Santorini authorities rationing cruise passenger visits to island


An effort to reduce the congestion that occurs on Santorini in the high season when numerous cruise ships and passengers arrive at the same time is in full swing.

The popular Cycladic island will this year be able to host only 8,000 visitors per day, down from 12,000 or more in 2017 and in previous years.

The municipal authority and the municipal port fund of the island have activated a system of scheduling and limiting ship visits and have already requested that cruise companies not only modify their arrival days but also the times of passenger visits in order to spread them more evenly over the course of the day.

On the days when up to six ships have stopped at the island at the same time, visitors to the Santorini villages of Oia or Fira know all about the congestion on its roads, which downgrades the visitor experience.

This is why the port fund decided this year to introduce the berth allocation system as of this year, with its president, Ilias Pelekis, explaining to Kathimerini that 439 cruise vessels have registered for 2018, compared to 409 that visited in 2017. There have already been 451 vessel registrations for next year.

However, since ship visits tend to occur on the same weekdays, typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the port fund has already sent letters to cruise companies so that they can alter their arrival and disembarking times with the aim of avoiding the usual congestion on the island.

“If the companies themselves fail to modify the visiting times in an acceptable fashion, we will arbitrarily carry out the modifications ourselves,” warns the head of the port fund. “In some cases we have also requested changes to the times of disembarking so that there is a minimum of an hour’s gap between them and ideally to have some in the morning and others in the afternoon,” he adds.

Giorgos Koubenas says the Union of Cruise Ship Owners and Associated Members (EEKFN), of which he is general secretary, has agreed to support the effort and that they are trying to even out the dates and times of arrivals in cooperation with the cruise liners in a way that would serve the objective of decongestion.

He adds that there is also an effort under way to even out the days and times of the excursions passengers make on the island.