cruise

Protocols agreed by the Valletta Cruise Port and the health authorities regarding cruise passengers remain in place, with visitors to Valletta touching down from cruise liners still prevented from exploring the city – and its commercial establishments – on their own.

In March, the “COVID-19 Cruise Operations Guidelines for a Safe Continuation of Cruising in Valletta” were approved by the relevant health authorities, with the document “establishing, embodying and merging” Valletta Cruise Port’s operational plans, procedures and guidelines with cruise line protocols to ascertain the safe continuation of cruising.

Among these is a measure designed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 between passengers and local residents.

Visitors must remain in their specific bubble, each with their own guide, and can only visit different sights, shops and other points of interest within that bubble.

A restaurant owner last month questioned why arrivals from cruise liners were not being allowed to explore Valletta independently.

“Why aren’t those who are vaccinated not being allowed to restaurants,” he asked. “Why must they remain in a bubble with their guide, and go only to particular museums or attractions, and eat on board their ship? We’re missing out on a great opportunity here.”

However, representatives of the Valletta Cruise Port have confirmed that the bubble measure is still in effect.

This week, a number of cruise shops called into Valletta, including Grand Circle Travel’s Artemis, Costa Crociere’s Costa Firenze, and Viking Travel’s Viking Sea.

Philip Fenech, the Chamber of SMEs’ vice-president responsible for the tourism sector, said members of the association have observed groups of tourists strictly sticking to their guide.

“Tourists are not moving freely around the capital as they did before. They used to gravitate towards particularly interesting parts of the city, creating a natural flow of human traffic that left money in the till of the many businesses they would come across.

“Now, however, they depend on the routes planned by their guides, and do not experience that individual freedom that makes for a rich experience of Valletta.”

However, Mr Fenech said that reports received from members of the SME Chamber indicated a good amount of sales, with the flow of cruising tourists seemingly well-planned, organised, and not concentrated to just a few businesses.

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