To get from Italy to Croatia, an easy option is to take a ferry. It’s a bit of a long journey but you go overnight and can count part of the fare as accommodations for one evening. The ferry is also a lot easier to get to than a lot of airports. Another nice part is that they generally depart and arrive right in the middle of town, no airport transfer necessary. The two major lines that run are SNAV on the Italian side and Jadrolinija on the Croatian side. Both have many ferries that run back and forth all week. We saw a few other larger cruise ships that had made port here as well. We chose SNAV for our journey from Ancona to Split. The ferries depart in the evening and arrive early the next morning. You have several choices for types of fare “walk on” people who choose this generally sleep on the floor with sleeping bags, or claim couches in the lounge; “reclining seat” which are pretty self explanatory; and “cabins” which are private rooms with locking doors, bunk beds and their own bathrooms. We chose to go with a cabin for comfort and because we needed uninterrupted sleep so we could hit the ground running in Split the next day.
The ferry had about 10 decks including the three lower decks for cars and trucks. I saw a fair amount motorcycles boarding which made me really jealous of their road trips to come. I was really curious about the whole layout of the ship so we walked every deck. It was a strange labyrinth of small corridors and stairs. It took us a while to find our cabin. Once we did, we dropped off our bags and went to the top deck to watch the sunset and departure from port.
If you don’t buy a seat or cabin you have to find space where you can for the 10 hour journey. There were people strewn all about in hallways and in the lounges. A lot of backpackers set up yoga mats in corners of different rooms. Our ferry was also very empty. It looked like it could hold thousands of people but there were only a few hundred on board. The decks with the reclining chairs were almost completely empty. It seemed like all of the passengers were gathered in the main lounge. Its no wonder since the lounge had drinks, live music and more open seating. The live music was a quirky treat that helped liven up the otherwise dull and dingy boat. The reclining chair deck looked like an airplane cabin but imagine it going 20 seats across. It looked miserable. We were instantly glad to have gone with a cabin. I really don’t understand why anyone would pay extra to sit in cramped rows of seats. The yoga mat backpackers looked a lot more comfortable albeit homeless.
The boat also had a dining room with a very overpriced buffet dinner as well as a cafeteria for snacks. We had a lot more fun bringing our own picnic along after a quick stop at InCoop. It doesn’t take much convincing to get me to go to the grocery store, especially when I’m really hungry.
Lauren enjoying the sun on the top deck.
Pulling away from port in Ancona
Once we were well underway – at about 1am – we took a walk up to the top deck to see what the sky looked like. Coming from Brooklyn, we don’t get to enjoy the stars too much. Most cities obscure the night’s sky with so much light pollution. Out in the middle of the Adriatic, the sky was full of stars with the Milky Way galaxy clearly visible. The wind cut our stargazing short and we retired to our bunks for the night. Once you consider your travel time in terms of how much sleep you can get, our 7am arrival was rapidly approaching.
Ancona Port from the top deck.
Cattedrale di S.Ciriaco at the top of the hill
I think if we had to do it again we might have gone from Venice to Pula and rented a car there to drive down the coast. It would have been a lot more efficient but we would have missed out on Ancona and getting to see a lot of the Croatian countryside though our later drive. Half the fun is figuring it out as we go anyway.