Despite the constant mixed reviews I read online, Sail Croatia had always been high on my to do list. Seven days on a boat, sailing the Adriatic ocean with like minded individuals and never ending cider and cocktails… what could possibly go wrong? I had to see what the fuss was about for myself.
Below is a detailed, honest review of my experience including the good, the bad and the gory details. If you’ve ever thought about doing Sail Croatia but find you have a lot of unanswered questions the below will help you decide whether or not to click the ‘book’ button on their website. I have divided the review in to categories of ‘the boat’, ‘the people’, ‘the destinations’, ‘the partying’ and ‘the money’ to help you navigate. If there’s anything I haven’t included feel free to comment or message me below.
Luxury vs basic – There are four categories of boats to choose from available on all types of cruises ranging from Standard to Premier Plus. The more luxury you opt for the more expensive the cruise gets. We booked quite late in the season so the last boat available was the Premier Plus ship on the Navigator cruise. Although we paid more than we wanted this was the best thing that could have happened to us. Our boat ‘The Pacific’ was modern, huge and even more than we expected. I would seriously recommend paying the extra money for a premier boat – it’s once in a lifetime so if your going to do it, do it right!
The rooms – Each room sleeps two people, either double or twin. There is a serious lack of double beds on all boats so if you are a couple you really have to push to get a double bed. The rooms were spacious, had a wardrobe, small desk and a decent sized ensuite. Again, much nicer than we expected. Our room was also above deck (the only room left to book which we also had to pay extra for) but had much more natural light and we were further away from the engine than below deck rooms.
Despite everyone’s doubts as day four loomed, the rooms did eventually get serviced – clean linen and towels provided.
The communal areas – We had three separate spaces for relaxing and drinking and could easily swim off the back of the boat. All were cleaned early every morning by crew as we created havoc the night before.
Sister boats – All cruises have at least one sister boat which takes the same route as your own. The sister boats will also go to the same restaurants, clubs and excursions. Our sister boat was an Ensuite ship (the second best available) yet they continuously came on to our ship and made remarks about how much better our boat was than theirs. The Sail Croatia boats and other companies dock up next to each other at night to save room at the harbours meaning you often have to walk from ship to ship to get ashore. This sometimes acted as an invite for others to come aboard and snoop around so lock your doors. We even had oldies from another company drinking on our ship one night.
Food – Every single review I read said the food was shit. I don’t know if these people had a wooden spoon stuck up their arse or if our chefs were generally better than theirs but our food was really good. All breakfast and lunches were included. Breakfast was tea/coffee, cereals, toast, cold meats, cheese and eggs on request. Lunch was either salad or pasta and bread for entree and mains ranged from roast turkey, stuffed peppers, fish and lasagne. Dessert was usually a sweet slice and they always had fruit available. Portions are big so you won’t go hungry.
They say strictly no food and drinks are allowed to be brought on board but we found this extremely easy to do. We snuck on bakery treats and packets of chips in a backpack. Trust me, these will be a pleasant surprise when you get home at 3am after a long night of drinking and will get you through until lunchtime the next day as its most likely you’ll sleep through breakfast.
In terms of sneaking on your own alcohol – most people on our ship snuck on a bottle of spirits to top up their drinks from the bar. Fine to do as long as you are still buying a few drinks from the crew each day. Also, don’t get caught as they will probably kick you off or at the least give you a stern warning.
Age range – The Navigator cruise is a party cruise specifically for 18-35 year olds. At 24 years old, myself and one other were the youngest on our boat and the oldest being 32.
Socialising – We may have been extremely lucky but every single person on our boat got along and no one was left to fend for themselves. We were made up of 7 South Africans, 2 British, 5 New Zealanders and the rest Australian. There were 7 couples and the rest made up by small groups of friends or single travellers. Of course groups were made where some clicked more than others but ultimately we were one big family.
On the other hand our sister boat was made up of 2 females, one couple and 18 males. It’s safe to say the testosterone was looming on that boat…
Hook ups – I had heard, mainly from friends of friends, that like any young persons travel group Sail Croatia was one to avoid if you are in a relationship because it’s one big fuck fest. Aside from the one or two rumours, this wasn’t happening on our boat and certainly wasn’t happening on our sister boat. This might be luck of the draw on the type of people you get on your cruise but everyone was very much friends.
The staff – All staff were very friendly and loved to joke around. We had 1 guide (shared across our boat and sister boat), 2 bar staff, 2 boaties, 2 chefs and a captain. Our guide gave a speech every day before lunch telling us the schedule for the day and night.
Travel – Our cruise was Split return, leaving and returning on a Wednesday. We didn’t visit as many places as the one way cruises but also felt like we didn’t miss out on anything as the main destinations are covered.
The boat leaves the harbour about 6am each morning in time for a swim stop around 11.30am followed by lunch at 12.30pm. This means the entire morning is spent cruising however this wasn’t an issue as most people were asleep or used the time to soak up as much of the WiFi as possible.
Favourites – Dubrovnik and Makarska were stand out destinations. Your time in each place will go quite quickly so if there’s something you know you want to see, set aside the time to see it. You will be given a Sail Croatia booklet with a brief description of each destination which is a great starting point for restaurants and attractions.
Excursions – Each destination has optional excursions for an additional fee. If you choose to not do excursions you can relax on the boat or have more free time to wander around the town. Excursions ranged from kayaking, buggying, zip-lining, canyoning, guided tours and day trips.
Partying on board – Most nights started with after dinner pre-drinks on the ship. This was also a great way for everyone to regroup after going separate ways for dinner or excursions. Drinks were an average of €4 each and cocktails were €14 for a 1 litre bucket.
The midnight curfew was abided to by staff turning off the sound system. At this point people either went to bars/clubs or in quieter towns were shoved to the top deck without music.
The clubs – Go to the clubs they suggest. You usually get a free drink upon entry and it means you will stick with the wider group. Be aware these clubs are often cheesy and small with what the crew refer to as popular “lyrics music”. If it’s really terrible you can then decide if you would prefer somewhere else down the road.
Rest nights – You don’t have to party hard every night! Although also perfectly acceptable to do so 🙂 We had two lazy nights out of six. One night we got split up from the wider group so decided to call it and the other night we were plain exhausted/hungover. If you are a light sleeper and plan to have a rest night, take ear plugs.
Booking your cruise – Even though it may seem expensive at the time I suggest booking the best ship and best room available. You won’t regret it when you see the state of the other boats. I promise you. It’s also a once in a lifetime opportunity for most so go hard or go home.
Budget on board – You WILL spend more than planned. We are cheap travellers so were conscious of our spending but tried to not let it stop us having fun. Ways to decrease spending are to only opt for one or two excursions, take alcohol on board and avoid eating at restaurants instead opting for cheap takeaways for dinner. We ate at restaurants on the first and last night only when the whole boat chose to have ‘family dinners’.
The captains BBQ (the one dinner the on board chefs cook) is also an overpriced meal at €30 but I would suggest doing this anyway if the wider group decides to do so.
Total spend – Our total spend for the week (excluding initial booking costs) for two people was €660. This includes on board bar tab, drinks bought in clubs, tourist tax, dinner each night, midnight snacks, excursions and any taxis/public transport.
I am unsure what others spent but can imagine this is Sail Croatia on the cheap side. Some people ate out every night and did an excursion each day. I know one guys bar tab on board was the same as our total spend for the week for two people.
Sail Croatia was amazing and I would 100% recommend to anyone who loves socialising and meeting new people from around the world. Every day consisted of sunbathing, swimming, eating, exploring, adventure, drinking and talking smack with 35 like minded new friends.
If I could, I would do it all again! I hope this provides a clearer picture of what Sail Croatia is all about.