What could be more idyllic than sailing on a private yacht in the Mediterranean, mooring up at otherwise inaccessible beaches and enjoying a delicious meal on board. Luxury gulet charter in Turkey has become increasingly popular, yet it’s surprisingly affordable. Here’s all you need to know about gulet charters, from the meaning of the expression blue cruise to the best Turkey itineraries.
Luxury Gulet Charter in Turkey
Turkish gulet charter is a wonderful way to explore the Mediterranean in style. Whether you’re an accomplished sailor or a complete novice, gulet cruising is suitable for everyone.
You get to see a lot of coastal destinations, while enjoying delicious Turkish foods. Work them off with watersports activities and shore excursions!
What is a Gulet?
A gulet is a wooden sailing boat that has been handmade by expert craftsmen. The word gulet is pronounced GOO-LET.
It is uncertain whether this comes from the Italian word goletta, the French word gouelette or the American word gullet. A gulet boat varies in size from 14-35 metres and has two or three masts.
Gulet boats are very comfortable, thanks to their heavily weighted hull and low profile. This makes them ideal for cruising the Mediterranean and means that passengers are unlikely to suffer from sea sickness.
They’re also equipped with all mod cons and are frequently used for luxury yacht charter. Some luxury gulets have hot tubs on deck or in the master bedroom.
Many come with jet skis, paddle boards, ringo rides, wakeboards and canoes.
Blue Cruise in Turkey
Gulets originated in Bodrum, Turkey but their popularity has spread to Croatia, Greece, Italy and Montenegro. Vacations on board these floating hotels are often referred to as blue cruises.
If you’re wondering what exactly is a blue cruise, also known as a blue voyage or blue tour is, it’s a Mediterranean sailing holiday on board a wooden sailing yacht. The name Blue Cruise came from the 1957 Turkish book Mavi Yolculuk by Azra Erhat about the author’s sailing trips around Turkey’s coastline.
It was also popularized by Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, a writer, ecologist and humanist who is considered to be the first professional Turkish tourist guide. These days, blue cruises encompass any private gulet charter in Turkey.
Why Choose a Gulet Cruise?
As we mentioned, people of all sailing abilities will enjoy a Turkish gulet holiday. That’s because each one is manned by a skilled crew, who are responsible for sailing the gulet, looking after their guests and preparing tasty meals.
With gulet charters, you get total privacy and the freedom to go exactly where you want to, when you want to do so. There’s no queuing and the crew are on hand 24/7 to assist you.
Turkey is famous for its calm turquoise sea and bays that are only accessible by sea. There are 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many other historical attractions.
Turkish people are known for their friendly hospitality. You’ll get to taste delicious Ottoman cuisine on board your gulet and in the local restaurants.
Although gulets have a traditional appearance, they boast every modern safety feature. Cabins have private showers and toilets and some have their own jacuzzi.
A typical day on board could include a period of cruising under motor, time at anchor for water sports, a nutritious meal on board and an afternoon spent exploring a picturesque local village.
How to Choose a Turkish Gulet Cruise?
There are a few steps that you should take when choosing your Turkish gulet cruise.
1. Decide your budget
Luxury yachts tend to vary from 14.000 to 150.500 € per week. The price depends on the season, number of guests and category of yacht that you choose. It’s from 15-30% cheaper if you travel outside of the most popular times of year.
The price usually includes route planning, logistics assistance, support during the cruise and a personal assistant. Fuel, port and tourist taxes within Turkish waters are also generally covered as well as the yacht charter and crew.
Bear in mind that VAT, customs fees, any Greek port taxes, food and drink are additional charges. An Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA) is generally used to manage any expenses.
2. Work out the number of guests
The maximum number of guests is usually 20 passengers. Gulets are suitable for people of all ages, from young children to seniors and the itinerary and activities can be adapted to suit all those on board. Work out how many cabins you’d ideally need and whether you would like double or twin beds.
3. Determine your dates of travel
Most blue cruises in Turkey are for one week but there’s lots to do for those who prefer a longer trip. If you are flexible on travel dates, it’s important to let your gulet charter company know so that they can propose a variety of options to you.
3. Pick a reputable luxury gulet charter company
One of the most well established yacht charter companies is Turkey Luxury Gulets. With over 14 years of experience, they have organised over 650 luxury gulet charters. They have also done a lot of the legwork for you, by inspecting 573 luxury gulets which they’ve whittled down to just 50 of the top sailing yachts.
There are 24 luxury gulet experts on the team, who will advise you which boat fits your requirements best. They’ll then work with you to help tailor your route, select your ideal menus and arrange any activities. During your cruise, the Concierge Team is on call 24/7.
Turkey Gulet Itineraries
Private charter routes are usually very flexible. It’s important to decide which region of Turkey you’d like to explore as that will determine which port you embark from.
For example, Bodrum port is easily reached from Milas-Bodrum Airport (BJV). From here, you can sail to the Cyclades or Dodecanese islands in Greece or the Gulf of Gokova and Gulf of Hisaronu in Turkey.
Gocek, Fethiye and Marmaris are close to Dalaman Airport (DLM) . Explore Gocek Island, Kas or Kekova from there.
Here are some suggested Blue Voyage itineraries:
Bodrum – Gokova
This cruise starts in Bodrum, a charming city with a great mix of historic and contemporary attractions. Bodrum Castle dates from the 15th century and Bodrum Bazaar is a good place to pick up fashion bargains.
There are many luxurious boutiques and restaurants along the waterfront. Head next to Orak Island for a swim in the crystal clear waters, then to the fishing town of Cokertme.
After this, you can visit Seven Islands, including Kufre Bay and the English Port. From here, it’s onwards to Cleopatra Island which has a very distinctive type of sand, and to Karacasogut village.
The next day, head to Longoz Bay and Tuzla Bay for a forest walk and some watersports activities. The day after, Kargili Bay and Kisebuku are well worth a visit.
Explore the Byzantine ruins and travel on to Pabuc Burnu and Yaliciftlik Bay before returning to Bodrum.
Gocek – Fethiye
Gocek Island has many deluxe boutiques and bars on Turgut Ozal Street. From here, head to Cleopatra’s Bay to swim and snorkel among the ruins of the ancient baths.
Next, you can visit Tersane Island and Bedri Rahmi Bay. Fethiye is a charming town on the Turquoise Coast with many sandy beaches and hidden coves.
It’s also recommended to explore Olu Deniz, a pretty resort village with a very photogenic beach. Paragliding fans can get a bird’s eye view of the bay from Babadag Mountain.
Gemiler Island, Zeytin Island and Yassica Islands are your final recommended ports of call, before returning to Gocek.
Gockek – Kekova
Depart from Gocek for Tersane Island and explore the ancient ruined town, Telandria. See the Byzantine ruins and St Nicholas’s tomb at Gemiler Island, then sail on to Oludeniz and Butterfly Valley.
For a few weeks each Summer, the valley is full of butterflies, an amazing sight. From here it’s on to Yesilkoy and Kas, where there’s an ancient ampitheatre.
Theimussa bay is a good spot for a refreshing swim before heading to the unspoiled region of Kekova. Turunc Pinari and Kizil Island are your next recommended destinations.
Make sure to be at Kizil Island for sunset when the ancient stones turn crimson red. Yasica islands and Bedri Rahmi Bay should also be on your itinerary which finishes back in Gocek.
Marmaris – Bozburun Peninsula – Greek Islands
Marmaris is an elegant Turkish yachting resort, with a whole host of luxury shops and restaurants. From Marmaris, it’s on to Arap Islet, an uninhabited hidden gem and Bozburun.
If you are lucky to visit in turtle hatching season, you may spot baby turtles emerging from their shells. The 500 mile long Carian Trail is a popular hiking route.
Next, it’s time for a swim in DirsekBuku, before cruising to Bencik and Datca, a charming town close to the ancient city of Knidos. After this, sail towards the Greek Islands, in particular Symi and Rhodes, before returning to Marmaris.
What is the Food Like on a Luxury Gulet Cruise?
Turkish food is renowned for its nutritional value and great variety, a legacy of the Ottoman empire. It’s similar to Cyprus food and Greek cuisine in many ways.
All food menus can be personalized to meet your group’s dietary needs and preferences. The crew will source the best seasonal ingredients at local markets and shops.
Breakfast in Turkey is a filling affair, with a selection of local honey, jams and Turkish clotted cream as well as regional cheeses and bread. Shakshuka is a tasty dish of eggs, onions, spices and tomatoes.
Turkish mezze are a delicious range of small dishes and dips. These include smoked aubergine salad with mint and yogurt, gavurdagi salad with pomegranate, tomatoes and walnuts and muhammara dip with walnuts and red pepper paste.
Karniyarik is a popular dish with eggplant, fried chopped onions, tomatoes and garlic. Leave room for Turkish desserts such as revani semolina cake and the famous baklava pastries.
What Activities are Available on a Turkish Gulet Cruise?
If you can drag yourself away from the sunbathing on deck, there’s a wide range of activities on offer, depending on the gulet. These often include:
- Banana and Ringo Ride
- Board games
- Jet skis
- Shore excursions
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Water skiing
What to Pack for a Gulet Cruise?
The advantage of Turkish gulet cruises is that you can see lots of different places without having to keep packing and unpacking. Casual, loose lightweight clothing in natural fibres is ideal.
You might wish to bring smarter attire if planning a night in a local hotspot. If you’re travelling from April to mid May or in October, it’s wise to bring a long sleeved jumper and long trousers.
Most water sports equipment is provided, and so are masks, snorkels and flippers. It’s always worth checking, however on board a luxury Turkish gulet you’ll usually find bath and beach towels, mosquito repellent, shampoo and shower gel, DVDs, music and board games. USB port and converters for devices that need charging are often included too.
Here are some recommended packing items for Turkish gulet cruises:
- Backpack or handbag – for excursions on shore
- Deck shoes or non-slip flip flops – normal shoes cannot be worn on deck but the teak can get hot at times
- Music or DVDs – generally provided on board, although you might like some of your own
- Sunhat – ideally with a chin strap so it doesn’t blow off!
- Personal toiletries – insect repellent, moisturizer, sunscreen
- Swimwear – bring several changes
- T-shirt or loose fitting shirt – to cover your shoulders
- Shorts or wrap around skirt
- Walking shoes – for land excursions
From exploring picturesque coastal villages to savouring delicious Ottoman food and enjoying legendary Turkish hospitality, there are so many reasons to take a luxury gulet cruise in Turkey. We hope that we have inspired you to do so!
Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions about gulet cruising that we can answer.
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