The cruise ship sector in Greece appears to be following in the path opened by the soaring flight arrivals in the country, as a further 1 million passengers are estimated to arrive at Greek ports, thus surpassing the 8-million mark, breaking every prior record based on the data of cruise ship reservations in Greek ports for 2024.

These estimates reflect a rise of about 10% in arrivals and about a 15% increase in the number of passengers expected at our ports this year. According to data from the Hellenic Ports Association (ELIME), 2023 was an outstanding year for cruising in Greece, surpassing every historical precedent in total passenger arrivals.

Specifically, in 49 Greek ports, total cruise ship arrivals amounted to 5,230, and the number of passengers reached 7,003,150. This means an additional 450 ship arrivals with 2,373,500 passengers compared to 2022. Similarly, on a percentage basis, 2023 saw an increase of 9.41% in cruise ship arrivals and a 51.26% increase in passenger numbers compared to 2022.

These play a significant role in the growth of numerous sectors in both local communities and the national economy, as a whole. As Maria Deligianni, the representative in Greece of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), points out to “NEA”, in 2022, total revenue for the Greek economy from the sector exceeded 1.4 billion euros compared to 1.1 billion euros a year earlier.

In more detail, arrivals via cruise ships contributed significantly to the local economies of the island of Mykonos in 2023, as an additional 506,904 passengers arrived (+73.90%), in Santorini 472,366 (+57.15%), in the seaside town of Katakolo located in western Peloponnese 139,360 (+55.57%), etc.

The largest port of Greece, Piraeus, unsurprisingly, maintains the top spot in terms of the number of cruise passengers, with approximately 1,500,000 passengers (619,514 more passengers compared to 2022, an increase of 70.37%), followed by Santorini with 1,298,968 passengers, Mykonos with 1,192,822 passengers, and then Corfu, Rhodes, Katakolo, and Heraklion.

Regarding ship arrivals, Santorini holds the first place with 800 arrivals, followed by Piraeus with 760, Mykonos with 749, and then Rhodes, Corfu, Heraklion, and Patmos.

The surge in the cruise market is because Greece is now considered a popular destination, as George Koumpenas, President of the Union of Greek Cruise Shipowners and Maritime Agencies (EEKFN) notes.

He estimates that cruising will record an upward trend in the coming years, adding that measures need to be taken urgently for the upcoming season to manage ship calls better and reinforce infrastructure so that the benefits can be maximized for local communities and the Greek economy, as a whole.