Russia to hold cruise ship tours to Türkiye

Russia to hold cruise ship tours to Türkiye

Nerdun Hacıoğlu - MOSCOW
Russia to hold cruise ship tours to Türkiye

As sanctions imposed on Moscow amid the war in Ukraine hits its aviation sector, Russia is now preparing to launch cruise ship tours to Türkiye this month.

The Astoria Grande cruise ship will hold tours from the Russian city of Sochi in the Black Sea to Istanbul starting mid-July.

Cruise tours between the Russian resort city and Türkiye’s megacity will begin on July 16, according to Yuriy Vladimirov, general manager of the Sochi port.

Astoria Grande, which has the capacity to accommodate up to 1,400 passengers, will first stop at the Turkish cities of Sinop and Trabzon on the Black Sea coast, before docking at Istanbul for a couple of days. During its two-week long tour, the cruise ship will then be headed for the popular resort town of Çeşme on the Aegean coast and return to Sochi.

Astoria Grande will provide 16 such services until October.

The cruise ship Astoria Grande was previously named “AIDAcara” and operated in the Baltic Sea, flying the German flag. Russian company Akvilon bought the cruise liner to launch its Türkiye service.

A Turkish tourism company, Miray Cruises, will provide the services at the Turkish ports Astoria Grande will visit.

From January to May, 856,000 Russians visited Türkiye, comprising 7.5 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals, according to the latest data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

In the same period of last year and in 2020, the country welcomed 570,000 and 318,000 holidaymakers respectively from Russia.

In the first five months of this year, Russians were the third largest group of foreign visitors, after Germans and Bulgarians.

In May, more than 360,000 Russians vacationed in Türkiye, up from only 19,000 a year ago and 964 in May 2020.

Cruise ship traffic gaining pace in Türkiye

In the first six months of 2022, 317 cruise ships visited Türkiye’s ports with the total number of cruise passengers reaching 206,000.

In June alone, the country’s ports welcomed 122 cruise vessels docked at the ports with nearly 91,000 travelers onboard.

The resort town of Kuşadası in the western province of Muğla was the most popular destination among cruise ships. From January to June, 162 liners visited the town, bringing nearly 140,000 visitors.

Çeşme, which Astoria Grande will stop at, saw 13 cruise ships with some 4,000 passengers dock at its port over the same period. Some 56 cruise ships with 40,000 travelers visited Istanbul in the first half of the year.

People from the industry recently said that 1,052 cruise ships are expected to visit Türkiye’s ports this year, bringing around 1.5 million visitors.

They forecast that Istanbul and Çeşme will host a total of 200 and 77 cruise ships this year, respectively.