In the lap of luxury evading the monstrous traffic
What is the best way to cross some 800 kilometers separating the dust and heat of Istanbul from Bodrum's beaches and refreshing sea?
An hour's flight is the fastest option, but that condemns you to paying rent-a-car costs or using crowded minibuses to get around in Bodrum.
The land route is another way, if you do not mind spending nearly 13 hours stuck in a vehicle with nowhere to go, not to mention dilapidated roads and erratic drivers that confront travelers occasionally.
A luxurious ferry trip offers a third option for those who seek comfort and do not want to leave their beloved car back in the metropolis.
Deniz Cruise & Ferry Lines operate “Ankara,” a luxury hotel turned ferry that carries 220 vehicles on each trip. Around 4,500 passengers have enjoyed the cruise so far filling up 136 rooms every time since May 18, the date these trips began. “Ankara” leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul for its 22-hour trip to New Port in Bodrum every Friday then back to the city on Sunday. The ferry option has many benefits as passengers will attest.
Safety and comfort comes before the price tag
Safety comes first for customers. No surprise there, if one considers the fact that 1,184 deaths and 50,518 injuries in traffic accidents were recorded according to the Turkish Motoring Federation (T?OF) during the first five months of 2007. “I prefer to pay the price for a room rather than constant fear of finding myself under a truck,” says 73-year-old architect Vedat Atilla, adding that the trip to Bodrum by land is exhausting. Just as he speaks to the Turkish Daily News, the driver behind passes in front of him, taking his space in the lane. “And in a ferry I don't have to put up with these opportunists.”
The price of the journey varies largely. A simple berth costs YTL 79, a price comparable to a plane or bus ticket, while the classy “panoramic suite” for top-end users costs around YTL 899. Another YTL 149 is needed for bringing along the car. Some clients prefer to send their cars by ferry and take the plane to Bodrum and some choose to enjoy themselves for a day, like the elderly Ölçer couple from Istanbul: “The cost may be high but we bring two cars, besides, we can not enjoy our drinks while struggling with the land route now can we?”
Most of the passengers take the trip for the first time, sometimes out of curiosity. “I have chosen it just for a change,” said Fethi Koçer, a computer engineer. Change he will get for sure, since a 22 hour trip can be spent working out in the fitness center, relaxing in the swimming pool, enjoying a drink at the bar and moving on to the disco.
Elections create an extra trip
An additional trip will be available for voters on July 20 from Bodrum. All passengers who spoke to the TDN said they will return for elections. “There was a wave of demand from our customers for an additional voyage,” affirmed Sedat Aydo?an, director of the hotel. He then kindly reminded us that the ferry was about to leave the port. We sighed and left the boat, waving to the passengers onboard and trying to hide the envious look on our faces.