The port of Bandol has welcomed the Club Med 2, a 1992-built five-masted schooner, in the shipyards of Le Havre (Société nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre). This was announced in a press release by Var Provence Cruise Club, which promotes the port.
This stopover in Bandol marks a late post-pandemic resumption of the cruise activity in France, which was officially allowed from June 30. According to the press release, the season in the western Mediterranean generally runs from spring (late March/early April) to November.
The Club Med 2, which can normally accommodate up to 392 passengers, is currently sailing at a reduced capacity with around 100 passengers onboard. Most of them are French nationals, Var Provence Cruise Club said.
Around 30 calls are planned in the nine ports of Var Provence until the end of 2021, the cruise club said, which marks a “gentle recovery.” This would bring approximately 20,000 passengers to the port.
However, things get better for 2022, with 150 calls (including several inaugural calls) and nearly 200,000 passengers announced. Most of the passengers, according to the press release, come from an upmarket clientele with a higher purchasing power.
The building and arrival on the market of increasingly innovative ships, in compliance with the “zero-emission” objective, is in line with the European Commission’s ambition to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent (“European Green Deal”) by 2050, Var Provence said.
The city of Bandol’s shopkeepers are “fully mobilized” to welcome this targeted clientele, the cruise club said. Sixty-nine have agreed to sign the “Cruise Friendly” quality charter and are committed to respecting its criteria, meaning remaining open during cruise calls, providing a warm and smiling welcome to cruise guests, speaking English, and offering them a special discount or gift upon any purchase.
A dedicated website, as well as a mobile application (currently under development), promotes these shopping routes with a list of all the Cruise Friendly establishments available through geolocation.