In Croatia, Europe, Travel

Sailing in Croatia: How a Week on a Chartered Catamaran Looks

As mentioned in our previous post, David and I just returned from a week-long catamaran cruise in Croatia. The trip was wonderful despite the fact that going into it, we really didn’t know what to expect. David loves boats, I’ve always wanted to see Croatia, and our parents were on board—no pun intended. That was just about it!

Now that our catamaran cruise is complete, we’re going to share what an average day on the boat looks like. Basically, the stuff we wondered before we embarked on this adventure. So what does a typical day on a Croatian catamaran cruise look like?

Well, for us, it started with…

The most important meal of the day

As part of our catamaran cruise, we opted for a two-crew member option. This means that we had a skipper (in charge of captaining our sailboat) and a hostess (in charge of cooking and cleaning).

Each day our hostess would prepare an elaborate breakfast spread and present it on the outdoor dining table on the stern. Breakfasts included fruit, eggs, ham, bread, yogurt, and sometimes bacon or crepes. As with most of our meals, breakfast aboard was much larger and fancier than any of us would normally eat.

Setting “sail”

Our catamaran for the week, “Jasmine,” is second from the right

I say “sail” because, although aboard a catamaran—a type of sailboat, we rarely actually sailed. Due to weather, sailing would’ve meant much longer at sea. This wasn’t ideal—our skipper was concerned about making it to the port in time to grab a spot.

All boats (and there are a lot) must find a spot to dock in a marina or anchor in a harbor. These spots are limited and, therefore, we didn’t want to miss our opportunity. Some nights, rather than docking at a marina, we’d anchor in a harbor.

This option is typically quieter. You aren’t right next to other boats—but you can’t access the shore (showers and bathrooms, shops, restaurants, etc.) without the dinghy. Similarly, being hooked up to shore means the boat is running on AC power—meaning outlets aboard the boat work—otherwise they typically don’t.

After breakfast, we’d head on our way. Typically we’d go straight to a port town—such as Šolta, Stari Grad, Hvar, etc. Sometimes, though, our skipper would show us other areas along the way.

Time to explore

Once we arrived at our port or harbor, it was time to disembark and see Croatia. The Adriatic Sea is stunning—transparent and turquoise. There isn’t a ton of marine life but, because the water is so clear, you can see the fish, starfish, and crabs that are there easily. After a couple of hours of sailing, it was nice to get off the boat and see a new place.

Each town had different things to offer but, in general, Dalmatian port towns are very historic. Picture old stone buildings, charming narrow alleyways, and small restaurants and shops to explore. Popular souvenirs include olive oil, lavender products, liqueurs, and nautical decor. We especially enjoyed wandering the old alleys. These offer a truly unique experience that doesn’t exist anywhere else we’ve been.

On one memorable excursion, these two local donkeys gave us an impromptu tour of their island

Many towns date back to medieval times—just walking through them feels like stepping back in history.

We saw the beach where much of Mamma Mia 2 was filmed as well as the outside of the famous Blue Cave. Unfortunately, conditions, when we visited, weren’t ideal and the Blue Cave itself was closed when we were there.

We also spent a day in the city of Hvar. Here we visited the famous hilltop fortress and got to see a medieval prison. On another evening our hostess and skipper accompanied us to a remote restaurant in a mountainous vineyard. Here we tried peka (more on that later) as well as Croatian grappa, sardines and stuffed zucchini blossoms.

Bon appétit

Ćevapčići (see below) prepared by our hostess for lunch aboard the catamaran

We typically ate out at least once a day—either for lunch or, more commonly, dinner. If we ate dinner out, Tena would make us lunch and vice-versa. Eating out usually consisted of finding a local restaurant with a promising menu. With some allergies and dietary restrictions, it was nice that there were typically options for everyone.

Most Croatian restaurants serve a variety of meat and fish dishes and pasta. Sometimes they offer pizza or steak. Salad doesn’t seem to be a common entree option there but is served as a side. We also enjoyed traditional Croatian cuisine like risotto—especially a popular black squid ink risotto—and peka. Peka is a meat dish (octopus, lamb, or veal) that is cooked all day long in a wood fire oven.

Peka being prepared in a wood fire

Fun fact: you can’t eat peka inside the city walls of Dubrovnik. The open wood fire required to cook it is outlawed within the city walls because of the risk of fire.

I particularly enjoyed Croatia’s various shrimp and meat risottos—it’s a good idea to double-check but most are gluten-free. Our hostess also prepared a traditional summer barbecue-type meal for us. This consisted of Ćevapčići, customary minced meat similar to breakfast sausage, fries, and ajvar, a pepper-based sauce. It was delicious!

Croatian restaurants are often quaint with terraces and friendly staff. That being said, our hostess’ presentation and cooking were every bit as impressive as our dinners out. Most people we encountered spoke English, fortunate for us as Croatian is a very difficult language to learn. Tourism is a huge part of the Croatian economy—especially along the Dalmatian Coast—so people are typically quite hospitable and helpful.

Time for bed

Pudding with sour cherries prepraed by Tena for dessert

After dinner, Tena would often serve us dessert. We’d play some games or have a conversation over a glass of local Posip wine or a Croatian beer. Then it was time for bed. We’ll write more about the boat itself in a later post, but there were four berths. This meant that each couple (plus Tena) had their own bedroom and bathroom and most nights everyone slept really well!

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Posted on June 16, 2019

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