Greek island cruises: Santorini and Mykonos planning to cap cruise ships

Greece is set to reduce the number of cruise ships that can call at islands, including Santorini and Mykonos in a bid to tackle the impact of overtourism.

The new measures would be introduced to cap cruise liners and reduce the footfall of thousands of passengers on the “clearly suffering” Cycladic Islands.

“I think we’ll do it next year”, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister of Greece, said on Friday.

Limiting the availability of berths and anchoring slots could alleviate the growing pressure on Greek ports and a bidding process would reportedly be implemented for vessels to secure the slots.

“Santorini is the most sensitive, Mykonos is the second,” Mr Mitsotakis told Bloomberg.

Around 800 cruise ships carrying 1.3 million passengers made stops in the Aegean to visit holiday hotspot Santorini last year. The whitewashed island has an estimated 15,000 permanent residents.

Mykonos also received nearly 750 cruise ships in 2023 – up 23 per cent from the previous year.

“There are people spending a lot of money to be on Santorini and they don’t want the island to be swamped. Plus, the island can’t afford it, even in terms of security,” said Mr Mitsotakis.

Followng the pandemic, tourism has become an even larger contributor to the Greek economy, with nearly 33 million visitors to the mainland and islands in 2023.

The move follows Princess Cruises’ choice to remove some Santorini stops from Sun Princess itineraries in the summer of 2024 due to “cruise ship congestion”.

Greece isn’t the first country to consider a turn away from cruise ship tourism.

In 2021, Italy banned cruise ships from the Venice lagoon after heeding Unesco warnings.

Last July, Amsterdam also announced plans to lower pollution and reduce tourist numbers through a limit on cruise ship dockings.

Barcelona followed suit by cutting the number of ships able to dock at any one time from 10 to seven in October.

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