Easy Adriatic adventure: Ferry from Italy to Croatia

We took a ferry from Italy to Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea in mid-May weather. It was a pleasant voyage from Ancona to Split. Here’s an overview of what to expect.

First, it’s not exactly cheap.

We started our journey in Venice, and went to Ancona, by train. Ancona is where the ferry leaves.

The train (not high speed) from Venice to Ancona cost $33 each. The ferry cost $82 each. That was $115 each to go to from Venice to Split.

We splurged on a private room on the ferry, so your ticket could be cheaper than $82. Instead of a private room, you can buy tickets to sit – all night – in the common areas. There are reclining chairs, but we wanted beds.

There are flights from Venice to Split, which Tedly found for $150 and up per person. But there were no direct flights for our time frame, and we usually fly as a last option, anyway.

The journey

Our journey took nearly 24 hours. We took a morning train from Venice and changed trains in Bologna for Ancona. We arrived hours a few hours before the overnight ferry departure.

Once in Ancona at the port, a free shuttle bus takes ferry passengers to the ticket office, which is far from where the ferries dock. Once you exchange your reservation for an actual ticket, the same bus takes you back to the boat area. This was a tad confusing on the ground – so now you’re forewarned.

Boarding the ferry starts a couple of hours before departure. There is a passport and luggage check, including X-rays.

We were stamped out of the Schengen Area/Italy before boarding. (Note, as of late September 2019, it looks like Croatia could soon be admitted into the Schengen Area. More info is here.)

After we got off the ship, we were stamped into Croatia. Each line took about 15 minutes, but the line was relatively short since it was the shoulder season.

The ferry also takes cars, trucks, and other goods as shipments on the first level. The cabins and passenger areas are on the upper levels.

See inside our room on the ferry from Italy to Croatia

Our ferry was named Marko Polo. The $82 tickets bought a basic outer cabin with a window and bunk beds, plus a private bathroom — but no shower.

Have a look.

The overnight journey was pleasant, the bunk beds were comfortable, and the room was relatively clean. There was only one oddly placed plug – by the door – to charge devices, and there was no WiFi on board for passengers.

There were several outdoor back decks and a few side decks. There was a full service restaurant with decent prices, but we brought snacks so I cannot speak to the food. There also is a bar that offers drinks and chips for sale. There also were many other lounge areas.

Here’s a look at some the public areas of the ship.

The company we used to ferry from Italy to Croatia

We used the Jadrolinija line because it was about $6 cheaper per person than the other ferry company.

We saw two companies with ferries that cross the Adriatic  — and they make the trip on the same days, and times, which perplexed us! You’d think different companies would chose different days for more fares, especially since the boat was practically empty when we went in mid-May. Of course, the schedule changes seasonally and we’ve heard it packs out in the summer time.

I would go on the same ferry from Italy to Croatia again, considering the price and the friendliness of the crew. Jadrolinija’s website is here.

Tip: buy tickets as soon as possible, especially in the summer months, if you expect to get a room.

When the sun came up, we saw the islands on Croatia’s Dalmation coast. I’ll end here with the view of Split from the deck of the Marko Polo.

Split, Croatia, in the morning sunlight from Jadrolinija ferry

This post was last updated on October 17, 2019.

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We encountered the same crazy scheduling of the weekly ferry from Athens (Pireus) to Haifa. Two competing companies both leave at the same hour of the same day. I don’t understand it either.

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