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Cruise ships trigger long queues

- by Jeremy Guest

Cruise ships trigger long queues.

The soaring popularity of Greek museums and historical sites has triggered a problem with queues, especially when cruise ships dock nearby. Thousands of passengers can embark from cruise ships docked in Greek Island ports and head straight for the top historical sites. It can result in huge queues at the most popular Greek attractions.

And it causes dismay among both holiday cruise ship passengers and unfortunate island tourists who turn up at the same time.

Now officials from the Greek Culture Ministry have held talks with the Union of Cruise Ships Owners on how to deal with the congestion at popular Greek museums and attractions due to large volumes of tourist flows this summer.

The meeting followed reports of major delays and extremely long queues at some of the country's busiest tourist attractions, especially the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

There has been a large rise in the number of cruise ships arriving at resorts in the Greek islands this year. Up to July this year the main Athens' port of Piraeus has seen a 12% rise in cruise ship passengers.

There are similar rises at other ports in the Greek Island, with a jump of 62% for Crete, 30% on Santorini, 23% for Corfu and 20% in Kefalonia.

At the same time there has been a large rise in numbers visiting Greek museums and archaeological sites. Latest figures show visitor numbers at museums and ancient monuments up more than 30% on 2012.

Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said: "The arrivals of cruise ships are more than expected and this creates problems that we are ready to work out."

Some museum officials blame the lack of coordination at the entrances of archaeological sites and museums.

The Acropolis Museum in Athens tops the table in visitor numbers so far this year with 289,006 tourists followed by the National Archaeological Museum with 122,497 visits.

Other museums attracting big crowds were the Archaeological Museum of Olympia up 88% on last year at the Delphi Archaeological Museum which has seen a 39% rise in visitors this year.