This year’s event, to be held from May 28-29, 2019 at the Domotel Kastri Conference Center, in Athens’ northern suburbs, will host over 30 senior cruise executives responsible for ports and destinations including MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Holland America Group, Disney Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Celestyal Cruises, among others.
CLIA European Ports Committee
Many of them will also participate at a meeting of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) European Ports and Destinations Advisory Committee, to be held at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum for the first time and engage with the region’s destination representatives on the exhibition floor and the event’s many networking opportunities.
Elisabetta De Nardo, VP Port Development, MSC Cruises and Chairman of CLIA’s European Port & Destination Advisory Committee, said: ‘Greece continues to be a region of great importance for the international cruise industry. In recent years, following geopolitical instability in other areas across the Mediterranean Sea, Greece has assumed an even more prominent role in Eastern Med cruise itineraries. I look forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities that we face with other stakeholders.’
Second phase port privatisation
Some of these opportunities include the impending legislation that kicks-off the 2nd phase of the Greek ports privatisation process, effectively allowing investment in cruise terminal concessions across the country, a much-awaited move likely to increase homeporting. These developments have also attracted the interest of leading cruise terminal operators, such as Global Ports Holding, which will be present at the event.
As of May, the first in line port privatisations are Alexandroupoli and Kavala. The list also includes top cruise destinations Corfu and Heraklion, both of which have confirmed their participation as exhibitors, together with Piraeus and Rhodes.
Greece is the destination of choice for 35m tourists annually, mainly thanks to its climate and two idyllic island archipelagos.
An increasing number of arrivals comes from the US
According to Athens International Airport data, the number of American arrivals has increased over 113% during the last five years with many travelling to the country for its varied cruise product options.
In response, the major US cruise lines have increased their 2019 Greek ports of call, and others such as Disney Cruises, are resuming operations in the country as early as next year. Disney will visit Piraeus, Katakolon, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete next summer, following a five-year absence. Disney has confirmed its participation at the Posidonia Forum too.
MSC Cruises has some 400 calls in Greek port destinations in 2019, making this its busiest year for Greece. Many cruise lines are taking advantage of the popularity of Santorini and Mykonos, with the latter also securing many overnight calls for this summer season. 2020 will also see a return of a number of cruise lines to Turkey’s western coastline, as well as to Istanbul.
This year will also see the largest number of small cruise ships with a capacity of under 500 passengers cruising in East Med.
Airam Diaz Pastor, president of the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports (MedCruise), said: ‘Ports, terminals and destinations from the East Med, Black Sea and Red Sea are experiencing an increase in cruise passengers and calls and cruise lines are confirming their itineraries for 2020 and 2021 in the region. Moreover, both turnaround and transit calls are coming back to Turkey, which will have a positive impact in the whole region.’
In this context, and to promote a sustainable cruise business in these regions, MedCruise has launched two Working Groups - one focused on the Black Sea and another on North Africa - composed by port members and associated members.