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MedCruise gathers in Costa Brava for 60th general assembly

L-R Maria Cano Olmos, cruise manager, Ports of Catalonia, Spain in front of the Port of Palamós terminal building; Portlligat bay a short drive from Roses port
Cruise lines and member ports from across the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas have gathered in Costa Brava for MedCruise's 60th general assembly taking place 24-27 May in the municipalities of Roses and Palamós.

Described by MedCruise as the ‘first environmentally friendly GA,’ representatives from various lines are present, among them, Azamara, Carnival Corp. & plc, Costa Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Grand Circle Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Marella Cruises, Explora Journeys (MSC Cruises), Royal Caribbean Group, Scenic Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea Cruises, Star Clippers, Swan Hellenic, Variety Cruises and Viking. 

‘Lots to discuss’ and Fit for 55

Remarked Adam Sharp, international destination development director for Royal Caribbean Group, ‘It’s great to participate in MedCruise’s general assembly after a break of three years - we have a lot of topics to discuss.’

Alluding to the European Commission’s package of legislative proposals aimed at ensuring the success of the European Green Deal, he went on to add, ‘We must continue to collaborate as the legislative agenda looks forward to Fit for 55 and, importantly, how we minimise our impact on the destinations we call at.

‘We’re keen to hear from the destinations on how we can improve and MedCruise allows this honest conversation to happen.’

Among the moderators and panellists for MedCruise’s ‘Fit for 55 – Where The 145 Ports Are To Fit The Sustainability Goal’ session are: Valeria Mangiarotti, marketing manager, PNA of the Sardinian Sea, Italy and technical environmental solutions, MedCruise; Theodora Riga, director of corporate communications, Thessaloniki Port Authority, Greece and European Union & association collaborations, MedCruise; Alessandro Carollo, director, government relations, Royal Caribbean Group; Mike Kaczmarek, SVP marine technology, Carnival Corp. & plc; Fiona Noone, manager marine operations, Marella Cruises and Nicolai Skogland, executive director port operations and government relations, Viking.

Local communities

Reflecting on the assembly’s role in bringing to the forefront community-based issues in destinations visited by lines, Scenic’s luxury cruises & tours director, Hugues Lamy, said, ‘MedCruise conferences are a unique opportunity to meet most of the Mediterranean destinations and exchange [information] about the challenges this cruising region is facing.

‘This is a moment where we can sit and have time to understand the situation in the different destinations: whether it is about development of cruise facilities or tourism destinations and what local communities are expecting from cruise traffic… This aspect is very important as we are getting out (hopefully) of COVID-19 restrictions with different expectations from local communities in regard to tourism activities…’

Pandemic recovery

On the subject of COVID-19 recovery, Michele Bosco, shore excursions manager for the Mediterranean, North Africa & Black Sea at Holland America Group hastened to add, ‘I look forward to discussing the challenges that Med ports faced…opportunities and issues that the pandemic created, adaptation of their operations, cooperation with cruise lines and other stakeholders, and what the future holds.’

There to address the outlook of the region will be MedCruise president Figen Ayan, whose opening remarks will be followed with a ‘Trends in the Med’ session. Participating will be: Francesca Antonelli, marketing & cruises manager, commercial & business development, Port Authority of Valencia, Spain and professional development, MedCruise; Lorenzo Vega, manager, Motrilport Granada, Spain and destination development, MedCruise; Maria Cano, cruise manager, Ports of Catalonia, Spain; Andrea Ferla, manager, destination experiences, Silversea Cruises; Sander Groothuis, VP, port operations & development, Carnival UK and Jacopo Pendola, director, itinerary & revenue planning, Costa Cruises.

‘Zero Calls – How to Diversify Our Services In Time Of Crisis’ shares insights from Aleksander Bieniek, VP, marine operations, Star Clippers; Emilio Freeman, VP, itineraries & destinations, SeaDream Yacht Club; Hugues Lamy, director, port operations, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours; and Daniela Sordi, senior manager, destinations management, Swan Hellenic. Moderating are Cristina Carriere, international relations and communication department, PNA of the Ionian Sea, Italy and port & city relationship, MedCruise, and Aziz Gungor, East Med ports regional director, Global Ports Holding, Turkey and health, safety and security, MedCruise.

Appealing to tomorrow’s travellers

The event will also look at what cruise lines are doing to appeal to younger tourists with ‘Z Travellers - What Travellers & Customers Want From Us’ part of the program.

Sacha Rougier, head of itinerary planning and shore experience at Explora Journeys, part of the MSC Group, said, ‘I’m really looking forward to explaining how we at Explora Journeys are aiming to attract today’s and tomorrow’s discerning travellers to join our sailings, which are on track to start in May 2023.

‘The important event will also provide me with the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable port infrastructure developments of all the Mediterranean ports where we may call.

‘I also look forward to some positive interaction with a range of ports, where we will offer a more immersive experience for our guests. By traveling slower and deeper to both celebrated and lesser-known destinations, we offer our guests the opportunity to fully embrace a true sense of discovery.’

Networking opportunities

Opportunities to learn what Costa Brava has to offer as part of a comprehensive shorex programme, a gala dinner plus the chance to network with a range of port and cruise line professionals will also feature.