‘[2022 is] shaping up pretty well, we are seeing a return of international travel’ said Rebekah Keeler, head of cruise, ABP Southampton and council member for Cruise Europe. ‘Bookings are looking strong and we’re seeing more passenger calls than technical calls, which is welcome. If we continue to see the positive progress that we’ve just about started to see coming to fruition, I’m quite positive we’ll see quite a strong return in 2022.’
Looking further ahead, Laura Cimaglia, VP and director of ports, cities and destinations, MedCruise rejected the possibility of cruising returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, stating, ‘I am positive – given the rollout of vaccination around the globe is going quite well – it might be a good year. I don’t think it will be as it was in 2019.’
Taking into account the economic impact that cruising has on local communities, Cimaglia went on to petition for an end to ‘bubble tours,’ stating, ‘In Europe, in Italy… to be completely honest, it’s the right time to start talking about moving on and leaving the bubbles behind.’
On the topic of infrastructure developments in Europe, Cimaglia described the new terminal at Galataport Istanbul as ‘really impressive’ and set to result in ‘really huge change.’ Able to host three ships simultaneously and an average of 15,000 cruise passengers per day, the port expects to receive 1.5m cruise passengers in the years ahead. ‘Innovation is huge in this project,’ remarked Cimaglia, ‘just imagine that they host the world’s first underground cruise ship terminal.’
Continued the VP and director, ‘It’s a way of changing a long neglected area of the town. They have refurbished all of it and they are going to place a museum, shopping, dining and event experience [nearby]... It’s going to be something really important for the city.’
It drew a positive response from moderator Nigel Lingard, management consultant, Variety Cruises who said, ‘This sounds like a really google example of community spirit, getting together and, of course, helps to overcome the doubters of our industry.’
Keeler outlined how Southampton port continues to engage with local communities on tackling cruise emissions, while communicating 'the good things' cruise lines do in the area of sustainability. Explaining that investment in sustainable development has continued at the port over the course of the pandemic, she professed, ‘hopefully that means we’re putting our best foot forward as we come out on the other side [of the pandemic].’
Outlining the features of Southampton's new £55m shore-power enabled cruise terminal, boasting solar panels that generate more energy than the building uses in a typical day, the head of cruise asserted, ‘We have to make sure that sustainable cruising is front and foremost of what we’re trying to achieve.'
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