With ships getting larger and some 28 million passenger movements in the Mediterranean in 2018, the cruise industry is entering its golden age in the region, according to Airam Pastor, president of MedCruise and commercial director for the Port of Tenerife.
Some 30 million passenger movements are expected this year, he added, speaking at the 54th MedCruise General Assembly being held in Kusadasi, Turkey, this week.
The season is also extending, with more ships opening the season in March and staying late, until October, Pastor said.
Among the growth areas is the Eastern Mediterranean, which is expecting 20 percent more passengers this year.
Big news is also coming in the Black Sea, which is expecting a large passenger boost in 2020 and 2021.
For Royal Caribbean, Europe represents some 18 percent of global deployment, according to Hernan Zini, vice president of worldwide port operations.
“In Europe, we need variety to be available,” Zini said, noting a wide variety of port calls in Europe, including more in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Carnival Corporation will have 51 ships in the Mediterranean this year, calling at around 100 ports, said Chris Millman, vice president of corporate marine technology at Carnival.
“As our fleet is expanding, our itineraries have to be more and more diversified too,” added Neil Duncan, head of yield and planning at Marella Cruises.
For MSC, with a surging growth plan, Elisabetta De Nardo, vice president of port development, said the company had invested billions in new ships and now was looking at ports.
Among other issues are sustainability, with options ranging from LNG to shorepower.
“In a port where we are operating the scrubbers, people can see white smoke (steam) and criticize it as pollution,” Zini said.