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23 July, 2024
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New policies create passenger backlash at Limassol Port

Lack of awareness and unexpected changes pose challenges as tourist season peaks

Pavlos Neophytos

On Sunday, a wave of reactions was triggered at Limassol port as citizens became aware of a new policy set to be implemented this year by the Deputy Ministry of Shipping. The policy concerns the personal belongings allowed for passengers traveling by vehicle on the Limassol - Piraeus route. It appears that some of our fellow citizens are unaware of these changes, posing a risk of increased disruption as we approach the peak of the tourist season in July and August.

Passenger complaints received by K indicate that some passengers, scheduled to board the ferry on Sunday, June 18, with their vehicles, encountered an unexpected situation. They arrived at the port of Limassol at 7:00 am for a planned departure at 12:00 noon, only to discover that they had not received any prior notification. Upon arrival at the port of Limassol, they were handed a form by the contractor, which outlined various instructions. One of the instructions stated that all personal belongings must be packed in travel bags, which would then undergo baggage control. Additionally, the form specified that only travel hand luggage was permitted, and passengers were not allowed to bring any merchandise, personal items, or food and beverages on board.

Based on the same information, a warning was given to passengers yesterday, Sunday, that they could return to their homes any personal belongings that were not part of their travel hand luggage (e.g., televisions and other electrical appliances) and return to the port no later than 10:00 a.m., otherwise, they would miss the ship. As reported by "K," some passengers who arrived at the Limassol port with a delay of approximately 15 minutes were not allowed to board the ship.

As a result of the above, a disruption ensued, with several passengers hastily leaving for their homes to return some of their personal belongings. Based on their previous travel experience, they had assumed that it was permissible to keep such items inside their vehicles. Passengers who contacted "K" questioned why Greece did not implement the same policy for those traveling from Piraeus to Limassol, while the Republic of Cyprus proceeded with this specific decision.

Moreover, there was an additional cause for concern as the decision to ban passengers from bringing coolers containing food and beverages onboard the ship also elicited reactions.The form the contracting company of the Limassol - Piraeus line gave to passengers at the port of Limassol, in order to inform them about the new policy for transporting personal belongings.

The response from the Deputy Ministry of Shipping

The Deputy Ministry of Shipping, on its part, responded by stating that passengers have been duly informed about the new regulations regarding the transportation of personal belongings, particularly through the provision of information during the online ticket booking process on the ship contractor's website.

Zacharias Kapsis, an official from the Deputy Ministry, emphasized in a statement to "K" that they ensured the company fulfilled its obligation to prominently display the trip's terms and conditions on its website, thus informing the public. This information was made available during the ticket-purchasing steps. Mr. Kapsis further added that during a press conference held in Larnaca on April 10, 2023, the contractor company explicitly urged the traveling public to thoroughly read the terms and conditions before booking their tickets.

The reasons behind the decision

Regarding the reasons why the current prohibitions were not applied last year and during the first year of operation of the Limassol - Piraeus line, Mr. Kapsis explained that in the previous year, the line commenced its operations in the middle of the season (June 19). However, this year, the Ministry of Shipping, in collaboration with other relevant services and government departments, held numerous meetings where several decisions were made. One of these decisions was to ensure the safety of passengers and their vehicles by allowing only hand luggage to be carried, in order to facilitate more efficient and quicker inspections by the police and customs departments. During these meetings, it was highlighted by both customs and the police that some passengers were transporting a significant quantity of unpackaged goods in their vehicles, which indicated commercial activities rather than leisure purposes. This practice also impeded effective inspections, as dogs were unable to enter the vehicles and conduct scans for explosives or drugs.

Mr. Kafti provided an example from last year, where a vehicle was found to contain 10 to 15 items, including air conditioners and other electrical appliances. The Deputy Ministry official emphasized that the Cyprus-Greece sea passenger connection is a service of general economic interest, subsidized by the Republic of Cyprus, solely for the transportation of passengers and their accompanying vehicles. Any transportation related to commercial activities is not permitted.

Regarding the prohibition imposed by the contractor on carrying food and beverages on board, as well as the distribution of the corresponding form containing the restrictions prior to boarding, Mr. Kapsis stated that the Ministry of State had not been informed about this matter and would initiate an investigation.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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