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Cruises breathe new life into tourism

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Cyprus tourism will receive a generous boost from increased cruise ships calling at Limassol port, with stakeholders claiming that passenger traffic this year will exceed 2019.

Limassol port operators estimate 160,000 passengers will arrive on the island on board one of the 150 cruise ships calling on Cyprus this year.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, Doros Aresti, spokesperson for port operators DP World Limassol, said that 2022 has already marked the return of cruise ships, with next year even more promising.

“After two years of being hit by the coronavirus pandemic, we are optimistic over the prospects of cruises in 2022 and 2023.

“The DP World Limassol terminal is now attracting cruise industry giants, confirming the high-quality services we provide.

“It is no coincidence that cruising giants Royal Caribbean has chosen the port of Limassol as its base for a series of cruises in the Mediterranean“.

The cruise company operated in Cyprus for the first time last year, with Limassol port as its base for Rhapsody of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean’s 2,400-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas has pools, whirlpools, a vitality spa and fitness centre, speciality bars and restaurants.

The ship also has a rock-climbing wall, casino, sports court, nine-hole miniature golf course, and outdoor movie screen.

The Jewel of the Seas sailed from Limassol on 10 July and completed 17 seven-night cruises, calling at Piraeus, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, and back to Limassol by mid-October.

Celestyal Cruises has also chosen the port as part of its “Three Continents” program, expected to start in November.

The same goes for MSC Cruises, also calling on Limassol.

Top Kinisis executive chair and honorary president of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Agents Akis Kelepeshis said Cypriots are interested in a cruise holiday this year.

He said that some 200 Cypriots are expected to board a Royal Caribbean cruise every week in the summer months.

With big ships calling on Limassol, Cypriot holidaymakers are more encouraged to hop on a cruise around the Mediterranean.

Previously, Cypriots wanting to go on a cruise would have to fly to destinations like Greece.

Kelepeshis believes there will be a further increase in cruise ships in Limassol during the winter, as there are more Eastern Mediterranean trips.

Greece ferry

Top Kinisis, handling the ticketing system for the Cyprus-Greece ferry, said that bookings are encouraging, with 5,000 bookings on one of the 44 trips.

“However, most bookings have been made by people who want to take their vehicles with them for a holiday break in Greece.”

Noting the ticketing system has only been live since 7 May, Kelepeshis said most travellers are Cypriots looking for short getaways to Greece.

“So far, 65% of bookings are for trips leaving from Limassol and 35% for trips leaving from the Greek port of Piraeus.”

The revived Cyprus-Greece ferry is set to sail on 19 June, conducting 22 round trips between Limassol and Piraeus this summer after the winning contract sealed a three-year agreement worth €16.4 mln.