Uncertainty about when cruise operations can resume at a viable level to sustain the industry is one of the challenges this market faces, participants in the Posidonia Maritime Tourism Forum said this year on Tuesday.
TUI resumed operations from Crete last week and its plan for this summer is to offer exclusively Greece cruises from Heraklion on two different routes. “If other travel restrictions are lifted, we will return to other routes. But from May to October Greece is the only destination we offer, ”said TUI Cruises CEO Vibke Mayer.
Certain regions such as Asia and North America remain closed to the cruise sector, according to MSC Cruises; however, CEO Gianni Onorato predicts that more Europeans will turn to cruises across the region this summer as they are cut off from intercontinental destinations due to air travel restrictions and travel protocols. He said: “The green certificate will allow more Europeans to focus on Europe, and Greece will become one of the main destinations for them.”
Michael Tamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, agreed: “Greece is a favorite destination for Germans, Italians and French because of its beauty and natural desire to see the country, and cruises are the best way to do it. We want to expand our presence in Greece out of season even until December. Both of our brands have resumed operations in Greece and more ships will be arriving in Greece. ”
But popularity can pose some problems, according to Chris Theofilides, CEO of Celestyal Cruises, a company that uses Greece as a base and knows the market better than any other operator: “A high concentration of ships at any given time can be a problem. especially in Greek ports due to infrastructure problems. We need to avoid a large number of guests at any given moment. This is not only responsible, but also correct, both from the point of view of guests and for the safety of local residents. “
Meyer shares his colleague’s concerns: “In a post-pandemic world, excess tourism may end, but we need to make sure we don’t have too many ships at the same time in the same ports. The islands must have a plan for the number of ships they can receive at the same time. And port operators need infrastructure to accommodate larger vessels. ”
Deputy Director General of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) Captain Wen Lin at the same event expressed confidence that the largest port in Greece will have the necessary infrastructure when demand fully recovers and larger vessels start plying to Piraeus, also in need of bunkering with liquefied natural gas. …
“We will be able to host next-generation cruise ships such as Carnival and other major companies at our new pier, which will be ready soon,” promised a representative of the Cosco division. “This pier will be able to accommodate the largest cruise ships and will ready to unload LNG, ”he assured.