Tips on choosing the right boat for your Croatia sail trip

With countless companies offering sailing trips on the stunning Adriatic Coast it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one to pick.

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Last summer I went from Split to Dubrovnik one way with Contiki and each night we’d pull up to dock next to near identical boats run by Busabout, Topdeck, Sail Croatia, Intrepid, Fanatics and more.

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Below you’ll find my experience of what it was like on board and some hints before booking to help you find the right boat for you.

Flying in and out of Croatia can be tricky and expensive, even from within Europe. I highly recommend sorting out how it will be easiest for you to enter and leave the country before booking an itinerary.

For example, a trip which sees you start and finish in Dubrovnik may save you much more money than a one way itinerary – do some research!

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There are plenty of week long sailing trips around 1000 AUD and any over this I would be looking into what exactly they are including.

If you are travelling with friends on board though and book separately I’d recommend confirming you have definitely booked on to the same boat because there could be multiple sailings from the same company leaving the same date.

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Also it is worth packing light because your boat may be docked 7th in line from shore and your room might be on the top level (both of these happened to us) so you’ll want to be sure you can lug your case that far!

Some boats are more modern than others and will include more amenities. Our boat was called the Petrina and it is actually an old pirate style ship built in the late 1800s, so what it lacked in flashy features it made up for in character.

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Petrina

Ensure you know which section of the boat you are booking to avoid any surprises since you could either be above deck, on deck level or below deck.

I’d only spent a night on a boat once before in Halong Bay, Vietnam and in retrospect I think I underestimated how nice a boat it was at the time. My room mate and I had a single bed each and a large bathroom – this was not the case for Croatia!

Our room on the Petrina consisted of a bunk bed which took up the entire room except for one small closet which could basically hold only a broom and the shower was literally on top of the toilet.

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It wasn’t too big a deal since we were planning on being out of the room mostly but my poor roomie was pretty sick for most of the week so it wasn’t the best experience for her crammed up in there!

Unsurprisingly being in such close quarters I eventually caught her bug too on the last day of the tour.

If you’re after a more spacious set up make sure you enquire about this with your tour company prior to booking.

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Breakfast was included every day and majority of our lunches too. The crew did a fantastic job and the food was always fresh and delicious. Serving sizes were generous and we had a lot of great seafood.

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There’s generally a bar on board too and everyone has a tab which is sorted out at the end of the week so keep track of your drinks to avoid a nasty surprise!

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An important note that some people would do well to remember also is that the walls are PAPER thin. You can hear conversations and other goings on very easily if you catch my drift. Hopefully your fellow travellers are a decent group because you will get to know each other fairly well!

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My ship largely (and unsurprisingly) consisted of predominately Australians, with about 7 of us from my home town funnily enough. There was also a couple Americans and one British and German too.

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I chose Contiki because its departure date suited me and unfortunately Busabout was already sold out for that week. When I was a travel agent I sent many clients with Busabout and never had a bad review.

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A lot of the companies expect you to tip the crew and your guide (if you have one) so keep this in mind.

Our boat had about 5 crew members plus a guide x 7 days means at the suggested amount of a couple euro equivalent each per day – it adds up!

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And now for the islands themselves..

My Aunt is actually Croatian and I can’t believe I never knew before how beautiful a country it truly is.

The water is a lovely temperature, there’s amazing scenery to be found at each stop and the food is wonderful.

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Croatian cuisine is largely focused on meat and is common to this area of Europe. I didn’t find it varied too much from Montenegro or Slovenia but there was a lot of Italian influence especially around the bigger towns of Split and Dubrovnik – we had some great pizza and risotto dishes.

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Seafood is also obviously plentiful and probably my recommendation over the meat dishes while you’re here.

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Out of the islands that we checked out my favourite had to be Korčula, Makarska (there’s a club in a cave here!) and Hvar, in that order.

Some had better beaches than others but for me I found that since you spend a good amount of time swimming during the day with stops made while at sea, sunbathing on the sand wasn’t too high on everyone’s agenda when on land.

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We were actually pretty unlucky to have fairly overcast weather the entire week despite it being the middle of summer. The first day it actually rained most of the day too and a local mentioned that this hadn’t happened in years!

When we were in Korčula however the sun was shining and it was just beautiful which is why it’s probably my favourite.

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There’s a bar on Korčula called Massimo’s which is essentially the remains of a turret and drinks are served to you from a pulley from the ground floor.

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Massimo’s

The only way to get to the top is to climb a wooden ladder – it’s pretty cool!

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The climb up the top is certainly worth it too but you’d definitely only want to have a drink or two otherwise the climb back down could sure be an interesting one.

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View from Massimo’s

While we were sailing it was during the FIFA World Cup and Croatia was still in the competition. One night we went out and the bars were packed with people from all over watching a match.

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Whenever Croatia scored a goal everyone went crazy and there were fireworks and flares – needless to say the atmosphere was a lot of fun!

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Lighting the bar on fire

I really enjoyed how life for locals seems pretty quiet and relaxed despite the amount of tourists that they see here.

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Croatia is still on their own currency (Kuna) rather than the Euro, as a result I found it pretty good value for money still if you chose your restaurants or meals wisely enough.

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No matter which Croatia sail you choose it would be hard not to have a fantastic time when you’re cruising a coast line as beautiful as that of the Adriatic.

Every island stop was great in its own way and living on a boat for a week, regularly stopping to take in the wonderful scenery around you while jumping into the pleasant water makes a sailing trip here the perfect way to relax by day and party by night!

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