23 Aug Everything You Need to Know Before Going to Yacht Week in Croatia (Collaboration for Matador Network)
Matthew Meltzer & Rachel Brannon
Article for Matador Network
SO, YOU SAW THE VIDEOS of people floating through Croatia having the time of their lives; rounded up half a dozen of your best, fairly affluent acquaintances; and booked a charter for The Yacht Week. Congratulations. You’re in for a blur of good times, clubs, and parties on giant inflatable flamingos.
For the unfamiliar, The Yacht Week is a weeklong flotilla of motor-assisted sailboats meandering through the Adriatic with young people living like it’s spring break. But the booze is better, the scenery more spectacular, and the people hail from all over the world — not just all over the SEC.
If you booked this trip with your buds on a whim, chances are a lot of questions still remain: How much money will I spend on Yacht Week? What should I bring to Yacht Week? Will there be waaaay more guys than girls like my friend who went back in 2014 said it would? Don’t worry, we have all the answers from personal experience, from both male and female perspectives (a gender-neutral experience Yacht Week is not). Here’s everything you need to know, from how much to budget to what to bring and how much to tip the staff during The Yacht Week in Croatia.
Here’s how much you will spend on Yacht Week.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: It’s called Yacht Week. Not affordable-bass-fishing-cruiser-week. Or rowboat week. YACHT week. And that means it’s gonna get expensive. For ease-of-reading purposes, we’ll break it down list style, assuming an eight-person crew with an even male-to-female ratio on the cheapest boat possible. Fewer people or more males and this number goes up.
Yacht, skipper, and parties: $9310 or $1163.75 each.
This covers your boat; the person driving it; and admission to all the swanky, we’re-cooler-than-you Yacht Week parties at clubs you only saw on Rich Kids of Instagram.
Host: $750 or $93.75 each.
Gas, mooring fees, water taxis, and other boat-related expenses: $225 per person.
Your skipper will gather this at the beginning for a cash “kitty” that he or she will use to pay for gas, water taxi transfers from the marinas, mooring fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. They’re required to keep receipts for all of it, too, and will refund anything that’s not used at the end.
Skipper and host tip: $160-$200 (80-$100 each, per person).
This, of course, is dependent on how well you think they did. But $80-$100 from each of you, to each one of them, is customary.
Groceries and onboard alcohol: $200 per person.
Your host will take you to the nearest grocery store on departure day and pick out everything you’ll need for them to make food. And for you to drink on board. It might be the longest receipt you ever get that isn’t from CVS.
Other meals and drinks during the trip: $450.
Your host cooks you breakfast and one other meal a day. You’re on your own for the rest. And admission to those swanky parties might be free, but the drinks most certainly are not.
IF YOU’RE MALE:
You’ll be paying for every drink you consume and may want to look into getting table service at those parties so you’re not goofball #67 trying to talk to girls on the dance floor. Your host can make table reservations, and table minimums are around $2000 for your group. Or you can spend the week nursing $6 beers. Whatever your budget allows.
IF YOU’RE FEMALE:
You might pay for one drink a night. Tables are not at all necessary as you can find your way to a table without obligation to do much other than pour yourself a drink. If you’re not comfortable with that, well drinks run about $11. Again, budget accordingly.
Split is not a cheap place to fly, especially during summer. If you see a flight under $1000, book it immediately.
Additional lodging: $200.
Plan to fly in the day before, so on the minuscule chance your flight gets delayed, you have some cushion. You’ll also probably need to stay overnight somewhere on the way back as there are no nonstops flights from Split to the US. You’ll likely end up spending your last night in some European hub like Madrid or London.
You’ll need one of these.
Additional taxis and Ubers: $120.
This would be rides to and from the airport, around the towns you stop in, or back to the boat in the morning from wherever you end up.
Total cash outlay: $3700-$4,000.
Not the most expensive vacation of your life, but not the cheapest either. And if you have fewer people, or more guys than girls, or a boat with crazy stuff like AC and private bedrooms, it can cost over $5000. This is just the bare minimum.
The host might be “optional,” but you need one like you need water.
You might think, “I cook for myself all the time! I’m not wasting $750 for someone to make my morning coffee!” Ok, tough guy. Spend an entire afternoon taking rosé to the head on a unicorn floatie then try to cook anything more complicated than toast. It ain’t happening. We had a group of guys docked next to us who didn’t have a host and had been eating nothing but chips for the past two days. If you wanna live like that, by all means, skip the host.
However, if you’d like to have a lovely fruit platter, coffee, French toast waiting for you every morning/afternoon when you wake up, and dinner waiting for you every night, this will be the best $750 you ever spend. Your host also makes food that’s somewhat nutritious with salads, proteins, and carbs mixed pretty well. When you’re beating your immune system to death with Jager shots, proper nutrition makes a big difference.
It is, in fact, possible to shower and do #2 on board.
A lot of blogs and advice posts we saw for Yacht Week said you basically could never shower on board or do #2 in your bathroom. This is highly misleading. Yes, if everyone on board showered during days you’re not at a proper marina, you’d run out of water real fast. But if you space it out and mostly shower when you can easily get water refills, showering onboard is totally possible.
As is — as the ladies on my boat so euphemistically put it — “glittering.” The marine heads onboard might require some effort to flush, but so long as everyone flushes fully and DOES NOT PUT TOILET PAPER DOWN THE TOILET, you won’t have any problem using the bathroom for both liquids and solids.
That said, when you’re at a marina, use those facilities as much as you can. They’re better and keep the boat cleaner.
Bring your nicest clothes. And maybe an iron.
You didn’t fork over all that money for Yacht Week parties to show up dressed in flip-flops and shorts, did you? The parties on Yacht Week are some of the best you’ll ever go to. There’s a private garden party in a hilltop castle. There’s a white party at Carpe Diem, one of the most famous clubs in the world. There’s a party at a massive outdoor nightclub somewhere outside Bol and a closing party at a combination nightclub/swimming stadium in Split. Miraculously, people show up looking like they haven’t been living on half a mattress for five days.
So look the part and bring stuff you’d wear if you were going out in Vegas or South Beach. And an iron. The close quarters will have you looking like a wrinkle bomb went off in your suitcase, and that look will defeat the purpose of packing anything nice.
There will be dudes. A LOT of dudes.
Ever gone out in a military town? That’s more or less the odds you’re looking at during Yacht Week. Sure, the organizers TRY to regulate an even male-to-female ratio by charging exorbitant fees if your group skews male. And their promotional material might say they manage that strictly, but money talks and people pay. So the first comment you’ll get on any picture you post will be something along the lines of, “Wow. That’s a lot of dudes.”
If you’re a single girl, great news! You won’t pay for a thing all week. There’ll be men with sexy accents from all over the world competing for your attention, and you can spend the night in air-conditioned comfort any night you choose if your boat is less-than-stellar.
If you’re a single guy, this doesn’t mean you won’t have the week of your life. It means don’t go expecting to break your six-month dry spell. That’s what Thailand is for. Go expecting to hang out on boats in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, meet interesting people, and drink with reckless abandon, and you’ll have a great time. Any ladies you meet will just be a bonus.
There will also be WiFi, and it’s not bad.
It is truly amazing that in 2018 you can be out in the middle of the Adriatic Sea and still be perfectly connected to all of the interwebs. After all, this is a flotilla full of millennials, so going on vacation isn’t so much about getting away but letting everyone else KNOW you’re getting away. The onboard WiFi is fantastic when it works but will shut off sometimes and can get blocked when you’re tied up to other boats. It works best when you’re sailing in the open sea, so if you’re a remote worker, plan to work then.
Croatia is safe. No Liam Neeson rescue will be necessary.
As we headed into the trip, the ladies in our crew were a bit anxious about safety at night and in the clubs (a la Taken). However, the majority of the nights, our skipper and host escorted our crew to the water taxis — and handled the payment from the aforementioned kitty — as well as to the parties, which were private, Yacht Week-only events at rented-out clubs. The hosts and staff on site were welcoming and fun (and really good with names), and after the first night or two, you walk into the party and immediately recognize a handful of faces. There were fellow partygoers at nearly every water taxi and plenty of TYW crew there to keep a mindful eye on the inebriated masses. As with any club, keep an eye on your drink, but still feel free to let loose.
You won’t do any actual sailing.
If you were planning on impressing all of Croatia with the tacking skills you learned in sixth grade at summer camp, it’ll have to wait for another time. Though Yacht Week does have a regatta on the final day, and promotional materials say this is a chance to “show off your sailing skills,” there is no actual sailing involved. You’ll use the yacht’s motor for all movement, all week, and usually, it’s on autopilot. So don’t freak out if you go above deck and see your skipper enjoying breakfast while the steering wheels move independently. Your boat, as far as we know, is not haunted.
You’re going to get sick. Period.
In case you didn’t major in human health, alcohol and minimal sleep don’t exactly boost your immune system. Neither does living in close quarters with people, sharing drinks, water bottles, and spit with strangers from other countries. Take all the Emergen-C you like, if you leave Yacht Week without a hacking cough, you should be studied by the CDC. Your flight back from Split will be like a cross between a Sunday flight from Vegas and a fifth-grade classroom in December. Accept the illness as the last price you pay for glory.
Do not shit where you eat. But if you do…
Given the close quarters during Yacht Week, you might think this is a literal statement, but you know what we mean here. If you’ve got a mixed crew, find someone on another boat to swap fluids with.
Easy to say, harder to do. If we’ve learned anything from reality TV, it’s that when you put boys and girls together in a confined space and add alcohol, bad decisions get made. Should you find yourself in this situation, don’t be awkward about it, lay out your expectations for the rest of the trip, and move on. Any drama becomes everyone’s drama, so do whatever you have to do to keep it to a minimum.
Budget 3x the amount of alcohol you think you’ll need.
Remember how you stocked your last fraternity formal? Ok, now imagine you’re doing that for a week.
And 5x the water.
It might seem excessive, but given the sun, booze, and general mayhem of Yacht Week, plan to drink a gallon of water a day. That’s roughly four liters if you’re trying to make quick conversions at the grocery store — 28 liters per person, give or take. We had a grocery cart and a half full of water bottles for our six-person crew and ran out on day six. You can always resupply when you stop in town, but it’s much easier to buy it all upfront. Now is not the time to try and minimize your plastic footprint.
Invest in a car-charger adapter.
On standard boats, oftentimes the only power outlets are the 12-volt, car-cigarette-lighter-style variety, which doesn’t do you a whole lot of good when all you brought was a standard European adapter. Head to BrandsMart or look online for a 12V adapter and have two or three on board. They’re invaluable for stuff like laptops, phone chargers, air pumps for floaties, irons, and other electronic equipment. Just don’t bring hair dryers; they suck up too much electricity for those outlets to handle.
You may not have AC, so bring some fans.
If you’ve opted for the cheaper yacht, get prepared to sweat. Most of the smaller boats don’t come with air conditioning, and though most do have small fans in the room, they’re not exactly “cooling.” If you can, snag a room with a skylight as those let cool air in, especially when the boat is moving. Otherwise, take frequent, refreshing dips in the Adriatic or consider swapping nights sleeping above deck with your roommate. Two people in a tiny cabin and no A/C can get reeeeeeeal cozy. If you’ve got portable, rechargeable fans, bring those along.
If you’ve got any girls in your group, bring mirrors.
As we said, the inside of the boat can get really muggy and downright uncomfortable. Below deck, especially before bed, it can be too steamy to handle — and the bathrooms become a claustrophobic sauna. So getting ready for one of six very dressy nights is a sweaty struggle. Do yourself a solid and bring a portable standing mirror, so you can get ready above deck with a breeze (and preferably also a drink). Our crew split two mirrors among five girls, but we could’ve been ready much faster (and enjoyed the sunset more) if we had brought one per girl.
Buy shampoo, soap, and other toiletries there.
If you’re trying to just take a carry-on bag to Yacht Week, remember you’ll be able to hit the grocery store before your trip and don’t need to pack full-sized shampoo, soap, and other toiletries.
Split is the worst airport on the planet. But still get there early.
OK, maybe not the whole planet. There’s probably one in rural Mongolia that’s worse. But rural Mongolia also doesn’t process 3000 passengers at a time on a summer Saturday, most of whom have splitting hangovers and a nasty wet cough. Lines literally run out the door to check in the day after Yacht Week, and the gates are smaller than you’d find at a tiny regional airport. It can take two hours minimum from the time you walk in to the time you clear immigration and get to your gate, so plan accordingly.
But if you don’t cut it close, you’re in for a long afternoon. Want to kill time at the bar? There’s a single beer tap with some bottles on the far end of the terminal, with exactly one seat and some trash cans you can flip over to sit on. Lounge? There is one just past security, but it’s only open to elite fliers of European airlines, and its amenities don’t extend much past coffee and Croatian newspapers. There’s also a snack stand and coffee shop with sandwiches you may recognize from school lunch.
Odds are you’ll end up sitting on the floor for at least two hours with no food and minimal AC — though you should be used to that by now. Yes, complaining about the airport in Split after Yacht Week is the essence of first-world problems, but nobody ever went on Yacht Week to be humble.