MedCruise the Association representing cruise ports in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas held its 42nd General Assembly in Madeira Portugal 13-14 June.
Opened by the President of the Regional Government of Madeira Alberto Joao Jardim and attended by the Regional Minister of Culture Tourism and Transports Conceicao Almeida Estudiante the General Assembly and the parallel events were successfully hosted by the Port of Madeira. Participants and guests had the opportunity to follow the recent positive developments in the cruise ports of the region.
Discussions during the two days-event focused on the several challenges of cruise port management including accommodation of more traffic new itineraries new practices infrastructure and services demands programming but also cancellations.
Highlights of the lively two-days event included lively round-tables on how they approach the several implications of the berth allocation schemes and the way cruise-lines approach developments in cruise ports. Guest speakers included Vassilios Gazikas Louis Cruises Nathalie Oelmann and Thomas Rucht TUI Justin Poulsen Holland America; Eduardo Lopez-Puertas Pullmantur and Adam Sharp Royal Caribbean.
Putting the case for the cruise lines TUI Cruises’ director port ops Tine Oelmann said over the past four decades the tonnage of ships operating in the Med has grown from almost 23000gt to 220000gt ‘but whilst ports had done a great job ‘there is so much more to do.’
Stavros Hatzakos president MedCruise said that MedCruise is trying to implement best practice on bookings across its membership and called on ports where the system is working to help solve it for those where it is not. He said MedCruise is planning a transparent booking system for members via its website.
Adam Sharp Royal Caribbean’s manager port ops UK Europe & Middle East pointed out ‘Partial turnarounds which are widespread in the Med are exacerbating the berthing situation’. He called 2013 ‘the year when we begin working together to make a new start.’ Sharp said ‘let’s identify the ports who are causing the biggest problems and then use Medcruise as a conduit to see if we can find a practical solution.
The MedCruise participating members discussed two newly published reports the MedCruise Statistics 2013 report that is the fourth edition of the statistics of the association’s members and the MedCruise Cruise Ports Benchmarking study. The final day participants enjoyed B2B meetings with cruise lines.
Emphasis during round-table discussions was given on the fact that ports in the Med have to adapt speedily so as to respond to the deployment trends. Market trends suggest that they did so successfully up to now responding to the challenge adapting operational practices and updating infrastructures and services required leading MedCruise members to conclude that the emphasis now is to act as a catalyst to foster further cooperation among the ports of Mediterranean for the sustainable growth of the region as a whole
Discussing the way forward participants decided on a number of activities for the coming months including a strategy for promoting MedCruise ports-destinations in new source markets including China.
As MedCruise President Stavros Hatzakos told reporters during the post-event press conference: “All port-members participating in our association recognize the need to collectively promote their efforts to host modern cruise. They also acknowledge the need to provide common responses that effectively serve the market and search for solutions to existing problems.
“When the pluralism and the growing number of associations around the globe produces some unease MedCruise inclusive membership and the active participation of a growing number of ports in collective activities provides to the basis to speak as an authoritative association. Our GA confirmed the commitment for MedCruise to be the one-stop hub for all those wanted to learn about and engage with Med ports“.
The General Assembly also welcomed a new member the port of Huelva increasing MedCruise members to 72 members plus 30 associate members and well over 100 cruise ports in the Mediterranean region the Black Sea the Red Sea and the Near Atlantic.
The 43d MedCruise General Assembly will be held in Alanya Turkey in November 2013.