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Primarily in the east Aegean and along the Turkish coasts you can cruise larger wooden motorsailers called gulets, which are a balanced blend between Turkey's indigenous sea-going vessel and 20th century naval architecture.
The Adriatic Sea - Croatia as well as the Ionian in Greece are also ideal for gulet cruises.
Gulet cruising in short
- Gulets are motorsailers: The boats are equipped with motors and with sails, yet their top speed is just a very leisurely 8-10 knots.
- Most gulet charter companies are located in Bodrum and Marmaris in Turkey and in Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia.
- Typically these yachts are very luxurious: air conditioning, ice machine, very spacious mahogany interiors, teak decks and a large professional galley or kitchen.
- You will have a private master cabin with ensuite toilet and shower.
Gulets vary from 16 to 35 m in length and have large forward and aft decks, ideal for sun bathing.
- Despite the variation in length most gulets have accommodation for 6 to 16 guests in 3 to 8 cabins with double hotel like beds. Indeed, for parties larger than 12 persons a gulet offers more options than regular crewed charter yachts. A few gulets can even accomodate 20 or even 24 guests, but these are very rare.
- Unlike cruises on large ocean liners, on a gulet you can explore more secluded and intimate harbours. Yet, the smallest ports and anchorages (perhaps the most beautiful ones) can only be visited with a smaller modern yacht.
- A crew of three at least will be at your disposal : captain, cook and deckhand.Caiques, motorsailers, gullets and goulettes are all synonyms for gulets. Likewise, blue cruises or blue voyages stand for gulet cruises.
- Besides sun-bathing, there will be activities and excursions: diving, windsurfing, encountering dolphins and whales, fishing or visiting archaeological sites and tasting local culture.
- The Greek equivalent of Turkish gulets are known as caiques, yet in general the term motorsailers is used.
Cabin charter or Private charter
When there is just you and your partner, you can rent a master cabin: a cabin charter and join the 3 to 6 other couples on your holiday in Greece or Turkey. The gulet will usually take a predefined sailing route. Most luxury crewed charters will only be available as private charter though.
With a private charter or full charter you and your party will have the whole gulet and its crew at your disposal with a decisive say in the route/itinerary and the activities. Just think of it as your own private charter yacht.
Possibly downsides of Gulet cruises
- Generally, gulets will rarely sail, which means no participating in the actual sailing or manoeuvring of the yacht, so sailing instruction is not an option, yet some gulets (due to a different construction!) sail really well. And there are several top companies that offer sailing gulets, not vessels with masts without sails.
On smaller charters (standard sailing yachts) you will often sail the yacht together, which enhances team spirit and gives you the change to learn how to sail.
- A gulet cruise can be more expensive then a regular crewed yacht charter. It does help to opt for a smaller gulet, and of course to find the right charter company.
The term gulet might be derived from the French goulette (schooner) or the Venetian galiota. Yet, the archetype gulet is not a schooner, but is ketch rigged with a sharp bow, broad beam and rounded aft. These two-masted pine wood vessels, whose main purpose were transport and fishing along the south west coasts of Turkey, are nowadays newly built with the luxury and comfort of charter yachts in mind.
For unbiased advice on gulet cruises and holidays visit my gulet charters Turkey & Greece page and gulet charters Croatia page.
- Gulets are a lot slower than normal motor yachts, which means you can cover less distance, limiting your itinerary options.
- A generator also means noise-pollution and filthy diesel fumes, which are certainly not appreciated by your neighbours along the quay.
- The majority of these traditional Turkish yachts can be found near their origin: Kos, Bodrum and Rhodes.
So, there are less options to cruise a Gulet in the Cyclades, Ionian, Saronic and other must-see sailing areas in Greece and Turkey. Croatia, Italy and the Ionian Sea also offer top gulets.
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