It was at the age of 39 when the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, also known by the pen name Fisherman of Halicarnassus, was exiled to a small fishing village. Cursing at his misfortune, he arrived in Bodrum. The village had an otherworldly and addictive beauty, much to his surprise. He would later write books about it. Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, with his books about archeology and mythology, he influenced hearts and minds of many archeologists, historians, writers and other people.
Until then Bodrum was an ordinary fishing town that relied on fishing and sponge diving. Taking fellow writers Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and Azra Erhat with him, together they would sail to Gökova using villagers’ fishing and sponge boats. These journeys would later be known as the Blue Cruise. They would board ships native to southwestern Turkey named Gulet, taking water, local white cheese, Kos rusk, tobacco and rakı with them and spend weeks at the Turkish Riviera. They would avoid taking newspapers and radio with them, away from rest of the world. they sought a unique experience to isolate themselves and become one with the nature. Together, they stared at the shores that gave birth to many civilizations.
The trio enjoyed these journeys so much, they wrote numerious books about it. They invited their colleagues and friends to their cruises and it became a tradition among intelligentsia within the country and over time, everyone who are willing to do it. From April to October people would board the iconic Gulets and starts their Blue Cruise to sail around the Aegean Sea. Witnessing the friendly mediterranean climate, the calm sea with the gentle wind with a naval freedom offers an experience of a lifetime.
In the 80s, as a result of rising number of boats and competition, Blue Cruises became more affordable and rose in popularity. Tourists, both local and foreign, came to Bodrum to make their own Blue Cruise. They would relax by the day, party by the night, lie beneath the sun within the stillness of the coves and witness the ruins and sunken cities from another millenia. Living an experience like no other, they always came back, staying true to the words of Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, the Fisherman of Halicarnassus;
Traditionally, Blue Cruise starts with a saturday afternoon and ends with saturday morning after breakfast, taking at least one week. However, it can be minimum of 4 days if the time is short. The Cruise originally took place in Turkish Riviera (also known as the Turquoise Coast) which is the famous coastal area in southwestern Turkey encompassing İzmir, Aydın, Muğla and Antalya provinces. Many destinations in the Riviera are internationally well known, such as Alanya, Antalya, Bodrum, Çeşme, Fethiye, Göcek, Kalkan, Kaş, Kemer, Kuşadası, Marmaris, Bozburun, Selimiye and Side.
The original Blue Cruise, also known as Blue Voyage or Carian Cruise, included some of the Greek islands as well, known as the Dodecanese Islands, which was part of the historical Caria, shares the history, the geography and the climate of the region. The island routes give another depth to the cruise, it makes it international and allows the travellers to experience the Aegean Sea in a unique fashion.
Today, the Blue Cruise isn’t just confined to Southwestern Turkey and Dodecanese Islands. It also includes the entire Greece and Croatia. This makes the journey not just an Aegean experience but also a Mediterranean one as well.
Planning Your Own Blue Cruise
To make your own Blue Cruise first you will have to decide on type of the ship you will sail with. Blue Cruise is traditionally done with the authentic Gulets. Gulets are the classic boats native to Southwestern Turkey and they’re what makes this journey special. They’re very unique classic wooden sailboats, with their spacious living spaces and modern hardware, are able to accomodate up to 20 people. Gulets are the native ships of Turkish Riviera, they’re built to sail around these waters. Their unique construction reflects the nature they sail around. As a result, these boats are built leisure in mind, which makes it perfect for tourism. Gulets come with many extras bundled within the price, service crew, fuel and the transitlog, so it is more affordable with larger groups.
If you want to have a more personalized sailing experience with a modern, faster, more maneuverable, more compact boat you might want to make your Blue Cruise with a Sailboat. Also known as the Sailing Yachts, Sailboats are designed and constructed with the modern sailing in mind, as a result, they offer the best sailing performance out of all. However, they offer little room for leisure compared to other types of boats. With Sailboats, if you have the sailing licence, you can rent it bareboat and sail the boat by yourself. If you care more about the sailing and less about the leisure then the Sailboats are the right choice for you.
Then there is the Catamaran, which is a multi-hulled sailing boat. Catamarans feature two parallel hulls of equal size with a deck bridging the hulls, as a result they have smaller hydrodynamic resistance, making them faster than regular sailboats. This design also gives them a wide deck so not only they have spacious living spaces for everyone above the waterline but it also offers more stability since they’re not affected by waves as much as the other types of boats and ofcourse, better view. However, since Catamarans have basically two of everything, they are costlier than other types of sailboats.
Last but not least, there are the Motor Yachts. While Blue Cruises are not usually done with a Motor Yacht because of their efficient high power engines that allows them to go very fast and a sail-free modern design which might visually standout. They offer highest speeds of all with a layout that prioritizes comfort and ease of use above all else. With the Motor Yachts, you can swiftly cruise between bays, coves, and islands without hassle and save time. Downside of this, it is one of most expensive type of boats available and fuel costs are higher since it lacks sails.
Next is the location you want to rent the boat from. In Turkey, where the Blue Cruise originates and is the most popular, there are mainly five centers for it:
Bodrum: Known as Halicarnassus in the ancient times, Bodrum has a very rich history. It served as a major city throughout the ancient era and was home to Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With its natural beauty and rich and diverse ancient history, Bodrum is one of kind. Today, Bodrum is a major holiday town with its traditional Aegean architecture, beaches, restorants, hotels, cafes, markets, festivals, nightlife, marinas and ofcourse, Blue Cruises.
Marmaris: Marmaris, also known as Physkos in the ancient era, is a unique place where Aegean sea meets the Mediterranean sea. Marmaris, with its ancient history, forested mountainous landscape and calm sea is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. Marmaris is also a major center for Blue Cruise, especially with its advantageous location and breathtaking view. Beyond its historical and natural significance, Marmaris is a major holiday town that attracts people all around the world.
Fethiye/Göcek: Home to the Ölüdeniz and Butterfly Valley, Fethiye offers tranquility to visitors who want to become one with its magnificent nature and forget about everything else, and it is even better when you experience it from seaside. Today, Fethiye offers a Blue Cruise experience like no other with it’s serenity. Like the other major towns in the Turkish Riviera, Fethiye also has it’s fair share of history and ancient sites. Known as Telmessos in the ancient era, it was the largest city of Lycia.
Göcek, named Kalimche in the ancient times, is a small town within Fethiye that offers more refined holiday in the nature. Göcek, despite it’s relatively small size, is filled with yachts and boats all over. There are plenty of yachts to rent and therefore its an ideal choice for Blue Cruise.
Kaş/Kekova: Even though the peninsula around is inhabited since the stone age, Kaş, known as Habesos (later Antiphellus) in the ancient times, was founded by Lycians. Habesos was served as a port for the inner Lycian city of Phellus. The town of Kaş is built on a hill rolling down to the Mediterranean Sea. It has a fertile soil and perfectly suitable climate for agriculture, even though tourism is the main source of income, agriculture is also very important for the town. Relatively unspoilt compared to other towns of Turkish Riviera. Kaş is a pleasant town with narrow streets filled with flower scents. This makes Kaş a fine choice for Blue Cruise.
By renting a yacht from Kaş you can go to the island of Kekova (Lycian: Dolichiste) which is home to four ancient towns Simena, Aperlae, Dolchiste and Teimioussa. Making it a popular Blue Cruise route from Kaş.
For more information about how to plan your Blue Cruise click here.
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