The new state-of-the-art Galataport in Istanbul Turkey features an underground cruise terminal, a shopping mall, and a celebrity chef's restaurant. The Port recently welcomed a 5000-passenger liner, bringing more cash to the country's struggling tourism industry.
Hit hard by the COVID crisis, Turkey's tourism could get a shot from the revenue generated at Galataport, which opened last year, a year later than scheduled due to the crisis.
The port could provide a boost to an economy weighed down by double-digit inflation and a currency in free fall.
Figen Ayan (Galataport's CEO) said that ships had begun to arrive "one after the other" after the facility opened in October.
The 20-deck Costa Venezia ship was taking guests from an 11-day cruise to the Aegean Sea when she docked in Galataport.
The port is home to cultural venues, a hotel, a shopping center, and a restaurant owned by Turkish butcher and social media star Nusret Gokce (Salt Bae).
~30 cruise ships have so far anchored at Galataport and ~200 more are expected by the end of 2022, which amounts to ~450,000 passengers.
The target is 1.5M cruise passengers and 25M visitors per year.
The project opened up a three-quarter-mile (1.2-km) coastline that had been closed to public use for 200 years.
However, critics, including urban planners and architects, said the gentrification of the area had destroyed old neighborhoods, with the shopping mall replacing a historical post office building, and had also posed a risk to the environment.
Cruise ships threaten marine life, discharging large quantities of sewage/other waste, Muharrem Balci, associate professor of biology at Istanbul University, said.