Cruise travelers may wonder what effect the Greek financial crisis will have on upcoming cruise travel to Greek ports. The simple answer is very little or no effect. However, the simple answer needs some explanation.
The looming financial crisis in Greece has now reached a crescendo. While Greeks go to the polls to vote on their future, the vote will be largely symbolic. Christine Lagarde has already indicated that the IMF has no offers on the table for Greece to accept. The vote is a referendum on the hardline taken by its leaders.
Travelers to Greece may follow the news of the Greek financial woes as a cautionary tale for the fiscal policies of others nations. They may do so from the detached relaxation of a cruise ship deck chair. The impact to tourists may be minimal.
In the crisis the banks will likely close. Greece may detach from the Euro-Zone, although that is not for certain. Cruise travelers have their passports and cash machines on board ship. Cash machines in port may run out of cash. Whether or not Greece leaves the Euro, merchants will accept Euros and most major negotiable currencies, like the dollar or pound, as they often do today.
The most visible effect of the financial crisis will be shop and restaurant closure. Shops and restaurants dependent upon local customers have been closing over the last few years, most notably in residential neighborhoods. Major shopping venues, such as the Plaka district in Athens have remained vibrant. Hotel and restaurant chains not dependent upon local finances will continue to look forward to tourists.
The most pressing decision for cruise travelers will be choice of port excursion. Local taxi drivers and excursion providers may or may not have fuel. The cruise ships will arrange for the most reliable ground transportation providers so as not to strand guests on port tours.
Unknown is whether museums will remain open at any given time. As tourism is a positive economic factor for Greece, keeping museums open, such as the Acropolis Museum in Athens, will be a priority. In the past, when workers have been on strike or holiday, attractions such as the Parthenon have been left with the gates open.
If the crisis in Greece deepens, there will be large-scale unemployment. Parades and demonstrations that occupy major thoroughfares are to be expected. City travel will be impeded. Repeat visitors to Greece may find this the optimum time to visit the lesser-known and out-of-town sites such as Corinth. There is a wealth of Greek history beyond Athens, well in reach of a day excursion from the cruise pier.
Travelers are always advised to protect their travel investment with travel insurance in the event plans change. However, if cruise ships can dock in Greek ports they will do so. Travel to Greek islands, such as Mykonos, Santorini, and Rhodes, where tourism is a large part of the economy, and visitors wander from the ships through the towns without the need of buses, will be largely unaffected by problems in Athens.
The Greeks are going through a difficult period, particularly pensioners and government employees. Tourism is a positive factor for the Greek economy. Cruise travelers should look forward to their time in Greek ports, prepared to have cash or credit cards handy.