Hello everyone, I would love some help with my pre (or possibly post!) cruise Croatia trip in fall 2022. I love planning out independent trips for us, but this one is throwing me for a few loops so I would love some input!
We (my husband, 2 kids and I) have a cruise booked for September 25-October 2 from Venice - but the actual port is Ravenna. I have been wanting to go to Croatia for years and years and I want to add it on to this cruise. We only have about 7-10 days that we can use for the Croatia portion. My must see places are Dubrovnik and Split, and I would like to add on an island (thinking Korcula) and would love to go to Plitvice Lakes but I may need to drop that. I was thinking we would do the Croatia portion before the cruise because it will be warmer then, but if we went after the cruise my kids would miss 2 less days of school and my husband would have a holiday in there, so that would be nice, but I'm not sure if the weather would start getting rainy in Croatia at the beginning of October and if things would start shutting down.
Our plan is to carry only backpacks and use mostly public transit, although I would only consider the bus for short term travel. My husband is open to renting a car and driving if necessary but he would prefer to not do that immediately upon entering Croatia, just so he can get the lay of the land first. This will be my kids' first time in Europe, they are 12 and 9 and pretty good travelers, but I want to avoid lots of complicated connections. The real hassle that I'm finding is the transport from Croatia to Italy. Since the cruise departs from Ravenna, I thought taking the overnight ferry from Split to Ancona and then a train up to Ravenna would work well for the night before the cruise departs, but it doesn't look like the overnight ferry runs on Saturdays. We would like to spend maybe 2 days in Venice before or after the cruise, so I looked into ferries from Istria to Venice but then we would have to add in Istria to our Croatia portion, which I would love, but that would really be pushing it for time. We can always fly but there doesn't appear to be direct flights between Split and Venice at this time so that would involve a lot of transfers as well. Am I missing a good option? We could do the overnight ferry on a Thursday night and train up to Venice on Friday morning but since we have to come back down that way to leave from Ravenna, it seems like that's a lot of unnecessary travel back and forth.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)