I did a post about a year or so ago when I heard that Santorini was going to introduce a scheme to limit the number of cruise ship passengers visiting the island. This was because the number of visitors were simply overwhelming the available facilities. At its most fundamental, just getting from the ship up to the main town of Fira has become a challenge – you can either use the cable-car which, because of its limited capacity, generally means queueing, or you can 800 feet walk up a steep path, avoiding donkey droppings as you walk and keeping out of the way of the donkeys as well – their view seems to be that it’s their path! Then having got up to Fira, visitors will find that there are few taxis and that the buses are full.
The post last year followed on from the announcement of the intention to apply limits. Obviously there was a further problem last year in that the cruise lines had already published their schedules and sold cruises, so it wouldn’t have been possible to introduce the restrictions scheme at that time. However we are now in 2017 at the beginning of a new summer season and I decided to revisit the topic.
My understanding is that there was an attempt to limit the numbers – or at least manage them – on a voluntary basis during last summer. I’m still trying to get hard information as whether a firm scheme has been, or is being, introduced for this year. If I get further information I’ll post it here.
However I have found some other information that suggests that cruise traffic to Greece is set to fall by about 30% in 2017 generally, compared with 2016.I’m not sure yet of the reasons for this, but it’s possible that among the factors in play may be these: a) cruise lines are reluctant to send ships to (or near) those Greek islands affected by the refugee crisis and b) are also avoiding destinations in Turkey because it’s no longer seen as being as safe or stable as it was. As a result of this the lines are just not sending as many ships into the eastern or southern Mediterranean as was the case in previous years.
In the case of Santorini the fall in numbers is even greater. Someone has done the necessary work and has concluded that expected ship calls there will be 35% lower in 2017 than in 2016. The actual number of calls will reduce from 558 to 363. Of course as ships get bigger the passenger number may not drop by the same extent, but even allowing for that it looks as if the pressure on Santorini should be lower this year than last; and that this may be the result of wider tourism and economic factors rather than any specific restrictions at the island itself.