10 reasons you must do a luxury small ship cruise in Croatia


A luxury small ship cruise in Croatia is an exceptional way to see the country and its idyllic islands, as well as enjoying the glistening views and undisturbed sounds of the Adriatic Sea. With a relatively small number of passengers on board, the luxury ships that sail across Croatia’s coast are modern and offer all of the luxuries you could want: balcony rooms, a fully-stocked bar and even jacuzzis featured on the sundeck.

MM Ship Croatia

The small ship Croatia cruises are filled with unique experiences, picturesque island visits and exceptional customer service on board. That itself should be enough to tempt you into a small ship cruise but for those who need more convincing, here are 10 reasons you must do a small ship cruise in Croatia.

Memories VIP Cabin

1. You make lifelong friends

Small ship cruises typically accommodate a maximum of 36-38 passengers so usually after the first evening, everyone on the boat is acquainted. There are plenty of spots to relax on the boat, including multiple lounge and dining areas and your balcony if you have a balcony room. That said, you’ll soon find that everyone congregates together on the sundeck (a space to sunbathe, relax in the jacuzzi or take in the views), or around the bar. This makes it a very social scene and you’ll soon get to know one another well. Many guests stay in touch with other travellers from their cruise and have even come back to travel with them the year after.

2. You get to get off and, on the boat, whatever time you like in the evening

Small ship cruises tend to dock in a new destination around late afternoon – either a destination on mainland Croatia or a beautiful island. The local crew are there to recommend things to do, places to visit and restaurants to eat in to suit you. This means you can head back to the boat at whatever time you like – be it after dinner to enjoy some drinks at the bar, or late at night after you have danced the night away at the local bars or nightclubs.

 Brac Island, Croatia

3. You have swim stops in the Adriatic Sea

As the small ship cruise sets off to another destination each day, it will tend to stop once or twice for swim stops. When the boat is stationary, you can jump off the back of the boat and enjoy a couple of hours swimming in the glistening waters of the Adriatic Sea. During the Summer months, the weather is beautiful and a dip in the ocean is often refreshing if temperatures soar during the midday heat.

4. The passenger to crew ratio is 1 to 4

Boats typically have a maximum of 36-38 passengers and a staff to passenger rate of 1 to 4. This is an example of the dedicated service you get on board. There is always a crew member on hand to help accommodate your needs or answer any questions. The crew will usually include the captain, a chef, a sous chef, two sailors and a cabin attendant. The staff are, almost always, local Croatian with fluent English and exceptional customer service.

Riva Cabin, Croatia

5. You can do excursions on the islands

As you visit new destinations on Croatia’s mainland and islands, you may be overwhelmed with the choice of what to do and what to see, but do not fear! The local guides are there to offer recommendations. You can do walking tours, wine tasting, oyster harvesting, guided tours around national parks and boat tours to the blue cave to name a few.

6. Brand new, luxury ships

Croatia has some of the newest and most luxurious boats. Most boats have a choice of accommodation on the boats, including lower and upper deck cabins – the difference being that the upper deck cabins have balconies and the lower deck do not. All of the rooms are well-appointed and have modern en suite bathrooms and facilities. The main areas are spacious and bright – the perfect place to enjoy freshly-cooked breakfasts, lunch and cocktails. The sundeck on the top of the boat is often the most popular spot to relax during the day because of the sun loungers, the jacuzzi and the views out across the Adriatic Sea.

7. You visit beautiful Croatian islands

As you enjoy the day on the luxury boat with good company, beautiful views and exceptional service, you often forget that you are on route somewhere. Time flies by effortlessly but, around late afternoon, your boat will arrive at a new harbour on a Croatian island. The Croatia cruises give you an opportunity to explore many beautiful islands including Hvar, Korcula, Vis, Mljet, Ston, Bol and Trogir, among many others. On Croatia’s mainland, cruises usually start and finish in both Split and Dubrovnik.

8. It gives you a different perspective of Croatia

Cruising along the coast of Croatia gives you a perspective like no other. The benefits of cruising are that you often avoid the mundane car travel across the country and instead, enjoy the sparkling views of the Adriatic Sea while sipping a local beer or a cocktail. It also gives you an opportunity to escape the crowds around midday. In Dubrovnik for example, the streets and alleyways are usually very busy during the day, but your ship will arrive in the harbour late afternoon, avoiding some (not all) of the busier periods.

9. All your drinks, breakfast and lunches made for you

On Croatia small ships, most breakfasts and lunches are provided. With an experienced chef and sous chef on board, the meals are extremely delicious. The staff make sure that all of the ingredients are locally sourced, and that they offer local drinks on board from family-run Croatian wineries and vineyards. The bar on board is always fully stocked and a drinks tab can be made to your room, payable at the end of the trip. Enjoy a glass of wine or a local beer anywhere on board – your room, your balcony, the bar or the sundeck.

10. Local guides, local crew

The crew are local Croatian, all speaking fluent English and exceptionally friendly. The captains and sailors are highly experienced, with years of cruise management behind them. It is the chef and sous chef’s job to prepare exquisite meals, sourced from local suppliers, farms and vineyards. Although each crew member has their own ‘role’, they will all be willing to help and attend to your needs throughout your stay. Many will enjoy a drink with you in the evening, sharing stories and educating you on all things Croatia.

Graham Carter is the Director of Unforgettable Travel Company. Unforgettable Travel Company is a leading tour operator that designs immersive and unforgettable trips across the world, following its slogan of Why Do Ordinary.

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Comments (13)

  1. John says:

    We’re fairly seasoned cruisers and although we still do big ships if they are heading to the right destinations, at the end of the day we prefer smaller ships if we’ve got a choice.

    • Graham Carter says:

      They are certainly a great way to explore the destination, as well as forming great friendships with other guests on board!

  2. Debs says:

    That bedroom is incredible, quite an eye opener for me. I never know that cabins could be so spacious and look so luxurious.

    • Graham Carter says:

      Yes they are very comfortable – all ensuite and some on the upper deck have balconies. The ships in general are very spacious, with lots of places to relax throughout the day while you sail.

  3. John Talbot says:

    Me and my wife have never been that enthusiastic over swimming and really hate the chemical smell of indoor pools. But I think we’d been tempted by a dip in the Croatia seas on a hot day.

    • Graham Carter says:

      It’s definitely a great way to cool down and the sparkling Adriatic Sea usually tempts most people! That said, you can relax on the sundeck or other lounge areas on the boat if you don’t want to swim.

  4. Suzy Willis says:

    Local guides and local crew is a big plus. On some of the massive ships that I’ve cruised on the crew are from all over the world and you really got the feeling that you could be anywhere in the world. It must be a real advantage to have a crew who carry on giving you a flavour of Croatia when you are back on board.

    • Graham Carter says:

      The Croatian crew area really exceptional. Most of them have a huge amount of experience working on small ship cruises and as you say, having local crew is a real advantage as you can get a really authentic feel for Croatia!

  5. I love the river cruising experience with Viking and was going to cruise Croatia last summer. COVID cancelled that trip but I hope to try again soon.

    • Graham Carter says:

      Let’s hope you will be able to make the trip this summer and that you have a great time!

  6. Chris H says:

    You’re right about making friends for life. When everybody’s relaxed and the crew are taking care of drinks and meals you have the time to make good friends. Though we’ve usually been on bigger boats where there’s more chance of people getting my odd sense of humour.

    • Graham Carter says:

      Absolutely! The smaller group allows you to get to know some really interesting travellers, as well as listen to the local crews stories and tales about Croatia. It’s a wonderful experience to enjoy together.

  7. Karen Morris says:

    Before the Covid pandemic two of my friends had done trips to Croatia, admittedly they didn’t do cruises, and they raved about what a different and beautiful place it was. No doubt that the best way to appreciate Croatia would be from a cruise.

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