The Yacht Week Croatia: 15 Tips From One Who Survived
So you’ve decided to round up a group of friends or (if you’re really feeling adventurous) book a cabin with a boat full of strangers for The Yacht Week Croatia. Congratulations. You’re about to have the most fun you’ve ever had in your life, a fact that, at times, may seem hard to believe when you’re simultaneously wreaking absolute havoc on your mind and body. As I write this, I’ve just returned to Split and am on a bus headed for Zagreb. The world is still perpetually swaying like ocean waves, I have a TERRIBLE tan line from a massive glitter necklace, my body feels like a stiff board, and I’ve pretty much forgotten what sleep is. I also can't stop talking about the week with all of my friends and looking back at our pictures and videos.
When my friends threw TYW invite my way, I accepted with next to zero hesitation. Who doesn’t want to sail around the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea with some of their best friends? For a 10-person crew, we were looking at $900 USD per person for the week, plus some vague additional costs that I didn’t fully understand or care to investigate. Well, having walked blindly into this situation, I’m here to share the 15 lessons I learned as a guest on The Yacht Week Croatia, and give you an idea of just how much money you’re actually going to throw down.
1. Join the Facebook Crew Finder.
This can be advantageous for a few reasons. If you’re having trouble filling up your boat or someone drops out last minute, this is where you can find replacement crew. You’ll also see boats that are desperately trying to meet a 50/50 male female ratio giving spots away or at a discounted rate. Free Yacht Week, anyone? It's a closed group, so request ASAP here.
2. There are multiple float parties. You need a float.
Hit people up in the Facebook group to find guests on the previous yacht week and see if they’re willing to sell or part with their floats when they get back to Split. Alternatively, do what I did and search #theyachtweek on Instagram to find people to ask. I unknowingly contacted a yacht week skipper who pulled through with a glorious golden-winged swan for free. I also bought a giant watermelon on which one could easily throw a party. It was around $30 USD at the Mall of Split. If you're willing to put in the effort, you may be able to sell yours off to the next week's group when you return.
3. When you’re stocking up on booze for the week, make your alcohol decisions wisely.
You don’t have to buy it all ahead of time, as you’ll be docking most nights and can pick up more. It’s going to be more expensive on the islands, but it’s better than being left with 12 full bottles that you’re trying to sell on Facebook for half price. This is what happens when you take the advice “buy 4x more than you think you need.” Before we set sail, the four girls on my boat went on a booze run and spent about $350. Then the guys went out and easily doubled that. It was WAY too much. But, maybe you’re a superhuman- to each their own! Also, if you are female, and this is often even applicable to the males, people are going to be giving drinks away like water. The Yacht Week has this strange generous effect on people.
4. You don’t need as much food as you think.
If you ball out for a hostess, you’ll get breakfast and lunch daily and you won't have to think about a thing. However, you’re going to pay for the groceries, about 750 USD for her services, and her dinner, too. If you’re trying to eat on a budget, you can always pick up some stuff at the grocery store and cook yourselves. You’ll also have the opportunity to eat lots of meals on land, and some days, you’re probably sleeping right through breakfast anyways.
5. You pay for your skipper’s dinners, too.
Along the same lines as the hostess, keep in mind that you’re paying for your skipper’s meals unless you go to a TYW recommended restaurant where they’ll eat for free. There are some amazing restaurants on the islands that aren’t recommended (BLACK PEPPER ON HVAR!!!) but that’s totally up to you!
6. Plan to replenish those electrolytes.
We’re talking PEDIALYTE, vitamin tablets, and ALL THE WATER. 2 liters per person, per day.
7. Take into consideration the mooring fees.
Every boat sets up what is called a “kitty”- a communal pot of money that everyone contributes to for general mooring fees, water taxis, etc. These may set you back an additional 1600 kuna per person, or about $250 USD.
8. Bring earplugs, an eye mask, and the will to snuggle.
Unless you’re splurging on your own room, you’re likely sharing a cabin slash tiny bed with someone else. Space is not abundant. It gets hot. It also gets bright AF in the mornings. You’re getting little sleep as it is, so make the most of what you do get by poppin’ some earplugs in and putting an eye mask on. The sun comes up early, and on nights when the boats are tied up together, people are constantly boat hopping and are likely loud, drunk and obnoxious.
On another note, if you booked a catamaran, you’ve made a brilliant choice. They are by far the most amazing boats you can snag. If you don’t get one, prepare to be jealous once you see what could’ve been. At the very least, make sure to party on top of someone else's during one of the raft parties. It’s the perfect vantage point from which to take in all the chaos below with a drink in hand all while dancing up a storm.
9. Download the yacht week app, Day 8.
If, like me, you have no earthly idea what the week’s itinerary is, this app will be your new best friend. Each day it will let you know what’s going on, where to be, and when. Not only that, but it connects you with your crew and other yacht weekers, while also offering a place to post your photos from the week.
10. Prepare to be bruised.
On yacht week, people go around making bad decisions and thus break limbs, drop or lose valuables, or best case scenario, emerge resembling a giant bruise. It’s inevitable. And you’re not even going to know where they came from 99% of the time.
11. Toilet flushing is a real mission.
Ten pumps to the left, ten to the right, and eventually what went in will go down. You’ll have a new appreciation for land toilets and that one magic button you’ve always pressed.
12. Prepare for the themed nights!
During the course of The Yacht Week, there are three themed nights. Tropical Retro, Riviera, and Regatta Day. The latter was by far one of my favorites. The boats all sail together while each crew shows off their costumes in an attempt to win the best theme. My boat waited until the last minute and ended up going with “Bae Watch”, but unfortunately we weren’t the only ones. The boats that stood out were ones like the Jazzercise crew, sporting head to toe spandex in every highlighter color you can think of while doing a synchronized workout routine, the one with the inflatable T-Rex costumes, or the one with bare asses and cooking aprons. Put some thought into it, it’s an absolute riot.
13. There are parties EVERY SINGLE DAY.
By the end of the week, your check liver light is going to be flashing HARD. Silly me, I packed a Kindle thinking I might have some time to chill out and read. Nope. Nope. Nope. Yacht Week is a giant party, from afternoon til the sun comes up. There will definitely be nights that you will drink until the sun comes up, because a lot of the parties don't even begin until 11:00 PM. If you’re an old lady like me though, you’re going to equal parts love and hate this. “This is the best night of my life!” will be followed by “I’m never doing this again” as you face plant into bed.
14. Getting a table at parties is overrated.
They’re going to suggest that you book a table at the big parties, but I personally did not think it was worth it. They were hardly exclusive at most of the venues, and there was always a minimum spend that resulted in wasting quite a bit of money just for a couple of drinks. There’s also the babysitting factor- which results in you hovering around your table of expensive alcohol praying that drunk strangers don’t drink it all. Pregame, buy a few at the party, mingle, and be free.
15. Book a recovery room for post-yacht week.
You’re going to want a comfortable recovery day or two post-yacht week, and your whole world is going to be rockin’ for a while. I may be on land, but my body is very much still at sea. A good bed, a warm shower, and a flushing toilet will do wonders.
So there you have it, all the things I wish I'd known before Yacht Week began. It's safe to say your bank account may see a deficit that hovers on either side of the $2,000 mark depending on the choices you make, so be prepared. That being said, can you really put a monetary value to one of the best weeks of your life? I think not.