During our three-week Balkans journey, we took the opportunity to visit Croatia, a country that we’d heard so much about but never got the chance to visit until now. And to explore the islands along the Dalmatian Coast, we booked ourselves on a sailing trip from Dubrovnik to Split with Busabout.
With over 1,185 islands peppered all over Dalmatia, it was clearly impossible to see them all — but we wanted to get a quick taste of the area on a sailing trip. It wasn’t our first time sailing: we’d been on a yacht trip in Alaska, a small cruise in Fiji, and on expedition cruises in Antarctica and the Arctic. We knew we loved life at sea and wanted to get a different perspective of Croatia. On top of that, we needed to get some time off work and this was a great opportunity to kick back and get unplugged.
The sailing trip – as it turned out – wasn’t quite what we expected and we were disappointed in quite a few areas. In essence, the trip just wasn’t a good fit for us. Here’s a breakdown:
Everyday we had a routine: wake up for a light breakfast, set sail, and arrive at our destination before lunch. We would have a swim stop in between, where we plunged off the boat and chilled out on floats. We usually docked at a town by late afternoon and wandered around for a walk before heading out for dinner and drinks. The pace was comfortable and we got to visit quite a few places that were worthwhile. For an idea of where we went, read my previous post on island-hopping in Croatia. Our favorite stops were mostly in quieter towns like Korčula and Hvar Stari Grad. The other towns were either packed with holidaymakers or expensive and over-rated.
Before the trip, I somehow had the idea that we would dock at hidden bays and secret coves, but clearly we didn’t. We only docked in busy towns and not uninhabited islands or nature parks. Alberto and I both prefer to be surrounded by nature than to be stuck in crowded and touristy cities. Our swimming stops were either in the middle of the Adriatic Sea or close to a crowded beach. The water was usually warm and nice. The beaches we saw were not too impressive though — they were almost always bursting to the seams with people and some were strewn with rubbish (especially in Makarska and Dubrovnik). I know there must be some pretty and secluded beaches tucked somewhere in Croatia, but we were there at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
Another thing I noticed was that most sailing boats doing the Dubrovnik-Split route followed the same itinerary. We were sailing along with other boats – including boats from other companies – the whole way, and we would see the same boat and people from the start of our trip to the end. This means that regardless of which company you choose, you’ll most probably follow the same itinerary. If you’re a city person and like hopping from one town to another, this itinerary definitely suits you; but if you’re seeking for something less touristy, then this isn’t for you.
The Boat and Its Facilities
Our boat Ika is said to be the best boat of the Busabout fleet. In comparison to the other boats, we had a lot more space than they did. Our boat is equipped with a shelter (which was useful when it started raining) and an additional level for first-level rooms and a sundeck. Apparently, our boat only has ensuite cabins. Rooms with shared baths are on the other boats.
While we were lucky to be on the better boat, our ensuite double-dunk room was tiny and there was not much space to move around. Alberto and I had to squeeze our backpacks below the bunk and each time we came out of the shower, water spilled out of the wet bathroom and onto our backpacks.
The Crew and Guide
We had a five-member Croatian crew along with a Busabout Guide. The Captain was a charming old Croat who speaks very little English and the deck hands were young English-speaking Croats. Our warm and friendly bartender Marko shared stories with us and made sure we enjoyed our meals. Alex, our Burmese-Australian Busabout Guide, was excellent and was tons of fun to hang out with. As a fellow traveler, he loved learning about the world too and we enjoyed swapping stories with him. He had only been with the company for a few weeks when we met, but seemed to know quite a bit about the history and culture of Croatia. He made sure to share with us his knowledge and answer all our curiosities.
Everyone on our boat was Australian except us and another British guy. Most of our fellow passengers were young (in their early twenties) and loved to party. Some of them were traveling from one party island to another (Ibiza, Mykonos, etc) while others were looking to let off some steam from work. They partied hard every night, mostly till dawn. I couldn’t sleep properly most of the time because we could hear them talking loudly when they came back from a night of partying. On the first night, I even heard a couple having sex on the sundeck right above my head. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
While we knew that Busabout catered more to this crowd, we had no idea it was a party boat. Thankfully, we had fun hanging out with three others who were around our age group (in their thirties). They were seeking the same type of experience as we did and this wasn’t quite they were hoping for either. In retrospect, we should have done more research and found a boat that catered more to our interest.
Extra Expenses and Optional Activities
There were quite a few optional activities that came at additional cost – such as the BBQ dinner and Captain’s dinner. We didn’t feel the peer pressure to join them and opted out for all of them (except the wine-tasting experience in Hvar that we recommend). We headed out into town for cheaper and better food — restaurants were everywhere and it wasn’t difficult to find something cheap and local. Most of the people on our boat went out drinking and partying till dawn every night, which means even more expenses.
Breakfast and lunch are included, but alcohol comes at an extra cost. Prices on the boat are definitely higher than in town, with a beer costing around €4 and a cocktail around €7. Even water comes as an added cost, which is quite alarming if you ask me.
Would We Recommend this Tour?
In all honesty, we would never go on this boat trip again. On such organized sailing trips, you don’t really get to see and experience each destination as there’s not much emphasis on local culture and history. We’re also way over the partying age and getting drunk every night just isn’t what we’re looking for on a trip. Trust me, I love to party too, but it just isn’t my main purpose when traveling.
This sailing trip isn’t a perfect fit for us but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t suit you. If you’re a young, solo traveler looking to party and meet other travelers, this trip could be for you.
Prices of Busabout Sailing Trip:
Disclaimer: This trip was provided to us by Busabout for free. All opinions expressed above are our own.