Wow - where to begin!?
We booked months ago, thinking we were signing up for a 'above deck' cabin on an 8 day sailing tour of Croatia.
When we arrived at the nominated time, the group was told the boat was not leaving as scheduled. Because of 'weather' conditions, we had to wait another three hours before going to the boat, which was not in Split, but 40 minutes away in Trogir. After being taken for a 'gratis' lunch, which left much to be desired, we were then informed that the boat would not leave until the following morning - cutting one day from our itinerary.
Once we finally got on board, we had another surprise - we were not above deck, but below deck in the room closest to the engine room. My husband was not impressed so we went to speak to the girl from Katerina Lines, who said it "was not her problem" and that we had to go back to the tour company. At the time, it was 1am in Australia on Sunday morning - great start!
We decided to follow up separately and accepted the room, not wanting to let this ruin our holiday. The "On the Go" booking was placed through FlightCentre who failed to communicate to us that we had in fact booked and paid for a below deck cabin.
The cabin was below standard, the toilet seat was broken and the porthole leaked - though we were told it was our fault for not closing it properly - another long story!! Though in the end we realised we were very lucky as most of the people in above deck and on deck cabins complained of disgusting smells coming from their bathrooms.
The tour was promoted as sailing and with lots of opportunities for swimming and other water sports activities. There were no sails on our boat and we stopped once for swimming, the captain telling us that we didn't have time for these activities.
Everyone had different itineraries and none were followed...
My biggest disappointment was the short amount of time we had in Dubrovnik - we were supposed to be there for 24 hours but we ended up coming in the afternoon and leaving at 8am the following morning. There was not time to go to the museums and the boat was moored some distance from the old city and we had to catch buses to get there, taking more time. There was no communication in the tour information stating that this would happen.
The food was bordering on awful, breakfasts were ok, but lunch time soups and pastas were often cold and flavourless. There was a lot of pork, which I don't eat and not much in the way of fresh veggies, which left me eating dry bread most days for lunch.
Something else we were not informed of until we got on the boat, was that we had to pay for drinking water, about double the going price of water on land. I actually think this is immoral, not to provide drinking water as part of the tour. We were also instructed that we had to buy the water on board because we were not allowed to bring any drinks or food on board.
The positives? We met some wonderful people, some who I think will be lasting friendships. The places we visited were stunning - more beautiful than I imagined - especially the incredible mountains jutting up out of the sea. The Adriatic sea is beautiful and clean, making swimming very enjoyable. I also have to give Ivan, the barman a big thank you, as he was excellent with the guests, and we had some great conversations with him.
My biggest gripe is the fact that we signed up for one thing and got something completely different. The layers of bureaucracy result in no one taking responsibility for customer concerns - flightcentre, OTG, Katerina Lines and the owner of the ship (the captain's family) all passed the buck on guests concerns - "not my problem" was the standard response.
I would visit Croatia again in a heartbeat, but not to do a tour like this - customer beware.
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