Mr. Alnıtemiz, first of all we would like to extend our outmost thanks fort his interview. As we all know from the sector, tourism is in your soul. Can you mention about yourself a little?
As I am the son of a tourism Professional, the founder of Iremtur, I would answer this question as “I am a tourism professional by birth”. Nonetheless, when I think of my father, I feel that I am being disrespectful. I must say I improve myself as a good tourism manager. What they did back then was incredible. Now everything is easier. Those who are curious can read my father’s memoir “Ters Kepçe”.
With this advantage, while I continue my tourism career as a tourist guide in Iremtur, I did my MA in New York University on Tourism Management. After having assumed responsibility as General Manager in Hey Travel Trends, Tourism Coordinator in World Travel Channel under Demsa Holding, General Manager of YKM Tourism, our paths crossed with Karavan Tourism which celebrates its 50th year in the sector.
How did your path cross with Cruise?
During Hey Travel Trends period, we wanted to position the company differently and thus we gave weight to the cruise sector. We rented ships in our second year and began Greek Island tours; we even rented Ataturk’s yacht Halas, and made different touristic programs. As of our second year, we became one of the agents with the highest sale figures of cruise liners such as MS and Royal Caribbean. During that time, we became the client of Karavan Tourism. After years, when Mr. Gianluigi Baltazzi told about their projects for Karavan, I completely dived in the cruise sector which we were readily willing.
Can we hear your story with Celestyal Cruises?
When I began working in Karavan Tourism, it was already the Representative of Turkey for Celestyal Cruises, but the Turkish passenger traffic was not high, it was just seen as a filler market. Firstly, we have establised Karavan Cruises and took the first step to become a cruise specialist. However, introducing the product to the passenger and being available was what mattered. In this sense Celestyal Cruises was the best product as it was a company organizing Cruise Island tours departing from Turkey. 75 percent of our guests experience cruise for the first time with us and satisfaction rate is 98% and those who say yes to another cruise tour is 80%. From a filler market cruising 30 thousand passengers in 2016, we come to be a company which is seen as a home market.
You say early birds will have the advantage with Celestyal Cruises this season. How about mentioning about these advantages to our readers?
Cruise tours offer many advantages as a whole when compared to other vacation options. 3, 4, or 7-night Celestyal Cruises Greek Island tour without visa departing from Kuşadası offer voyagers an unforgettable experience with the all-included difference. The prices varying according to cabin selection are included accommodation, limitless drink package, all the food on board, Mykonos shuttle service, city tours, travel insurance and tour cancellation insurance, port duties, tips and all the entertainment on board.
Considering these advantages, the Celestyal Cruises tour you buy has an added value of up to 150 euro in 3 nights, 200 euro in 4 nights, 300 euro in 7 nights. With this added value, we can say, Celestyal Cruises Greek Island Tours have the most advantageous prices when compared to other vacations. Vacations are when we treat ourselves. It is not possible to visit so many Greek Island in such a limited and precious time and with such budges. Moreover, cruise is the only way you can visit the Greek Islands without visa.
Approximately 40.000 passengers join Greek Island cruise tours each year in Turkey. What percentage of this figure you host in Celestyal Cruises ships?
We organize our tours as the biggest company meeting the needs of Turkish market with our Greek Island destinations. As Celestyal Cruises, we cruise 20 thousand voyagers with varying rates according to years. However as I have already said, it is essential to raise awareness of consumers and guide them accordingly in this branch of tourism. In this sense, you are a great force with your publications. We also thank you too.
You are one of the leading companies in Greek Island tours. What makes you reach to the summit?
We host each one of our passengers in our ships. We make them feel as a part of our family. Our crew making them have, sincere and unforgettable moment all through the voyage, comfort of our rooms and options in the open areas… Our ships render service at international standards. Special guide for Turkish guests and Turkish speaking crew are among the services increasing customer satisfaction. The fact that we have been enlisted among the best in Cruise Critic Awards for the last 2 years is another indicator of our stand as a “happy ship”. English editors in Cruise Critic Awards based on guest experience and comments all around the World selected Celestyal Cruises as the international cruise liner rendering “the best service. We have ranked first in best price, best entertainment, best embarkment and best city tour branches.
fact we compete with ourselves in service. In previous years, we have prepared drink packages, and then we passed to all-included system with limitless drink to which Turkish people are accustomed to. We have also presented new routes such as Milos, Ios, Kos, Syros, Nafplion ve Hanya to the travelers’ taste along with the star islands. Last year we organized 7-day-tours with 1 night stay in Santorini and Mykonos. This year we have improved all-included system and added city tours to the price. The best news is we are returning to İstanbul.
What is your route map for your tours departing from İstanbul and Kuşadası in 2009?
Celestyal Cruises became the international cruise company visiting the Turkey’s ports, which was more than 150 times in 2018. Our ships continued to come to Kuşadası full until November. More than 150 thousand foreign tourists came to our country.
This year we continue to embark and debark in Kuşadası port in high season. As Celestyal Cruises we add 2 more ports to our route from Turkey. The most important of them is İstanbul and the other is Çanakkale. Iconic Aegean tour which will begin in March and Idyllic Aegean tours which will begin in April will depart from Kuşadası. We have Mykonos, Santorini, Athenes, Crete and Milos in Idyllic Aegean. Furthermore, this tour included 1 night stay in Mykonos and Santorini. 3,4-night Iconic Aegean tours will visit Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Patmos, Athenes and Rhodes. İstanbul and Çanakkale will be added to Eclectic Aegean tours which will begin in October. And a new port from Greece; Volos where you can see Meteora will be in the route of this tour.
How do you organize city tours in your programs?
We are primarily a destination-focused cruise company. City tours in Celestyal Cruises is one of the services we carry out with Karavan Cruises operations with the highest satisfaction. As I have stated before, this year city guides are included in all-included package. Our guides will take our guests to a cultural journey accompanied by local guides.
What are your predictions and expectations for cruise tourism in 2019?
We expect a dynamism in the sector in 2019. More than 200 ships have included Turkey’s ports to their routes. As Celestyal Cruises we will extend our operations to the whole year in 2019. We have been the first company to announce that we are adding Istanbul among our ports. Adding Turkish ports means rich Eastern Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Aegean, Adriatic, Black Sea and even Red Sea programs. Each year new ships are launched. They will absolutely come back.
What are your plans as Celestyal Cruises?
Celestyal Cruises has recently carried out a renovation of 7 million Euro in Celestyal Olympia, the admiral ship of the fleet. In Celestyal Crystal some staterooms were transformed into balcony suites and 43 balcony suites were added. Private concierge service was initiated. I can say rejuvenating our fleet by ships with a bigger guest capacity is our short-term project in order to meet the heavy demand from abroad.
Well, what are the frequently asked questions of cruise passengers?
Those who have never been to a cruise vacation as “Do I get bored on board? Do I get sea sick? Can I live the night of the Islands?” There are so many activities on board that each moment is full of something. We have some facts that are actually false. For example, they say it is for the retired… The average of age decreased to 42 across the world and it is 45 in Celestyal Cruises. We can refute any claim who thinks cruise is not their thing or we can just suggest a cruise ship to their taste.
Cruise travel is another adventure each time. What is your favorite destination?
The ones I have not been to… Please do not take me wrong but I don’t like this question. I put the travelers aside but Turkish tourists feel comfortable at familiar places they like where they are known. Personally, I would prefer the places I haven’t been to before rather than the ones I have already visited. For example, Alaska would have been nice…
What do you recommend to those who will get on a cruise travel for the first time?
First of all, let them get the guts. Make budgetary comparison. Especially this year they will see that the cruise travels they consider as luxury are luxury but not expensive. We have a simple recommendation for those who will try cruise for the first time: cruise liners plan several activities full of fun on board during the time you will pass in a day at sea. Therefore, a daily gazette is left to your room in the evenings, including the daily program of the next day, so that you can follow what activities you have each day. Therefore, those who will go on a cruise for the first time can plan a perfect time to their taste.