MBL Appointed Port Agent for Princess Cruises

As of 1st March 2017, Mifsud Brothers Ltd (MBL) which does business as Malta Cruise Services has been appointed as Port Agent for Princess Cruises for the Maltese Islands. As a result of this appointment MBL now represents the entire Holland America Group which consists of Seabourn Cruise Line, Holland America Line (HAL) and Princess Cruises as well as Cunard and P&O (known collectively as Carnival UK) and Carnival Cruise Line.

MBL now represents six of the eight Carnival Corporation brands that call to the Maltese Islands. MBL was also the catalyst in attracting Seabourn in 2006 and later HAL to call at the sister island of Gozo (at anchor) making it the port agency that has handled by far the largest number of calls at anchor at the picturesque Xlendi creek, off Mgarr Harbour and even off Dwejra.

Since 1998, under the helm of myself and director of port operations, Massimo Schembri, MBL has grown steadily and represents Hapag LloydViking Cruise LineSaga ShippingClipper Cruise LinePhoenix and ISP vessels together with the six Carnival lines brands which cumulatively in 2017 will translate into ninety day calls made up of overnight, regular day calls, turnarounds and homeporting calls. In a recent effort to increase efficiency and to cater for the increase in the number of vessels being handled, Giuseppe Attard has joined the company as Port Agency Executive to assist the team.

MBL operates out of its modern offices close to the cruise terminal in an area called Grand Harbour, Marsa which is only three minutes away from Valletta Cruise Port (Cruise Terminal).

Queen Elizabeth 2: Forty Years Famous and Counting

Queen Elizabeth 2, launched by the Queen of England in 1967 had been Cunard’s flagship liner for 40 years. For four decades, the ship brought prosperity to many guests. On a bitter note, all good things come to an end, and in 2008 the great ocean liner made her final call at Malta’s Grand Harbour on her way to Dubai.

We could write a book on the history of this ship. It is really special. The ship’s core mission was to deliver exquisite cruise voyages, yet this legendary ship had done some quite remarkable heroic voyages. In May 1969, she entered service as a troop transporter in notable wars including that of the Falklands War.

Expanding on her valiant heart, in 1971 she rescued survivors from the burning French liner ‘Antilles’ off the Caribbean Island of Mustique. The mayday call reached Queen Elizabeth 2 on the evening of a hot summer night. A ball of flames was spotted on the horizon and by the time Queen Elizabeth 2 reached the blazing wreck, Antilles’ lifeboats were full of passengers signalling for help. There had been an abandon ship and miraculously all passengers and crew had managed to get off safe and sound. The following morning, after a very long night, the shipwreck survivors were disembarked off Queen Elizabeth 2 and given further medical treatment.

Throughout her lifetime, Queen Elizabeth 2 hosted 2.5 million passengers, including well known international celebrities and heads of state. Just to mention a few; Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana and former rockstar David Bowie have all cruised on board. Undoubtedly, Queen Elizabeth 2 became a showcase of Cunard’s rich maritime heritage.

In 2008, it was time for the great ocean liner to sail her last cruise. On her final voyage from Southampton to Dubai she was carrying 1,685 guests, many attracted by the fact that they got to experience her last voyage that would go down in history.

En route on her final voyage, Queen Elizabeth 2 called to Valletta, Malta. Her seventh and last visit to Malta was an important day for Mifsud Brothers Ltd, the Cunard Line agents. Four generations of the Mifsud family were on board to mark the maiden call in 1998. This time in 2008 only, I presented the first of a limited-edition print of an oil painting that had been commissioned by the company to Captain McNaught.

You can view a video of the special day here

But where is the ship now?

After nearly 40 years in service, Queen Elizabeth 2 was given a well-deserved rest. She has moved on to new pastures. Her superstructure stands out very well as does her mast.

The legendary ship continues to live on.

20Twenty in Creative mode: A Seabourn UNESCO Initiative

Seabourn Cruise Line recently partnered with UNESCO to promote sustainable tourism at World Heritage sites.

20Twenty were entrusted to enhance those Seabourn tours that were being offered and create new ones to allow guests to immerse themselves in Malta’s unique UNESCO sites. Using our experience in bespoke destination management we discussed the concept with the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO who gave their wholehearted endorsement following which, a meeting was held with the curators of the National Archaeological Museum in Valletta, Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples to the South of Malta and the Ġgantija Temples in Gozo.

Tours were redesigned to offer a morning visit to Ħaġar Qim temples with a special welcome upon arrival by the curator herself. Then they will have a tour of the visitor’s centre and the site together with their guide. After, guests will drive to Valletta and visit the Museum of Archeology. The curator at the Museum will arrange an exclusive exhibition which will consist of the mysterious ‘elongated’ skulls which are not usually on display and the unique statue of the Goddess of Fertility and give them an explanation of these exhibits. Then guests will have time to visit the museum and Valletta, soon to be crowned “2018 European Capital of Culture”.

In conjunction with the board of management of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, in Valletta, another UNESCO site, an evening event is also being planned which will include a sacred music recital followed by a private viewing of the world famous Caravaggio “The Beheading of St. John” in the Oratory.

I am personally very excited about this UNESCO project because Seabourn Cruise Line is keen to make both Valletta (Malta) and Mġarr (Gozo) its showcase UNESCO ports giving the Maltese islands a unique edge over other Mediterranean destinations and also increasing awareness about our islands’ awesome archaeology and history.

UNESCO’s General Director Irina Bokova discusses the unique nature of UNESCO’s partnership with Seabourn in a video here

Celebrating 180 years of the P&O – Malta Connection

On 14th January, Malta and the Grand Harbour were honoured to be the first port to host Aurora in her circumnavigation of the globe. Apart from Aurora, P&O Oceana will be homeporting out of Grand Harbour throughout 2017. This will be a P&O first for Malta. Both events will crown the 180-year old connection between the company and Malta.

In 2017 Aurora follows in the wake of several famous P&O liners, as will her passengers, who will share the epic voyages of Empire builders, administrators, soldiers, sailors, settlers, explorers, botanists, scientists, the girls of the ‘fishing fleet’, who came out in search of prospective husbands, and illustrious personalities from William Makepeace Thackeray to Florence Nightingale, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Rudyard Kipling.

The roots of P&O date back to 1837, when the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company, as it was originally known, inaugurated a mail and passenger service between London, Falmouth, Iberian Peninsula, and Gibraltar. Her Majesty’s packets took over from Gibraltar to Malta, Corfu and Alexandria.

P&O originally traded to Spain and Portugal; this explains the ‘Peninsular’ in the official name. Its assistance to the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns during the civil wars of the 1830s earned it the right to fly the countries’ national colours on its pennant: red and gold (P&O used yellow) of the Spanish Bourbons, and blue and white of the Portuguese House of Braganza. These colours were subsequently quartered on the house flag, which is one of the oldest still in use, and worn Blue to the mast, Red to the fly, Yellow to the deck, White on high. P&O took its motto Quis Nos Separabit, meaning ‘who shall separate us’, from its determination to serve the far corners of the earth, despite the, as yet, canal-less Isthmus of Suez and the dearth of facilities for steamships. After 180 unbroken years, the motto could well apply to its connection with Malta.

By the 1850’s the mail service had been extended to Singapore, China and Sydney. Passengers and mail journeyed from London by train for Marseilles, where they boarded the ships for Malta and beyond. After the opening of the Mont Cenis railway tunnel the company also diverted mails to Brindisi direct for Alexandria.

Florence Nightingale, the ‘Lady with the lamp’, called aboard Vectis after a voyage from Marseilles to Scutari to set up nursing facilities during the Crimean War. She was seasick throughout the voyage and did not come ashore at Malta though her nurses were feted by officers from the army. Giuseppe Garibaldi also arrived aboard the Vectis on his way to England; he sailed for Southampton on Ripon, arriving on April 3, 1864.

In 1844, P&O offered William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) a free voyage to the Mediterranean. It was advertised as a Grand Tour; with this voyage P&O is traditionally taken to have invented cruising, albeit not in the modern sense of the word. Thackeray sailed on three different P&O ships employed on scheduled liner service carrying mails, passengers and cargo. He also recorded the earliest preserved P&O menu. In his time Thackeray was ranked second to Charles Dickens as a writer, but is now best remembered for his social satire Vanity Fair.

Thackeray arrived in Malta on September 5, 1844 by way of Lisbon and Gibraltar on P&O Lady Mary Wood. His description of Grand Harbour and Valletta are typical of most visitors’ observations: busy, bustling, noisy, quaint, the London shops a reminder of home, and the squads of priests, habited after the fashion of Don Basilio in the opera. He toured the sights and was made honorary member of the Union Club in Strada Reale, then called Queensway, now Republic Street.

Malta and its harbours have a special place in the 180-year-old history of the company. In The Story of Malta (1893) the American publisher and travel writer Maturin Murray Ballou described Malta as ‘the half-way station, as it were, of the P&O Line between London and Bombay’. As to the benefits, ‘it is computed that the passage by each P&O steamer that stopped at the port on its way East or West, leave an average of 500 to 600 dollars distributed among the fancy goods merchants, and we should say this is a very moderated estimate’.

‘The arrival of a P&O steamship in the harbour of Malta with a goodly number of passengers bound either east or west, is a harvest time for the beggars, who know very well how to challenge the generosity of strangers. They have made a careful study of the business: they have elevated it, as De Quincey says, to the status of a fine art. The Nix Mangiari Steps of Valletta are the congregating place of an army of mendicants of every species, men, women, and children, who exhibit all manner of deformities, both real and artificial, as well as every grade of dirt and squalor. In landing and making one’s way up to the main thoroughfare of the city, it is necessary to run the gauntlet of this poverty-stricken people’.

Marsamxett Harbour was for several years partly the exclusive domain of the company and was popularly referred to as the P&O Harbour. P&O set up facilities at Marsamxett soon after incorporation by Royal Charter. At Malta, as at many other ports thereafter, the company started from scratch, building coal and goods stores as well as a customs verandah for passengers. Part of the harbour could have been given over to the company (as far as is known this arrangement applied solely to P&O) to facilitate quarantine at the adjacent Lazzaretto. Inside this huge complex of buildings, passengers and merchandise were screened against insidious shipborne diseases such as the plague and cholera. P&O ran services to the Levant and the Orient; the dangers of infection from countries in these regions were never underestimated.

P&O activities at Marsamxett made that harbour extremely busy, the turnaround surpassing that of the Lazzaretto. The McCarthy Report (1908) on the Customs Department considered that that the maintenance of permanent staff for P&O and the Lazzaretto was wasteful, considering the intermittent nature of the work. When the ships were in, Customs guards were in attendance at the P&O sheds, one of which was for cargo and passenger baggage subject to duty. The men also attended the verandah where passengers were landed, which incidentally, is the only extant reminder of the company’s activities in Malta.

Some days were busier than others. On September 12, 1910, there were three P&O ships in harbour – Sicilia, Namur and Vectis. Sicilia also served as a troopship. When she sailed out of Marsamxett earlier in 1906, it was not goodbye but au revoir for five men from the Rifle Brigade who had got engaged to Maltese girls. Vectis was in harbour for 14 hours with 200 cruise passengers.

Marsamxett came alive when P&O ships called. The ships were surrounded by dgħajsas, the local passenger boats, water barges, coal lighters, bumboats and boys who dove for coins thrown by passengers who remained aboard. In 1890, P&O commissioned the artist W.W. Lloyd to draw scenes of the company’s activities. These were published as P&O pencillings. The Malta drawing portrays events surrounding the ship at Marsamxett: Valletta in the background; a Maltese dgħajsa – Me Very Poor Man; boys diving for coins and the service launch Notabile. These pencillings can be seen in an exclusive exhibition at the Malta Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa.


Lloyd sheds light on the hustle and bustle of the luxury cruise voyages; ‘there are boats filled with the most luscious fruits, blood-red oranges, and excellent prickly pears, while it is worth the expenditure of the shilling-worth of coppers to witness the diving feats of the Maltese youths, who will fetch a penny from the bottom of the muddy harbour with far greater speed and ease then our old friend at the Polytechnic used to bring sixpence from his tank.”

P&O continued to provide liner services during World War I. German submarines operating in the Mediterranean took their toll, the ships being targeted on outward and homeward voyages to the Orient and Australia, often after the usual Malta call.

After World War I, the Admiralty took over most of Marsamxett Harbour and P&O joined other shipping in the Grand Harbour, to be berthed by the Mediterranean mooring method that is anchored with stern ropes to bollards at Barriera Wharf, Valletta.
P&O had a couple of ships names dedicated to Malta. Throughout these years there have been two ships called Malta and two called Valetta. There was also a Medina, Melita and Notabile which is the mediaeval name for the ancient capital Mdina. The first Malta was an iron paddle steamer built in 1848. The second was built in 1895. The first Valetta, a wooden paddle steamer built in 1853, was employed on the Marseilles-Alexandria service. The second Valetta of 1883 had the distinction of being the first P&O ship to be fitted with electric light.

Over the years, P&O also carried several thousand Maltese ‘exiles’ – emigrants to Australia, many of whom travelled on assisted passages. For most of them the ships offered a first taste of a different way of life where English was necessary for communication.

After World War II a young emigrant sent home a postcard. He described the public rooms, and exhorted his schoolmates back in Malta to learn English, the language used aboard. Until the advent of air travel P&O also offered the Maltese a gateway to London. The company’s agency advertised cheap fares from Malta to the capital, depending on the availability of cabins on homeward or outward voyages.

In 1995 P&O took delivery of another Oriana, its first new passenger liner since Canberra and Oriana. A sister, Aurora, followed in 2000. The 2017 fleet comprises Oriana, Aurora, Arcadia, Oceana, Ventura, Azura and Britannia, which has the distinction of being the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

Until World War II the P&O Malta office was at 41, Merchants Street, Valletta. This was close to the post and telegraph offices and several hotels. After the war, Thos C. Smith took over the agency. In 2015, Mifsud Brothers Ltd, agents for Cunard Line since the 1940s, were appointed agents for P&O Cruises as a result of consolidation within Carnival (UK) Group.

It is truly great to reach this prestigious historical milestone. All P&O cruise ships are very well looked after and the passenger facilities are of the highest standards – a credit to their cruise executives and hardworking crew. I was pleased to see Aurora on our horizons again and watch it sail into our splendid Grand Harbour. We look forward to continue serving P&O with a major turnaround operation this summer. The popularity of such itinerary in the Mediterranean proves that there is a market for such Malta to Malta cruises. I would like to thank P&O cruise executives for their loyalty and for entrusting us. In addition I would like to thank Michael Cassar for his brilliant research on Malta and P&O connection ties. I express my gratitude further to the Malta Maritime Museum for kindly displaying an exclusive P&O exhibition for a themed P&O heritage tour.

Here is to another 180 years of heritage ties with P&O.

Carnival Vista Maiden Call in Valletta

On Monday 9th May, Valletta Cruise Port and Mifsud Brothers Ltd. (MBL) welcomed the brand new Carnival Vista. To mark this special occasion, a plaque exchange function took place on board.

Guests included H.E. Hill, USA Ambassador, the Hon Dr Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister of Tourism, the Hon Mr Joe Mizzi, Minister of Transport, Mr Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port, Chief Pilot Capt. Jesmond Mifsud, Harbour Master Capt. David Bugeja, Mr Paul Bugeja CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, Ms Esther Bajada, Director for Tourism at the Ministry for Gozo, Mr Pierre Fenech, executive director of the Institute of Tourism Studies and Michela Mifsud, director of Mifsud Brothers Ltd. And of course the media.


Captain Rocco Lubrano, Chief Engineer Cesare Boldini as well as officials from head office hosted a drinks party immediately after the traditional maritime exchange of plaques.

According to Ivan Mifsud, Managing Director of MBL, “what made this occasion very special was that this represented the first of seven calls of the Carnival Vista to Valletta and its debut in the Mediterranean and the fact that the Hotel Director on-board is Maltese – Pierre Camilleri. You do not often come across a Maltese person in this capacity”. For MBL and Valletta Cruise Port this represented the fruit of discussions held in Miami, Barcelona and Hamburg with Carnival executives.

Mifsud Brothers Ltd., (MBL) is one of leading port agents in Malta and Gozo concentrating on cruise ships and super yachts. Principals include Holland and America Line, Seabourn, P&O and Cunard which together with the flagship Carnival Cruise Line, all form part of the big Carnival Corporation family.

Original article courtesy of The Malta Independent

The Manoel Theatre – Grand setting for Events and Meetings

This month sees the end of the fourth edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival which comprised of 25 events in nine venues around Valletta, Malta’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital city. Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Artistic Director of the Manoel Theatre proudly stated that “The Baroque Festival this year was a literal galaxy of stars; Mahan Esfahan, Philippe Herreweghe and Jordi Savall to mention just three. Since its inception in 2013 it has leapfrogged from strength to strength attracting an international audience happy to spend a week or two in the inimitable atmosphere of Valletta, our tiny capital city”.


This festival, like the previous ones, incorporated an eclectic variety of music including piano transcriptions and 20th Century orchestral music inspired by the baroque idiom. Two requiems; one by Bonaventura Rubino and the other by Niccolo Jommelli have strong Maltese connections as the manuscript of the first was found in the Cathedral Museum Archive while that of the Neapolitan Jommelli incorporates responses by Maltese composers that have been researched by Ghislieri Musica in the same archive. 

Two weeks of gorgeous music that elicit visions of periwigged grandmasters, swashbuckling knights and ladies in the latest fashions from Naples and Palermo plying the gridiron streets of Valletta in calluses and sedan chairs dodging traders from the East, water sellers, herds of goats and sellers of “karawett” in a harmonious cacophony of sound.

For two weeks the tinkle of the harpsichord, the reverberations of a theory and the sonorities of the viola da gamba conjured up the unique atmosphere of Valletta’s Age of Elegance.

You do not have to wait for the Baroque Festival to visit the Manoel theatre as there are daily tours which include the use of handheld audio guides in different languages. Group tours can be booked in advance through 20twenty.

The chairman of the Manoel theatre, Dr Michael Grech says that, “The theatre is in effect, Malta’s national theatre but is also a national monument of incalculable worth” and we cannot but fully agree. The Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici Minister of Justice further underscored the point: “The Manoel Theatre was named as one of the most spectacular theatres in the world by CNN in May 2014, the Manoel is also one of the oldest ‘working’ theatres in the world and is Malta’s national theatre”.

A little known fact is that within the complex of this theatre, entering through the stage door are two self-catering apartments. These modernly furnished apartments are on the second floor and each has a spacious sitting room with fully equipped kitchen, TV, telephone and two day-beds. The main bedroom and bathroom are on the 2nd tier on each apartment.

“We at 20 twenty can take care of all the arrangements and activities in order to make your Valletta stay a truly destination immersion experience” ….suggests Ivan Mifsud, managing director of one of Malta’s most creative MICE & event agencies that often use the Manoel theatre for events.

On 15 October 2012, the former MV Deutschland, which was the only cruise ship still flying the German maritime flag, called in Valletta for what was probably the highlight of the “classical music cruise”. The Manoel Theatre was booked a year in advance in order for world renowned maestro & conductor Justus Frantz to entertain more than 400 German speaking guests as well as local classical music lovers. That event managed to attract and captivate the German Ambassador H.E. Dr. Herbert Ziegler, Russian Ambassador H.E. Boris Marchuk, American Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and the Irish Ambassador. The concert which was supposed to last exactly one hour ended after two hours as guests were enthralled by one performance after the other and kept calling for encores.  The 20twenty team was on the ground to coordinate every little detail including liaising with the Valletta Police so that guests could walk to the Manoel Theatre safely from the Auberge de Baviere.

Only last year, 20twenty planned and coordinated a 30-minute seated presentation for around 380 global press conference delegates invited to Malta by Messe Berlin (trade shows, exhibitions & conventions). Guests were welcomed by the theatre’s artistic director Mr Kenneth Zammit Tabona who gave a very humorous overview of the theatre’s lively history. The mayor of Valletta, Professor Alexiei Dingli then gave a very interesting presentation on Valletta and various cultural projects undertaken by the Local Council and Mr Jason Micallef, Chairman of V18 gave an inspiring talk about some of the exciting events that are being organised in the run-up to, and in 2018 when Valletta is European Capital of Culture.

For Meetings and Conferences, the auditorium of the Manoel theatre is an ideal alternative venue for a conference, meeting or special performance. The stalls seats 270 and the whole auditorium 575. The backstage complex at 81, Old Mint Street includes the studio theatre which is ideal for small productions, recitals, meetings or conferences. Capacity is 80 seated. There is also an adjoining roof terrace which is ideal for breaks as well as rehearsal rooms which can be used for breakout sessions.

MBL started the 2015 cruise year with the Rotterdam in Valletta and ended with the Maasdam in Gozo

2015 was a busy year for MBL with Holland & America bookmarking the cruise season with the first call of the year of the Rotterdam calling on the 17 January in Valletta, Malta and the Maasdam anchoring off the Port of Mgarr in Gozo on the 1st December effectively extending the cruise season to 11 months, a milestone for MBL! Additionally, Prinsendam called in Gozo twice, once in April and again in November.

A groundbreaking call was that of the P&O Oriana on the 16th August when the mystical Island of Gozo welcomedOriana for the first time. This was also P&O’s debut in Gozo and furthermore, this was the first time that a cruise ship called exclusively to Gozo. Out of 1800 passengers on board, more than 1500 disembarked on shore excursions and independently.

On the 28th August Hapag Lloyd’s flagship, Europa 2 weighed anchor in the same spot just between the island of Gozo and the island of Comino, famous for its magical Blue Lagoon. Guests recounted that they thoroughly enjoyed their Gozo experience.

The elegant Seabourn Sojourn called 7 times this season. Seabourn have been visiting Gozo since April 2006 when Peter Cox, Itinerary Planning Director added Gozo for the first time on a Seabourn itinerary.

Altogether MBL handled 12 cruise calls at anchor off Malta’s sister Island in 2015 and a grand total of 46 since 2006. The Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Refalo expressed his satisfaction with the way that Gozo was attracting high-end cruise ships that dovetailed with the eco-island’s strategy of attracting this particular niche market. He also personally thanked Ivan Mifsud, Managing Director of Mifsud Brothers Ltd. for his unrelenting support for Gozo.

Ms Esther Bajada added that “these calls were a huge success thanks to Gozo’s allure and to the holistic approach by stakeholders to make each call special, as well as to the warm welcome offered to disembarking passengers in Gozo.”

Ivan Mifsud M.A. (Oxon.) Marsa – 10 December 2015

Cruise Ships in Gozo

Cruise ships are scheduled to anchor off the coast in Gozo with interest in the island as a luxury cruise destination increasing, says Esther Bajada, director, Ministry for Gozo Tourism and Economic Development Directorate.

Tourism is a main contributor for the Gozo economy. A recent study conducted by the ministry for tourism, established that the contribution of tourism to the island in terms of expenditure amounts to around 180Euros per annum equivalent to just under 50% of Gozo’s GDP.

The importance of the cruise industry to Gozo must be seen from the perspective of enticing cruise visitors to come and visit Gozo for longer stay.

The government issued an international call of expression of interest for the development of a cruise ship terminal and yacht marina and Kalamarine Development Consortium was selected. Negotiations are at the final stages.

The latter is a very important development, as this picturesque post has considerable potential for small and boutique luxury cruise ships. These developments bode well for both Gozo and Malta says Ivan Mifsud ” I am a firm believer that the Valletta/Gozo combination is a win-win- win for cruise line, guests and Malta/Gozo alike since combining Gozo to Malta has the following benefits: the cruise line enjoys low fuel consupmtion to sail to Gozo, no passenger taxes and no berthage charges on anchor plus there is a casino concession, guests get to enjoy an undiscovered island which has a lot to offer.

In 2015, Mifsud Brothers Ltd (MBL) handled four turnarounds: Star Clipper (two), Europa 2 and Serenissima once, a new client. Star Clipper will repeat two turnarounds in 2016.

“We have already more calls booked for 2016 than in 2015 which is a positive indicator”, notes Ivan Mifsud, joint managing director of MBL

Maiden calls of MV Minerva in Algeria.

All Leisure’s MV Minerva recently called in the Ports of Bejaïa and Algiers in Algeria which were two out of six Mediterranean ports that the Minerva was calling on a cruise themed “Empires of the Mediterranean”.


Amongst the several guest speakers, was Graham Archer, a former British High Commissioner for Malta. As a diplomat he specialised in international relations and conflict resolution. Mr Archer and his wife went on tour in both Bejaïa and Algiers and were pleasantly surprised with the awesome archaeological remains dating back to the Roman Empire and he had this to say “passengers on Minerva were very complimentary about all the arrangements made for their excursions. We participated in the outings to Djemila and Tipasa which were very well organised. Despite the fairly long journeys involved everyone enjoyed travelling up to the high plateau from Bejaïa and also along the coast from Algiers. The information which the guides provided greatly enhanced the interest of the visits. Passengers also very much appreciated the hospitality of the Algerian café owners who kindly provided mint tea, coffee and delicious pastries. All commented on the efficiency of the local traffic police to manoeuvre the busses through the traffic”.

From Bejaïa, three expert guides, one of whom is the BBC correspondent another Algeria’s top Archaeologist and the other a knowledgeable on Culture were invited to sail on board to Algiers. That evening they participated in a Q&A session which was very well attended.

Next day in Algiers, guests had the opportunity to visit the archaeological site of Tipasa and the Mausoleum of Mauretania, the Casbah, the National Monument, La Grande Poste, and the French Quarters in the centre of Algiers. In the afternoon a limited number of guests opted for a unique tour which included a visit to the heritage Hotel El Djazaïr formerly known as the Saint George where Winston Churchill famously met with General Eisenhower in 1943.

A visibly pleased Ivan Mifsud and Mourad Larbi, joint managing directors of Algeria Cruise Services stated that “it is always a great personal satisfaction for us to see the positive reaction of guests after their Algeria experience”.