Valletta Cruise Port, together with local authorities and partners, has worked on ’COVID-19 Cruise Operations Guidelines for a Safe Continuation of Cruising in Valletta’.
The project’s aim was to facilitate operations in this transitional phase.
Operating guidelines were prepared and then forwarded to the Maltese health authorities, who recently approved them.
The guideline document establishes, embodies and merges Valletta Cruise Port’s operational plans, procedures and guidelines with cruise lines’ protocols to ascertain the safe continuation of cruising.
Its compilation 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 at Malta must embody these guidelines. Valletta Cruise Port said that it was looking forward to receiving the cruise lines’ own protocols reflecting these guidelines for prompt approval by the local authorities.
Stephen Xuereb, Valletta Cruise Port CEO and COO of port manager Global Ports Holding (GPH), commented, “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.”
GPH managed Valletta Cruise Port commenced preparations for post-COVID cruising back in January, 2020, at the first sightings of the pandemic.
The actions taken by GPH include the revision of the Emergency Response Plans and the Health and Safety Protocols for all of the 19 ports forming part of the its network, including Valletta.
In addition, Valletta Cruise Port obtained the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council, based on the reinforced protocols. This meant that Valletta was prepared to resume cruise ship calls last August, with calls ongoing weekly since then.
Furthermore, Valletta Cruise is supporting a €49.9 mill initiative, spearheaded by Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta, to develop shoreside electricity infrastructure.
The first of this two-phased project includes a €37 mill investment to provide shore power on Grand Harbour’s five main cruise ship quays by the end of 2023. Excavation work has commenced for the underground cables that will connect electricity from an existing distribution centre to Grand Harbour.
Each quay will be supplied with shore-side transformers and shore-to-ship connection panels that enable ships to turn off their main engines and switch to electrical power as soon as they berth.
Work is currently in progress on Quays Pinto 4-5, the port said.
It was later revealed that Nidec ASI had signed a €12 mill contract with the Maltese company Excel Sis for the creation of the shore-to-ship power project for Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
This system will enable the reduction of 40 tonnes of pollutant gases per year, the company claimed.
The project follows the European Union’s directives, which encourage ports to adopt berth electrification systems to reduce polluting emissions of vessels while in port, while maintaining active heating and air conditioning, as well as the vessels’ auxiliary systems.
By 2025, this recommendation will have become binding for all European ports and it also forms part of the EU Recovery Plan, which places reducing environmental impact among the priorities in relaunching European countries.
Nidec ASI is currently completing the electrification of the berths in Genoa’s Port of Prà, following the installation of its systems in Leghorn, the Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyards, EDISON–Navalimpianti – FSO ‘Alba Marina’ and a number of other ports.
As part of the contracts, the company will supply power and systems and all the related engineering, including transformers, converters and the cable management system.