Croatia Island Hopping: Our 1-Week Sail Croatia Adriatic Sea Cruise by JetSettingFools.com

Croatia Island Hopping: Our 1-Week Sail Croatia Adriatic Sea Cruise

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In a picture-perfect scene, hundreds of idyllic islands dot the Adriatic Sea off the long, mountainous coastline of Croatia. Rugged and breathtaking, the aqueous landscape is punctuated by the magnificent cerulean sea, rocky island shores, vine-covered hills and awe-inspiring ancient towns. Witnessing the undeniable beauty of the Dalmatian Islands is an essential experience on any tour of Croatia – and a Croatia island hopping cruise is the ultimate route to island discovery.  

 

Adriatic Cruises: A Croatia Island Hopping Vacation

On our first trip to Croatia –  when we first fell in love with the country in 2011 – we planned our own Croatia island tour. We used the local Croatia ferries that usher passengers between the mainland and the offshore islands – checking in and out of hotels (and unpacking and packing) at each island destination. While the ferry boats provided an efficient way to get from Point A to Point B, the no-frills service was simply a mode of public transportation. Traveling via ferries required us to sort all of the tedious details of our trip – from island accommodations to buying tickets to understanding timetables to island navigation.

During our many return trips to the coastline, Croatian island cruises piqued our interest. Yet, we remained hesitant to book an Adriatic Sea cruise. Our preliminary research revealed two main options for Dalmatian Coast cruises: Luxury cruise or Party boat. Despite our love of travel, boats, islands and Croatia, neither a Luxury nor Party Croatia boat cruise appealed to us. We tabled the idea of Adriatic cruising…until we discovered the week-long Croatian island cruises offered by Sail Croatia. 

Almissa at Blue Cave, Croatia

 

Why We Chose Sail Croatia for our Adriatic Sea Cruise

Sail Croatia offers a range of Croatia island hopping Adriatic Cruises – including luxury cruises and party boats. But they offer something in between, too. Specifically, they have the Explorer Cruise – which fit our travel style to a T.

Attracting like-minded travelers – ones who are intrigued by the discovery of new places, but also enjoy a few creature comforts – the Explorer Cruise is an ideal mid-point between the basic party boat and a luxury cruise in Croatia. Guests stay in air-conditioned rooms with ensuite bathrooms and feast on hot breakfasts and 3-course lunches. In port, passengers can join onshore excursions or go out and do exactly as the cruise name suggests: Explore.

 

1-Week Explorer Sail Croatia Boat Cruise

In this post, we detail our experience of a 1-Week Explorer Cruise with Sail Croatia. We outline what to expect on board (from rooms to food to activities) and include a full description of our itinerary with our top recommendations for each port. Pin, Save or Bookmark our Sail Croatia Review and Tips so that you can easily access it for future use!

 

What To Expect on Your Croatia Cruise

Once we had our spot reserved to cruise the Croatia coast and islands, my mind went wild with wonder. As independent travelers, we are not used to giving up the reigns in planning a trip. Despite the descriptive Sail Croatia website, questions crept into my mind. Are the rooms exactly like the photos? What time will we dock in port each day? And, most importantly, What will the food be like? We are divulging all the details of our trip to help curious passengers know what to expect. 

 

Ship Size: Croatia Cruise Small Ship         

Despite the name – Sail Croatia – the company has a fleet of vessels, not just sail boats. Small boat cruise ships – accommodating no more than 40 passengers – are the Sail Croatia vessels used on the Explorer routes. Our small-ship Adriatic cruise was aboard the beautiful Almissa.

Almissa

The 131-foot-long Almissa is designed with the look of a sailboat – three tall masts rising from the upper deck – but is actually powered by an engine. Newly built by two Croatian brothers, the boat features both community space and private rooms.

The two upper decks are the common areas. The open-air top deck is lined with sun loungers and provides uninterrupted 360-degree views of the stunning seascapes. Guests are free to use the upper deck 24 hours a day for everything from sunbathing to stargazing. The dining area, bar and shaded lounge are located one deck below the top deck.

 

Rooms: Features and Amenities

The Almissa has 19 rooms spread over two levels; guests can choose rooms either above deck or below deck. There are pros and cons to each. Below deck rooms are private and quieter, but only have small portholes. While above deck rooms can be noisier, they have windows and doors that open to the scenery and fresh sea air.

There are several room configurations on the ship (and the online photos and virtual tour do accurately convey room styles and size). We were in an above deck cabin that had two separate beds, a small desk with chair and a closet that easily fit all of our belongings. We even had plenty of room to stow our backpacks beneath our beds. The private ensuite bathroom was a decent size with a shower that was bigger than expected.

Top Tip: Only hand soap and toilet paper are provided. Be sure to bring your own toiletries, including bar soap, shampoo bars, body lotion, sunscreen – and a hair dryer, if you use one!

On the Explorer Cruise, bath and hand towels are provided in the rooms. There is no daily room cleaning service. However, halfway through our Croatia island hopping cruise, our linens were changed and we each received a fresh set of clean towels. 

IN PORT: The ports are small – and there are numerous Dalmatian cruises that need to dock at night. Rather than ships vying for a single spot to dock, they tie up to the ships already in port. At times, it can be eight boats deep. This means that the passengers from the last boat will need to walk across seven other boats to get to shore…and the first boat will have the foot traffic of an additional seven ships. Therefore, above deck rooms can experience more noise – not just from the passengers from their boat, but because of other boat passengers, as well.

 

Fellow Passengers

The make up of passengers on each cruise will obviously vary; it’s really just the luck of the draw. That said, we had a stellar group of passengers on our week-long cruise. There were singles, couples and a mother-daughter duo – and ages ranged from mid-20s to 60s. The passengers on our ship were all English-speaking – and came from Australia, Canada, the UK or the United States. Because the Sail Croatia Explorer Cruise appeals to similar travelers, conversations easily flowed and friendships were made soon after stepping foot on Almissa.

 

Activities: Excursions

While the price of a Sail Croatia Explorer Cruise does not include daily excursions, our on-board representative gave a detailed explanation of the optional excursions available in each port. Unlike some cruise companies that promote over-priced onshore tours, we found the Sail Croatia recommended excursions to cost the same (or less!) than booking the tour independently.

Furthermore, Vedran – our on-board representative – was helpful in leading informal tours in each city, pointing out the sights and leading guests to the main attractions. There was no pressure to join the optional excursions or representative-led tours – and guests could freely choose to go with the group or explore on their own. Being that we are very familiar with Croatia, we often went off on our own in search of new sights or restaurants (our recommendations are detailed below in our Croatian Island Hopping Itinerary).

 

Food: Chef-Prepared Croatian Specialties

Honestly, before we set sail, we had serious angst over what the on-board food would be like. On Explorer Sail Croatia Cruises, breakfast and lunch are provided every day – as well as one dinner during the week (the Captain’s Dinner). There are strict rules against bringing food and drinks on the boat, leaving us at the mercy of the chef-prepared meals. We wondered if the breakfasts would be filling enough and hoped we wouldn’t endure a week’s worth of fried food lunches.

Let us put any concerns to rest: The on-board food was incredible!

In fact, much to our surprise, the 3-course lunches (starter, main dish and dessert) featured fabulous local cuisine – including some of our favorite Croatian dishes like Black Risotto, Dalmatinsa Pasticada and grilled fish steaks. We were in awe of what the two-person team could create in the small cruise ship kitchen.

The buffet breakfasts included much more food than we anticipated. Eggs – cooked in varying styles – were always on the buffet table, as well as warm croissants, fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, deli cheeses and meats. A few mornings, they also prepared delicious sausages. Additionally, self-serve coffee, juice and tea – with numerous flavor options – were available at the bar each morning.

The bar was open from breakfast until 11:00pm, allowing passengers to order specialty coffees, bottled drinks and alcoholic beverages for a fee. We never indulged in coffee drinks, but had a few on-board beers and a bottle of wine at the Captain’s dinner. The draft beer, locally produced Pan lager, was cold and well-priced at 25 kuna for a half liter.

However, we weren’t thrilled by the wine options and prices. Croatia is well-known for its wine – being both delectable and affordable – but, unfortunately, the on-board offerings were neither. A bottle of the least expensive Plavac Mali red wine was 190 kuna, and in our opinion, below average. TIP: Selections and palettes vary, so try a glass first…or perhaps save your wine tasting for when ashore (more on that later!).

Guests have access to a water cooler with clean drinking water 24/7, so having a refillable water bottle is key. Breakfast was served daily from 8:00am until 9:30am. Lunch was typically served at 12:30, with a post-meal talk by Vedran giving us information about Croatia and details of our next destination. There is no assigned seating for the meals – and we recommend sitting with different passengers for each meal so that you can get to know everyone on the ship!

 

Crew: The Absolute Best!

Captain Jure stands aboard the Almissa on Sail Croatia Explorer Cruise

On any of the cruises in the Adriatic Sea, one thing that can make or break the trip is the crew…and the Almissa Crew is exceptional. The six-person crew consists of Captain Jure, two deckhands – Hrvoje and Jakov, Chef Ivan and his assistant Dina and Ante, the waiter-bartender-server-extraordinaire, who was always available for a casual chat or to answer any questions. Although we are certain there are many excellent crews, we would not want to cruise the Adriatic with any other team.

The captain, Jure, is quite possibly the most endearing, personable and fun-spirited captain in Croatia. He welcomed guest interactions, worked side-by-side with his team and went above and beyond to ensure his passengers were treated to the best Croatia cruise possible.

Complementing the crew was the Sail Croatia On-Board Representative, Vedran. With a personality as big as the ship itself, he proved to be both a source of information and entertainment. His position with the company requires that he work on different ships throughout the season, so even if you book your Croatia island hopping cruise on the Almissa, we can’t guarantee that Vedran will be the on-board Sail Croatia rep.

TIPS: Good service should be rewarded! At the end of the week, guests can choose to leave tips for the Crew and the On-Board Rep. The crew splits the tips, while the Rep is tipped separately. On the last day, envelopes are provided in each room for guests to make tips anonymously. Tips are accepted in cash using the local currency, Croatian Kuna.


 

Croatia Island Hopping Itinerary: Dubrovnik to Split Cruise

Our Croatia island hopping route was from south to north, stopping at top Croatian islands and ports. Our detailed day-by-day Dubrovnik to Split itinerary can provide a guideline of what other passengers on this route can expect. However, it is important to keep an open mind and be ready for changes. Foul weather (more on that in a minute!) can cause last-minute changes to any Croatia sailing itinerary.

 

Dubrovnik

We arrived in Dubrovnik two days before the departure of our Croatia cruising tour, which allowed us one full day to explore the city. We stayed in an Airbnb apartment near the Dubrovnik cruise port in Gruz, which is located a short bus ride (or a 40-minute walk) from the Old Town, and a very short walk to where the Almissa was moored.

DUBROVNIK SIGHTSEEING: One day in Dubrovnik is just enough to see the highlights. Follow our recommendations to see the best of the city. Spend the morning exploring the Old Town (use our Self-Guided Dubrovnik Walking Tour), then go to the top of Mount Srd for spectacular views. In the afternoon, go swimming at one of the Dubrovnik Beaches. For dinner, dine at one of the Old Town restaurants, then get a taste of locally produced craft beer at Glam (Old Town) or Dubrovnik Beer Company (Gruz).

 

DAY 1: Pomena, Mljet Island

Mid-morning, we met Vedran at the Port of Dubrovnik, checked in and received our room keys from Ante at the bar. After quickly unpacking our backpacks, we headed for the top deck to bask in the sunshine and meet fellow passengers already on board.  

Just before lunch, we set sail from the mainland with the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces. Our first destination was the island of Mljet and it would take a leisurely 4.5 hours to arrive at the Pomena Port on the western end. Once we were underway, we met in the dining room to get a brief synopsis of what to expect in the week ahead.

Our first lunch set the tone for all future on board meals. After a healthy vegetable soup starter, we feasted on savory rump steak topped with a creamy mushroom sauce and indulged in a cheesecake for dessert.

We did not make a swim stop on our first day, but Captain Jure routed our ship through a channel of small islands along the north side of Mjlet Island. As we slowly sailed past the tree-covered islands, we were treated to an up-close view of the shoreline – even spotting a few goats – before docking in Pomena.

Mljet

We were docked in Pomena by 5:30pm, which gave us just about 3 hours of sunlight left in the day. With threatening storms forecasted for the following morning, we made the most of the daylight and headed straight for Mljet NP.

MLJET NATIONAL PARK: The highlight of Mljet Island is the Mljet National Park…and the top sights of the national park are the two saltwater lakes: Small Lake (Malo Jezero) and Great Lake (Veliko Jezero). On the south side of Great Lake is the Island of St. Mary, which is home to a 12th century monastery. Trails encircle both lakes – which are connected by a small bridge – and visitors can walk or bike around the lakes. Tickets are required for entry to the National Park: 125 kuna in high season and 70 kuna in low season.

While most of our group opted to rent bikes to pedal around the lakes, we decided to go on foot – which didn’t get us nearly as far as we thought it would. After a fast-paced 1-hour walk, we had only made it to the southern bank of the Great Lake for views of St. Mary Island. Rather than continuing around the lake and getting stuck on the trail in the dark, we opted to turn around and head back to town.

Top Tip: On the way out of the park, I inquired if our tickets were good for 24 hours or just the date of purchase – and the ticket seller ‘extended’ our tickets to the next day for free. We are uncertain if we were lucky or if this is standard practice…but it never hurts to ask!

Where to Eat in Mljet

Passengers on Explorer Sail Croatia cruises are on their own for dinner – which we absolutely loved, as it gave us the opportunity to try local restaurants. In Pomena, there are only a handful of restaurants – most of which line the water’s edge. However, we had heard about a more traditional (and affordable) family-run establishment, Agriturismo Dalmatino, that is located on a side lane near the national park ticket office. The elevated patio has seats overlooking the port – and the menu features classic dishes (we recommend the Octopus Salad and Chicken Dinner!) and local wine. 

 

DAY 2: Korcula Town, Korcula Island

Our grand plans of a morning hike in Mljet NP were dashed the moment we woke up. It was raining and we were already underway. Captain Jure wisely decided to depart early – at 7:00am, rather than the originally planned 1:00pm – to get ahead of the stormy weather that was anticipated later in the day. We made the crossing from Mljet to the island of Korcula in just two hours…on already rocky seas.

During the crossing, we ate breakfast – holding on to our plates and cups to keep them from sliding with the swells. Even with the swaying, the crew was able to prepare a full morning spread and expertly assisted passengers who had yet to get their sea legs.

As we approached the southern side of Korcula Island, the wind died down and the rain reduced to misty sprinkles. Due to our earlier-than-scheduled departure, we were able to add an unexpected destination to our agenda and stopped in the port of the famous wine town, Lumbarda.

Lumbarda

We had three hours to explore the seaside village of Lumbarda. Under cloudy skies, we strolled through the town, up to the main church, then wandered through the vineyards and along the coastline path to the north of town. Before going back to the Almissa we stopped at the waterfront Maestral Cafe for a glass of the town’s acclaimed white wine, Grk.

As we sailed onward to Korcula Town – sticking close to the shore for calmer seas – we feasted on my favorite lunch of the week: Black Risotto with Cuttlefish. The signature Dalmatian dish is a must-try in Croatia – and we were so impressed that the chef prepared it for our trip.

Korcula

By the time we docked in Korcula Town, the rain had become a torrential downpour. Both of the optional daytime excursions – Kayaking and Dune Buggies – were cancelled. Not deterred, Vedran led a group of brave (and soon to be drenched) passengers to the town’s top sights: Korcula Town Gate, St. Mark’s Church and the House of Marco Polo. The rest of the afternoon was spent drying out, reading books and chatting with fellow passengers on Almissa’s covered lounge.

Dinner in Korcula

In the evening, an optional dinner excursion was planned to the nearby village of Zrnovo for the region’s famed Zrnovski Makaruni pasta. Although the excursion was offered at an excellent value (it included transportation, dinner and drinks), we were set on trying the locally produced beers at Pinjac Pub – the only brewery on Korcula – also in Zrnovo.

Pinjac Pub

The family welcomed us into the open-air Pinjac Pub where we tried their fresh-made beers, a stout and an ale. For dinner, they served their own homemade rendition of Zrnovski Makaruni – and we were delighted to try the local specialty. (Originally, we had grand plans of hiking from the Old Town to Zrnovo. However, the rain put a damper on our plans. Instead, we got a taxi from the port to the pub, which cost about 80 kuna one way.)

Bokar Wine Bar

Back in Korcula, we walked through the historic town lanes at night and found our way to Bokar Wine Bar. The small wine bar has limited seating, but we were able to squeeze into a table along with passengers from the numerous other ships and sailboats. The knowledgeable staff directed us to a local Postup red wine that was absolutely incredible. We all huddled together and toasted to better weather the next day.

Later, Vedran led a group from our ship to a nightclub…but after a full day of experiences, we were content to retire early and drift to sleep with the gently rocking waves.

 

DAY 3: Vela Luka, Korcula Island

We slept well, but I woke early and noticed a sliver of sunshine peeking through our window. Elated that the rain had passed, I scampered up to the top deck – even though it was not yet 6:00am – to take a look around. With a bright blue sky and puffy clouds overhead, I decided to disembark the ship and retraced my steps through the Korcula Old Town. Not only was it no longer raining, but at the early hour I nearly had the town to myself.  

Korcula Town Gate on Korcula Island, Croatia

Back on the boat in time for our 8:00am departure, we only had a short distance to cover as we made our way to the town of Vela Luka on the west end of Korcula island. Clouds again blanketed the sky, but the northern shoreline of the island was too stunning to miss. From the top deck, we watched the passing scenery of hillside vineyards and old stone houses.

Vela Luka

We arrived in Vela Luka just after noon, but stayed aboard for our mid-day meal. After a lunch of pasticada and tiramisu, Vedran talked to us about the recent Croatian Homeland War, providing local insight to something we only witnessed on television and learned about in museums.

VELA SPILA CAVE: The main Vela Luka sight is a large cave, Vela Spila, that contains evidence of prehistoric civilizations. There is a small entrance fee (15 kuna). Inside, a few signs in English explain what artifacts have been discovered inside the cave, including painted ceramics that date to 4,500 BC.

Vedran led a group of passengers to the cave – but it is easy to find by following the baby-blue cave markers up the hill (it’s about a 20 minute walk). We spent about 15 minutes inside the cave, before setting off on other trails. The hill is covered with walking and biking routes – and we eventually wound our way over the hill and back into town. From the center of town, coastline paths wrap around to both the north and the south.

Initially, we had wanted to also climb Hum Hill, so we followed the shoreline to the south, but our ambitions waned as we detoured around a mostly abandoned shipyard. Instead, we circled back through town and followed the coastline path to the north. Much prettier than the southern route, we walked all the way to Kissing Point, passing picturesque beaches and secluded coves along the way.

Captain’s Dinner

Rather than a stuffy formal affair, the Captain’s Dinner on Almissa was a relaxed occasion marked with good food and a great Captain’s speech. The appetizer platter featured local prsut ham, cheese and grilled sardines – and the main course was a traditional baked fish with vegetables and a dessert.

After Captain Jure gave his exceptionally humorous speech, he joined our table for a round of drinks…and a lot of laughs. The night slipped away – and it was after midnight when we adjourned to our rooms.

 

DAY 4: Vis Town, Vis Island

As we crossed the channel from Vela Luka to Vis Island, the sun broke through the clouds and small patches of blue sky emerged. We spent the entire three-hour ride on the top deck, surveying the scene with many of our fellow passengers.

Vis Island, which is the furthest inhabited island from the Croatia mainland, has a long history as a military base. Strategic forts and a network of tunnels cover the island, which has just two main towns: Vis Town and Komiza. Some passengers from our boat joined a Military Tour, while others rented scooters to explore on their own. We only had one destination in mind: Komiza.

As soon as we docked in Vis Town at 12:30pm – and before lunch was served – we scurried off the boat to check the bus schedule from the Vis Port to Komiza. As luck would have it, a bus was departing shortly, so we skipped the on-board meal and hopped on the bus for the ride to the west end of the island.

Sailing into Vis Port on Vis Island, Croatia

Komiza

In Komiza, we walked through the historic town – an old fishing village. Highlights of Komiza include the stoic Fort Komiza and Clocktower, the hillside Church of Saint Nicholas, the Church of Our Lady of Pirates and the Pebble Beach. We stopped at a cafe – with a harbor view – for a glass of wine and local craft beer before catching the afternoon bus back to Vis Town.

The Best Pizza on Vis Island

We had heard that Pizzeria Karijola has the best pizza on Vis…and possibly the best in Croatia. A claim that bold is too enticing to pass up – so we, along with several Almissa passengers – decided to go try it for ourselves. The small restaurant was just big enough to accommodate us all – and the views from the patio were amazing.

Kris and I each ordered a pizza – Pancetta for me and Picante for him. The wood-fired pizzas were thin and crispy with just the right amount of toppings. We devoured them. To accompany our meal, we opted for the recommended bottle of local red wine, which was expensive…and marvelous.

Movie Night: Mamma Mia 2

In 2017, several of the scenes from Mamma Mia 2 were filmed on Vis Island – with recognizable locations and even locals appearing in the movie. After dinner, we gathered in the lounge to watch the movie – and Vedran pointed out the Vis Island scenes.

{Read our complete Vis Island Guide for more tips!}

 

DAY 5: Hvar Town, Hvar Island

We woke to a beautiful day, so I took advantage of the later 9:00am departure time and set off on the coastline trail to the north of Vis Town before breakfast. The short walk along the water was magnificent and I was getting excited about our next destination: Hvar Town.

Hvar Town is perhaps the most popular city of any on the Dalmatian Islands, and even though we had been to Hvar Town before, we couldn’t wait to go back. However, Captain Jure had a few surprises for us before we sailed across the channel to Hvar Island.

Blue Cave Tour

BLUE CAVE: On Bisevo Island – just southwest of Vis Island – is the famed Croatia Blue Cave. A small cave opening allows tiny boats to navigate inside, where the cave floor is illuminated in natural neon blue. A highly-rated day trip from Split, Vis and Hvar, voyaging inside the Blue Cave has long been on our list of places to see in Croatia.

On our departure from Vis Town, rather than sailing northeast for Hvar, Captain Jure circled the island of Vis and took us to Bisevo Island to take a tour of the Blue Cave. Usually a chaotic mess of day trippers, we were the only visitors on the island and we quickly bought tickets, transferred into smaller boats and bobbed our way into the cave. Visits inside last no more than 10 minutes, but it was definitely worth the detour!

Stiniva Beach Cove

Back on the Almissa, we sailed along the southern shore of Vis Island, which is punctuated by deep coves. The most intriguing bay is Stiniva Beach Cove, which has a very narrow opening to a sandy beach. Although our ship is too big to fit through to the beach, Captain Jure took us deep into the bay so that we could see the unique rock formations. Not a typical stop on cruises, even the crew – who were as excited as we were – came out to the bow of the ship to take pictures.

Hvar Town

We arrived to Hvar at 3:30pm, which was too early to dock. Instead, we boarded a taxi boat that took us ashore. Vedran pointed out the sights on the main square and led interested passengers to Spanjola Fort that sits above the town.

We set off on the coastal trail to the west of the town, bypassing the infamous (and overpriced) Hula Hula Bar in favor of the more chill Falko Bar. Much to our disappointment, the bar was not yet open for the season. Instead we found a spot along the cove where we could simply soak in the glorious sunshine. On the way back to Hvar Town, we stopped for a locally produced craft beer at Vunetovo, where we were soon joined by fellow passengers and other travelers.

Dinner in Hvar Town

Restaurant choices are plentiful in Hvar Town! Vedran provided a few recommendations (and even helpfully made reservations for some passengers), but we had long been wanting to eat at Konoba Menego. The highly-touted traditional restaurant is in the heart of town. The menu features local cuisine and we indulged in a plate of Goat’s Cheese with herbs and the Chef’s Special (a wonderfully prepared chicken dish with sauce and stuffed bread).

Hvar Clubs

As we made our way through the historic town toward Almissa (which was second in a line of eight docked boats!), we ran into fellow passengers who convinced us to join them – along with Vedran – at a local club, Nautica Bar. The music was thumping, the drinks were flammable, and the place was packed. When in Hvar!

 

DAY 6: Stari Grad, Hvar Island

Due to port restrictions, ships must depart Hvar Town early – so we were on our way by 7:00am. It was a spectacular, sunny day and we were not traveling far (just to the north side of the island to Stari Grad), so just after breakfast we pulled into a deep, secluded cove to swim. We launched ourselves from the top deck into the cold Adriatic Sea…and it was sublime.

We stayed in the water until our fingers wrinkled and our toes were numb, then retreated to the top deck loungers to warm ourselves in the sun. A fellow passenger spun a playlist of beach music through his portable speaker and – along with the soft sway of the boat – we entered a complete state of relaxation.

Stari Grad

Shortly after dining on tuna steaks and a decadent semifreddo dessert, we set sail for Stari Grad – one of our favorite island towns. We docked just steps from the historic old village that features a jumble of narrow lanes and tall stone houses.

The town only has a few ‘sights’ – a couple of museums, churches and the Petra Hektorovica Villa – but the Old Town in its entirety is what travelers come to see. We strolled the historic lanes, popped into a few churches and walked along the northern shoreline of the deep bay (which provides the most stunning views of the Old Town!).

Wine Tasting

In the late afternoon, we joined the recommended Wine Tasting excursion to Hora Winery in the middle of the ancient Stari Grad plain. After a welcome shot of fig liquor, we sampled the establishment’s range of olive oils – including an incredible herb-infused oil – which we sopped up with their homemade bread. The friendly and informative staff served pours of four different wines, along with a small plate of local delicacies. The excursion was an ideal way to sample local wine, homemade cuisine and enjoy the magnificence of the UNESCO listed Stari Grad Plain.

Eating in Stari Grad

We had the option to decide as a group if we wanted to dine aboard the ship on a classic Balkan meal of grilled meats (for a fee), or go it on our own. Despite the amazing meals we’d been served on board Almissa, due to the lovely weather and many fantastic restaurant choices, it was determined to forego the on-board meal and enjoy an evening out in charming Stari Grad.

Konoba Batana

Located deep in the alleyways of Stari Grad, Konoba Batana restaurant came highly recommended by a friend….and it did not disappoint! We sat on the atmospheric patio and indulged in an exquisite meal – starting with cucumber salad and sharing two dishes: Istrian Fuzi Pasta with Truffles and Beef Filet Risotto in Wine Sauce. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

{Read our complete list of Things To Do in Stari Grad for more tips!}

 

DAY 7: Split

For the second day in a row, we departed at 7:00am and navigated to a private cove for a morning swim. Rather than jumping from the top deck, most passengers jumped in from the back of the boat into the chilly – yet refreshing – sea.

The leisurely morning faded into afternoon. We were finishing our lunch of ratatouille and bacon-wrapped chicken skewers just as we were sailing into Split. Excitedly, we all rushed to the top deck for a captivating view of our approach. Once we docked (at about 2:00pm), passengers went different ways, either on a zip line excursion or an eco city walk.

We strolled through the timeworn streets of Diocletian’s Palace, promenaded down the Riva and made our way to Matejuska, the Fisherman’s Port, where locals hang out and imbibe. We ambled back toward Diocletian’s Palace to a few of our favorite places. Unlike the island towns, Split is home to numerous craft beer bars – and Sanctuary is a favorite Old Town haunt for local beer. After a pint on the outdoor patio, we capped off our night with a favorite fast-food Split meal: Cevapi from Kantun Paulina.

Back on the boat, I joined fellow passengers – now friends – for one last evening of conversation at the on-board bar. Our week with Sail Croatia aboard the Almissa had nearly come to an end.

 

DAY 8: Checkout and Goodbyes

At breakfast, we exchanged information with fellow passengers and prepared to disembark. We were in awe with what we saw and experienced during the week-long cruise. Our last few moments were spent on our favorite part of the ship, the top deck. As we hesitantly departed, the crew wished us well and waved goodbye. Until next time, doviđenja Almissa!

{Read our guide of Things To Do in Split for more sightseeing tips!}

Sea views aboard Almissa on Adriatic Sea Cruise


 

Island Hopping Map

Use this link to Google Maps for our Croatia Island Hopping Map online.

 


 

Explorer Sail Croatia Cruises

There are three Explorer routesSplit to Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik to Split and Split to Split – that visit the most beautiful Croatian islands and seaside cities. Booking an Adriatic Sea cruise alleviates all the hassles of planning your own Croatia island itinerary. The routes visit most of the same ports, with a few exceptions (so make sure the route you pick stops at your desired destinations!). 

The Sail Croatia Split to Dubrovnik cruise departs Split and heads south to Makarska, then Stari Grad, Hvar Town, Vis, Korcula, Mljet and ends in Dubrovnik. (The Split to Dubrovnik itinerary stops in Makarska but not Vela Luka.)

Cruises from Dubrovnik to Split depart Dubrovnik with a first stop in Mljet, then Korcula, Vela Luka, Vis, Hvar Town, Stari Grad and finishes in Split. (Ships that sail Dubrovnik to Split stop in Vela Luka but not Makarska.)

On the Split to Split cruise, the ship goes to Makarska, then Korcula, Dubrovnik, Mljet, Hvar Town, Stari Grad and back to Split. (The Split to Split Croatian island hopping itinerary does not stop on Vis Island or in Vela Luka.)

Find all of our city-specific tips on our Croatia Travel Guides Page!

Croatia Travel Guides by JetSettingFools.com


 

Croatia Island Hopping Tips

After spending a week sailing around Croatia islands, we have a few tips for fellow travelers going on Adriatic Sea cruises.

Weather on Your Adriatic Sea Cruise

Most cruises around the Dalmatian Islands set sail from May through September, when the weather is ideal for being on the water. Based on previous trips to Croatia, we booked our Sail Croatia Dubrovnik to Split Cruise for mid-May expecting ideal weather conditions. Unfortunately, the weather along the coast was wetter than usual, but we really only had one completely foul weather day (in Korcula).

It is, of course, impossible to predict what the weather will be like when planning a Croatia island holiday. It’s best to be prepared for all types of weather – so make sure to bring a rain jacket, travel umbrella, as well as plenty of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat…and a good attitude if the weather goes awry. And if you are fortunate enough to be on a boat with an excellent crew – like we were – then they will do their best to make the most of it!

 

What to Pack for Adriatic Cruises

Packing for sailing holidays in Croatia is pretty self-explanatory (Sunscreen, check! Swimsuit, check!), but there are a few things you won’t want to forget!

Sea Bands

As much as I love being on boats, I’m susceptible to sea sickness. Rather than taking pills to combat the rolling motion, I use non-medicinal Sea Bands. The wrist bands use a pressure point that is proven to be effective is aiding in motion sickness. Other products that I have not used personally (but did see other passengers using) are motion sickness patches and the Reliefband.  Tip: If you start to feel motion sickness on the boat, keep your eye on the horizon; it helps your brain to know which way is up!

 

Camera

The scenery witnessed from aboard the Almissa was spectacular! In order to capture the beauty of the Dalmatian Islands from a boat, you really need to upgrade to an actual camera (rather than using your phone…and speaking of your phone, be sure to keep it dry with a Sea to Summit waterproof bag!).

We use a Canon Rebel with an 18-135mm lens, which provides a nice zoom, without being too heavy. And, the range allows us to only carry one lens, which cuts down on the overall weight of our travel gear. However, for travelers who want something even lighter, with decent zoom capabilities and a slim design, we recommend the Canon Powershot Elph (which we often use when we navigate busy cities).

 

Books

Although we had a difficult time pulling ourselves from the scenery, many passengers spent time reading books on board. I was glad to have a book with me on a day that was too rainy to be on the top deck – and even Kris picked up a book from the small on-board library (which was just a collection of books left behind by previous passengers).

While on cruises, it can be fun to read books about other sea voyages (or set on a boat). A couple of books that I found entertaining are Love with a Chance of Drowning and Dangerous Crossing.  But there are hundreds of books about sea travel to choose from; search for the perfect book for your trip on Amazon.

 

Wifi Device

Sail Croatia Explorer Cruise boats are equipped with free wifi, however it can be spotty when underway or when all passengers are on board trying to use it at the same time. If having speedy wifi is essential to you, consider purchasing a Mobile Wifi Hotspot for your trip. We use GlocalMe, but have also used Roam Free Ninja, a Croatian wifi rental company.

 

Travel Insurance

It’s always a good idea to travel insured! Check rates and coverage for your upcoming trip with World Nomads!


 

Other Croatia Boat Tours

While we think the small-cruise Croatia Explorer tour is one of the best Croatia cruises, it is only because it was the one that best fit our style of travel. If you are looking for a different kind of Adriatic Sea cruise, check out the following themed Sail Croatia cruise tours.

Under-35 Croatia Yachts

Croatia party sailing tours are aimed at the 35-and-under crowd. Designed as a Croatia party cruise, the trip features parties, flotillas and more parties. Croatia island-hopping party boats can be an affordable and fun way to see the islands. Find out more about these infamous Croatia sailing trips on the Sail Croatia website.

Croatia Sailboat Charter

Sailing around Croatia – with actual sails full of wind – is a fantastic way to see the islands. We have taken a one-day Hvar Island sailboat trip with a skipper and can definitely see the allure of sailing the open seas. Sail Croatia organizes both Chartered Yachts and Private Croatia Yacht Tours.

Active Croatia Island Hopping Tours

Want a little more activity on your vacation? There are two Sail Croatia adventures cruises – Hike and Cycle – that allow passengers to experience hiking and biking through the Dalmatian Coast islands.

Luxury Dalmatian Coast Cruises

Looking for luxury cruise of Croatia? The Sail Croatia Elegance Cruise is one of the top luxury small ship cruises where guests sail aboard top-class yachts.

Find more Sail Croatia Reviews and Information on all their cruises on their official website.

 

We Want To Know: Have you taken a Croatia Island Hopping Cruise? Have you ever gone on an Adriatic Sea Cruise with Sail Croatia? We want to hear about it! Give us your best tips and advice in the comment section below!

 

Start planning your trip to Croatia! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

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