2020 was, without any doubt, one of the worst years in the history of the cruise industry. The pandemic nullified virtually the performance records for all cruise companies (small and large), for all cruise destinations and for all ports worldwide.
The Port Authority of Heraklion (HPA SA) has shown good reflexes and prudent management, even in cases where it was necessary to manage an unforeseen crisis.
Therefore, Heraklion Port Authority has substantial hopes, concerning the following:
Today, at the beginning of 2021, the port of Heraklion is ready to claim its fair share upon rebounding of the cruise market regarding cruise companies that already include the port of Heraklion in their itinerary planning, as well as companies that would consider the prospect of including itduring 2021, but mainly from 2022 onwards.
Finally, a series of agreements and joint actions of Heraklion Port Authority, with various parties, local/national and international, are opening new paths of cooperation, aiming at the bestand the most effective presence of the port of Heraklion in the cruise industry.
19.998 passengers, onboard 24 cruise ships, visited Heraklion during 24 calls
The port of Heraklion, during the pandemic,retained a significant share of cruise passengers that traveled in the Mediterranean during the period August - December 2020 (exact numbers to be announced upon release of data by Medcruise concerning passengers who visited Mediterranean destinations during the 2nd half of 2020).
TUI Cruises selected Heraklion for homeporting with Mein Schiff 6.
12,065 passengers were transferredin 60 flights on 10 consecutive Sundays from Germany to Heraklion (and vice versa).
The Heraklion Port Authority was in perfect coordination with 6 Greek government agencies, company executives, ground & port agents.
100 people, headed by an accredited official of HPA SA, provided best possible services in their corresponding shifts, in order to successfully manage the operation.
12,065 cruise passengers were handled in compliance with the strictest health and hygiene protocols.
2020 cruise vesselscall figures in the port of Heraklion may be disappointing compared to the recent past and especially compared to those of 2019, but they are way better than figures of other ports in the Mediterranean (and of course in Greece), where no cruise ship called throughout 2020!
In 2020, only 19,998 cruise passengers were transferred from the port of Heraklion on board 24 ships.
However, in the storm that the pandemic brought to the cruise industry, there was a particularly important distinction for the port of Heraklion:
One of the largest and most powerful companies in the cruise industry, TUI Cruises (a 50/50 Joint Venture between Royal Caribbean International & the TUI Group) trusted Heraklion Port Authority, choosing Heraklion as their homeport, to restart the company cruise operation in the Mediterranean in autumn 2020.
This event alone, placed the Port of Heraklion and HPO S.A. with particularly positive reviews, on the“radar”of the cruise community worldwide
Today, the substantial and hard work done by the management of the Organization, its CEO Minas Papadakis and other competent staff of the Port of Heraklion, has become evident. Heraklion, after all, performed very successfully all this time, under extremely difficult conditions.
Today, the prospects ahead look extremely good, since the partnerships that have being created, as well as the organized effort, are yielding important fruits. In fact, it is no coincidence that for the first time, the port authority seems to have an excellent cooperation with the municipal authority of the city of Heraklion, something that the CEO of HPO S.A.mentioned in a recent interview.
Sustainability brings a new era to the port of Heraklion
Sustainability is considered being the long-term sustainable development, which respects society and the environment and aims at economic progress and prosperity.
In this context, H.P.O. S.A., in collaboration with the Municipality of Heraklion and CLIA International, participates in adestination sustainability assessment project. For the port of Heraklion and the Organization, this in itself is a special distinction and reward of a well-organized internal working group, that started in 2020 under the current management of the organization.
The CEO of HPO, Mr. Minas Papadakis, spoke about this issue in local media:
"It is the first time that we participate as a port in this process and it is the first destination after Dubrovnik in 2019, that takes part in this kind of assessment. Thesigned agreementisof vital and strategic importance. It is a huge success for our city, the Municipality and the Port Authority. The Port Authority is one ofthe parties, that co-finances the whole process, the part of the training of involved bodies in the evaluation process and we will receive a report that will evaluate the situation of the Port for Heraklion as destination. Heraklion together with Corfu are the two destinations chosen by the World Council for Sustainable Tourism to be evaluated for 2021 and this is a huge success for our city, due to the coordinated action with the Municipality of Heraklion."
How the 2021 season begins (January 2021)
Cruise companies will gradually re-activate units of their fleet during 2021.
We should not expect spectacular developments in the activation of additional tonnageuntil the end of May 2021
Additional cruise vessels will be included in itineraries,only when this decision is justified by market demand .
The companies will be very careful in planning their itineraries and choosing their destinations at least for the next 12-18 months, having as first criterion the safety and health of the passengers and crews.
Despite the crisis caused by the pandemic in the field of cruising, in 2021,unless something happens that will overturn all plans, 46 new ships are expected to be launched. This alone is a clear proof that the industry has great prospects for future growth.
When cruises resume from US ports, European companies are expected to lead the way against US cruise competition, due to their current experience in managing/implementing health and safety protocols.
In terms of shipbuilding, there is a strong shift in the preference of cruiselines in the construction of expedition cruise ships, in line with the new trend of calling new, small, unexplored destinations.
Already, 1/3 of the order books of the large shipyards include 27 ships of this type. This type of ship carries up to 200-220 passengers, it is significantly smaller than the mega ships of 3,500-4,800 passengers, but it provides all the comforts of a 4 * to 5 * ship and can reach small ports with poor port infrastructure.
New trends in tourism and especially the future development of cruising based on the principles of sustainability will be extremely important for the next 5-7 years, both in terms of destinations as well as ship management and port facility development.
The requirements for the host ports will be high in terms of compliance with health protocols and investments in new technologies that will protect passengers and crews from infections, etc.