Two weeks ago I took a private Bosphorus cruise on the Zoe yacht. I’ve been living in Istanbul for over 10 years now, so I’m no stranger to sailing the Istanbul strait. But this Bosphorus cruise was the best I have taken so far. Here are the details of this beautiful day, and why you should consider it, too.
Getting to the Pier
A week earlier I booked the Daily Bosphorus Tour on the Zoe Yacht Istanbul website. According to the itinerary this cruise lasts about two hours. The yacht would sail to the second bridge and back, passing the palaces, fortresses, bridges and mansions on Istanbul’s shores.
To get to the pier, I arranged for a pickup from a hotel in Topkapı. The minibus was right on time and took my 7-year-old son and me to the Kabataş pier. I had of course seen pictures of the Zoe yacht online, but when we actually saw the yacht idling in the water – impressive!
Exploring the Yacht
The very spacious motor-yacht is 17 meters or 55 feet long and can accommodate 12 passengers. It consists of a private lounge, sundeck, and fly bridge. The Zoe yacht is owned and managed by Istanbulites Orla and Gürkan, who is a certified tourist guide himself.
We were welcomed on board by Atilla, the first mate, who immediately provided a life jacket for my son. After greeting captain Teyfik and inspecting the vessel, we sat down in the outdoor lounge. I hadn’t anticipated this possibility in winter because the weather was chilly, windy and partly cloudy.
However, the yacht has outdoor heating and the crew had put a see-through windshield on one side of the boat to protect us from the wind. Together with the nice, big, wooden table, comfortable chairs and complimentary tea (or coffee) it provided a very cozy place to start our Bosphorus sightseeing trip. I have to admit, for an hour or two, I felt like a movie star or VIP on my own private yacht, with crew and everything.
Advantages of a Private Bosphorus Cruise
What sets a private Bosphorus cruise apart from the many other (public) tour options is not only the privacy, silence and relaxing atmosphere you enjoy. The captain sails the boat so close to the different monuments, much closer than any other vessel I’ve ever been on. There is no rush either, which is another big plus. The captain doesn’t race the ship back and forth. You can even ask the captain to briefly stop to take that perfect picture. You can even ask to briefly set foot on the Asian side or take a quick dip in the Bosphorus. As long as you stay within the two-hour timeframe.
Is a Private Bosphorus Cruise for You?
Cruising on a private yacht is of course more expensive than joining hundreds of others on a public vessel. Also, keep in mind that you rent the boat. So, the more people in your party, the lower the price per person. Having said this, you’ll always pay more than the public alternatives. But you’ll also get much more value for your money.
I would certainly recommend a private Bosphorus cruise if:
- you want to have lunch or dinner on the Istanbul strait
- you’re into photography and want to take great pictures
- you want to enjoy the magnificence of a sunset cruise the way it is supposed to be (and afterwards get dropped off at the pier of one of Istanbul’s nightclubs)
- you are a romantic soul or are looking for an original way to propose
- you just want a unique and unforgettable experience with your friends or loved ones
Zoe Yacht Istanbul has many different tours available. Making reservations is recommended. When you order lunch or dinner, the yacht briefly stops across Arşipel restaurant where they take the freshly cooked meals on board.