With air flights to resume from tomorrow, the cruiseliner sector that has been as much affected as the aviation industry by the pandemic outbreak seems to be taking longer to start the road to recovery. The CEO of Valletta Cruise Port, Stephen Xuereb, said he is optimistic the Grand Harbour will once more be welcoming cruiseliners after the pandemic in coming August.
Last year 2019 was a record year for cruise arrivals and this year was anticipated to be even better but this was thwarted by the pandemic. With air flights to recommence as from tomorrow, Xuereb told Television Malta said although this will be a difficult year there is a possibility that cruise may recommence in August.
He said requests have been received and perhaps the first cruiseliners may be received in August; however, there is no certainty.
Xuereb said requests have been forthcoming from two very important markets from Malta, Italy and Germany. He said they year will be a difficult one and passenger capacity wil probably reduce by 20%. He explained that cruiseliners have had to set new route programmes because some countries have not as yet opened their frontiers.
Asked about the health and safety of passengers, said protocols have been prepared for the approval of the Health Authorities while ships will have to change their system of operations.
He said health protocols have always been in place but now new measures will be imposed and there will be no buffets and passengers will be limited and there will be more open spaces. Empty cabins will also be kept in reserve in case quarantine isolation becomes necessary.
Xuereb said the Valletta Waterfront which makes part of the cruise port has reawakened with the opening of restaurants and bars and many of these used the closure times to carry out refurbishments and maintenance.