Welcome to part two of our 5-part series on everything you need to know about Gulets and Gulet cruises.
This 5-part series was written by Sue Fockner, the Canadian owner of Arkadaslik Yachting. Sue and her Turkish partner host private cruises throughout Turkey and Greece aboard their 22-meter luxury gulet, Arkadaslik.
Part 2 – Things to Consider BEFORE Booking A Gulet Cruise
Gulet cruises are a popular vacation activity in the Mediterranean – but planning a trip can be overwhelming for first-time cruisers. There are literally thousands of boats to choose from. Ask for words of wisdom from experienced cruisers, they will regale you with stories ranging from “the best vacation ever” to “the worst vacation ever”, and everything in between. How do you narrow down your choices?
Here are some things to consider that will make the next step in your holiday preparations (picking the perfect gulet cruise) a snap!
This may seem obvious, but make sure your holiday schedule coincides with the gulet cruise season. In Turkey, gulet season runs from May through October.
|Month||Air Temperature||Water Temperature||Price||Weather|
|May||Mild days, chilly nights||Cold||Low||Occasional storms with wind and rain|
|June||Warm days, cool nights||Cool, but warming||Mid-range||Rain early in the month|
|September||Warm days, cool nights||Warm||Mid-range||Rain later in the month|
|October||Mild days, chilly nights||Cool||Low||Occasional storms with wind and rain|
Weather can impact your enjoyment of a cruise and can also impact the itinerary. (Every captain retains the authority to alter the route to ensure the safety of the boat and occupants.)
Prices and availability for cruises vary throughout the season – with increases generally coinciding with bank and school holidays and religious celebrations. Booking well in advance is recommended if you have specific schedule requirements during peak holiday season.
Let’s face it unless you’re movie-star-wealthy, you probably need to consider your budget when booking a yachting holiday. And cruise pricing can be confusing. Here are some terms that will help you interpret gulet holiday costs.
Cabin Charter versus Private Charter
When booking a CABIN CHARTER, you effectively rent a cabin on the crewed gulet and share the common space with other passengers during the cruise. Prices are typically listed “per person”, with conditions like “based on double occupancy” or “single supplements apply”.
CABIN CHARTERS are a great way to meet other travellers!
When booking a PRIVATE CHARTER, you effectively hire the entire gulet (and services of the crew) for your group’s exclusive use. The boat will have a maximum capacity, but the price is the same, regardless of the number of people in your party.
PRIVATE CHARTERS allow you to pick your travelling companions and are often a less expensive option when vacationing with a group of friends or extended family. And, because your group has exclusive use of the boat, the schedule and route can be customized to your specific requirements.
Standard, Luxury and VIP gulets
Like hotels, gulets fall into several very broad classes of accommodation based on their set-up, amenities and level of service.
- STANDARD GULETS offer the basic necessities for a safe cruise experience. In lieu of a cook, the sailor and captain may share cooking responsibilities.
- LUXURY GULETS offer more onboard amenities and an enhanced level of crew service. Air conditioning is standard on luxury gulets, and there is typically a dedicated cook onboard.
- VIP GULETS offer every imaginable amenity and five-star service for their guests.
Surprisingly, the price doesn’t always reflect the boat’s classification – there are many affordable luxury class gulets and some over-priced standard gulets out there! (Sadly, every VIP boat that I’m aware of also comes with a VIP price tag.)
Meals and Drinks
Practically everyone who’s taken a gulet cruise mentions the quality (and quantity) of food and drinks they consumed during their trip. In fact, most will agree that the food was a critical part of their experience. For this reason, it’s a good idea to think about your group’s specific requirements beforehand.
- Are there any allergies or food sensitivities that need to be taken into consideration?
- Are there picky eaters that need to be accommodated for on the cruise?
- Are there special celebrations during the cruise that require advance planning and preparation? (On a recent cruise, we celebrated two birthdays with pre-arranged cakes and champagne. Fortunately, we had an extra bottle of champagne on-hand for the unexpected marriage proposal that happened on the same trip!)
Depending on which boat you charter, meals and drinks may be included in the cruise price, or might be charged extra.
- As the name implies, ALL-INCLUSIVE indicates that meals and drinks are included in the charter price. There may be some limitations on alcoholic drinks (e.g., beer, wine, and local spirits only).
- FULL BOARD indicates that meals are included, but drinks are extra.
- Different boats have varying policies about allowing outside food and drink onboard. Check the rules carefully to avoid nasty surprises. (Arkadaslik Yachting has recently introduced a BRING YOUR OWN BEVERAGES plan on some cruises – which is proving to be popular with guests!)
- If you book your cruise through a yachting agency, you may be required to PROVISION THE BOAT The agency will provide you with a shopping list of essentials, or, for a fee, do the shopping on your behalf and arrange for delivery to the boat before you arrive.
Note: At first glance, the PROVISION THE BOAT option may appear less expensive than the other options mentioned in this article. Don’t forget that you’re required to purchase enough food and drink for the boat’s crew and all consumable supplies, including drinking water, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, charcoal, spices and condiments, etc. The costs can add up surprisingly quickly.
In addition to determining the number of berths (beds) you need for your holiday, it’s important to figure out the optimal cabin configuration to help narrow down your search for the perfect boat.
- SINGLE CABIN – accommodates one person
- DOUBLE CABIN – accommodates two people in a double bed
- TRIPLE CABIN – accommodates three people, usually in one single and one double bed
- TWIN CABIN – accommodates two people in two single beds
- MASTER CABIN – accommodates two or three people, generally more spacious and better appointed than a double or triple cabin.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you’ve got your heart set on a sailing holiday, it’s important to pick a gulet with functional sails. Likewise, if air-conditioning is a necessity, you need to focus you search on boats that are suitably equipped.
One of the most complimented (or criticized) “amenities” on a gulet is the bathroom facilities. While all gulets have private ensuites for their passengers, there’s significant variation in size and functionality. Ranging from the smallest of WCs with hand-pump toilets, tiny wash basins and hand-held showers to luxuriously appointed bathrooms with Jacuzzi bathtubs, and everything in between, many people like to know what they’re getting themselves into when booking a cruise. If nice bathrooms are important to you, don’t hesitate to ask for recent photographs of the facilities before booking.
As far as other amenities go, identify your “must haves” and your “nice to haves” now, so you aren’t overwhelmed by possibilities when it comes time to actually pick a boat for your holiday.
And finally, identify your preferred itinerary.
- Is there a particular destination you “must see” during your cruise?
- Is there a particular activity you “must do” during your cruise?
- Is there a particular place you “must go” during your cruise?
A little pre-planning goes a long way in preparing for your gulet vacation. Consider your holiday schedule, budget, accommodation requirements and basic itinerary to simplify the next phase of your holiday planning, which we’ll address in the next article in this series – “How to Pick the Perfect Gulet Cruise”.