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10 Croatia Cruise Tips for First Timers

Croatia small ship cruises have become one of the most sought-after options for exploring this country with its over 1,200 islands and islets. After booking your first cruise, the excitement and anticipation begin, as you’ll soon be taking advantage of the opportunity to island-hop, sampling many of the country’s highlights with time to soak up the sun and enjoy the feel of a salty sea breeze while surrounded by breathtaking scenery. 

To ensure your Croatia cruise becomes a memory of a lifetime, you’ll want to take advantage of these insider tips to help you make the most of your trip. 

Pack Light

When it comes to a cruise, packing smart means packing light. On a small-ship cruise, there’s no need for fancy attire as everything is relaxed. You might want to pack a smart casual outfit for special dinners, but most of your time will be spent in a bathing suit and exploring the destinations visited. During the warmer cruising season months, think lightweight, breathable fabrics like cottons, sticking to one basic color scheme to create various looks while making it easier to pack light. Maximize space and prevent wrinkles by rolling clothing, allowing some items to serve as storage, like bathing suits placed in walking shoes.  

Ensure You Have Data Space

Croatia cruises mean practically endless photo-ops, so you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of data space. You might sync data and photos to a cloud-based service, but it’s also essential to move any excess data from your computer, phone and memory cards to an external hard drive before departure. That avoids the serious disappointment that comes when there’s a potentially perfect shot of playful dolphins or a magical sunset only to find no room for more photos. Desperately scrolling through to figure out which pictures you can delete as quickly as possible is not a situation you’ll want to find yourself in.

Check Your Credit Card Fees

Anytime you travel internationally you should check your credit card fees before you go. Many travelers inadvertently rack up fees for foreign transactions simply because they weren’t aware. It may not make a big difference for a few small purchases like postcards, but it can quickly add up to a hefty amount, especially when buying souvenirs or a highly prized bottle of Croatian wine. The easiest way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a credit card that waives them. There are plenty of options – read the fine print on yours or call your bank’s customer service line to avoid unpleasant financial surprises.

Start a Whatsapp Group Chat

With the joy of anticipation while counting the days to your trip, take advantage of the time by setting up a Whatsapp group chat with your cruise travel partners. It’s one of the best ways to be sure everyone is on the same page, such as which ports to visit and which excursions to take. What are your common interests? Perhaps a wine tour is in order – you’ll want to select the best destination for sampling the local offerings and perhaps even chatting with a winemaker. Or maybe the focus is exploring the underwater world, making it essential to choose a stop for optimal snorkeling.  

Research Ports in Advance

The company you choose for your Croatia cruise can make a big difference in the overall quality. The best will have travel experts who have been to all of the destinations visited on your itinerary which means they’ll have plenty of in-depth local knowledge about each port. Tap that knowledge as part of your research as they’ll be happy to share their insights to help you make the most of your trip, such as the top attractions, activity options, foods, and more. Take notes and share them with your travel partners to decide which excursions to book and perhaps which local restaurants to dine in.

Pack a Good Sun Hat

Not only is it important to bring sunblock and UV-blocking sunglasses on a cruise, but a good sun hat is a must. As you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the sun while out on the water, taking part in excursions and other activities, it’s worth investing in a hat that’s high-quality with all-around protection while not interfering with movement. Plus, a nice sun hat can be a stylish accessory making outfit look even smarter. Choose a hat made with a close-weave fabric and a broad brim for adequate shade to the whole face, the back of the neck, ears, and head.

Learn the Lingo

If you’re new to cruising, you might not realize that there is a “secret” language mariners use to communicate. While you don’t need to become fluent, knowing some of the common speak before you embark on your trip can be beneficial. It will help you feel more at home while cruising the Adriatic and while in port. Directional terms are some of the most important, such as “port” which refers to the left side of the ship, and “starboard,” referring to the right. “Aft” means toward the back of the ship or stern, while “fore” is toward the front of the ship, or bow.

Book your restaurants in advance

On a small-ship cruise, most evenings bring the opportunity to sample the local cuisine while in port to provide a more authentic experience, allowing you to get to know Croatia through its delicious flavors. While passenger numbers are just a fraction of what those big cruise ships have, due to the nature of some of the destinations, particularly those with smaller harbors and out-of-the-way ports, the restaurants are often small, family-run eateries. That means they may not have many tables available, making it essential to book restaurants in advance to avoid disappointment. The expert staff at your cruise company can make recommendations.

Get Ready to Make New Friends

Croatia small-ship cruises bring opportunities to make new friends. The nature of these cruises, with more of a focus on the destinations, increases the odds those you’re sailing with will have similar interests. You’ll encounter the same guests more often, during meals, special dinners, on swim stops and excursions, developing lots of fun, shared memories. By the end of the cruise, many fellow passengers have become friends. Some not only stay in touch in various ways, but they end up cruising together again in the future. You never know who you might meet that you never would have had it not been for your Croatia cruise. 

Consider a Longer Itinerary

While a week of island-hopping is sure to be memorable, a longer itinerary will allow you to explore more destinations, including some that may not be accessible by a cruise. You’ll get more for your money and your time, particularly when coming from a distance that requires a lengthy flight. For example, arrive a few days early or stay a few extra days to visit a neighboring country like magnificent Montenegro. Perhaps discover an enticing inland destination like Plitvice Lakes National Park with its enchanting waterfalls, or the Istrian Peninsula, renowned for its food scene and Tuscan-like landscapes with medieval hilltop towns and vineyard-covered hills.

On longer itineraries, you’ll have the time to truly unwind and explore both the ship and its destinations.


Croatia is a fantastic country with so much to explore from beautiful beaches, rich history, delicious cuisine, and so much more. If this is your first time visiting Croatia, you’re in the right place! Exploring Croatia by cruise ship is the best way to make the most of your trip, with island hoping excursions and access to smaller coves and hidden gems that you simply cannot reach by car or larger ships. At Cruise Croatia, we take care of all the details so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your trip. Get in touch today to see how we can make your dream Croatia vacation a reality.

One of the best ways to explore Croatia is by cruising. With so many islands and cities to scour, there is no better way to do this than by participating in a sailing adventure with Cruise Croatia. Not only can you appreciate a luxurious experience when relaxing on one of the Croatia cruises in July, but you can also plan a trip here without missing any of the top sights throughout the country.

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