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7 Reviews

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Date of travel

May, 2015

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Reasons for trip

Regular holiday

I was lucky enough to win a luxury cruise on a Turkish gulet, a small boat which seems to be traditional in countries on the Aegean sea. This is a wonderful way to experience the beautiful coastline and visit some of the many historical sites close to the coast.

Our week’s holiday started from East Midlands where the “meet and greet” service has recently been added making parking so much simpler. We flew out on the first Thompson flight of the season and I made the mistake of not pre-booking seats and ending up next to the toilets! It was not a very restful journey.

Arriving at Dalaman airport we had to queue for over an hour to get through passport control even though I had obtained visas on line. Apparently Monday is changeover day with all incoming flights arriving at more or less the same time! However once through we were met by a driver in a smart Mercedes minibus who drove six of us to Kalkan. We could not fail to notice that the motorway was undergoing reconstruction and sometimes the road was little more than a dirt track!

As we drove through Fethiye we were joined by Iris who is the English “Blue Cruise”: rep and she gave us a very welcome bottle of water each. She told us what to expect on the cruise and a little about the possible itinerary which can vary according to the weather. Iris told us that our chef was new but his food was excellent and abundant.

Arriving at Kalkan we drove down a very steep and winding street and we soon had our first glimpse of the gulet which was called Baba Veli 8. Once on board we were welcomed by Captain Ali and his crew of three, We also met the other passengers , six of whom were spending their second week aboard and were already good friends. A couple from Canada also joined us. They were touring Turkey for about six weeks.

The final passengers were young ( at least compared to us) and had cruised with Blue Cruise before so we had a full boat load and were soon ready to set sail on our adventure. Everyone was very friendly and seemed to gel quite quickly which was fortunate as the boat is fairly small!

While still in port we heard the evening call to prayer or the muezzin, something we would hear regularly during the week when close enough to a town or village.

The cabin was en suite with plenty of storage but not much room for suitcases and we were glad we had taken the advise to bring “soft” luggage.

After tea and cake we set sail and had a chance to relax after such an early start. The evening was beautiful and we soon came to rest in a quiet bay, hearing for the first time the voice of the engine going into reverse to slow down and the clank of the anchor being lowered. The boat was close to wooded hillside and not a soul in sight.

Our first main meal was served and lived up to the hype. The table overflowed with dishes of salad, rice, pasta, bread, vegetables and chicken stewed in a tasty sauce. We did our best but never managed to eat all that was put before us! Dessert was fresh fruit. All this was accompanied by Turkish wine which was delicious!

We all had a fairly early night and I slept so soundly my husband thought I was dead! Next morning we breakfasted at eight thirty with a huge array of jams, honey, yoghurt and a hot dish of scrambled eggs. The hot choice varied from day to day.

We let breakfast settle then sunbathed, read or swam in the sea with some fishing or canoeing. The temperature was about mid seventies and very pleasant. Lunch was served at one o’clock and was another substantial meal , mainly salads, pasta stuffed peppers or aubergines with a little meat. There was always an abundance of food and we became quite concerned at the waste. However the chef took pride in his cooking and didn’t want us to starve!

We soon settled into a routine of sailing, anchoring up in a cove and swimming. I am not a very strong swimmer but made use of the “noodles” which helped keep me afloat in the deep water. If we were fortunate we could see turtles swimming and occasionally dolphins too. Several times we were visited by “the ice cream man” selling Magnums from his little motor boat. They were expensive at ten Turkish lira.

Our first visit ashore was to Simena which is an ancient town and the site of an ancient submerged city affected by an earthquake in the second century AD. We first sailed close to the island and saw remains of houses and steps. Reaching the shore by tender we climbed the steep and winding steps to visit the ruined castle – hard work in the heat of the afternoon. All along the route were women selling jewelry bags and scarves plus bags of dried sage. Simena can only be reached by boat and we saw small motorised vessels delivering sacks of provisions.

We returned to the boat by tender but two of our friends decided to swim from the shore to the the gulet much to the enjoyment of the passengers in other boats who cheered them on! The swimmers really earned their tea that afternoon!

One evening we ate ashore at a restaurant owned by a member of the owners of Blue Cruise in a small village called Ucagiz which is a halt on the Lycian way. The restaurant was called Ibrahim’s and we ate very well with a huge choice of mezze followed by fish or meat. We were closely observed by a gang of cats which were later fed on the scraps by the waiter. Even at that late hour the village shops were open and some of our friends bought ice creams to store in the boat’s freezer. Much cheaper than the ice cream man!

Some days we stayed at sea all day and just spent our time relaxing, swimming or snorkelling. We did not see a television or read a newspaper all week. Bliss! The first “big” town we visited was Kas which has lots of restaurants, shops and banks. The shops sell designer clothing, much of which is fake but still looks good! Four of us found a small back street restaurant where i enjoyed my first cup of Turkish coffee. A bit like strong espresso with sludge at the bottom! Our friend indulged himself with a pancake which seems to be a speciality.

Later in the week we were visited by “The Pancake Lady” on a small boat. She cooked pancakes to order on a griddle and was welcomed by the crew who had a pile of them for their lunch.

One day we were anchored near Babadag (Father Mountain) where hundreds of people tandem paraglide from the mountain top and we could see them floating down to land in Oludeniz. We also passed by the beautiful beach which is close to the Blue Lagoon.

From time to time we were able to get WiFi as one of our friends had purchased a gadget which allowed access, some times the signal was stronger than others. There was also WiFi at Kas harbour .

Another trip was to St Nicholas island where my husband and the Canadian couple climbed to the top of the steep hill, stopping to look at ruined chapels en route. They were glad to stretch their legs as not much time was spent ashore.

On the penultimate day of our cruise we docked at Fethiye which is quite a busy town with a large harbour full of gulets used for daytrippers as well as for longer trips. When we were at anchor we saw and heard many of these larger boats which were full of youngsters and invariably noisy with loud pop music. These were visited by smaller boats offering jet skiing or para sailing .

When we arrived at Fethiye six of us decided to take a taxi and visit the Ghost Town of Kayakoy which is about eight kilometres from the town. It is a village inhabited by Greeks until 1922 when hey were forced to move out, Many of them were women and children who died oh hunger as they were forced to march for fifteen days. Today some of the old houses have been restored but the majority remain derelict under the protection of the Turkish Government.There are two Greek Orthodox churches remaining. Kayakoy was adopted by Unesco as a World Friendship and Peace Village in recent years. Louis de Bernieres ‘ book “Birds without wings” is set there. We were fascinated by the village but horrified to read about the terrible events back in 1922, less than one hundred years ago.

That evening we chose to eat out at a restaurant which Iris had recommended, Mozaik Bahce which is reached via the souk and is unromantically next to the fish market! The food, however, was marvelous. The menu is influenced by the mosaic culture of the Hatay region and specialises in dishes fom eastern Turkey. We all chose different dishes and we were all delighted with our choices. Two friends missed eating chips so these were provided as well as aromatic rice, loads of salads, vegetables, plenty of meat and piles of flatbread. There was very little room left for dessert but we were offered coffee or tea on the house and the ladies received a bar of soap. We felt so welcome throughout and it was a highlight of our trip.

The shops were still open in the spacious souk and I was amused to see “Genuine Fake Watches” etc. We bought some handmade Turkish Delight and were spoiled for choice.

Although we all enjoyed each other’s company we did not stay up very late except for two evenings. One night after dinner we played “Who’s in the bag?” which is simply a guess who I am describing game.This ended in hilarity with our Canadian friends surprising us with their knowledge. They did better than most of we Brits! On our very last night we danced and sang a bit too

Our final call was Gozek where we disembarked and waited for our trip back to Dalaman Airport. We hadn’t gone far when the driver stopped the minibus and bought us each a tray of the tastiest hot doughnuts I have ever eaten. Unfortunately getting out of Turkey was as bad as getting in! We queued for an hour or so to check in our baggage, had to go through two checkpoints and some were even frisked again before boarding!

However our return journey was much smoother and we were able to find our vehicle very quickly, thanks to the “Meet and Greet” service.

My overall memories of this amazing holiday will be of blue skies, blue seas and wooded hills and snow capped mountains and new friends.

This holiday is perfect for adults of all ages and abilities but definitely not for small children who would not appreciate it. When we chose to visit the ruined castle in Simena some of the passengers chose to find a bar and drink coffee! Teenagers would probably enjoy the swimming etc but miss their WiFi!

We had no guides when we went ashore but I cannot praise the crew enough for the service they gave us when we were on board. Captain Ali was very friendly and is apparently one of the very few captains to muck in with the crew. He even cooked dinner one night and baked cakes regularly.


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