Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cruising Croatia With A Difference

Croatia Cruising Companion - Yacht Week

Six months is a long time in blogging and as you’ll see from sister blog, Croatia Online, we’ve not been idle. However that’s no excuse and apologies to our readers for the unusual gap in postings. The mountain of news and excitement to report has made our return to regular postings a little daunting but, as seadog and  Croatia Cruising Companion co-author, John Nash, would say, just take it one step at a time.

So we’re bridging the gap with an extract of one of our latest nautical articles for Time Out’s Visitors Guide To Croatia 2010.


Croatia’s lovely Venetian cities are best approached by sea, its azure waters so much more refreshing in remote deserted bays, and its islands most revealing when you can come and go as you please, rather than be a slave to ferry timetables. To explore Croatia by boat is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living, but if you’re in Croatia to party that’s possible too.

Google on charter in Croatia and you will find plenty of top quality charter companies offering everything from standard sail boats, through motorboats and traditional gullets, to superyachts. Get into the fine detail and you will discover that it’s not as expensive as you might think, and it’s an opportunity open to all – from novices, with a skipper, to experienced sailors joining autumn regattas.

Ivica Benić, or Johnny as he is known to everyone, grew up in Australia but returned to Zadar, to pursue his dream. Some years and several thousand kuna later, his classic wooden gullet, MSY Dolin, has been loving restored. Built in 1946, Dolin was originally used for bringing wines from the islands and became one of Jadrolinija’s first passenger ships before returning again to cargo duties. Under Johnny’s watchful eye she was refitted from the deck up in 2008, leaving the glorious hull in tact. She’s now the perfect floating home for groups of up to 10, with 5 comfortable en-suite cabins, air conditioning and spacious well fitted common areas, plus a live in chef, skipper and guide (normally Johnny) who have separate accommodation at the other end of Dolin. For a cost of between €540 and €910 per person per week, depending on season and including half board, a group of 10 can live in relaxed comfort, with their itinerary and meals designed specially for them, and share in as much local knowledge, or enjoy as much privacy, as they like. For more information on MSY Dolin phone Johnny on + 385 (0) 23 331 340 or email ivica.benic1@zd.t-com.hr.

There are many entrepreneurs like Johnny, exploiting Croatia’s natural assets in a style that suits modern travellers, but in harmony with its heritage. Some of his guests just want to mooch from bay to bay, some prefer to hang around the Garden’s annual summer festival and, last year, Dolin served as mission control for another exciting adventure, The Yacht Week Croatia. The Yacht Week now runs event based sailing holidays for all levels and in a number of destinations, but it all started in Croatia in 2006. Founder William Wenkel describes Croatia as “the mother of yachting…. few places, if any, can compete with Croatia, with its mix of climate, prices, culture and beautiful surroundings.” Up to 50 yachts, of all sizes and styles for every conceivable type of group and budget, follow an itinerary which includes after beach parties, live bands and DJs, regattas and much more. Price per person starts around €300 and heads steadily upwards depending on the yacht and amount of space and luxury each group requires.

And if you’re not ready to party all night but want a little bit more than idyllic bay after idyllic bay, try your own gastronomic tour or maybe a themed tour designed for you by specialist companies such as Hidden Croatia, Exclusive Sailing,  or Secret Dalmatia.

Many thanks to The Yacht Week for today’s photo.