Upgraded port infrastructure and flexibility are key to making Greece a Mediterranean cruise tourism hub, according to Celestyal Cruises CEO Kyriakos Anastasiadis, who spoke to the press in Athens, on Thursday, adding that due to terrorism strikes in the region international cruise companies cut their calls to Eastern Mediterranean ports by 30 percent in 2016.
“Regardless of what might be happening in Turkey, Greece must understand that in order to restore cruise tourism to the Eastern Mediterranean, it must demonstrate seriousness on the issue of port infrastructure,” Anastasiadis, who is also CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Europe Executive Committee member, said, adding that the recent strike actions at Greek ports were making matters worse sending a negative image of Greece internationally.
Anastasiadis presented Celestyal Cruises plans for the upcoming year and added that the company plans to keep investing in Greece over the next decade. He went on to describe 2016 as a “difficult year” for European cruise travel referring primarily to holidaymakers from the US and Canada who ultimately decided against taking a cruise in the Mediterranean due to the terror strikes in France and Turkey.
Plans for 2017 include expanding into new markets and destinations, including Chania, Crete. The company said it made 821 calls to Greek ports, strengthening local communities and especially islands like Samos and Kos which experienced a large drop in tourist arrivals due to the migrant crisis. In 2016, Celestyal transported 117,000 passengers with 660,000 total visits to Greek destinations. At the same time, its Cuba activity is expected to mark growth. Indicatively, in 2016 the number of Greek travelers taking cruises rose by 48 percent as did the number of Turkish passenger by 20 percent.
Celestyal Cruises is the only cruise company operating out of Greece with a fleet of five liners. Awards include the Cruise Critic UK award in 2016 in the “Best Value for Money (Ocean)” category.