Greece looks to reduce cruise ship visits to two of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister said he will place caps on how many cruise ships can travel to the Greek Islands, Bloomberg reported.

Islands like Mykonos and Santorini are some of the most popular destinations on Mediterranean voyages. But overall visitor numbers have significantly increased since the pandemic.

When Greece looks to reduce cruise ship visits

Mitsotakis said Greece looks to reduce cruise ship visits as early as next year.

“I think we’ll do it next year,” he told Bloomberg.

Larger cruise ships must tender offshore, resulting in long waits for passengers. Last week, the Sun Princess cancelled a port call to Santorini citing “cruise ship congestion”.

Bloomberg reported that Mykonos receives nearly as many cruise ship visits as the Greek cruise industry which grew 23 per cent in the last year.

Mitsotakis said though, the cruise industry has opposition from other hotel-based tourists.

“People are spending a lot of money to be on Santorini and they don’t want the island to be swamped,” he said.

“Santorini is the most sensitive, Mykonos is the second.”

Santorini is home to just 15,000 residents. In 2023, roughly 800 ships with 1.3 million guests stopped at Santorini while nearly 750 vessels visited Mykonos.

“People are spending a lot of money to be on Santorini and they don’t want the island to be swamped,” Mitsotakis told Bloomberg.

“Plus, the island can’t afford it, even in terms of security.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System said last week that there were 120 per cent more tourists in Greece during the first quarter of this year than in 2019. The figure “even surpassed the high levels” of the pre-pandemic period.

The islands though, are struggling to keep up with the demand and Greece’s ombudsman released a report saying that large investments need to be made to make the country’s tourism industry a sustainable source of economic output, Reuters reports.

“Our country’s economy relies heavily on tourism which makes the need to manage it sustainably even more urgent,” the report said.

It added that Greece must not “exhaust its potential, wasting it and making our tourist destinations unattractive over time.”

Other cruise ship destinations that are limiting cruise ship passengers

Greece though, is not the only destination to look at limiting cruise ships to parts of their country in a bid to reduce overcrowding and over-tourism.

Just last week, the Alaskan government agreed on caps for the popular cruise destination of Juneau. Previously, the city agreed to the cap on cruise ships to five per day of any size during the summer months.

It has now been decided that cruise lines will have to coordinate their schedules so there are never more than 16,000 cruise passengers a day from Sunday through to Friday.

On Saturdays, the number of cruise passengers is limited to 12,000 people.

Amsterdam earlier this year announced it would slash the number of river cruise ship arrivals by half to just 1150 a year by 2028.

Starting in October this year, Barcelona will start a ban on cruise ships from one of the two cruise terminals in the city centre.  

The ships will be redirected from the North Terminal at the World Trade Center to Adossat Wharf. At a 30-minute journey by road, it is the furthest cruise pier from Barcelona’s city centre.

Cruise ships were originally allowed to call at the main terminal of the Port of Barcelona, which was just a 10-minute walk into the city centre.

However, more changes are set to come into effect. The South Terminal is set to be closed by the end of 2026.

Currently, there is space for 10 cruise ships to dock in Barcelona at once. From October 22 there will only be room for seven.