State-of-the-art Istanbul port bets on 450 cruise ships in 2 years
Dubbed much more than a cruise port, a modern hub in Istanbul has seen one big ship after another arrive this year as it enjoys its first summer season while anticipating an even better one in 2023.
Featuring the world’s first underground terminal, the state-of-the-art Galata Port has welcomed 30 cruise ships so far in 2022, a figure that is expected to reach 200 by the end of the year, according to its leaders.
50 additional ships should anchor in 2023 at the port, which aims to welcome 25 million visitors per year, including 1.5 million cruise passengers.
Located in Istanbul’s Karaköy district, Galataport is poised to inject a blow into the arm of the crucial tourism industry which has been plagued by the coronavirus pandemic and is set to boost cruise travel from the Mediterranean Sea to the black Sea.
Opened in October 2021 – a year later than planned due to the pandemic – the port is home to a shopping center, a hotel, cultural venues and many famous restaurant chains.
The cruise ship gangways are directly connected to the futuristic underground customs terminal covering an area of 29,000 square meters (312,000 square feet).
Galataport Istanbul board member and general manager Erdem Tavas said three ships can dock at the same time at the port, which has a capacity of 15,000 passengers per day and has a giant parking lot for 2,400. cars.
“You can think of the port with a capacity of 15,000 passengers as an airport serving 45 Boeing planes at the same time,” Tavas told Turkish daily Sabah.
“We actually built an underground airport.”
Galataport representatives initially had difficulty explaining the concept of an underground port, Tavas says.
“We went to many countries around the world and talked about it. They made me talk to them about it for 2.5 hours. Then they kept to their senses,” he added.
Tavas suggests that cruise terminals in cities around the world will turn into concepts that will resemble how Galataport is set up.
“That goes for Venice, Croatia. As it is a bonded area, it is an area that no one has been able to visit since the 19th century. We wanted to bring this region closer to the people. We have implemented such an innovative solution,” he noted.
The project also opened up a 1.2 kilometer (three quarter mile) coastline that had been closed to public use for 200 years. The port was built on a total area of 400,000 square meters, of which 250,000 square meters are underground.
Tavas says construction was completed in 24 months, adding that 85% of the leasable area has been let, up from 30% in October.
Highlighting the interest, he said some 70,000 to 90,000 visitors arrive at the port every day.
Figen Ayan, the chief port officer of Galataport, says US cruise liners are coming in at a particularly high capacity.
Pointing out that some 170 ships will arrive by the end of the year, Ayan said “50% of these ships will use Istanbul as their main port.”
“The Mystique cruise ship from the Ritz-Carlton, one of the world’s leading hotel chains, arrives in Turkey for the first time in October.”