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Challenges of island cruising and fighting misinformation discussed in Corfu

PHOTO: HOLLY PAYNE cruise_MB_panel.jpg
L-R: Mary Bond, Minas Tsamopoulos, Jon Ingleton, Panos Varouchas and Cristina de Gregori
The second day of the 62nd MedCruise General Assembly (May 23-26) kicked off yesterday with a session outlining the challenges of cruise activity on islands.

Spiros Almpertis, Crystal Cruises’ VP port operations, itinerary planning & fuel management, professed to Crystal preferring islands, in particular, those where ‘we will not see the overcrowding which is going on in some main islands.’ He said, ‘we prefer small islands, with all the issues or challenges they may have,’ for their ability to offer passengers relaxation, privacy and more. Some of the main challenges for cruising on smaller islands, he said, relate to infrastructure and lack of English-speaking guides.

Davide Truscello, pricing, itinerary & revenue planning director, Costa Cruises, expressed the view that ‘islands are successful by definition…appealing to the collective imagination’ with one recent survey conducted by Costa suggesting journeys to islands are favoured by cruise passengers. 

George Spirakis, commercial development manager at Intercruises Shoreside and Port Services discussed the availability of shore excursions available on islands, such as Corfu, where it has 15-20 different shore excursion activities. Panos Varouchas, deputy mayor of Corfu, said cruising in Corfu generated more than €60m to its economy and said the destination was collaborating with industry figures to work on a strategy preventing the destination facing over tourism in the future. 

Corfu also set out plans for sustainable cruising during the event yesterday. 

Patrícia Bairrada, commercial, marketing and PR at Ports of Madeira, praised ‘people with vision’ for making Madeira the cruise destination it is today, with cruising a part of its heritage, while Valeria Mangiarotti who is MedCruise’s technical environmental solutions director, as well as the marketing manager of the Port Network Authority of the Sardinian Sea, revealed the latest news from Sardinia. 

Moderator Anne-Marie Spinosi, MedCruise’s events and #PortsTogether activities director and cruise manager at Corsica Ports, revealed a significant proportion of MedCruise members are located on islands: ‘We have 56 cruise ports situated on islands in our association. That means 37% of our port members are island ports.’

Tackling misinformation

Tackling misinformation was the major theme in the `Role of the Media in the Industry’ panel, moderated by Seatrade Cruise’s group portfolio director, Mary Bond.

Minas Tsamopoulos, journalist at Proto Thema conveyed the importance of liaising with credible news sources in order to tackle untruths. Jon Ingleton, executive editor, Cruise & Ferry and MD, Tudor Rose, described misinformation as a ‘challenge,’ but noted the only feasible solution is to keep on improving: ‘Cruise flows through our veins, we love this industry… we write about the industry for the industry, and we're forever challenging ourselves to contribute to making the industry better.'

With journalists often required to adapt, moving between fields covering different subject matter, Ingleton spoke of lack of understanding when it comes to in-depth issues. ‘It's really hard to keep up; people are changing jobs all the time,' he observed. 'Somebody working on the shipping desk one minute might be on the sports or gardening desk the next. Sometimes, finding the truth is hard even for us. And if we in the B2B media and working in the industry find the truth hard to find, imagine somebody who's working on a shipping desk now, thinking about leaving for sports next week.’

Nevertheless, in a note of reassurance, he told spectators, ‘This industry has changed enormously since the contemporary cruise industry came into being in the 1970s ... I think it's much easier than ever to look back with great pride on what the industry has accomplished … as the industry continues to improve, anybody who is now promoting misinformation is going to look increasingly more foolish.’

He advised, as a further solution, to ‘make sure information is easy to find,’ adding, ‘enough is never enough … Send a wave of information to us.’

Corfu's deputy mayor agreed members of the press should have more access to information, noting that ‘media and social media have highly affected the view of the locals.’

Cristina De Gregori, PR, communication & marketing director at MedCruise, said it was key to differentiate between local and national press. When it comes to the latter, she said, coverage should ‘maybe capture the economic impact from a tourist industry point of view, as well as the economic impact generated by the industry,’ asserting there should be more, easy to absorb, information regarding the economics of cruising.

Rules and regulations

Maria Deligianni, national director, Eastern Mediterranean at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) delivered a presentation on new European Union (EU) border rules and their impact, emphasizing the importance of ensuring compliance to prevent crew who are third country nationals (TCN) being considered overstayers in Schengen.

There will be a modernization of the EU border management system and thorough security upgrade, first through the EU Entry-Exit System (EES) expected to come into force in 2024, with the Electronic Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS) effective six months after the EES. As a result, there is an obligation for ports to develop necessary infrastructure and equipment, and deploy the necessary manpower required in cooperation with relevant authorities.

For inra-Schengen cruise passengers, border controls should be required only in exceptional circumstances. For roundtrips from Schengen with a foreign transit port, the recommendation is to register the exit of all third country nationals (TCN) at the embarkation port, and register entry into Schengen at the final port of disembarkation.

For one-way cruises with a final disembarkation port in Schengen, TCNs will need to be registered in EES. For one-way cruises embarking in Schengen – with final disembarkation outside of Schengen – there will be a need to register TCNs’ exit in EES.

Night ends with a bang

The second day of the GA concluded with a meal and outdoor performance by a local orchestra at the Corfu Museum of Asian Art