Maybe you've already visited or friends told you what a great time they had, bottom line is – you are thinking about spending your next vacation in Croatia and you would like it to be a sailing vacation. Before you go any further, here are a few tips you might find useful.
When to book to get the best deals?
You can get “early booking” discounts as soon as charter companies determine their prices for next season (some already in October). “Early booking” offers usually last until February with discounts varying from 5 to 15% depending on the type of vessel and time of reservation. The downsides of “early booking” are having to make a down payment of generally 50% in order to confirm the reservation (you'll have to pay the other 50% some 30 to 40 days prior to your arrival) and – in case you have to cancel the reservation – cancellation costs.
“Last minute” offers depend on how well charter companies are doing with bookings but as the season approaches you can see discounts go up to 30% or even more. The downside of waiting for a “last minute” discount is the risk that you may not find available the boat you were thinking on chartering once you've decided to make the reservation.
Advice: You might consider chartering a boat in the pre-season when prices are more favorable and the weather is often really nice. If you are keen on sailing a holiday in May might not be such a bad idea.
Required licenses / use of skipper services
For bareboat charter you, or a member of your crew, will have to possess a licence valid according to regulations of the Republic of Croatia otherwise the charter company may refuse handing the boat over to you. That's why, before confirming the reservation, it would be a good idea to check if your licence is accepted. However, even if you have an adequate permit the charter company can still refuse service if they evaluate you don't have the skills necessary for safe navigation. This rarely happens but in these situations, you can be assigned a skipper – if one is available – at your expense.
If you don't have the necessary licence or, for any other reason, decide you would like to use the services of a professional skipper you should request it at the same time when inquiring about the boat. In this case, you have to take into consideration the number of berths and cabins on board. Also, besides the wage, the skipper, hostess and other staff members are entitled to meals and it's custom they dine together with the rest of the crew, on and off the boat. However, if for any reason you don't want to eat together, you'll have to provide them an additional fee for food. And no, “a sandwich and a diet soda” is not considered a proper meal.
What is a crew list?
Charter companies are obliged to report to local port authorities the crew lists of all vessels from their fleets leaving the marina. Beside all other information necessary for the completion of the crew list (boat details, time of embarkation disembarkation, etc.) you'll have to provide the charter company or travel agency with details which include the name and surname, date and place of birth, nationality and passport/ID number of every crew member. If you don't send these in advance someone from the charter office will have to deliver your crew list to the port authorities only upon your arrival and that means you'll probably end up boarding your boat last after everyone else has long gone.
Are there any additional costs?
Besides the boat charter price there are some additional expenses you have to take in consideration such as tourist tax, “transit log”, end cleaning, security deposit (refundable or non-refundable), fuel and extras like services of a professional skipper, hostess, outboard engine etc.. Some of these charges are obligatory, other optional. With some charter companies they can be paid together with the yacht rental cost, with other they have to be paid on site, in the marina. In either case, if they are not specified on the charter's / agency's website, you should ask your contact person for the exact information on which additional expenses you might expect and how / where they should be paid.
Takeover and return of the vessel
Although charter companies take effort in delivering all guests a clean, well prepared and fully equipped yacht, oversights and malfunctions can happen so you should and in fact, you are obligated to check your boat carefully before taking it over and report all defects you find. Once you get back, during the check-out procedure, someone from the charter crew will inspect the vessel and all losses or damages they find will probably be refunded from your security deposit.
In case of any breakage while at sea, don't try fixing it on your own – contact the charter immediately – otherwise, you'll bear the cost of all possible additional damages. You are also supposed to return the boat clean and with full fuel tanks. If you miss on doing that, additional cleaning and filing of the tanks will also be charged from your security deposit.
Since a yacht can generally be chartered only from Saturday to Saturday (especially in the main season) you’ll have to get back to the marina on Friday afternoon so the “check-out” procedure can be carried out on Saturday morning.
One last tip: Maybe you can arrange with the base manager to bring back the vessel early Saturday morning, but it would maybe be a better idea to get back to the marina on Friday and enjoy a nice night on town. And most Croatian marinas are in or in proximity to towns definitely worth visiting – even if it’s just for an evening.