Gulet: A sailing boat, usually ketch- or schooner-rigged, chiefly used in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, esp. for holiday cruises – Oxford English Dictionary
The Turkish gulet cruise; that most graceful of prima ballerinas of the southern and southwestern Turkish seas. Every year, thousands of people travelling or holidaying in the country will book themselves a Turkey gulet cruise as part of their Turkish experience.
And, depending on their wont and the company they book with, they will either party or relax the days and nights away for a few days.. But, after all these years of living in Turkey, we had never had the Turkish gulet cruise experience…
…Until recently, that is. And now we’re back from that experience and we want to take you on our gulet cruise in Turkey with us.
When our friend at Gulet Voyage suggested we book a cabin charter cruise, while we were excited about the thought of it, we were also a little bit apprehensive; questions running through our heads:
- The cruises are a week long. What if we get bored? We’re ‘doers’ not relaxers. Could we really sit on a gulet for a week and not lose the plot?
- The only time we could make it would be October. What if the weather was awful?
- And if the sea got really rough, what if we were sea sick? I suffer from motion sickness.
- And the great unknown. Who would be on the gulet with us and what if we didn’t along with each other? Would it ruin the whole experience or is there ‘room’ for everyone’s personalities?
What if, what if, what if? Sometimes, you’ve just got to go for it. So, we looked at the itineraries and, after a bit of deliberation, plumped for perhaps one of Turkey’s most famous gulet cruise routes: the Kemer Kekova Kemer gulet cruise. This route is often called the Blue Cruise. And what were our reasons for this choice?
- So many places along this route that we have wanted to visit or revisit for such a long time. This particular itinerary meant we would see many of those sights. The Kemer-Kekova-Kemer Turkish gulet cruise itinerary has loads of opportunities for getting off the boat and having a wander around as well as having truly spectacular scenery and idyllic bays. This route just seemed to have a bit of everything for us.
- Lycian Turkey. Living in Fethiye with its tomb of Amyntas, we have a minor obsession with Lycian ruins and this route covers a stretch of coastline just jam-packed with Lycian, Hellenistic, Roman and mediaeval sites. The Lycians were big seafarers so why not see their lands from the sea in the 21st century?
- This area of Turkey is known for its temperate winter climate. As it was the beginning of October when we did the gulet cruise, we had a pretty decent chance of summery weather and warm turquoise seas for swimming in the bays. And the advantage of this time of year in Turkey, too, is the end of the summer surf. On still days, the sea can be glass-like. Perfect for not-very-brave me!
The Turkish word “gület” is a loanword from Venetian gołéta (modern Italian goletta), itself a loanword from French gouëlette (present-day spelling goélette), meaning “schooner”. The French word is probably related to goéland, meaning (and etymologically related to the word) “gull”, ultimately of Celtic origin… – Wikipedia
Our Kemer Kekova Kemer Gulet Cruise Holiday
Well, what’s a completely new experience without a few apprehensions, eh? That’s what life’s all about. And, happily, all apprehensions were completely unnecessary. We just loved our Turkish gulet cruise experience.
We’re complete converts and, last night when a friend was questioning us about it all in full detail, he asked, “So would you do one again?”
We’re still talking about different moments from the trip; little events randomly popping into our heads as we go about other business, and now, we want to tell you all about it, too.
This is the official Kemer to Kekova gulet cruise itinerary and it is pretty much the route we followed – a couple of swim stops swapped around here and there, but nothing missed out.
And well, we were on a gulet cruise, we were completely chilled out – who cares even what day it is? We genuinely forgot what day it was on more than one occasion!
So, where are we going on our Kemer Kekova Turkish gulet cruise?
We’re off to ancient Phaselis. This is one of the sites and areas that had been on our radar for an age so to be finally going there; we were proper excited! A choice here of a swim or a visit to the site.
Geeky culture vultures here – everyone else plunged into the clear waters for their first swim of the trip…and the deck hand brought the dinghy round to nip me and Barry across the water to the site entrance. Just the two of us.
We’re off to the ruins of Olympos. On our radar for longer than perhaps any of the other stops on this gulet cruise and we were not disappointed. We’ll be back here, one day…
This time, there were 5 or 6 out of the 14 of us in the dinghy heading towards the beautiful beach and the mysterious ruins hidden in the lush greenery of the sheer cliff faces, beyond.
After an overnight stop in Adrasan, an early start for the long sail to the Demre area. Another on the list – we finally got to see the ancient Andriake harbour and, from here, this was the one optional half day trip we paid for via the yachting company – Myra and the church of St. Nicholas.
If you read this blog often, you’ll know we visited Myra in springtime but we really couldn’t see when a St. Nicholas Church visit would happen again so we took the opportunity to go.
And then we’re off to yet another site we’d never seen but always wanted to: Kekova. Also known as the sunken city, we’ll sail over the ruins before turning and heading across the bay to yet another place we’ve wanted to see for ourselves for soooo long: Simena.
Dinghy time again (we loved our little dinghy jaunts) into this ridiculously pretty village with its hilltop castle ruins.
Anchored overnight in the apparently famous series of bays of Gökkaya (this was a new one for us), we watched a serene sunrise, we ate breakfast and then the anchor was lifted and we headed a little further around the bay to the village of Üçağız.
A full day anchored here because some of our party took off on the other optional day trip offered by the yachting company: A full day tour to three places we already know and love. First stop is Saklıkent, then a stop off at Xanthos, followed by a little wander around Kaş.
Obviously, there was no point in us paying for this particular trip as we’ve been to all of those places numerous times – and it’s many years since we were last in Üçağız.
We jumped in the dinghy again and were ferried across the water for a morning in the village before spending the afternoon back on the gulet lazing around, reading and playing on the internet.
The following day, we’re off to Tersane; a perfect bay for swimming and also exploring. We’re still amongst the ruins of Kekova, here, and it’s possible to swim to shore and wander around…if you’ve got some type of beach shoes, that is. A bit of hobbling in bare feet for us before letting the waters tempt us again.
Another bay later that day and then it’s early morning start time again as we head back towards Kemer. Porto Ceneviz – achingly beautiful, crystal clear waters, cliffs, the lush greenery so familiar to this area…an anchored private luxury cruiser called ‘Barbie.’
And then, eventually, we’re back to Kemer feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated, a memory card stuffed full of photos and videos – and a physical memory packed full of thoughts and feelings, too, of course.
In between all the sightseeing, we travelled, we swam, we read, we slept, we drank and we ate. We ate lots…
What’s The Food Like On A Turkish Gulet Cruise?
This is one question that’s been asked of us a few times since we got back: How was the food? Answer: Typical Turkish cuisine. And if you know us, that means it was perfect for us. Remember, our Turkish gulet cruise is a cabin charter on a standard gulet but our chef, Ümit, did a great job of giving us healthy meals with lots of variety each day.
Each day, breakfast was Turkish breakfast: White cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, jam, honey and bread. Eggs were different each day; sometimes boiled, sometimes fried and omelette, too. And on some days, salami and cocktail sausages were alternated, too.
And a little surprise treat on one of the days; tepsi böreği. A big tray of cheese-filled pastry slices!
Apart from one day where we had et sote (a tomato and beef stew), lunches were vegetarian. The photo above is the table being set for lunch on one of the days; mushroom casserole with bulgur wheat. Salad and yoghurt were also part of this meal.
Other dishes included stuffed peppers and aubergines and green beans in olive oil, amongst others. Typical Turkish rice, bulgur wheat or pasta were always accompaniments as was salad and, most of the time, natural yoghurt.
Then there was daily tea/coffee time served with various biscuits.
Evening meal – again, the usual accompaniments. Rotations of rice, bulgur wheat or pasta – and real chips on one of the days, too. Whoop whoop. Yoghurt, Russian Salad and regular salads were present on the table, too. We had chicken şiş kebab on the barbecue, barbecued köfte and barbecued sea bass.
From the oven, sea bream, chicken thighs in tomato sauce and, if anyone caught a fish as we sailed around, we had that, too.
If you’re vegetarian and cringing at the sight of the evening meal list, or you’ve got intolerances or allergies to anything, you can just let your chef know and he’ll make alternative meals for you. None of that for us, though. Our party wolfed everything down that was put in front of them!
And we fully appreciated our captain, chef and deckhand; the on board crew. How they keep going throughout a whole season is beyond us. But they do just that. We were fully looked after throughout the whole weeks and we made sure we showed our appreciation with a more-than-deserved tip at the end of the cruise.
So, let’s set off on our Blue Cruise. Here we are heading along the coastline on the first morning, leaving Kemer behind. And we were already loving it, by this stage. We’ll visit all of these places in future blog posts. And we’ll tell you more about our personal experience within those posts, too. Let’s go…
Kemer To Kekova Turkish Gulet Cruise – Useful Info
- Dinghy trips to shore are included in the price of your Turkish gulet cruise. You just pay entrance fees to the particular site’s ticket booth, if you want to visit. 10 TL each for Phaselis and the castle at Simena, 5 TL for entrance to the ruins at Olympos.
- There were two optional day trips offered by the yachting company and these were priced in euros. Prices included transfer to and from the sites, entrance fees, tour guide and, for the full day trip to Saklıkent, lunch. Payment for these optional trips was given to a company rep before the gület left the marina.
- All meals are included in the price of your Turkish gulet cruise: Breakfast with tea and coffee, lunch, tea & coffee time with biscuits, evening meal.
- All soft drinks and alcoholic drinks are extra. We kept our own tally on a sheet at the bar and paid for them at the end of the trip. Biggest bar bill? You can guess who got that honour…
- We booked our trip through Gulet Voyage Yachting and Travel. Our Kemer to Kekova gulet cruise was cabin charter on a standard gület but they also offer routes on superior gulets, deluxe gulets and high deluxe gulets.
- If you want to guarantee who you travel with, Gulet Voyage Yachting also offer gulet charter options where you and your friends and family get the gulet all to yourselves.
- For more info on all of this, you can visit their website at www.guletvoyage.com.
- Like us, they’re dotted about on social media, too. You can also follow them online via their Facebook page, on Twitter (@guletvoyage), Pinterest and Instagram.