While fireworks are the main attraction of New Year’s dinner cruises on the Bosphorus, there set scheduled and expectations for things going on before and after the show.
You’ll be offered a welcome drink once you arrive with appetizers and drinks soon to follow. Then traditional folk and dancing shows will begin with a break for dinner.
Then main attractions start which include whirling dervishes, rhythm dances, and exotic belly dancers. Afterward, party favor gets handed out, the countdown being, fireworks light up the Bosphorus sky as DJ music fills the air.
Ticket prices for New Year’s Eve dinner cruises tend to start at 150 € for the tables in the far corners, and $200 € for those who want a decent view near the center of the boat.
If you want to add premium drinks and bar service, this will add another 20-30 € to the cost but is highly recommended to take full advantage of unlimited drinks and better seating.
The evening generally starts early will a scheduled hotel pickup in a shuttle bus. This service is included in your ticket price, but the farther you are from Kabata Pier, the longer the ride along the route to pick up the passengers. Depending on where you’re staying in Istanbul, it might be of interest to make your own way there.
Once you arrive, expect a drink to be placed into your hand rather quickly. Normally this welcome cocktail is of a local, fruity variety that’s quite colorful and tasty.
After being seating at your table, hors d’oeuvres will start rolling in the form of traditional turkey starters, like mezze and fresh salads. An entree start like potato croquettes usually follows, while some cruise tours also include a tray of nuts for you to snack on.
Once the appetizers have been served the bar will open up and for the next six hours, all of your drinks are free. There are, however, some catches. For regular ticket holders, the lines queues can be long and only local drinks are included. If you want priority service and premium quality drinks you have to pay extra, but it’s well worth it to upgrade beyond a basic drink selection of local beer, wine, and spirits.
While they’re nothing extravagant when it comes to New Year’s dinner options, they will fill your belly. Generally, you’ll have an option of chicken or fish on a bed of rice or potato alongside some garden vegetables.
The dessert menu also won’t will any awards, but they get gobbled up quickly nonetheless. Typical servings include small cakes, Turkish delights, and ice cream.
Not all cruises have this show, but one’s labeled as a Turkish Night cruises, which Pereme Tours have Dervish dancing as one of their first shows.
Usually, there are dances spread through the night which include shows for Turkish gypsy and Turkish folk dances. Some cruise lines like Pereme, also have dances which include swords.
These tend to start with a Caucasian dance early in the evening with a very colorful, fast-paced rhythm dance near the end of the night.
Most cruise tours will have two of these shows which start with a group show early on and an exotic belly dancing finale to cap the night.
After the show ends, music will start to fill the air as the crew cleans up and prepares to set the stage for the midnight countdown.
After the tables have been cleared and with 30-minutes to spare, party favors are distributed to all guests. These generally include a party hat, along with an assortment of New Year’s whistles and noisemakers.
The crowd then gathers on the dock next to await the fireworks show as the champagne is handed out Usually the weather is cold on New Year’s Eve (5-7°C) so be sure to dress warmly if you go out early to claim your spot.
With champagne glasses in hand, the countdown will begin as midnight draws near. This is a magic time as the chants will echo from boat-to-boat as all compete to be the loudest voice.
10… 9… 8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
The fireworks barges at this point will simply look like they’re on fire multicolored spires explode into the night. The bridges spanning the Bosphorus will also light up and the maiden’s tower will be aglow as the firework rain down upon it.
Luckily, this show will last for several minutes as you’ll have so many options to take pictures of you originally won’t know where to start shooting first.
The dance floor will open up right after the fireworks show with a special DJ performance as the boat meanders back to shore. The slow crawl tends to take at least an hour or more as you make your way back to the Kabata Pier.
After debarking, you’ll be offered a shuttle bus ride back to your hotel. Many partygoers however decline this service and simply taxi to the bar or club of their choice. Others who know the bus ride back to the hotel will be a long one, hire a taxi to quickly shuttle them back to their beds.