country, we will continue working to have more cruise companies homeporting in Malta. We are committed to support the fly and cruise sector to see it grow further. It is important that we continue to work so that the industry remains based on sustainable foundations.”
Valletta Cruise Port Enhancements
In a bid to maintain its status as a popular destination in the Mediterranean cruise industry, Valletta Cruise Port completed significant infrastructure enhancements in 2023. This included a shoreside electricity infrastructure project that successfully equipped its five main cruise ship quays with shore power facilities.
Viking Saturn became the first cruise vessel to be fully powered by the port’s Onshore Power Supply system on December 1. This was closely followed by Viking Venus, which utilized the same system upon its arrival on December 2, simultaneously charging with its sister ship.
This shoreside power project is part of a larger investment, totaling €49.9 million investment, underlining Valletta Cruise Port’s ambition to establish Grand Harbour as a frontrunner in Europe for shore supply provision to cruise ships.
Additionally, Valletta Cruise Port is adapting to the evolving demands of the cruise industry with a crucial €25 million expansion of its berthing facilities. This expansion focuses on the transformation of the Pinto 4 and 5 quays, near the Customs Department towards the Valletta Waterfront, into a singlular, integrated 300-metre quay.
The extension, expanding the quays outwards by 15 meters, will enable larger vessels to moor at the harbor, eliminating the need for pontoons during passenger boarding and disembarkation.
The project also includes the reconstruction of the Lascaris quay, which had suffered extensive damage and partial collapse. Managed by Infrastructure Malta, parts of the expansion is expected to be operational within a few months.
Two Decades of Cruise Accommodations
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Valletta Cruise Port is strategically located in the heart of the Mediterranean. It’s also known for its dynamic onshore offerings featuring a range of amenities for cruise passengers, including a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, conveniently located opposite the berthing quays along the picturesque Valletta Waterfront.
Cruise lines scheduled to visit Malta in the first quarter of 2024 alone include Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Oceania Cruises, which is visiting the island nation in its “180 Night Around the World in 180 Days Los Angeles to New York” cruise.