Dubbed much more than a cruise port, a modern hub in Istanbul has seen large ships arriving one after the other this year as it enjoys its first summer season while anticipating an even better one in 2023.
The world's first underground terminal, Galataport, has welcomed 30 cruise ships so far in 2022, with the number expected to reach 200 by the end of the year, according to its executives. A further 250 ships are expected to dock in 2023, bringing the total to 450 at the port, which aims to welcome 25 million visitors per year, including 1.5 million cruise passengers.
Galataport in Istanbul
Galataport, located in Istanbul's Karakoy neighbourhood, is expected to revitalise the vital tourism industry, which has been plagued by the coronavirus pandemic, and to energise cruise travel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea.
Erdem Tavas, Executive Board Member and General Manager of Galataport Istanbul, says three ships can dock at the port, which has a capacity of 15,000 passengers per day and a massive parking lot for 2,400 cars.
"Think of the port's 15,000 passenger capacity as an airport serving 45 Boeing aircraft at the same time," Tavas said.
Tavas claims that Galataport representatives initially struggled to explain the underground port concept. "We've travelled to many countries and talked about it. They made me tell them for 2.5 hours about it. Then they came to their senses," he added.
90,000 visitors expected daily
The port, which opened a year later than planned due to the pandemic, houses a shopping centre, a hotel, cultural venues, and many well-known restaurant chains.
The project also unlocked a 1.2-kilometre (three-quarter mile) stretch of coastline that had been closed to the public for 200 years. The port covers an area of 400,000 square metres, including 250,000 square metres underground.
Tavas claims that construction took 24 months, and that 85 percent of the leasable area has been rented, up from 30 percent in October.
Project with a 1.7 billion USD price tag
The 1.7 billion USD project has transformed the historic district into a gastronomic, cultural, artistic, and shopping destination. It has 240 retail and food and beverage outlets. The Peninsula Hotels brand, which has only 10 locations worldwide, is said to have invested a total of 300 million euros in a hotel that will open at the port in 2023. Tavas emphasised the interest by stating that 70,000 to 90,000 visitors arrive at the port each day.
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