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Mediterranean gaining traction as a year-round destination

Figen Ayan (centre) delivered a presentation on trends in the Mediterranean on Tuesday at Seatrade Cruise Global 2023
If ships had sailed at full capacity in the Mediterranean in 2022, passenger numbers would have exceeded those for 2019, according to Figen Ayan, president of MedCruise and chief port officer at Galataport Istanbul.

Instead, ships on average sailed at 50% of normal passenger capacity, making 2022 a recovery year for the region. 

The Med welcomed 31.15m cruise passengers in 2019, down at 24.13m in 2022.

The update was given during the ‘Trends in the Med’ conference session on March 28 at Seatrade Cruise Global (March 27-30).

Cruise traffic

Italy (35.23%), Spain (26.96%), France (9.29%), Greece (7.2%) and Portugal (4.81%), Croatia (3.62%) and Turkey (3.44%) enocuntered the highest quantity of cruise passengers, other countries making up 9.45% in 2022.

The number of cruise calls surpassed pre-pandemic numbers. Taking the highest share of calls in the region were Italy (26.97%), Spain (22.87%), Greece (9.71%), France (9.30%), Portugal (6.94%), Croatia (6.17%) and Turkey (5.20%), other locations totalling 12.85%.

A year-round destination

Ayan went on to add that ships are increasingly sailing year-round in the Med, extending its popularity beyond six months of the year.

East and West Med

Out of the entire Mediterranean region, the West Med saw the highest amount of cruise activity through 2022. It received 18,217,141 passengers (75.51%) and 9,650 calls (66.15%), while the East Med recorded 2,883,114 passengers (11.95%) and 2,361 calls (16.18%) over the same period.

Adriatic and Black Sea

The Adriatic followed, with 3,018,752 passengers (12.51%) and 2,553 calls (17.5%).

‘We haven’t forgotten the Black Sea,’ said Ayan, ‘they’re part of our family’ as she revealed that the region had clocked up 7,213 passengers (0.03%) and 24 cruise calls (0.16%).

2023 outlook

Out of a total of 421 cruise vessels sailing worldwide, 177 of them will cruise the Med this year, in comparison with 166 in 2022. 

Currently, over 80% of the market is divided between Carnival Corporaation (39.1%), Royal Caribbean Group (24%), MSC Crusies (12.4%) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (8.5%) in the Med.


Ayan emphasised that the data collated by MedCruise was missing some information from Piraeus when explaining MedCruise’s findings.