Larnaca welcomes return of cruise ships

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A new era beckons for Larnaca as the town witnesses the return of cruise ships as new operators prepare to welcome the first liner in the past decade.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, CEO of Kition Ocean Holdings Panos Alexandrou said the consortium had reached an agreement for the arrival of 24 cruise ships by the end of the year.

Alexandrou said, most cruise ships will arrive from ports in Israel and Egypt carrying 600-800 people at a time, while the ship expected to arrive on Friday will have about 1,000 passengers onboard.

The development comes after the port’s new operators ‘tested the waters’, accommodating the docking of the Seabourn Sojourn of Carnival Cruises, which can carry up to 3,500-4,000 passengers.

Carnival Corporation is a US-British company with more than 100 ships. It is in advanced consultations with the consortium to put Larnaca on its calling schedule this year or the next.

Kition Ocean Holdings have said they aim to have some 50 passenger ships calling on the port every year from 2023.

The news reignites the town’s hopes of seeing a pickup in tourism following two years of coronavirus restrictions.

Before the pandemic, Larnaca had grown accustomed to catering to tourists from Israel, arriving on small cruise ships for civil wedding ceremonies.

Meanwhile, Kition Ocean took over Larnaca port and marina on 1 April and launched light construction works, pending the green light from the environmental authorities to start heavy construction.

The Cypriot-Israeli private investors will pump €1.2 bln into the town’s marina and port redevelopment.

The first phase will upgrade existing service buildings in the marina to offer boat owners a first taste of the overall project.

Services offered to boat owners include smart upgrades by introducing applications and services accessible through their smartphones.

As estimated, the project will generate revenues of around €12 bln for the government.

It will create about 4,000 new jobs, calculating those directly tied to the marina operations and businesses that will open outlets in the commercial areas.

The work will be carried out in four phases over 15 years.

The BOT project will see the government receiving fixed rent and a percentage of the revenue through a concession agreement with the port/marina operated on a 40-year lease and the real estate acquired on a 125-year lease.

After 40 years, the port and marina can be handed back to the government.

Reconstruction of the existing marina will accommodate 650 yachts and offer facilities such as boat repairs.

The upgraded marina will also accommodate mega yachts up to 150m.

Works include constructing the Marina Yacht Club with offices, cafes, event venues, sailing and diving schools.

An upgraded Larnaca port will accommodate ships up to 450 metres in length, such as luxury cruise ships, energy exploration vessels, military, and other merchant ships.