Here are some of the frequently asked questions we are asked about our cultural tours, gulet cruises, and historical holidays. Do take a moment to read through these FAQ’s if you have any queries about our trips. If you can’t find a satisfactory answer to any questions you have, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be only too pleased to respond in person.
What sort of people go on your trips?
Our archaeological tours are very much self-selecting. The people who come on our trips are usually well travelled, enthusiastic, and curious about exploring new countries and cultures. They come from an incredibly wide range of professional backgrounds. Some have never been on an archaeological tour before, others have explored ancient sites all over the world. On average about a quarter of the people on our trips are single travellers. About 35% of our guests come from the UK, 35% from the US, with the remaining 30% split between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, other countries in Europe, and the rest of the world. Many of the people who travel with us first find out about Peter Sommer Travels through personal recommendations. Many clients travel with us again and again.
How old are the people that travel with you?
Our trips tend to appeal to quite a wide age range. Generally speaking, most are in the 40-75 age bracket. Our family tours have attracted parents with children aged between 6-17. We have mums and dads bringing their grown up children along in their 20’s or 30’s, and we are finding more and more people in their 30’s and 40’s coming on our trips – those who are no longer interested in basic beach holidays, but are wanting to explore and learn at the same time as having a relaxing time in a beautiful place with marvellous food. Our oldest client so far has been a fit and able 90 year old, with four of our tours under his belt.
What are gulets?
The word ’gulet‘ (Turkish gulet – aka gulette or gullet) is said to derive from the French goulette, or schooner. These two-masted wooden vessels, usually made from local pine, were long used for transport and fishing along the southern coasts of Turkey. Typically designed with a sharp bow, broad beam and rounded aft, these days they are designed and fitted with comfort and not trade in mind.
I am concerned about the possibility of feeling sea sick on a gulet trip. Does it get rough, how often do your passengers get sick, and what do you recommend to avoid mal de mer?
In terms of seasickness, water conditions are generally quite calm compared to the large oceans. The Mediterranean, being non-tidal, is a very different proposition to the great seas and oceans, but of course the weather can blow up at times. The gulets we use are all broad and beamy and of a decent length so they offer a very comfortable ride. We watch the weather very closely and try to avoid rough seas. Invariably there are plenty of places around the coast to take shelter and hide from the elements if the wind does start to blow up. For the large part we cruise close to the coast and a wealth of coves and hidden bays.
In terms of prevention, we know some people who swear by travel sickness pills, others who swear by wrist bands that apply pressure on acupuncture points, some who recommend specialist patches applied to the skin, and we’ve had a number of ladies who insist that brandy helps! Most people tell us that being on deck in the sunny fresh air gazing at the ever changing horizon is more than enough to ward off any feelings of mal de mer. We hope this goes some way to relieving your anxiety and settling your stomach!
How do people get to the gulet, or the first hotel, at the start of a trip?
We meet guests at the local airport or train station closest to the starting point of a tour, and then, on the final day of a trip, escort them to the local airport or train station closest to the ending point. These airport transfers are included in our tour prices.
Flights and trains: How do we go about booking them?
After a customer makes a tour booking, we recommend times to arrive for the start of a tour, and what times fit best for departure at the end of a trip. International and domestic flights and rail are not included in the price of a tour, and we don’t sell tickets ourselves. We do work with several specialists and are more than happy to put customers in touch with them if they so desire. Travellers need to pay for their air or rail tickets themselves which they can do via our specialists, through the internet, or via an agent they already know. Occasionally there are charter flights that fit our tour schedule, but most charter flights operate at unsociable hours, so we recommend customers use scheduled flights.
We’d like to see more of the area and stay in a nearby city for a few days either before or after our tour or gulet cruise?
We have created add-on tours that offer you the chance to extend your travels immediately before or directly after your cruise or land tour. We are also more than happy to recommend a small number of characterful hotels that we have personally visited. Please contact us for details.
As a single traveller, do I need to pay a single supplement if I am willing to share a cabin or hotel room?
The majority of the time our single customers choose to splash out and book a cabin on a gulet, or a hotel room for themselves, but if you have a single travelling companion you are willing to share with, or there is another single traveller booked on a trip who is willing to share a twin bedded cabin or hotel room, we will be more than happy to waive the single supplements.
How often do your gulets sail?
We usually cruise for about three to four hours a day, generally by motor to keep to schedule, so we can visit sites in the itinerary at the right time of day and with plenty of time to explore them thoroughly. The gulets we use on our scheduled tours all have sails, and are capable of sailing, but gulets are large and heavy (making them very stable), weighing in at over 100 tonnes. Unlike light fibreglass boats, they require a fair amount of wind to get them sailing, and we don’t sail in strong winds, as this would be uncomfortable for guests and would require a much larger crew. Weather and time permitting we hope you’ll have the opportunity to sail at least once in a one week trip, but sailing is not guaranteed so we recommend you expect to be cruising throughout to avoid disappointment.
What ‘toys’ are provided on your gulets? Is there anywhere to snorkel?
Most gulets come equipped with a windsurfer, a canoe, and a small selection of flippers, masks, and snorkels. The snorkelling equipment comes in a range of sizes from child’s to adult’s. If you do have your own flippers and snorkelling equipment we do recommend bringing them so that you know that they fit and also that you don’t have to wait for someone else to finish using a set. There are many wonderful coves and bays along the coast which are perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Are towels and bed linen provided on board your gulets?
All bed linen is provided on the gulet. Depending on the temperature and individual preference there is a choice of blankets and duvets to keep you warm at night. Each guest has two towels – one for the bathroom and one for swimming. All bed linen and towels are laundered once a week.
How well does air conditioning work on gulets?
All the gulets we use for our scheduled tours are equipped with air conditioning. However, because of noise restrictions (the air conditioning requires power from the onboard generator) gulets are not permitted to run air conditioning in harbour, nor are they permitted to run it throughout the night when moored out of harbour. In hot temperatures when moored out of a harbour, the Captain usually runs the air conditioning in the evening to cool cabins before guests retire. Many guests make a virtue of the heat to sleep out on deck under the stars.
Are there electrical outlets on the gulet, and what adapters do we need?
Electricity onboard is 220V and requires two pin (round) plugs. There is a plug in each cabin, in the bathroom, so people can use hair driers/shavers etc. and of course you can charge up phones/camera batteries there. When docked in a designated harbour the gulet receives electricity directly by cable from shore mains power. While the gulet is cruising or anchored out in a bay its electricity is provided by the generator so there will be periods during the day and night when the electricity is not on.
Can it be noisy at night during a gulet cruise? Should I bring earplugs?
On our gulet cruises, we often spend nights anchored in remote coves and bays, either as the only boat present or along with few others. Traditional wooden boats do make sounds; you may hear the wind whooshing through the rigging, the waves lapping against the side of the boat, ropes stretching, the crew getting up to make your breakfast etc. Sometimes the gulet may begin moving early in the morning and the generator will come on before breakfast to enable cooking and to provide hot water. As well as the peace and quiet and proximity to nature, nights out in bays have the advantage of allowing guests more swimming opportunities, both in the evening and early the following morning.
Other nights are spent moored in small ports or marinas. The frequency of such nights depends on the itinerary in question (some have more harbour nights than others) as well as the weather. Nights in harbour can be a little warmer, because towns are generally warmer and there is less opportunity for a through breeze. They can also be noisier than nights in bays with a range of potential noise sources, ranging from chatting on neighbouring boats to shore traffic and music etc. from local restaurants and bars, even occasional concerts. Harbour nights offer many advantages: the opportunity to stretch one’s legs and go ashore for a stroll or for shopping, or to enjoy a coffee or glass of local wine before or after dinner, the chance to observe town or village life, and to admire the often highly picturesque port scenery. We try where possible to offer a mix of nights in harbour and out in bays so our guests get a full and rounded experience. If you are concerned about noise, are a very light sleeper or habitually use earplugs, we recommend you bring ear plugs with you for your own comfort.
Is wi-fi available on your gulets? Will there be good cellphone/mobile reception during the trip?
All gulets on scheduled tours carry a wi-fi router. It provides web access to a limited number of internet-enabled devices at the same time. We ask that guests use the wi-fi responsibly and avoid large down/uploads and be mindful of other guests, logging devices off when not in use. Internet access relies on land-based 3G networks; signal quality can vary, occasionally there is none. Especially on our island tours, but also along remote stretches of the coast, we may be out of reception range for considerable periods of time, at times even whole days. If you expect to be using large amounts of bandwidth and need independence from the on-board wi-fi, you may consider buying a local pay-as-you-go SIM card for your phone or tablet, as many of our guests do. Our guides can assist you with that.
Mobile/cellphone signal depends on our location. There is coverage along most of the coast but at times it may be weak or SOS-only level. If you plan to use your own mobile/cellphone, please ask your provider about roaming rates and activation procedures.
Are your boats safe?
The gulets we use are carefully maintained throughout the year. In the winter the boats spend several months in dry dock, being cared for. The boats have to be fully certified every year to meet with maritime safety standards and to have their insurance renewed. Needless to say the captains and crews on board are all highly experienced.
What are the food and drinks like on a gulet trip?
Breakfast typically consists of bread, tomatoes, olives, cheese, eggs, yoghurt, cereals, fruit and honey. Lunch and dinner are usually one or two main courses, accompanied by salads and tasty side dishes, followed by fruit. Local wines are stocked on board, along with a range of spirits, beers, soft drinks and fruit juices.
Find out about our gulet cruises.
See our full schedule of escorted tours in Europe & Asia.