The first transatlantic cruise ship of the season docked yesterday at Ege Ports Liman in Ege Port in the Kuşadası region of the Aegean province of Aydın.
The ship, Black Watch, which operates under a Bahamas flag, departed from the U.K.'s Southampton port carrying 550 passengers and docked at Kuşadası in the early morning yesterday. The ship will be visiting 22 countries and 35 ports as part of its world tour. Consisting of mostly British citizens, the passengers visited the historic sites of Ephesus in the Selçuk district of İzmir, House of the Virgin Mary and the ancient city of Miletus as well as other historical sites.
Kuşadası Ege Port Operations General Manager Aziz Güngör said in a statement they were excited to welcome the first cruise ship of the season.
Indicating that the Black Watch was on a 107-day world tour, Güngör said the cruise, which is carrying 372 staff besides 550 passengers, will be departing for Italy's Naples.
Güngör said they were hopeful about the 2019 cruise tourism season. "We had a very difficult season between 2016 and 2018 in tourism. America's largest cruise ships have again added Turkey to their programs for 2019. We are expecting a significant growth especially here at Kuşadası. There will be 50 percent growth compared to last year. A total of 35 large American ships will be arriving here," he said.
Kuşadası is a famous holiday resort town and is situated conveniently close to major archaeological sites and the Dilek Peninsula National Park, one of Turkey's most biologically diverse areas. Kuşadası is also home to some pristine beaches.
Until November last year, Kuşadası was said to have hosted 152 cruise ships with a total of 122,321 guests. In 2017, Kuşadası Ege Port welcomed 126 ships and 118,418 cruise passengers.
Officials previously said bookings suggested that Ege Port will see 195 cruise ships anchor in with 170,773 tourists throughout this year.