I’ll admit: I was a little skeptical of the concept of a fitness cruise.
After all, I’m a do-it-yourself kind of woman when it comes to exercise, and the only cruises I’ve ever taken were of the guide-you-like-sheep variety. How was I going to feel about being on rails, essentially, when hiking, kayaking, swimming, and running from site to site throughout the Anatolian coast?
The answer? So good, I can be considered a new convert.
Cindy Paulauskas, founder extraordinnaire of MDFV, has put together a program that successfully combines sightseeing, cultural education, exercise, and relaxation. One sample day includes 60 minutes of yoga, a Turkish breakfast, and a seven-mile hike to a 2500-year-old city, followed by a blue crab lunch and an afternoon outing to a hamam, or traditional Turkish bath house in Dalyan.
Other opportunities involve snorkeling in Batik Hamam bay, swimming at Iztuzu Beach, and meeting with goatherds up in the mountains. Guests are accompanied on all outings by Ali Yalcin, a Turkish guide, who has extensive knowledge about local history, ecology, and customs and is more than happy to answer any and all questions.
The exercise portion of the cruise is equally enjoyable.
Rebekah Marcano, the fitness instructor, is completely at ease with adapting yoga poses and calisthenics to meet the needs of individual passengers. Private coaching and stretching sessions are available for an additional fee, though all group sessions are included in your fare. All exercise opportunities are completely optional, though highly recommended. Free time may be used for these one-on-one sessions, but guests are also invited to swim, take the ship’s kayak for a spin, and snorkel at all ports of call.
Those who wish to up their fitness level will also find ample opportunity to do so, as it is often possible to swim to shore for an excursion (rather than take the dinghy) or run along the shoreline to the next trailhead. Cindy alerts guests as to the difficulty of hiking trails well in advance, so that all can plan in advance. My recommendation? Do everything, as the sights are spectacular and the physical activity feels great.
MDFV charters yachts for its excursions, and our crew- Cavit, Saciye, and Adem- are marvelous hosts. Saciye, our chef, has gone above and beyond in preparing exquisite Turkish cuisine, which we ravenous passengers have inhaled at every meal. Still, we have managed to taste the food she cooks for us, and we have never been disappointed. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will be content, and Saciye is skilled at preparing separate meals for those with allergies or significant dietary restrictions.
A few favourites: thick slabs of feta cheese, dipped in local pine honey; roasted local squash stuffed with rice and tomatoes; and grilled sea bream, served with lemon-parmesan broccoli. Those hoping to lose weight on this trip will require iron wills, as the food is entirely irresistable.
In many ways, MDFV offers cruises that fall on the camping end of the luxury spectrum. Inclement weather may soak you and your gear, and the hikes are not small hill climbs. Those intending to sign up should be prepared to be flexible with expectations and comfortable with both unfamiliarity and physical challenges. The intimate nature of the voyages- each one accommodating only about eight passengers- means that you will either make friends with your shipmates, or make them miserable.
If your vision of a Mediterranean cruise involves fruity drinks and a deckside pool, MDFV is not the company for you. If, however, you’re interested in something a bit more adventurous, and a bit more connected to the coastline you sail, then MDFV is the perfect vacation.
Booking is available online at mdfvoyages.com. 8-day, 7-night cruises start at $2200.
Editors’ note: Erica’s post is sponsored by the amazing Mediterranean Delights Fitness Voyage, who sent her to Turkey as part of our “Bring a Go Girl to You” program. Our views and opinions are completely our own! Click here for our full disclosure statement.