Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cruising Croatia For Families

Croatia Cruising Companion - Optimists

On Croatia Online today, we looked at child friendly hotels in Croatia, which inspired us to think about how suitable a sailing holiday in Croatia might be for families with children of varying ages.

Earlier in the year, we interviewed a few experts for an article on sailing in Croatia for Time Out. When we asked them about taking children along, the consensus seemed to be that parents would probably be too distracted worrying about the safety of kids of five and under, and teenagers might prove hard to entertain. However, on a family holiday, if the charter includes hiring a local skipper, the experts told us it was the skipper’s job to keep everyone happy - with adolescents that means making sure they were fully involved, and leaving plenty of time for swimming and other beach activities. If you don’t take a skipper then that’s down to you, the parents!

That view has been endorsed by a number of families we’ve met who’ve tried it. Better still, a family sailing trip seems to bring everyone together. Readers might be interested to read a very touching report on the website of legendary sailor and prolific author, Jimmy Cornell. Noonsite includes the story of an Australian family who lived the dream for five weeks, sailing around Croatia, and considered it the best experience they had ever had as a family.

If you’ve only got a couple of weeks then perhaps the answer is to make sure you provide a variety of destinations and activities that suits everyone, and that’s very easy to do in Croatia. If the kids show signs of getting bored, perhaps spend a day at Marina Kornati in Biograd, ACI's Marina in Vodice or Marina Borik, near Zadar, and let the children take advantage of the nearby child friendly beaches, hotels and facilities while the adults chill out over a cocktail or two.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Croatia – Getting There Update

Croatia Cruising Companion - Ferry Korcula

Today on Croatia Online, we reported on the latest news on flights to Croatia and it seems there are some good last minute deals to be had, even though we’re approaching peak season.

If you’re planning a sailing holiday then probably Split or  Zadar are the airports at the centre of the most popular sailing areas, and a high density of marinas hosting charter fleets. Those travelling from the UK seem likely to get the best deals from EasyJet (Split) or Ryanair (Zadar), but don’t discount the national flag carriers (eg Croatia Airlines and British Airways) in your search. American readers should note there are an increasing number of options for them, even if it means a normally short detour via Zagreb to get a regular domestic connecting flight.

However, the cost of the flight itself has to be weighed against the logistics of the charter and the possibility of an extra hotel night or two if the timings aren’t right. Some charter companies will offer a degree of flexibility on the normal Saturday afternoon start and it always pays to have a chat with your charter manager to see what’s possible.

There are, of course other ways of getting to Croatia from the UK, including driving. A few years ago, a cheap flight to Ancona in Italy and a ferry to Split were one of the few low cost options but, now that the low cost carriers have recognised Croatia’s potential, that’s not necessary. For those from the UK, the ferry is a great option for getting to see the best of Croatia as a land based tourist within Croatia, but not really a practicality for getting there. Italians, however, have a vast number of ferry options for crossing the Adriatic, though many choose to sail their own boats across, or drive to marinas in northern Croatia, where their boats are berthed, and sail down to Dalmatia.

For travellers with some spare time and a budget to die for, maybe a trip on the  Orient Express to Venice and then a one way superyacht charter from Venice to Dubrovnik or Montenegro?

Croatia is so much easier to get to now, in the summer season – more flights, great new motorway, ferry connections as good as ever, but still improving - that the discerning traveller has a vast amount of choice. Car hire prices however aren’t amongst the cheapest in Europe.

Follow the link to Croatia Online, in the opening paragraph, for direct links to airlines operating in Croatia and for the main Croatian airports. Below are a few others that may help:

Jadrolinija – Croatia’s main ferry company for international routes and local connections to the islands

Croatian Motorways – for information on motorway travel in Croatia

Croatia Online - Driving To The UK  - for some first hand tips on travelling to Croatia by car.


Today’s photo is of Korčula town where the ferry overnights not far from the local boats.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Onshore News – Dalmatian Coast and Islands

Croatia Cruising Companion - Onshore Sibenik

Whilst the Croatia Cruising Companion seems to be the book of choice for those focusing on sailing Dalmatia by sea, we’ve yet to find another resource that attempts to cover the Dalmatian Coast and islands onshore comprehensively. We welcome all contributions and competition on this as, despite our best attempts, and blanket coverage when we wrote the book, there are some remote islands that we get to revisit only periodically for news and updates for this site.

For landlubbers that may be attracted to the more deserted Croatian islands along the Dalmatian coast we’d suggest a copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion and the following links on sister site Croatia Online to give you a flavour of Croatia and some of its quirks and practicalities.

Croatia In August

Solta The Island Of Olives

Falconry In Croatia

Cost Of Living In Croatia

Split Hotel Update

Croatia's Best Kept Secrets

Cricket In  Croatia

Top 20 Island Gems

Sunday Times Best Sailing Holidays

Best Souvenirs Of Croatia

Croatia's Natural Splendour

Zadar's Newest Hotel

Oxford And Cambridge Boat Race, Split

 UNESCO In Croatia

Browse, prepare, research and enjoy!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shore Based Fuel Stations In Croatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - Fuel Station Sumartin, Brac

A reader recently contacted us, see posting below, to let us know that the fuel station in Milna,  Brač, was open on a bank holiday, for longer hours than we suggested in the Croatia Cruising Companion. Better that way than the other way round but it does seem that many of the fuel stations have extended their hours of operation, particularly on Bank Holidays.

We’ve found some relatively new, web based information, on shore based fuel stations in Croatia and the following link, Adriasail – Fuel, will take you to a summary of opening hours, contact details and depths for most stations. If you then click on the name of the individual fuel station you will get more detailed information to cover the different seasons. Interestingly enough, the fuel station concerned shows the same opening hours as in the CCC for the month of June so it may just be that it wasn’t a “proper” bank holiday or July started early on Brač

As with all types of important information it pays to double check. In the introduction, on page 15, we suggest that you phone ahead to check opening times, depths, etc for the fuel station you intend to visit, and provide telephone numbers wherever available. We took our information directly from the owners and operators of the fuel station, in most cases and particularly when there were any discrepancies between a number of different sources, and occasionally a phone call may reveal that there is work going on in the harbour which puts the station out of action for a period.


Today’s photo is of the fuel station in Sumartin on Brač island.

Readers’ Update – Hvar and Brac

Croatia Cruising Companion - Stari Grad Below are some observations from readers who contacted us recently after returning from a week’s sailing in the Split area.


A super book which we found invaluable on our recent week's charter out of Split. I thought the following notes might be useful to your readers.

On Hvar we overnighted on the anchor in the small bay, Zavala, north of Rt Oplovac on the way down to Stari Grad. [CCC  page 170 and see note below]. It’s a beautiful and secluded spot  and very well sheltered. Also I think its walkable to Stari Grad which gets pretty busy in the high-season.

From Palmizana on Sv Klements [CCC page 165] we hiked the less-than 400 metres over the hill to the restaurants you mentioned. We used the one next to Gastionica Zori which was OK and much cheaper!

Later we were in Milna on Brac and noted that the fuelling stations stayed open all afternoon albeit it was a public holiday. 

Anthony Warren, Brentford

July 2009


Thanks to Anthony for his comments and we’ll be following up the opening hours of fuel stations in a later posting since most fuel stations now seem to operate longer hours in the summer season.

Zavala, the inlet near Stari Grad (see above), is not to be confused with Uvala Zavala and the town of Zavala on the south side of Hvar island [CCC page 177]. Croatia does have a habit of using the same name for a number of places. Hence you have a Milna on Hvar as well as the better known Milna on Brač island!

Today’s photo is of Stari Grad Hvar.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Cruising In Classic Style

Croatia Cruising Companion - Dolin

Croatia, particularly Dalmatia, is at its best when explored from the sea but many of us just think of modern yacht charters as the means of discovery. Croatia is however a nation of seafarers which values, and remains in tune with, its nautical heritage. Enterprising locals, who choose to provide floating accommodation that makes the most of this heritage, deserve a wider audience.

Captain Ivica Benić is one such entrepreneur and has lovingly restored a classic gullet, Dolin, for tailor made cruises for parties of up to 10 people. Known to his English friends as Johnny, Ivica was born and raised in Australia, but eventually answered the call of his Croatian roots.

Dolin was originally built in 1946 and spent her first two years transporting wine from the Dalmatian islands before going into service for the Croatian ferry company  Jadrolinija, as one of its first passenger ships. She spent the next forty plus years as a cargo ship transporting goods to the islands of Cres and Lošinj, and later sand from the island of Krk.  In 1977, Ivica’s family became the proud owners using Dolin as a cargo and excursion boat until, in 2008, she underwent a complete refit for her new role as a luxury classic cruiser.

Though Dolin was refitted from the deck up, the hull is the original and has lost none of its former glory. Made from oak that was “seasoned” in mud and sea water for a couple of years, the hull was designed and crafted from the finest wood in an age when boats were built to outlive their owners. Dolin, however, makes many concessions to modern living elsewhere – air conditioning, 5 comfortable en-suite cabins and spacious, well fitted common areas.

Ivica decided to focus on comfort rather than cramming as many cabins in as possible, and for that reason also, Dolin is geared to groups rather than just trying to fill individual cabins. The desire to blend classic style with contemporary needs means Ivica also provides a well stocked kitchen, and a chef with international experience as well as the expected expertise in the preparation of local traditional Dalmatian dishes.

Dolin’s base is Zadar though, by arrangement, you can start and/or finish elsewhere. Itineraries are flexible too and a number of activities are also available by arrangement – diving, fishing, rafting, etc.

A one week basic charter costs range from €5,400 to €9,100 depending on the time of year, for up to 10 people in double cabins. You will pay an extra fixed fee of  €1,000 for cleaning, mooring in town ports, tourist taxes, fuel, etc, but if your group specifically wants to berth overnight in a marina, the marina fees will be extra – see  Croatia Cruising Companion - Town Ports And Harbours In Croatia for the pros and cons of marinas and town ports.

For half board add €230 per person per week and for full board add €320. You can also take advantage of an inclusive “domestic drinks” package which includes Croatian wines, beers and spirits; soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea and juices for an extra €170 per person per week or an equivalent but non alcoholic package at €90 per person per week. Otherwise you will pay for drinks at the bar prices unless you choose, as a group, to provide all your own drinks for a corkage fee of €600 for the week.

By my calculations, that means a group of ten, can cruise in classic style for a week, in early May or late December, for €680 per person; or with food and drink all in, €1,170, which compares pretty well with equivalent hotel costs.

For a full price list, boat layout and design, and more information, contact details are as follows:

Captain Ivica Benic
Mate Balote 84
23000 Zadar
Phone  + 385 (o) 23 331 340
Fax       + 385 (o) 23 337 157  (capt.) Panjol
Mob.    + 385 0) 95 901 7455

We haven’t tried it yet but it’s now on the list and we’re always happy to give a resourceful entrepreneur, with something quite special to offer, a little helping hand.