Blue Cruise had efficiently packaged up our cruise and stay and armed with their comprehensive booking confirmation and useful hints and tips, we were soon heading for Dalaman airport.
Transported in leather seated, air conditioned luxury we were welcomed aboard our home for the next week, the Baba Veli 7, a rather fine and luxurious traditional Turkish wooden sailing boat called a Gulet. The first thing that strikes you is the wood. Matt decking contrasted by shining varnished wood, when you arrive at your cabin it's like being invited into The Lord of the Manor's wood panelled library. The whole effect had a rich colonial feel but at the same time it radiated a cosy warmth. The Baba Veli 7 is at the luxury end of Blue Cruise's varied portfolio of ships, so our cabin had air con, en suite facilities, including quite an impressive flow to the shower, all we needed for our cruise along the Lycian Coast.
Blue Cruise, as well as being the name of the company, is also the generic term for trips along the Lycian Coast. Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçli aka The Fisherman of Halicarnassus is attributed as the founder of the Blue Cruise or Voyage. There is a rather fine pocket sized book by Roger Williams called The Fisherman of Halicarnassus which explores the history and culture of the so called Blue Cruise.
We started off by enjoying the ports of Kalkan and Kas, as well as admiring the arid and rugged coastline, backed by mountains that rise up to just short of 3,000m in places. As we moored in a bay, that was our overnight stop, turtles came to play around the ship and take curious peeks at the new arrival. We were also treated that night, as with many others, to a fabulous orangey sunset to replace the clear blue skies of the day.
One of my new shipmates pointed out that breaking bread with your fellow man is a great way to get to know them and bond. So at anchor we enjoyed a splendid al fresco meal, sat around the long table on deck that accommodated everyone (thirteen) and got to know our travelling companions. With such a small number it's amazing that very soon we were chatting away like old pals. As we took to our cabins it had been a very satisfying start to the cruise and we were all gently rocked to sleep by the tiny swell in the bay.
After breakfast we were tendered ashore to pay a visit to the ancient city of Simena, but called Kaleköy today. Thought to have been continuously settled since the 4th century BC, the steep climb up to the Simena castle ruins was rewarded by the most magnificent views of Kekova Island and the surrounding waters. Evidence of a Roman theatre were easy to see, plus the many house like tombs from Lycian times. Later in our voyage we also visited Gemiler Island to see the church dedicated to St Nicholas, said to be the origin of Father Christmas.
Now the last thing I expected to see on a wooden ship was a BBQ, but the crew barbecued the most delicious Sea Bass right out on the pointy bit of the ship (I'm not very nautical) over the sea. This was a nice addition to the delicious food we had been enjoying prepared by a very pleasant and helpful crew. We even had a very nice meal one night at the Captain’s brother's restaurant (Ibrahim) in Kekova.
It's hard to know quite where the time goes. An afternoon spent swimming in the crystal clear sea, snorkelling by the rocks and watching tiny pale blue fish dart this way and that. Relaxing in the warm sunshine and cooling sea breeze, gazing out at the blue hues of the sea, listening to music or reading, lulled by the gentle rocking of the boat zzzzzzzz. "It's the ice cream boat" someone shouted, wow now that's service. So one double chocolate Magnum later my blissful contentment meter was reading 100%. Then, just when you didn't think it could get any better, your shipmates tell you that the Pancake Boat will be here for breakfast. A hand rolled banana and honey pancake made me think paradise can't be much different from this.
We were sad when the last day of our cruise arrived. Sad to leave the Turtles and Dolphins that had played by the ship and entertained us at parts of our journey. Sad to leave behind the Captain and crew who had looked after us so well for the last week. Sad to be moving on to the next part of our travels without our shipmates. Undoubtably their tales and friendship, sense of humour and fun had made our Blue Cruise so special.
Fethiye was to be our home for the second week, with it’s beautiful harbour, Rock Tombs, Lycian Sarcophagi and it is also a great base to explore the surrounding area e.g. the Ghost Town at Kaya Koy. We stayed at a delightful luxury boutique hotel, the ECE Saray, which had the most magnificent views over the marina, particularly from our room and the breakfast terrace.
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Steve Aldridge -
is a travel writer for
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