Marseille cruise port is part of Marseille Fos Port - France's largest port. Fos Port is located on the city's northern coastline. Along with its cruise terminals, the port also has ferry terminals that serve the Ro-Ro shipping traffic (cars and passengers) to and from Algeria, Corsica, Sardinia, also Tunisia. Among the port's facilities are also dry docks and shipbuilding yards.
Marseille is part of the French Riviera resort coastline area. The port also is a departure point for Rhone River cruises in Provence and Burgundy - France's main / largest wine regions. In 2018, the cruise port had scheduled 512 ship calls with estimated over 1,75 million passengers. Over 1/3 of cruise ship tourists visit on roundtrips, and most are from French-speaking source market (France, Belgium, Switzerland).
Vieux Port is Marseille's old port located at the end of La Canebiere (historic street in the city's old quarter). Vieux Port is a natural harbor waterway and is currently the city's most popular (mainly pedestrian) area.
Today, Vieux Port houses large yacht marina, local tour boats terminal and a huge fish market. Vieux Port renovation project's 2nd phase (by the year 2020) includes building nature parks around the port and has budget of EUR 64 million.
Marseille is the 5th largest among the Mediterranean turnaround ports (for roundtrip itineraries), France's leading cruise port (and the country's largest seaport) and the world's 16th largest.
Port's location from the city centre is 9 km (6 mi). Fos Port is at ~20 min drive distance from the Marseille-Provence airport and at ~20 min drive distance from the MP2 airport (budget flights). The port is also easily accessible by TGV (high-speed trains) from Lyon (90 min), London England (4 1/2 hours) and from Brussels Belgium (5 hours).
Port's cruising season is February through December, but most ship visits are in June-October. In 2013, the cruise port handled 1+ million passengers. During high season, the city is visited by over 16,000 cruise tourists per day.
Statistical data for 2011 showed that over 65% of the world's large-sized cruise liners were in the Mediterranean, making ship repairs a profitable business in the region. Port Marseille's other 2 dry-dock yards operating under concession are No 8 (320 x 50 m / 1050x165 ft) and No 9 (250 x 37 m / 820x121 ft). In 2014, Fos Port's cargo shipping traffic was 78,5 million tons, the number of handled TEU-containers 1,18 million, the number of handled passengers (ferries and cruise) over 2,5 million.
On July 19, 2011, Marseilles Fos port authority allowed the concession use of its drydock 10 as a ship-repairing facility for large cruise vessels, container ships and LNG tankers. The dry-dock (operated by the company Chantier Naval de Marseille) has capacity to handle marine vessels with LOA length over 250 m (820 ft). Dock 10 is ranked as Mediterranean's largest - with length 465 m (1525 ft) and width 85 m (280 ft). The drydock became fully operational in late-October 2017. Costa Cruises owns 1/3 of the facility.
On December 11, 2012, the Costa Pacifica had a port accident. The liner hit a pier leaving an 8 m (26 ft) gash (above the waterline, portside). The accident was caused by strong winds. Engineers had to weld steel plates over the hole. No passengers or crew injuries were reported and the ship continued the itinerary as scheduled.
In 2015, the cruise port handled nearly 1,5 million passengers. In 2016, Marseille Fos Port handled ~2,7 million passengers (overall), including 1,6 million cruise ship tourists. Port development works in 2017 (enlargement on the Fos Port's Passe Nord entrance) allowed visits by the world's largest passenger liners. Port's ferry shipping traffic to Corsica and North Africa increased by 2% (to ~1,1 million passengers).
On May 28, 2018, European Investment Bank (EIB) provided Marseille-Fos Port with EUR 50 million (USD 58,5 million) loan to support 5 port infrastructure development projects. The funding was for reorganizing the ferry terminals (serving Corsica and North Africa passenger traffic) and enlarging the Passe Nord (to allow access for larger cruise liners). Among the projects were also developments and enhancements of existing containership-handling facilities.
In July 2019, Marseille Fos Port announced plans to invest EUR 20 million by 2025 to extend shoreside power connections for all berthed passenger ships (ferries and cruise liners) plus the repair quay within the eastern harbour. The technology was first implemented at Corsica Ferries' quays. The network will be expanded in 2 phases to cover the ferry docks for North Africa and the ship repair hub (by 2022) and the cruise terminal (by 2025). The project was backed by the regional and national government. To further reduce emissions, to all ships Marseille Fos Port introduced speed restrictions of 10 knots (18,5 kph) in port approaches and 8 knots (15 kph) within the harbors.
For season 2019, the cruise port handled 524 ship calls (80 different vessels) and ~1,9 million tourists (passengers plus crew). The season featured 13 newbuilds (2019-launched liners) and 12 maiden calls, as well as 328 roundtrips.
On May 3-4, 2020, in Marseille Fos Port the cruise ship Costa Smeralda carried out France's first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering. During the at-sea operation, the liner was refueled by the LNG carrier Coral Methane (IMO 9404584). The tankship is owned by the Rotterdam Holland-based company Anthony Veder. Port's LNG (fuel) delivery is by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (under contract with Carnival Corporation, the cruise ship owner).
Cruise itineraries to and from Marseille France
Follows a list of destinations visited by cruise ships leaving out of Marseille:
- Western Mediterranean itineraries on cruises out of Marseille port visit Spain, Italy and France, including ports on French Riviera and Italian Riviera (coastal regions with top-luxury resorts).
- The most commonly operated are 7-day round-trips. Longer itineraries also visit ports in Portugal and North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria).
- Most of the Canary Islands itineraries leaving round-trip from Marseille visit North Africa (Morocco), Madeira Island, Gibraltar (UK).
- Short-break (Mini Cruises) from Marseille to Genoa are 3-nights / 4-days long. They are operated by Pullmantur-CDF ships with regular round-trip departures. Also offered are 2-night / 3-day round-trips from Marseille to Barcelona.
- Among the most visited Mediterranean island destinations are Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Sicily (Palermo,Messina), Corsica (Ajaccio), Malta, Sardinia (Cagliari, Olbia).
- Repositioning - westbound Transatlantic crossings on ship relocation itineraries out of Marseille are offered in Fall (starting in early November). The one-ways are operated mostly by MSC ships and end up in Florida ports (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa) or in the Caribbean island ports Bridgetown (Barbados), Fort de France (Martinique), Pointe A Pitre (Guadeloupe), Havana (Cuba). The longest Transatlantic cruises out of Marseille are on Costa ships repositioning from Europe to South America. They offer disembarkation in either Brazil (Rio De Janeiro, Santos-Sao Paulo) or Argentina (Buenos Aires). Another possible option is a Transatlantic segment on a westbound World Cruise itinerary (offered mainly by Costa).
Marseille cruise terminal
Marseille cruise port has terminals located at two different areas of the harbor. The small and middle size ships use the Joliette (J4) Terminal berths. They are close to the center of the city.
- UN-LOCODE (United Nations location code) - FRMRS
- port address - "23 place de la Joliette, BP 81965, Marseille, Cedex 2 13226, France"
- port location (GPS coordinates) - N 43° 19' 46", E 5° 20' 45"
- supported by excellent road, rail and air infrastructure
- deep harbor water and berths, sheltered harbor area
- capability to accommodate 8 vessels at a time
- The cruise port is accessible the whole year round – 24/7, 365 days a tear.
- Cruise ships usually arrive in Marseille in the morning (7, 8, 9 am) and depart from Marseille in late afternoon or in the evening (at 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 pm).
Marseille Port Fos cruise terminals
Marseille Provence Cruise Center (MPCC) terminal address is "Port of Marseille - Porte 4
Chemin du Littoral, 13015 Marseille, France". The terminal's GPS coordinates are N 43° 20’ 20’’, E 5° 20’ 53’’
Marseille Provence Cruise Center (Mole Leon Gourret piers) serve the majority of cruise ships docking in Marseille. The terminals are located ~10 km (6 mi) from the old city centre. This terminal has a large-capacity building and is the embarkation point for all round-trip ship departures. The terminal is accessed via Porte 4. To Porte 4 drive on Motorway A55, then take Exit 5 (“Les Ports”) and just follow the traffic signs "Gares Maritimes" and "Croisière". Public transportation option are the RTM bus lines 35 and 36.
The terminal car parking area is available at Gate 4 (Porte 4). The passengers' car parking area is at the Mole Leon Gourret's end (near the MPCC Terminal).
La Joliette pier (J4) serves mega-yachts and smaller ships (with length less than 200 m / 565 ft). J4 is located near the Old Port, the city centre, the La Major Cathedral and the “le Panier” historic district. The terminal's position provides cruise ship passengers with quick access to downtown (at few minutes walking distance).
Marseille Provence Airport is located around 27 km / 17 mi (or 1/2 hour drive distance) northwest of the cruise port and 9 km (6 mi) from the city centre. Shuttle bus lines run every 20 min from the airport to the St Charles train station daily (between 5 am - 11 pm). Drive distance is approx 30 min. A taxi from from the train station to the cruise ship terminals costs about EURO 20. Occasionally, the port also provides a free shuttle bus line to the city.
The Marseille port's ferry terminals serve all 4 companies leaving out of Marseille to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, also to north Africa (Algeria and Tunisia). These companies are Maritima Ferries ((fka SNCM), CMN (aka La Méridionale), Algerie Ferries and CTN (Tunisia Ferries).
- Mole Leon Gourret piers are used by bigger-sized vessels. The second terminal is 4,5 km (3 mi) from Vieux Port.
- Marseille port's Cruise Terminal 19 has 2 piers and it is located to the jetty entrance.
- Marseille-Provence Cruise Terminal is 1,5 km (1 mi) further on. This is the newer terminal with a renovated building.
- All terminals don't offer many facilities. Available are several ATM and a cafeteria. To leave you luggage passengers have to use the Marseille Saint Charles station. There is one souvenir shop on the quayside – marche des croisieristes.
Marseille tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Old Harbor: located on the west side. Today, The Vieux Port serves only sports craft and fishing boats.
- La Canebière: the broad highway begins at the harbour and it is the principal traffic artery. You will see the busy traffic of the inner city.
- Marseilles Bourse: close to Marseille cruise port (Canebiere left side), it is a stock exchange. The building dates from 1860.
- Musée d’Histoire de Marseille: inside the Marseilles Bourse. Discover historic exhibition.
- Musée Cantini: located on 19 rue Grignan, south of the busy Canebière. Discover collection of old porcelain and applied art from the 20th century.
- Boulevard Longchamp Area: visit the Musée Grobet-Labadie and the Palais Longchamp.
- Palais Longchamp: built in the period 1862 – 1869 by Espérandieu. There is a Zoological Garden behind it.
- Musée des Beaux Arts: discover paintings from the 16th – 17th century by Rubens and Perugino. Enjoy the works of Mignard, Serre and Puget. The museum shows works and sculptures by Honoré Daumier, famous caricaturist.
- Musée Grobet-Labadié: Madame Grobet gave the mansion to the town. There you will see beautiful furniture, musical instruments, ceramics, medieval tapestries and sculptures.
- Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde: located south of the city. The limestone is 154 m tall and gives great panoramic view. The Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is a famous city landmark.
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