With the upcoming Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), traffic from cruise ships is having a significant impact on the tourism industry in Kuşadası. A total of 3,500 tourists traveled to Kuşadası with Malta, Greece and even the Bahamas flagged cruise ships.
A popular docking point for cruise ships, Kuşadası welcomed three vessels that docked at the port in Aydın's Kuşadası district with a total of 3,500 passengers. The area has also benefited from a flock of local tourists.
The Malta-flagged Thomson Dream with 1,250 passengers, the Bahamas-flagged Wind Star with 1,050 passengers and the Greek-flagged Celestial Olympia with 1,200 passengers entered the Aegean port.
Citizens from countries including the U.S., Spain, the U.K., Canada, Italy and Portugal, who got off the ships, went shopping at the district center, while others visited historic sites like the city of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary and Şirince, all reached on tour buses.
Ege Port Kuşadası General Manager Aziz Güngör said that 70 percent of cruise ships arrive in Kuşadası. "We believe that we will have a very good 2018 tourism season as a country if the incentive package for cruise ships, announced by the ministry, is approved as soon as possible," Güngör said. "We are expecting this good news soon, which will provide significant incentives from the ministry for quick recovery in our tourism sector."
According to the General Directorate of Maritime Commerce, 131 cruise ships arrived at 15 ports in Turkey during the January-June period this year. The number of passengers arriving on these vessels was 17,623, while the number of departing passengers stood at 19,560 and the number of transit passengers stood at 80,904.
Sixty of those ships dropped anchor in Kuşadası, 12 in Çeşme, 12 in Izmir, 10 in Bodrum, nine in Marmaris, seven in Alanya, six in Antalya and four in Çanakkale, while the Istanbul port saw four cruise ships, the Göçek Port hosted two vessels and ports in Bartın, Dikili, Sinop, Trabzon and Tuzla hosted one vessel each.
Antalya became the busiest port city in terms of both arriving and departing passengers, while Kuşadası was the busiest port in terms of transit passengers. A total of 12,682 passengers came to the Antalya Port during the January to June period, while 12,830 passengers departed from the city. In the same period, 40,197 passengers used the Kuşadası Port for transit passage.
The busiest months for cruise traffic were May and June in the first half of the year with 46 cruise ships arriving in Turkish ports in May and June, respectively. The number of arriving and departing passengers stood at 9,025 and 9,151 respectively in May, while the number of transit passengers reached 29,507. In June, on the other hand, 2,660 people arrived and 3,889 people departed, in addition to 21,070 transit passengers.
Meanwhile, Mein Schiff 2, a 265-meter-long Malta-flagged passenger ship docking at the Bodrum Pier, has made its seventh trip to the district this season with 2,160 tourists, mostly consisting of Germans.
While some of the tourists preferred traveling through the district's center and taking the blue cruise that offers daily boat trips, some of them went shopping and visited the historical sites of the city.
The ship, which came from Greece's Mykonos Island with a total of 813 personnel, is reportedly going to leave Bodrum this evening to go to the city of Katya in Italy. The passenger ship is expected to arrive in Bodrum five more times during the season.
In the meantime, the cruise ship Med Queen, which came from the Lebanese capital of Beirut to the Alanya Port for the eighth time will anchor six more times by September and bring about 250 passengers to the city each time. After the passengers got off, the ship was shown to members of the press.
Speaking to journalists, Med Queen General Manager Vincenzo Orlandini said that the cruise ship is the only ship that travels from Beirut to Alanya.
Noting that the ship, which anchors 14 times at the Alanya Harbor throughout the course of the season, has a capacity of 350 passengers, Orlandini said that tourists getting off the ship, which sails with 150 crew members, prefer shopping and visiting the historical and tourist attractions of Alanya.
Pointing out that cruise passengers spend between $500 and $1,000 per person at each port, Orlandini stated that crew members also buy fruits in Alanya, adding that their products are very beautiful. Orlandini said that the ship will come to the Alanya Port six more times this season, adding that a majority of the crew members are Turks. He also recalled that the ship hosts guests from many countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as Lebanon.