Which destinations do cruise passengers prefer in Greece?

cruise greece santorini

Estimated 15% increase in passenger numbers in 2024, after last year's all-time record

Promising forecasts for cruise ship arrivals and passenger numbers based on pre-booking data in Greek ports for 2024 are available.

According to estimates by the Hellenic Ports Association, cruise ship arrivals expected this year at the ports will increase by around 10% and the number of passengers by around 15% compared to 2023.

Based on the planning, the Piraeus Port Authority has already reported that in 2024, more than 1,000 cruise ships are expected in the port of Piraeus, of which 79% will be homeporting.

Historic arrivals record

Besides, the Hellenic Ports Association published the data on the course of the cruise for last year.

As mentioned, 2023 was an amazing year for cruises in our country, surpassing any historical precedent in total passenger arrivals. In particular, in 49 Greek ports, the total arrivals of cruise ships amounted to 5,230, and the number of passengers exceeded 7 million.

That is, an additional 450 ship arrivals and an additional 2,373,500 passengers were recorded compared to 2022. On a percentage basis, in 2023, compared to 2022, there was an increase of 9.41% in cruise ship arrivals and a 51.26% increase in passenger numbers.

The previous all-time record for arrivals was set in 2011 with 5,261 cruise ship arrivals and 6,121,360 passengers, and a new passenger record is now set with a 14.4% increase from 2011.

The difference in the percentage changes between ships and passengers, both for the years 2023-2022 and for the historical records 2023-2011, shows that, on average, the cruise ships calling at Greek ports in 2023 had a higher occupancy of passengers per ship.

Thus, each arrival in 2023 corresponds to 1,339 passengers compared to 969 in 2022 and 1,164 passengers per ship in 2011.

Piraeus, Santorini, Mykonos, the most popular destinations

Once again, Piraeus is the leader in the number of cruise passengers, with approximately 1,500,000, followed by Santorini with 1,298,968, Mykonos with 1,192,822, and then Corfu, Rhodes, Katakolo, and Heraklion.

Regarding ship arrivals, Santorini takes first place with 800, followed by Piraeus with 760, Mykonos with 749, and then Rhodes, Corfu, Heraklion, and Patmos.

little venice mykonos

Most ports showed significant increases in passengers compared to 2022, with Piraeus leading the ranking in absolute numbers with 619,514 (+70.37%), followed by Mykonos with 506,904 (+73.90%), Santorini with 472,366 (+57, 15%), Katakolo with 139,360 (+55.57%) and Zakynthos with 130,050 passengers and the impressive increase of 510.96% compared to 2022.

navagio beach zakynthos tourism

The ports of Astypalaia (+ 1106.52%), Chios (+571.47%), Paros (+251.61%), Naxos (+ 237.13%), Rethymno (+163.68%), Tinos (+157.09%), Agios Nikolaos (+127.30%), Sifnos (+112.07%), and Hydra (102.32%), while Preveza, Andros and Ios enter the cruise map.

However, there were also decreases in some destinations such as Folegandros (-61.68%), Patras (-41.02%), Volos (-28.36%), Kos (-6.13%), Samos (-9.63%), Syros (-7.18%) and Igoumenitsa (-3.63%).

According to the Union, another important element for the cruise market for the past year is the choice of Greek ports for homeporting. The port of Piraeus leads the way in homeporting, with 525 arrivals and 880,800 passengers starting and ending their journeys from Piraeus.

port of piraeus business
Port of Piraeus

It is followed by the port of Corfu with 54 arrivals and 194,792 passengers, Lavrio with 99 arrivals and 123,383 passengers, Heraklion with six arrivals and 14,106 passengers and Thessaloniki with 31 arrivals and 10,000 passengers.

Corfu Old Town

Commenting on the results, the Union underlines that the cruise market in Greece is an important development factor for both local communities and the national economy.

Combined with the further increase of homeporting, infrastructure development can also give even greater prospects for additional jobs and opportunities in the market.

READ MORE: Milos is number one in Condé Nast Traveler's choices for 2024.

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