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MV Azores, the Portuguese cruise liner today made its inaugural call to Gibraltar. To mark the occasion, Minister for Tourism, The Hon Samantha Sacramento MP this morning attended a reception on board. During the official function, there was a presentation and exchange of commemorative plaques with the captain of the passenger ship. She was accompanied by representatives from the Gibraltar Tourist Board, the Gibraltar Port Authority and from the shipping agents Incargo. The vessel is operated by the Portuguese cruise company Portuscale Cruises, can carry 600 passengers and has a gross tonnage of 16,144. Minister Sacramento was delighted that MV Azores was calling at Gibraltar and said passengers would have a great opportunity to enjoy all the exciting amenities and tourist attractions that Gibraltar had to offer. She said: “I would like to welcome the MV Azores and the hundreds of tourists who are visiting us today and express my best wishes that their stay among us is both satisfying and enjoyable. “Gibraltar has established a strong and well-deserved reputation as a leading port of call for cruise ships in the Mediterranean. The GSLP-Liberal Government recognises the importance of our tourist product to the overall long term prosperity of the Rock and will continue to promote the port as a centre of maritime excellence and keep developing opportunities for the leisure and tourist industry. This is the second inaugural visit by a cruise ship this year and there are others planned for later on in the year. Cruise ship calls are up significantly this year on last year which is evidence of this Government’s commitment to developing tourism and make it a strong economic driver”. “I am confident that the visit by MV Azores will be a memorable one, and the first of many to come in the years ahead.”