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Galataport Istanbul’s New Cruise Terminal Welcomes First Ship

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Galataport Istanbul has welcomed its first ship, the SeaDream II.

Approximately 150 passengers and crew from Bulgaria Varna arrived at 10 a.m. local time on Oct. 1 for a two-day homeport operation before sailing to Bulgaria Burgaz.

“It is a momentous occasion as our Galataport Istanbul Cruise Port begins operation to welcome our first cruise passengers,” said Figen Ayan, Galataport Istanbul’s chief port officer. “We have dedicated ourselves to creating a welcoming, safe and remarkable visitor experience for all passengers in our world-class cruise facilities and to providing a wealth of lifestyle experiences for our guests to enjoy while staying in port. Characterized as a ‘main port,’ Galataport Istanbul will vitalize cruise ship tourism over a large area from the Mediterranean basin to the Black Sea.”

Galataport Istanbul is home to cruise facilities, including the world’s first underground cruise ship terminal. According to a press release, it is capable of accommodating three ships and 15,000 passengers a day, including oasis class cruise ships with 8,000 passengers including crew.

It also features a 29,000 sqm Galataport Istanbul Cruise Ship Terminal designed with a unique hatch system that creates a temporary customs area while a ship is in port. The hatch system converts Istanbul’s port into a promenade in an area that has been closed to public access for 200 years. After the ship departs, the coastline is left free.

“For several years our past guests have voiced their interest for SeaDream to return to Turkey,” said Vice President, Itineraries and Destinations at SeaDream Yacht Club, Emilio R. Freeman. “As a result, our entire SeaDream team has been working for many months on arrival to Istanbul, one of the most popular ports of call in the Mediterranean. While it has been a very trying year for the restart of cruising, we give thanks to the partnership we have with Galataport Istanbul and, especially Figen Ayan who has greatly helped make this occasion a reality. We are thrilled to bring our cruise guests to this amazing cruise and lifestyle facility.”

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According to the press release, the $1.7-billion Galataport project, set on a three-quarter-mile stretch of coastline on the Bosporus, is designed to “revive and redefine Istanbul’s historic port as an exciting lifestyle destination and is projected to welcome 25 million visitors per year.”

Galataport Istanbul will serve as a destination offering arts and culture, gastronomy and shopping, as well as attractions and amenities – including a Renzo Piano-designed new museum building of Istanbul Modern, the first contemporary and modern arts museum of Turkey founded in 2004, as well as Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

Located in between these two museums, Tophane Square, with a specially restored Tophane Clock Tower dating back to 1848 as its centerpiece, will be the first museum square of Istanbul.

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