During the long dark English winter, one of my crazy Australian roommates, Ryan, came up with the idea that we should take a cruise in Croatia. I’d never been on a cruise before and didn’t quite fancy the idea. I envisioned huge impersonal boats full of clueless tourists. The Sail Croatia’s website won me over though, with shots of stunning blue water and my long lost friend sunshine.
So I went, and it was a wild week. And, as it turns out, an educational one. Here are some of the many things I learned:
Australians are the friendliest people on earth. The ship was small, only 25 passengers and a cook, deckhand and captain (all Croatian). Aside from me, one other American girl and a couple of kiwis, ALL of the passengers were Australian. Not coincidentally everyone became fast friend. With a little assistance from the on board bar, everyone was best buddies by the time the sun had set on day one.
Close quarters make for interesting stories. The cabin I shared with Ryan was the size of a small broom closet. There was barely room for both of us to stand at once. We were the only co-ed, non-couple pair on the boat which meant he had to put up with my snoring (I had a cold okay) and I had to put up with waking up to find random female passengers had joined Ryan in the bottom bunk.
You don’t want to be hungover on a boat. Take my word for it. The close quarters and incessant rocking will do absolutely nothing helpful for your precarious state of being. Mornings were particularly rough on my roommate Ryan who partied with the strength of three Aussies.
The second morning of the cruise Ryan stumbled on deck, looking like a plague victim. “How’s you foot, mate?” someone asked. Ryan looked confused. “You do remember stepping on that sea urchin last night, don’t you?”
Ryan looked down with surprise, to find pointy black spikes sticking out of the heel of his foot. Oops. Maybe the lesson here is actually don’t go swimming when you are drunk…
Cruises have their advantages. The coast of Croatia has dozens of tiny islands. Each one is beautiful, unique, and a pain in the ass to reach. Ferries go to some, but not all, of the islands and run at odd times. In terms of seeing the most of the coast in the least amount of time, a small cruise like Sail Croatia’s is a great option.
Every afternoon the captain would find a secluded lagoon in which to park our boat. We’d then take turns jumping off the top of the ship into the dangerously clear water. I’ve never seen so much yet been so relaxed.
But the cost more than you might think. The £300 price tag for the week seemed steep to begin with, but the price grew steadily higher as the week went on. Although breakfast and lunch were included in the price, dinner was not. The on board bar offered 1 euro beers which was a great deal until you counted up how many we’d consumed over the course of a week. We knew about these costs ahead of time but it’s wise to factor them in when considering the total cost of the week.
Travel friendships are a special thing. It’s amazing how fast you can bond with someone whn you are sharing close quarters and beautiful scenery. While were barely knew each other at the beginning of the week, by the end of the trip there was genuine sadness at the fact we would have to part.
Our last night on the boat some of the passengers organize as sort of Closing Ceremony. Superlatives were given out to every passenger. Yours truly was awarded the prestigious “Honorary Australian.” Apparently I’m really good at holding my beer, for an American.
True, I will probably never see most of those people again, but that is part of the brief beauty of the travel friendship.
On the whole I would recommend the small “party cruise” experience for those looking to have a good time, see a few islands and swim the Adriatic in relative solitude. It may not be the most “authentic” form of travel, but for what it is, it’s pretty damn fun.