The cruise ship “Viking Saturn” has inaugurated this year’s cruise season in the port of Souda Bay, on Crete. The vessel carries 906 passengers arrived from Messina, Italy. From Souda, it will head for Kuşadası on the Turkish coast.

Crete expects to welcome 142 cruise ships this year. Just 14 will dock in Chania’s Venetian port, with the rest dropping anchor in Souda Bay.

According to the provisional schedule, October will be the busiest month with 25 arrivals. May will welcome 19 arrivals, while June and July are each expected to see 17 cruise ships arrivals.

The president of the Chania Port Committee told the state-run news agency that 2023 was a good year.

Specifically, Dimitris Virikakis said Souda welcomed 122 cruise ships over the year with 217.552 passengers. The corresponding figures for Chania were 13 arrivals in 2023 and 4,852 passengers.

Last year, the country welcomed 1.5 million passengers in total, which was a record, compared with 880,000 passengers in 2022.  Homeport arrivals were in the region of 800,000 in 2023, compared with 380,000 in 2022.

Greece is a hub when it comes to the Mediterranean cruise ship industry, and its potential is still growing, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said. Having established itself as a home port, more than 65% of Greece’s cruise ship arrivals in 2022 were homeport arrivals.

The cruise ship industry has grown in Greece in recent years. It is estimated that it now contributes some 1.1 billion euros per year to the Greek economy along with 15,000 jobs, CLIA East Mediterranean President Maria Deligianni said.