The anchor port of the Eastern Mediterranean will begin a 156 million euro expansion later this year to accommodate bigger vessels via two new berths. In time for the arrival of the Carnival Vista in 2016, traffic has stabilized at the Greek port and is trending upward.

"The Vista being here for turnarounds is very positive for us and the Eastern Mediterranean in general,” said Hatzakos Stavros, general manager for the port. “Other companies will follow.”

Traffic has stabilized in Piraeus, which plays a key role in just about any Eastern Mediterranean itinerary.

The port’s cruise terminals are a comfortable walking distance from the city of Piraeus and the Metro station. Athens’s market center and the famous Parthenon are easily accessible for passengers.

The port is also involved in an ambitious plan to attract winter traffic.

“We have already established a significant discount for vessels coming in the winter, more than 30 percent, on top of some other discounts (for winter calls),” Stavros said. “The weather conditions, even in the winter, are very good.”

Perhaps key to building Piraeus as a key port is an open-jaw deployment using Istanbul at the other end.

Hopefully predicting the future, Stavros said he thinks Istanbul should have its upgrade done within five years.

“That will help us a lot,” he noted, “along with stability in the neighboring countries it will be excellent. This is a unique area and the cruise companies will take advantage of this.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2015