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MedCruise GA discusses green port, deployment and shorex revenue issues

MedCruise GA discusses green port, deployment and shorex revenue issues
Ports from Southern Europe, gathering in Castellon for the 44th MedCruise General Assembly, heard a broad range of discussion on green ports, deployment issues and shorex revenue in the Med.

MedCruise represents more than 100 ports that collectively host over 28m cruise passenger movements annually. The association added three new members this week: Istanbul, Taranto and Trabzon, plus two new associate members, Allegra Montenegro and B&A Europe.

A first day round table devoted to Sustainable Cruise, saw CLIA Europe secretary general, Rob Ashdown, Costa Cruises' Elisabetta Pinna, MedCruise president Stavros Hatzakos and secretary general Thanos Pallis and a video presentation by Dimitrios Theologitis, director for ports and port policy of the European Commission, explore the potential of cruise ports and cruise lines to work together to create innovative solutions for waste reception facilities and waste collection practices.

Ashdown spoke of the need for sophisticated, market driven practices and policies regarding waste management in ports, rather than top-down message from Brussels. He called the LIFE+ project, in which MedCruise, Costa and RINA, amongst others, have be working since 2011 and centred on reducing solid waste and recycling management at sea as 'ground breaking and timely'.

On the second day, Simon Douwes, director deployment & itinerary, Holland America Line, noted the brands strong commitment to Europe and in particular the Med. 'With no ECA and many ports close together makes for cheaper ship operations in the Med compared to other areas.' He noted operating costs in Alaska are twice those in the Med.

On the shorex side, Peter Deer commercial director Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said tours in the Med generally generate lower revenue than those in Northern Europe. He said the brand has been focussing on driving shorex revenue and referenced the current 'Film Star and Fast Cars' cruise featuring Cannes Film Festival and Monaco F1 Grand Prix.

'In addition to it being one of our fastest selling cruises this year,' Deer commented, 'a major number of passengers have purchased tickets for either one or the other and in many cases both events.' Other event-related cruises next year feature the Funchal Flower Parade and the Isle of Man TT race.

'Another booking well is an October 2015 Med cruise where passengers will choose where to go ahead of each call out of an option of two possible destinations,' he remarked.

Mike Pawlus, director strategic planning Silversea Cruises which has four ships in the Med in 2014, spoke of the brand's positive uptake in Black Sea cruises in recent years but with the current unrest in Ukraine, 'we are now retrenching and have cancelled all calls there in 2014 and are now discussing what to do about 2015/16.'

Speaking about the cruise line/agent relationship, Costa's Susanna Illiano port co-ordinator for the Med, Caribbean and Middle East, said 'times are changing, competition is increasing and it is important to have a strong relationship with every single port'. On the issue of port costs she said, 'we need to know and understand what we are paying for.'

She mentioned that Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean have jointly agreed guideline requirements for port agents covering financial matters, legal compliance and confidentiality. 'We need to have a list of every item we are paying for, what each service costs and invoiced correctly,' she told Seatrade Insider.

Adam Sharp, manager port operations and guest port services Europe, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, spoke of an 'exciting 18 months ahead for the brand in the Med' with Oasis of the Seas coming for later this year, Allure of the Seas homeporting in Barcelona in 2015, Anthem of the Seas based in Southampton sailing into the Med, Celebrity Solstice operating out of Istanbul and Athens, Explorer of the Seas returning and Quantum of the Seas passing throught the Med en-route to Asia.

He referred to the Oasis-class operations in Europe in 2014 and 2015 as an indication of renewed optimism for the Med but said with it, 'comes a new set of challenges unlike anything we have seen in these waters before'.