Italian Cruise Port Posts Rebound as Season Closes

The Catania Cruise port in Sicily, Italy, announces record cruise numbers as the 2022 season comes to a close.

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Catania Cruise Port has officially ended its 2022 cruise season, with port calls and passenger arrivals showing a major rebound compared to the previous year. The Sicilian port’s outlook for 2023 also is bright, port officials declared.

Numbers Show Big Improvement Over 2021

Officials at Catania Cruise Port’s closing ceremony for the 2022 cruise season, held on December 21, were enthusiastic about the number of ship calls — there were 90, and the volume of cruise passengers visiting the port reached nearly 140,000.

The post-pandemic growth represents a substantial improvement over 2021, when there were just 21 port calls and 14,000 cruise passengers arriving.

Catania Cruise Port
Photo Courtesy: Global Ports Holding

Raffaella Del Prete, General Manager of Catania Cruise Port, said, “The resumption of cruise traffic after the pandemic is evident in the sector and Catania Cruise Port, with intense marketing and collaboration work with local institutions and realities, has managed to quickly resume performance and important volumes.

Thanks also to the network of the group we belong to, Global Ports Holding, we are working hard to ensure that this growth is confirmed and accentuated in 2023 and in the years to come,” added Del Prete.

Passenger Arrivals to Reach 150K in 2023

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, officials are upbeat as the port is in line to receive about 90 port calls and 150,000 passengers. The port’s leading cruise customer is Costa Cruises, mostly serving the Italian market, plus the TUI and AIDA, brands, which largely serve the German market and are “true admirers of the Sicilian destination,” the officials said.

Costa Deliziosa, in fact, called at Catania on its first cruise in 2020, when service resumed after the Covid suspension. And it was an AIDA Cruises’ ship, the AIDAblu, that was the first to call as it opened the port’s 2022 season last March.

Catania Cruise Port
Photo Credit: Michal Karpinski / Shutterstock

The port this year posted significant growth in the volume of embarkations and disembarkations, thanks to the weekly arrival of the Costa Pacifica, which visited every Sunday between June and September.

Catania is the port for Mount Etna, the volcano that’s less than an hour’s drive from the Catania port and a major shore excursion site. Other major cruise lines that regularly called at the port this year included Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Sea Cloud Cruises and Emerald Cruises, according to the port.

Pre-Covid Arrival Numbers Still Elusive

While the 2022 season is considered a success by port officials, the Port of Catania still has a way to go before reaching its pre-Covid era arrivals.

According to port records, in 2019, there were 113 ship calls and 208,000 cruise guest arrivals. That represented a big jump over 2018, when the port recorded 70 calls and 124,000 passenger arrivals.

Catania has competition from cruise ports in Palermo and Messina, and to a lesser degree, from Taormina, which has no cruise terminal but is a port call for ships that anchor offshore and tender passengers to shore. Catania Cruise Port is part of the Global Ports Holding (GPH) network, which operates 26 cruise ports in 14 countries.

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