The positive trend regarding cruises in the Venetian Lagoon continues, confirming the leadership role Venice plays in the cruise segment. The negative situation of the global economy has not affected this trend, and according to Venezia Terminal Passeggeri – the company that since 1997 has been developing and promoting passenger activity in the Port of Venice – the excellent performance of last year is expected to be replicated in 2012, with 1,800,000 cruise passengers coming ashore in Venice, which is one of the world’s top cruise hubs: according to GP Wild it is the leading homeport in Europe and the Mediterranean, and fourth in the international cruise port ranking, with routes departing for cruises around the delightful eastern Mediterranean, touching upon Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. “Despite these impressive figures, we will certainly not be resting on our laurels – emphasises Roberto Perocchio, Managing Director of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri – and in order to consolidate the leading positions we have achieved, we have drawn up a plan of investments to develop and strengthen our terminal, which will involve both technological research and infrastructural redevelopment. The SeaTrade convention in Miami is the best showcase to illustrate to international operators the major new developments regarding the passenger port of Venice”.
Work has begun to redevelop and modernise the entrance to the Marittima area, aimed at responding to the functional and safety requirements linked to flows of tourists passing through the port. In addition to this, a further stage is being completed in the programme to develop and extend the terminal, with the construction of the new parking area no. 5, equipped with 450 car spaces, bringing the total number in the area to 2080. The new parking area is located next to the People Mover, the raised monorail that in just 3 minutes takes travellers from the Passenger Port to the historic centre of Venice (car terminal of Piazzale Roma and Railway station), offering an efficient response to local mobility demands and catering to the needs of international visitors. This will give added value to a terminal that is among the most accessible on the international scene, thanks also to its close proximity to Marco Polo international airport, less than 10 km away.
New developments are also under way in terms of infrastructures. In detail, following the opening of the Isonzo 2 Terminal, built in just 18 months, a tender contract of € 9 million has been awarded for the renovation of building 109/110, to be used for cruise purposes. The building, constructed in 1931 as a cotton warehouse and until now used only for storage, occupies a surface area of 14,000 m2, and is 12 metres high.
Once the renovation work is complete, it will provide a further independent passenger station on the Tagliamento quay, allowing for a smoother service when two ships are berthed at the same time, opposite Terminal 107/108 and the renovated Terminal 109/110 respectively. In addition, the end of the year will see the completion of the renovation work on the ground floor of building 117, which will bring the total surface area to 5220 m2. Another innovation is the plan for bags to be sent for collection, by 2013, to each separate terminal, instead of to the central tensile structure as at present, in order to rationalise and speed up passenger traffic flows.
As regards technology, the end of 2011 saw the set-up of VTP Engineering Srl, a subsidiary of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri created with the aim of providing specialised technical consulting services for the planning, design and construction of infrastructures and equipment for cruise port logistics all over the world. One of the projects that has already been successfully developed and implemented in Venice, in the field of security and safety, is the revolutionary multi-function MBT, the mobile tower for embarking and disembarking passengers. This innovative solution makes it possible to manage passenger flows more effectively, cut the amount of time ships spend in the port and reduce the amount of energy consumed for port activities. The MBT lifts link the quay, the terminal and the ship, whatever the height of the boarding bridge, allowing for a number of alternative routes for passengers and quay operators/crew. VTP Engineering is also working on a project for cold ironing in Venice, which was selected as one of the finest European proposals in the energy sector and presented in Potsdam in May last year.
Also on the way are two innovative walkways, also by VTP Engineering: the first will be put in place in spring and will serve the Isonzo 1 Terminal, while the second will become operative in winter and will serve Terminal 109/110. The new mobile SBB (Ship Boarding Bridge) will allow passengers to board and disembark from cruise ships using two covered longitudinal bridges that can be tilted to bridge the gap between the departure floor of the terminal – generally higher up than the quay – and the boarding bridge of the ship. The compact size on the side facing out to sea will allow for connection with new-generation ships equipped with tenders outside the broadside, leaving the quay free for logistics operations.
In the last few years, the know-how and experience VTP has gained in the Lagoon – which have brought the Venetian company up among the world leaders in the segment – have gone into the management of two ports of strategic importance for the Mediterranean System.
Since 2010 VTP has held an equity investment in Ravenna Terminal Passeggeri Srl, the company that manages the Cruise Terminal of Ravenna. Following an initial experimental phase, with the opening of a terminal surface of 2000 m2, last year the Porto Corsini terminal registered a total of 156,000 passengers, 48,000 of them – almost 30% – homeport passengers. This result was achieved thanks to the efficient collaboration with the Guglielmo Marconi international airport of Bologna.
Also positive was the first season of Catania Cruise Terminal Srl, a subsidiary of VTP. A new facility for operators here in 2012 is the Vecchia Dogana, a structure used for welcoming departing cruise passengers and carrying out homeport operations. This extremely attractive harbour station has been constructed in a striking late-nineteenth century historical building, and boasts a futuristic design inside which is a shopping gallery where visitors can find a selection of the region’s finest wines and food products.
The Cruise Port of Venice is also well ahead of the field in terms of eco-friendly policies, and it is no coincidence that its congress facilities have been chosen to host, on 26 April 2012, the World Conference on Cold Ironing, organised by the European Cruise Council, where top experts in the sector will be examining the state of the art in terms of energy practices for the electrification of the quays.
Remaining on this subject, VTP continues to work on cutting environmental impact in the Marittima area: a fleet of electric shuttles will shortly be operative for transporting passengers to and from the parking areas and the berths.