The Greek sea cruise industry recorded a 3.5 percent increase in passenger traffic in 2018, while the number of ship arrivals stayed roughly the same, the Greek Ports Association (ELIME) stated in a report released on Monday.
ELIME said a total of 3,410 cruise ships arrived in Greece in 2018, compared to 3,415 in 2017 and 4,307 in 2016. But the number of people actually disembarking at Greek ports increased from the previous year, totaling 4,788,642 in 2018, up from 4,625,363 in 2017. However, the year 2016 showed the highest visitor total ever recorded, with 5,204,431 cruise passengers.
The port of Piraeus was once again the top Greek destination for sea cruises, counting 524 ships and 961,632 passengers in 2018, which marked a slight decrease from the previous year, with 576 ships and and 1,055,559 passengers in 2017).
Santorini was the second most popular, welcoming 474 ship arrivals and 749,286 passengers in 2018. This represented a marked increase from 406 ship arrivals and 620,570 passengers in the year 2017.
Corfu came in third, with 413 ship arrivals and 735,832 passengers, just over the 2017 numbers of 410 ship arrivals and 679,681 passengers. The island of Mykonos saw a slight decrease in arrivals, counting 484 ships and 702,256 passengers in 2018 from 501 ship arrivals and 699,304 passengers in 2017.
Theodore Kontes, president of the Shipowners and Sea Cruise Agencies Association, said that some sea cruise companies left Greece and the Mediterranean for Asia in 2017, according to an interview he gave to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
Kontes added that some cruise vessels also visited Turkey last year, after that country began offering a subsidy of 25-45 euros for each cruise passenger.