MSC Fantasia was the first ship to enter port, followed by Zenith, Norwegian Jade, Costa neoRiviera and Celebrity Equinox.
An Inguardia re-enactment courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority was also organised along the quays, highlighting events happening during the Knights of St John period.
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis noted the importance of the occasion for Malta’s tourism industry: ‘Today we had the opportunity to showcase the highlights of our islands to over 19,000 cruise passengers and crew that are all potential repeat visitors to our shores.’
He added, ‘Undoubtedly, many of them today shall also be sharing their experiences through social media thereby reaching out to many others who can also be enticed to choose our islands as their next destination of choice.’
Zammit Lewis concluded by thanking Valletta Cruise Port for all its efforts while stating his confidence that this year will be a record year for cruise business for Malta and Gozo.
Stephen Xuereb, ceo of Valletta Cruise Port plc, said, ‘Larger ships with a bigger number of passengers means that we need to be even more proactive in our planning. Considerable investment has gone into resources to handle larger amounts of people, including higher security.’
Identifying the need to ensure cruise handling facilities are able to cater for high volume, Xuereb said, ‘Valletta needs to continue to cater for such peaks in demand with further investment in quay infrastructure in the Grand Harbour area.’