VALLETTA, Malta – Passengers and crew onboard Carnival Vista had the unique opportunity to follow a historic re-enactment by Inguardia showing events happening during the times of the Knights of St. John, courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority. As the Carnival Vista exited the historic Grand Harbour, a gun salute from the saluting battery of the Upper Barrakka Gardens was given courtesy of Mifsud Brothers Ltd.
The award-winning Valletta Cruise Port welcomed the Carnival Cruise Line brand in Malta, with the arrival of the cruise ship Carnival Vista. The ship was greeted by the lively tunes of a Maltese village band courtesy of Valletta Cruise Port plc.
Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis, Malta’s Minister of Tourism, stated, “This is a very exciting development and the Maltese islands look forward to enhancing the relationship with Carnival Cruise Line.” The fact that approximately 80% of Carnival passengers are from the United States will help diversify Malta’s cruise line market. Dr. Zammit Lewis added: “There is no doubt that the cruise market has taken on a critical importance within Malta’s tourism industry. A substantial number of first time cruise visitor’s return for a longer stay, generating further business for the growing tourism industry.”
2015 was an absolute record year for the industry in Malta when 307 cruise line vessels entered the Grand Harbour of Valletta. According to figures published by the National Statistics Office, these vessels carried more than 670,000 passengers, an increase of 30% from 2014. Dr. Zammit Lewis said: “The trend is continuing. Malta has just registered an exceptional number of cruise tourists this winter: 17 cruise ships called in Malta’s port between January and March 2016, 8 more than last year. Nearly 40,000 passengers arrived in Malta in the 1st quarter of this year, an increase of 90% over the same period of 2015.”
“The results attained reflect the drive by all stakeholders to develop Malta’s product and promote the increasing attractiveness and popularity as a leading cruise destination in the Mediterranean, in what is a highly competitive market,” stated Dr. Zammit Lewis. He reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to increase efforts and investment, for further growth in the cruise industry, and stated that the excellent results achieved indicate that Malta is on the right track.
Meanwhile Valletta Cruise Port’s CEO Mr. Stephen Xuereb commented that in 2016 Valletta Cruise Port is welcoming more than 74 calls from Carnival brands among others including Costa and AIDA, with over 150,000 passengers onboard. 7 of these calls are by Carnival Vista with over 27,000 passengers.
“Valletta Cruise Port has just invested €1.5 million (approximately 1,705,650 US Dollar) in Forni Terminal to accommodate the increasing flows of passengers onboard the larger ships. Improving the infrastructure on Quays 4/5 and towards Lascaris Wharf is critical to the continued growth of the industry in Valletta. We are currently working on these plans looking to the future,” commented Mr. Xuereb. “Malta has been vested with Best Mediterranean Port & Destination 2015 by Cruises News and Best Terminal Operator 2015 by Cruise Insight. Special thanks go to all the personnel of Valletta Cruise Port, who together with local stakeholders relentlessly work to ensure that Malta is professional, efficient, reliable and flexible in meeting expectations on all fronts.”
The sunny islands of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, are home to a most remarkable concentration of intact built heritage, including the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in any nation-state anywhere. Valletta built by the proud Knights of St. John is one of the UNESCO sights and the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta’s patrimony in stone ranges from the oldest free-standing stone architecture in the world, to one of the British Empire’s most formidable defensive systems, and includes a rich mix of domestic, religious and military architecture from the ancient, medieval and early modern periods. With superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do.