While many tourists arrive with cheap flights to Croatia from the UK, there is a growing trend of tourists who reach Croatia from Italy by ferry. With its 1185 islands and strong maritime tradition, sea travel is an established part of the Croatian way of life.
Italy is the only country with direct international connections with Croatia, but there is a wealth of choice available, both in departure ports and ferry companies. Here is a quick overview, with information sourced from the company websites.
Ferries from Italy with SNAV
There is a huge exodus from Italy to Croatia in late July as the whole country shuts down and appears to decamp to its Adriatic neighbour. In an attempt to meet at least some of the demand, SNAV operates a fast hydrofoil service directly from Pescara into the port of Stari Grad on the popular island of Hvar, before continuing to Split and then returning to Pescara.
The service is the fastest connection from Italy, but is peak season only, from July 25 to August 25, usually departing Pescara at 1030 and arriving in Stari Grad at 1445. For summer 2012 prices from Ancona to Split start at 203 euros return for an adult and car. Details of the Pescara - Hvar route for 2012 are still to be announced.
Ferries to Croatia with Jadrolinija
Jadrolinija is the national ferry company of Croatia and, if you plan to spend any time island hopping, it will become a familiar fixture of your holiday to Croatia. Its comprehensive timetable is usually updated in Spring with the Croatian ferry summer schedule normally coming into effect at the end of May.
Internationally, it runs an overnight year-round service to Ancona from Split three times a week, increasing to five from July 9 to August 21. The ferries depart at 2100 in either direction and the journey time is about 12 hours. It should be noted that while international routes can be booked online, national routes cannot. If you travel on the long-distance coastal route boats, you have to go through a check-in procedure at your port of departure, even when you have your ticket. Click here for more useful information about ferries in Croatia with Jadrolinija. Italy and Croatia are also connected by Jadrolinija ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik.
Connections to Venice from Croatia are excellent, courtesy of Venezia Lines, which operates a service to five Croatian destinations: Rovinj, Rabac, Pula, Poreč and Mali Lošinj. The 2012 timetable of ferries from Venice to Croatia begins on all routes on April 18 and ends on October 6. Given the close proximity of Venice, it is ideal for a day trip.
Ferries to Split, Vis and Hvar with BlueLine Ferries
Blue Lines also operates a 12-month service from Split to Ancona, with departures 3-4 times a week in both directions. Additional services to both Hvar and Vis will be available for peak season, although the timetable has not yet been published. Check their website for routes, dates, availability, pricings and bookings.
Emilia Romagna Lines
The fifth and final ferry company sailing from Italy to Croatia is Emilia Romagna Lines, who in 2010 operated summer services from Ravenna, Rimini, Pesaro and Cesenatico to Mali Lošinj, Zadar and Rovinj. Their 2012 timetable of ferries to Croatia is now on their website.
Ferries can be very crowded in peak season and pre-booking and arriving early are advisable. Check the company website for any last minute changes to avoid disappointment and unnecessary stress.