It’s that time of year again and the crusie ships are once again visiting Turkey’s most popular port of Kusadasi. It was back in March that Yusuf Öztürk, board chairman of the Izmir branch of the Istanbul, Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions (IMEAK) Chamber of Marine Trade announced that the worlds biggest cruise ships were set to return to Turkey in 2018.
He said “We met with executives from large cruise operators at the Seatrade Cruise Global Fair, held in Fort Lauderdale-Florida between March 5th and March 8th. We had fruitful and promising discussions,” Yusuf Öztürk stated. “The strong interest in Turkey seen at the fair is yet another sign that our tourism industry has put the worst behind it and prospects are bright for the cruise sector in the coming period”
We are all aware that the terrorist attacks and failed attempted coup had a profound disruption to Turkey’s tourism in 2016 and 2017. However, the turn around this year has seen holidays to Turkey bounce back as one of the top destinations to visit for 2018. Add to this the major airlines increasing seat numbers and adding new flight destinations is extremely encouraging and it is set to continue in 2019 and 2020 with crusie lines adding more trips to different ports.
Norwegian Crusie Line has announced they will dock twice in Kusadasi in 2018 and have planned for five trips in 2019 again to Kusadasi. Izmir and Antalya are to be key destinations also in 2019 by cruise company MSC which is a global crusie line and one of the leaders in the industry. For 2020 Holland America Line has announced their interest and plans for Turkey.
In 2017 the numbers of cruise ships visiting Turkey were 307 which were down from 538 cruise ships docking in 2016. A total of 1,296 crusie ships visited Turkey in 2015 which was a rise from the 1,096 that visited in 2014. The marine authority reported that in January and February of this year, no crusie ships docked in any of Turkeys ports. The number of crusie ships arriving to Turkey dropped drastically to 590 in 2016 and to 311 in 2017 from 1,542 in 2013. In 2013 a total of 2,240,000 crusie ship passengers arrived to Turkish ports. There was a huge drop in numbers arriving into 2016 just 628,000 and figures dropped again 2017 to 306,000.
Istanbul will once again see a welcome return from Celestyal Cruises in 2019 they haven’t visited Istanbul since 2016 and it plans to extend its season. A new Aegean itinerary is available from October to the end of November 2019. Canakkale, Troy and Gallipoli are part of their new programme, in December 2019 they sail again to Kusadasi and will visit Ephesus. The ancient ruins of Ephesus captivate all who visit there with monuments of the Roman Imperial period which include the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Temple of Artemis is here although little remains now of this majestic temple, the importance of Ephesus has been clarified with its award of UNESCO World Heritage Centre status.
Kusadasi is one of the main attractions for crusie ships due to it being a popular summer resort. The shops in Kusadasi specialise in leather goods offering attractive prices, you can buy everything from clothing to bags, purses and wallets and there is a large selection of watches. There are plenty of market stalls selling souvenirs and trinkets that passengers can take home to remember their trip by. The marina is home to some fabulous bars and restaurants and passengers can just sit and take in the views if they wish.
There is a tiny Island called Pigeon Island (Guvercin Adasi) which is connected to mainland Kusadasi by a causeway. This pretty setting includes a flower garden which surrounds the castle believed to have been built around the 14th or 15th century. You can stroll around the paths on the eastern side of the Island which gives uninterrupted views of Kusadasi.
It’s great to see this renewed interest in Turkey again and the resorts are more or less in full swing now as visitors started arriving early in April due to the Easter break. The resorts will soon be bustling and the temperature is climbing, today it’s a warm 35 °C and the exchange rate is hot too it is currently Sterling to Turkish Lira = 6.17 therefore £1000 spending money @ 6.17 exchange rate is 6169.60 TL, super exchange rate – happy holidays!