LOUIS Cruise Lines and Greek company ANEK lines are launching a resumption of ferry services between Greece and Cyprus as a pilot scheme this summer, reports said yesterday.
Ferry services between Cyprus and Greece were suspended several years ago after violence flared in Israel. The service used to run from Piraeus to Limassol before ending in Haifa, and most of the demand for ferry services was from Israelis wanting to travel to Greece or take their cars to Europe.
However, when Israelis stopped travelling, demand from Cyprus was not enough to keep the services running.
Reports yesterday said a deal had been struck between Louis and ANEK to operate a ferry service on the Louis ship Princesa Marissa that will be part cruise and part ferry to Rhodes and Piraeus.
The pilot scheme will run until September and may be extended, depending on demand. Tickets can be one-way or return and according to Politis the service begins on July 17 and will also operate on July 24 and 31, August 7, 14, 21 and 28, and September 4 and 11 from Cyprus.
The ferry will depart from Piraeus on July 20 and 27, August 3, 9, 16, 24 and 30, and September 7 and 13, and from Rhodes on June 27, July 21 and 25, and August 4 and 8.
The deal was struck after months of discussions with the Greek government after the Merchant Marine Ministry sent out letters to maritime companies in order to gauge the interest of companies in the planned opening of a ‘motorway of the sea’ connecting Greece and Cyprus, the Athens News Agency (ANA) said last week.
The project is part of the European Union’s Trans-European Transport networks (TEN-T) programme.
ANA said shipping companies were requested to express their interest ahead of a joint proposal that Greece and Cyprus are due to submit to the European Commission.
“Following the signing of a relevant memorandum of co-operation, the two countries’ political leadership has agreed on a budget of 15 million euros. To date, Greece’s ANEK Lines and Cyprus’ Louis Group have expressed an interest in the project. The seaway would be vital in terms of helping Greece and Cyprus upgrade their ports and in boosting commercial activity between the two countries,” ANA said.