Taranto is a major port and city in southeastern Italy. Port Taranto handles large commercial shipping traffic, but is also Italy's main military port (naval base). The city has population around 200,000. As cruise port, Taranto in 2019 handled 6 ship calls, of which 5 were by Marella Discovery (Marella UK).
Taranto is often called "The Spartan City" as it was ancient Sparta's only colony (founded in 706 BC). Around 500 BC it was one of the world's largest cities (population ~300,000). Current city's landscape is characterized by 3 peninsulas and an artificial island (formed after digging a ditch during the Aragon Castle's construction).
The city is served by a railway connecting it with Rome, Naples, Milan, Bologna, Bari, Reggio di Calabria, Brindisi. Ponte Girevole bridge (built 1887, length 90 m / 295 ft) stretches over the ship canal that joins "two seas" (Little Sea, and Big Sea). Ponte Girevole is a swing bridge (movable bridge).
Among town's best-known tourist attractions is the National Archeological Museum (MarTa) displaying Ancient Greek and Roman artifacts. The museum is open every day, with free access on each month's first Sunday. The ancient Matera city is located at ~1 hour drive distance from Taranto. Matera is one of the world's oldest human settlements (populated since 10,000 BC). In 1993, it was designated an UNESCO site.
The port faces Ionian Sea and serves shipping traffic related to the locally based steel plants, oil refineries, chemical and food-processing plants, also warship building yards. The seaport has 3 entrances (2 operational). Taranto Container Terminal company's majority shareholder (60%) is Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (Hong Kong-based investment holding) and 40% are owned by Evergreen Marine (Taiwan-based corporation). Port's managing company is Port Network Authority of the Ionian Sea (PNAIS).
- Port Taranto managing company "Ionian Sea Port Authority" is investing in development projects to upgrade seaport's infrastructure and facilities dedicated to cruise shipping traffic.
- In July 2018, the Turkish YILPORT Holding Inc (founded 2011) submitted a request to operate under concession Taranto Container Terminal and all multi-purpose port facilities in Southern Italy. These cargo terminals handle boxships, bulk carriers and Ro-Ro ships (ferries). YILPORT’s offer includes developing and revamping all terminal facilities and improving logistics through significant investments in infrastructure, equipment and technology. YILPORT Holding Inc (2012-founded port and container terminal operator, subsidiary of YILDIRIM Group of Companies) is headquartered in Istanbul Turkey. As of 2018, it operates in 8 countries managing 20 seaports and 6 terminals, ranking it world's 13th largest container terminal operator. YILDIRIM Group owns 24% stake in CMA CGM Group (world's 3rd largest container shipping company).
- In August 2018, PNAIS officially published its positive evaluation about Yilport's concession proposal for the container terminal (Yilport’s 21st and first in Italy). Terminal's current annual capacity is about 2 million TEUs with quayside draft 16,5 m. Yilport plans annual capacity expansion to over 4 million TEUs by 2028. First will be installed ship-to-shore cranes, rail-mounted gantry cranes and Navis system.
- On July 30, 2019, PNAIS signed a concession agreement with YILPORT Holding for managing port's multipurpose terminal (all operations at Taranto Container Terminal) for 49 years (until 2068). The cargo terminal features ~1 km2 land area, 5 active rail platforms (connecting directly to Italy's railway system), easy access to highways, capacity to serve Post-Panamax sized boxships.
For port's ever-first cruising season (2017), the UK-based company Thomson/Marella Cruises included Taranto in its Mediterranean itinerary program. The seaport was visited 7 times (in May-October) by the ship Thomson Spirit as part of its “Taste of the Adriatic” themed 7-day roundtrips from homeport Dubrovnik. Taranto's ever-first cruise ship call was on May 15th. Cruise prices started from USD 770 pp (double occupancy).
|11 May||Departing from Dubrovnik, Croatia|
|13 May 08:00 - 18:00||Valletta, Malta|
|14 May 08:00 - 17:00||Messina, Taormina, Sicily, Italy|
|15 May 12:00 - 18:00||Taranto, Italy|
|16 May 09:00 - 17:00||Igoumenitsa, Greece|
|17 May 10:00 - 19:00||Kotor, Montenegro|
|18 May||Arriving in Dubrovnik, Croatia|
In 2018, the port handled a total of 7 cruise ship calls from the UK-based companies Saga Cruises and New Caledonia Holidays.
Taranto cruise terminal
Cruise ships in Port Taranto dock at the multipurpose Falanto Port Service Center. Here is the new passenger terminal (inaugurated in 2017) built on San Cataldo Pier. The cruise terminal has 2 buildings (3-storey) and was build as part of a EUR 6,6 million project. To all visiting cruise liners, the port provides free bus shuttle service to downtown Taranto.
The modern terminal building as facilities has passenger handling areas, Port Authority offices, auditorium, conference room, public event area (exhibitions), tourist info desk, also restaurants and a bar.
Prior 2017, most ships berthed at Sporgente pier, located close to Castel San Angelo (aka Castello Aragonese).