It’s the season for holidays – summer vacations that is. After scouting various choices in family – friends’ vacations as well as regions available to you, you may have decided on a Turkish style holiday called a gulet charter! While the whole process is quite straightforward and simple; here are few tips that may make the whole planning and the booking process much easier for you and your family and friends.
Tip No. 1
First off, the best starting point in deciding on the right boat for your group is price. With knowing approximately how much you can allocate for your Turkish boat charter, helps to narrow down the hundreds of gulets that are available in the marketplace. However if you are unsure and just seeking some ideas (i.e. what can I charter for how much), an agent will mostly likely send you a few options in various price categories. Since we don’t know budget, then we come to the next criteria.
Tip No. 2
The number of people that will be joining you on your gulet charter holidays. Having determined the guest count, again will assist in shortlisting choices for boats. Again, if you aren’t sure, and say it could range from 12 – 16 persons, then looking for a gulet which can accommodate up to 16 (using your possible maximum guest count) would be another good way to shortlist. Now we come to the matter of standards.
Tip No. 3
What level of quality are you seeking? While most gulets will be of comfortable and decent quality, there are ones that do fit into the lower economic, less than 1 star rating. The reason in most cases is dues to the age of the gulet and the fact that it does not have any air conditioning. If you plan on traveling during the months of June through to the end of September – you may prefer to have air conditioning since it gets very hot (30 – 50+ celcius). Gulets rate according to either custom created “terminology” or stars. Please see rating levels below:
- Economic Gulets – 1 Star rating
- Luxury Gulets – 2 Star rating
- Deluxe Gulets – 3 Star rating (most popular standard)
- Ultra Deluxe Gulets – 4 Star rating
- VIP Gulets – 5 Star rating
If you refer to the standards using the stars as you do in hotels, it should give you a bit of an idea of the degree in quality levels in accommodation and services on a gulet. Something to keep in mind is that gulets rated 2 stars (luxury class), are not only affordable but also most are quite comfortable and clean – plenty enough to enjoy a blue cruise private charter vacation.
Tip No. 4
Now that you have shortlisted your gulet choices. Other features to combine with your holidays at sea are water toys! Yes you can’t be at sea, on a boat, and not play in the water. Most gulets will have the standard toys such as noodles, amatuer fishing gear and snorkeling gear (masks, snorkels and sometimes flippers). But then there are gulet charters with much more. For guests who love being in the water, enjoy a variety of water sports, such as wakeboards, kayaks, windsurfs, kneeboards, can be available on the boat. A notch up in toys would include jet skis, water skis, a tender with horse-power for ringos, bananas and other inflatable toys to pull. If this is important to you and your family and friends, ask for boats that have or can get, the water toys you prefer. If it’s not on the board as part of the inventory, sometimes these toys can be brought on board from either another boat or purchased by the boat owner.
Tip No. 5
Ok so now the boat is all set, the toys you like are possible. It’s time to figure out where to go and places to see. This is the fun part. There are literally dozens and dozens of itinerary combinations. So you need to determine where or what type of places interest you and your guests. When it comes to Turkey, there are two sides. The Mediterranean and the Aegean. If peace and quiet is what you’re after, low traffic, and privacy; then the Aegean can be ideal such as the Gulf of Hisaronu and Gulf of Gokova. But no, you want to have lots of ruins to see, don’t mind the traffic (since everyone else is doing the same in the same waters), plus be at the closest harbor to the airport for transfers, then the Mediterranean side is ideal – that’s not to say that there aren’t any peaceful quiet spots in the Mediterranean side too. Sure there is! The best way to plan out your itinerary in the beginning is with your agent. During your trip, speak to your captain as well – since they’ve traveled these waters hundreds of times. Captain enjoy discussing the route with guests to make sure they see the best possible places on their blue voyage travels.
Now if you prefer to spice up your gulet route with a few Greek Islands too, then embarking from the Aegean is better due to Turkey’s close proximity to the Dodecanese, a few of the islands in the Cyclades and North Aegean.
Tip No. 6
Food and beverage costs are a part of the provisioning like any other luxury yacht charter holiday. While the menus are priced, these prices also include the supplies and other provisions required for the journey – and not just for the foods.
There are generally 3 types of menus available. Standard, lux and deluxe. The difference is mainly in the selection of dishes and also quantity and quality of seafood (i.e. lobsters, crab, sworfish, caviar, and similar quality seafood and fish). Guests also have the option of half board menus; where they could eat out for dinner in wherever you are moored for the night. But it’s good to keep in mind that not all destinations will have a good selection of restaurants. Go over your route and make sure you have places to choose from for dining on land.
Should you change your mind to dine out a particular night, the boat is stocked, and the cook can always whip up something delicious for everyone in any case. If you figure that you won’t be dining on land, do try and let the cook know beforehand since his/her preparations are based on how many will be eating that evening. Also one more important note about dining; make sure to find out if you have chosen a place at a private marina – or there can be extra costs (not cheap) to pay. Sometimes though, restaurants do not charge private marinas fees if you are dining in their restaurant.
Dining on gulets is a customized experience and one that is quite enjoyable. Seated at a large wooden varnished table, with prepared Mediterranean delights is a beautiful social feast with your guests. This experience is as creative as the crew makes it as well. For instance, dining off the boat, on the beach, with table and chairs set up the by the crew, is a wonderful change of scenery! If your crew doesn’t think of it, request it. It’s a great way to give children that extra space to play on the beach, while the adults enjoy their blue cruise dinner! 🙂
Tip No. 7
Private gulet charters in Turkey offer the freedom to bring your own alcohol on board without any extra corkage / service fees. Some guests will like to use their option at duty free to bring import alcohol and enjoy during their holidays. In Turkey, imports are higher priced due to taxes, so it may be a good idea to bring these with you. Alternatively, Turkey has nice quality local alcohol available as well. If you love wine for example, it is possible to order a case or two or however many you wish in advance, through your yacht charter agent. It’s a great deal more convenient than hauling all that wine or trying to get a cargo company to bring it to the boat before embarkation. The services of your agent are there for you. Ordering your drinks in advance will allow the convenience of having them stocked and chilled before the day of your arrival, so you not only save time on your first day, but don’t have to think about getting it there.
Tip No. 8
We have the boat figured out, we know where we want to go, the toys are ok; menu and drinks have been chosen, now it’s time to pack. Most likely your trip is a week long. Try and not pack like you are going away for months. The boat – no matter what standard – is a boat. Space can be limited in the cabins on some gulets. If you do need to bring items that you cannot do without on your holidays, maybe using soft luggage rather than hard case luggage will be better. After unpacking, storing soft luggage is easy since they fold up nicely.
What is needed on your trip? Bathing suits (bring spares), beach towels (unless the boat provides them), light clothing, flip flops if you prefer not to be barefoot on board (no one is permitted to wear shoes on board on most yachts), sun screen, mosquito repellent (you never know 🙂 ), light evening wear for times you wish to go ashore in the evenings, an extra pair of sandals or shoes for land excursions, bathroom essentials (some gulets may provide these already), camera, mobile devices (most gulets have internet nowadays – but check with your agent just in case), reading materials, music CD/DVD’s (gulets have players on board), and anything else that will make you happy on your holidays! You can also order items that you prefer not to pack, and let your agent purchase them for you, then upon arrival reimburse for the costs.
Tip No. 9
Well just about all is covered. Gulets in the economic and luxury classes may have limited knowledge of English. You might like to have with you a pocket-sized phrase book / dictionary to help if you occasionally – just in case you get stuck communicating with the crew. You are always welcome to also call your agent by email or phone from the boat as well. This little item can also make it fun for you and / or guests by learning a few words in the local language. Turkish people love it when foreign visitors make an effort to communicate in Turkish and also love to help learn the language. 🙂
Tip No. 10
This isn’t really a tip, …. Have a great time! You’re on vacation in the magnificent Mediterranean – a holiday style that many can only dream of going on. Take it easy, relax, enjoy the food and sights, allow to be pampered by the crew, enjoy the waters and all the fun activities you can do… so that in the end, you can go back home all refreshed, feeling good, with plenty of memories to share with everyone back home!