The interest of the global cruise market has been focused on Greece for three years now. The huge support provided by Greece – the only country in the world – to cruise lines during the period of COVID-19 started since last year and is in the process of being paid and as it happens in the industry which is preparing two years before its movements, this year, in addition to the records that will be registered in the arrivals of passengers and ships, it is also an annual bet: if Greece can manage the new demands of the world industry without losing the authentic experience of tens of thousands of passengers, the country’s tourist traffic and the national fund will be further strengthened in the future.
In total, in 2022, the total number of cruise ship arrivals to our country in Greek ports amounted to 4,780 and the number of passengers to 4,629,650. Thus, in 2019, while the restrictive measures had not yet been imposed, the number of cruise ship 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 have their honor this year by “raising” the responsibility for the management of the cruise. The “traditional” Piraeus is preparing to break all records. According to data recently released by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), more than one million passengers are expected to arrive at the port of Piraeus. After the end of the pandemic, which significantly affected the industry in the previous period, the dynamic restart of cruising started from Piraeus. According to official PPA data, there were 677 arrivals in 2022, compared to 379 in 2021 and 622 in 2019, an increase of 79% and 9% respectively. As for 2023, there are already bookings for at least 829 cruise ships, an increase of 22% compared to 2022, while the number of cruise ships that started and/or ended their journey at the port of Piraeus – home port – was 441 in 2022, compared to 220 in 2021 and 331 in 2019, a remarkable increase of 100% in the first case and 33% in the second. Finally, bookings for 2023 for homeport cruises are already at 629, an increase of 43% compared to 2022.
The success of Piraeus is the result of a systematic effort by both the PPA itself and the Ministry of Merchant Shipping when, in the first year of managing the pandemic, it created a supportive framework to the sector responding to the emergency needs that have arisen. While, all over the planet, one port after another “closed” prohibiting the embarkation of sailors and the refueling of ships, Piraeus facilitated, by following strict protocols, the return of hundreds of sailors to their country of origin. origin, provided medical assistance and also supported the supply of ships. It is no exaggeration – something that is increasingly heard in international discussions – that thanks to the actions of the State and the Organizations of the time, the cruise industry avoided one of the most major crises in the management of its operational needs. This 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 said that it should register an even greater increase of around 15%. The Minister of Tourism made a special mention of the port of Thessaloniki: “It is, in my opinion, a great success. The port of Thessaloniki was, I would say, 2nd or 3rd for some when it comes to tourism. We have exceeded last year’s TIF by turning the port into a tourist hub and indeed, from 13-14 cruise ships that were there last season we got to 78 last year and this year I think we will exceed 100. At the same time, we have more than 50% door-to-door delivery, which means travelers come, stay in town, stay in hotels, eat in taverns and restaurants, shop in stores he characteristically said.
Corresponding statements on the “great achievement” in the port of Thessaloniki were made by Theodoros Vokos, CEO of Posidonia AE exhibitions, which is organizing the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum in Thessaloniki next week on April 25-26, 2023, for the first time outside Athens. “This is an exciting development that will potentially further strengthen the cruise industry in Greece,” he said, adding that “with the planned post-2024 construction of new cruise terminals in Souda, Chania, Crete, the planned expansion of the cruise terminal in Piraeus and the growing potential of Thessaloniki as an additional cruise hub, industry growth is expected to continue in Greece for years to come,” he said. -He underlines.
Posidonia Sea Tourism has as its central theme “the return to growth: the challenges faced by cruise lines and destinations”. The event will be a hub for discussions 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 be held at the Makedonia Palace Hotel, include Azamara Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant, Scenic Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Variety Cruises and the new relaunched Crystal Cruises. For the first time, there will also be a presentation of the socio-economic impact study prepared by the Thessaloniki Port Organization and the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization, in order to contribute to a better understanding of the benefits of cruise for the local community.