July 22, 2011
The drivers are fighting deregulation of their industry, which has been mandated by the IMF and EU as part of the 110 billion euro bailout that stopped the country from declaring bankruptcy in May 2010.
Though passengers have faced minor inconveniences, cruise lines have reported no changes to itineraries or shore excursions at this time. (7 a.m. EDT, 18 July) -- Cruise ships were forced to abandon calls at Piraeus, the port for Athens, Monday, July 18, and again on Tuesday as striking taxi drivers blockaded the port, preventing passengers from getting to their sightseeing coaches. Four ships were due in Piraeus yesterday: Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, Seabourn Odyssey, Ruby Princess and Pullmantur's Zenith. Two more, MSC Armonia and Celebrity Solstice, were due in port today. Royal Caribbean, in anticipation of the two-day strike, had arranged shuttle transport to the Athens Metro for Voyager of the Seas' guests who wanted to go sightseeing independently. But a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean in the UK told us, “When the ship arrived, the taxi drivers were blocking the entrance/exit to the port. Because of this, guests could not get off the ship and so had a day at sea.” Seabourn Odyssey did, however, manage to disembark and embark passengers in Athens. A spokesman for the line said, “Seabourn Odyssey performed a scheduled disembarkation/embarkation operation today in Athens and Piraeus. Extra transportation and airport staffing were arranged and all guests were accommodated satisfactorily. Seabourn Odyssey departed Piraeus with all guests on board and the itinerary is unaffected.” Today, Celebrity Cruises has cancelled the proposed call of Celebrity Solstice and the ship will spend the day in Crete instead. We're still waiting to hear from MSC Cruises whether it has cancelled MSC Armonia's visit to Piraeus. The yellow cab drivers are protesting against deregulation of their industry as part of the economic reforms demanded by Greece's international creditors. From the cruise lines' point of view, this is the worst possible time for industrial action in Greece, as it's the height of the cruise season, with three or more ships calling at Piraeus every day. The strike is, however, due to end at 5 a.m. tomorrow, in time for the arrival of Regent's Seven Seas Mariner and two more Royal Caribbean vessels, Splendour of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas. --by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor