The Turkish cruising season is long, running from late April through the first part of November. In general, we consider the most pleasant months afloat to be May & June and September & October. In 2015, favorable exchange rates should tempt more North Americans to consider exploring the Turkish coast and the Dodecanese, Greek Islands of the castern Aegean, with a Turkish yacht charter.

Gulet Under Sail
A Classic Turkish Gulet

For decades, Europeans have made up most of the charter clientele for these luxurious yet affordable yachts. In recent years Americans visiting Turkey have discovered that a yacht charter makes a wonderful centerpiece in a longer holiday that may also include time in the Greek Islands, Istanbul, and inland regions of Turkey.

The preferred courses follow Turkey’s southwestern coastline between Bodrum and Antalya. Scores of archaeological sites, some accessible only by sea, and the appeal of small, sheltered inlets make this coast a favorite with yachtsmen. Because it would take 12-15 days to cover that entire stretch, most voyagers choose to sail between, say, Bodrum and Fethiye or between Gocek and Antalya.

Bodrum, Marmaris, Gocek, Fethiye, and Antalya are Turkey’s main yachting centers. While the boats we charter are spread among these ports, we begin most of our charters in Bodrum and Gocek, which are served by nearby airports.

Gangplanks in the Bodrum Marina
Aegean mariners have their own lingua franca,
a colorful mix of Romance dialects, Greek, and Turkish.
(Gangplanks like these are known by their Italian name, passarelli.)
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase

Gulets, traditional wooden-hulled motor sailors (double-masted ketches), are the favored boats. Generally, our gulets range from 60 to 110 feet. Many of the boats are skippered by their owners. The spirit of the crew and attention to maintenance are never better than when the boss is aboard!

Crew doing maintenance aboard a Gulet
Outside Bodrum: off-season maintenance for a pair of family-owned gulets
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase

A typical gulet has at least 3 crew members (captain, first mate, & cook, who have their own quarters) and 6—8 double guest cabins, each with its own shower & toilet. The cabins are “double,” with either twin or double beds. For the ultimate luxury, some of our clients like to allot one full cabin to each adult even though a cabin will comfortably accommodate two people.

Longer craft or those with more cabins are not necessarily more luxurious. In fact, some very large and recently launched luxury gulets have only 2 or 3 double staterooms while providing all the deck space of a 12 or 16-passenger vessel.

Gulet Captain Taner
One of our gracious captains
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase

Our priorities when selecting our clients’ yachts (regardless of a craft’s charter rates or luxury-level) are always the professionalism and hospitality of the crews and the maintenance, safety, and appointments of the boats themselves. All our boats have attractively furnished interiors, air-conditioning, excellent crews, and wonderful cooks. We personally inspect each vessel and regularly meet with boat owners and their crews. Our relationships with some of our captains span two decades.

Estimated daily charter rates have a wide range, depending on the charter period and features of the individual yachts. Currency fluctuations and fuel prices may also effect rates. Sample prices below are per diem, for an entire yacht (not per person). Thus, the daily price for a boat that sleeps 12 guests is quite a bargain when you consider that it includes not only your waterfront accommodations, but also your transportation and a good deal of entertainment!

During the season, our favorite gulets charter from Saturday to Saturday and may be almost fully booked long before the busiest months of July and August. However, it is occasionally possible to charter for fewer than 7 nights or for a longer period, between 8-13 nights. So if that’s what you’d like to do, we can try to help. Keep in mind, though, that some clients grow so attached to these boats and their crews, that they may book a year in advance!

Our gulets fall into roughly three categories: Good Value, Deluxe, and Superior Deluxe. (Prices are exclusive of VAT.)

Typical Good Value Yacht
A Typical Good Value Yacht

May & Oct: $1500-1800 US per day
June & September: $1800 – $2100 per day
July-Aug: $2300-2500 per day

Typical Deluxe Yacht
A Typical Deluxe Yacht

Typical Deluxe Yacht

Typical Deluxe Yacht

May & Oct: $1800-2000 US per day
June & September: $2100 – $2500 per day
July-Aug: $3300-3800 per day

Superior Deluxe Yacht
A Typical Superior Deluxe Yacht

Superior Deluxe Yacht

May & Oct: $2500-3000 US per day
June & September: $3300 – $3800 per day
July-Aug: $4300-4800 per day

These Superior Deluxe yachts are the equivalent of the five-star hotel penthouse. More than we need, they are nonetheless tastefully appointed and just right for the sybarites among us who want to celebrate something significant.

On board all of our yachts, we figure roughly $50—$60 per person per day for three lavish meals of local specialties (including soft drinks, bottled waters, and beer). Our cooks also enjoy baking and they serve lovely tea-time spreads. At the end of a voyage, a gratuity to the crew (5-10% of the charter’s cost) is customary.

Many of you have asked about smaller, 3 or 4-cabin boats. Although they are available, there is greater choice among 6-8 cabin boats which tend to be newer and more stylishly furnished. As noted above, the number of cabins does not determine a boat’s price, and the difference between smaller and larger boats in the same category is often minimal (sometimes as little as $100 per day). Keep in mind that smaller boats have much less deck space, and since most of your time is spent topside, any sacrifice of deck-space should be carefully considered.

I encourage clients to assemble their own parties, but in certain instances, I will try to help singles and smaller groups link up with prospective fellow travellers willing to share a boat.

An attractive alternative to a private charter is to join a scheduled tour that includes a gulet cruise. Our Asia Minor Tours website offers two different itineraries for our scheduled 2012 tours:

Classical Turkey Land and Sea
Cruising the Turquoise Coast

Each of the two programs above includes a fully-crewed Good Value gulet accompanied by one of our bilingual, archeological guides.

For couples or single travellers eager to share the adventure of meeting new people as they explore new landscapes, these scheduled trips are excellent value.

Should the dates of the Asia Minor Tours programs not fit your schedule, please know that we are able to tailor those itineraries to dates of your choosing. (NOTE: Many clients like to use the scheduled tours as templates for the customized programs we design for them. Customized Asia Minor tours are repriced to reflect boats and other services available for the time you wish to travel, so prices may be higher or lower than those published for the scheduled tours.)

In addition, I can also advise you of a few other reputable companies offering single cabins on their organized tours.

Charters of very luxurious, larger vessels (both sail and motor) are also possible.

Tirhandil in Bodrum with a backdrop of Mega Yachts
Before a backdrop of white-washed villas and a bank of mega-yachts,
floats a classic Bodrum tirhandil, whose Greek name signifies that
a hull’s length is three times its beam.
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase

While you’ll find simple day-boats all along the Turkish coast, there are only a few we’d recommend—and those mostly for their vintage character and charm, such as this one owned by an especially gregarious sponge diver:

Turkish Sponge Diver boat tied to a dock
Bodrum sponge-diver’s tirhandil
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase


Dayboat at anchor in Bodrum
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase

If you’re a sailor yourself, more interested in bare-boating, I can steer you in the appropriate direction.

An American trawler from Wilmington, Delaware in dry dock at Bodrum Marina
An American trawler enjoys some end-of-season TLC.
Meticulous Turkish craftsmanship attracts vintage vessels
from around the world.
Copyright © 2011, Holly Chase