The CEO of Heraklion Port Authority Mr. Minas Papadakis welcomed the leading Shipping/Cruise Analyst and Business & Communication Consultant  Mr. Thomas P. Illes in HPO headquarters .

Mr. Minas Papadakis, CEO of Heraklion Port Authority had the pleasure to welcome in his office on Friday, August 6, the internationally renowned Shipping - Cruise Analyst/Business & Communication Consultant Mr. Thomas P. Illes for a first meeting, which turned to become a truly exciting conversation.

Mr. Illes enjoys a global reputation as keynote and conference speaker in matters related with cruising, maritime tourism and communication/reputation management.

Mr. Illes traveled from early July to mid-August 2021, for a total of 5 weeks to selected marquee Greek destinations on three (3) cruise ships owned by cruise companies with global presence (Seabourn Ovation, Companie du Ponant-Le Bougainville, Mein Schiff 5 of TUI Cruises), as well as with the F/B Festos Palace of MINOAN LINES (on the short night passage Piraeus-Heraklion).

During his travels in Greek waters, Mr. Illes had the unique opportunity to experience personally the resumption of cruising in the East Med and the implementation of all health and safety procedures and protocols in Greek ports, keeping also a critical eye on the new operating conditions of cruise ships and the overall cruise experience of passengers.

Mr. Papadakis, was honored to be the only representative of a Greek Port Authority, who had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Mr. Illes his experience as CEO during the restart of the Cruise Industry in the port of Heraklion (either as a homeport or as a transit port) since Q3/2020.

During the exciting discussion between Mr. Papadakis and Mr. Illes, part of which was included within an extensive interview for the very popular Swiss news portal Travelnews of Mr. Illes to editor Gregor Waser, that was published on August 26, 2021, Mr. Illes presented to Mr. Papadakis his overall assessment of the course of the cruise industry from September 2020 (when the cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean restarted, with the Port of Heraklion playing a pivotal role) until today and an extensive analysis of current challenges cruise lines are facing in dealing with the post pandemic era.

The relevant link:

Excerpts from this interview were also posted by Mr. Illes on his personal LinkedIn account at , together with many dedicated posts and photos from his experience sailing in Greek waters and calling at various Greek ports.

Mr. Papadakis shared with Mr. Illes insights about the challenges faced by his team in the phase of development of health and safety protocols and crisis management plans in Q2 & Q3/2020, as well as the great satisfaction of all stakeholders and cruise companies, when cruise ship calls at the Port of Heraklion began and all protocols proved to be efficient.

Mr. Illes pays great importance to the accurate, insightful communication of the cruise industry towards its external stakeholders, and of course this issue was extensively discussed between the two gentlemen.

Mr. Papadakis had the opportunity to inform Mr. Illes in detail about the project privatization of the land zone of Heraklion Port to a strategic investor within the tender process of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) and the plans for the strategic development of the Port of Heraklion, as a major hub in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

Specifically, regarding the future strategy of further development of the Port of Heraklion in the field of cruising, Mr. Papadakis referred to his vision for the development of the Port of Heraklion in compliance with the strict requirements of sustainability. The fundaments for this exciting journey have been already set within the assessment of Heraklion Port by the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) this year within a very ambitious  project, co-financed by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), HPO and the Municipality of Heraklion. The results of this bottom - up assessment, which is broadly supported by the local community, will have a positive impact in the daily life of the local community and the future visitors of Heraklion.

Mr. Papadakis discussed with his esteemed guest his latest initiative: networking for the widest possible interconnection between the cruise industry and the local stakeholders/producers of local products originating from the Prefecture of Heraklion, aiming at the greatest possible participation of the local community in the creation of added value from activities of the cruise industry in the area.

Mr. Illes congratulated Mr. Papadakis for his visionary ideas and practices, which are indeed shared by important industry global players and are required today more than ever before by the maritime tourism industry.

Mr. Papadakis addressed to Mr. Illes an open invitation for visiting Heraklion in the future, in order to experience firsthand the Cretan hospitality and follow up on the projects related with Shipping in Heraklion and Crete in general.