Piraeus, Greece’s largest port and one of the largest in the entire Mediterranean, is looking forward to a much improved cruise tourism season over last year, according to Port officials.
The port, which serves the Greek capital city of Athens, has seen a “very positive” trend in berth reservations, according to Piraeus Port Authority S.A. (PPA) Deputy CEO Captain Weng Lin.
In his remarks to an industry conference on Tuesday, related by the Chinese state news service Xinhua, Captain Weng said the summer looked to be an improvement — even over the record tourism year of 2019.
As part of his address to the biennial Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, which was held virtually this year, Weng stated that as of Tuesday, more than 400 cruise ship arrivals are on the docket for this year.
Weng said “The trend in berth bookings from what we have in hand for this year is very positive, even compared with (the record year) 2019.”
The port director said that the Port Authority has been upgrading the port’s facilities, including passenger terminals, as part of its plans to welcome a record number of cruise passengers this year.
Cruising set to improve even over stellar year of 2019
Any emergency issues that pop up, he noted, will also be dealt with as part of the upgrades.
Weng stated “We never stopped our investment and preparation for the resumption of cruising activity. For the time being, we have seven to eight berths available, while the health protocols are being updated,” he said.
“We are continuing our investment for the port of Piraeus, with major infrastructure projects. … We can meet the requirements of the major players for the new generation of the cruise industry,” he added.
China’s COSCO Shipping conglomerate acquired the majority of shares in the Port Authority 2016 after an international bidding process was opened.
Meanwhile, a coordination meeting regarding how best to safely restart the cruise industry with optimal implementation of passengers’ reception procedures, was held today at the Port.
Taking part in the meeting was Greece’s General Secretary of Ports & Port Policy, Evangelos Kyriazopoulos; Piraeus Harbormaster, Commodore Georgios Skandalis; and the EU’s “Healthy Gateways” Joint Action Coordinator, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology Christos Hadjichristodoulou.
Also taking part in the discussions were Varvara Mouchtouri, an Associate Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and the Director at Region of Attica Piraeus Health Port Authority, Charalampos Vasiliou, along with executives of the Piraeus Port Authority.
During the meeting, all the officials visited the Port’s cruise passenger terminals and discussed in detail all possible issues related to the protocols’ implementation for the safest passenger flows and compliance with sanitary measures.
The port of Piraeus is a crucial hub for the successful restart of cruising in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. A total of 453 arrivals have been planned for 2021 — out of which 251 are boarding arrivals on 40 ships that are home-ported at Piraeus. There are also 190 transit arrivals planned, on a total of 33 transit ships, and twelve arrivals for supplying the ships with the necessary products.