Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Croatia. Truffles appear on menus in Istria, the olive harvests begin in Dalmatia and Zagreb swings into gear as the country’s cultural and artistic capital. The only tiny problem is that ferries to Croatia’s islands become less frequent. The coastal ferry that chugs from Rijeka to Dubrovnik twice a week all summer ends service on 30 September, not to begin again until June next year. The convenient catamaran that sped visitors from Dubrovnik to Korcula in July and August will also be out of service until next year.
That’s not to say that you can’t explore Croatia by ferry! You can. You just need to pay careful attention to the ferry schedules and plan your trip accordingly.
I’ve now updated my Dalmatia Ferry Guide to include the schedules of all ferries running out to the islands from the coast between Split and Dubrovnik. You get all the schedules plus prices plus booking information in one handy downloadable guide in pdf format. The timetables from October through December are included and your purchase entitles you to a free update through 31 May 2014. You can check it out here.
The ferry changes are less severe than I reported in my last post. In fact, Croatia’s national carrier, Jadrolinija, and the private Krilo company have more or less switched routes. Krilo used to run the Split-Hvar-Korcula catamaran but now Jadrolinija runs it. Where the Split-Hvar-Vis catamaran was once a Jadrolinija route, it is now run by Krilo. The schedules have stayed the same. For now! Plus, Krilo is now running a convenient new route, Split-Hvar that allows Split visitors to make a quick day trip to Hvar. You can see a list of all Dalmatia ferry routes here and download a copy of these routes with all prices and booking information here.
The Split-Hvar-Korcula catamaran run by the Krilo company has been in service for a number of years now. No more! As of today, the service has been replaced with two other routes, a Split-Hvar-Vis catamaran and a Split-Hvar catamaran that that now runs twice a day throughout the summer. This is an important service as it allows visitors to make a day trip from Split to Hvar Island.
Those of you who purchased my downloadable Dalmatia Ferry Guide are entitled to an updated version with the new schedules. See your original email for instructions.
On this historic day Croatia has become the newest member of the European Union. Congratulations! Thousands poured into Zagreb’s Trg Jelacica central square last night as fireworks lit up the sky and a succession of European dignitaries welcomed Croatia as the 28th member of the EU. Even with a difficult economy many Croatians expressed hope that EU membership would turn the country around.
The long-term effects on tourism of Croatia’s EU entry are difficult to predict but probably positive. Clearly Croatia Airlines, Croatia’s troubled national carrier will come under increasing pressure from its European rivals. Ryanair’s new base in Zadar may be just the beginning of low-cost competition which will help bring more visitors to Croatia. Foreign investors may be competing with each other to buy up properties along the Croatian coast now that EU membership makes property ownership more secure. Expect more variety on Croatia’s accommodation scene. Croatia will be more attractive to visitors from the EU who no longer have to clear customs but new visa requirements imposed upon Russians, Ukranians and Turks according to EU rules will dampen visitor numbers from these countries.
The number of customs posts has been downsized from 211 to 33, now that customs controls between Croatia and the EU are no longer in effect. Croatia shares borders with the EU states of Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Italy. The border crossings with Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia & Hercegovina will not be affected.
Entry requirements have been adjusted to allow EU citizens plus nationals of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican to enter Croatia with an ID card. Border posts are being upgraded to allow separate lanes for these nationalities and Croatian citizens. Slovenian and Hungarian border posts will be jointly managed, meaning that only one stop will be necessary. Croatia is not yet a part of the Schengen Zone and until it is (probably 2015) there will be border police at all posts including those of EU member states.
Meanwhile, Croatia is making plans to police its lengthy land and sea border with the help of some €120 million in EU funding.
A new agreement implementing border controls with Bosnia should keep passenger traffic moving particularly at the crucial Neum checkpoint en route to southern Croatia and Dubrovnik. See more about passing through Neum. Two new five-lane border crossings with Bosnia at Zaton Doli and Klek will also relieve pressure on east-west traffic.
Croatia is not part of the Eurozone and is continuing to use Croatian currency, the kuna. Although obligated to eventually join the Eurozone, First Deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pucic stated that adoption of the euro is on Croatia’s agenda on a five-year timetable and only when Croatia has a “competitive economy”.
Meanwhile, visitors who come equipped with euros can pay for many goods and services with them. As a rule of thumb, if your home currency is the euro and you see a service priced in euros (such as a hotel, or scuba dive) it’s advantageous to pay in that currency rather than pay an exchange fee. See more on exchanging money in Croatia.
Emilia Romagna Lines is an Italian ferry company that has connected the Emilia Romagna region with Croatia for about six years. It was a fast and pleasant way to go from Ravenna, Rimini, Cesenatico and Pesaro to Croatia’s Adriatic seaports. Over the years they have brought Italians to Rovinj, Porec, Pula, Hvar, Mali Losinj and Zadar via fast passenger boats.
No more. The Cesanatico-based ferry company has closed its doors as confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Emilia Romagna tourist portal. No explanation was given but, since the website is down, the phone numbers disconnected and the brick-and-mortar shop closed, I think we can assume that this ferry service is gone for good.
A complete list of companies running ferries from Italy to Croatia is here. Lines from Venice, Ancona and Bari are up and running but the boats from Trieste to Istria have not yet begun. A representative of Triestelines confirmed that the hydrofoil is expected to start running in June but no date has been set.