MSC Cruises Leaves Turkey, Malta Sees Record Growth

Valletta, Malta (courtesy Valletta Waterfront)

By MarEx 2016-01-20 21:00:47

MSC Cruises has announced that it will be cancelling all calls at Turkish ports for the indefinite future, joining a list of lines exiting the market for tourism in Turkey over security risks.

The changes affect the itinerary of the MSC Magnifica, which had scheduled port calls at Istanbul and Izmir in March. These ports will be replaced by destinations in Greece.

MSC said that the action was taken in connection with the tragic attacks in Istanbul January 12, citing “growing concern by guests.”

Costa canceled its Turkish port calls in August 2015 following an attack on the American embassy in Istanbul. The line's Costa neoClassica, Costa Pacifica and Costa Deliziosa were all diverted to ports in Greece, Italy and Malta. As of 2016, the Deliziosa will be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from Port Everglades.

Crystal Cruises also announced suspension of service in Turkey, and Celebrity canceled overnight stops due to the security concerns.

The U.S. State Department issued a warning for American citizens traveling in Turkey last year, citing "the potential for violence.”

Separately, and on a much more positive note, the port of Valetta, Malta has reported record growth in its cruise passenger arrival volume.

Valletta served 30 percent more cruisers this year than last – a total of 670,000 people on 300 cruise ships, more than any year before.

Passengers on port calls (arrivals) accounted for 80 percent of the volume. October was the busiest month, with 100,000 passenger movements.

Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port said, “Valletta Cruise Port is currently working on [expanded and improved wharves] in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead. 2016 is looking very positive and Valletta is expected to welcome an unprecedented 740,000 passenger movements.”

Malta's growth is attributable to strong performance by MSC and Costa, in addition to more home porting, said the island's tourism authority.