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Picture me, a teenager from Oxfordshire, standing (shirtless) on the edge of a busy motorway bridge in the center of Dubrovnik, high above the Adriatic Sea. They told me not to look down, so I try not to look down.

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Behind me, an American adrenaline junkie I just met yells, “Come on, bro, hit!”

I look down Oh my God!

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“Three… Two… One… Bungee!”

I jump.

It’s surreal that my parents dropped me off at Gatwick airport just 5 hours ago on a Sail Croatia VIP Navigator cruise ship.

Set off for sun, sea and jokes (Image: Reuben Hammond)

deck lounge

Luxurious VIP cabin (Image: Reuben Hammond)

It’s even more surreal when you think you’re on a cruise ship. But this was the first day of our 7-day cruise and it marked the scariest on our list.

After two years in pandemic purgatory, all my peers are talking about festivals and fun trips to Greek resorts. But instead of spending money on sun, booze, and booze, I’ll take an organized tour and set off on my own to combine a party of culture and exploration.

I expected it to be fun, but I never expected to have the time of my life and make friends with amazing people from all over the world.

Our cruise follows the Croatian coast from Dubrovnik to Split, stopping at the islands of Mljet, Korcula and Hvar before heading to Stari Grad. Attractions include swimming in lakes and oceans, jumping off bridges, biking, hiking and discovering the local history and culture. Then there’s the nightclub, more on that later.

sailing gang croatia

sailing gang croatia

Sailing Croatia Bar

All by Jaguar train… (Image: Sailing Croatia)

Our home this week is the Esperanza, a 46m motor yacht with 19 cabins. Since the ship is a VIP model, she will sleep each night in a luxurious, air-conditioned cabin.

For a third of the price, you can take the same route, sleep in bunk beds and small shared bathrooms, and party on a standard boat, but appreciate the VIP water pressure in the showers and toilets.

With only 15 guests on board, we quickly bonded and became somewhat of a dysfunctional family, but we were very happy. Navigator Cruise’s age range is 18-39, and the gang includes American firefighter Jake (twice my age, but on party duty), a New Zealand sheep shearer, two Balinese influencers, and two Australians. . .

Six of us are single, and I’m the youngest, but I’m really not sorry.

fish dinner

The food on the VIP ships is amazing (Image: Reuben Hammond)

canapesail croatia

Canapés with pre-drinks – classy (Image: Reuben Hammond)

Tour mom is Kalmia, the official (and only British) host. Catch parts when you accidentally hit the wall with your off-road wheel, and keep your cool as you cruise through the harbor in full gear on a stealth mission to steal an inflatable unicorn from another ship.

Each morning begins with a continental breakfast with freshly prepared eggs. A party gang shows up around noon as the ship heads out into the bay for the daily “swim stop.”

Jumping from a roof into the cold waters of the Mediterranean Sea is the best way to deal with suffering.

Dinner is a 3 course meal and it is the best meal I have ever tasted. A meal of fish or steak layered with vegetables is a work of art. This is a VIP bonus that makes boarding easier for standard cruise passengers. There are days when I feel guilty and try to get some good carbs to drink alcohol.

Leuven by VIP boat

Find the stolen inflatable unicorn (Image: Reuben Hammond)

jump ship

There are daily sailing stops (Image: Sailing Croatia)

Jacuzzi on board

There is also a Jacuzzi on board (Image: Sail Croatia)

Surprisingly, the onboard bar never closes, and thanks to our smart tab system and daily happy hours, cold beer and exotic cocktails are always easy, cheap and delicious on board. My drunken week will only cost me £100.

Every night we will have a ‘pre-drink’ on board and go out to dinner in the city. While couples cruising the docks have wild, lazy nights, I head back to the ship early in the morning to join a gang of hard-core singles perusing antiques while relaxing in the hot tub on the top deck.

That’s what friendship is made of: bonding talk that doesn’t happen on a guy’s typical budget trip to Zante.

I have now received a cordial invitation to visit my new companion, an Australian couple who have promised to return home and start a family.

I can go see them some day. You can go on a cruise.


5 unforgettable experiences:

Wait a second

Carpe Diem Island of Hvar

The whole island of clubs (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Spectacular club on its own island off the coast of Hvar. The DJ set is theatrical, with strobe lights, dancers, and musicians. The water taxi and entrance fee is £30 but well worth it.

Sunset Dinner at the Winery on Hvar Island

Rubén at the wine dinner

There are also more subtle activities (Image: Reuben Hammond)

Relaxing, instead of partying, is about learning about Croatian wines, trying many products, eating cold cuts, taking selfies with donkeys and watching spectacular sunsets. Free with VIP package.

Zipline on Cetinje Mountain

Ruben was wearing a helmet and harness.

Ziplines are great, even if you’re tired (Image: Reuben Hammond)

A zip line takes you to the top of the valley up to 150 meters above the ground. It costs £50, but it’s an exciting way to experience the beauty of Croatia.

deep makarska

Makarska Deep Caves Club

Dance the night away in a giant cave (Image: Courtesy)

A large natural cave by the sea near Split has been transformed into a cafe and nightclub with a unique atmosphere. A great way to cap off your vacation and admission is free (always a plus!).

bungee jumping in dubrovnik

water bungee jump

1,2,3… Jump! (Courtesy Image)

Choice of entertainment: Bungy or Game of Thrones walking tour. As the only person alive who hasn’t seen the show, I’d go with the former, but some say King’s Landing is great.

2023 Sailing Croatia Navigator is a standard 7-night VIP cruise from £419 to £1,699 excluding half board including tour manager (VIP also includes arrival dinner in hold and cocktail on board with DJ).

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