This is the final article in a 5-part series written by Sue Fockner-Aşık, the Canadian owner of Arkadaslik Yachting. Sue and her Turkish husband, Captain Oktay, host private cruises throughout Turkey and Greece aboard their 22-meter luxury gulet, Arkadaslik.
Recognizing that everyone has unique needs, budgets, and holiday preferences, Sue tries to provide unbiased information to help travellers make informed decisions about gulets and gulet cruises. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need additional information.
What to Expect DURING your Gulet Cruise
So you’ve decided that a gulet holiday sounds like the ideal vacation for your upcoming trip to Turkey, and booked yourself the perfect gulet. What can you expect during your time onboard? While there’s really no such thing as a “typical day at sea”, here are some things you’ll probably experience during a gulet cruise:
Big or small, every gulet is staffed with a captain and at least one sailor. Depending on the gulet’s size and class, there may also be an additional sailor (or two), a cook, and a hostess. The crew is responsible for operating the gulet and keeping the boat safe and clean, preparing and serving meals, and attending to the needs of the guests.
Relaxing On Board
In addition to guest cabins (with ensuites), all gulets are equipped with cushioned seating areas, where you’ll likely spend the bulk of your time onboard. There will also be sunbeds, where sun worshippers can lie back, relax and work in their holiday suntans.
Meals on a Gulet
Eating is an important part of any cruise, and gulet cruises are no exception. No self-respecting gulet crew would allow their guests to go hungry. Each day, you can expect a massive Turkish breakfast, a hearty home-cooked lunch, and a late-evening dinner prepared on the barbeque, plus afternoon tea and snacks throughout the day.
Most meals are served “family style” on the gulet’s big outdoor dining table, with everyone helping themselves from shared platters.
There’s no need to worry about setting or clearing the table, or washing dishes. Your crew will take care of the chores so you can relax and enjoy your holiday!
Getting from Place to Place
Depending on your cruise itinerary, your gulet will usually move a few times each day. İn preparation, the captain will start the engine while the sailor hops in the dinghy and unties the lines holding the gulet in place. Once the stern lines are free, the anchor holding the front of the boat in position is raised. This can take a surprisingly long time – some spots require 150 meters (or more) of chain to be laid out to keep the boat safely in position!
Most gulets have an average cruising speed of between 6 and 8 “knots” (nautical miles per hour) – that’s the reason that Blue Cruises are referred to as slow travel.
If your gulet is equipped with sails, and the weather is cooperative, your captain may raise the sails for a while during your journey. The effect is impressive – all you’ll hear is the souond of the wind and the waves lapping the sides of the wooden boat – but much slower than cruising with engine power.
Upon arrival at your destination, the captain will scout out the perfect spot for safe anchorage and signal for the anchor to be dropped while reversing the boat into position near the shore or harbour. The sailor will tie the lines on shore to keep the gulet in position for the duration of your stay.
Enjoying the Water
Most anchorages allow for unlimited access to the water. (The only exception is if you are anchored in a harbour or marina.) Swim, dive, kayak, snorkel and enjoy the water to your heart’s content.
If there’s fishing gear on board, you may wantto try your luck at catching something for dinner. Most sailors are avid fisherman, so someone on the crew will help with cleaning and cooking anything you catch.
Unless you’re anchored somewhere really remote and secluded, you can expect a visit from the pancake lady, the ice cream man, and the water sport boats offering Ringo, water-skiing, and parasailing. These options are not typically included in your cruise price, so you should haggle for the best price possible BEFORE saying yes to their services.
Exploring on Land
If you enjoy hiking and exploring during your cruise, you can usually swim ashore wherever you are anchored. Or, if you’d prefer to stay dry, ask the captain or sailor to take you to land in the dingy.
Sleeping Under the Stars
Even on air-conditioned gulets, most guests enjoy sleeping on deck during the hottest days of summer. Make sure to cover yourself in insect repellant before drifting off to sleep so you aren’t woken in the middle of the night by pesky mosquitoes.
The absence of light pollution and normally clear summer skies practically guarantee you a spectacular view of the stars when you sleep on deck. And, you don’t need to get out of bed to watch a beautiful Mediterranean sunrise!
There’s no assurance that you’ll actually see them, but the Turkish coastline is home to a variety of marine life and wildlife – dolphins, sea turtles (including the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle – Caretta caretta), wild boar, hawk, squirrels, and deer. Donkeys, goats, and sheep are frequently spotted along the shore too.
Every day on a gulet is a unique experience, one that you’re to remember for years to come.
Bon voyage – wishing you fair winds and following seas on your upcoming Blue Cruise holiday!
If you have any questions about this article, or would like more information about gulet cruising in general, we’re always happy to help. Feel free to contact us any time for assistance.