Rhapsody of the Seas was the first cruise liner to dock at the new Ayia Napa Marina, carrying 3,000 passengers and crew.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and Shipping Minister Vassilis Demetriades welcomed the arrival of the ship operated by Royal Caribbean, conducting cruises in the Mediterranean.
It arrived in Ayia Napa early Tuesday from Haifa, Israel, and departed for Rhodes later in the day.
“This is the first large cruise ship (arriving here) carrying approximately 3,000 passengers and crew,” Karousos.
He said the arrival of cruise ships would be beneficial for the area.
Karousos said the ministry’s decision to create an anchorage both in Ayia Napa Marina and in Protaras, once completed, was correct, as this would attract visitors.
He hoped the marina and other ports would continue attracting cruise ships, recalling that Cyprus Ports Authority will invest €50 mln in upgrading Paphos port.
“Cyprus is entering the map of this special form of tourism as we are seeing increasing arrivals of cruise ships in our ports and marinas.”
Karousos said that in collaboration with the Deputy Ministries of Shipping and Tourism, he is preparing incentive schemes and a promotion campaign on Cyprus’ advantages for cruises.
A total of 250 cruise ship arrivals at Limassol port are estimated for 2023.
Demetriades expressed happiness over the first cruise ship’s arrival at Ayia Napa marina, noting that following coordinated efforts, “Cyprus is in a very visible spot on the world cruise shipping map.”
“We are seeing increasing cruise ships trusting our ports and marinas,” he added.
He also believes that following the new infrastructure projects, Cyprus offers world-class cruise ships options.
“The growth in this sector will yield huge benefits for the economy and the tourist product which will expand by offering this option.”
Tony Calne, the ship’s captain, said they would do their utmost to include Cyprus in the cruise ship’s routes.
“We are all happy, the visitors and the crew; there is so much to see; there are beautiful beaches and culture”.
Costas Fitiris, Director of Ayia Napa Marina, said it was a “historic day”, enabling the marina and the region of Famagusta to become part of cruise ship destinations.
He added that “the marina will enter the map not only as a destination for yachts but for cruise lines as well.”