Istanbul is seeing a resurgence of cruise tourism since the opening of its new Galataport cruise terminal, with Viking Sky the latest cruise line to call in the city.
Viking Sky called in Galataport for the first time this week, just two days after Viking revealed the name of her new sister ship as Viking Saturn.
Viking Sky arrived in Istanbul at the end of a 7-night cruise from Piraeus (Athens), departing two days later on a 14-night voyage to Civitavecchia (Rome).
She’ll spend the rest of the Mediterranean winter cruise season sailing from Barcelona, Athens and Rome.
Istanbul has seen a resurgence of its cruise tourism sector since the opening of the new cruise terminal, which is one of the most modern and technologically-advanced in the region.
Only 11 cruise calls are scheduled for the rest of the year, but 321 are scheduled for 2022, 88 of which will use Istanbul as a turnaround port.
Upcoming calls for 2021 at Galataport Istanbul include Seven Seas Splendor, Spirit of Discovery, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway, Viking Venus and Astoria Grande.
“Our Galataport Istanbul Cruise Port continues to welcome new guests to our main port and lifestyle destination,” said Figen Ayan, Chief Port Officer, Galataport Istanbul.
“The arrival of Viking Sky is the result of many entities working together over many months… we are thrilled to be able to introduce this world-class cruise and lifestyle facility to passengers,” he added.
Galataport features the world’s first underground cruise ship terminal, a unique hatch system creates a temporary customs area while a ship is in port, but converts into a promenade when not in use.
This leaves the waterfront free for public use when there is not ship alongside and opens up an area that has been closed to public access for 200 years.
The terminal can accommodate three ships and 15,000 passengers a day, including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships, the largest in the world, with 8,000 passengers and crew.
Coinciding with the maiden call of Viking Sky to Galataport was Viking Ocean Cruises announcement that its newest ship will be called Viking Saturn.
The 930-passenger ship will be identical to Viking Sky and the other cruise ships in Viking’s ocean-going fleet.
Due in early 2023, Viking Saturn will spend her maiden season sailing three new itineraries in Scandinavian and Nordic countries, including two 15-day itineraries (Iconic Iceland, Greenland & Canada and Iceland, and Norway’s Arctic Explorer), and a 29-day Greenland, Iceland, Norway & Beyond voyage.
In addition to the three new itineraries, Viking also announced today that the company will bring back the popular 8-day Iceland’s Natural Beauty itinerary starting in August 2023.
“The thousands of guests who sailed our Welcome Back voyage in Iceland this past summer enjoyed the experience so much they provided record-level ratings,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.
“These new itineraries are ideal for curious travelers and trace routes of the early Viking explorers to Iceland and other North Atlantic destinations known for their natural beauty,” he added.
Viking currently operates a fleet of six cruise ships, with ten on order with Fincantieri in Italy. Viking Mars and Viking Neptune are due for delivery in 2022.