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A Yacht Charter Vacation From Venice to Croatia

A dream charter steeped in ancient history

Just five hours by boat from Venice and, also, best visited from the water, Croatia offers an unforgettable Mediterranean charter experience.

No doubt about it - the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia is the hot new charter area in the Mediterranean. And for good reason: protected cruising, crystal-clear waters, drop-dead gorgeous scenery, and relief from the crowds and high prices of the Western Mediterranean. As distances between ports of call are short, you will cruise about two to four hours each day, leaving a maximum of daylight hours for onshore exploration, watersports, or simply relaxing and enjoying the five-star service aboard your yacht.


Boarding in Venice
If you need a fix of bright lights, sophisticated elegance, museums, galleries, and designer shopping, start or end your charter in Venice, the jewel of the upper Adriatic Sea. There's no place quite like the Piazza San Marco, the "Drawing Room of Europe," as Napoleon called it. Venice is definitely worth a two-night stay.

Once a wealthy and powerful maritime city-state at the crossroads of the Euro-Asian trade routes, Venice is today a center of art and culture, home to a major film festival, and the Venice Biennale, an international art exhibition held every two years. A walking tour of the city took me past several monumental bronzes by the Colombian sculptor Botero, in place for the 50th Biennale in September 2003.

Above all, Venice is a lived-in city and it is beloved by its residents. Daily life is not easy in a city without wheels, hardly imaginable for an American. But Venetians love their city and their way of life. They know their history and will proudly and passionately recount it for you.

Want to experience the lifestyle of a wealthy merchant family of centuries past? Your charter agent can arrange the rental of a palace on the Grand Canal where you and your guests can dine in royal style, complete with musicians; an elegant cocktail party or intimate dinner at the Guggenheim Museum; or a private, after-hours tour of San Marco, complete with music.

Venice to Croatia
 Once you can tear yourself away from the magic of Venice, it's time to head down the canal and on to Croatia for the cruise of a lifetime. Croatia has a magnificent coastline with mountains marching straight down to the sea, plentiful harbors, and 1,185 islands, only 66 of which are inhabited. Most of the islands are very close to the mainland with easy cruising distances between them. Croatia offers a stunning 3,500 miles of coastline (about 1,000 miles coastwise and 2,500 miles of island coast). With the water color approaching that of the Caribbean, scuba diving is a specialty; there is even coral in Croatian waters.

 The best way to see Croatia is by sea. While the coast and islands are relatively undeveloped, the place is steeped in history. Don't forget that people have been living here for centuries. There is so much to see and do that you should ideally spend 10-12 days on a cruise starting in Venice and ending at one of Croatia's charming medieval walled cities of Trogir or Dubrovnik.

Much has been written about Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, and it does not disappoint. Lived-in and catering to the tourist trade, the ancient city juts out into the sea, surrounded by water on three sides. If you want to linger a day or two in this charming walled city, try the Pucic Palace, in the center of the Old Town, with 19 deluxe guestrooms and suites, elegantly appointed with antique furnishings and modern conveniences.

 Trogir is an unexpected bonus, a lived-in city (yes, there are ATM machines) with a very comfortable ambience in central Croatia. Charming, well-kept, and more low-key than Dubrovnik, you can begin or end your charter in Trogir. The Split airport is actually closer to Trogir than it is to Split.

On your way to one of these ancient walled cities, you'll pass through the Brijuni Islands, a string of beauties off the Southwest Coast of the Istrian Peninsula. Here you can enjoy golfing, beautiful beaches, and a national park with a safari style zoo. Brijuni is the site of Tito's private retreat (tours are available), still maintained as a state residence.

Disembark at Sibenik, on the mainland, and your captain will drive the yacht straight up the fjord-like river to the village of Skradin, gateway to the spectacular Krka Falls in the national park - this is a must-see. You will board the national park ferry for the ride up to the falls (it is not permitted to take the yacht's tender) where you can hike a little or a lot, surrounded by the sights and sounds of falling water.


The island of Hvar will remind Californians of home, as the hillsides are planted in olives, lavender, rosemary, and grapes. The owner of the art gallery in Hvar Town has more relatives in California than he has in Croatia. When phylloxera devastated the vineyards of Croatia, the winemakers left for California.

 Croatians are friendly and welcoming. Just about everyone speaks English; many are also fluent in Italian, German, and French. The local produce is very fresh and delicious. There is a fish farm industry in Croatia and the fish and shellfish are excellent. Captain Nicholas Flashman, of the popular 120ft motoryacht Blue Attraction (see accompanying photos), advises that Croatia is ideal for chartering, providing calm cruising in protected waters. "It's like cruising on an inland lake. In six weeks of cruising, I had no water on the deck," he says.

Because Croatia offers such an array of options, I have provided a sample itinerary (see sidebar), "10 Nights: Venice to Dubrovnik." Whatever destinations you choose, you won't be disappointed. Cruising from Venice to Croatia is a trip you won't soon forget.

10 Nights: Venice to Dubrovnik
Approximately 340 NM
Prepared by Ann Landry, KN&P

Day 1: Arrive in Venice. Your yacht will be docked at Riva San Biagio, a 5-minute walk from St. Marks Square. Depart for Croatia or spend your first night on the quay at Venice, departing at first light for Rovinj, Croatia.

Day 2: Rovinj. Clear customs and immigration. Stop at the Brijuni Islands. Tour the beautiful palace of Tito. No cars are allowed on the island; you can rent bicycles or golf carts to get around. Zoo and golf course are available.

Days 3 & 4: Pag Island. Visit the handmade lace cottage industry, which rivals Belgian lace. Dugi Otok Island. Cruise the interior waters between islands, a national park area with beautiful natural scenery.


Day 5: Kornati Islands. Fish for bluefin tuna.

Day 6: Sibenik/Skradin Marina/Krka Falls. This is a must, a most fantastic journey. You will travel in the yacht up a windy river gorge with high cliffs on each side into a lake, where you will tie up at Skradin Marina. You can hire a tourist boat privately to take you up to Krka Falls and the monastery. The Konoba Zlatne Skoljke restaurant, a locals' seafood place, is recommended; phone 022 71022.


Day 7: Hvar Island. Hvar Town is the St. Tropez of Croatia. This island will remind Californians of home, as the hillsides are planted in olives, lavender, rosemary, and grapes. The island town of Stari Grad was founded in 385 BC as a Greek colony.

Day 8: Brac. Bol has a fantastic beach. The medieval town of Korcula is gorgeous.

Day 9: Mljet Island. Anchorage is at beautiful Polace. An island within the island has a monastery that you can visit by hired boat, as you are not allowed to take your own tender. This is the greenest and most heavily wooded island in the Adriatic, and features Karst caves, beautiful beaches, remains of Ilyrian castles, Roman ruins, a well-preserved part of an early Byzantine palace, and an early Christian basilica.

Day 10: Dubrovnik. Disembark.

More Stories By Ann Landry

Ann Landry was quite content with her career in ski area management in Aspen, Colorado when she took a dive/sail vacation on a charter yacht in the Caribbean. Little did she know that that innocent vacation would change her life.
She went home, sold her house, moved to California, bought a 44-foot sailing yacht, and set sail for the Virgin Islands to join the charter fleet. She arrived at St. Thomas in August of 1986, just in time for the annual boat show and upcoming winter season. Fifteen years and 30,000 sailing miles later, she still loves her work and the industry. She has been a charter yacht broker for the past 12 years, and can be reached at Koch, Newton & Partners in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the yachting capital of the Americas.

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