The Malta Maritime Authority is dedicated to working to make Malta a major maritime center. With this goal in mind, the port authority has been working to create a second port to the south at Marsaxlokk Bay, calling it the Malta Freeport. It is also the port authority for the Port of Valletta, and its goals are to ensure that services and facilities within the port exceed expectations.
For centuries, the Port of Valletta has been the only developed port where imports arrived and exports left the Island. All ocean-borne passengers and vessels arrive here. New container facilities in Marsaxlokk have taken much of the cargo previously handled in the Port of Valletta. As a result, the Port of Valletta is working to develop its cruise, bunkering, and roll-on/roll-off transshipment services. The Port of Valletta is positioning itself in a landlord management role through privatization.
The Port of Valletta has a natural deep-water harbor that stretches some 3.6 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The Port of Valletta's breakwater assures that vessels can enter and leave the port 24 hours a day in all types of weather. Nonetheless, pilotage is required for all vessels over 500 gross tons entering Maltese ports (there are a few exceptions).
The Port of Valletta is equipped to provide a variety of maritime services that support efficient and timely cargo transfer, and the port has several multi-purpose quays that handle all kinds of cargo. The Port of Valletta has ample warehousing and open storage, including secured storage facilities, for everything from grains to car containers. The Port of Valletta also provides extensive ship repair facilities and services.
Due to its wonderful Mediterranean climate and rich history, the Port of Valletta is a popular cruise destination. A new cruise and passenger terminal was completed in 2005, and the Port of Valletta is planning to add new transportation links with the harbor (like water taxis and cable cars).
The Valletta Gateway Terminals (VGT) Limited is the authorized Port of Valletta Cargo Terminal operator, contracted with the Malta Maritime Authority, for the Port of Valletta. VGT is a joint venture between Tumas Group of Malta and Portek Group of Singapore.
The Port of Valletta's multi-purpose terminals are equipped to handle vehicles, trailers, containers, roll-on/roll-off, and conventional cargoes. VGT has a total of six roll-on/roll-off ramps in the Port of Valletta and can handle containers at both quays. The primary container handling and storage area is, however, the Laboratory Wharf.
The Port of Valletta has eight berths for conventional cargo, five of them at Deep Water Quay and three at Laboratory Wharf. There are two controlled-access sheds covering a total of 7.2 thousand square meters available for storage.
The car compound at Laboratory Wharf in the Port of Valletta has a total of 19.4 thousand square meters of space and secured storage areas where only authorized personnel can enter. The Port of Valletta's Laboratory Wharf also has power outlet facilities for reefer containers. While there are no cold stores within the port, several available facilities are located near the harbor.
Handling mostly conventional cargo, the Deep Water Quay at the Port of Valletta is 488 meters long. With berthing facilities for roll-on/roll-off vessels as well, the quay has three transit sheds covering a total of 8.5 thousand square meters.
The Port of Valletta's Laboratory Wharf is 380 meters long and specializes in handling containers and roll-on/roll-off cargoes. The wharf also has a 10.4 thousand square meters that can accommodate at least 600 vehicles.
The Magazine Wharf in the Port of Valletta is used mainly for transshipments of cereals. Operated by the Kordin Grain Terminal Company Limited, it is an extension of the Laboratory Wharf. The Magazine Wharf is 250 meters long with alongside depth of 15 meters, and it can accommodate Panamax bulkers of up to 70 thousand DWT.
The Fuel Wharf consists of three quays with a total length of 304 meters and alongside depth of 10 meters. This Port of Valletta wharf has cement silos used by private operators holding concessions with the Malta Maritime Authority. The Fuel Wharf has equipment for discharging edible oil, and small tankers can berth alongside.
The Port of Valletta's Flagstone Wharf is a dedicated petroleum terminal used for storing petroleum and for providing bunkering services. Bunkering outlets are also located at the Fuel Wharf and the Magazine Wharf. The Port of Valletta handles roll-on/roll-off cargoes at the Wine Verandah and breakbulk cargoes at the Coal Wharf.
VGT has also set up special berthing areas in the Port of Valletta for a wide range of vessels that do not carry cargo. These Port of Valletta quays are equipped to serve super-yachts, fishing boats, cruise vessels, submarines, military vessels, seismic vessels, and tugboats, to name a few.
The Valletta International Sea Terminals (VISET), a private consortium of mostly local businesses, is the authorized operator for the port's passenger facilities. The company has a 65-year lease for development and operation of the passenger facilities in the Port of Valletta. Over the last decade, cruise traffic in the Port of Valletta has reached all-time records, with more than 200 cruise liners and over 250 thousand passengers visiting the Port of Valletta. Most cruise passengers in the Port of Valletta come from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and France.
The Port of Valletta and the Island of Malta are well-positioned to be one of the major base cruise ports for the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Europe. VISET was contracted to construct and operate the new cruise liner and ferry passenger terminal in the Port of Valletta. Called the Valletta Waterfront, the project is located in 18th Century buildings (now the Pinto and Forni Stores) and includes a large complex for shopping and recreation.
The Port of Valletta's Pinto Wharf is dedicated to cruise vessels. Within walking distance of the city, the Wharf is more than 700 meters long and offers space for four passenger vessels with depts. from nine to 12 meters. There are other berthing areas for cruise liners in Malta. For example, small specialized cruise liners are using the island of Gozo.
The Port of Valletta is home to some wonderful buildings and warehouses where the Knights and merchants from Europe unloaded their goods. The Forni Stores date to the 17th Century, and the new Valletta Waterfront offers retail, leisure, and dining in this historic property.