Has Greece lost its magic as a cruise destination? Crystal Cruises' Claudius Docekal, believes "much needs to be done to increase cruise traffic to Greece and the [East Mediterranean] region". With the cruise season in full swing, just what needs to be done will be debated and discussed at the 4th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, in Athens, May 23-24.


Given the geo-political challenges faced at this juncture, the forum will provide the sea tourism sector with a valuable opportunity to gauge trends and developments, as well as address the future of the region’s sea tourism and its recovery potential.

“When I started my career in the industry, the combination of cruising the Greek Isles, Egypt and Israel was magical and one of the best sellers. A resurrection of this destination combination would be to the benefit of the entire East Med region," says Docekal, Crystal's vp, deployment. He continues: "Sadly, all three destinations continue to have their issues. We are slowly trying to rebuild the number of sailings in this region while carefully watching demand. Unfortunately, the demand for Greece has, at least, from my view, not grown to anywhere near where it was and where it should be. The magic of Greece requires renewed marketing efforts.”

Docekal and other leading personalities and decision makers from the international cruise industry will have the opportunity to meet during the two-day forum with the East Med's stakeholders and government officials, including Greece’s Shipping and Tourism ministers, to discuss destination development strategies and growth drivers.

There is general consensus on the fact that in spite of its geopolitical challenges, the region’s appeal in cruise markets remains too strong to be ignored. “The East Med is one of the key regions for Pullmantur Cruises’ deployment in Europe,” said Richard Vogel, president and ceo of the Madrid-based line. “We plan to include more and new exclusive destinations. There is no doubt regarding the interest Greece generates among our guests due to its cultural wealth, landscape, its beaches and its good weather”.

Larry Pimentel, president and ceo, Azamara Cruises, says: "While we have scaled back on our Black Sea cruises as well as cruises that go to Turkey, Greece continues to be a popular destination for Azamara. Greece will continue to be on future itineraries and we routinely call at 10-12 different Greek ports each season."

Samos, Chania, and Nafplio are Greek destinations to join Celestyal Cruises’ Aegean itinerary, notes Kerry Anastasiadis, Celestyal ceo and CLIA Europe president. "Greece is home to myriad “bucket list” destinations for travelers from the world over, and our cruises are woven with elements of each destination, on board and ashore, so guests get to take a deep dive at every port of call, to really “live” each destination,” he said.

Among newcomers is Virgin Voyages, a start up cruise line that acknowledges the value of the East Med and although the region is not in their immediate plans, it is a part of their long term strategy says Craig Milan, vp operations.

Filed: 2017-03-29