Ruth Yacht on Turquoise Coast

This item appears on page 34 of the February 2009 issue.

The 100-foot, 14-passenger Ruth Alessandro is a magnificent gulet, and my husband, Bob, and I, along with six other adventurous couples chartered her for a 2-week cruise, Sept. 8-22, 2008.

The yacht is owned and operated by Ruth Yacht (Akarca mah. 864 sok. no: 20, 48300 Fethiye, Mugla, Turkey; phone +9 0544 445 95 12, fax +9 0252 613 66 76,

We paid €22,000 (near $27,700) total, or $4,034 per couple. The price included the services of the crew, all meals and harbor fees.

We provided our own liquor. Scotch, rum and the like are expensive in Turkey, but the local beer, vodka and raki (an anise-flavored liquor) are reasonable. If you are reserving an individual cabin rather than chartering the whole yacht, you must buy your drinks onboard.

The official boarding time was 3 p.m. in Fethiye. Bob and I arrived at noon, and the crew loaded our luggage onboard. The last of our travel companions weren’t expected to arrive until 6:30, which we learned meant we couldn’t leave that night, as planned. The harbormaster’s office in Fethiye closed at 5:30 and it was required that he register our passports before we could depart. Be advised: arrive in Dalaman for the transfer to Fethiye before 1 p.m. on the day of departure.

The cook asked us when we wanted dinner. We requested 8 p.m., which worked out well for our group throughout the trip. Tea, with desserts, was served at 5 p.m. daily. This gave us the daylight hours to shop and explore if we were in a port and to swim, kayak, take photos or read when cruising.

The crew of four included the Ruth Alessandro’s owner, Captain Yilmas, who was congenial, very competent and spoke English; two crewmen, and the cook, Muhmet, who fixed fabulous, healthy meals.

Our master-suite cabin was the width of the ship. It had a king-sized bed, an area with a small mattress for a child, a small, L-shaped sofa and plenty of storage space. The master bath had a corner shower that was bigger that those I had experienced on oceangoing cruise ships.

Two cabins with twin beds were at the aft and four more were at the bow, and all had their own bathrooms. The cabins were serviced daily.

I’d recommend bringing earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. When the ship ran the generator, it was noisy. One day, we left a bay early before breakfast and the passengers at the bow heard the anchor being raised. There is also the possibility of being anchored near a mosque and hearing the 5 a.m. call to prayer.

At the stern of the ship there was a small lounge area sheltered from the sun. We dined on the bow, which also was under a sunshade. Up a set of stairs was the sundeck, a place to observe the scenery, get a tan or even sleep under the stars if you wanted to.

We chose the 14-day route that visited Fethiye, Gocek, Dalyan, Marmaris, Bozborun, Datca, Knidos and, usually, Bodrum (we did not reach Bodrum on this trip). A typical day included breakfast at 8:30 followed by two or three hours of cruising to another bay, with time to swim, kayak and snorkel or just read a book or play cards. Lunch was usually at 1 p.m.

Some days, we would stay in the same location for the afternoon; some days we continued to cruise. After our yacht anchored for the night in a cozy little bay, sometimes vendors would approach us in their motorboats to sell us their wares. Once, a vendor was selling ice cream bars and snack items.

If we were going to a port, we would arrive fairly early in the day to explore, shop or take a tour. We took two port tours, each costing $20 per person.

One was in Dalyan, where a water taxi picked us up and took us up the river. We then took a tractor-trailer up the hill to some ruins. Our guide told us about the history of the area, explaining the amphitheater, the baths, etc. We spent about 1½ hours in this area.

Back on the tour boat, we cruised near tombs with columned stone facades dating back to 300 BC, then were taken to a “cultural center,” which the guide misrepresented a bit. It’s where the government sets up a facility for citizens who weave carpets to sell at a fair price. I was expecting there might be music or local food, as we have seen in other places. Three of our group were interested in buying. Do bargain!

We were asked if we wanted to eat lunch in town, which we declined. We knew what a great lunch we would have on our gulet.

On the second tour, seven of us were driven in a new air-conditioned van about 45 minutes one way to the Knidos ruins. The site overlooks two beautiful bays. There was an amphitheater, wells, houses, public buildings, etc. We explored for about three hours, then went to one of the bays for a cool drink at a restaurant before returning.

We were cruising one day along a narrow strait when we approached a church ruin on our right. First Mate Omher asked us if we wanted to stop. We said ‘Yes’ and he dropped anchor. Half of us took the dinghy to the shore and the other half swam to shore.

Goats were perched on high points of the ruins, posting guard, and a donkey greeted us at the shoreline. We walked up the steps of a bluff to a courtyard area and saw a large bush littered with small bows representing prayers.

Inside was an alcove with what was left of a picture of a cross and Jesus. The donkey escorted us back to the shore. The water was such a wonderful turquoise blue, it looked like someone had painted it — hence, the Turquoise Coast is appropriately named.

The weather was perfect on our trip except for one day of wind. We were always in sight of land, and nobody suffered motion sickness. We found the people of Turkey to be kind, and they were surprised when we told them we were Americans. We saw Americans in the cruise port cities of Istanbul and Rhodes but not along the coast.

My only criticism about the cruise? We had fish for dinner five times during the 14 days, and I’m not a fan of fish. My husband assured me it was very good. I am sure you could request something else.

I would highly recommend this very relaxing cruise. The crew was helpful and provided personal attention, the food was fantastic and the tours were very reasonable and educational.


McCall, ID