Istanbul is famously known as the city where the East (Asia) meets the West (Europe). As such, it is a wonderful place to visit during a cruise vacation, especially if you are interested in learning more about history and culture. With well over 2,000 years of significant events in world history, you will discover a bunch of incredible landmarks in Istanbul that are a must on any traveler’s bucket list. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to explore many places of worship (including mosques, synagogues, and churches), museums, numerous high-end shops, local neighborhoods, restaurants, and more! Since there is so much to see in Istanbul, if you're taking a cruise that starts in Istanbul, you may want to consider staying a few days before or after your cruise. If that is the case, you can count on being able to find great accommodations, as there are also many hotels, hostels, and budget lodges in the area.
As a result of Istanbul's immense popularity as a vacation destination, There is a large variety of cruise lines that offer cruises that include Istanbul in their itineraries.
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The following cruise destinations can be visited on a cruise from Istanbul, Turkey. Select a destination to view the upcoming cruises that are available:
The following cruise lines feature cruises leaving from Istanbul, Turkey. Select a cruise line to view upcoming cruises that they're offering from Istanbul, Turkey:
Becoming more and more popular, a river cruise is an immerse and destination-focused vacation experience, on a small and luxurious vessel.
River cruises sail through the inland waterways of some of the world's most interesting vacation destinations (i.e. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America), and provide their guests with a greater opportunity to spend time visiting more unique ports of call than a traditional cruise typically would.
Because the destination is the star of a river cruise, (typically guided) shore excursions are included at no additional charge by many River cruise lines. There are usually many interesting lectures given during the cruise, by experts on the history and culture of the region being visited.
Among the famous rivers that one may take a river cruise on are the Rhine, Mississippi, Seine, Danube, Mekong, Nile, Yangtze, Amazon and Douro.
These cruise lines fit (quality and, usually, price-wise) somewhere in between Premium and Luxury cruise lines.
A country club casual atmosphere can be expected on these lines, as can be elegant accommodations and gourmet cuisine. These cruise lines are a great option for adults looking for a upscale, yet laid back, vacation.
Unique itineraries are often available on these cruise lines, as their small-to-mid-sized ships can visit ports of call that large ones can't get to.
The pricing on Azamara Club Cruises includes select beverages and pre-paid gratuities, while the pricing of Viking Ocean Cruises includes shore excursions and select beverages.
Value is a key feature of these popular cruise lines, as they offer lots of activities, entertainment and dining options, along with a variety of stateroom types. Some of the cruise lines in this category have ships with unique innovations like water slides, rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, surfing simulators, bowling alleys, and boardwalks.
Their ships are usually anywhere from mid-sized to very large "mega" ships, accommodating thousands of guests. These ships give the feel of being in a large resort.
Mainstream cruise lines are a great option for just about everyone (including multi-generation families, and first-time cruisers), and typically have great youth programs.
During the cruise, entertainment may include Broadway productions, Vegas-style shows, comedians, and music. Some of these lines have select formal nights during the cruise. Specialty restaurants are becoming more and more common (some which have a cover charge for this type enhanced dining experience). Buffets are usually available throughout the day, besides room service, and the main dining room(s).
These cruise lines enhance what mainstream cruise lines typically offer, by providing their guests with higher quality service and cuisine, along with more spacious public spaces and accommodations.
Depending on the cruise line, the ships in this class range in size from small to very large.
These cruise lines appeal to a more discerning traveler, and are typically more expensive than mainstream cruise lines, but more affordable than the luxury lines.
These cruise lines offer a truly unique vacation experience, with a wide range of possible amenities and itineraries. Some are expedition cruise lines, others have sailing yachts or are coastal ships.
On these types of cruise lines, there's usually a focus on a specific destination or theme. Itineraries are usually very destination intensive, aided by the fact that they're able to reach many ports of call that larger ships can't.
Expedition cruise lines are a great fit for adventure-seeking travelers, featuring exciting destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, and the Norwegian coast. During the cruise, there will usually be plenty of interesting lectures given by experts on the destination being visited. Often, shore excursions are included in the cost of the cruise. In fact, some of these cruise lines have all-inclusive pricing. There's a definite focus on the ship's surrounding scenery, as well as opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Small, but comfortable, ships are commonplace here, with anywhere from basic to very luxurious public spaces, cuisine, and accommodations (depending on the cruise line and ship).
Sailing Yachts, sail-assisted motor ships, offer a really unique vacation experience. Accommodations and cuisine on these intimate vessels can be anywhere from good to fantastic, depending on the cruise line. Destinations offered by these cruise lines may include the Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, Tahiti, and Costa Rica.
When the finest cruise vacation is your top priority, this is the place to start.
On a luxury cruise line, guests experience highly personalized service, a more intimate (and usually formal) onboard experience, gourmet cuisine, well-appointed accommodations, and fantastic amenities. Many of these brands have smaller ships, allowing them to reach ports of call that the larger ships can't, which results in unique itineraries.
All of these brands feature a version of all-inclusive pricing, and some of them have ships with all-suite accommodations. Although these cruise lines are usually more expensive than the rest, they also provide their guests with so much more, resulting in a fantastic value when considering all that's included.
These are just a few of the more popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, along with a brief description:
Istanbul is famous for its many places of worship. When spending time in Istanbul before or after your cruise, you can explore its many mosques, temples, and churches. Among the most notable points of interest is The Blue Mosque, which is a 17th century Turkish mosque that serves as the symbol of Istanbul. This mosque also features a carpet museum with many age-old exhibits (perfect for history buffs). There is also the Hagia Sophia, which is part church/mosque and part museum, and showcases Byzantine-era architecture. Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Dolmabache Palace, and the Basilica Cistern are all other noteworthy religious icons that are worth a visit. Please note that religious sites in Istanbul require a conservative dress code, so it is important to pack accordingly if you plan to visit these landmarks.
Bazaars are another staple of Istanbul! You can find all sorts of unique goods, such as fresh produce, leather goods, colorful carpets, handmade jewelry, and more! One of the most popular markets is the Grand Bazaar, whose operations date all the way back to the 1400s. Another must-visit bazaar is the famous Spice Market, where you can take in the aromatic fragrance of many different spices from around the world! Book lovers will be blown away by the Sahaflar Carisi (or Beyazit Book Bazaar), where you can peruse hundreds of titles from the Quran to ancient texts, atlases, and more! While some markets only open once a week, many are available every day of the week, so if you plan on visiting any bazaars, ensure that you confirm their operating hours.
♦ Local Cuisine
Istanbul is a fabulous city where your taste buds can go on a cultural adventure, too! The culinary scene dates back all the way to the Ottoman Empire, so it also comes with a history lesson, too! Some of the local staples include rice, lamb, chicken and eggplant, which comes prepared in a variety of ways. Sandwiches and kebabs are a popular style of street food. You can discover plenty of local foods at many of the bazaars, and there are a few nice restaurants in town. Don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with some mouthwatering dessert specialties, such as baklava or milk pudding!
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