It’s the season for holidays – summer vacation that is. After scouting various choices in vacation styles 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 spend 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 for boats. Again, if you aren’t sure, and say it could range from 12 – 16 persons, then look for gulets which can accommodate up to 16 (using your possible maximum guest count). 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 – be careful. The reason in most cases is dues to the age of the gulet and the fact that it does not have any air conditioning and also not very well looked after. 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 (Mirya rarely, if at all, offers this standard)
- 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 for 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, windsurf, 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. If this is important to you and your family and friends, ask for boats that have the water toys you prefer. If it’s not on the board as part of the inventory, then the next option is to rent from water sports providers during your travels – where available.
Tip No. 5
Ok so now the boat is all set, the toys you like are possible perhaps. 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 like. 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 very 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 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 and thousands of times. Captains enjoy discussing the route with guests to make sure they see the best possible places on their blue voyage travels.
NOTE: whatever itinerary is planned during your booking, may not be the exact when you are actually travelling. This is due to weather conditions, and the captain does have the final say for everyone’s safety and comfort.
Now if you prefer to spice up your gulet route with a few Greek Islands, then embarking from the Aegean is better due to Turkey’s close proximity to the Dodecanese islands, and a few of the islands in the Cyclades and North Aegean regions. Please read more about sailing in the Cyclades here.
NOTE: 90% of Gulets will Travel in the Dodecanese islands. 95% of Gulets and those less than Deluxe category may NOT travel in the Cyclades – especially during June, July, August and September because of the Meltemi Winds. Please check with your agent regarding your interest for the Cyclades.
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 2 or 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. Items such as lobsters, crab, sworfish, caviar, and similar high quality seafoods and fish will be extra on top of the menu price most times – depending on the gulet. Guests also have the option of half board menus; where they could eat out for dinner where 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. For Turkish gulets in Turkey, full board is highly advisable.
Should you change your mind to dine out a particular night, the boat is stocked or might top up, 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. Doing this will also add to the cost on top of the half board price you have already paid for. 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 in the marina in Turkey.
NOTE: Greek island harbour fees and customs fees are ALWAYS extra and payable in cash only against the receipts the captain gives you during or at the end of your gulet charter trip.
Dining on gulets is a customized experience. Seated at a large wooden varnished table, with Aegean and 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, you might like to request it – if possible. 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 (95%). Some guests will like to use their option at duty free to bring import alcohol. In Turkey, imports are higher priced than the Greek islands due to taxes, so it may be a good idea to bring these with you. Alternatively, Turkey offers very nice quality local wines. If you love wine, it is possible to order a case or two or however many you wish in advance, through your yacht charter agent. It’s very 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 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 🙂 but most boats will have these items on board), 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 (most 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. Turkish 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. 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 Aegean / 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!