November 2, 2022. PPA S.A. and Viking Cruises, one of the top cruise liners in the world, exchanged their plaques in a ceremony held at the Port of Piraeus to warmly welcome the cruise ship Viking Mars, whose maiden voyage took place in May 2022. It is noted that October was the month with the most Viking Cruise arrivals at the Port of Piraeus in 2022. Based on the Cruise liners pre-bookings, whose cruise ships arrive at the Port of Piraeus around the year, in 2022 an overall increase of 48% is expected, while the increase in the homeported arrivals is estimated at 107% compared to 2021. This is part of an overall optimistic trend and an indication of the dynamic Cruise restart at the Port of Piraeus. Some of the world’s largest, most advanced and luxurious cruise ships of the leading cruise companies internationally made their debut, while arrivals of new companies are added on a frequent basis. Also, during 2022 new large-scale cruise ships of around 300 meters in length arrive on a weekly basis. Based on the 2023 pre-bookings the positive prospects will continue also in the next year. The Port of Piraeus is an important destination for cruise ships in the Mediterranean Sea with 11 places able to accommodate the simultaneous berthing of the largest cruise ships in the world. In 2019, before the pandemic, the Piraeus port broke the limit of 1 million cruise passengers. In 2021, the port succeeded in serving a significant number of cruise ships, contributing to the recovery of the Greek tourist industry. Today, the recovery of the cruise business is moving at a rapid pace, achieving at the same time a significant structural modification in the business mix, since many are the cruise ships, like the Viking Cruise example, that use the Port of Piraeus as home port. This trend was especially obvious during the first half of 2022 with 65% of the cruise ships serviced being homeported. During the same period the overall growth of the cruise business was exponential with over 800% increase in passengers compared to 2021. The rapid uptake of the cruise routes and the homeported ships generates positive prospects for the coming years and contributes to the national effort towards an overall country port industry growth and island development.
The Heraklion Port Authority, as part of the strategic actions it implements for the cruise business development, organized a familiarization trip for selected cruise cruise line executives by the end of September 2022 (fam trip). The fam trip which was focused both at the cruise port updates and cruise destination enrichment, organized by OLI from September 19 to 22, 2022 and was completed with great success, where senior cruise line executives from the luxury segment participated. For the first time, the cruise line executives gathered to jointly explore the possibility of expanding their planned cruise calls but also to live and to know first-hand the hospitality, the quality of services as well as the social and human values in the island of Crete. The familiarization trip was intended to promote Heraklion and Crete as one of the major cultural, historical, archaeological and gastronomic cruise destinations in Mediterranean, in order to increase the cruise guests traffic to our island and not only. The participants of the fam trip were from the Azamara Cruises (Ms. Joni Lundsford), from SilverSea Cruises (Ms. Natasha Tramutola) and from Holland America Group and Carnival Corp. (Mr. Michele Bosco), representing together 10 cruise brands. During fam trip, the cruise executives held meetings with the management of OLI, where the CEO, Mr. Minas Papadakis, with a detailed presentation, referred to the main pillars of Heraklion Port development, the future goals and programs/initiatives that OLI is already adopting and participating for the green transition and the energy model transformation. The cruise line executives also had meetings with the local and regional authority officials as well as with the Directors and Supervisors of the Heraklion Port Authority, in order to get relevant information about all the cruise destination possibilities for the luxury segment cruise guests. For this reason, full-day tours were organized with the aim of highlighting the main points of interest and the off the beaten path undiscovered treasures of Crete. All the suggested excursions were escorted by professional guides, special routes of historical and archaeological interest were presented that highlighted the most important sites and attractions and the incredible mosaic that describes the unique profile of the Cretan landscape. There were special presentations and reports on the possibilities offered by our island for the cruise destination development, asuch as the biomatic and authentic experiences, the culinary and gastronomy wealth of Cretan cuisine. The Managing Director of OLI, Mr. Minas Papadakis, noted that the cruise line executives clearly expressed their pleasure to be part of the fam trip as well as their satisfaction for the possibilities offered by our cruise destination, they announced their intention to include new excursions in their future calls, which justifies the effort of OLI to contribute to the cruise development of Crete island. The Heraklion Port Authority would like to thank consulting company ICCS Corp and personally Mr. Chris Nicolaides, for the cooperation in the implementation of the familiarization trip.