Governments Discuss New Greece – Cyprus – Israel Ferry

Government officials from Cyprus and Israel have discussed the introduction of a new ferry route which would link Greece to the Middle East.

Subsidy

According to Cypriot news websites, the Israeli Minister of Transport and his Cypriot counterpart have discussed a possible new ferry link between Cyprus and Israel.

The new ferry to Israel would be an extension of a planned route which would link the port of Piraeus in Greece with either Limassol or Larnaca in Cyprus.

Israeli Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli and the Cypriot Deputy Minister of Shipping of Vassilis Demetriades said they hope a new ferry connection can advance connections between the countries in the eastern Mediterranean.

night boat kastellorizo israel greece cyprus ferry
A Blue Star Ferries ship in the port of Kastellorizo, Greece. ©Paliparan

Greece to Cyprus ferry

The last time a passenger ferry sailed between Greece and Cyprus was 21 years ago. Back then, Salamis Lines and Poseidon Lines operated a route between Piraeus and Limassol.

Last year, the Cypriot Government tried to revive the link between Greece and Cyprus by opening a public tender process and offering a 5 million euro subsidy to companies willing to operate the ferry link, although no-one placed a bid.

Recently, the Ministry of Shipping of Cyprus increased the subsidy to 5.5 million euro in the hope to attract a ferry company to operate the route.

With the approval of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (DG Competition), the demand that the new route must be year-round was scrapped from the public tender.

The Cypriot Government hopes that more ferry companies will be interested in the route now that they can also operate it on a seasonal basis. According to Deputy Minister Demetriades, it “potentially creates better conditions for attracting interest by maritime transport companies”.

limassol cyprus ferry
Limassol, Cyprus. ©Paliparan

Israel

Mr Demetriadis said that the public tender will now also allow the ferry route to be extended to neighbouring countries such as Israel.

He said: “This means the route could be extended to include a port in Israel or a Greek island, making the package all the more attractive.”

haifa israel ferry
In Israel, the port city of Haifa would be the most logical destination of the new ferry link between the Greek port of Piraeus, Cyprus and Israel. ©Paliparan

Tourism

The Israeli and Cypriot ministers hope that the new ferry route will foster trade and tourism ties between the three countries.

Mr Demetriadis and Ms Michaeli also recognised that such a ferry link would be a real help to people who are unable to travel by air due to fear of flying or medical reasons.

At this moment, Israel is virtually only accessible by air from Europe as there are no overland or maritime routes to the country.

blue star ferries amorgos israel greece cyprus ferry
The Greek island of Amorgos as seen from the Blue Star Naxos ferry. ©Paliparan

Overland

The shortest land route to Europe, which leads through war-torn Syria, isn’t a viable option due to security reasons.

Even before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war this route was only possible for non-Israeli citizens given that Syria does not recognise the state of Israel.

However, even for European travellers this route had its share of problems as it was technically only possible overland to travel to Israel, but not all the way back.

Travelling back from Israel to Europe was impossible because Syria refuses entry to anyone with an Israeli entry stamp (or exit stamp from Jordan) in their passport.

damascus syria
The main overland route from Europe to Israel leads through the Syrian capital of Damascus. ©Paliparan

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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