cruise

Malta Cruise Port CEO Stephen Xuereb has welcomed a move by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift its risk advisory for cruise ship travel, describing it as a “positive development for consumer confidence.”

Speaking to BusinessNow.mt, he minimised the practical impact of the move, pointing out that the Mediterranean cruise sector, which includes ships calling at Malta, is more orientated towards European customers than North American ones.

“We’ll see how this impacts the number of North Americans travelling to the EU to travel,” he stated, adding that at least in terms of the number of cruise calls to Malta, recent figures have matched the record-breaking numbers from 2019.

“In terms of cruise call bookings, these have remained strong,” he reported.

The main impact of the CDC development, Mr Xuereb explained, will likely be that it increases consumer sentiment, hopefully creating a positive impact on tourist numbers across the board, not just for the cruise industry.

“I hope we will be on track for a strong summer,” the CEO concluded, emphasising the port restarted operations in August 2020, and has not identified any major incidents since then.

Earlier this year, concern was raised after MSC Grandiosa cancelled a call at Valletta in connection with a “limited” number of positive cases identified on board the ship during her previous cruise.

“This demonstrates that our protocol is effective in that it allows us to identify, isolate and care for individuals and their close contacts, and protects all other passengers, crew and communities that our ships visit,” MSC said.

The CDC lifted its long-standing risk advisory for cruise shop travel on Wednesday following two years of warning potential passengers about the risks of contracting COVID while on a cruise.

It comes only three months after the CDC increased its travel warning for cruises to the highest level, following investigations of ships that had COVID outbreaks.

“While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travellers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” the agency said in a statement to NPR, addressing the dropping of the risk advisory.

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