The understanding of the abovementioned relationships was achieved through an exploratory qualitative method based on a comparative case study, the data for which were collected from structured deep interviews addressed to port managers, as well as observations at the cruise terminal, combined with studies gathered by port offices and the public published by consultants, the media, and other secondary data. Two mainly transit ports were compared based on their offer of tourism services: Livorno in Italy and Lisbon in Portugal.
3.2.1. Lisbon: A “Destination” Port
The Port of Lisbon (Porto de Lisboa) is a wide European port and the largest in Portugal, located at the interface between the Atlantic Ocean and the vast estuary of the Tagus, 362 nautical miles away from the Gibraltar strait [49
]. where the Mediterranean Sea begins. Its geo-strategic centrality and a water basin of 32,000 ha, sheltered and deep, give the Port of Lisbon a high stature in the logistics chain of international commerce and on the main cruise circuits, offering the best navigating conditions both for large ships of great depth, namely, transoceanic vessels, and for nautical sport. Integrated in the trans-European network of transports, it is the “meeting port” of maritime, railway, and road transport. The Port of Lisbon is still mainly a port of trading general cargo (56%) and mineral and food raw materials (15%), but the passenger traffic is growing, accounting for 15% of the port’s business [49
Together with its own favorable geographical position and a population of around 510,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area accounts over 2.8 million people. Lisbon is an important town to visit and a destination port with a cruise harbor layout able to easily host the cruise ships. The city serves as a cultural hinge with the Atlantic coast of Europe, the western Mediterranean, and northern Europe, as well as Africa, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. Previous studies focusing on the cruise passengers’ motivations in Lisbon found that they considered it a cultural visit [51
In the last decade, tourism (and cruise tourism) expanded significantly. The town became a very successful touristic destination for visitors, who arrive mainly by plane (94%) from all over the world [50
]. The number of foreigners staying in hotels in the Lisbon metropolitan area was more than four million, where 70% stayed in the city.
Lisbon has three cruise terminals, which easily allow direct immersion into the town. At the Santa Apolonia terminal, opened in November 2014, and Jardim do Tabaco Quay, cruise passengers can walk directly to the center of the city.
Close to the cruise terminal, there are four recreational docks—the Alcantara Dock, the Belem Dock, the Bom Sucesso Dock, and the Santo Amaro Dock—with security equipment (hand and cabin luggage X-ray machines), able to offer a wide range of services such as tourist information, a post office, public phones, public toilets, souvenir shops, wine shops, car park, coach park, taxis, and a shuttle to the city center. Lisbon supplies approximately 1500 m of quay with depths between 8 m and 12 m allowing the berth of cruise vessels from the smallest to the largest. In order to increase the capacity, the port authority is undergoing works to add 670 m of berthing quay near Santa Apolónia.
shows that Lisbon differs from Livorno as a gateway port. For passengers, the city of Lisbon is the prime destination and they rarely undertake further excursion. A large majority of cruise tourism reaches Lisbon as an elective destination where visitors can easily walk downtown. Considering the short amount of time of cruise stops, most tourists prefer to visit the city, on their own or through a guided tour, to discover the town in an organized way. Regarding the passengers who responded to the survey in 2017 and 2018, only 26% bought a guided tour before landing and fewer than 30% chose excursions out of Lisbon city. In this case, the most visited places were Cascais (18% of respondents) and Sintra (28% of respondents), in the metropolitan regions of Lisbon and Obidos (21%) and Fatima (10%), where the latter is a religious destination.
Although Lisbon hosted cruise ships for a long time, only in the last decade did the municipality and port authorities consider the cruise business as strategic. Since 2014, the concession of cruise terminal management was granted to a private association, pursuing the so-called “landlord” model: the port’s jurisdiction is managed in order to open the port’s area to the city. Management, coordination, facilitation, and essential promotions for the maintenance and improvement of the competitive levels of the port and the partnerships are entrusted to the Lisbon Port Community. Both banks of the Tagus gave rise to many restaurants, bars, and outdoor cafés. An important part of the Lisbon nightlife also takes place by the river. Today, the merchant port of Lisbon has a large area that is a stage of entertainment and culture, hosting musical concerts, with both open air and covered spaces.
From January to October 2018, the Port of Lisbon hosted 281 cruise ships and about 487,000 cruise passengers, rises of 1% and 11% compared to the previous year. Between October 2017 and 2018, the number of cruise passengers in transit grew by 48%, while the turnaround went up by 43%.
The strategy of the “landlord” model is to make the Port of Lisbon [49
] the following: (i) a functionally diversified port, with three core activities—container cargo, bulk agri-food stuffs, and tourism and leisure—closely tied to the development of the Lisbon metropolitan region and the surrounding area, which will form a potential hinterland; (ii) an integrated port, in harmony with the surrounding areas and city life; (iii) a comfortable and easy destination. In the frame of this strategy, the Port of Lisbon is a member of global associations, such as CLIA, Cruise Europe, and Med cruises, where international stakeholder relationships are considered by private companies that manage the port and by the port authority. The Port of Lisbon negotiated an extension of the number of days the cruises are docked. The extension of the stopover in town is an effective strategy aimed at reducing congestion carried by short-term tourism. The local government, together with national and regional stakeholders, is attempting to activate a shared policy in order to respond to tourism crowding and its effects on the local communities and environment.
3.2.2. Livorno: A “Gateway” Port
The town of Livorno compared to other millenarian areas in Tuscany is relatively “new”, as it was started as a port to serve Pisa. The historical maritime republic located at the outfall of the Arno River slowly lost its sea front. Consequently, the coast where Livorno was built in the 14th century became the port of Pisa. The importance of this port for the entire Tuscan region introduced the Lorena Duke in 1575, entrusting Bernardo Buontalenti to design the port enlargement and the new town of Livorno.
At the beginning of the 1600s, by promoting a special hosting legislation called “Livornine” that encouraged free cult and free commerce, many Jewish, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, etc. travelers started moving in from the Mediterranean and European countries. Livorno in a few years became quite a significant multiethnic port town with a key role in serving Florence, the Tuscan region, and central Italy. Venetian technicians able to remove land water and build huge dry dock storage supported the town and its port’s growth.
At the end of the 1700s, the Duke of Tuscany liberalized maritime trade and Livorno became an important “free port” with 30,000 residents, where each community could practice their cult, tradition, and cultural activities. It became very significant for international trading between Holland, Europe, and the Mediterranean countries.
The actual town of Livorno accounts for 135,000 residents and it is the second town of Tuscany.
This short historical reference points out the following:
Livorno was born as a trading port supporting all the inland Tuscan economy;
Pisa at the beginning and obviously Florence were strategically the main reference points for political and economic decisions;
Livorno is a strategic location for connecting the Italian peninsula with islands like Sardinia, Corse, Elba, Sicily, and the south Mediterranean (Tunisia, Morocco); many traders and passengers use the quite impressive ferry network departing from Livorno.
With cruise tourism unavoidably appearing, Livorno was identified as a key port of call, a real gateway to allow tourists to briefly visit Florence, Pisa, and Lucca, important international tourism attractions., which is illustrated at Figure 4
Livorno still has its role as a trading and ferry port. The cruise component is relatively new and accounts for 786,000 passengers, compared to the ferry movement with 2.65 million persons per year. The port has 11 berths for ferries and cruise ships, and it is basically connected with a short transit area for passengers, with terminal features offering not just a ticket office and waiting area, but also additional services (info points, security, internet point, Wi-Fi, cafeteria, etc.).
The logistic terminal has a shuttle bus to the town center, as well as a taxi, car rental, and “fly and cruise” service. The “fly and cruise” service connects the port with Pisa airport; in principle, this great asset of being very close to an international airport could allow Livorno to take the role of a homeport. Tourists could fly into Pisa and depart for cruises without carrying their luggage. Furthermore, the role of a homeport entails many shore services for cruises, that over time were developed by other nearby ports, such as Barcelona and Genova. Among port competitors, there is already a division of roles. It is not easy to combine the role of being a traditional trading and ferry movement port without high specific investments and great stakeholder ability to displace competitors already in the homeport role.
Inland tours chosen by Livorno cruise passengers see 90% of the total excursions going to Florence, Pisa, and Lucca, while Cinque Terre accounts for 4.37% (Porto Livorno 2000, 2019). In the last few years, the inland assets offered even many other possibilities to visit the Etruscan coast and towns, including wine and oil areas, and the unique Tuscan countryside. It is a very important excursion supply that offers the opportunity to discover Tuscany’s specific identity, while “decongesting” the most requested and visited towns. The latest report on tourism in Tuscany accounted Florence with more than 26 million visitors in 2018 [37
There is a historical “path dependence” of the port of Livorno on Florence and Pisa, which seems to be confirmed by the cruise sector’s choices. Now, the number of town destinations is uneven, adding people to the already crowded famous towns.
Livorno is a gateway port, and it would be profitable to try enriching this role in a conscious way in order to invest in and develop assets that can allow the town to be appealing and desirable for tourists when arriving via ferry or disembarking from cruises.
The ferry terminal and two cruise terminals in Livorno—the Alto Fondale and Porto Mediceo—which accommodate larger cruise ships and highlight the historic fort, are walking distance from downtown (only 8 min by foot). Several itineraries to explore the historical part of the city are proposed, such as for example a ride to the beautiful area with canals called La Venezia, built during the 15th century based on a Venetian architect’s project.
Of course, to be “a first choice” in the territory, many conditions need to be developed. First of all, the proposed excursions should be promoted through a segmented marketing and communication strategy in order for Livorno to become a demanded destination. Moreover, it would be necessary to put together cruise plans with a stop lasting at least a couple of days in Livorno.
For this, we would need to discuss the cruise package decisions taken by these gigantic oligopolistic companies, which is a huge and difficult bargain for local stakeholders. It is not surprising that, despite the unusual history of Livorno, just a very small number of tourists disembark and visit the town (0.62%) [37
]. The vocation of Livorno was never a tourist one and putting value into its history and its monuments, museums, and identity is a process that just recently started.
In Livorno, the local government suffers from a weak public policy and weak management practices. The integration of tourism into a local strategic planning framework is still absent; we can highlight the lack of consultation between the tourism industry, private companies, the port authority, trade organizations, and public institutions that, instead, should be essential for enhancing local economies and promoting the discovery of social and cultural context. Moreover, the new majority private property of Porto Livorno 2000 did not clarify its own strategy.
Regarding cruise sustainability means measuring and calibrating the effort and stakeholder involvement to strengthen the port’s role and designing new appealing services and activities able to attract people for a longer time than the cruise stops.