A luxury small ship cruise in Croatia is an exceptional way to see the country and its idyllic islands, as well as enjoying the glistening views and undisturbed sounds of the Adriatic Sea. With a relatively small number of passengers on board, the luxury ships that sail across Croatia’s coast are modern and offer all of the luxuries you could want: balcony rooms, a fully-stocked bar and even jacuzzis featured on the sundeck.
The small ship Croatia cruises are filled with unique experiences, picturesque island visits and exceptional customer service on board. That itself should be enough to tempt you into a small ship cruise but for those who need more convincing, here are 10 reasons you must do a small ship cruise in Croatia.
1. You make lifelong friends
Small ship cruises typically accommodate a maximum of 36-38 passengers so usually after the first evening, everyone on the boat is acquainted. There are plenty of spots to relax on the boat, including multiple lounge and dining areas and your balcony if you have a balcony room. That said, you’ll soon find that everyone congregates together on the sundeck (a space to sunbathe, relax in the jacuzzi or take in the views), or around the bar. This makes it a very social scene and you’ll soon get to know one another well. Many guests stay in touch with other travellers from their cruise and have even come back to travel with them the year after.
2. You get to get off and, on the boat, whatever time you like in the evening
Small ship cruises tend to dock in a new destination around late afternoon – either a destination on mainland Croatia or a beautiful island. The local crew are there to recommend things to do, places to visit and restaurants to eat in to suit you. This means you can head back to the boat at whatever time you like – be it after dinner to enjoy some drinks at the bar, or late at night after you have danced the night away at the local bars or nightclubs.
3. You have swim stops in the Adriatic Sea
As the small ship cruise sets off to another destination each day, it will tend to stop once or twice for swim stops. When the boat is stationary, you can jump off the back of the boat and enjoy a couple of hours swimming in the glistening waters of the Adriatic Sea. During the Summer months, the weather is beautiful and a dip in the ocean is often refreshing if temperatures soar during the midday heat.
4. The passenger to crew ratio is 1 to 4
Boats typically have a maximum of 36-38 passengers and a staff to passenger rate of 1 to 4. This is an example of the dedicated service you get on board. There is always a crew member on hand to help accommodate your needs or answer any questions. The crew will usually include the captain, a chef, a sous chef, two sailors and a cabin attendant. The staff are, almost always, local Croatian with fluent English and exceptional customer service.
5. You can do excursions on the islands
As you visit new destinations on Croatia’s mainland and islands, you may be overwhelmed with the choice of what to do and what to see, but do not fear! The local guides are there to offer recommendations. You can do walking tours, wine tasting, oyster harvesting, guided tours around national parks and boat tours to the blue cave to name a few.
6. Brand new, luxury ships
Croatia has some of the newest and most luxurious boats. Most boats have a choice of accommodation on the boats, including lower and upper deck cabins – the difference being that the upper deck cabins have balconies and the lower deck do not. All of the rooms are well-appointed and have modern en suite bathrooms and facilities. The main areas are spacious and bright – the perfect place to enjoy freshly-cooked breakfasts, lunch and cocktails. The sundeck on the top of the boat is often the most popular spot to relax during the day because of the sun loungers, the jacuzzi and the views out across the Adriatic Sea.
7. You visit beautiful Croatian islands
As you enjoy the day on the luxury boat with good company, beautiful views and exceptional service, you often forget that you are on route somewhere. Time flies by effortlessly but, around late afternoon, your boat will arrive at a new harbour on a Croatian island. The Croatia cruises give you an opportunity to explore many beautiful islands including Hvar, Korcula, Vis, Mljet, Ston, Bol and Trogir, among many others. On Croatia’s mainland, cruises usually start and finish in both Split and Dubrovnik.
8. It gives you a different perspective of Croatia
Cruising along the coast of Croatia gives you a perspective like no other. The benefits of cruising are that you often avoid the mundane car travel across the country and instead, enjoy the sparkling views of the Adriatic Sea while sipping a local beer or a cocktail. It also gives you an opportunity to escape the crowds around midday. In Dubrovnik for example, the streets and alleyways are usually very busy during the day, but your ship will arrive in the harbour late afternoon, avoiding some (not all) of the busier periods.
9. All your drinks, breakfast and lunches made for you
On Croatia small ships, most breakfasts and lunches are provided. With an experienced chef and sous chef on board, the meals are extremely delicious. The staff make sure that all of the ingredients are locally sourced, and that they offer local drinks on board from family-run Croatian wineries and vineyards. The bar on board is always fully stocked and a drinks tab can be made to your room, payable at the end of the trip. Enjoy a glass of wine or a local beer anywhere on board – your room, your balcony, the bar or the sundeck.
10. Local guides, local crew
The crew are local Croatian, all speaking fluent English and exceptionally friendly. The captains and sailors are highly experienced, with years of cruise management behind them. It is the chef and sous chef’s job to prepare exquisite meals, sourced from local suppliers, farms and vineyards. Although each crew member has their own ‘role’, they will all be willing to help and attend to your needs throughout your stay. Many will enjoy a drink with you in the evening, sharing stories and educating you on all things Croatia.
Graham Carter is the Director of Unforgettable Travel Company. Unforgettable Travel Company is a leading tour operator that designs immersive and unforgettable trips across the world, following its slogan of Why Do Ordinary.