There was enthusiasm among citizens, authorities and also cruise passengers yesterday morning in Istanbul, when MSC Cruises‘ MSC Lirica made an unscheduled call in town as she was diverted from Haifa, Israel for security reasons.
Savaş Ercan, Sarayburnu Port General Manager said: “Although this ship was not scheduled, today is an historic day for Istanbul with largest cruise ship since years in port as a result of the intense demand of cruise passengers and also thanks to our communication to show Istanbul as a safe port of call.“
The ship is currently sailing her last cruise in the Mediterranean Sea before heading to Emirates, joining MSC Bellissima for the season in the area (here is our article about Middle East 2019/2020 winter season). Lirica left the port of Venice on November 9 for a 11-nights cruise with focal stop in Haifa, Israel, but in the recent days it was decided to skip this stop due to security reasons and going to Turkey instead.
Lirica reached the Sarayburnu Liman pier yesterday morning as the first MSC cruise ship in Istanbul since 2016, year of the attempted coup in the country. After an overnight the ship will leave the Bosphorus in the next hours for the next destination: Mykonos.
MSC plan to return in 2021
As we anticipated some weeks ago here with an article, starting from 2021 Istanbul cruise port will be part of MSC Fantasia brand new itinerary in the eastern Mediterranean. The ship will offer 10-days cruises during all the summer season from the home-port of Trieste, Italy and calling in Katakolon, Athens and Corfù (Greece), Kuşadası and Istanbul (Turkey) and Bari (Italy).
New Galataport Cruise Terminal
Yesterday MSC Lirica docked at Sarayburnu, a temporary cruise terminal, but the main cruise port of Istanbul is the Galataport, located in the shores of the Galata, Karakoy and Tophane neighborhoods, actually closed for renovation.
The brand new Galataport Cruise Terminal will open in May 2020 after a $1.7 billion investment in its complete reconstruction project. It will host around 3 cruise ships at once in a day and 500 cruise ships with an average of 4,000 passengers each throughout the year. The new Galataport will also host number of culture and arts centers, the world standard cruise terminal, a port hotel, and an entertainment area housing various brands, cafes, restaurants and offices.
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