Turkey wants cruise ships back. Most major cruise line brands have been skipping Istanbul then Kudashi, taking two of the most interesting ports of call in the area off itineraries. While we found Istanbul to be safe as well as Kudashi, the situation can and did change rapidly for the worse. To reverse that move, Turkish authorities will no longer require tug boats be used to bring ships to their docking position. The move is estimated to save cruise lines $15 million in fees, presenting an interesting situation. Do they stay away in a continuing effort to keep passengers and crew safe? Or do they return at a reduced cost?
If this were cruise pricing the answer would be clear: low prices drive bookings. Consumers know that and wait for a bargain. Once booked, savvy cruise travelers know to watch pricing and take advantage of offers that apply along the way. Discount even less than desirable cruise ships and itineraries and full ships sail. Works every time. Will the cruise industry respond in kind, motivated more by money than safety? I can’t believe I actually just typed that. I know better. The safe closed environment of a cruise ship is what will keep cruise lines in business as worldwide security concerns continue. There is simply no safer way to see the world.
Turkish Ports are more attractive thanks to intensive efforts made by the Turkish Cruise Sector, Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication, offering an amendment on obligatory Turkish port tug boat regulations. According to this amendment, if Turkish authorities declare a cruise ship’s bow stern thrusters are working with full capacity, the ship is not obliged to request towing boats.
Cruise ships have had the technology to navigate sensitive waters for quite some time. It’s a lot like how cruise ships these days have the ability to navigate in and out of most ports, not really needing Pilots to come aboard to help. Still, they do, because that’s the system and most bridge officers appreciate the service.
The savings are considerable and a lot is at stake. An important issue, the $15 million annual tug boat industry does not just fade away, unless there is a good reason. Bringing back ships is that reason and Turkey means business.