Day Four: Ports and Shipping

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Today was a day full of learning about ships! We started the morning with a visit to the Port of Limassol, the largest port in Cyprus. The land of the port itself is owned by the Cyprus Port Authority and it recently went through commercialization after priorly being government owned. We walked through the beautiful facilities, seeing the terminals that are used when passengers are going through the port from cruise ships and such. We heard from Dubai Ports World first, the company that manages the general cargo and the passengers that come into the port. Later, we met with members of the other company that is located in the port, Eurogate, which is in charge of managing the container cargo that comes in and out of the port. We also heard from P&O, the company that provides port services, such as helping ships berth with tugboats and pilots, to both companies. Later in the afternoon, we had the incredible opportunity to meet with the board of directors of the Cyprus Port Authority and understand their control over one of the most important industries in the country.
I have never learned about ports before so this was a very new and unique experience. It was a little confusing to wrap my head around at first how all the different companies worked together and what each role was. At first, I didn’t fully understand why separate companies were handling each section of the port rather than just having one company handle the entire port. It was likely that the government felt that having separate specialized companies would promote healthy competition that would increase revenues and would also make it easier for the companies to specialize and strengthen their areas of expertise. This was an interesting decision to make that I feel was influenced by the fact that Cyprus is a small island with a smaller industry than most surrounding countries.
The ports of Cyprus are extremely important for the country as they are responsible for one of the biggest industries on the island. This was exemplified by the fact that the Limassol Port is on the priority list, among hospitals, for energy in the case of an energy shortage or emergency. Shipping on the island focuses more on imports than exports. Given the small size of the island, it doesn’t have much to produce and export but it does require a lot of imports. This often leads to having to export empty containers, which is unfortunate from a financial standpoint but makes the most sense for the island. This is in great contrast to the U.S. where we are a major producer and therefore have lots of exports. It was amazing seeing all the different equipment that was used for moving the containers and managing the port. We also talked a bit about the potential automatization of that machinery which would be cool. However, this also seems like it would be harmful to the job market for the island because many people are employed at the ports.
The ports also oversee some “layovers” and work with cruise ships to welcome the passengers into Limassol. This was an interesting variety and quite different from the actual movement of goods in and out of the ships. I liked the analogy of the port serving as a parking lot but for ships. I remember being at the Port Canaveral in Florida to board a cruise ship and it was quite different from this port. It was much larger, much busier, and seemed to have cruise ships as the primary traffic through the port. Nevertheless, the buildings and facilities at the Cyprus port seem to be much nicer in my opinion. Overall, I loved seeing and learning about the ports because it was integral to the economy of Cyprus.

The cranes unloading containers from MSC Sierra
Containers stacked and stored by Eurogate

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