The operating guidelines developed by Valletta Cruise Port, together with local authorities and partners, have been approved by Maltese health authorities, the port announced in a press release.
The COVID-19 Cruise Operations Guidelines for a Safe Continuation of Cruising in Valletta establish, embody and merge Valletta Cruise Port’s operational plans, procedures and guidelines with cruise line protocols to “ascertain the safe continuation of cruising.”
“It has been a challenging time for the cruise community, but the industry is clearly inching closer to a restart. After months of discussions with numerous stakeholders we are happy to be sharing these guidelines with the cruise lines and look forward to welcoming cruise ships, their guests and crew to Valletta,” Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding said.
The compilation of these guidelines is based on the results of facility assessments within the context of recent and current regional events brought about by the pandemic, the port said. Any future calls to Malta must embody these guidelines.
Valletta Cruise Port said it is looking forward to receiving the cruise lines’ own protocols reflecting these guidelines for prompt approval by the local authorities.
As part of Global Ports Holdings (GPH), Valletta Cruise Port commenced preparations for the post-COVID cruising reality way back in January 2020, at the first sightings of the pandemic. The actions taken were to revise the Emergency Response Plans and the Health and Safety Protocols for all of the 19 ports forming part of the GPH network, inclusive of Valletta Cruise Port.
In addition, Valletta Cruise Port obtained the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council, based on the reinforced protocols. This process meant that Valletta Cruise Port was well prepared to welcome back the first cruise calls last August, with cruise calls ongoing weekly since then.
Valletta Cruise Port is also supporting a €49.9 million initiative spearheaded by Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta to develop shore-side electricity infrastructure. The first of this two-phased project includes a €37 million investment to provide shore power on the five main cruise ship quays of the Grand Harbour by the end of 2023.
Excavation works have commenced for the underground electricity cables that will distribute electricity from an existing distribution centre to the quays at Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Each quay will be supplied with shore-side transformers and shore-to-ship connection panels that enable ships to turn off their combustion engines and switch to electrical power as soon as they berth. To this effect, works are currently in progress on Quays Pinto 4-5, the port said.