How to charter a boat in Croatia

Chartering a yacht in Croatia: it’s something for the Prince Edwards, Elizabeth Taylors, and Jim Clarks of the world, not us mere mortals, right?

Actually, it’s not that hard. And if you were planning on spending 100 euro/day or more on your European holiday, cruising will almost certainly be cheaper. You don’t need to have any sailing experience. You will see more gorgeous things, natural and man-made, than you would in almost any other setting. You won’t need to unpack and repack bags. It’s even eco-friendly.

The stretch of coast from Istria in northern Croatia to Dubrovnik, close to the border with Montenegro, has been a popular cruising destination for millennia. There are three UNESCO world heritage sites, well preserved Venetian cities, and remnants of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian occupation. Add in a thriving culinary tradition, some of the best nightclubs in Europe, crystal-clear water, and four months of almost uninterrupted sunshine from mid-May to mid-September, and you can see why people don’t tend to visit just once. Go before it becomes overrun…

GETTING THERE: Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar are the most popular places to pick up your boat. All have airports with frequent connections to most European hubs. See more details below.

THE COST: 500-2000 euro/person ($660-2600 in the summer of 2012), depending on the level of comfort you want on your yacht, plus airfare.

Here’s a breakdown.

  • Boat rental: varies widely depending on boat size/quality/age and the number in your party. Plan on 1800-7000 euro, to be split by you and your fellow boatmates.
    • Standard yachts sleep 4-12 people. You will pay a flat fee for the boat, so it’s generally cheaper if you have a full boat and so have more people splitting the price.
      In most cruising yachts, the dining table (‘saloon’) will fold down to form a bunk for two people. Therefore, yachts are generally advertised to sleep 2n+2 people, where n = the number of cabins. If noone in your party wants to sleep in the saloon, you should subtract 2 from the number of people the boat technically sleeps.
    • Any chartering company will send you the basic details of the boats they’re offering. You can google the model of the boat to find all the specs, detailed pictures of the inside and outside, and floor plans that show how many bedrooms and bathrooms each boat will have.
    • If you plan to have 8 or more on the same boat, for the love of God make sure you have more than one bathroom. Toilets have a tendency to get clogged.
    • Keep in mind you will have to account for sleeping space for your staff, if you choose to book any. It is fairly standard to have the staff sleep in the saloon.
      Staff (optional)
  • Skipper ~ 150 euro/day ($200). Unless you’re a very experienced sailor, you’ll want to make this investment. He/she will take care of all navigation and boat handling, though you are of course welcome to help. Occasionally you’ll also get lucky and have a skipper who covers the duties of the host/hostess (see below)
    • Most reputable companies in Croatia now require formal qualifications for people looking to rent a boat, so if you plan to go without skipper you should make sure you have a license (RYA preferred).
  • Host(ess) (who keeps the boat clean and prepares meals) ~100 euro ($130)/day. Often the skipper + hostess are a couple.
  • Food:
    • self catering is easy, with a choice between traditional markets or supermarkets. If you have a hostess, you will give her money to do the shopping whenever we put into port.
    • Dining on shore can cost whatever you want it to. Quaint restaurants with delicious fresh food are cheap (10-20 euro/$13-26) and ubiquitous. Many places you stop will also have higher-end options.
  • Transport to Croatia
    • Dubrovnik and Split both have airports with seasonal connections to most European hubs. Expect to pay around $1000-$1500 with some advance planning. Obviously set a Hitlist alert! You may be able to get something for much less if you fly to the cheapest hub in Europe from your home airport then catch a discount flight to Croatia.
    • If you’re coming from Europe, plan to spend around 250 euro to get to/from Dubrovnik if you fly a full service airline. You can get much cheaper if you are willing to fly budget airlines (easyjet, Ryanair, etc).
    • You could also take a ferry from Italy – there are daily services from Ancona and Pescara. Check for the latest.
  • Transport within Croatia
    • A taxi from the airport to the marina should cost 80 euro or so, and cheaper transportation can probably be arranged in advance.
  • Port fees
    • berthing fee at marina – 20-100 euro ($26-133)/day, depending on the place; 50% more for catamarans
    • anchoring in a natural bay – free
  • Fuel ~100-200 euro ($130-260)/week, depending on oil prices and how much you sail
  • Cleaning – most rental agencies will charge a one-time cleaning fee of 100-150 euro ($130-200) at the end of the week.


The best option, of course, is a personal recommendation. However, keep in mind companies change from year to year, so unless you go with an established brand you may not be getting the same service your friends got in previous years.
The most well-known companies in Croatia are the Moorings (which is also strong worldwide) and Sunsail. Both are a little more expensive than what you’ll find with local connections, but are not unreasonable and are the easiest for first-time charterers.
Always negotiate the price of your charter. You should be able to secure discounts of at least 10% off the stated price, and if you book before March you can generally get up to 25% off.
Planning in advance is a good idea. Croatia has become such a prime destination that boats really do sell out and it’s unlikely you’ll find a good last-minute deal in season.
You can usually negotiate another 5-10% off the price if you pay in cash (via bank transfer) rather than a credit card.
Most companies tend to ask for a deposit of around 25% of the total cost when you make the reservation, and the balance a month before your trip.
Certain incidentals (such as the cleaning fee and the skipper’s salary, if you book one) are paid in cash.


Bookings begin on Saturday, but you usually can’t leave port until 5pm, as the chartering company will need to clean the boat after the previous group leaves. It’s usually free to stay in the home marina on your first night in case you have people arriving late.
You will have to be back in the marina either by 5pm Friday night or 9am Saturday morning – make sure you check this if you plan to have a full itinerary.
In some situations, limited marina space will compel you to raft up with complete strangers. This may mean you have strangers walking across your boat at any hour of the night or morning. Use this as an opportunity to make new friends and share the off-market Croatian booze that you mistakenly bought.
Croatian gin is terrible.
Croatian beer is delicious, in a lager kind of way.
Badel Croatian Cognac is this blogger’s favorite drink.

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