05 Jul 2014 - 12 Jul 2014
OK so I'm a Canadian who lived in London (UK) for a year and a half, and did a lot of travelling in my time there. (I've now returned to Toronto, this was my last trip)
This trip was definitely one of my favourites, if not THE favourite, for so many reasons.
Turkey was definitely NOT what I expected... I guess I didn't expect anything -- call it geographic ignorance, I just had no idea that Turkey was so beautiful. I had no idea what to expect as to Turkish food and Turkish people -- and let me tell you that both were phenomenal.
Let me share some memories with you....
- so good. good size for the number of people we had (15 + 3 crew), basically everyone slept on the deck every night, we ate every meal as a family at the dinner table at the back of the boat. you get partnered up for a twin room (2x people per room, 1 bed) that has a bathroom with toilet/shower/sink. hot water was available from 20 minutes after the engine starts, until it runs out for the day if you're anchored down. so basically all the time, with the exception of when we docked for the evening/night.
- really really nice. JJ the captain is hilarious, and made sure that everyone had a great time on and off the boat. Suat was the bartender but he did everything on the boat, and took turns with JJ when accompanying us on our nights out to clubs and out on the town. Really cool guy, probably speaks the best english out of the 3 of them. Memet the cook - we all wanted to bring him home. He rarely said anything, he understands english but doesn't speak much. His cooking though... which leads me to...
- the food on the boat is AMAZING. Memet and his cooking skills are the best. A lot of us actually lost weight on our trip because we were eating regular meals that were HEALTHY -- breakfast was generally a table of eggs, some kind of meat (sausage / ham), sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, bread, jam, tea/coffee. lunch and dinner were a feast of healthy salads, pastas/rice, meat/fish dishes, etc. we always had tea time as well -- when that bell rings for meal time, you haul ass out of the water for food every day lol.
- are not included, unfortunately. but bottles of water is cheaper on the boat vs outside -- 0.35 euros per bottle. we went through lots of them lol. cans of beer (not tall boys) are 3 euros per can, which is more than what you would buy at a convenience store. but they don't allow outside drinks on the boat, and the crew get in trouble if you sneak them in. few of us snuck in big bottles of water and some bottles of vodka from time to time, but generally drank lots of beers on the boat. there's a paper tab set up for each person at the bar, the crew will write a tick next to your name for whatever you had and you settle the tab at the end of the trip. i ended up paying a 70 euro tab at the end -- which wasn't as bad as some of the boys lol.
- is SALTY AS HELL. i haven't encountered such salty waters besides when I was in Croatia. You can basically float by just being in the water because there's so much salt in it. so make sure to hose down with fresh water after each dip, otherwise the salt will cake on your skin/hair and it's not good for you.
- so basically during your 8 days on the boat, you become REALLY CLOSE with everyone on the boat, as you spend so much time together. we were the first time that this trip had to have 2 boats because there were so many people -- my boat had 15 people, and the other boat had about 12 i believe. the 2 boats travelled together most of the time but we didn't really hang out with the other boat. as Contiki is an Australian company, there were tons of Aussies -- the other boat was actually 12 Australians. our boat was (thankfully) more diverse --- we had 5 Canadians, 4 Australians, 3 New Zealanders, 2 South Africans, and 1 British --- age 19 to 35. such diverse group of people made for some really interesting life stories and "never have i never" games ;)
- basically you don't know what time it is or what day it is.. which is exactly what most of us wanted. you wake up in the morning with the gentle shining of the sun while laying on the deck beds, birds are chirping, the boat is moving so you're hearing all the water lapping around you... the 2 South Africans that were with us brought guitars/ukeleles and would gently strum music all the time - so imagine all that happening basically all the time. it was incredibly relaxing, you basically do whatever you want -- nap on the boat, jump in the water (when the boat is stopped/anchored), go snorkelling, walk around the village and sit at a cafe for wifi (if available), play cards, drink, etc
- is real. basically it's a viral cough infection (lol) that gets spread during Contiki trips because a lot of people do back to back Contiki tours -- when you're spending so many days in a boat / bus / plane with so many people, when one person gets sick - you all get sick. and then you carry that to your next Contiki trip and spread it there, and so on and so on. i didn't catch it until probably the 3rd last day of the trip, so that wasn't too horrible. it's a wet cough, and will last about 2-3 weeks after your trip. not nice. stock up on vitamins and barroca (vitamin tablets) on the trip so you can try to keep your immune system up. (and i'm exaggerating, not EVERYONE gets sick)
- personally, i wouldn't bother with the mud bath one -- which is 50 euros (a lot of money). you get on a bus, go to this little park area where there's tons of other tourists, you go into a small pool of muddy water that stinks of sulfur -- in blazing sun by the way, i thought it would be shaded or in a cave or something -- and then you shower that off, go into a hot springs water that smells equally bad, then go to a shitty restaurant for some mediocre buffet-style food.
- the turkish bath is INTERESTING. i won't tell you more, it's a once in a lifetime experience... lol. MAKE SURE TO WEAR YOUR BIKINI/SWIMMING TRUNK TO THE SPA. no matter what that weird travel guide girl tells you (who randomly comes on the boat from time to time), make sure you wear a swimsuit under your clothes. i went in a beige coloured thong and immediately regretted it as soon as i was in a room with 4 hairy Turkish men with buckets of water in their hands. i'd recommend it, mostly for the stories lol.
- you can buy things like sunscreen / bug spray whenever you dock in a town, which is every couple days, so don't worry too much about that.
- there are wasps EVERYWHERE when you anchor near land or when you dock. at least they were when i was travelling in the beginning of July. they stung a couple of us, so if you get stung, use a credit card to gently scrape off the residue and put some cream on it
- speaking of cream, bring some antihistamines, heat rash cream, medicine for diarrhea/stomachaches, pain killers, band aids, etc.
There's so many more, I posted a bunch of pictures and tagged locations on my instagram so might be worth checking that if you're interested in the trip!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
24 May 2014 - 31 May 2014
Our group was made up of 13 passengers (accommdates up to 16) and 3 crew members. The ages ranged from 19-31 but everyone got along great and we quickly became a family.
The crew was great. Some review said that they have limited English. Yes English is not their first language but they are very socialble and it does not stop them from talking with you and joining in the activities on and off the boat.
Transfers with Contiki are not included and upon arrival I luckily met up with two other Contiki travelers and we shared a taxi to the pier. It is about a 40 min taxi ride and a flat rate of 110 Lira for the one way. There is also a bus that runs from the airport to the bus station, which is 14 Lira. The bus station is about 5 block from the ship. Most of us didn't know about the bus so didn't use it on the way there but used it for our transfer back to the airport.
Upon arrival it said to look for the Barbados booth. None of us found the booth however while wandering the pier we were met by a local who asked if we were from Contiki and led up to the boat. The boat has a contiki flag and the walkway a contiki sign so I recommend just looking for the Conitki signage.
I flew in the day the tour started and flew out the day the tour ended. If you have the time I would highly recommend extending your trip and spending an extra night in Bodrum. Most of our group did extend their stay in Bodrum and it was sad to be one of the only ones departing and leaving our family. Borum has a number or ruins and a castle to explore. I have also been told that jewelry shopping is best in Bodrum, better than Istanbul. Not the tourist market but actual stores. The tourist market is the same as in Istanbul. Don't know that the about the actual jewelry stores since I didn't have a chance to go shopping.
Meals on board the ship are DELCICIOUS!!! We never have left overs. Memet, the chef, is AMZAING! Always a variety of dishes to try.
Excursions - The Mudbath was the best part of the day excursion. After doing it, I don't know I would do it again. I would have rather spent the day enjoying the sun on the boat.
The Marmais night is a definate must. It was amazing. The club they took us to, The Arena, was fantastic. Just outside the club is a place that has amazing kebobs for cheap, a great snack before heading back to the boat. Everyone on our ship went on this excursion and loved it.
Packing - I completely overpacked! We pretty much lived in our swim suite so I really only needed a couple swim suites, a pair of shorts and a tank top or two, clothes for our two nights out and warm clothes for at night (as it does get cold) and in case of rain. Space is really limited so if you have a large suite case it makes getting around in your cabin quite difficult.
One thing that none of us packed is Aloe. I definately recommend packing some as if the weather is nice you will need sunscreen and aloe.
I can't say anything bad about this trip. It was so amazing. I would definately do it again. It was so relaxing. The perfect way to unwind after 10 days of traveling throughout Turkey.
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
03 May 2014 - 10 May 2014
Just got back from this trip (May 3rd trip) and loved every bit of it.
The boat was really nice and had plenty of deck space to walk around/ sunbathe on. It was only the beginning of summer though so it was a little cool at times, but that didn't stop us sleeping on the deck at night. The boat crew provide extra rugs etc and you basically just make one massive pile up of people and rugs and pillows and on deck to fall asleep under the stars (really, really cool).
The crew were so friendly, there were three of them and they always got involved with what we were doing and they got us into some really, really really cool clubs. Definitely recommend paying for the optional extra of a night out in marmaris, and the mud baths trip are worth the 50 euro. If you're worried about how much money you'll spend, drinks on the boat cost about 2/3 euro for non alcoholic and 3/4 for the alcoholic ones. Water costs 0.35 for a bottle. When you don't go on land, all you pay for are drinks on the boat. Drinks on shore are a lot more expensive when you go to a club. We never saw any drinks cheaper than 5 euro, and they were usually at about 10 euro for cocktails and stuff. I was on a really tight budget and managed to give myself 25 lira a day (9 euro) and then 6 euro for drinks. So about 15 euro. It was a VERY tight budget but some days you don't get off the boat/ there's nothing to buy so you just save loads that way.
The rest of the team were great and we all got along really well- and while the whole trip was relaxing and time to wind down, there was no shortage of going out/ singing "i'm on a boat" an excessive amount of times.
I should probably also mention that this part of turkey is really beautiful and friendly- quite a lot of us had family + friends who were worrried about us going to turkey but this side of the country is absolutely fine and quite westernised. You can walk round in shorts and a t-shirt and not be frowned upon or anything. Also, as there are so few flights into bodrum I recommend joining the meet up once you're booked on the trip because you're almost guaranteed to be on the same flight as someone on your trip, so you can split a taxi to bodrum (costs about 110 lira so 35 euro. Apparently there's also a coach that goes from the airport which costs like 5 euro or something, so it's worth looking into that.
I totally recommend this trip- at the end you'll realise how quick it goes and you'll be envious of the next people getting on the boat just as you're getting off it!
Review written May 2014event 0.3
21 Jun 2013 - 29 Jun 2013
If you want to UNWIND for a week on the most gorgeous water you'll ever see, this is the trip of a lifetime.
I so enjoyed relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, jumping off the boat, sleeping on deck in the fresh air, getting to know the Captain and crew, and exploring places of Turkey only accessible by boat. I absolutely loved it. Every morning I woke up to the sun shining down on me in a new, gorgeous Turkish harbor.
Accomodations were clean but cramped and VERY hot. Two people in a very small cabin with a private toilette/shower. Most travellers chose to find a sleepig spot on deck in the fresh sea air. The July temperatures were prime for this. Not many people get the opportunity to do this in their lifetimes, and I really liked it.
Each meal was exquisitely fresh and scrumptious. Mostly simple dishes, but they were made with such fresh ingredients that they were really good. Everyone is served the same thing for each meal -- there are no options, so this could be a challenge for picky eaters or people with food allergies.
The crew were SO helpful, although they spoke very little English, they kept the boat immaculately clean.
There were two party nights on the town, which was great. We found some very enchanting clubs and bars. Highly recommend the Catamaran Club on Bodrum. Otherwise VERY laid-back tour.
It was fun having only 14 passengers total. We were like a family. All of our meals were together. If you need, you can find a private space for some alone time, but everyone got along really well and I personally didn't lack for privacy.
If you want an action-packed, thrill-a-minute experience, this is NOT the tour for you. But if you seriously need to get away from it all, and not have to plan anything or think about anything except what bathing suit to wear, this trip is AMAZING. Did I mention I really loved it? That said, there are lots of exploring opportunities are available, so you can choose how active you want to be.
Would highly recommend taking advantage of the additional cultural and shopping opportunities offered. They're reasonably priced for what you get to see and do.
WiFi was available the entire time we were aboard, which was a great surprise. It has a cost, as do ALL of the drinks. Bottled water was $0.30, sparkling water $0.50, soda $2.00, Beer $3.00, bottles of wine $14 - 20.
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
24 May 2013 - 01 Jun 2013
This trip was easily one of the best weeks of my life. We had 15 people on the trip plus 3 crew members. Everyone was incredible and we bonded so well. We had a range of people from ages 24 – 32 with some who partied hard and others who were more low-key. The crewmembers were fun and joined in on all of the action with us. They even did a midnight jump into the water with us! ALL of our meals were included, and delicious, which made the trip affordable and so easy. The weather was nothing less than PERFECT. While the views from the boat were amazing, every time we dropped anchor we saw essentially the same thing.
The optional day trip to the Mud Baths and Turtle Beach and the night trip to Marmaris were SO WORTH IT. It was a full day out, but after spending so many days just hanging out on the boat, it was great to get out and see some historical sights. The nightlife in Marmaris was incredible and unexpected. Don’t forget to try some waterpipe when you are there and grab a late night Doner Kebab!
What to bring:
DON’T pack a large suitcase. There’s little room for “extras” on the boat. All you need is bathing suits and a few “going-out” outfits anyways, so you don’t need too much.
Make sure to bring a towel, sweatpants/sweatshirt (it can get cool at night, especially if you sleep up on the deck like we did), and sunscreen. A great mix on your ipod is good too – the boat has speakers!
I would recommend tacking on a few days in Istanbul before or after the trip as the city is not to be missed. I had the greatest week ever and I am already planning my next Contiki! I only wish I discovered these trips in my 20’s so I didn’t get aged-out so soon!
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3