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Positives and challenges for the Mediterranean cruise market

Fit for 55 panelists and moderators at the MedCruise GA in Costa Brava
Deployment of ships and occupancy levels in the Mediterranean this year are continuing to improve month on month, according to several cruise line panelists at the 60th MedCruise general assembly taking place in Costa Brava.

As the long-time second most popular cruise arena in the world, the Mediterranean's deployment share did not falter during the pandemic and in fact grew year-on-year with the Mediterranean and Canary Islands accounting for 18.6% of global deployment in 2019 and rising to 22% last year.

The only blips to dampen the overall positive outlook for the region are the cancellation of Black Sea deployments due to the Ukraine conflict whilst Sander Groothuis, VP port operations at Carnival UK spoke of challenges in certain (not all) ports for fuel (MGO) availability.

Black Sea blues

Andrea Ferla, manager of destination experience at Silversea said: ‘We have had to redesign some Med itineraries cancelling Black Sea calls and I think it will take some time to go back.’

Jacopo Pendola, director itinerary and revenue planning at Costa Cruises noted the Mediterranean is strong and all of the six ships Costa planned for the region this year will operate.

And many of the port members attending the GA said they are due to match 2019 calls this year and in some cases set new records for ship visits. However, passenger numbers across the board are likely to be down compared to 2019 due to lower occupancy levels.

Fit for 55

Looking beyond the current market trends, attention turned to sustainability and the EU’s Fit for 55 target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

‘The road is complicated but we need alternative fuels,’ commented Alessandro Carollo, director government relations Royal Caribbean Group, whilst Costa Cruises' Vincenzo Galati, director ABG Marine Technology  Carnival Corp & plc stressed ‘We need ports to invest in shore power.' Nicolai Skogland, executive director port operations and government relations, Viking, requested open channels of communication with ports on all aspects of sustainability and initiatives in the works.

Carollo added, ‘Ports need to inform us when they expect to have shore power available, on what berths, the source of energy and the output and will it be compatible with our ships.’

All executives agreed cruise lines will need to look at less carbon intensive itineraries and if it’s a question of choosing one port over another those that can provide shore power will be at an advantage.

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