ATHENS – Despite cruise ships having been prime breeding grounds for the spread of COVID-19, Greece will allow them to dock beginning Aug. 1 but only passengers can present evidence of a negative test in the previous 72 hours.
While the international cruise industry has almost shut down and been harder-hit than air travel, Greece is anxious to get more tourists into the country this summer to help offset the economic losses brought by COVID-19 and a lockdown closing businesses.
Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis indicated, confirming the reopening of six cruise ports, while a ministry official said that the ports of Piraeus, Iraklio, Corfu, Rhodes, Katakolo and Volos will open and that random testing will be done.
Travelers have brought COVID-19 with them and, along with ignoring of health protocols across the country, has seen the number of cases rise, although not to concerning levels for now.
After inspections at ports, the liners will be allowed to call at other ports, including more Greek islands frantic for tourists although it's uncertain how many ships will come is uncertain and health officials are wary over allowing ships with passengers.
The ministry said Theocharis informed the Cruise Liners International Association (CLIA) and the three major operators active in Greece (MSC Cruises, Costa, TUI Cruises) the six ports will be open to them and others will later.
“All cruise ships are welcome in Greece, so as to offer a unique experience to all their passengers,” Theocharis wrote in his letter. He added that “Greece is the first country to respond to the cruise sector, introducing health protocols especially for this form of tourism. The health procedures that will apply on cruise ships under the supervision of the Greek authorities are based on EU Healthy Gateways standards and adjusted to Greek legislation and the local conditions.”