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Greece’s cruise sector breaks all-time records

The previous all-time record for arrivals was set in 2011 with 5,261 cruise ship arrivals

Cruise passenger arrivals in Greece jumped to the highest level of the last 12 years in 2023, with the market expected to register new records this year.

According to data presented by the Hellenic Ports Association, the total arrivals of cruise ships in 49 Greek ports amounted to 5,230 and the number of passengers exceeded 7 million (7,003,150 passengers), i.e. an additional 450 ship arrivals with 2,373,500 passengers compared with 2022. On a percentage basis, a 9.41% increase in cruise ship arrivals and a 51.26% increase in passenger numbers.

It is worth noting that the previous all-time record for arrivals was set in 2011 with 5,261 cruise ship arrivals and 6,121,360 passengers.

As the Hellenic Ports Association reported, the difference in the percentage changes between ships and passengers, both for the years 2023-2022 and for the historical records 2023-2011, shows that on average the cruise ships that approached Greek ports in 2023 had a higher passenger occupancy per ship. Thus, each arrival in 2023 corresponds to 1,339 passengers compared to 969 in 2022 and 1,164 passengers per ship in 2011.

Piraeus and Santorini at the top

The leader in relation to the number of cruise passengers is once again the port of Piraeus with approximately 1,500,000 passengers, followed by Santorini with 1,298,968, Mykonos with 1,192,822 and then Corfu, Rhodes, Katakolo and Heraklion.

Enhanced homeporting

Another important element of the past year for the cruise market is the choice of Greek ports for homeporting.

As expected, the port of Piraeus takes the lead in homeporting with 525 arrivals and 880,800 passengers who started and ended their journey from Piraeus. It is followed by the port of Corfu with 54 arrivals and 194,792 passengers, Lavrio with 99 arrivals and 123,383 passengers, Heraklion with 6 arrivals and 14,106 passengers and Thessaloniki with 31 arrivals and 10,000 passengers.

Positive outlook in 2024

According to the Hellenic Ports Association, the forecasts based on the cruise ship pre-bookings in Greek ports for 2024 are favorable, with estimates ranging from an increase of around 10% in arrivals and around 15% in the number of passengers expected this year in our ports.

The numbers of expected port calls are impressive.

For example, in the port of Piraeus, more than 1,000 cruise ships are expected this year, compared to 760 in 2023, of which 79% will be homeporting.