Now that Greece and Italy are welcoming South African travellers back to their shores, agents can once again take advantage of holidaymakers wanting to embark on long-awaited luxury Mediterranean cruises, after two years of pandemic-induced travel disruption.
Chrissa Karanastasis, expert Luxury Cruise and Travel Advisor and Owner of The Travel Concierge, is confident that a there is strong pent-up demand for Mediterranean cruising that has built up over the last two years, and she says agents can confidently sell cruises going forward.
Many clients are extremely wary of travel because of Covid-19 concerns. Chrissa pointed out that cruise ships have to operate in an extremely safe and vigilant manner, and cruise lines have opted to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols to ensure their guests are both safe and comfortable through their journey.
Know your cruise products
“Agents who want to be cruise specialists must know the cruise brands, must understand the client’s desires and must be able to identify the right cruise ship and brand for the right client.”
“You need to know your client well and get a feel for where they normally holiday. If you sell them the wrong cruise once, they will be put off cruising for life. But, if you sell the right ship, they will come back to cruising again and again.”
Contemporary brands offering Mediterranean cruises include NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Azamara. Luxury Mediterranean cruises can be booked with Silversea Cruises, Seabourn, Ponant, and Oceania Cruises.
Current restrictions to Greece, Italy
All travellers to Greece aged five years and older must show proof of a negative PCR result from a test performed up to 72 hours before arrival, or a negative rapid antigen test result from a test performed up to 24 hours prior to arrival.
Arrivals in Greece, regardless of proof of vaccination, which is also mandatory, may be subject to random extra testing for COVID-19 on arrival. In case of refusal, the authorities reserve the right to refuse entry into the country. The full restrictions can be viewed here.
Karanastasis advises that the process for obtaining visas to enter Greece is currently taking around 15 days from the day of booking an appointment.
As for travel to Italy, a vaccination certificate, a recovery certificate or a negative test result has sufficed for entry into the country since March 1.
Those entering on a negative PCR test certificate should keep in mind that Italy currently has a two-tiered Health Pass system in effect. The pass is gained either with proof of vaccination or of recovery, but not with a negative test result. The pass is required in order to gain access to practically everything, from hotels and restaurants to public transport.
This system is not expected to change until March 31 at the earliest.