We took a ferry from Ancona, Italy, to Split, Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea in mid-May. It was a pleasant voyage, and here is an overview of what to expect.
First, it’s not exactly cheap. We took a nice train (not high speed) from Venice to Ancona for $33 each. The ferry cost $82 each, totaling $230 for two people to go to from Venice to Split. Even though the price may seem steep to some budget travelers, it was better than airfare from Venice to Split, which Tedly found for $150 and up per person, and, there were no direct flights that time of year.
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.
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. After we got off the ship, we were stamped into Croatia. Each line took about 15 minutes, but the line was light in 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.
On our ferry, named the Marko Polo, the $82 tickets bought a basic outer room with a window and bunk beds, plus a private bathroom — but no shower. Here’s a look.
You can do this for less money — about half our price — if you are willing to forego a room for the night. Some people buy a reclining, airline-style chair in the TV room. You can save even more money by sleeping on the floor or anywhere in the public areas. But that’s not our style.
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.
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 — but 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 with the same company 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 were looking at the islands on Croatia’s Dalmation coast. I’ll end it here with our first look at Split from the deck of the Marko Polo.