By Published On: 1 Mar 2016

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Santorini to limit cruise numbers: A maximum of 8,000 cruise ship passengers per day will be permitted as official figures reveal it is now the busiest port in Greece.

Piraeus no longer number one

In 2015 approximately 790,000 visitors arrived in Santorini on 636 cruise ships, pushing Piraeus Port back into second place. The numbers have been compiled by the Hellenic Port Association. All these people are putting an increasing strain on the local environment and infrastructure. As anyone who has visited Santorini on a cruise ship in peak-season knows, even the simple act of queuing for the cable car at Fyra can take over 1-hour.

Up to 10,000 arrivals daily

The research has found that 90-percent of arrivals occur during the peak season from May to October. During this time an average of 4,000 passengers disembarked from 3.6 cruise ships each day, however on busy days up to 10,000 visitors come ashore.

Part of the problem is an uneven distribution of arrivals throughout the week. There are some days with spikes in arrival numbers and others with no arrivals at all.

Santorini to limit cruise numbers

The authorities have decided to limit the maximum number of cruise ship passengers to 8,000 per day. They hope this will mean they can better serve those who do come ashore. Also, they want to encourage a more even distribution of arrivals across the week, avoiding spikes.

Interestingly, the figures revealed 10-percent of cruise ship passengers never leave the ship in Santorini. This number rose when vessels stay in port for less time. Approximately 40-percent of passengers take organised tours, leaving 50-percent who go shore independently.

The new restrictions this year

Ilias Pelekis, the president of the Port fund told the Greek daily Kathimerini that they will allow some flexibility in the system this year as cruise lines have already set their itineraries.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.


  1. Richard Davey 1 Mar 2016 at 19:50 - Reply

    Yes, this could be a necessary move. I returned to Santorini aboard Queen Victoria in late June 2015 and there were other large vessels there including one from MSC and another from NCL. Much congestion was created by the others sailing early, as the queue for the downhill funicular ride must have been 100 metres long. Easy to avoid by staying ashore for lunch if you were lucky enough to be sailing late, but stressful for those weighing anchor early. I can understand why 10% might choose to stay onboard in any great destination. That’s when it seems like your own yacht and you can enjoy elbow room. Like in Mooloolaba aboard Azamara Quest. The media asked me if the guests were enjoying the town. We were on deck and there was nobody around. I said “there’s you’r answer,they’re all ashore!”

  2. Jocalyn 2 Mar 2016 at 01:24 - Reply

    Yes Richard is right, when big ships are in its too congested. When my husband and me were there last year on our Princess ship there was another big liner next to us, plus a smaller one nearby. The queue to get up to the top was long and we thought the little streets were way too crowded. It would be nicer with less people.

  3. Suzy 5 Mar 2016 at 18:05 - Reply

    Great move.
    I was in Santorini lat year, and as much as I love the place, it was too busy and you felt like sardines.
    I felt this beatiful town was being trampled to death by tourists/

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