Greece's Piraeus port welcomes first cruise ship to restart operations

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ATHENS, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The cruise ship "Mein Schiff 6" was welcomed at Piraeus, Greece's largest port, as cruises restarted in the country following a half-year suspension due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) S.A. announced on Wednesday.

"Mein Schiff 6," part of the TUI Cruises fleet, was the first to cruise to resume sailing in the eastern Mediterranean, calling at Piraeus after a six-month suspension in Greece, according to an e-mailed press release from PPA, a member of China's COSCO Shipping group, which acquired the majority of PPA's shares in 2016 after an international tender.

"The cruise ship 'Mein Schiff 6' departed from Piraeus on Tuesday night and the disembarkation/embarkation of the passengers was successfully completed under strict safety measures, in compliance with all the relevant protocols," the press statement said.

The ship was welcomed by representatives of the port, who exchanged complimentary gifts and expressed their thanks and support for the restart of the cruise in Greece.

Greece gradually restarted its tourism industry in the summer after a full nationwide lockdown imposed in spring to control the spread of COVID-19, but cruise ships were not queuing off its ports like in past years.

Greek officials and the PPA have invested a lot to attract more cruise ships to Piraeus and to Greece in the coming years and to offer better services to travelers.

Despite the pandemic, in February the PPA launched a project to expand the cruise terminal to increase Piraeus' capacity to receive big "new generation" vessels and increase homeporting (start/end of cruise trips from Piraeus port).

The Chinese company's subsidiary, Piraeus Container Terminal S.A. (PCT), has also managed the port's container terminal since 2009. The image of Greece's largest port has already improved with impressive results posted in recent years. Enditem

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