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First cruise ship in four years visits Istanbul port

Istanbul, Turkey (PortSEurope) June 7, 2019 – Istanbul received the first cruise ship in four years at the city’s Sarayburnu Port this week. The vessel was the Seven Seas Voyager of Regent Seven Seas Cruises group, headquartered in Miami, Florida.

Cruise tourism in Turkey has stalled in the last four years due to the unstable situation in Turkey and the region, and cruise companies cannot guarantee the safety of their passengers. A revival of the cruise business would be welcome by host ports looking for new revenue sources.

Some 24 cruise ships were expected to arrive in Istanbul by October and the number is expected to reach 80 in 2020.

A new cruise port is in the plans at Istanbul’s Yenikapı district and the tender bidding is likely to take place by the end of this year.

In addition, Istanbul’s mega-port project Galataport, which is currently under construction, is expected to revive the city’s cruise tourism sector.

Galataport Istanbul Cruise Port plans to start receiving cruise ships in March 2020. The company promoted the cruise port’s attributes at the Seatrade Cruise Global 2019 event in Miami, April 8-11, 2019.

The company says it has over 50 bookings for the 2020-2021 season from companies including Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Holland America Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Le Ponant and Silversea Cruises.

Galataport is part of the Doğuş Group companies which in 2016 signed a financing agreement jointly with Bilgili Holding to invest TL4.5 billion in the port. The Galataport project will expected to contribute around TL 5 billion to the tourism economy.

Due to the new destinations in global cruise tourism and regional troubles in the eastern Mediterranean, the Asian and Australian markets have come to the fore, while the Mediterranean market has dramatically shrunk. The number of passengers coming to Turkish ports dropped to 306,000 in 2017 from 2,240,000 in 2013.

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