What is a Blue Cruise?

At its most basic, a Blue Cruise is a multi-day boating holiday along the Mediterranean coast on a classic Turkish gulet. But that definition doesn't begin to describe the experience!

Read on for an insider's scoop to everything you need to know about gulets and gulet cruises in the Mediterranean.

This page was updated on Apr 20, 2021 12:49 PM

An Insider's Scoop: Everything You Need to Know About Blue Cruise Gulet Vacations

Diving Deeper into the Definition of "Blue Cruise"

  • Multi-day: These holidays include days enjoying everything the Mediterranean has to offer, and nights sleeping on board, usually anchored in a peaceful bay or cove. (You rarely sleep in a harbour during a Blue Cruise, unless you've specifically requested it on your itinerary.)
  • Boating Holiday: The boat acts as your floating resort, including your accommodation, a full-service restaurant, well-stocked bar, and the biggest swimming pool you've ever seen! And the crew, like resort staff, will take care of the cooking, cleaning, and boat related duties, allowing you to sit-back and relax without lifting a finger during your well-deserved vacation.
  • Along the Mediterranean Coast: The Mediterranean is an area of incredible beauty and rich history. Depending on your route, you'll be able to explore ancient ruins, marvel at the marine life, and/or sight-see in coastal towns and villages. And everywhere you look, you'll see the gorgeous colours of the Mediterranean.
  • On a Classic Turkish Gulet: While gulets may look like historic wooden ships, they are designed with passenger comfort and safety in mind. Even the most basic vessels feature guest cabins, private toilets and shower facilities, and a host of safety features to keep everyone onboard safe. Gulets have a broad beam, low profile and heavily weighted hull, making them exceptionally stable vessels for cruising - a benefit for passengers who are susceptible to seasickness.

Blue Cruises offer all the benefits of an exclusive land-based resort, with the bonus of travelling to various sites – without the need to pack and unpack your suitcase every day. Guests often say the experience is similar to staying at a floating seaside resort with everything you need on board - hotel, bar, restaurant, swimming pool and sunbeds, convenient access to sightseeing, and crew included!

collage of images of a Blue Cruise gulet with sails raised

Why Are Blue Cruises So Popular?

  • Relaxing – Perhaps it's all the fresh air, or the fact that you don't need to lift a finger on your holiday, but Blue Cruises are exceptionally relaxing.
  • Versatile – Blue Cruises appeal to people with a wide variety of tastes and interests. If you want to rest, relax, and enjoy your favourite novel – no problem. If you want an adventure holiday with the chance to scuba-dive, water-ski and paraglide – that's possible too. Hikers, nature lovers, history buffs, photography hounds, and people who just want to party – everyone's preferences can be accommodated during a Blue Cruise.
  • Fun – When talking to guests, we often hear that the most memorable moments of the holidays were the unexpected thrills. Eating a fish they caught off the side of the boat, seeing a shooting star before falling asleep on deck, kayaking with sea turtles, or finally mastering the paddle board. Gulet holidays let you take a break from the pressures of everyday life and appreciate quality time doing things you love with friends and family.

You don't need any boating experience or qualifications to enjoy a Blue Cruise. Similar to cruising on a larger cruise ship, the boat is staffed with crew who are responsible for operating the gulet and keeping it safe and clean, preparing and serving meals, and attending to guest needs. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy your holiday!

Who Goes on Gulet Cruises?

In short, everyone.

  • Families
  • Groups of friends
  • Couples
  • Solo travellers

Blue Cruises appeal to people of all ages, interests, and backgrounds. We've hosted everyone from young adults enjoying their gap year to a VIP couple travelling with bodyguards, and everyone in between. And age-wise, we've hosted groups with infants and toddlers, teens and 'tweens, and adults of all ages – virtually everyone from the young, to the young at heart. In addition to being agreat "regular" vacation, Blue Cruises are suitable for celebrating weddings, reunions, engagements, birthdays, honeymoons, anniversaries, job promotions, retirements, and even recoveries from life-altering diseases. Blue Cruises are a versatile and appealing holiday that everyone can enjoy!

collage of images of people relaxing on their gulet cruises

What Does a Typical Cruise Day Look Like?

Although the specific itinerary varies from cruise to cruise, Blue Cruises alternate periods of cruising (usually under motor) with time at anchor. This allows guests to enjoy a variety of locations on their holiday, without the need to pack and unpack between destinations.

A typical day will include a massive Turkish breakfast, followed by time to chill out while crew clean up after the meal. Then, perhaps the captain will lift the anchor ("weigh the anchor" in nauticall-speak) and motor to a new anchorage where you'll venture onto land for sightseeing or a hike. Suitably exercised, you'll return to the boat for a hearty lunch and then enjoy more free time for swimming or napping. Late in the afternoon, you'll likely find yourself cruising to another picturesque anchorage – enjoying afternoon snacks enroute. (The crew may even raise the sails for the journey if your gulet is suitably equipped.) While it is still light, the captain will find a safe anchorage for your overnight stay and you'll have the chance to do as you please while the crew prepare dinner. The evening meal is served as darkness falls, and can last for hours as you linger over the multi-course feast. Then, when you get tired, head to bed – either in your cabin, or on deck under the stars. And wake the next morning, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

The specifics of your route will determine what activities are possible each day. For example, if you are cruising in the Göcek Islands, water sports and parasailing are readily accessible. If you're cruising along the Lycian Coast, you'll have opportunities to explore historic ruins, and perhaps visit a few of the resort towns along the coast. Cruises to the Greek islands usually include excursions for shopping and visits to a local tavern (or two). Every day of a Blue Cruise brings new adventures.

Your crew will advise you on the options at each place you drop anchor – and you may find yourself with an overwhelming number of possibilities. Don't worry though, if you can't do everything on this trip, you can always come back again.

collage of images showing people doing various water sports while on vacation in the Mediterranean

Where Do Gulet Cruises Go?

Because of their design, gulets are able to navigate in fairly shallow water, so they can access bays and coves that are simply not possible in cruise liners. And many of the most popular destinations are not even accessible by car.

The concept of the Blue Cruise (also called Blue Voyage, Blue Tour, or Mavi Tur in Turkish) originated in Turkey, but gulet holidays are now also gaining popularity in Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, and Italy.

When deciding on a route, bear in mind that gulets are heavy vessels and therefore, travel slowly - 7 or 8 knots (12 to 15 km/hr) on average. And they typically only cruise 3 or 4 hours a day. The rest of the time is dedicated to enjoying the area where you are anchored – whether it's an isolated bay, a historic site, or the harbour of a coastal town or village.

When is Blue Cruise Season?

Mediterranean cruise season usually starts in late April / early May and runs through the end of October / beginning of November.

April / May Early season $ Generally warm days, cool nights, occasional rain Cool water
June Shoulder season $$ Warm days, cool nights Cool water
July High season $$$ Hot days, warm nights Cool water
August High season $$$ Hot days, hot nights Warm water
September Shoulder season $$ Warm days, cool nights Warm water
October / November Late season $ Generally warm days, cool nights, occasional rain Warm water

How Much Do Blue Cruises Cost?

Like hotels and resorts, Blue Cruise prices vary based on the class and amenities of each package. For budgeting purposes, the following may be helpful:

Determining Your Budget for a Gulet Cruise

Class Description Budget Notes
Economy basic accommodations, no amenities Starting around 65 Euro per person, per day Great for backpackers or those travelling on an extremely limited budget
Standard 3-star accommodations, few amenities Starting around 80 Euro per person, per day Fantastic for families and groups looking for a "cheap and cheerful" holiday
Luxury 4-star accommodations, some amenities Starting around 100 Euro per person, per day Suitable for those who appreciate their creature comforts while travelling
Deluxe 5-star accommodations, many amenities Starting around 200 Euro per person, per day Upscale accommodation and service levels, and priced accordingly
VIP 5+-star accommodations, every possible amenity If you have to ask, you can't afford Great for movie stars and royalty, or anyone who requires staff to unpack their suitcases or squeeze toothpaste on their toothbrush

Notes About Cruise Prices

Every licenced business gulet, regardless of class and price, undergoes annual inspection for safety and seaworthiness by the Harbour Master.

Crew gratuities are not included in the price you pay for a gulet cruise. While not mandatory, it is customary to tip the hardworking crew a total of 5 to 10% of the cruise price at the conclusion of a trip. You can distribute the tip to each member of the crew individually, or give it to the captain and ask him / her to disburse it on your behalf.

Useful Terminology When Booking a Blue Cruise

  • Private cruise / Private charter – you hire the entire boat (with crew) for your cruise. This option offers the most flexibility because you pick your travelling companions and can often select your route. The listed price will be "per group", rather than by "per person" or "per cabin" – regardless of the number of people in your party.
  • Shared cruise / Cabin charter – you share the boat with other travellers. This option is fabulous for couples or solo travellers who want to cruise, but can't justify hiring an entire boat for themselves. The downside is that you don't know who you're going to be cruising with. But in our experience, people who holiday on gulets are easy going and friendly, so there are rarely any problems.
  • All-Inclusive – Meals and drinks are included in the price of the cruise. (There may be some limitations and restrictions, so read your contract carefully.)
  • Full-Board – Meals are included in the price of the cruise, but drinks are charged extra. Generally, cruises offering full board prohibit guests from bringing their own drinks, making an additional profit from the bar charges.
  • Food and Drinks Extra – When booking through an agency, don't be surprised if you are required to pay extra for food and drinks. While the initial price may be appealing, you'll be required to provide everything used during the cruise – even cleaning supplies and toilet paper! The costs can add up quickly. The agency will provide you with a shopping list if you want to venture into the markets on your own, or you can arrange for them to purchase everything and present you with the bill.

The Evolution of Blue Cruise Holidays

Prior to the 1980s, recreational cruises along the Mediterranean coast were available only to the privileged few with access to private boats - or those willing to forego their creature comforts and sail on fishing or sponge diving boats. Over time, boat builders recognized a potential new audience and started building sturdy wooden yachts specifically for holiday cruises. Gulet cruises grew in popularity, with people from all walks of life chartering boats for enchanting sailing holidays on the Mediterranean.

Nowadays, Blue Cruises offer holiday-makers the perfect opportunity to appreciate the spectacular Mediterranean coastline and everything she has to offer.

collage of images showing gulets anchored in peaceful bays during Blue Cruises in Turkey

Additional Information about Blue Cruises

If you'd like to learn even more about gulet cruises, please take a look at the 5-part series "Everything You Need to Know About Gulets and Gulet Cruises" we wrote for the Fethiye Times:

Do You Have Questions?

Do you have questions, or need more information about Blue Cruise holidays? We're always available to provide assistance. Please get in touch any time – and we'll do our best to help!