Eastern Mediterranean Cruising Update – regarding the migrant crisis

The Cruising Association has issued an Eastern Mediterranean overview and urges sailors not to be deterred from these waters by increasing terrorist threats and the ongoing migrant crisis.

Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Photo by SY Big Sky

This report by PBO (www.pbo.co.uk)

Travelling to eastern Mediterranean countries has been less appealing in recent years due to increasing terrorist threats and the ongoing migrant crisis.

However, that doesn’t mean that these areas should be avoided. The Cruising Association has created details on what to expect when sailing in the affected countries and the areas that surround them. The information was obtained from a report issued by a security company advising commercial shipping in various parts of the world.

Migrants crossing in the Mediterranean

Migrants crossing the Aegean Sea are one of the biggest concerns, however, since the arrival of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), a fleet of vessels from allied nations, there has been a decline of reported migrant crossings. Increased pressure from Turkey to stop migrants leaving Turkish shores will also hopefully see a decrease in numbers attempting the journey. However, with calmer summer conditions approaching, more trips may be attempted.

If leisure vessels spot migrant boats, it is important to have a plan to avoid interaction. Migrants have been known to sink their own boats to force a rescue mission.


The islands of Samos, Chios, Kos and Lesbos have been particularly overwhelmed by the migrant crisis. A large percentage of migrants arrive from Turkey, which lies to the east. The seven-strong SNMG2 team will hopefully be able to control the situation.


The deal to prevent migrants leaving Turkey came into force in March, and within two days it was reported that no migrants had reached Greek shores for the first time since the start of the crisis.

There have been reports of thefts from yachts, often when anchored and in the evening while the crew are ashore. Boats are advised not to transit the Black Sea at night due to the number of large trawlers operating in the area.

Eastern Adriatic Coast

The closure of the Macedonian border in March has seen tighter borders within the Balkan State. This means that there will be greater scrutiny on leisure vessels in the area. Italian authorities are cooperating with the Albanian government to prevent a new migrant route, so expect especially tight security. Additionally, it is widely known that criminal gangs regularly use ports such as Durres and Saranda to conduct drug operations and mariners should be aware.


More than 410,000 migrants passed through Croatia in 2015, although this is mainly land-based. Drug smugglers use the Croatian ports of Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik to enter Western Europe, as is the case in the Slovenian port of Koper. However, tourism has been largely unaffected and Croatia has enjoyed record numbers of visits throughout 2015. As Croatia attempts to join the Schengen Zone, tighter maritime restrictions and greater monitoring of AIS is being implemented.

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  1. May 13, 2016 at 6:31 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    We can confirm that there no refugees – in opposition to last year – to be seen. Avoiding Greece or Turkey ist unfair; it’s all safe here! And s a lot cheaper than i.e. Croatia.

  2. May 5, 2016 at 9:42 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    This comment posted by Con Sprenger of SY Big Sky on the Greece/Kastelorizo page May 4th, 2016:

    According to the Port Police, the flow of migrants has stopped completely since the agreement between Turkey and EU came into force.

    We did see numerous deflated dinghies and used life jackets laying around, but during the 2 days we were in port did not notice any migrants being brought in.