Before the armies of Alexander the Great made their famous thrusts east toward lands unconquered, their ships called into port of Cyprus to be readied and refitted. The same strategic location that made Cyprus a crucial point for Alexander's expanding empire makes the island a desirable centre today for a calmer kind of maritime activity.

Shipping remains today a very strong part of the Cypriot economy. This 'blue economy' provides a great deal of employment and contributes significantly to the island's GDP. It is an industry that is constantly growing and expanding and so it's perhaps no surprise that there are many high-quality marina and port facilities around the island.

However, as a result of the illegal Turkish invasion and military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus in 1974, all ports and marinas in the occupied part of the Republic have been declared by the Government of Cyprus, as a prohibited ports of entry and exit, and no visitor should enter or leave the Republic through these ports and marinas. The above restrictions were taken to uphold and maintain the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over its ports and harbours and due to the fact that safety of navigation could no longer be guaranteed in the areas illegally occupied by the Turkish Army since 1974.

In addition, according to the Cyprus Ports Authority Law of 1973 (Law No. 38/1973), as amended, the master and / or the owner of a ship which arrives and departs from a port closed for such ship or enters or stays therein in contravention of an Order, shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding €17,086 or to both such imprisonment and fine, and in the case of a ship registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships, the Court dealing with the case has the power to order her deletion from the Register of Cyprus Ships.

The Cyprus Ports Authority

The Cyprus Ports Authority is a public sector entity established in 1973 on the basis of the 1973 Ports Authority Law and is under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works of the Republic of Cyprus. It is the competent entity to administer, operate and develop the ports, as well as to facilitate international shipping aids and issue licences for pilotage. All ports, harbours and lighthouses of the Republic are under the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Ports Authority with exception to the new Limassol Port (which is now operated by three concessionaires). Its jurisdiction extends up to 12 nautical miles from the port's facilities.

The Marinas in Cyprus

Following the redevelopment of the old port of Limassol that is now available for pleasure boats and the success of Limassol Marina, which opened in 2014, work has been underway to develop a number of new marina projects to bolster Cyprus's role as a yachting location in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Limassol Marina, a milestone project for Cyprus, has already established itself as one of the most attractive and unique projects across Europe. Boasting a capacity of 650 berths, able to accommodate yachts between 8 and 115 metres, Limassol Marina is the first superyacht marina in Cyprus.

New Marinas

Two additional marinas, Paralimni and Ayia Napa are under construction. The two marinas will be a point of reference and a pole of attraction in the region, since they will contribute to the development of nautical tourism and, in general, the enrichment of the tourist product in the free city of Famagusta.  Both marinas will be official ports of entry into the Republic of Cyprus, providing customs and immigration clearance 24 hours a day.

  • Ayia Napa Marina

The new marina of Ayia Napa, is under construction and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. It is an ambitious project being implemented in Cyprus and it is expected that it will attract investors, bringing further economic growth to the island. The marina will host approximately 600 yachts in wet and dry storage. Wet slips can accommodate yachts up to 85 meters in length, while a dry stack storage facility is available for boats up to 10 meters in length.

The unique aspect of the marina is the finger style berthing for yachts of 30 meters or less while floating docks guarantee comfortable access in all conditions. The marina basin has depths of up to 6.5 meters to accommodate the deep drafts of sailing boats and super yachts.

According to the Decree on Customs Ports of 2021 (P.I. 31/2021), the Ayia Napa Marina is defined as a "Port of Limited Use", in which the limited use concerns the boarding and disembarking of cruise ship and pleasure craft passengers with their accompanied luggage. In the above definition, it is also included the repair of yachts, as well as, the loading of goods for export for special reasons, with the prior approval of the Director of the Customs Department of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Ayia Napa maritime port area is also designated as a port of limited use for the boarding and disembarking of crews and passengers of cruise ships and mega yachts (with their accompanied luggage) which, due to their size, cannot dock Ayia Napa Marina, as well as,  for the purposes of oil and supply of cruise ships.

This development upgrades the marina of Ayia Napa, as well as it will strengthen the effort to increase the tourist flow in the area, creating a completely new category of tourists that did not exist in the past in the free province of Famagusta, placing Ayia Napa on the map for cruise tourism.

  • Paralimni Marina

The project for the construction of the marina of Paralimni commenced in March this year. The Marina is situated in Pernera area, where the Agia Triada fishing shelter is currently located and its value will amount around to 100 million euros, including 300 berths and building sites.

The Paralimni marina is the second major maritime tourism project in the region of the free city of Famagusta after the marina of Ayia Napa and the third in a row maritime project in Cyprus concerning the construction and development of marinas (after the Ayia Napa and Larnaca marinas). The construction works of Paralimni marina are expected to last 4 years, while the marine works are expected to be completed in 34 months from their start.

The berths will have all the necessary support services such as electricity and water supply, waste disposal, fuel facilities for crew and yacht owners, yacht club, boat ramp/launch ramp, special equipment for boats.

Establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism

In January 2019, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism was established, replacing the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.  The newly established Deputy Ministry of Tourism is responsible, amongst others, for the implementation of the Regulation of Marinas Laws of 1977 to 2002 and the Administration of Leisure Boats Docking Space Laws of 2007 to 2013.  This means that the laws regulating the marinas in Cyprus and the docking spaces are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism.  In addition, it is worth underlying that the marina of Larnaca is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism.

The development of Larnaca's Port and Marina

Apart from the new projects of the marinas of Paralimni and Ayia Napa, it is worth mentioning that, in February 2020, the government of Cyprus signed an agreement with an Israeli consortium for the development of the Larnaca Port and Larnaca Marina with an overall value of EUR1 billion, which will be the largest investment in Cyprus to date, according to the International Boat Industry.  The redevelopment and operation of the historic Larnaca Port and Marina, will be the island's largest infrastructure project of its kind. The signing of the concession agreement was  completed in December 2020 and the "transition period" has been activated in January 2021, which will last up to 12 months.

Construction work on the project is expected to start after the transition period - i.e. at the beginning of 2022 - and is to be completed in four phases by 2037. The first phase will last five years and, among other things, aims to complete the new infrastructure works, so that citizens can use and enjoy the new spaces created.

The works include the expansion and reconstruction of the existing marina, so that it can accommodate 650 boats from 5 to 150 metres long and offer facilities such as boat repair and services. The upgraded marina will also have the possibility to accommodate ''mega yachts'' of up to 150 metres and approach a different clientele, which today seems reduced. The works also include the construction of the Marina Yacht Club.

In addition, the upgraded Larnaca Port will be able to accommodate ships of up to 450 metres in length, such as luxury cruise ships, energy exploration vessels, military and other merchant ships. It is interesting to say that the port of Larnaca is the second, in magnitude, port of the Republic and until 1973 it was operating as a roadstead with inadequate port facilities. The port is under the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Ports Authority.

Limassol Port

Except for the above, following the completion of the privatisation process in February 2017, the Limassol Port's operations are now provided by three private concessionaires; the P&O Maritime (G.A.P. Vassilopoulos Group in partnership with P&O Maritime), which handles the marine services of the Limassol port for the next 15 years, the DP World Limassol Ltd, which provides services to vessels of general cargo, break-bulk, Ro-Ro, Oil & Gas sector, cruise and passenger vessels within the brand-new passenger terminal, for the next 25 years and the Eurogate Container Terminal Limassol, which deals with the containerized cargo.  Before the privatisation, the Port of Limassol was under the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Ports Authority, however the Cyprus Ports Authority still has jurisdiction only in a specific part of the port of Limassol (within the pier of the port).

The Limassol Port is the largest port facility and the main cruise port of the island. It is considered as one of the largest and busiest ports in the Mediterranean, with modern facilities. It can accommodate vessels of any length overall. Ferries connect Limassol port with Greece, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon etc.

On 27 September 1974, the port of Limassol became the official port of registry of the Republic of Cyprus, as a result of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus. Prior to this, the port of Famagusta, currently under Turkish occupation, was the official port of registry and the main port of the Republic.

Vassilikos Port and Terminal

Last but not least, current developments have been seen in the small port at Vassilikos, on the south coast approximately midway between Limassol and Larnaca, near to the main oil terminal of the island. It is of great importance that the Vasilikos harbour belongs to the Cyprus Ports Authority which leased it to Vassiliko Cement Works. The Lease Agreement covers a period of 50 years, from 1.1.1984 to 31.12.2033 and concerns all kinds of cargo (imports-exports) for the needs of the Cement Works as well as private cargo of other companies who were granted a license by the Ports Authority.

There are plans that the Port of Vassilikos will be constructed as a new industrial port that will operate as an oil and gas service centre, and it is expected to be ready by 2023. Its strategic location makes Vassilikos the first terminal of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean, connecting Europe and the Black Sea with the Middle East and Asia.

Moreover, the Cypriot company VTT Vasiliko (VTTV), a subsidiary of Dutch energy trader VTTI, is planning to expand its storage terminal at Vasilikos in Cyprus with two projects costing €150 million, according to reports. At the site there is a project underway to build a small, private LNG terminal, costing €15-20 million, which will serve the local market and export to nearby markets, such as Lebanon, while the second, larger project, costing €120-130 million, will increase the storage capacity to store the Euro-spec output of a major regional refiner to supply European markets.

Port Security 

Both Limassol and Larnaca ports are complied with the EU directives and the Schengen Treaty, as well as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code 2004 (the ISPS Code). The Cypriot ports are among the first 33 ports worldwide that managed to be certified in accordance with the ISPS Code, which relates to the security of port areas and services.

The development of the cruise Industry in Cyprus

Cyprus is one of the few countries in the world that have already succeeded their inclusion in important cruise programmes for 2021. More specifically, for the first time, Royal Caribbean International will begin sailing roundtrip from Haifa, Israel starting in May 2021. Voyages on the line's new Odyssey of the Seas will range from three to seven nights and visit the Greek Isles and Limassol, Cyprus.

More precisely, Royal Caribbean has included Cyprus in its cruise schedule for June, July and August 2021, using for this route its most modern and advanced ship, which is expected to arrive in Cyprus about 15 times, between June and August 2021, with the prospect of additional stations in the coming months. In conjunction with Israel's health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean will be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Israel and Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date. Cyprus supports the cruise industry and is pleased to help the industry on its road to recovery, hosting super cruise liner with vaccinated Israelis. The passengers will be all Israelis, who will have already been vaccinated. Before boarding, travellers will present two negative tests while, during the cruise, they will be subject to additional checks.

It is also of paramount importance that Royal Caribbean will call Limassol its homeport for the first time ever. More precisely, Royal Caribbean International will sail Cyprus-Greece cruises in summer 2021 on Jewel of the Seas from a new homeport for the line, Limassol. The voyages of the fully vaccinated cruises will depart from Limassol, Cyprus and will start on 10 July 2021, with calls at Piraeus and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

At this time the cruises will be available to adult guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results. Crew will be vaccinated, too.  Details on the health and safety measures to be implemented will be announced at a later date. The protocols to come will continue to be led by science and expert guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel, Royal Caribbean Group's Head of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer and local government and health authorities. In addition, traveller's must meet the travel requirements of their home country and Cyprus.

In addition, the Cyprus-Greece ferry link is still on the top priority of the SDM and the Cypriot government hopes that the European Commission will allow better terms that will attract an investor after no bidders showed an interest in the original contract. Thus, during the following months, the SDM is going to announce a new tender, so that the ferry connection could start in 2022. The route will connect Limassol or Larnaca port with the port of Piraeus with the possibility of an intermediate stop in a Greek island port on the way to Piraeus and vice versa.

Meanwhile, seven cruise ships of the Carnival Group remain moored off the anchorage at Moni in Limassol as part of the "hot lay up" in less-costly Cyprus waters, boosting the Cypriot economy. In particular, a leading cruise ship operators (Carnival cruise line and their sister companies) have chosen to anchor seven of the world's most impressive cruise ships (the Island Princess, Enchanted Princess, Regal Princess and Sky Princess, the Seabourn Sojourn, Seabourn Ovation and Seabourn Encore) off Limassol (in the Limassol Moni anchorage) in a significant financial boost to the Cypriot economy, at a time when it is under pressure because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More specifically, the cruise ships have been anchored (with no passengers on board) off Limassol since May 2020, after journeys were cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns, as they could not conduct their trans-Atlantic routes. Only crew are on board the ships, which are all modern and have all the comforts and luxuries, which they can afford to their crew.

The majority of modern cruise ships feature among the most advanced and environmentally friendly vessels ever constructed. The design of these high-technology, multi-million dollar vessels and the systems used in their operation are specifically built to meet the most stringent of environmental legislation and requirements and allow the vessels to operate in some of the most environmentally protected waters on our planet, such as Alaska and the Arctic.

It is worth mentioning that each vessel contributes around 20,000 euros per month. More precisely, the vessels pay fees for anchorage, they order goods and services from local suppliers to support the crews onboard (there are no passengers) and they utilise local companies to provide technical support and assistance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.