Thursday, 11 June 2009

Marinas In Croatia

Those of you about to set off on your sailing holiday in Croatia, may already have decided on your overnight stops. Just where do you stay to maximise your enjoyment of one of the world's best cruising destinations? If you've novices onboard or appreciate the full gamut of overnight facilities, you may lean towards the bon homie and luxury of Croatia's 50 plus marinas. In that case, what do you need to know?

All of Dalmatia's marinas are covered, in depth, in the Croatia Cruising Companion, as well as all other feasible locations for overnight stays. Northern Croatia has an even higher density of marinas than Dalmatia but that's mostly because they are handy for the Germans, Austrians and Italians to drive too. Particularly at the beginning of August, you'll see fleets of foreign flagged yachts heading south to the sailing heartland of Croatia - Dalmatia. Wherever you are, there won't be a marina too far away though the coverage is thinnest in southern Dalmatia, around Dubrovnik and Peljesac.

Below are a few pointers if you favour marina stops, rather than anchorages or town ports, though many town ports have facilities almost up to marina standard and are often considerably cheaper.

Standards and Classification
All of Croatia's marinas are of a relatively high standard but Croatia classifies them by category. Category 1 indicates marinas of the highest standard, and so on. On some occasions the difference in category is just a question of whether some facilities are inside or outside the marina complex. All marinas have toilets, showers, reception, electricity and water, though in some of the more remote locations (normally islands with no natural water supply) electricity and water may be rationed to certain times. Most have cash points, exchange facilities, restaurants and bars. Some have fuel, maintenance and repair facilities, deluxe accommodation and a lot more. If you really want to spoil yourself, try Frapa, Tribunj and Lav. Marina Frapa, in Rogoznica near Trogir, is about to get an underwater restaurant, underneath its new superyacht pier, to add to its extensive facilities and nightly summer entertainment. Tribunj, not far from Šibenik, is a lovely unspoilt village with a classy marina, and Marina Lav, though a little isolated from any major town, is attached to one of Dalmatia's newest and plushest five star hotels, Le Meridien Grand Hotel Lav.

Government Owned ACI Chain
State owned ACI (Adriatic Club International) owns 21 marinas dotted around the coast. The Croatian government was well ahead of its time when it planned and conceived its network of marinas. However, in some locations, where possibilities for expansion are limited, the older marinas don't always cope so well with today's larger yachts. One of the advantages of state ownership (and this applies to Croatia's post offices and ferry services as well), is that the more remote and less profitable locations are covered (Zut and Piskera for example) though these marinas tend to be closed in winter. Those that berth in an ACI marina all year round get significant discounts on daily berthing in other ACI marinas.

Superyacht Marinas
Croatia is increasingly aiming at the luxury end of tourism and many marinas are being expanded to accommodate larger yachts. NCP Marina Mandalina will soon be Croatia’s first dedicated superyacht marina and already accommodates a number of gin palaces. Tribunj, Frapa and Lav also have good space for larger yachts and the facilities that go with it. Many other marinas will normally find a way of looking after superyacht captains or have a few dedicated superyacht berths.

Some Marinas To Watch
Recently opened Marina Preko, on Ugljan Island near Zadar was the first Croatian marina to install a purpose built pump-out system to keep the sea clean and we hope more will follow.
Šolta Island, near Split, should be getting its first marina this year, in Maslinica harbour. That's the next project for the owners of the beautifully refurbished castle, now that it is fully functioning as a luxury boutique hotel - see Croatia Online - Solta, Martinis Marchi
Dugi Rat, near Split is watching progress eagerly on the Korenat Point Development which will transform the area.
Marina Vinisce, not far from Trogir and Marina Agana has been open, closed, open and now appears to be closed again.

Staying in a marina is the most expensive option, other than leaving already comfortable floating accommodation for a hotel. Daily berth rates are normally 10% to 20% higher in July and August, some marinas reduce their rates substantially between November and March, catamarans normally cost double, and you will find that negotiation on pricing is normally fruitless, particularly in the summer season. Rates normally include fair use of electricity and water and below are some examples for 10/20 metre yachts in the shoulder season, per day.

ACI Trogir - €45/€110 per night -
Marina Kaštela - €37/€94 near Split -
Marina Preko - €44/not quoted -

Some Tips
You can expect English speaking staff, someone normally on alert to show you to your berth, and a very helpful service. You will be expected to use marina facilities over third party ones, and some marinas do not allow other service/repair companies onto their premises. Every marina has a daily weather report and will provide as much local knowledge as you need though beware, they may have a cousin working at the "best restaurant in town".

For those on a first trip wondering whether to choose marinas or not, be prepared for the fact that you may have to sacrifice some tranquility for a little more luxury. You will be tightly packed in the summer season and that might shatter the image of the deserted island that you left behind a couple of hours ago!
Today's photo is from Marina Frapa looking towards Rogoznica.

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