Greece Reopens Six Ports to Cruise Ships in August
Greece announced plans to reopen six of its ports to cruise ships becoming the latest country to ease travel restrictions that had been imposed due to the coronavirus. Using the standards outlined in the EU’s Health Gateways, Greece’s ports are reopening as of August 1 as the Ministry of Tourism seeks to restart the industry that is vital to the Greek economy.
Haris Theocharis, Greece’s Minister of Tourism sent a letter to the Cruise Lines International Association, along with copies to three of the largest cruise lines operating in the Greek Islands, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and TUI Cruises, announcing the country’s plans to reopen the ports. Starting August 1, the ports of Piraeus, Rhodes, Heraklion, Volos, Corfu and Katakolo are open and cruise ships are permitted to visit any or all of the ports. After completing clearance at the first Greek port, the cruise ships will be able to proceed to any of the other ports.
In his letter to the cruise industry, the minister stressed that "Greece is the first country that is responding to the cruise industry and introducing health protocols.” He noted that the ports would remain open as long as there was no change in level of virus reported at the destinations. The Greek authorities will be supervising the cruise ships to ensure that the health procedures will be applied. The protocols are based on the published standards of the European Union (EU Healthy Gateways), but were adapted to reflect the Greek legislation and the domestic situation.
The Minister of Tourism also called on companies in the sector to restart their homeporting operations in Greece .Anxious to restart the tourist contribution to the economy he emphasized that the tourist season extends to the end of the year. Minister Theocharis is asking the major international cruise companies to recommend trips to Greece.
TUI, which this week became the first cruise line to resume operations of large, ocean-going cruise ships, has already published tentative Mediterranean itineraries for some of its cruise ships this fall. Costa Cruises was also reported to be preparing to resume limited operations, but Celestyal Cruises, which is a specialized Greek Island cruise operator, previously announced that it did not plan to resume operations until the spring of 2021.