BEFORE THE CRUISE
Croatia is one of those magical places that rightfully deserves a spot on your travel bucket list, it was definitely high on ours! With so many beautiful islands and iconic coastline to explore it can be a little daunting trying to plan out where to go, how to get there, how long to stay and what to do when you arrive.
Hours of research later, we were stoked to find the answer — the Sail Croatia Explorer Cruise. Based on stories from friends who have taken the Navigator party cruise we actually didn’t realise there was another option for ‘young professionals’, it’s safe to say there were some hi 5’s when we found the cruises page and spotted the selection.
Here’s our recap of 7 nights and 8 days on board the Split Return Cruise.THE BOAT
One of the critical things that sealed the deal for us; the boats on the Explorer Cruises are amazing! Probably the most important element is having your own ensuite bathroom, rather than shared facilities, including a hot and powerful shower. Our room was spacious with a massive bed, had a desk and felt like more like a hotel suite than a cabin on a boat.
The boat felt premium and more like it was a charter yacht for the rich and famous! A sun deck to hang out and listen to music, a hot tub, stairs down into the ocean, a bar and a restaurant-like area to eat breakfast and lunch on board.THE FOOD
Speaking of food, breakfast and lunch are included every day. Breakfast was fairly standard hotel style continental – cereals, toast, juice, coffee, pastries, eggs and meats. The real highlight was lunch, which featured a 3 course meal to restaurant quality daily.
8 days of an entrée, main meal and dessert and not a single meal was repeated. Soups and salads were often the lighter options for the entrée and a meat, vege, carb type style for the main. That makes them sound like basic meals, which they weren’t, we’re talking about top quality food with thoughtful presentation as well. Daily desserts aren’t normally on our travel menu, but when you put a chocolate brownie, crème brulee or ice cream in front of us it will disappear.
As full-time travellers we were a little apprehensive committing to an extended trip like this without a feel for how it would play out daily, especially someone else having control over our destinations and schedule. As it turns out, being able to sit back and have all the planning done for us was the best possible way to relax!
Each day was slightly different but generally we stopped in a little bay for a swim stop mid morning for a few hours, the water was always clean, warm and crystal clear. After lunch on board we’d have some sort of excursion planned for arriving in port – these were optional though. We decided on a walking tour and wine tasting as our excursions over the trip, others didn’t opt for any, some took the chance to do as many as possible.
The afternoon into the evening was always our chill time or exploring time depending on how we felt. After a day on board we’d arrive into some epic location like Dubrovnik, Hvar, or Makarska and be given the chance to take it in at our own pace, which we loved. Suppose it felt like the schedule was often set for us up until we got to port in the afternoon, from that point we were on our own clock and could just wing it as we pleased, filming vlogs, exploring and taking photos. As long as we were back on the boat before we set sail again in the morning life was good!THE WRAP UP
With only 40 guests on the boat and a handful of staff, it felt personal and friendly – each day we chatted with someone new and made friends. Our Facebook friends list is proof of that. In a lot of ways that wraps up the trip though, by the end we felt like we were just cruising around Croatia with our friends.
Surprised is probably the best word to summarise our experience – the boat, the food, the schedule, it all surprised us and over delivered on our expectations. So much so, we’re already looking at dates to see when we can return to Croatia next year and take another trip on a different Explorer Cruise route.
Check out some of Daneger & Staceys videos from their Explorer Cruise! You can watch them all on their YouTube channel.