After news of cruise lines pulling ships out of Istanbul and other Turkish ports dominated headlines for years, Turkey is hoping to bring ships back through a new incentive program, according to cruise port operator Global Ports Holding.
The program is targeting ships with over 100 passengers to call at three Turkish ports — Kusadasi, Bodrum, and Antlaya — this year and next year.
Cruise lines choosing to return to Turkey will be offered incentives of $45 per passenger during January, February, March, April, November, and December; $35 per passenger during May and June; and $25 per passenger during July, August, September, and October.
Any line making a turnaround at a Turkish port will get an extra 50 percent per passenger fee.
Most cruise lines pulled out of Turkey because of turmoil on the ground. Royal Caribbean did so in October 2017 citing “the current unpredictability of Turkey, and taking our guests’ and crew members’ safety and well-being into account."
Other lines — including Cunard, P&O Cruises, Holland America, and Carnival Cruise Line — cancelled their Turkey calls in 2017.
Despite lingering uncertainty, there are some positives for Turkey. Although visas were suspended between the U.S. and Turkey in October 2017, the countries began to issue travel visas again in November 2017 after the American embassy in Ankara received “preliminary assurances” that gave the State Department reason to believe “the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey.”