Cruise activity in Piraeus showed a dynamic return to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2023 with many companies also choosing the port of the destination as a homeport (where a cruise itinerary begins and ends).
According to data of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), during the first six months of the year, the pre-bookings of ships in Greece’s largest port had increased by 15 percent compared to the same period in 2022, with 272 ships having already docked in Piraeus.
Moreover, the data showed that 40 percent of those ships used Piraeus as their homeport, which offers multiple economic benefits to the local community from cruise passenger spending.
This year a total of 765 cruise ships are scheduled to sail in the port of Piraeus, compared to 677 in 2022, while the number of passenger arrivals is expected to exceed 1 million.
During the first six months of the year, passenger traffic at Piraeus showed an increase of 108.33 percent compared to 2022, as a total of 500,000 passengers were handled, of which 270,000 were those who started and ended their cruise at the port (homeporting). In 2022, during the same period, 240,000 passengers had traveled through Piraeus, of which 107,000 were from homeporting. In total, on a yearly basis, the port of Piraeus in 2022 welcomed 880,416 passengers of 677 cruise ships. In 2019, a year in which Covid-19 restrictions had not yet been imposed, 622 cruise ships with 1,098,091 passengers had arrived at the port of Piraeus.
It should be noted that Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Global Chair Pierfrancesco Vago earlier this year highlighted that Greece is as an important cruise hub in the Mediterranean, with great potential for further growth.
Speaking during the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum held in Thessaloniki in April, Vago said that many Greek ports and destinations were doing “great work” to become more attractive for cruise tourism.
New cruise terminal
According to reports, in the near future PPA owner Cosco is expected to go ahead with the construction of a new cruise terminal, a major project in the port of Piraeus. Under a budget of 136.2 million euros, the new cruise terminal will be located southwest of the Themistokleous terminal and constructed to manage and accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world that have a capacity of up to 9,000 passengers.
The project had started but was stopped after an appeal by the mayors of the area. Following a decision of the Council of State, PPA was obliged to submit an additional study concerning the port’s environmental impact to the Greek Environment Ministry. This month the ministry is expected to issue a decision on the construction of the new cruise terminal.