We just returned from a wonderful holiday in Croatia. We stayed there during one month and this was one of our best vacations ever!
We divided our time in two parts: Sea and land. We stayed during one week on a cruise and the remaining time we traveled by rental car.
Are you imagining a big ship, with many decks and three thousand passengers? FORGET IT.
We have been on many cruises before (Alaska, Caribbean, Bahamas, Iceland & Norwegian Fjords, Greece & Turkey). We know what big vessels are all about.
In this trip, we planned to go on a “small-scale”: A yacht where we could have the benefits of being on the sea while avoiding the issues of large cruise ships.
Looking for a yacht to hire, we soon realized we couldn’t afford it, as the cost is outrageously high_ something around 22k Euros / week!
It had to be a shared yacht.
I found 40 passengers would be a reasonable number to bring cost down while keeping comfort and privacy.
There are many companies offering this kind of cruise. After reading reviews, prices and ports, I came up with Katarina Line.
They have several itineraries to choose from and we decided on “One week cruise starting in Split and ending in Dubrovnik”.
We stopped in gorgeous locations along the way. I will be writing posts of each destination. You may follow this Blog in order to be advised as soon as a new post is published. 😀
The reasons why you should always choose a yacht and not a ship when visiting Croatia:
If you have traveled by ship before, you know the hassle of embarking / disembarking, especially in places where the ship cannot dock and tenders are needed. All that “frenzy” to line up in order to collect a ticket to be on the first tenders…
In Croatia, there are no terminals for large cruise ships. You will be tendered all the time. You will have to lineup with three thousand people in order to leave the boat. How “fun” can this be?
When traveling on a yacht, it will dock on shore or it will be moored to a boat that is already docked. All you have to do is… walk! No lines, no issues!
On a ship, you have to lineup to go through x-ray every time you return to the ship. In one of our cruises, Celebrity’s crew dropped my camera and the lenses were broken. Although they said on board that they would refund me, they never did.
No x-rays on the yacht!
3. Cabin size and comfort level
Our cabin on Fantazija Katarina Line was extremely comfortable! Much better than most of the vessels where we have travelled before within Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines. Fantazija’s bathroom is huge, with a large sink. Also, I found the shower compartment better than in most ships, where, depending on the cruise line, we must become a contortionist, in order to take a shower.
4. No lines in the restaurant, no need to wear a jacket or high heels!
Having lunch and dinner in big ships is not a very pleasant experience, with hundreds of people disputing food around you. There are lines everywhere during lunchtime; with many people carrying plates so huge that they look like will be used to feed a whole zoo.
On a ship, if you want to have dinner at the restaurant, you must dress up _ even if you are not on the mood. It’s necessary to wear a jacket during the “formal nights”, and a social shirt on the “regular nights”. High heels and jewelry are always welcome. If you don’t want to dress up in the evening, you will have to eat in the buffet restaurant.
On a yacht, there are no lines! The restaurant has the same capacity as the number of guests. All you have to do is seat down and the waiter will be serving you. The communal tables _ usually 8 people / table, are also a great way to get to know your travel companions and make new friends.
The Captain’s Dinner we had on the yacht was the best Captain’s Dinner ever. Reasons? There was no one wearing jackets or long sleeves. Even the Captain himself was on short sleeves. After all, we were exploring Croatian’s beaches, not going to the Metropolitan Opera House, he? I always found it ridiculous to be on a cruise along beaches and have to carry at least two nightgowns in my suitcase… just more weight and space when flying…
Our Captain’s Party on Fantazija was amazing, with all guests (many wearing shorts), singing and dancing, Mamma Mia style, going from one yacht to the next, as there were several moored together. What a lovely party! Unforgettable!
Going to the pool on a ship? Regardless the number of pools onboard, oftentimes it’s impossible to find a chair. Why? Because early in the morning people drop their towels and leave them for the day, “saving” chairs for later use.
On the yacht? Not a problem, as the number of chairs on the deck is exactly equal to the number of passengers. If the boat carries 38 passengers, there will be 38 chairs on the deck and you will always find a place to seat / lay down.
6. Sea, not pool
Ok, the ship has a pool and the yacht has no pool. Why would you need a pool if the Captain stops in the most gorgeous places and it is possible to swim in crystal clear waters?
What do you prefer? To swim in a pool used by three thousand people (many of them peeing in the water, let’s be honest), or swim in deep, blue, clean waters with beautiful small fishes around you?
7. More time to explore each destination
The cruise ships don’t want you on shore. They want you on board, so you can spend your money in their casinos, bars and retail stores. Probably, that’s the reason why they dock in the morning and leave in the afternoon: The more you stay onboard, the better for them.
One of the things that we most enjoyed on our Katarina Line cruise is that the yacht was docked during the nights! We had plenty of time to visit the cities, go out for dinner and return to the boat anytime we pleased, before the next morning. If you are a party person, you can go to nightclubs and return at 5 of 6 in the morning. Isn’t it cool?
In Dubrovnik, as an example, we had all the time we needed to fully enjoy the city, walking there by night and returning to our cabin around midnight.
8. Proximity to the shore
The yacht can travel close to the shore, and it’s possible for the passengers to see details in the landscape and even listen to the birds chirping (there are many birds in Croatia!).
You already know what happens when a big vessel goes too close to the shore, he?
I don’t know if you are like me, but I am constantly checking my iPhone. The cost of Internet on the big cruise ships is extremely high, making it difficult to check email and social media accounts.
On Fantazija Yacht we had free Wi-Fi the whole time.
10. Embarking / Disembarking.
In the big ships the cabins are not ready at the time the passengers board. It’s necessary to keep personal belongings (computer, camera, medicines) in a carry-on and wait for the “cabins are ready” announcement. After the announcement, everyone fly to the elevators at the same time, forming huge lines and the elevators become sardines cans.
Not on the yacht! When we arrived, we were greeted by the crew who immediately carried our luggage to our cabin, which was ready and spotless clean.
These were my top 10 reasons (I have many more) for choosing a boat / yacht instead of a big ship / vessel. Last but not least, many of the tiny gorgeous islands are not accessible to large vessels. What are you waiting for?