‘Floating Venice’ awaits voyagers at Galataport
The 135,000-ton and 323-meter-long ship with a maximum passenger capacity of 5,260 had departed from the Italian city of Naples to Istanbul’s newly built cruise port to take voyagers onboard.
Dubbed as “The Floating Venice,” she will depart from Istanbul for the Aegean islands and ports in Egypt and Israel on May 3.
“We will bring our guests from 5 continents of the world to Istanbul. They will visit not only Turkey but also other Mediterranean countries,” said Çetin Ay, the chair of Ay Cruise, which partners with the ship’s owner Costa Cruises.
“Hopefully, we will revive cruise tourism with the support of the government. Initially, we’re targeting 1 million passengers via cruise lines,” he said.
By comparison, Spain hosts nearly 6.5 million cruise line passengers in a normal year.
Galataport is a cruise ship port and mixed-use property unit with 1,200 meters of city-center shoreline. The site, which cost $1.8 billion, was opened in April 2021, after a year’s postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is very important for the Turkish economy,” he added, noting that no cruise ship has chosen a Turkish port its main departure point until now.
“We will purchase 3,000 items from Turkey, such as towels, water, food and coke,” said Ay.
As cruise ship tourism gains momentum in Turkey, large ships could be built at Turkish shipyards and allowing many more cruise lines to depart from Turkish ports, he added.
Costa Venezia serves voyagers with 13 restaurants, seven bars, four pools and hot tubs, an aqua park with three waterslides and an adventure park.
Meanwhile, the southwestern resort town of Bodrum welcomed its second cruise ship of this year on April 27.
Seabourn Encore had 237 British and U.S. passengers and 443 crew members. Some of the passengers toured around the historical castle and the shopping streets of Bodrum, while others flocked to the beach to swim.
The ship set sail from Bodrum to the Greek island of Rhodes at midnight.
Bodrum already hosted 526 tourists brought by the cruise ship Artania last week.
Kuşadası, another Aegean resort town, will again be the champion of cruise tourism in Turkey.
Around 500 cruise ships carrying more than 750,000 passengers are expected to visit the town this year, the Kuşadası Chamber of Commerce head Serdar Akdoğan said yesterday.
He underlined that Kuşadası offers not only sea and sun, but also historical and natural beauties as well as various activities and a special cuisine.