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Rethymnon targetting luxury and expedition ships says vice mayor

PHOTO: Frederik Erdmann
Eirini Koutsaledaki, president of the Rethimno Municipal Port Fund, at Seatrade Europe
Rethymnon, the third-largest city in Crete, located on the island's northern shores halfway between Heraklion and Chania, is working to step up cruise tourism through additional marketing, infrastructure investments and the introduction of a seaplane located within walking distance of the cruise berth.

According to Eirini Koutsaledaki, vice mayor of Rethymnon and president of the Rethimno Municipal Port Fund, the port is targeting luxury and expedition ships, although larger ships could be received as well on tender calls, she told Seatrade Cruise News in an interview at the port’s booth during Seatrade Europe.

According to Koutsaledaki, cruise ship visits to Rethymnon have been sporadic with a handful received in both 2016 and 2017. Main clients are Compagnie du Ponant (Le Lyrial is calling on September 24), as well as Variety Cruises. She hopes to see the figure rise to 10 calls next year.

In the western port, dedicated to cruise traffic, quays up to 450mtr in length with a water depth between seven and eight metres are available.

The area designated for cruise traffic is fully ISPS compliant.

A designated taxi and parking area has been set up next to the ISPS area, registered tour buses can alternatively enter the zone and proceed directly to the ship.

Ships unable or not wishing to enter the port can anchor one nautical mile away and apply their own tender boats.

Koutsaledaki told Seatrade that small buildings containing additional storage rooms and shops will be set up next to the main cruise quay in the near future.

Walking distance from the cruise berth to the historic centre of Rethymnon is ten minutes. On the eastern side of the port, the Rethimno Municipal Port Fund is preparing the inauguration of a seaplane base which is expected to become operational next year.

Koutsaledaki says this aerodrome will constitute an important selling point in cruise marketing, as excursion flights can take off directly from the port.

She says the luxury and expedition cruise segment will well befit the other pillar of the port's development strategy, which concentrates on the mega yacht business.

While transit calls are the focus, Koutsaledaki says Rethymnon would have the infrastructure in place to handle turnarounds of ships with a limited size. The transit time to the airports of Heraklion and Chania is one hour each.

Attractions in Rethymnon include the town itself with its Venetian fortress, several museums – including a new Archaeological Museum – as well as shops and gastronomy located around the typical alleyways.

Nearby attractions include several mountain villages, the exotic Preveli Palm Peach, the Arkadi Monastery as well as Ideon Andro on Psiloritis Mountain, the birthplace of Zeus.