A gulet holiday is an affordable way to enjoy having your own yacht for a week; it really is the holiday of a lifetime.
Our brand new deluxe Mega Gulet with 2 Master suites, 4 double cabins, and 2 triple cabins licensed for up to 18 guests in both Turkey and Dodecanese Greek islands.
Gulets are the traditional wooden built sailing vessels from the south western coast of Turkey. Once used to transport commodities locally, – mandarins and lemons from Bodrum, almonds from Datça, – nowadays they are purpose built as cruise vessels. The word “Gulet” is borrowed from the French “Goelette” meaning schooner and it is always pronounced with the final T sound. These very splendid boats usually have 2 masts and sail power as well as diesel power. All gleaming wood and shining chrome, gulets offer a forward deck with sun areas and plenty of shaded space and an aft deck with shaded dining and cushioned lounging areas. In selecting a boat your prime consideration will be size and cabin configuration to suit your party.
The route doesn’t need much consideration unless you have previously chartered a gulet and would like to see another area. On a day to day basis the Captain will consult you as to the options for that day. Flights for arrival and departure should be considered as embarkation usually takes place on a Saturday lunchtime and therefore you may need an overnight stay beforehand. Disembarkation is generally after breakfast on Saturday – so you may need to arrange to kill a few hours before your departure flight (an opportunity to shop in Bodrum!).
You will eat splendidly during the course of your cruise. Every gulet has a full time cook on board who is used to producing 3 home cooked meals per day and a varied menu over the course of your cruise. Food and drink is not included in the charter price it is charged as an “extra”, but unlike the hotel system you will pay only the cost price for the supplies. Preparation and service of the food is included. The Captain and his crew will provision the boat before your embarkation and you will have been consulted with regard to special diets, likes and dislikes, birthdays etc. It’s the same with beverages, you indicate what drinks you would like to be available on board and don’t forget to buy Duty Free, unlike hotels it is perfectly permissible to drink your own booze! On some boats it is possible to pay a set daily price for all meals.
The Captain and his crew will probably end up being friends for life. Of course they “live” on-board with you but are never overly conspicuous. All Gulet Captains speak some English and you will probably find the crew does too. They will not expect to sit down at the table with you or to be offered drinks etc.
You will not need many clothes; swimwear and cover ups by day and a couple of outfits for evenings. If you are travelling early and late in the season do bring socks, trousers, a sweater and a jacket; evenings can be cool. You will not wear shoes on board but may need trainers for exploring on land. Bathroom towels, beach towels and hair dryers are provided. It is best if you use a soft bag for your travel as this can easily be stored in the cabin.
Gulets offer air conditioning in various degrees; varying from none to full 24 hour. It’s important to determine the air conditioning ability and policy in advance, and to specify how important it is to you and to choose the right yacht accordingly. Many people love to sleep on deck under the stars, or prefer not to have the generator operating during the night.
In most places there is very good mobile phone coverage. All gulets have i-pod sound and charging facilities. Many have TV’s and DVD’s.
All gulets are equipped with snorkelling and fishing equipment and a tender boat that can take you to land. As the size of the gulet increases so do the toys! It is usual to find kayaks and wind surfs on board and on the larger boats there can be jet-skis, water ski and wakeboard equipment. Fuel for toys is charged as an extra.
It is usual to tip the crew approximately 5% to 10% of the charter cost.
If you have never been on a gulet before then you will have quite a surprise, these stately schooners are less sailing boat and more sumptuous wooden built yacht! As a group of 12 friends we like to take a boat around 30 metres, 6 cabins all with en suite bathrooms, air conditioning in the cabins and loads of deck space, this is where most of your time will be spent.
Life on-board is taken at a fairly slow pace; on waking up you may find that you are no longer in the bay where you fell asleep, the Captain has moved the boat to yet another pine clad bay where there is little but the sound of goats from the hillside and the lap of water against the boat. As soon as you arise coffee and tea are available, this is the best time for a swim, the sea is pond like at this time of the day, there’s hardly a ripple to be seen and hardly a soul to share the clear blue waters with, peace, quiet and the promise of a great Turkish breakfast to reward your exertions.
Once everyone is assembled then breakfast can be served – all meals are served at a splendid, shaded large table situated at the “aft” of the boat. Breakfast is a delicious selection of Turkish cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggs and…. where on earth did the Captain find fresh bread in the middle of nowhere? By the end of the week you’ll have seen the enterprising souls in their speed boats from local villages who deliver to all the gulets in the areas. In the afternoons they deliver ice creams!
Then with the rest of the day ahead of you there are some hard decisions to be taken….should you read a book on a sun mattress at the front of the boat or curl up in the huge cushioned area at the back of the boat? Should you be active and take one of the toys – kayaks and wind surfs and paddle/speed across to the other side of the bay or should you take a lilo and simply float around.
As veteran Blue Cruisers our mornings are spent enjoying swimming and snorkelling, kayaking and fishing until lunch time. There’s competitions, best dive, fastest kayaker etc. Despite the breakfast, probably due to the fresh air we are all starving by lunchtime and once again we are presented with a delicious selection of Turkish specialities. Meze dishes, stuffed peppers, savoury pastries and salads, crisp white or rose wine, fresh fruit and then for us….. it’s quiz time and we rarely leave the table before 4.00pm when the heat of the day has passed and it’s time for more swimming, snoozing, curling up with the book etc. In some bays there are antique ruins, unexcavated and often overgrown with sweet smelling thyme and oregano and the Captain will run you to the shore in the tender boat.
We “dress” for dinner…well we take a lovely hot shower, and change out of our swimwear, note….you hardly need any clothes at all on a Blue Cruise, a good selection of swimwear, cover ups and a couple of outfits for evenings, there’s no shoes allowed on board so as well as being the best holiday ever it’s the easiest holiday to pack for.
We meet back up on deck for sunset drinks followed by an exquisite dinner, (by the way, they say the BEST chefs in Turkey are all on gulets!) and again we have some organised fun; one night we do a Murder Mystery, another night we each have to “do a turn”, a card night is always fun, sing-along to Mamma Mia, 70’s disco night, the only consideration is not to make so much noise that other boats in the bay are disturbed! The great thing about a gulet trip is that the entertainment is entirely up to you, as little or as much as you prefer. There’s often board games available on board (!) but take some playing cards, get everyone to bring a quiz/organise an entertainment.
Depending on the route one night you may “eat out” – it might be a beachside shack offering freshly grilled red mullet or your route may take in one of the larger sea side towns like Datça or Bozburun, where the Captain will advise on the best local restaurants.
You will wonder how you are so tired at the end of the day when you have literally done NOTHING! Your cabin awaits but sleeping on deck on calm, starry nights is an experience not to be missed.
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Ilios Travel is a trading name of Visions Holiday Group which comprises of Visions of Africa, Islands of Greece and Ilios Travel.