We have had a unique opportunity to join gulet Vito crew on their short-term cruise from Split to Dubrovnik. Before their last charter week in season 2019, owner and captain Damir invited us to be on board of this charming gulet. Apart from Damir, the crew consists of his wife Julija (chef), Ivan (deckhand) and Neven (waiter). Vito features 7 cabins, impressive indoor salon and superbly used deck spaces; on the outside, it might not look too impressive, but once you get on board you would easily understand why this gulet is super comfortable and has a great price-per-value ratio. Gulet cruise in September has numerous advantages – enjoying in peaceful coves that can be full of boats in July and August, less crowds everywhere and lower price for the cruise itself. Having all mentioned in mind, you could easily decide for your gulet cruise at this time of year.
Day 1, Monday, Sep 16
After early afternoon embarkation on sunny Monday in Vranjic, from the northern side of the city of Split, we have started our short-term cruise from Split to Dubrovnik. Embarkation on Monday allowed us to be off the route from most of the other charter boats who are still very busy in mid-September along Southern Adriatic. Once we were sure Julija and Neven supplied us with food and drinks, we headed to Bobovišća on Brač island. Sunset cruise from Split to here was simply amazing. Having in mind that I would otherwise be in the middle of Split crowds, I quickly realized how blessed I was when sun setting rays were gently warming my face and gentle breeze from the sea was bringing freshness to my lungs. We hit Bobovišća some 30 minutes before the night has fallen and Damir and crew docked us on a small pier half a mile from the port and just under pine trees. Crystal clear water below us and the empty beach was a perfect scenery to spend the first night. I was enjoying the serenity of this place on a flybridge when I smelled something nice – this was a clear sign for me to get down, sit at the aft and wait for the dinner. Julija brought us some meat specialities, simple but very tasty food followed up by a couple of different salads. After a couple of bottles of wine and some bourbon, our talk and ideas exchange lasted long into the night.
Day 2, Tuesday, Sep 17
Woken up by the sounds of birds singing, we have slowly cooked coffee and enjoyed our breakfast. Being in a peaceful bay was a great chance to enjoy some swimming and snorkelling in the calm sea. The weather forecast changed our plan to go to Hvar, and we decided to go to Pučišća, a centre of Croatian (even European) masonry. Just before entering the port, we have dropped the anchor and enjoyed our second swim stop today. Whoever comes to Pučišća, can’t feel indifferent. The beauty of this place and its white stone houses can really look surreal to somebody who is here for the first time. Luckily for me, I have discovered this beauty a long time ago, but whenever I arrive here, I learn something new about this truly special place. Despite tourist development and some nice new restaurants in the place, Pučišća has managed to keep their identity and authenticity.
Day 3, Wednesday, Sep 18
It was a bit hard to say goodbye to Pučišća and charm it has, but we needed to hit Korčula the same day. Since we didn’t have too much navigation in the past two days, we needed to compensate this. In addition to this, it was raining so swim stop was not an option, which was another reason to do more navigation on this day. We have cruised from the northern side of Brač island all the way to the east side of Hvar island. When we get to Sućuraj, the easternmost place on Hvar island, we continued around peninsula Pelješac and bypassed it in order to arrive in Korčula early in the evening. We dropped the anchor next to the island Badija, famous from its monastery dating from the end of 15th century, and one mile from Korčula town. I used rough weather and long navigation during the gulet cruise to speak more with the crew, hear their thoughts and together we generated some good ideas on how to improve our business and make clients even more satisfied. During the night we took tender and went to Korčula – even though it was almost the end of the sailing season, there was still a lot of tourists in the town.
Day 4, Thursday, Sep 19
After we woke up, the crew went to do some groceries shopping. Vito’s crew really takes care of having fresh food on board and does shopping on a daily basis. Sometimes this is not the easiest thing to do – not only the prices of food and drinks are more expensive on the islands, but this also means that the choice can often be narrow. However, knowing that you really take care of this and do your best in order to give only the best is worth it. Food on board was so amazing and various – meat in different sauces and grilled meat, grilled fish and fish stews, and plenty of different salads. Not to forget my favourite – octopus baked with potatoes. When you add some nice white wines, I’d say that I had great gourmet experience on this gulet cruise. After we were supplied, we headed towards Šipan island. The wind was blowing from the aft, and Damir decided to spread the sails resulting in cruising some 1,5 knots faster than we did using only the engine. After arriving in Šipan, a small island close to Dubrovnik, time was used for a long walk in this peaceful place.
Day 5, Friday, Sep 20
Since we were already close to Dubrovnik on Thursday, we only needed short sailing from Šipan to our final destination – Zaton. This small place just a couple of miles from Dubrovnik is very often used to end or start charters in Dubrovnik since its docks can be crowded with cruise liners and small cruise ships. Our arrival late in the morning meant that we have plenty of time to make a tour in Dubrovnik. Not that I am going to write about the history of this truly unique city, but it simply amazes me each and every time. If you get here, you should really consider taking a guided tour in Dubrovnik – some curiosities and particularities from the past of this city are most definitely worth it. Following a coffee on Stradun (the main street in Dubrovnik old city), we headed back to Zaton. It was my last night on this short-term cruise and I joined the crew on dinner in one restaurant. Cuttlefish risotto and white wine were more than decent “gourmet farewell” after 5 days of pure joy in food and fine drinks.
On Saturday morning it was time to say goodbye to Vito and crew. I really felt spoiled by the great food served on board and a very attentive crew. After a short swim and breakfast, it was my time to go back to Split and return to my everyday duties. This cruise will for sure be engraved in my memory – I could never forget the nice places I visited, the good food I was eating and the great people I have met.