Marseille shines among top Med cruise ports

Figures just published by the MedCruise ports association show that Marseille is now the Mediterranean’s fifth-largest cruise port by passenger numbers and also the fastest-growing.

The French port’s 2014 throughput saw it rise from sixth place in the annual Top 10 table with a total of 1,311,284 cruise passengers – up 10.4% on 2013. For the second year running, this was the biggest increase among the top ten ports, seven of which returned falling numbers.

The top four held their positions with Barcelona in first place on 2.36 million passengers (-9%), followed by Civitavecchia (2.1m, -15.7%), Venice (1.7m, -4.5%) and the Balearics (1.6m, +3%).

Marseille reached fifth rank a year ahead of the target set by the Marseille Provence Cruise Club, the development and promotional body formed in 1996 by the port authority, the chamber of commerce and city authorities.

Passenger numbers have risen 87.3% from the 700,000 recorded in 2010 – compared to the top four’s respective increases of 0.6%, 10%, 7.2% and 2.6% over the period.

Growth has been supported by developments such as the Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal, which opened last April and can handle seven ships at a time, and the 2013 launch of a facility reserved for luxury vessels less than 200 metres long.

This year the port is forecasting throughput of more than 1.5 million cruise passengers, with a third of them coming from home port calls. Numbers will be boosted by the arrival of two Royal Caribbean International vessels – Anthem of the Seas in April, followed in May by Allure of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship.