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6 Reasons Why Cruises in Greece are Totally Overrated

We’ve all seen the massive cruise ships coming in to dock in Santorini. They advertise cheap, affordable rates and access to the most popular Greek islands. But what is the truth behind these massive ships? Is it really a good idea to take a cruise in Greece?

1. Limited Stops

The largest cruise ships in Greece can only go into five ports in Greece that are deep enough – these are Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Santorini, and Heraklion in Crete. That’s why the boats advertise being able to go to Mykonos and Santorini – because they literally can’t go anywhere else in the Cycladic islands. 

2. Limited Time on Land

When traveling on a cruise ship, you only have a few hours on land. It’s not typically enough time to get a feel for the island and to meet the locals. A lot of the local charm cannot be experienced in this way.

3. Overcrowding

Because the largest cruise ships can only stop at certain islands, the local environment at these destinations gets impacted because of pollution and the large number of temporary visitors. To give you an idea of the large numbers of visitors, there were almost 686 cruise ships arriving in Santorini last year, and close to one million passengers in total. 

 

In Mykonos, 608 cruise ships visited, counting a grand total of 686,000 passengers. In order, the most popular ports for crusie ship arrivals are Santorini, Mykonos, Piraeus, Corfu, Rhodes, Heraklion, Patmos, and Katakolo.

4. Pollution

Last year, 218 cruise ships operated in Europe, and they emitted more than four times more sulfur oxides than all the continent’s cars combined, according to a study by the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E). A 2021 study of one big cruise ship found that the ship produced the same amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in one day as 30,000 trucks.

 

Just look at the positive results in Venice, where cruise ships were banned. Because of a 2021 ban on large cruise ships, the city successfully reduced sulphur emissions by 80%.

5. No Benefit to Local Economies

In Greece, it’s hard to say whether visitors on cruise ships actually impact the local economy. Some cruise ship companies argue that during a seven-day trip, passengers usually spend 760 euros on average. However, Dídac Navarro, an activist from the organization Ecologistas en Acció, argues that a lot of passengers “take a quick stroll then go back to the ship to eat and sleep.”

6. Noise Pollution

In a 2019 report, noise from cruise ships was also found to affect fish and the underwater environment. Noise from cruise ships is also a pollutant for humans. Imagine enjoying a perfect sunset on Santorini and hearing the constant horns and motors of incoming ships. 

 

A 2019 report by the UN and the WWF states that “underwater noise hotspots in the Mediterranean overlap with several protected regions and with areas of importance to noise-sensitive marine mammal species.”

Possible Solutions

In other areas of Europe, cruise ships are already banned for some of these reasons. Amsterdam, for example, has banned cruise ships from the city center. Politicians said the vessels were not in line with the city’s sustainable plans. Barcelona is following the same plan, restricting cruise ships for environmental reasons. Venice banned large cruise ships in 2021.

Viking Star Cruiseship, Amsterdam

One potential solution for travelers in Greece is to choose a smaller ship. Massive cruise ships like those pictured are not the only way to travel Greece. The Aegean and Ionian seas are full of picturesque islands like Ios, Kos, Corfu, Zakynthos, Folegandros, Skiathos, and Sikinos, which are also visited by smaller boats.


If you still want the experience of traveling on a boat in Greece, you can also travel by ferry through the Greek islands.

Old Venetian Fortress, Corfu Town

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