Although the number of cruise tourists from stopovers at Greek ports last year increased considerably (6,155,609 against 5,719,259 in 2010), major profits expected from the recent lifting of cabotage restrictions for non-European Union flag cruise ships would take a while to show, cruise industry experts recently told the Greek press.
Cruise industry experts have expressed dissatisfaction due to the boarding fee of 3.95 euros per passenger that non-E.U. flag cruise companies are obliged to pay the Greek state, according to the cabotage-lifting law approved by the Cabinet in January.
“This automatically makes homeporting in Greece by non-E.U. flag cruise ships less competitive than for companies that fly an E.U. flag,” experts told the Greek press.
A non-E.U. flag cruise company would have to pay 3.95 euros for each passenger and given that cruise ships carry at least 2,500 passengers, the cost for the company every time it docked at Piraeus (at least five times a month) would be higher (some 9.875 euros) compared to an E.U. flag cruise ship that docked at the port.
Meanwhile, Greece’s cruise competitors, Turkey and Italy, are said to not “discriminate” when either an E.U. flag cruise ship or a non-E.U. flag cruise ship docks at their ports.
Reports said large companies interested to homeport in Greek ports (such as MSC, NCL and Royal Caribbean) are stalling, as they are awaiting clarification on whether the 3.95 euros boarding fee would remain as a condition for a non-E.U. flag cruise ship to perform circular trips that would both start and end in Piraeus or other Greek ports.