Royal Caribbean to Start Homeport Operations in Piraeus, Greece
Royal Caribbean on Wednesday announced that its 2,730-passenger Enchantment of the Seas, a Vision-class cruise ship, will homeport in Piraeus, Greece, between May-September 2023.
The Enchantment of the Seas will sail 7-night itineraries to Greek ports, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Chania and Corfu, as well as Adriatic ports, such as Kotor in Montenegro and Split in Croatia. The ship departing from Piraeus will have Ravenna, Italy, as its port of disembarkation.
The itineraries will mark the first time that Royal Caribbean has based a ship in Greece.
“We are expecting very good things from Greece, we are investing with Navigator in the market so I hope that in the near future our presence in the market will be bigger,” said Royal Caribbean Key Account Manager Massimiliano Gianvenuti during a media briefing in Athens held by Navigator Travel & Tourist Services, the company’s exclusive representative in Greece.
Voyager of the Seas coming in Piraeus in 2024
Greece is also in Royal Caribbean’s plans for summer 2024 as the Miami-based premium cruise line is scheduled to return to homeport in Piraeus with its Voyager of the Seas. The 4,000-passenger cruise ship will homeport in Piraeus between May-October 2024 and include departures from Piraeus to Ravenna with stopovers at Greek and Adriatic ports and itineraries from/to Piraeus to Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.
The lead ship of the Voyager class of cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean, Voyager of the Seas is larger than Enchantment of the Seas, has a gross tonnage of 137,276 tons, a length of 311 meters and 15 decks.
During the presentation, Navigator Travel & Tourist Services CEO Andreas Stylianopoulos highlighted that one of the key elements for a cruise company to homeport in Greece is surely the country’s connectivity with the United States.
“This is the first time that we have so many flights directly from the US and they start early and run until the end of the year… It is very beneficial in the deployment design of cruise itineraries because the American traveler, at the end of the day, is the number one customer where ever we go,” Stylianopoulos said.
More Greeks are taking a cruise
Navigator’s CEO also informed that Greeks have warmed up to the idea of taking a cruise for their vacation.
“The myth that a cruise is only for retirees and senior citizens is becoming a thing of the past… The cruise industry has changed a lot in terms of the hotel services it offers,” he said, adding that the industry is appealing to younger travelers as well.
Moreover, according to Stylianopoulos, demand for cruise travel after the Covid-19 pandemic has recovered to a large extent, despite the high inflation and the challenges that the industry is facing.
Referring to Greece, he said that the lack of infrastructure puts a damper on the development of cruise travel in some Greek destinations, especially at a time when the competition from neighboring Turkey and Croatia has increased.
Itineraries in Western Mediterranean, Northern Europe
During the media briefing, more itineraries of Royal Caribbean were announced. This summer, the 6,680-passenger Symphony of the Seas, one of the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world, will be in the Western Mediterranean and carry out 7-night cruises in Italy, France and Spain, departing from Barcelona or Civitavecchia (Rome).
In Northern Europe, the 2,700-passenger Jewel of the Seas from May to August will embark on longer cruises (12 nights) to the British Isles and Iceland or the Norwegian fjords to the Arctic Circle with Amsterdam as its departure port.
Royal Caribbean has 27 cruise ships in its fleet that belong to seven ship classes, which are categorized for their unique layouts, onboard offerings, and size. The line sails to more than 270 destinations in 72 countries on six continents. Royal Caribbean also owns three private islands, Perfect Day at Coco Cay in the Bahamas, La Badee in Haiti and the recently announced Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island in Nassau, the Bahamas (planned to open in 2025).
First ‘Icon’ class ship coming in 2024
Known for delivering innovation at sea for more than 50 years, Royal Caribbean in January 2024 will introduce the first ship of its Icon class with the addition of the Icon of the Seas to its fleet.
Icon of the Seas will have a gross tonnage of 250,800 tons and at 365 meters long it will be the largest cruise ship in the world. The ship will have 20 decks and capacity to accommodate up to 7,514 people. The first Icon Class ship will begin its first cruise in January 2024 and sail year-round, 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations from Miami.
“Our brand is strong and we are always trying to innovate in the cruise industry… We want to offer only the best to our guests. We have many repeaters every year and are trying always to deliver the ‘wow’ factor to anyone that comes back to us for a second or third time,” Royal Caribbean Key Account Manager Massimiliano Gianvenuti told Greek journalists at the briefing.
Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 20 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.