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German Cruise Operators Relaunch Sailings in Greece

Cruise Greece
Norwegian Cruise Lines will also relaunch services to Greece. Credit: Norwegian Cruise Lines

German cruise operators TUI and AIDA will restart their cruise program for Greece in May, it was announced on Friday.

TUI said it will start its cruises on May 13 from Crete, with six dates currently open for booking. The company said port calls will include Rhodes, Piraeus and Chania, or Corfu, Katakolo and Piraeus.

AIDA Cruises will start accepting bookings on April 20, and will launch seven-day cruises as of May 23 from Corfu, calling at the ports of Crete, Rhodes, Katakolo and Piraeus.

A total of 22 dates will be available by October 22, added the company.

A negative coronavirus molecular (PCR) test is required for boarding, while tests during the cruise will also be carried out, it was underlined by both companies.

Greece is one of the most popular vacation destinations for German travelers. From May 14, 2021, the Mediterranean country will reopen for tourism.

The two German operators join other major cruise companies who have recently announced they will re-start operations in Greece after the pandemic-ravaged past year.

Cruise companies attracted by Greece

At least five cruise companies plan to make Greece their home ports this summer, while twelve indicate that they wanted to resume cruising to Greek island destinations.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) recently announced their first Greece cruises after the pandemic-ravaged past year, beginning in July of 2021.

The company stated as part of the announcement that all its initial voyages will operate with what is calls a “robust, multi-Layered SailSAFE health and safety program. This will include mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew and universal COVID-19 testing as well.

The line will offer 7-day trips around the Greek Isles, leaving from Athens, starting in late July and sailings from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on two other ships starting in August.

CEO Harry Sommer said Greece is the cruise line’s top European destination and he expects the Greek government to allow Americans to travel to the country as soon as May or June.

Celebrity Cruises disclosed its plans for homeporting its vessel “Celebrity Apex,” in Greece starting in June, while Royal Caribbean International’s “Jewel of the Seas” will cruise to the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini on weekly, starting out from Cyprus, beginning in mid-July.

Seabourn also announced its plans for resuming operations outside the US, for vaccinated passengers, starting July 3.

Week-long Greek Isles round-trip cruises will begin out of the port of Piraeus on July 3 aboard the “Seabourn Ovation.” It will son be possible to book 14-day voyages that combine seven-day cruises with a variety of different ports featured as part of each trip.

All the companies say they expect a phased-in approach to restarting cruises, while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions and port availability, among other considerations.

Greece marks May 14 as official opening of 2021 tourism season

Greece is still pinning its hopes on a May 14 opening for its long-awaited tourism season, according to Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.

Restoring cruises to Greek ports topped the agenda of a recent teleconference between Theoharis and the Cruise Lines International Association, with the Greek minister underscoring the careful steps being taken to restart it once conditions make that a possibility.

“Cruises, as one of the main forms of tourism for our country, are very important for the Greek economy,” Theoharis stated. “Therefore, it is necessary to maximize cooperation and efforts in order for cruise to resume safely as soon as possible.”



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