Turkey is back. In 2022, the cruise ships were to return to Istanbul, Bodrum or Izmir. The Italian shipping company Costa Crociere made the first major serve. On May 1, the Genoese sent “Costa Venezia”, one of their largest and most modern ships, to the Bosphorus. The brand new Galataport is the summer and winter home port for the 5200 bed ship.
The war in Syria, the Kurdish conflict, Islamist terror and the breath of draconian reprisals against members of the opposition, the military and journalists have made Turkey disappear from the cruise ships’ charts from 2016. In May 2022, the country presents itself again as before. Istanbul’s old town is teeming with tourists, taxis are honking in, and tour groups meander through the garden at Topkapi Palace.
Europe’s cruise ports
The Mediterranean With 2.9 million, Barcelona’s cruise port 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 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 investment, however, the Turks are now at the top. 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 leading port project in Europe.
Travel From Istanbul there are a number of cheap offers. The cruise in the balcony cabin of “Costa Venezia” is available including flights, insurance and drinks from around 1500 euros per person (www.costakreuzfahrt.de). You can also book before and after programs in collaboration with the Turkish organizer Bentour (www.bentour.de). There are about a dozen hotels on offer here, price: 500 to 1000 euros per person per week. FB
Istanbul used the six-year break to offer something for especially cruise travelers. The new Galataport now stands by the waterfront in Neustadt. A building that is unique in Europe. The old hall complex of the state-owned Turkish shipping lines from the beginning of the last century was torn away. Only the old historic post office remained.
A Turkish construction consortium built the world’s first underground cruise terminal for about 1.5 billion euros. It goes down almost three floors. A bus station with 50 seats, truck lanes and over 4500 parking spaces. In addition, modern rooms for passport and customs control as well as a spacious passenger check-in. Provisions and passenger luggage are transported from the catacombs via freight elevators up to the quayside to the ship. In addition, floor hatch for water and shore power.
“I am very happy to be back here in Istanbul after seven years. It is a first-class infrastructure,” said captain Tihomir Muzic of “Costa Venezia” enthusiastically. For his crew, the start in Turkey also marks the restart after two years of the pandemic.
“Costa Venezia” was the first of two new ships for the Asian market in 2019. The new building in China was in use for only one season before Corona stopped all trips. There will be no cruises there at the moment. “That’s why we’re driving here again,” Muzic says. In Turkey, the “Costa Venezia” is the largest cruise ship to have its base port there this summer. Every weekend, the 323-meter-long ship docks at the pier in Karakoy. “It is important that with this route we also spend the night here, just like in Bodrum. This is also an innovation, ”said Mario Zanetti, President of Costa Crociere. “Venice” is only the beginning. “We have several plans here. We believe that Turkey has great potential. Another ship is under preparation,” said Zanetti.
Much has changed for the people of Istanbul with the Galata Gate. For the first time in 200 years, the port complex in Karaköy at the exit from the Golden Horn is freely accessible. By moving check-in underground, people can stroll up to the pier or sit in cafes and restaurants.
Galataport is the first cruise terminal in the world to do without the usual solid steel fences with barbed wire. The architects from the Istanbul office Autoban chose hydraulically retractable steel walls as the solution.
When the ship has dropped off, the steel walls are hydraulically lowered and laid on the pier as a floor covering. Then they are part of the promenade.
Galataport will quadruple Istanbul’s cruise capacity. Up to 15,000 passengers with three large ships can be handled there per day from the summer. In total, the port company expects about 1.5 million passengers a year. Before the pandemic and the crises, there were about 200 ships with about four million passengers a year in Istanbul.
Other large shipping companies have also joined Costa. On April 24, Tui Cruises premiered “Mein Schiff Herz” at Galataport. “Mein Schiff 5” also follows. Other shipping companies are MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, Azamara, Seabourn, Phoenix or NCL. The mark of 200 ship visits is already set for 2022.