Istanbul to host 64 cruise ships this year
Burak Coşan – ISTANBUL
A total of 64 cruise ships will visit Istanbul this year, representatives of tour operators have said, expecting a lucrative business both for local shops and themselves.
A cruise ship passenger spends $300 during a visit to a city on average, meaning a cruise ship carrying 4,000 passengers contributes some 700,000 euros to the local economy daily, according to Özgü Alnıtemiz, the director of Celestyal Cruises and Karavan Cruises in Turkey.
“It’s difficult to go around in Istanbul on your own. That is a fact in favor of ship operators,” he said.
MSC Cruises Turkey Managing Director Necla Tuncel said that Istanbul was among the top three destinations demanded by cruise ship passengers in a survey conducted last year.
“Tourists coming to Istanbul do want to get to the Çamlıca Hill, have lunch at the Çırağan Palace and participate in a Bosphorus boat tour,” she said, adding that guided tours are necessary for such events.
Istanbul as a destination is very rewarding for cruise operators too, according to Alper Taşkıranlar, managing director of Royal Caribbean Turkey.
“A cruise operator can make a turnover of 4 million euros with a tour of 1,000 euros per person,” he said.
Extra sightseeing tours also add to the turnover up to 480,000 euros, he told daily Hürriyet.
“While five or six extra tours are generally organized in Barcelona or Marseille, the figure can hit 20 in Istanbul. Some 45 percent of the passengers of a cruise ship en route to Barcelona participate in the extra tours, but 80 percent of Istanbul passengers do so,” said Taşkıranlar.
Princess Cruise Turkey managing director Tolgar Bıyıklı agreed with Taşkıranlar.
“Cruise ships have not arrived in Istanbul due to security reasons and port problems. They will start coming back in 2020. Cruise ship operators earn good money with these tours as well as Istanbul shops. There are many places to visit in Istanbul. Cruise ships take 150 euros per person for sightseeing tours. So, if a ship stays at the port overnight, they earn more money, because passengers are very curious about night life in Istanbul.”
Nearly 670,000 tourists had arrived in Istanbul via 381 cruise ships in 2013. The number of visiting cruise ships decreased dramatically to 56 in 2016 and five in 2017 because of terror attacks. The figure dropped to zero in 2018 after Istanbul’s sole cruise port was closed.
Istanbul’s newly constructed cruise port, Galataport, hosted 7,513 passengers between January and November in 2019.
In the same period, 328 ships brought 283,774 passengers to Turkey’s cruise ports.