Minoan Lines is one of the most prominent European shipping companies. Offering reliable and high-quality services, the company has also made a huge impact on Cretan tourism and transportation. The National Herald had an opportunity to speak with Antonis Maniadakis, the Managing Director of Minoan Lines.
Antonis Maniadakis has devoted his career and expertise to Minoan Lines for almost 30 years, and in 2005 he was unanimously elected as Managing Director of Minoan Lines S.A. In 2011, he was among the “Top Leaders in Greece” according to distinguished Greek newspapers and shipping portals.
Mr. Maniadakis told TNH that Minoan Lines has been serving the transportation industry for 46 years, managing to gain an excellent, far-reaching reputation, and standing out in an increasingly competitive market. The company is headquartered in Heraklion, Crete, and Minoan Lines employs approximately 350 employees on land and sea. “The company manages and preserves a fleet of state of the art high-speed cruise ferries and catamarans, which adhere to the highest safety and environmental standards,” he said.
Mr. Maniadakis told TNH that Minoan Lines operates in the domestic market in Greece, offering connections from Crete to Piraeus and the Cyclades Islands. Regular itineraries from Crete, either Heraklion or Chania, to Piraeus in Athens operate on a daily basis throughout the year. For the summer season, from April to October, Minoan Lines offers routes from Heraklion to Santorini, Ios, Paros, and Mykonos, and two more cruise ferries operate on the route Heraklion-Milos-Piraeus from June to September.
The company is a proud member of the Italian Grimaldi Group. Since Minoan Lines acts as a General Sales Agent for the Grimaldi Group, it also offers routes between Greece and Italy, including Patras, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Ancona, and Venice.
According to the latest numbers, Minoan Lines is clearly an important operator in the industry. For example, during a 9-month period in 2018, the domestic Heraklion-Piraeus Line carried 558 thousand passengers, 89 private cars and 44 thousand freight units. Mr. Maniadakis said, “The company’s market shares on this route shaped at 66.7% for passengers, 64.8% for private cars and 46.4% for freight units.”
He agrees that Crete is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Greece and in Europe. Because the majority of travelers choose to fly to Crete, ferry services are striving to keep up with the strong competition created by low-cost airline carriers and charter flights. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, “Minoan Lines operates within the passenger ferry sector, serving Crete on a daily basis with its ferries. With our regular itineraries, we aim to connect Crete to the mainland, serving not only our passengers but also offering our cargo services to the agricultural and other sectors that need to transport their products to the mainland.”
Traveling by sea makes Crete accessible throughout the year – most airlines tend to operate only during summer season with charter flights. Mr. Maniadakis revealed that the company’s goal, along with other companies within the travel sector in Crete, is “to turn Crete into a four-season destination, offering a variety of different activities, travel choices, hospitality, and supreme services.”
In the context of climate change, traveling to Crete by sea instead of flying is also an ecological choice, especially after the stunning emission reduction actions Minoan Lines has chosen to take. Minoan Lines aims to be the first Greek ferry company installing exhaust gas cleaning technology to comply with the new international emission regulations.
According to Mr. Maniadakis, their plan is to act by April 2019, 8 months prior to the January 1, 2020 deadline set by the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee. This will eliminate 97-98% of sulfur oxides and 70-80% of particulate matter, leading to a significant reduction of harmful emissions and providing a greener future.
Minoan Lines is known for its excellent and high-quality services, which is another reason why many visitors decide to travel by sea instead of flying. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, “Our specific focus is on meeting the individual requirements, needs, and expectations of our passengers.” The goal is to provide a unique travel experience on board, making it not just a trip but a luxury cruise experience.
The passengers can enjoy state-of-the-art cabins, swimming pools, lounges, bars, elegant dining venues, boutiques, special children’s areas, internet corners, discos, and live music – the list goes on. Mr. Maniadakis highlighted, “Each aspect of the ship appeals to everyone and is geared towards relaxation, convenience, and comfort – the qualities the company prides itself on.”
Travelers will also be able to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful Aegean Sea, and the really lucky ones might even spot some dolphins.
Customers may purchase their tickets by calling the Minoan Lines reservations office, visiting their ticket offices, or contacting their partner travel agents network within Greece. The company has also undergone significant upgrades on their website and online booking system, making it even easier for travelers to plan their trips. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, “We are fully committed to helping each and every one of our customers enjoy the best possible experience.”
According to Mr. Maniadakis, the company is optimistic about the future, and its main strategy is to invest in new vessels in order to deliver frequent service from diversified ports to its customers.