A trip on a pirate ship along the Turkish coast. Fun for kids, but also for the adults. A great day on the water, leaving Marmaris for Içmeler, and then further into the Aegean via the Lycian coast. This ended up being a holiday highlight!
‘We’ll visit other places, too,’ I had said before we left for Turkey. No matter how lovely our holiday accommodation, settled beside the sea in stunning, green, hilly surroundings, I couldn’t wait to explore. Sitting by the pool for a week is not my idea of a holiday. I really wanted to see more of the beautiful southern Aegean coast.
Of course, when you ask your kids what they liked the most on their holiday, they will talk about the swimming pool, the water slide, the playground or the friends they made. They won’t tell you about ‘that village where we drank Turkish tea’, or ‘the lovely scenery when we travelled through the countryside’. But I still wanted to have a go at doing these things with them, because in the end, whatever you do, they’ll love coming along for the ride.
And yes, when I saw the pirate ship brochure, showing a massive boat which wouldn’t look out of place in a Play Mobil box, it didn’t appeal to me and I thought, ‘yeah, just another way to get the tourists on a boat trip’. But the kids both shouted, ‘Yes! We want to go!’.
Then I saw that one of the kids got a discount, and the other, being five years old, went for free. So the choice was quickly made; we would do it, even though it wasn’t the kind of trip I had in mind. In the end, having two happy kids would be worth the sacrifice. And, of course, I wanted them to have a fantastic holiday.
The pirate ship in the brochure wasn’t the only pirate ship in the harbour. There were quite a few. Our choice was behind the others, towering above them. You would definitely see it if taking a bus or a dolmus along the Atatürk Cadesi. The ship had all the typical pirate paraphernalia: a figurehead, skull and crossbones. Ha ha. Pretty tacky, but the kids loved it.
We found a great sunny spot on deck, quite high up, on a white bench with cushions. We could see everything from our perch. The kids got a pirate hat and looked around the ship with its hoisted sails and coils of rope in wonder.
We sailed along the busy part of Marmaris, past the hotels which are set in the side streets of the long tourist street of Cumhuriyet. Yikes! These hotels were really squashed together, as were the sun beds! A lot of the people who were on our plane were staying here; some holidaymakers prefer these places. The plus side is that when you love the Marmaris nightlife, it’s not far to get to the action, and it’s not such a long trip home afterwards.
We slowly passed the busier area and into the greener zones with hotels nestled in the hills. The restful Grand Yacizi hotels, and beautiful resorts like Club Turban, as well as our own hotel, and the trendy Nirvana Beach Café. We even saw a water slide aimed into the Mediterranean – ‘mum, mum, mum, look, look, look!’ – and then things got quieter.
The ship set a course for the south-west. Past Içmeler, we enjoyed the sights of nature, the peace, and the empty countryside free of buildings. Near Turunç the scenery was hilly and green with deserted pebble beaches alongside crystal clear water and the occasional sailing boat.
We sailed along Amos and Kumlubük into the bay of Baklabükü. According the site we also passed Paradise Island (Cennet Adasi), Aquarium Bay (Akvaryum Koyu) and the phosphorous cave, but exactly where they were I have no idea.
On the way we stopped twice for a swim. Once at a beach past Içmeler where the kids went on a treasure hunt, then again for lunch, close to the village of Kizilkum. I pulled swim vests on the kids and we headed for the coast. That was pretty nerve-wracking, but it went really well; luckily I used to swim competitively, which made a difference. On dry land the other kids found the treasure chest, and back on the boat the chest was opened. It was full of ‘golden’ coins!
I can’t say the trip was just for kids. There were a few couples and groups of friends on the boat, too. On the way back there was dancing and – ‘oh no!’, was my initial reaction – a foam party. Even though I’d experienced many foreign discos in my younger years, I’d never been to a foam party. The kids hadn’t either, but they loved it. You can see just how much, when you look at the photos!
They didn’t hesitate to tell me that the foam party on the pirate boat was the best fun they’d ever had on holiday. Hmm, ok. Well, actually, that’s great. Who doesn’t want happy kids? I never thought I’d ever go on a trip like that, but I actually ended up really enjoying the experience. It was the ideal combination of fun for the kids, and beautiful scenery for me.
They still have the gold coin they were given from the treasure chest, and treat them as if they are pure gold. And me? I cherish the memory of a super fun day with my own two treasures. So there you go…
Would you like to enjoy a day at sea on a pirate ship, but want to know more? Just ask. I have answered some of the questions you may have below, and have given some general information, too: DEPARTURE: Every at 09:30 from Marmaris / Icmeler. RETURN: 19.00. Price Includes: 30 EURO for Adults. Price Includes: Transport, Breakfast, Lunch, Entry fees, Insurance, Guide, Drinks. More Information and Prices
How much does it cost?
Adults: €31. Children: €16.00. Children up to 6 years old: €5 .
How long does it take?
The boat leaves at about 9:30am and is back at 4pm. Always ask! At first I thought this would be a long day, but with the gorgeous scenery, the swim stops, and the meal, time flew by. My children were never bored.
Do I get lunch on the boat?
Yes, it’s included in the price. Lunch is served in the covered, air conditioned part of the boat. You may eat at the tables inside, but can also eat up on deck.
What kind of food do they serve?
Lunch is served buffet style. It is simple but tasty food. There is a choice of chicken or fish, as well as a wide choice of salad and vegetables, rice, potatoes and bread. See the pics.
Local drinks are free. These include coffee, tea, cola, ranja and other cold drinks, water, beer, wine and – I think – stronger drinks. You can collect your drinks from the bar, and serve yourself water from the water canisters.
Can you buy anything else?
There’s a small shop on board selling toys, biscuits, crisps, sweets or ice-cream.
Do they take photographs?
Yes, there’s an on-board photographer and a guy with a parrot who will put it on your hand. All photo’s are exhibited, and you can have a look on the way back and choose which ones you want to buy. I found them to be quite expensive, so I didn’t get any, but it’s always a nice way to remember your trip.
Can I pay in euros?
I think so, but take some lira with you just in case.
How big is the ship?
Big! 46 metres (even though it doesn’t look that big) with 5 levels.
Are you given seats?
No, you can choose your own seats. You have the choice of sitting inside, or upstairs and outside on the first deck. On the second deck there are comfortable benches. Luckily everyone was pretty calm on board, no pushing for the best seats.
Are there toilets on board?
Of course. They are downstairs. They are relatively clean. So there is not just the one, tiny loo which the other boat trips often offer.
Is it easy for kids to fall off the boat?
No. Only the back part is open, and this is closed off during sailing times. Of course, don’t let really small kids run around alone. Keep an eye on them.
Are there facilities for babies?
You can also enjoy this trip with your baby. You get on board via a ramp at the harbour, and will find plenty of shade on the boat on the lower levels. However, during the swim stops you won’t be able to get onto dry land, but not everybody does anyway. I don’t know if they have a changing room, but there will always be somewhere on board you can change your baby in peace. I also don’t know if there is a microwave on board, but you can ask beforehand. I think a pram can come on board; a buggy definitely can.
Do they have swimming vests?
Yes, kids sizes, too. The one my 5 year old had was quite big. It’s not necessary on the boat, but at the swim stops they can come in handy.
Can you snorkel?
If you have a snorkel with you, of course. I don’t know if they have them on board or not.
How do you get into the water?
At the back of the boat there is a set of stairs. Three sets, actually. Diving is also possible. There’s a slide which is set up at the second stop. This isn’t a good idea for young children; not only is it steep, it also ends at the opposite side of the boat. If you are alone with the kids it’s not recommended. But it’s great for older kids, teenagers and adults.
What do I need to take with me?
Towels, for swimming and sitting on. Bring swimming gear and water shoes; when you go ashore the pebble beach has some sharper stones. And sun cream, of course. And if you go early or late in the season, take a jacket with you.
Will I get seasick?
No, definitely not! To be honest, I was a bit worried about this, but the ship felt very stable. I hardly noticed we were at sea. And the kids were fine, too.
Is it OK for kids? Do they have child care on board?
Are there activities arranged for kids, or might they consider it boring?
They organise a number of games for the kids. Everything is done in English, but most of them will understand what needs to be done. I stayed close by and explained what they needed to do. Kids also get a pirate hat when they come on board, and can get their faces painted. It’s far from boring; take a book or a game if you prefer.
What kinds of people go on the trip?
A very diverse group. When I went there were a few families with children, but also a lot of groups of friends. There were a lot of Turks, Lebanese, Russians, Belgians and a few Hollanders on the ship. The ship staff spoke English.
How often does the trip go?
The brochure said every Thursday, but it actually goes much more often; every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, too. When I checked the website, they said daily and not only during high season but also in April, May, June, September and October. In the winter season (November to March), there are no pirate ship trips.
Can you get a transfer to the harbour?
If you book the tour from your hotel, or via a travel agent, they usually arrange this (both there and back). It couldn’t be easier. Check beforehand, and make sure you are at the meeting point on time. Should a transfer not be arranged, the dolmus service (minibuses) travel regularly to the harbour. These are great and I, and the kids, have often used them.
Where in Turkey can I go for a pirate ship daytrip?
There will probably be similar trips all over the Mediterranean, but specifically, try Marmaris or Içmeler. There are a lot of them in Marmaris, and from here you will get to enjoy the wonderful Lycian coastline.
What other places are there to visit in the area?
The best places to visit, and these are places where I have been many times before, are the beautiful town of Dalyan, the Koycekiz lake, and Akyaka. If you go to the Datca district go to the town of the same name, as well as lesser known places such as Bozburun and Selimiye, or the Gulf of Hisarönü.
These places don’t have the same touristy atmosphere as the popular destinations on the Turkish coast. Make sure you read this.
You will land in Dalaman airport, about an hour or an hour and a half’s drive to Marmaris and Icmeler respectively. If you are staying in Dalyan, the transfer takes just thirty minutes.
Which pirate ship?
There are various pirate boats on offer in the Marmaris harbour. I don’t know what they were like, but ours was bigger and better known than the others.
Are there other boat trips?
In this area, you will be spoilt for choice at the number of sailing trips. You can go on a traditional wooden boat, or gulet, or take a trip on a sailing boat or a catamaran. These trips run for half days, full days, or the entire vacation.
Can you take a boat to Greece?
You are only about 25km from the Greek island of Rhodes. There are lots of day trips organised, but you will pay about 50€ when you book the trip as an excursion (and not with a pirate ship!). These day trips are fun (we went to Samos from Kusadasi), but the province of Muglia – in other words in Turkey – has so much to see! You can see photo’s of our travels through the province on the blog, ‘Turkey’s most beautiful coast’.
I don’t suppose there’s a disco boat?
Coming back they play music and there’s a foam party. Yeah, that’s fine, but it’s a bit child oriented. Lots of boats offer separate disco tours, mainly in the evening.
Will my things get wet?
No, unless you are sitting downstairs on the way back (foam party). Bring along a plastic bag for this, but otherwise nothing will get wet.
Will we meet real pirates?
What do you expect? Johnny Depp? ?
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