BY SELENAY YAGCI
Cruise tourism is getting ready to leave the effects of the pandemic behind with the spread of vaccination all over the world. This year, 21 cruise ships docked at Turkish ports in the first 8 months, and 17 thousand passengers arrived. Although there is a 92.75 percent decrease compared to the same period of pre-pandemic 2019, the industry is hopeful. With the voyages to accelerate in 2022, sector representatives are already expecting more than 600 ships to dock at Turkish ports for the next year.
Chamber of Shipping for Istanbul, Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions (IMEAK) Izmir Branch Chairman Yusuf Ozturk stated that this season cruise operators made voyages between very few ports with a limited number of passengers, which we can call test drives, within the scope of health protocols. “Voyages in the Mediterranean will increase in circles with the vaccination, according to the foresight of the Mediterranean Cruise Ports Association (Medcruise), of which we are a member. Our ports will get their share from this as well,” he said.
Global Ports Holding Eastern Mediterranean Regional Director and Ege Ports Kusadasi General Manager Aziz Gungor stated that they have received 650 ship reservations for 2022. Expecting to break the all-time record, there are 130 ship reservations for Kusadasi by the end of the year, Gungor said. “However, these seem a little difficult to achieve. 650 ships for 2022 corresponds to approximately 250,000 tourists. Currently, there are 65 cruise companies operating in the world and 200 ships are expected to enter service by the end of September. That’s about 30% of the world’s capacity. We are still at the beginning stage,” he noted.
Galataport will trigger ports of call
Reminding that the first ship of the season docked at Ege Ports Kusadasi in the past days, “This Turkish-owned ship named Blue Shapphire will make 11 more voyages. There is a rule in the industry that if a ship comes to a port, others will follow,” Ozturk said. The entry of Galataport into service will trigger other ports of call, added. Stating that they continue with the promotions, Ozturk will attend the Miami Cruise Fair in the USA between September 27-30, representing the chamber. The Ministry of Culture will open a booth at the fair and work will be carried out there through the Turkish Tourism Promotion and Development Agency.
Celestyal Cruises Turkey Director Ozgu Alnitemiz stated that a new cruise ship starts sailing every day, and companies are slowly launching their ships. They started the voyage in June this year and there were Turkish ports on their routes as usual. “However,” he said, “Cruise ships like us and could not call at Turkish ports because of the increase in the number of cases and the necessity of staying in quarantine for passengers arriving by ship from Greece due to the fact that Turkey is in the red zone in terms of EU countries.”