Cruise itineraries between Greece and Turkey have been re-established, in a major boon for Istanbul and its new Galataport cruise terminal.
The Greek government this month removed anti-COVID-19 restrictions imposed on cruise ships calling in Greece after visiting Galataport Istanbul and Kusadasi.
The move comes as Istanbul prepares to launch its major new cruise ports, Galataport, a lifestyle, tourism and retail development on the Bosporus.
MedCruise, the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports, which promotes the cruise industry and unites the ports of the Mediterranean to boost Med cruise tourism, welcomed the move.
“Following consistent communication of the state at Turkish ports, the Greek authorities appreciated that both Galataport Istanbul and Kusadasi have established and maintained a public health emergency contingency plan based on the European, high standards and have all capacities to provide appropriate public health emergency response,” the organization said.
The statement added that MedCruise had worked intensively to make this development happen. “MedCruise President Mr. Aris Batsoulis has met and briefed the authorities and national administrations in Greece and Turkey in detail,” it said.
MedCruise also organised technical site visits of the EU Healthy Gateways joint action team in the ports of Istanbul and Kusadasi in order to clarify the applied process and protocols, and take all the steps to secure safe cruising.
The site visit was led by MedCruise President and Secretary General.
“In this process, we had the strong support of CLIA Europe, cruise lines, as well as the scientific support of the European Union’s Healthy Gateways joint action team, headed by Prof. Christos Hadjichristodoulou,” MedCruise said in a statement.
The opening of Greece to cruise ships that have previously called in Turkey is a major development for Istanbul. Of the 88 cruises due to depart Galataport in 2022, 44 of them feature Piraeus (Athens) as the final port of call.
There are a further 320 cruise itineraries featuring Istanbul as a port of call, and 230 of them include ports of call in Greece. None of these would be possible for the cruise lines to operate without the easing of restrictions by Greek authorities.
Istanbul’s Galataport is part of a US $1.7 billion development that seeks to become a “social, cultural and lifestyle destination” according to a press release.
Galataport is located in Istanbul’s Karakoy district, on nearly a mile of coastline on the Bosphorus and is intended to welcome 25 million visitors per year – including 7 million tourists and 1.5 million cruise passengers and crew.