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Crew in focus at MedCruise General Assembly

Vera Franco presented survey results today in Corfu at the MedCruise GA
Crew came under the spotlight on Day 2 of the MedCruise General Assembly in Corfu in a panel discussion led by Lorenzo Vera Franco, port and destination promotion at the MotrilPort Grenada.

As MedCruise destination development and VP Vera Franco is leading an initiative to ensure cruise ship crew visiting the Mediterranean will be supported and that MedCruise members are creating a friendly environment adapted to the crew’s needs.

He presented some results of a survey conducted with MedCruise ports to ascertain what facilities and initiatives were available at present for crews. The survey asked questions surrounding what kind of service were provided for crews beyond a lounge or welcome desk and what kind of support was available such as practical, emotional, etc.

Internet, shopping discounts

Some 72.7% of respondees said they provided free internet to visiting crew but only 25% offered a retail shop with special discounts. Whilst 16% gave practical support, less than 5% provide emotional support. 14% said they put on free transportation to/from the port to local town/shops.

COVID shortages curtail crew tours

This latter subject was discussed by Henry Catania, director at Calypso Tours: ‘Pre-pandemic it was quite common to offer off-duty crew free excursions while their ship was in port but now with the shortage of tour guides and bus drivers we are facing, particularly in Spain, Italy and France, we are struggling to keep up with demand on the passenger shorex side resulting in us having to stop the crew service.’

He called the situation unprecedented and said COVID can no longer be blamed by tourism authorities and destinations for the lack of guides and bus drivers available to support cruise tourism services.

Economic impact

Looking after crew and providing facilities and services whilst they are in port is not just a moral issue, noted Claudio Capuano, manager at North Tyrrhenian Port Network. ‘Happy and cared for crew are all important for promoting the port to passengers and crew spend money ashore, and part of the economic benefit contribution that often gets overlooked.’

Ugo Savino, director deployment & itinerary planning at Carnival Cruise Line said, ‘Crew happiness is key and cruise wellness is just as important as the guest experience feedback, which we take very seriously.’ He noted CCL President Christine Duffy made it her mission from the start to visit each ship in the fleet to meet, talk and listen to the crew.