Turkey is back. In 2022 cruise ships are expected to return to Istanbul, Bodrum or Izmir. The Italian shipping company Costa Crociere carried out the first major service. On May 1, the Genoese send the “Costa Venezia”, one of their largest and most modern ships, to the Bosphorus. The brand new Galataport is the summer and winter home port of the 5200 berth ship.
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The war in Syria, the Kurdish conflict, Islamist terror and the draconian retaliatory coup against opposition members, the military and journalists wiped Turkey off cruise ship charts from 2016. In May 2022, the country will present itself again as before. Istanbul’s old town bustles with tourists, taxis honk in traffic and tour groups stroll through the gardens of Topkapi Palace.
European Cruise Ports
Mediterranean With 2.9 million, the cruise port of Barcelona has the most passengers, just ahead of Civitavecchia near Rome with 2.6 million. Palma de Mallorca (1.87 million), Marseille (1.85 million) and Naples with 1.5 million passengers followed in the other places. The figures are from 2019 and should serve as a benchmark after the 2022 pandemic.
Istanbul Until 2015, Istanbul was also in the middle of the ranking of European ports with around 700,000 passengers. When it comes to investments, however, the Turks are now in the lead. The new terminals in Barcelona, Hamburg and Southampton cost between 30 and 70 million euros. With a total investment of 1.5 billion euros, Galataport is the first port project in Europe.
From Istanbul there are a variety of cheap offers. The balcony cabin cruise on the “Costa Venezia” is available with flight, insurance and drinks package from around 1500 euros per person (www.costakreuzfahrt.de). You can also book before and after programs in cooperation with the Turkish organizer Bentour (www.bentour.de). About ten hotels are offered there, price: 500 to 1000 euros per person and per week. Facebook
Istanbul has used the six-year break to offer something for cruise vacationers in particular. The new Galataport now stands on the waterfront of Neustadt. A unique building in Europe. The old hall complex of the Turkish State Shipping Lines from the beginning of the last century was ripped out. Only the historic old post office remained.
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A Turkish construction consortium has built the world’s first underground cruise terminal for around 1.5 billion euros. It goes down almost three floors. A 50-space bus station, lanes reserved for trucks and more than 4,500 parking spaces. In addition, modern halls for passport and customs controls as well as spacious passenger check-in. Provisions and passenger baggage are transported from the catacombs via freight elevators to the edge of the quayside to the ship. Plus floor hatches for water and shore power.
“I’m very happy to be back here in Istanbul after seven years. It’s a first-class infrastructure,” enthuses captain Tihomir Muzic of the “Costa Venezia”. For his crew, the departure to Turkey also marks the restart after two years of pandemic.
The “Costa Venezia” was the first of two new ships for the Asian market in 2019. The new building in China was only used for one season before Corona stopped all voyages. There will be no cruises there at this time. “That’s why we’re driving here again,” says Muzic. In Turkey, the “Costa Venezia” is the largest cruise liner to call there this summer. Every weekend, the 323-meter-long ship will moor at the Karakoy pier. “It is important that with this route we also stay here for the night, just like in Bodrum. This is also an innovation,” says Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Crociere. The “Venezia” is only the beginning “We have more plans here. We think Turkey has great potential. A second ship is in the works,” says Zanetti.
A lot has changed for the people of Istanbul with the Galataport. For the first time in 200 years, the port complex of Karaköy at the exit of the Golden Horn is freely accessible. By moving the check-in underground, people can stroll along the quay or sit in cafes and restaurants.
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Galataport is the first cruise terminal in the world to dispense with the usual massive steel fences with barbed wire. Architects from the Istanbul Autoban office chose hydraulically retractable steel walls as the solution.
When the ship has cast off, the steel walls lower hydraulically and rest on the pier as a floor covering. Then they are part of the walk.
Galataport will quadruple Istanbul’s cruise capacity. Up to 15,000 passengers with three large ships can be accommodated there per day starting in the summer. In total, the port company expects around 1.5 million passengers per year. Before the pandemic and the crises, there were around 200 ships with around four million passengers per year in Istanbul.
Other major shipping companies have also signed with Costa. On April 24, Tui Cruises had its premiere with the “Mein Schiff Herz” in Galataport. The “Mein Schiff 5” is also to follow. Other shipping companies are MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, Azamara, Seabourn, Phoenix or NCL. The bar of 200 ship visits has already been set for 2022.