Cruise Turkey or the Greek Islands?

Both Greece and Turkey are among the world’s best cruising destinations, but which offers more – for less?

Greece certainly offers the cruising sailor a huge variety of destinations, stunning villages, lively tavernas, and reliable conditions. But Turkey is often overlooked. Which is why it offers everything Greece does, without the crowds and the stress.

If it was a choice between Greece and Turkey (first world problem, I know) then Turkey wins, hands down.

Apart from the lack of crowds, here are four reasons:

1. Reliable, high quality berthing.

While I love backing into a dock alongside the tavernas in Greece, the downside is that you are never assured of a berth, and they are often crowded, and it can be hard to get water and power. There are issues with noise and anchors getting caught.

Turkey offers several large marina companies that offer new, high quality marinas close to restaurants with modern facilities. You can easily book ahead, knowing you have a spot and can arrive as late as you like. There are also restaurants like the one pictured below in Kekova, which offers free berthing at the restaurant with great meals (and wifi!) which can be booked a few days ahead. 

2. Wonderful open air dining

Turkey, like Greece offers wonderful, sheltered bays, but in
Turkey they often have a restaurant associated with them which offers free pick
up and a wonderful, often alfresco experience in a family restaurant. No need
to get in the tender in your heals, or worry about getting your feet wet at the
other end. My favourite is in Cold Water Bay where the owner has a roaring open
fire which provides the coals to his barbecue. Here he cooks fish, delivered
fresh that day, along with kebabs which are served with amazing salads. All
eaten alfresco overlooking the bay!


3. Impressive scenery

While some Greek Islands are spectacular – think Santorini –
most are fairly arid and rocky. Southern Turkey is richly forested with
conifers and the spectacular backdrop of the Taurus Mountains which are
snow-capped until June. This makes bays, like Fethiye Bay, some of the most
beautiful sailing destinations in the Med. There are some great walks in many
of these places if you want to spend some time getting some exercise ashore.

4. Incredible Ancient Ruins

I know Greece thinks it has got ancient ruins sorted, but Turkey has many times more, and on a larger scale. At Epidavros in Greece you can venture by taxi to an impressive 15,000 seat Greek theatre. But in Turkey, at Patara, you can anchor off the beach and take your tender to an entire ancient city, once a large ancient harbour, with an abundance of amazing ruins that rivals anything in Greece. In Cleopatra Bay you can snorkel among extensive sunken ruins, and Tomb Bay offers the opportunity to scamper up to 2,500 year old tombs. 

Turkey has three main departure points – Bodrum, Marmaris
and Fethiye Bay (Gocek and Fethiye). Fethiye is my preferred departure point,
and there is a link to a sample itinerary below. 

Surprisingly, charter yachts are the same, or slightly more expensive than Greece, possibly due to the lower numbers of available yachts. But, the Turkish Lira is about 12:1 with the
Aussie dollar and many of your other costs will be considerably lower. Domestic
air fares are cheap, and you can include some time in Istanbul.

Importantly, southern Turkey can get very hot in summer (40 degrees in July). For this reason mid-May to mid-June and September are the best months. Being shoulder season, they are often very good value. Winds tend to be light.

So, when it comes to Turkey or Greece, the answer is obvious – to me at least. When it comes to Turkey or Croatia it is a harder choice!
What about you? What is your experience and preference of cruising in Greece
and Turkey?