Greece will allow cruise ships to resume operations from Saturday, August 1, Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis said Tuesday.
The decision follows a partial resumption of cruises in Norway and Germany, while riverboat cruises have also resumed sailing in several European countries.
According to a report in the Greek daily Kathimerini, cruise ships will be allowed to dock at the ports of Piraeus, Rhodos, Iraklio, Volos, Corfu and Katakolo, and will subsequently be able to visit any other Greek port on their itinerary.
Theocharis said the decision could be reviewed depending on current epidemiological data and that cruise travel will abide with all the health and safety protocols set by the European Union, which earlier this week published guidelines for cruising amid the coronavirus.pandemic.
Last week, the Greek Health Ministry announced health and safety rules for cruise operations based on earlier guidance issued by EU Healthy Gateways.
The EU guidance calls for a reduction of the number of passengers and crew onboard to ensure that measures related to physical distancing, and isolation, on board ships, can be maintained, and contingency plans for onboard COVID-19 outbreaks.
It recommends that passengers and crew wear facemasks at terminal stations and indoors. Self-service buffet food operations should be avoided according to the guidance, which also recommends that crew and passengers are divided into designated groups and are served food at different times to limit interaction. Indoor swimming pools should be closed, while outdoor pools should be restricted to one bather per 43 feet of water surface.
On Monday, Cruise Industry News reported that Miray International is planning on launching Aegean cruises from Piraeus, Greece, and Cesme, Turkey, by the end of August.