Cruise: Greece reopens ports to cruise ships this weekend in major rule change

Cruises have been off-limits to Britons since earlier this year thanks to the crippling impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the Foreign Office (FCO) is advising against cruise ship travel. But Greece has now revealed that it will be lifting its ban on cruise ships next month.

This is welcome news for the cruise industry who has been struggling since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year.

Cruise ships will be allowed to dock in Greek ports from as soon as this weekend.

However, there will be rules in place to ensure the health and safety of passengers on board.

Cruise ships will only be able to dock at ports if all passengers on board have had a negative coronavirus test at least 72 hours before boarding the ship.

The ships will be able to dock at the six major ports in Greece such as Piraeus in Athens, Rhodos, Iraklio, Volos, Corfu and Katakolo.

This means they will be allowed to visit any Greek port after they have already docked at one of the main ones, according to Greece’s Minister of Tourism Haris Theocharis.

He said in a letter to CLIA Europe this week: “All cruise ships are welcome in Greece to offer a unique experience to all their passengers.

“Greece is the first country to respond to the cruise industry and introduce health protocols, especially for the type of tourism.”

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Mr Theocharis also sent the letter to the three largest cruise companies that are operating in Greece which includes MSC Cruises, Costa, and TUI Cruises.

He added that the rules will be changed if the epidemiological data changes.

Meanwhile, river cruises have been given the go-ahead in the UK.

The FCO has confirmed that river cruises will not be covered by their current cruise ship travel advice.

The updated advice clearly defines that a cruise ship holiday means “staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households”.

The FCO website adds: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time.

“This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.”

It continued: “Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools.

“Our advice does not include ferries or privately-rented boats.

“The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”

The CDC has also extended its no-sail order for cruise ships until October 1.

They extended the ban on cruises in July. The original order was issued on March 14.

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