I’ve traveled on planes, trains and automobiles to get to destinations but never in my life have I taken an overnight ferry and I have to say, it was an enjoyable experience. When comparing costs on how to get to Croatia from Italy, it seemed the most cost-effective and adventure worthy was in fact an 11-hour ferry ride, departing from Ancona in the early evening and arriving just after sunrise in the port of Split.
When booking, we used Direct Ferries to compare prices as there are a few different lines and the best price was from Croatian Line Jadrolinija, but truth be told the website is not the most user-friendly and the lack of information was hard. Causing my anxiety to sore and having Sean and I arrive far too early at the Port (Sorry Sean!). So here is a little breakdown of what I think is important to know if you want to take a ferry from Italy to Croatia including the packing of wine!
Picking Your Ticket:
There are different price brackets from deck to a private cabin. Deck tickets means you can sleep anywhere on the ferry from couches in the public lounge to even the floor. This is a popular option as it is the cheapest and people come prepared. I saw sleeping bags, pillows and one person even brought their own beach chair!
The next level up is Reserved Seating. Initially, this is the ticket we booked but as we got closer to our sail date my anxiety started to soar because I wasn’t sure what to expect. That and I realised that with all our luggage and valuables combined with the desire of spending as much time outside to view the sunset, it just didn’t make sense but more on that in a bit! Reserved seating is like airplane seats except, unlike airplanes the lights are on ALL night. In the off-season this would be okay as there were plenty of empty seats (3 rows of 3) so you could spread out, but can imagine that during the summer, it could be a bit close quarter and loud as you are near the lounge where people don’t just sleep but also drink and eat well into the night.
Cabin and Couchettes:
We went with this option and it WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY. We got a two-person berth but there were 4 beds and not 100% what they do during fully-booked ferry but it was booked as a 2-person cabin. They might during high season make you share or pay more so I would confirm if you aren’t keen on sharing tight quarters with a stranger. We got an outside berth with WC aka a toilet. It was actually fairly comfortable and spotless.
The only downside, we were near a generator room so it was bit noisy but once I got used to humming sound, it didn’t matter and lets face it, after two bottles of wine no sound was going to keep me from sleeping. There was fair amount of space as it was made for 4 but we were just 2. We ended up making a makeshift table, plopping our laptop on it and watched a movie before falling asleep. This option also comes with breakfast which was pretty standard meat, bread and cheese but the meat and cheese were of good quality and coffee much appreciated for the early start at 6 AM.
If you are not in a cabin, I would recommend a warm sweater or shawl to drape over yourself and an eye mask to help block out the light plus a travel pillow to make it a bit more comfortable. If you are in a cabin then everything is provided for you, so leave the travel pillow packed and don’t worry these sheets were CLEAN.
What To Bring:
There is a restaurant on-board and breakfast optional if you didn’t book a cabin. I would recommend bringing your own food and drinks because it is far cheaper. Sean and I got cheese, meats, bread and mini calzones with some Crips and a 2litre boxed Rose from Lidil before we went on-board. It was a little picnic at sea.
I would also bring an external charger and make sure any device you want is full charged before getting on. Once you leave port, there is no service so put it on airplane mode to save battery. There was a charger in our room but I was afraid to use it as I envisioned our American Plug, plugged into our British adapter plugged into our Italian one would smoke up!
Check in Process:
It says to check in 180 minutes ahead of time… Maybe because it was off-season but we got there WAY too early. I don’t really want to comment on when you should get there but I like to be better safe then sorry. There are also TWO different buildings that you will need to get to from check in to boarding. These are NOT close to one other and not walking friendly, especially if you have luggage.
There is a luggage storage area where you can leave them in the 2nd building after you check in. To reach this area you can catch a free bus the number 20 that only runs every 20 minutes from the Check In building. So make sure to plan for the journey before the journey!
When it is time to board the ship, you will go through Passport Control in addition to security. There is only 1 x-ray machine and just be prepared for a line if you get there a bit late. It is slow but since Sean and I got there so early, we were one of the first to go through so it only took 5 minutes or so. Expect about a 5 minute walk after this to the ferry, where you will walk on via the car loading deck before taking the lift up.
The trip was very enjoyable. The staff was friendly and it was a cool way to arrive into another country but also leave one. It felt fitting to leave Italy, the first country in our journey as the sun set and arrive for a brand new adventure as the sun rose over the city of Split. It was as spectacular way to start our next adventure in Croatia.
If you are looking for a way to get to Croatia from Italy or vice versa, see if the ferry works for you first. There are multiple ports in Croatia and Italy that can work depending on where you want to leave and I think it’s a journey everyone should try at least one.
Traveled on this ferry before? Anything to add? Tell me below!