Marseille is France’s leading cruise port, with more than 1 million passengers expected this year and the transit figures up by 35%.

Thanks to the Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal (MPCT), managed by MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, Marseille is set to reach the 1.6 million passengers a year mark by 2015/16, due in part to the turnaround passengers from the concessionaires’ 17 vessels, including the MSC Fantasia, Sinfonia and Splendida and the Costa Atlantica, Luminosa, Serena and Voyager. CDF’s Horizon is also using Marseille as a turnaround port. With its first-rate port facilities, Marseille is becoming the cruise operators’ preferred turnaround port for their French and North European clients.

This has led MPCT to invest in new facilities to fulfill demand. To this end, a new and functional 16,000sq mtr terminal is to be constructed in 2013, which will be able to handle two additional largesize cruise ships with turnaround passengers. It will include a 450-space parking lot and baggage and passenger check-in terminals of 3,000sq mtr each.

The port of Marseille is also investing. As nearly 70% of the ships calling at the port today are over 300mtr in length, a $35m project to widen the northern entrance is underway and is due to be completed by 2016. The port of Marseille’s attractiveness has been further heightened by its increasing importance as a ship repair centre. The Port is home to a high-tech and competitive ship repair sector with 3 dry docks located close to the cruise and ferry terminals and able to cater for all types of vessels.

An additional asset will be the opening of the Mediterranean’s largest dry dock, the world’s 3rd largest, by the end of 2014. With new and excellent on-site services, improvements in transport links (Marseille Provence Airport now services more than 40 European destinations), better cruise facilities and a commitment by all to a real ‘customer spirit’, more and more cruise operators are choosing the Port of Marseille as their Mediterranean hub.

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