Turkish Cruises

Turkish cruises are available on several different kinds of boats and in several different categories—from large ocean liners that cruise to or from Turkey making port stops in several different countries to sailing cruises in Turkey on traditional gulets (motor sailing yachts). If you book the latter, you are quite apt to find yourself on a cruise from Turkey to Greece or vice versa, because the islands of Greece come to within a few miles of the Turkish coastline in many places. For instance, the island of Chios is just five miles from Cesme and the island of Rhodes is only ten miles from the Marmaris peninsula.

You can even enjoy Bosphorus river cruises in Turkey that skirt the shores of the great city of Istanbul. Some of the most beautiful signature attractions of the city can be viewed from a boat on the Bosphorus, including Topkapi Palace, the Galata Kulesi (Tower), and the extraordinary Blue Mosque. These kinds of Turkish cruises are often offered as Istanbul shore excursions by the large cruise ships that moor in the harbor and by acation packages that include tours of the city. They can be on public ferries or water taxis or glass-topped river ships that hold as many as 100 passengers.

The itineraries of large liners that cruise to or from Turkey usually will include other countries. They might begin or end in Barcelona, Spain, and stop on the beautiful French Riviera at Nice; Rome, Naples, and Palermo in Italy; Athens and Crete in Greece; and then anchor at Kusadasi for Ephesus shore excursions. These ships on a cruise to or from Turkey will almost always make more stops in the country. After Kusadasi, they are apt to move north up the coast to Cannakale and Izmir, and then finally into the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul.

The centers for sailing cruises in Turkey are the cities of Antalya, Marmaris, and Bodrum. This is where the celebrated "Blue Cruises" originated and became popular during the 1920s. All three cities have large harbors and important marinas that are often crowded with the luxury yachts of the jet set and Hollywood glitterati. This is the reason that the Turquoise Coast is often referred to as the Turkish Riviera. This is where the largest companies with fleets of traditional Turkish gulets are based, and this is where most visitors come to embark on a Blue Cruise.

Nonetheless, it is possible to find Turkish cruises and gulets in just about every town and village along the coast. These three cities and the entire coastline on either side of them are filled with large beach resorts and luxury hotels, as well as charming little fishing villages where you can negotiate a short cruise with a fisherman and secluded boutique hotels that contract with some of the smaller sailing companies. You can book a place for a day excursion on a sailing yacht where you might stop for snorkeling in a secluded cove and picnic lunch. Or you can book a week to two-week all-inclusive cruise that touches on the islands of Greece, spends time on beaches, and makes stops in Turkish cities for tours and nightlife.

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