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IT STICKS IN THE GULET; EXCLUSIVE THE HOL CAMERON DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SEE He's on pounds 21K-a-week yacht Armada of 7 luxurious ships They join 74 friends on holiday.

Byline: KATE MANSEY and VANESSA ALTIN in Gocek, Turkey, and OLLIE TREE in London

SUNBATHING on a pounds 21,000-aweek yacht, waited on by an army of staff, this is the holiday Tory leader David Cameron would prefer that you DIDN'T see.

Mr Cameron and his family joined 74 friends on seven traditional "gulet" boats for a week-long tour of the Turkish Riviera which ended yesterday.

Each of the double-masted wooden vessels - with 20ft high white sails - has its own personal chef, captain and two crew hands.

It was Mr Cameron's second holiday within a month, but, unlike the first, he didn't invite the Press along. Three weeks ago the Tory leader and wife Samantha posed for official pictures as he holidayed with his family on a humble bucket-and-spade beach in Cornwall.

With the credit crunch biting, he portrayed himself as a stay-at-home politician in touch with the electorate.

His photo-calls and interviews led even his most loyal Tory newspapers to mock his opportunism.

But there was no fanfare at all for his decadent week-long tour off Turkey's south-west coast.

Mr Cameron, 41, flew to Turkey last Saturday, where the former PR executive took advantage of its closeness to the conflict in Georgia and used a private plane for a quick photocall with the Georgian president in Tbilisi.

But by Sunday morning he, Samantha, 37, and their children had joined the sailing party off the Fethiye peninsula to celebrate the 60th birthday of his mother-in-law Viscountess Astor.

The total cost of hiring the seven gulets was an estimated pounds 150,000.

As the armada - organised by Samantha's stepdad, Tory peer Viscount Astor - sailed majestically out of Gocek harbour it looked like a scene from 1970s BBC drama The Onedin Line. Margaret Churcher, 62, on holiday from Leicester with her daughter and son-in-law, said: "They were really impressive - they took up the whole bay as they sailed out.

Those are beautiful boats but I'll have to keep dreaming - our tiny sailing boat would fit in one of their cabins."

Mr Cameron, his family and in-laws, were in a traditional gulet yacht called the Sema Tuana which sleeps 10. By day, they swam in the sea, laughed with pals and drank bottle after bottle of wine served by the dutiful staff. At night, the Camerons dined at rusticseafront restaurants.

The large group of pals ate fresh seafood, Turkish mezes and drank local wines at little restaurants dotted along the rugged Aegean coastline.

On Wednesday, they relaxed on plush sofas as the MP for Witney, Oxon, read John Milton's epic 17th Century poem Paradise Lost in the 3800BAC (10200BAF) heat.

That night the party took over the Indigo Terrace restaurant in the pretty Turkish port of Kalkan until 2am before being taxied back to sea on their boats.

A total of 76 guests racked up a bill of more than pounds 2,000. Waiter Huseyin Aslan, 32, said: "They were all very wealthy and looked like they were here for a lot of fun. They were well behaved but there was a lot of laughing and drinking and some dancing.

"It's very rare to have so many guests all arriving by sea in gulets. We spent all day getting the tables ready because we were told they were very important guests, so everything had to be right."

On Thursday after another day of swimming and drinking, the boats docked at

Kapi restaurant in Kapi Creek, Gobun, and the party packed a line of tables for a Turkish banquet of fresh fish and wine.

Some of the Tory leader's friends dressed up as pirates for a special theme night, wearing big hoop earrings and skull-and-crossbones bandanas.

While they slept in the next morning at a bay off Fethiye, staff were up at 6am cleaning and polishing. Then, in the heat of the afternoon, the armada moored in a popular neighbouring bay and the tourists swam between boats.

The holiday ended yesterday with breakfast in Gocek harbour before the Camerons left for the airport.

Viscount Astor hired the gulets from Turkish company Arena, who arranged a full itinerary including restaurants and accommodation. Other invited VIPs flew in from Britain, France and Italy

TURKEY'S rugged southern coastline is popular with the megawealthy who can cruise the coast just across the sea from the Greek island of Rhodes.

But most ordinary holiday-makers have to settle for a group day-trip on a tourist boat because even the smallest motorised vessel will set you back pounds 500.

Tourist Joseph Wright, 57, from South Africa said: "We saved all year to be able to rent a small sailing boat. Who knows how much their final bill was."

Last night, former Europe Minister Denis MacShane said Mr Cameron, had duped the electorate. The Labour MP for Rotherham added: "When the vast majority of hard-working British people are not sure if they can afford one holiday a year, here is 'Two-vacation' Cameron showing, as long as you are super-rich, you can forget the day-job.

Cameron tries to pretend he goes on bucket-and-spade holidays - but in reality he goes sailing in the lap of luxury with his rich friends."

Last night a spokesman for the Tory leader said: "David Cameron has been completely open about his plans to join his mother-in-law's birthday celebrations in Turkey. His office confirmed the trip to the Sunday Mirror on July 2 and he did so himself at his monthly Press conference."

-MR Cameron was pictured so many times in Cornwall that even the Tory Daily Telegraph mocked him in the headline: "David Cameron shock: no photo opportunities in last 48 hours". On July 27, his two-week break began with an official photocall - he and Samantha posing on the beach at Harlyn Bay. He was pictured again the next day and the day after that, with TV cameras invited to join him at a farmers' market.

Then on August 10 an article appeared heavily promoting the swimwear worn by Mr Cameron and Samantha in a picture spread. The trendy sportswear company is owned by his fellow Old Etonian Jonnie Boden.

He tries to pretend he goes on bucket-and-spade holidays but his real break is with his rich pals - LABOUR MP DENIS MacSHANE

CAPTION(S):

TURKEY LAST WEEK Avast behind... the Camerons on board their gulet at Siralibuk on Friday; Naval gazing... wife Samantha's amused as he has trouble steering his stern; Armada at rest... Cam's yachts in a cove off the Fethiye peninsula; Pictures by ALBAN DONOHOE and JERRY DAWES; PICTURE EXCLUSIVE Lost his sea legs... laughter as he topples backwards; Heavenly holiday... he's even reading Paradise Lost; Pictures: ALBAN DONOHOE/JERRY DAWES; Rubbing it in... Mr Cameron slaps on the sun cream off Fethiye
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2008
Words:1117
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