To get all the way up the Croatian coast from the tip of Dalmatia to the top of the Kvarner Gulf, you can either take the bus or you can take the ferry. Both are going to take a very long time (mainly due to the rather immense length of the coast) and both are going to offer great views of the coasts. But, taking into account that the best view of the coast is in Dalmatia and we saw that by bus already, we decided to take the 22-hour ferry all the way up.
The ferry was actually not bad. I’ve very glad that we paid for a cabin, since it offered a lot more privacy than having to sleep in seats, which if it were raining too badly wasn’t even an option. We went with a second class cabin, which affords you a small window looking out with double bunks and a small sink. Nothing fancy by any means, but very functional. A first class cabin would have been about $50 more, which a third class would have been $15 cheaper and would have been without a window and closer to the massively churning engines. Needless to say, we paid the extra $15 and glad that we did.
Once you’ve walked around the ship a couple of times, you’ve pretty much seen it all. There’s no swimming pool, game room, or other such amenities, as you would find on a proper cruise ship.
The real enjoyment is from watching the islands slide by you (of which there are around 1,171.) Grabbing a couple chairs on the deck with burning Germans and jabbering Italians will pay you back with a lovely view of islands that hop and skip along the water in a random way, so as not to be presumptuous, yet stay precocious. Two of the most interesting are two of the largest – Hvar and Korcula.
Food was something unimpressive and I’d highly recommend bringing as much as you can to bridge the gap. Most of the dishes are bland and have a pre-made feel to them. They’re also not that much of a bargain. Dinner for two without wine is going to be around $35, which for the quality of the food is not terribly impressive. But, the servers appear to speak several languages and can at least guess their way through English if not speak it quite well.
We feel asleep a couple of hours are passing through Split, since nightfall robs you of the lovely view of the islands. But, as some locals told us, the islands after Split are not nearly as impressive as though before. I’m not completely sure if that’s just people being elitist or is actually the case, since islands such as Krk are in the north and are supposed to be quite lovely.
At any rate, we pulled into Rijeka very early in the morning. The threat of rain was looming above us, so we weren’t sure how it was going to go, but we were committed at that point and set out into a town that seemed to get a real bad rap from travel guides.