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You can’t swing a suitcase around without hitting a 20-something who has either sailed around the Croatian islands, or has FOMO about not yet having sailed around the Croatian islands. It’s the #1 item on every Gen-Y’s bucket list and it’s no surprises why.
Crystal clear waters, Instagram-able islands and a thriving party scene see young travellers from the four corners of the world descend on Croatia every summer in search of an unforgettable holiday. For five months of the year, private tour companies such as Sail Croatia and Topdeck shepherd sun-soaked travellers around the major islands on the Dalmatian coastline. With onboard accommodation, food and itinerary included, all you have to bring is your Kindle and a generous supply of sunscreen.
A week of island hopping through the Croatian islands, swimming in the Adriatic sea and sampling the local grappa certainly sounds appealing. But Croatian sailing trips can get pretty dicey, and we’re not just talking about extreme weather conditions.
In 2012, a 24 year old cheerleader from Toronto was left in a coma after she slipped trying to jump from the top of a catamaran, hitting her head and falling unconscious into the water. In 2014, a 23- year old Australian man was killed after he fell between two Sail Croatia boats that were moored next to each other.
Along with the physical dangers, it’s no secret that these week-long guided sailing trips have become synonymous with partying hard and hitting the booze for days on end. So how can you ensure you have the time of your life, without losing your dignity or your stomach-lining?
If you choose to cruise with a tour company, you will be responsible for adhering to the company’s rules for onboard behaviour. While the crew aren’t going to babysit you and implement a curfew, the captain has no qualms about kicking you off the boat if you are causing a continual disruption on board. It goes without saying – be respectful of the staff, the boat and your fellow travellers.
While most tour companies won’t allow you to bring alcohol or meals on to the boat itself, an onboard bar is available and most of your meals are included in the cost of your trip.
Croatia’s pumping party scene is a major drawcard for the young folk. From nightclubs built into outdoor caves and alcohol that’s as cheap as chips, it’s no surprise that hitting the bar and the dance floor is pretty appealing.
Being drunk can be dangerous at the best of times, let alone when you’re in a foreign country, and especially when getting home to bed involves negotiating your way back onto a boat. Be conscious of how much you and your friends are drinking and use your smarts when it comes to behaving responsibly. Don’t forget – the one thing worse than having a hangover, is having a hangover on a boat. That’s rocking. On the open sea.
Speaking of the sea, be prepared to be submerged in some of the most beautiful saltwater you’ve ever seen in your life (and that’s a big call coming from an Australian…). The water in the Adriatic Sea is crystal clear and every time you climb out of it, you just want to drive right back in again.
While jumping from the top deck of your 10 metre sail boat into this deliciously salty seawater might seem like a harmless and thrill seeking holiday achievement, there are a few things that can go wrong. From diving incorrectly to injuring your eardrums upon impact (not to mention losing your bikini bottoms in the process…), your travel insurance won’t cover you for willingly plunging into the sea from breathtaking heights (and that includes the cliff tops of Croatia’s coastline). Leave that activity to the Olympic divers.
With it’s newfound tourism, Croatia has become a fairly traveller-friendly destination. The local currency (Kuna) can be withdrawn from most ATMs with a credit card or cash passport. Medical and hospital services are up to scratch, and English is widely spoken.
However, we all know that the best laid plans can often go just a TID wrong. Croatia’s Old Town centres still remain the stomping ground of swindlers and the odd pickpocket, so keep your wits about you and be sure to keep your valuables zipped away.
As all the tours’ boats are often moored next to each at the port, other boat passengers are regularly walking through or around the decks to access the mainland ramp. You wouldn’t leave your hotel room unlocked, so apply the same logic to your cabin and keep the door secured at all times. Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance along with your swimming cossie and beach towel. We also suggest downloading TID’s travel app Tripwise so you can familiarise yourself with local customs and be alerted to any relevant travel news while you’re on the high seas.
As modern history buffs will know, Croatia was a major player in the unrest which eventually became known as the Bosnian war. Many of the locals, merchants and crew you meet will have strong feelings about this period in history. While the war is over, be conscious and respectful of their experiences and current relationships with neighbouring countries. It’s still a sensitive subject.