Stephen Xuereb

CEO Stephen Xuereb has hailed the christening of Oceania Cruises’ newest ship at Valletta Cruise Port on Monday as a “proud moment” for both Malta and Valletta.

This came as the cruise line, known for being particularly culinary-centric and destination-focused, christened its 1,200-passenger Vista cruise ship, the line’s first ship in more than a decade.

Vista / Valletta Cruise Port
Vista at the Grand Harbour / Valletta Cruise Port

An international organising team with the support of local representatives SMS Group, Malta Tourism Authority and Valletta Cruise Port worked on a line-up of celebratory events to mark this day, involving a number of suppliers brought in specifically for the event, ranging audio visual suppliers and set builders to florists, makeup artists and hairdressers.

Mr Xuereb, who is also COO at Global Ports Holding, proceeded to congratulate Oceania Cruises on the “momentous day”.

“This is a proud moment for Valletta and Malta, and we are pleased to have been entrusted with hosting the naming ceremony of such an anticipated ship in our historical Grand Harbour,” he added.

“The capital city of Valletta served as the best possible backdrop for this event,” he commented.

Excitement surrounding the event could be felt from days before, with over 150 workers from the organising team descending onsite to kick off days of preparatory work. The historic Magazino Hall, which is within walking distance from the quays, served as an onsite production office and catering area for the hundreds of production crew members working onsite on event build-up, execution, and dismantling.

Valletta Cruise Port
Valletta Cruise Port CEO Stephen Xuereb (left), Giada De Laurentiis (centre) and Valletta Cruise Port Deputy General Manager Mark Cauchi Garzia (right) / Valletta Cruise Port

A traditional plaque exchange was also held early on Monday aboard the Vista between local port authorities and Captain Luca Manzi.

Standing 241 metres long and more than 67,000 tons, Vista offers a market-leading staffing ratio with two crew members for every three guests. The vessel also boasts the most spacious standard staterooms at sea, together with new concierge level veranda staterooms for solo travellers. Setting new standards for comfort and residential-style luxury, it also features all-veranda accommodations.

Vista / Valletta Cruise Port
Vista’s christening / Valletta Cruise Port

Vista’s elevated variety of onboard activities include eight bars, lounges and entertainment venues plus a luxurious spa centre.

The evening celebrations kicked off with an onboard cocktail reception and gala dinner, after which the guests disembarked onto Valletta Cruise Port’s quays with a suggestive backdrop of limestone bastions and the colourful Valletta Waterfront doors. The christening programme ensued with an opening performance of Oceania Cruises’ original show “Into The Night”. Italian American Chef, Author, Restaurateur and Emmy Award-winning food personality Giada De Laurentiis did the honours as godmother, and the champagne bottle was released on her cue from the stage, with a variety of lighting effects and stage decoration accentuating the celebratory moment.

Valletta Cruise Port
Vista at Valletta Cruise Port / Valletta Cruise Port

Harry Connick Jr, who has received accolades and recognition with multiple Grammy and Emmy Awards, together with Tony Award nominations with successes covering every aspect of the entertainment world, provided an hour of entertainment, cheered on by the 1,300-strong crowd.

The evening ashore was rounded off by a five-minute pyro-musical display over Malta’s Grand Harbour.

Vista left Valletta on Tuesday, honoured by a full-cannon salute from the Upper Barrakka Gardens’ Saluting Battery, as well as water-spraying tugboat, providing another photo opportunity to guests aboard.

The vessel is currently on a sold-out inaugural Mediterranean season, visiting a number of key Mediterranean ports.

Featured Image:

Valletta Cruise Port CEO Stephen Xuereb

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