Historical and record year for the cruise in Greece

By | April 30, 2023

Anastasia Vamvaka

The interest of the world cruise market has been focused on Greece for three years. The enormous support given by Greece – the only country in the world – to cruise companies during the COVID-19 period has started since last year and is paying off and as it happens in the industry that is preparing two years before its movements, this year, in addition to the records that will be recorded in passenger and ship arrivals, it is also a gamble of the year: if Greece can handle the new demands of the global industry without losing the authentic experience of tens of thousands of passengers, the country’s tourist traffic and national fund will be further strengthened in the future.

In total, in 2022, the total number of cruise ship arrivals in our country in Greek ports amounted to 4,780 and the number of passengers to 4,629,650. Thus, in 2019, when the restrictive measures had not yet been imposed, the number of cruise arrivals reached 3,979 cruise ships with 5,552,384 passengers. This year, the goal is to exceed 2019 levels.

The ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki are honored this year by “elevating” the responsibility of managing the cruise. The “traditional” Piraeus is preparing to break all records. According to data recently released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), more than 1 million passengers are expected to arrive at the port of Piraeus. Following the end of the pandemic, which significantly affected the industry in the previous period, the dynamic restart of the cruise began from Piraeus. According to official PPA data, in 2022 there were 677 arrivals, compared to 379 in 2021 and 622 in 2019, an increase of 79% and 9% respectively. As for 2023, there are already reservations for at least 829 cruises, an increase of 22% compared to 2022, while the number of cruises that started and/or ended their journey in the port of Piraeus -base port- was 441 in 2022, compared to 220 in 2021 and 331 in 2019, a notable increase of 100% in the first case and 33% in the second. Finally, the reservations for 2023 in cruises with home port are already 629, an increase of 43% compared to 2022.

Piraeus’s success was the result of a systematic effort by both the PPA itself and the Ministry of Shipping when, in the first year of managing the pandemic, it created a support framework for the sector to meet the emergency needs that arose. While, all over the planet, one port after another “closed” prohibiting the boarding of sailors and the feeding of ships, Piraeus facilitated, following strict protocols, hundreds of sailors to return to their countries of origin, provided medical assistance and also supported feeding. of the ships It is not an exaggeration -something that is heard more and more in international discussions- that thanks to the actions of the State and the Organisms at the time, the cruise industry avoided one of the biggest crises in managing its needs operational. That is why the curtain on the cruise did not rise in its traditional homeland, the Caribbean, but in Greece.

Regarding the cruise, the Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, in a recent interview stated that it is expected to register an even higher increase of around 15%. The Minister of Tourism made a special mention of the port of Thessaloniki: “This is, in my opinion, a great success story. Thessaloniki port ranked, I would say, second or third place for some in terms of tourism. We did overrun last year’s TIF by upgrading the port as a tourist hub and actually from 13-14 cruise ships that were there last season we got to 78 last year and this year I think we’ll be over 100. At the same time , we have more than 50% home-porting, which means that travelers come, stay in the city, stay in hotels, eat in taverns and restaurants, buy in stores,” he said characteristically.

Corresponding statements about the “great success story” in the port of Thessaloniki were made by Theodoros Vokos, CEO of Posidonia AE exhibitions, which is organizing the 7th Posidonia Marine Tourism Forum in Thessaloniki next week on the 25th and April 26, 2023, for the first time. time away from Athens. “It is an exciting development that will potentially further strengthen the cruise industry in Greece,” he said, continuing that “with the planned construction after 2024 of new cruise terminals in Souda, Chania, Crete, the planned expansion of the cruise terminal cruises in Piraeus and the growing potential of Thessaloniki as an additional cruise hub, the growth of the industry will continue in Greece in the coming years,” he emphasized.

Posidonia Sea Tourism has as its central theme “returning to Growth: the challenges of Cruise Lines and Destinations”. The event will be a hub for discussion on the future of the cruise industry and its continued positive impact on the economy. Luxury and specialty cruise lines that have already confirmed their participation in the two-day event, which will take place at the Makedonia Palace Hotel, include Azamara Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant, Scenic Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Variety Cruises and the recently relaunched Crystal Cruises. For the first time, there will also be a presentation of the socio-economic impact study prepared by Thessaloniki Port Organization and Thessaloniki Tourism Organisation, to contribute to a better understanding of the benefits of cruising for the local community.

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