One of our Jauntee ground operations team members from Croatia took a luxury small ship cruise on the Dalmatian coast in the summer of 2020 during the Covid-19. Since Marta already lives in Croatia and no international air travel was required, she decided to take up this challenge and the opportunity at the same time in order to have the first-hand experience of the small ship cruising in Croatia during the Covid-19.
It was mid-August, the summer on the Dalmatian coast (and the entire world for that matter) was a lot different than any other summer I can remember. But at the same time, there were people vacationing, mainly Croatians but also tourists from the neighboring countries such as Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, etc. The situation with Covid-19 during the summer was favorable in Croatia at that time, and things looked quite promising which also attracted the sun and beach seekers who came from the countries allowed to enter Croatia. Everyone was spending as much time on the beach as possible, finding smaller, more intimate parts of the beach, making sure that there were no crowds and that everyone stayed apart from each other. On the beach, it all looked as usual (more or less). Except, there was only a handful of small ships passing by from Split to Dubrovnik and back with stops on the islands. Not much was happening out on the open sea, except a few sailing boats, yachts, and fisherman boats.
So, I decided to take one of these luxury cruises on the small ship from Dubrovnik to Split, such as the ones that Jauntee has in its Croatia small ship cruise offer. I was curious what the cruising looked like and how safe it was during the pandemic. I was a little nervous at first not knowing what I might be putting myself through, but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I boarded the ship at the port Gruz in Dubrovnik. After hand sanitizing before the embarkation, all passengers were asked to carry their own luggage on board. There was no handshake greeting, the required distance was kept and the crew wore masks at all times. My cabin door and window were open, the AC was off. The cabin was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and there were supplies of soap, paper towels, and disinfectant in the cabin and the bathroom. I felt a lot less nervous.
The capacity of the ship was 36 passengers, but there were only 17 people on board. I, of course, had a cabin to myself. I kept the a/c off in my cabin during the entire cruise but kept the window open when I was on the ship. I was yet to find out regarding the dining setup, the procedures regarding getting off and back on the ship, and so much more which I will all try to explain here. The first dinner was on board. We all dined inside in the dining area, with only 3-4 people at every big round table and plenty of distance between each person. The windows and dining room door remained open during the entire time. The food was served individually, the server wore gloves and everything was really nice and clean. There was no food served at the buffet. The soft music was quietly playing in the background. The food was excellent; authentic Croatian with a mix of Italian. Great first night. The weather was perfect, and the sea was calm.
The next morning we had a sightseeing tour of the always stunningly beautiful Dubrovnik Old town. We disembarked one by one with plenty of distance, and there were no other ships next to us, so getting off was simple and easy. We took a big bus with over 46 seats for only 17 of us + the guide and we enjoyed the empty streets of Dubrovnik, amazing sites, and beautiful views. I was in Dubrovnik very often, but since the last war in 1990, I don’t remember seeing this city this empty and quiet. It was nice and peaceful. Even though we couldn’t enjoy coffee or ice cream on Stradun or locally know as Placa, the most famous street in Dubrovnik, we enjoyed the incredible walk and views from the City Walls.
After the pleasant experience of Dubrovnik, we sailed to the Elafiti islands consisting of three inhabited islands of Kolocep, Sipan, and Lopud. What a perfectly serene place to unwind and unplug. The terrain is forested and hilly and the little villages retain the relaxed slowness of traditional life on the Adriatic coast.
Our next stop was the island of Mljet, located some twenty miles from Dubrovnik which is also a National Park…. Along the Mljet’s long coastline numerous coves, bays, and stretches of coast form a variety of beaches and swimming spots. Inside the island, on its two salted lakes, there are also some great places to swim and sunbathe. Beaches and swimming spots on Mljet are mostly pebbly and rocky. But swimming in the salty lakes is one of the most relaxing things to do on the islands, as well as exploring it by bike. It feels nice to soak up the sun on the sun deck of the ship…and even nicer knowing that my lounge chair (and the rest of them) are marked with my name. My space under the sun. Make no mistake. Safe.
We continued cruising down the Dalmatian coast to the island of Korcula, a long but very narrow island, which is known as the birthplace of Marco Polo. With its rustic charm, the medieval settlement of Korčula town has a unique appeal. The palm-lined streets and ancient surrounding walls draw comparisons with Dubrovnik. But what makes this place really special is its laidback, Mediterranean lifestyle. We enjoyed the medium-paced walking tour of Korcula town with our local guide.
On to the beautiful island of Vis with its charming fishing town of Komiza, one of my favorite places on the entire Dalmatian coast. Komiza is a quiet village with only one hotel and a handful of private accommodations. In many ways, Vis is the most fascinating of all the Croatian islands. I like it for its feel off-the-beaten-track vacation place on the Adriatic coast. For anyone looking to find that something different, a peaceful and relaxing place, Vis is it. You may find a lot of well-known artists and actors from Croatia and all over the place there. The ones seeking privacy. Recently, Vis became famous as one of the filming locations for Mamma Mia 2 (in which it pretended to be a Greek island!)
Cruising down to the island of Hvar which I love for what it is as a whole. Not that glitz and glamour of Hvar town, but for the picturesque rolling hills offering the stunning views, for its clear blue sea, deserted lagoons, fragrant lavender fields, olive trees, vineyards, and the authentic Dalmatian flair.
Continuing toward the Island of Brac, the picturesque town of Bol, a popular vacation spot not only among Croatians but also jet-setters from all over the world. Located just under the Mt. Vidova Gora, the highest peak of the Dalmatian islands, and it’s famous and one of the most attractive beaches called the Golden Point. But I still prefer the secluded small and unknown beaches, uncrowded and only accessible by boats.
Our last destination before we reach Split is the charming town of Trogir. Besides the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, I love strolling the cobble streets of this tiny town where cars are not allowed. It’s easy to fall in love with its shops, galleries, open-air market and so much more of this unique Dalmatian town.
And the cruise ended in Split….since this is my hometown I didn’t take the lovely and always interesting walking tour of the glorious Diocletian Palace and many other interesting sites, but I disembarked with peace in my heart. I enjoyed the cruise. I rested and relaxed. Off to the Marjan hill for a nice walk, I go. I had Covid-19 with very mild symptoms and I live alone. I am at peace.
So look no further to find the selection of the best luxury small ship cruises in Croatia