Greece ferry ends first season, Israel link mulled

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The first season of the reintroduced sea link to Greece ends Friday, when the passenger ferry makes its last trip to Piraeus, as authorities ponder expanding the route to Israel.

Passenger ferry M/V Daleela completes its first season of trips from Limassol to Piraeus, after more than two decades, with authorities pleased with the traffic.

According to officials, 8,000 passengers with 2,000 vehicles made the trip from Cyprus to Greece this summer since it launched on 19 June.

Deputy Minister of Shipping Vassilios Demetriades told Kathimerini Cyprus that the government was satisfied with the number of passengers choosing to travel to Greece on the ferry but remained sceptical as numbers may be deceiving.

He argued it might be too soon to conclude whether the link would be viable, as this was the first year of operation.

“Many may have travelled out of curiosity, to see what it is like; others may have done so because they have no alternative. The number is not indicative of the link’s viability,” he said.

Demetriades said his ministry would be working to promote the link next year, setting it on firmer grounds.

Asked whether the link could be extended to neighbouring countries, namely Egypt and Israel, he said they had pitched the idea to the ferry operators.

“We have encouraged them to test the waters with expanding the route to include a port in Israel,” said Demetriades.

The relaunch of the ferry to Greece comes 21 years after it was abandoned.

The last voyage took place on 8 October 2001 with Salamis.

Up to 2001, there were regular departures of ferries from Limassol to Rhodes and Piraeus, but they were discontinued as the 90-minute flight to Athens became more frequent and inexpensive.

After obtaining special permission from the European Union, the government offered a €5.5 mln annual subsidy to secure interest by ship owners to operate the regular ferry link between Limassol and Piraeus.

The route is operated by a Cypriot-registered cruiser, the Daleela, which can carry up to 270 passengers and 100 cars. The voyage lasts about 30 hours.

A return ticket in a VIP cabin costs €160 – about the same as an economy airfare – a return second class cabin €80 and a return berth for a car up to five metres €203.

After the last journey to Greece this weekend, the ferry is expected to resume in May 2023.