‘The luxury cruise segment represents 3.7% of the industry’s total market share worldwide, with the Mediterranean Sea owning over a third of that with 37.01%,’ explained Mark Robinson, SVP operations, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, whose vessels are scheduled to make multiple calls in the region – Scenic Eclipse II due to launch in April and Emerald Sakara debuting in the East Med in July among them.

Noting the region’s rich heritage, friendly locals, cuisine and blue seas, he added, ‘One of the main drivers for the region’s appeal is the East Med archipelago which offers unique, famous worldwide destinations and hidden gems…’

Luxury cruising to bring ‘significant’ revenue

According to the Allied Market Research Report, Greece’s luxury tourism is expected to yield an annual revenue of USD $2.7b by 2030, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.5% from 2021 to 2030. A significant part of this revenue is expected to come from luxury cruise activity and on-shore spending from this segment’s high-income passengers.

Thessaloniki venue significant

In its 12-year-long history, it is the first time that PSTF will be held in Thessaloniki instead of Athens – a decision ‘in sync with emerging trends in an industry that wishes to constructively address growing criticism for its contribution to over-tourism in many cruise hotspots around the world,’ according to Posidonia Exhibitions MD Theodore Vokos. It is intended to signify the need for more port alternatives/new destinations in order to optimise cruise traffic management in the East Mediterranean, diluting its impact. With more than 400 inhabited islands and coastal cities across Italy, Croatia, Greece, Albania and Turkey, the East Mediterranean and Adriatic seas offer main and regional homeporting options beyond marquee destinations. 

‘Also, Thessaloniki is a natural gateway for emerging Balkan markets,’ said Vokos, ‘which is another important topic to be addressed during the Forum.’

Luxury and niche cruise brands joining the two-day event, taking place April 25-26 at hotel Makedonia Palace, consist of Azamara Cruises, Ponant, Scenic Cruises, Seabourn, Variety Cruises and the newly relaunched Crystal Cruises. Panels include, ‘The Appeal of Venturing to Non-Mainstream Destinations: Luxury & Expedition Cruising leading the Way’ that will examine the increasing importance of lesser-known destinations, infrastructure challenges, sustainability and the importance of authentic experiences.

The long-term outlook for cruising and improving the management of cruise traffic are just a couple of areas that will also be explored.

Thessaloniki Port Authority, Piraeus Port Authority, Celestyal Cruises, Global Ports Holding and Kyvernitis Travel are among the sponsors of the event, which is supported by the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), MedCruise and the Union of Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members.