Bosphoros Ferry services at and around Istanbul, Turkey : Updated to 2010 only but with subsequent news of the demise of SS Inkilap
by Tramscape, publishers of the database
Istanbul is a massive and continuously growing city straddling the Bosphoros straits, which link the Mediterranean and Black Seas and divide Europe and Asia. The Golden Horn, is an inlet of the Bosphoros which divides "European" Istanbul and the Golden Horn road bridge, rebuilt in the 1990s after a major fire destroyed the mainly wooden shop-lined bridge, links busy ferry terminals of Sirkeci and Karakoy.
Ferries depart at frequent intervals from Karakoy, Sirkeci and the nearby Eminonu to piers on the Asian side, including Uskudar, and also for regular services along the Bosphoros to Sariyer and to nearby islards in the Sea of Marmara, where the Bosphorous opens out west of Istanbul.
Demand for services from the "Asian side" to Istanbul proper continues to rise despite the construction of two suspension bridges for road traffic, the plans for a third crossing and the go-ahead for a tube to link the railway networks of Europe and Asia and extend the recently-developed Metro into Uskudar.

In 2004 the last of the steamships in the fleet, often known as the "Glasgow Steamers" because they were built in Scotland by Fairfield's, were withdrawn from service : now only one survives in static operation as a hotel ship. A large fleet of traditionally-styled motor vessels remain in service alongside a growing fleet of car ferries, catamarans and fast-ferries, the latter serving longer-distance routes to communities around the sea of Marmara. Until 2004, the ferries were operated by Istanbul City Lines (TDI Sehir Hatlari Ilrtmesini), after which they were absorbed into the IDO Istanbul Deniz Autobusleri (Istanbul Sea Buses in English) which was established in 1987 to operate the new catamarans. By 2008, IDO had 30 catamarans and "sea-cats", with the most recent deliveries being from Australia's Austal, as the fleet expands to meet mushrooming demand. A fleet of new traditionally styled passenger vessels is expected to be ordered soon. 2008 will see the withdrawal of one of the older large motor vessels, MS Fenerbahce, built in 1953 by Denny of Dumbarton, Scotland, which will be saved for posterity at Istanbul's magnificent Rahmi Koc Transport and Technical Museum.

Fairfield-built steam ferries at Istanbul in 1988
Photos taken at Istanbul by Kevin Hoggett

Pendik K Hoggett 1988.jpg



Inkilap K Hoggett 1988.jpg



Kanlica 3 KH 1988.jpg



Turan Ink Kan KH 1988.jpg

Turan Emeksiz, Kanlica, Inkilap with MV Sehit Caner Gonyeli alongside

Tegmen  ali KH 1988.jpg.jpg

Tegmen Ali Ihsan Kalmaz

Fairfield-built steam ferries at Istanbul in 1994
Photos taken at Istanbul of KUZGUNCUK, INKILAP and ATAKOY (ex Genlik) by Gordon Stewart : Click on the vessel name to see photos





Vessel details: 781 Gross Tonnes (298 deadweight), : 69.9 m in length : 13.6 m in beam : Two compound engines on each shaft built by Fairfield (except on vessels Harbiye and Pendik, whose were supplied by Christiansen & Meyer of Hamburg, who supplied the designs to Fairfield).



810 Turan Emeksiz : Removed from service in 2003, given to the municipality of Guzelyali for use as a floating restaurant. Boilers and engines removed, but otherwise refurbished.
                    Turan Emeksiz has now been totally refurbished and fitted out as a luxurious floating hotel and is now known as the "Otantik Otel Guzelayi" but retains her original name and colours.
                    She now has her own website 


802 Kuzguncuk : Decomissioned in 1997, briefly served as home to the 1999 Earthquake victims, then scuttled.
804 Pendik : Lost as a result of arson.
805 Anadolukavagi : Destroyed by fire in 1985, keel used to build a small tanker, M/S Tunç.
806 Ataköy : Removed from service about 2000, given to the municipality of Eregli for use as a restaurant, but lost during a severe storm in 2004.
803 Kanlica : Removed from service in 2003, sent to the Municipality of Bandirma for use as a restaurant. Destroyed by fire whilst under reconstruction in April 23rd, 2008.
808 Harbiye : Suffered an accident at the same time as 803 Kanlica suffered from a fire. The upper decks of Harbiye were cut and pasted to replace the burnt upper decks of Kanlica, the rest scrapped. 
809 Tegmen Ali Ihsan Kalmaz : Removed from service in 2003, and left decaying in the Golden Horn owned by Halic University, Istanbul. Scrapped in 2009 at Aliaga.  

807 Inkilap : Removed from service in 2003, lay decaying in the Golden Horn before moving to the municipality of Yalova in 2008 for use as a floating restaurant or recreation center.
                       In December 2010 it became clear that the stripped and refurbished ship would be changed irreparably by the addition of additionl superstructure and removal of the wheelhouse.
                       This has given rise to a lot of controversy alongside criticism of the contract let out by the local government for the future of the ship which appears to be going to look like a mini-Titanic. As it                                      transpired, the project was not followed up on and it is understood that she was dismanted in-situ in late 2016                  

These ships have been well supported by local steamer enthusiasts and their fate has been well reported, especially in the forum of the wowturkey website

Here is a list of relevant threads which have developed into important documentary histories of these ships : Links take you to the opening page of the thread

General discussion thread about Fairfield built steamers - started in December 2004
General discussion and photos of older Istanbul ferries in general 


April 2008 : Move from Istanbul to Yalova
Started April 2008 : Inkilap at Yalova with detailed photography of her renovation

Turan Emeksiz

Started December 2005 : Turan Emeksiz restoration at Guzelyali


Started August 2006 : Kanlica at Bandirma
Started April 2008 : The fire and its aftermath

Tegmen Ali Ihsan Kalmaz

Started December 2004  

Two ships recently lost were originally destined for preservation .......................

Tegmen Ali Ihsan Kalmaz

Seen at Istanbul in 2008 whilst she was still owned by the Kalic University. Infortunately nothing came of the restoration project and she was moved to Aliaga for scrapping in 2009.

Photo kindly supplied by Avidis Hacinliyan.


Seen at the port of Bandirma in 2007 prior to her destruction by fire in a photo by Avadis Hacinliyan.


Buyukdere 4 KH 1988.jpg


Photos taken in 1988 by Kevin Hoggett

Heybeliada superstructure KH 1988.jpg


Photos taken in 1988 by Kevin Hoggett 


For more on Istanbul's large fleet of conventional passenger ferries, please ckick here

The large passenger ferry MV Fenerbahce (built in 1953 by Denny at Dumbarton) was withdrawn in 2008 and is now moored as an exhibit at the Rahmi M Koc Transport and Technical Museum at Istanbul (which also has the steam engine of the Wallsend-built SS Kalender of 1911 amongst other steamship exhibits).

MV (ex-SS) Halas continues to sail in Turkey as a luxury cruise "steamer". Built in 1915 by Fairfield's at Govan but not reaching Turkey until 1923, she served as a Bosphoros ferry until 1984. She was refitted for her new role (with 15 luxury two-bed cabins) and given diesels in place of her steam engines in 1986. 

In 2017 she was available for charter here :

Return to the database