The island of Santorini, one of the top tourist destinations in Greece, has announced the introduction of a berth allocation system for cruise ships arriving at its harbour from the Caldera as of this year. The measure hopes to improve safety levels and to reduce delays and inconvenience for arriving tourists due to excessive congestion.
The Thira Port Fund Port Facility Security Officer Anastasios Konidaris, talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), said that cruise companies have already sent their schedules up to the
year 2018 and that the Port Fund now has a year ahead to plan for necessary changes.
He said the system was made necessary since, due to the unique physical features of Santorini and the lack of port facilities for cruise ships, the simultaneous arrival of cruise ships on certain days of the week made it difficult to provide arriving visitors with a good service.
“At some point we had to set, not limits, but planning that exclusively concerns anchoring, not fixed port facilities,” he added, announcing that the port fund will stay open every year in October so that companies can submit their schedules for two years.
The system is fully electronic and each cruise company and agent is given a unique code on specific dates that can be used to enter the system and submit applications for an approach. The fund identifies the “difficult” dates with many simultaneous arrivals and automatically suggests alternative hours and dates that are less busy.
Konidaris said the number of arrivals expected in 2017 had dropped to 415 from 572 the year before and 636 in 2015. Commenting on the drop, cruise company executives said this was partly due to developments in Turkey, since companies traditionally offered Greece and Turkey together as a package.