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Doubts On Lifting Of Cabotage Restrictions

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs may hope to attract non-European Union flag cruise ships this summer, but cruise professionals have warned that the market may be lost even for 2012 due to unclear points in the new law for the lifting of cabotage restrictions, Greek press reports said last month.

Cruise professionals told the Greek press that the law in its general form moves towards the lifting of cabotage restrictions for non-EU flag cruise ships, but in practice, due to certain ordinances, it erects hurdles for international cruise companies to choose a Greek port as homeport.

Press reports said that international cruise companies mainly oppose the obligation of signing a formal three-year contract with the Greek Government and also disagree with the time restrictions mentioned in the law.

Another obstacle is the “Kefalogiannis Law,” which is presented as an incentive for international cruise companies to employ Greek seamen. The same law is exactly the reason of a legal dispute between Cyprus-based Louis Cruises and the Greek Seamen’s Pension Fund.

According to the European Cruise Council’s 2010/2011 report, Greece ranks first in Europe as a cruise destination.

“Nearly 29 million passengers embarked or called at European ports in 2009 -48 percent up on 2005- and Italy and Spain have both overtaken Mexico as the countries attracting the most cruise visitors although Greece tops the list for European passengers,” the report said.

However, the report did cite problems with Greece’s system for booking berths. “The cruise lines simply do not accept Greece’s ‘firstcome, first-served’ system for assigning berths,” the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports president, Giovanni Spadoni, said.

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