Close to 7,500 passengers travelled the Greece-Cyprus ferry link this past summer, surpassing the government’s expectations, as authorities vowed the service will be further improved for the coming season – along with the possibility of further routes.
“I must say that these numbers surpassed even our expectations, so this is a cause for celebration,” deputy shipping minister Vasilis Demetriades said on Thursday.
He also said that a route to Israel is being evaluated as the link there looks promising, referring to religious tourism.
And while Demetriades was upbeat over the ferry’s inaugural season, he acknowledged that the job of establishing the alternative travel link is nowhere near done.
Illustrating the importance of alternatives to air connectivity, he told Sigma that: “There’s close to 2,000 of the 7,500 passengers who had never left Cyprus – perhaps due to a fear of planes, amongst other factors – so this gave our compatriots the opportunity to travel due to alternative transport links.”
But he emphasised that the true test will be how many passengers return to the service next season, explaining that repeat customers will help form a solid foundation for the service.
The number of complaints filed amounted to 37, or a mere 0.5 per cent of the users.
Demetriades explained that most of those are not centred on the boat itself but more so on boarding process and waiting area at the port.
He explained this is something that they’re working on and will create better infrastructure to facilitate the passengers and their vehicles there. During the first season there were 1,946 vehicles transported.
As for the ferry itself, the deputy minister said that they will look towards upgrading the quality of the services onboard – in terms of restaurants and recreational activities, considering the journey takes 30 hours.
Demetriades also said that the operating company is evaluating whether to expand its services to include Israel.
He concluded that the improvements and timetable for the next season will be announced in the coming months.
Cyprus was previously linked by ferry to countries such as Greece and Lebanon but the service was cut over 20 years ago.
The last ferry voyage between Greece and Cyprus took place on October 8, 2001 with the ship Salamis Star.
The Daleela made a total of 22 voyages in the past season, four in June, eight in July, seven in August and three in September.
The cheapest return tickets for adults, with a simple seating arrangement, were set at €76 while a second-class cabin return ticket was €80. The respective one-way tickets were €38 and €40.