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Croatia islands cruises- Katarina?

3 friends in our 50's want to go to Croatia end August/beginning Sept 2019 for 7-10 days. Want to see Dubrovnik, Split, some islands, then also head north to Plitvice, Istria. Will also be going to Positano and Puglia either before or after this. Has anyone been on Katarina cruises Or any other Cruise lines for Croatia island hopping? What is your experience and what would the advantages/disadvantages be to making our own way hiring a car and using public ferries etc. Thanks in advance for your response!

Posted by
4747 posts

Seven days will be enough to cover Dubrovnik (2 nights), one island (Korcula or Hvar for 3 nights) and Split (2 nights), but this doesn’t give you much time to get over any jet lag, as it only gives you one day in Dubrovnik. Ideally you would have an extra night in Split so you could have a day trip to Trogir.

Spend the night at Plitvice before you enter. It will be busy in August/early September, so try to beat the crowds. Hiring a car from Split will give you the most flexibility.

To cover the hill towns and coastline of Istria really needs 5 days to explore as it’s 6 + hours drive from Split. With your 7-10 days, you don’t have time to see Istria.

Getting between Dubrovnik- islands- Split is easy by bus/catamaran.

I haven’t taken a Katarina cruise, but obviously, this will give you more time at sea and less time to explore the islands and you work to their timetable, not your own. The advantage is that you don’t have to book travel and accommodation yourselves, although that’s not difficult online.

Posted by
24 posts

Hi Jennifer:
Thanks very much for your reply and ideas. Will definitely take your tips into account.

Posted by
8 posts

I also have no experience with Katarina cruises (I might have taken them to Kornati islands, which was a regular, rather enjoyable experience, though I'm not 100% sure). In any case, I would recommend any island cruise that is reasonably priced.

Plitvice and Istria are also great choices, perhaps even better if you would experience them on your own, i.e. without a travel agency.

Posted by
760 posts

7-10 day is not enough to do what you are suggesting. You are mentioning 5 or 6 distinct stops so that's not even one day each and no time to get between them. Not doable, even if you move very fast. So you either need to extend your time in Croatia or pick either north or south and even then be selective.

Dubrovnik is small (and very crowded mid day with cruise ship people). Two nights is plenty if you don't want any day trips. There are public ferries from Dubrovnik to Korkula and Hvar that are easy to take and quite pleasant. Two nights on one island would be OK. Ferries from them to Split are also easy. Split needs a minimum of two nights. So now you are up to six with only one island and no day trips. A day trip to Trogir from Split is great but now you are up to seven. I have not been to the Plitvice Lakes yet (I'm going this summer) but everything I have read says you need to spend the night so as to be there late afternoon and early morning, otherwise it is so horribly crowded with day trippers as to not be worth it. Then you need to either get back to Split or go up to Zagreb to fly out. So you could do all this - it would be really rushed, you'd be skipping a lot and you still wouldn't get up to Istria. I'm a pretty fast paced traveler and I did 8 nights just Dubrovnik to Split (included Korcula, day trip to Trogir and a day trips from Dubrovnik to Mostar and Montenegro). I felt that was a good amount of time but there were no 'down days' for 'relaxing'. This coming summer I'm doing 14 nights to cover Istria, the Lakes, Hvar, Brac and Split. Slightly more relaxed pace but still, all together that's over three weeks to cover the places you are suggesting in just over one week.

Posted by
2042 posts

My husband and I have been aware of Katarina line for many years. The only reason we haven’t taken a trip with them is because of timing. We have been to their office in Opatija and they always have a booth at the NYTimes travel show. Lovely, helpful people who speak perfect English. We are retiring at the end of this year and will definately take a cruise next year. We are looking at the Opatija to Dubrovnik trip. They have one this September with rooms still available. If you read their website, they also do pre-cruise trips to Plitvice. Krka National Park is on the coast so if you visit there you can skip Plitvice. We have seen their ships in Split, Dubrovnik, and Korcula. Except for Dubrovnik, they were docked right in town. In Dubrovnik they were docked in Gruz, which is very close.

Posted by
24 posts

Hello all and thanks so much for your replies and personal experience! Wow to the traveler going two years in a row! It looks like we are close to booking with Katarina and will probably spend closer to 14 days in the region. Just want to have a little relax time on the cruise as the rest of our 3 wks in Europe we’ll be driving and managing our own travel.
Thanks again everyone for your tips!

Posted by
2042 posts

Please let us know if you do book with Katrina line. Would love to hear a first hand review

Posted by
72 posts

If you like 3, 4 stars cruisers, in general, you will be ok. About 2 hours each island hop. You can also visit the south island by Krilo Star - passenger speed boat. Just book accommodation by Booking.com.

Renting a car is a great idea to go visit NP Plitvice. It is a long drive, you will need to book one night stay. In Korenica and Vrhovine you can find cheaper private accommodation.

Posted by
29 posts

I took a Road Scholar tour of Croatia in 2017 that included a 7 day motor yacht cruise with the Katarina line. The boat could hold 34 passengers as I recall, but there were just 18 of us on the boat as Road Scholar chartered the entire boat. It was wonderful! Food was fabulous, staff excellent, accommodations very pleasant. In addition to the cruise, the tour spent 2 nights in Montenegro before boarding in Dubrovnik and 2 nights in Split after the cruise.

I’m not much for cruises generally, but enjoyed the easier pace and the small boat since we had come to Croatia directly from the two week RIck Steves Sicily tour. I’m leaving for the Eastern Europe tour in a few weeks, so will finally get to Plitvice Lakes park. Hope you have a great time!

Posted by
32 posts

Not sure if you've already booked on Katarina. We're booked on Adriatic Princess II through Emerald Waterways, aka Scenic, for July 20-19. Not cheap though. Perhaps have a look, but I believe they sell out very quickly. Booked a year ago.