Have you decided on the right cruise for your summer travel plans? Although cruise ships allure most passengers with their luxurious facilities - restaurants, pools, saunas, gyms and various entertainment facilities - some trips are designed to engage even those travelers most prone to boredom.
In Turkey, local travel and cruise agencies have already rolled up their sleeves for the upcoming summer season with the arrival of international tourists in the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal cities. During a four-day cruise, travelers can explore the best of the Turkish Riviera.
Tourists can marvel at the Lycian rock tombs before taking a mud bath in Dalyan and enjoy swimming in secluded bays, sunbathing onboard or snorkeling to get a glimpse of underwater life. A combination holiday of the Turkish coastline and surrounding Greek islands is another choice. Underwater caves, volcanoes and traditional Greek and Turkish villages make the trip ideal for anyone who loves exploring and getting away from tourist-driven holiday resorts.
Boutique cruise tours
Compared to ship tours, boutique ship tours offer limited capacity, but if you happen to find a comfortable one, you can sail along the Aegean coast or the nearby Greek islands. A short while ago, the Eastern Mediterranean-based Celestyal Cruises announced that they increased the number of voyages to Turkey. A new cruise ship is expected to start offering trips in May, anchoring at the Aegean ports of İzmir, Kuşadası and Çeşme in Turkey. Two of the company's other ships will dock at the Kuşadası and Istanbul ports 165 times a year, bringing around 150,000 tourists to Turkey.
Route tip: Local travel agencies offers cruise programs running from June to September. The program covers three- or four-night cruises to the Greek islands from its homeport in Çeşme, İzmir.
Sailing along Turkey's clear waters is an experience that every sailor, professional or not, should be lucky enough to have once in his or her lifetime. Bareboat charter holidays are another way for tourists to explore Turkey's turquoise coast at their own pace and on their own schedule. Every amateur sailor should try bareboating for a sailing experience to remember. You can either sail by yourself, with a small group of friends or as a family. Alternatively, bareboats are ideal to learn sailing with an accompanying experienced captain. A daily bareboat cruise starts from 350 euros.
Route tip: Pick up a bareboat in Fethiye's Göcek area and discover the Mediterranean Sea. Bareboat charters are also available in the coastal towns of Bodrum, Marmaris, Çeşme and Kalkan.
Cabin charters are probably the most economic cruise holiday with daily prices starting at TL 175 and various route options. A combination of sailing and relaxation, cabin charters are preferable for couples and small groups of up to six people. After a morning swim, you can have breakfast on the aft deck and, after a few hours of sailing end up in a bay for swimming and sunbathing. Many cabin charters offer full board service.
Route tip: If you fancy a mini tour, you can take a four-day cabin cruise from Marmaris to Fethiye or enjoy an entire week setting off from Bodrum to discover several small islands and bays including Orak Island, Cleopatra Island and the areas of Longoz, Kargılı and Pabuçburnu.
With warmer weather on the horizon, gulets have already shown up on Marmaris shores, a hot spot for blue voyages in Turkey. Originally built and used by fishermen and sponge divers to transport their catch, gulets, a traditional two- to three-mast wooden vessel, is where you can experience the majesty of Turkish shores with a group of friends for a week or two. Gulet cruises in Turkey are considered a luxury holiday, not because of the price, but because the all-inclusive gullet cruises make you feel at home on the sea away from the summer crowds. Wooden gulets are also ideal for big families since children can find ample space to enjoy themselves. The interior of a gulet features an indoor dining area as well as a covered outdoor dining and lounge area on the aft deck. The forward deck, with sun beds, can be shaded by a canopy when the boat is not sailing. Luxury gulets also employ chefs preparing exclusive marine menus for guests. The price to rent a gulet starts from around TL 150 ($50.60) per person.
Route tip: Follow a one-way route setting off from Marmaris along the coastal villages of the Bozburun peninsula and head to Datça and Bodrum as the final destination.