Passenger ships to the Cyclades will be full to capacity for this Easter as of Wednesday, though that is not the case with ferries to Crete and the Dodecanese.
According to the latest data available from the association of coastal shipping companies (SEEN), despite ticket price hikes due to soaring fuel rates, from Wednesday on, in the runup to the Greek Easter, ticket sales are approaching 100%. This is also the case for ferries that now have 100% of their capacity available after the lifting of all pandemic restrictions.
Of course this year there are fewer large high-speed ferries in service than in the same period in 2019, SEEN officials explain, which translates into fewer seats available. The scheduling of fewer ships is attributed to the very high cost of fuel given the specific type of oil they use and their overall energy-intensive profile.
As for the low booking rates for the routes to the Dodecanese and Crete (with the exception of cabins, which have almost all been sold out), this is partly attributed to competition with airlines, which has increased in the last decade.
In the Adriatic, passenger traffic is significantly reduced compared to the week before Easter 2019, though trucking traffic has fully returned to pre-pandemic levels. Passenger figures from Italy have actually increased as of late last week, thanks to the return of students from abroad for the holidays.
In any case, the cost of traveling by sea has increased considerably. Tickets have gone up by an average rate of 12-15%, depending on the operator and the route.
Ticket price hikes have come in two waves, along with the increase in energy rates: In late March price hikes of 7% were introduced to tickets from Piraeus and 12% from Rafina, following a previous 10% increase for tickets from Piraeus earlier this year.
Unless fuel rates drop significantly, another hike amounting to some 5% is set to follow the Easter holidays. The Adriatic routes have also witnessed similar increases.
Further ticket increases are anticipated ahead of the summer, say industry insiders.