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ESPO Meet Cruise Port Organisations to Strengthen Voice of European Cruise and Ferry Port Sector

18th September 2014
ESPO Meet Cruise Port Organisations to Strengthen Voice of European Cruise and Ferry Port Sector

#CruiseEurope- The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) gathered with the relevant European cruise port organisations in Barcelona yesterday and decided to enhance the cooperation between the different organisations representing cruise ports.

Following the strategic cooperation agreement signed by ESPO, Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise today, the organisations decided that:

  • ESPO will intensify its efforts as the official voice of the European Cruise and Ferry Port sector towards the European institutions.
  • A Cruise and Passenger port network would be set up within ESPO that would bring together Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise and representatives of Cruise and Ferry port authorities. The network is to be seen as the continuation of the ESPO passenger committee. This network will meet regularly to discuss the latest developments at EU policy level relevant to the Cruise and Ferry Port sector and will define which interests should be defended.
  • ESPO will engage when needed in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines and other stakeholders involved in the cruise or ferry sector and investigate potential collaborative synergies.
  • ESPO will develop a Code of Good Practice for EU cruise and ferry ports together with Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise. The network will build on the work of the ESPO passenger committee towards this direction and will bring this a step further using the expertise of the participating cruise associations.

"I am very pleased with the decisions taken today. Cruise and ferry traffic is an increasingly important market segment for European ports and faces port authorities with specific challenges. Cruise and ferry activities in ports can however not be isolated from the freight business. It is therefore important that ESPO looks at both and make it possible to have an integrated approach when defining common positions of the port authorities on relevant policy issues," says Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General ESPO.

"On behalf of our 115 member ports, I am confident that this strategic cooperation agreement will advance the collaboration with cruise lines and the association representing them and will contribute in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner to the continued successful growth of the cruise industry," says Captain Michael McCarthy, Chairman Cruise Europe.

"All organizations should focus on their "core business" and rather seek strategic alliances/partnerships with other organizations with complementary focus and expertise. By entering into this strategic cooperation agreement, ESPO shall be focusing on policy matters concerning the cruise- and ferry business from the ports perspective on a European level which will enable Cruise Norway to focus on being the marketing company we are supposed to be for the benefit of our shareholders. This agreement will minimize duplication of work, save resources in form of both time and money and should provide better results," says Ingvar M. Mathisen, Chairman Cruise Norway.

"This initiative is a clear mark of cruise ports commitment and investment in effective alliances. It is also a major step for improving the representation of cruise ports. Sharing knowledge and expertise port associations will advance cruise ports interests and best practices the finest way possible. They will also provide meaningful input in discussions with policy makers and stakeholders. MedCruise is looking forward to a strategic collaboration serving the prospects and the sustainable growth of the cruise sector," says Stavros Hatzakos, MedCruise President.
The participating organisations are:


The European Sea Ports Organisation represents the port authorities, port associations and port administrations of the seaports of the Member States of the European Union and Norway. ESPO has also observer members in several neighbouring countries to the EU. 90 % of Europe's cargo trade in goods passes through the more than 1200 seaports existing in the 23 maritime Member States of the EU and nearly 400 million passengers pass through Europe's ports every year using ferry and cruise services. ESPO ensures that seaports have a clear voice in the European Union. The organisation promotes the common interests of its members throughout Europe and is also engaged in dialogue with European stakeholders in the Port and Maritime sector.

Cruise Baltic

Cruise Baltic is a close cooperation between 28 destinations - in the Baltic Sea Region. Our aim is to integrate the region's international cruise tourism industry by exchange of knowledge and information. Through Cruise Baltic, all the participating countries are able to offer the same service, high standards and full integration between ports and cities for cruise lines that want to discover the unique possibilities of the Baltic Sea Region. The number of cruise tourists visiting Cruise Baltic destinations has risen from 1.7 million passengers in 2004 to approximately 4.4 million passengers in 2014.

Cruise Europe

Cruise Europe was the first cruise port association, founded in 1991. We are now representing 115 members in Northern and Atlantic Europe. Our members host 7000 calls from ocean going cruise ships, and 10 million passenger movements.

Cruise Norway

Cruise Norway is a B2B Marketing Organization with 40 member ports in additions to associate members from attractions, tourist boards and ship/port agents. Cruise Norway's vision: Norway - the world's best nature-based cruise destination. In 2013 Cruise Norway members hosted approx. 3.1 million passenger movements and 2.300 calls.


MedCruise is the Association of cruise Ports in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas. Established in 1996 MedCruise has today 70 members representing more than 100 ports, plus 32 associate members, representing associations, tourist boards and ship/port agents. Its member ports host over 27 million passengers and 14.000 cruise calls per year.


Published in Cruise Liners
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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