Ferries in Croatia: The Ultimate Guide
Croatia is famous for its beautiful islands, 1244 of them. The most important ones are reachable by ferries or catamarans. Find out everything you need to know to explore Croatian islands.
In total, Croatia has 1244 islands, that are usually classified in three categories - 'real' islands (78), islets (524) and rocks (642). Most of the ferries connect the mainland with islands in the first category, but there are some connections with islands in islets category as well (e. g. Krapanj).
Ferry operators in Croatia
There are 15 different ferry operators sailing in Croatian waters, either on domestic or international routes. By far the largest one is national ferry company Jadrolinija, which operates on almost 2/3 of routes. None of the other companies sail on more than four routes, while many operate on one route only. Find out more about ferry operators in Croatia.
Croatian tourism is, similar to other Mediterranean countries, highly seasonal. Transport companies adapted to this fact by adjusting their timetables and prices with the demand. That is especially obvious in ferry transport, since most of the islands barely have any tourists during winter.
Therefore, ferry departures are much more common during the summer, especially in July and August. Winter departures usually correspond to local population's needs, which often means that there are departures only in mornings and evenings. Some ferry routes don't operate during winter months at all, while some start even later, in May or June.
Prices are also adjusted with higher demand during the summer, i. e. they increase as high-season approaches.
Tickets for international routes can be bought online for years, but online sales for domestic routes started on a larger scale just recently - in 2014. At the moment, only Jadrolinija and Kapetan Luka offer online booking for domestic routes.
There is a difference in booking depending on what type of ferry you use (more below). Jadrolinija offers online bookings for fast ferries (catamarans), which is a good move, since catamarans were the most problematic ones. Namely, their capacity is limited and they don't depart very often, which is why it was sometimes hard to get a ticket for fast ferries during the summer. Also, tickets for catamarans can be bought only on the day of the departure if you want to buy them at Jadrolinija's sales outlet.
Regular boats of Jadrolinija, i. e. passenger ferries, can't be booked online, but are easier to board. Car ferries basically have unlimited capacity when it comes to passengers, but during summer months cars might have to skip a departure due to the crowds and wait for the next one. However, car ferries depart more often than catamarans and during high-season they depart even more often than scheduled, if necessary.
Car ferry - a ferry that carries vehicles, as well as passengers.
Passenger ferry - a boat that takes passengers only. Compared to fast ferry, they both carry only the passengers, but passenger ferry is slower.
Fast ferry (catamaran) - a boat that carries passengers, but not cars. It is faster than passenger ferry.