On Türkiye’s southwest coast, Bodrum Cruise Port officially closed its 2023 season on November 15, after welcoming its final ship call by the Seabourn Encore cruise ship.
Just over 100 ships visited the destination, which is the same number that called in 2022 and far lower than anticipated for 2023.
Port’s expectations for growth fall short
As the 2023 season came to a close at Türkiye’s Bodrum Cruise Port, the facility’s total ship arrivals are an exact match to 2022, meaning that the port’s predictions of a double-digit increase in vessel calls did not materialize this year.
However, officials at the port, which is managed by Global Ports Holding, remain upbeat about the port’s performance and called 2023 an unforgettable season. With 101 ship calls, the port welcomed about 100,000 cruise arrivals.
“As Bodrum Cruise Port, a rising star in the cruise industry, we distinguish ourselves with our high standards of infrastructure and operational expertise. We hosted ships that made their inaugural visits to Türkiye this season. I am pleased to announce that we anticipate more calls with increased passenger volumes in Bodrum next year,” said Aziz Güngör, Regional Director of East Med at Global Ports Holding.
The cruise port in May 2023 announced that it would experience a substantial hike in the number of ship calls compared to 2022. Officials had detailed their expectations, predicting that 138 ships would call, carrying 125,000 cruise guests into Bodrum.
Based on 2022 figures, the port expected about a 35% spike in ship calls, but in the end, it received exactly the same number as in 2022. It should be noted that 2022 was a record year for the port. No clarification or reasons were offered to explain 2023’s disappointing results.
Bodrum is situated on the Bodrum Peninsula in the Aegean Sea, southeast of Athens. The port is roughly 450 miles south of Istanbul.
In addition to its cruise terminal, Bodrum is an important ferry destination in the region, typically receiving more than 800 ferry calls and about 110,000 ferry passenger transits per year. As a cruise port, Bodrum is small compared to Istanbul, which sees about 1.5 million cruise arrivals annually at its new Galataport, which opened in 2021.
Bodrum Cruise Port operates one ship pier that can accommodate two large-sized, or four smaller cruise ships at a time. Its harbor also has capacity for up to 30 mega-yachts, and has three ferryboat ramps. Its cruise terminal offers welcome facilities, duty-free shopping, and a restaurant.
In 2023, Bodrum received inaugural visits from Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady, which made 16 calls to the port as part of her Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.
In fact, Bodrum was the 3,000-guest ship’s only port call in Türkiye. Also making a maiden visit to Bodrum was Mystic Cruises’ 1,258-guest Vasco Da Gama.
Ships returning to the port in 2023 included Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex, and MSC Cruises’ MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia, plus some ultra-luxury ships, including Ritz Carlton Yachts’ Evrima, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Splendor.
“Bodrum, one of Türkiye’s premier tourism destinations, particularly stood out in cruise tourism this year. We hosted the Resilient Lady from Virgin Voyages, which chose Bodrum as its first destination in Türkiye,” GPH’s Aziz Güngör added.
Besides its beaches and oceanfront resorts, the port’s top attractions include historic sites such as the medieval Bodrum Castle and the 4th century BC Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Another leading attraction is the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, where visitors can view ancient relics and excavated shipwrecks.