‘Despite this decrease, long-term trends show that cruise activity in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas is performing quite well, reaching an increase of 18.3% in passenger movements in the last decade (2008-2017), said MedCruise president, Airam Diaz Pastor, at a Trends in the Med presentation at Seatrade Cruise Global.
Pastor added, ‘the statistics reveal the positive features in several parts of the Med and the adjoining seas, despite the fact that some ports have experienced a decline due to the economic, social and/or political instability.’
He noted 41 different cruise brands visited MedCruise member ports last year spread across 20 countries and three continents.
The president highlighted the Med continues to be the second most popular destination in terms of ship deployment accounting for 15.8% last year compared to top placed Caribbean accounting for 35.4%.
Reflecting the growing size of vessels visiting the region, Pastor said the average passenger per call was 2,132 in 2017 the highest ever recorded and up from 1,378 in 2007.
Barcelona continues to be the top Med port recording 2.7m passengers in 2017, up 1.1% compared to a year earlier, followed by Civitavecchia at 2.2m a drop of 5.8% year-on-year and The Balearic Islands with 2.1m, an increase of 8% compared to 2016. Three other ports: Venice, Marseille and Piraeus welcomed 1m plus cruise tourists.
Ranked by ship calls the Balearic Islands rose from third spot in 2016 to 819 ships and top position in 2017, followed by Barcelona with 778 calls and Civitavecchia with 729 which traded third slot with the Balearics.
46 cruise ports recorded home-porting activities in 2017. The 10 biggest of them hosted, in aggregate, a total of 6.4m embarking/disembarking passengers, a number that is 3.6% lower than the 6.7m hosted in 2016.
A total of 40 MedCruise members are located in the West Med region which collectively recorded 19.7m passenger movements last year. This area welcomed 76% of the total passenger movements that took place in the Med in 2017 and a 69% share of the number of cruise calls. The Adriatic saw 4.4m passengers, East Med 1.7m and just 19 calls and 6,500 passenger movements in the Black Sea.
Looking at the 5-year trend(2017 compared to 2013), the number of calls has declined in all four regions: with West Med ship visits down 6.3% and a drop of 18.4% in Adriatic ports. A very significant decrease has been recorded in the East Med (-53.7%) and, even more in the Black Sea (-92,8%).
Following these developments, the share of cruise calls in West Med ports increased in the last five years from 60% of calls in the Med to 69%, the Adriatic remained stable (21%), while East Med dropped from a 17% share in 2013 to 9% in 2017 and the Black Sea, from 2% in 2013 to 0.2% last year based on the well documented drop off in deployments in the eastern reaches of the basin.