Santorini officials met with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) representatives to discuss managing the massive number of tourists who arrive daily on the island every summer, making the island’s systems and infrastructure increasingly hard to handle due to the large volume.
Santorini introduced a berth allocation system for cruiseships in 2018, and a maximum number of disembarcation within 24 hours at 8,000 passengers.
The officials discussed the allocation system, the need to distribute arrivals throughout the island and the use of the cable car to relieve the burden of donkeys and mules carrying tourists up the lengthy and twisting stairs from the landing site at Athinios port to the road.
Santorini Mayor Nikolaos Zorzos welcomed the CLIA representatives and said they discussed “challenges our island is facing due to the rising number of tourists especially in terms of cruises,” and the promotion of new destinations on the islands for the cruise passengers, including archaeological sites and traditional villages.
Michael Thamm, president of CLIA Europe and CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, said that cruiseship passengers account for a fourth of all annual tourists arriving at Santorini; the sector would respect the berth allocation system and propose ways of improving it to upgrade visitor experience.
Distributing arriving passengers to other parts of the island would prevent long waiting times at specific points on the island, such as at the cable car, which affects cruise experiences negatively, Thamm said. Taking into account the difficulty of Santorini’s topography, such as a limited choice of disembarcation points, the cruise officials want to continue their constructive dialogue with the mayor, he said, and resolve issues together.