There are many reasons to explore Croatia by cruise, making it easy to sample the country’s highlights while sailing the clear blue waters of the Adriatic. But there is also a lot to consider when it comes to booking a cruise to ensure a positive experience for memories of a lifetime. These top tips can help you enjoy the Croatian cruise of your dreams.
Top Tips for a Cruise in Croatia
Time it Right
Timing your cruise right is key to a pleasant trip. The cruising season falls during the time when the weather is usually at its best, from around mid-April through early October, with seas often rough from November to March. Spring, and May in particular, is often ideal, with the water comfortable enough for swimming, yet the sun won’t be at its most intense.
In the most popular destinations, the crowds won’t be as thick as they will during the summer months either. July and August make up the busiest time in the Adriatic as well as being the hottest and driest part of the year. That said, for those who want to enjoy lots of time in the water with frequent sun and bright blue skies, it may be the best time to come. When in port, you’ll be able to enjoy strolls, alfresco dining and people-watching in the warm evening air too.
In late summer and early fall, temperatures begin to dip, but the sea will still be warm enough to swim. You’ll have to risk some rainy days and the possibility of high winds, but odds are, you’ll have plenty of sunny days too. A cruise in early October is wonderful for visiting islands known for their vineyards like Vis, Hvar and Krk, as this is harvest time.
Mega ships have appeal for certain types of travelers, including those who are looking to spend more time on the water with amenities like water parks in what feels like a “floating hotel.” But if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, consider a small-ship cruise instead. There will be more time for exploring each destination, and you’ll be able to visit more off-the-beaten path locales and charming towns with smaller ports those massive vessels can’t access.
If you have a couple of weeks, you may be able to take in everything from Opatija on the northern end of the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik, and even explore other countries like neighboring Montenengro. If you only have a week, a round-trip cruise from Split, or a cruise between Dubrovnik and Split (or vice-versa), will allow you to see all of the most celebrated islands along with two of Croatia’s top cities. The distances between each destination are short, so you’ll typically have just an hour or two of cruising each day with lots of time to enjoy each spot you visit.
Many cruises have a theme. Choosing the itinerary that suits you best, will help to ensure you’re able to make the most of each day. Some itineraries were designed for outdoor adventurers, with added excursions for enjoying activities like 4X4 tours, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, biking or hiking. Others are focused on food and wine, often including a visit to the Istria peninsula, famous for its picturesque hilltop villages, vineyards and truffles. Or you might find itineraries based on romantic experiences for couples like Croatia honeymoon cruises.
Packing light makes things easier without having to lug around a heavy suitcase. While some of the larger cruise ships may require formal wear for dinners, if you sail on a small-ship cruise, it’s all about laid-back luxuries, with no need for fancy attire. In fact, while you might want a smart casual outfit for a special night like a captain’s dinner, everything is relaxed. Most people find they only wear half of what they think they will, with lots of time spent in bathing suits, lounging on the sun deck, soaking in the Jacuzzi, or swimming in the Adriatic Sea.
Arrive a Day Early
Finally, if you can plan to arrive a day early into the port city, it will eliminate the stress of missing your cruise departure, and you’ll have more time for exploring too.
All of these experiences are arguably best enjoyed on a small-ship cruise – sailing on a yacht-like cruiser with up to just 38 passengers, you’ll be treated like a VIP with exceptional, personalized service while enjoying more time to totally immerse yourself in the destinations. These smaller vessels mean the ability to reach more hidden treasures and the most popular stops, navigating narrow waterways, reaching smaller ports and even into the hearts of medieval cities. Get to know the crew and your cruise manager while chatting about their favourite places while enjoying a laid-back uncrowded atmosphere for unwinding and relaxing in tranquillity as you watch the dazzling sea, island and coastal scenery pass by.