What is a Gulet?
At first, I didn’t know what to expect with Gulet yachts. I had done some research before arriving in Croatia. I knew that they were motor sailers. Primarily, it is easier to cruise along the Dalmatian coast under a motor due to the high winds that often whip through the area.
They vary in length and generally carry between 8 and 20 guests. Some are modern, built with steel and fiberglass; others are wooden, filled with beautifully varnished interiors. Then some are a mix of modern and traditional.
Upon arriving at the dock in Split, Croatia, we were greeted by a fleet of four Croatian Gulets: Navilux, Tajna Mora, Libra, and Lotus. Each yacht was different, both in size and design. We were about to spend a week traveling the beautiful Dalmatian coast onboard these yachts. This meant a week of experiencing the food, hospitality, and general feel of a charter onboard these Croatian Gulets.
I soon learned that the majority of these charter boats are owner-operated. As the week progressed, I realized that this made the experience more unique. It wasn’t just a captain working for a paycheck from a wealthy boat owner: this was their life and blood. The owners’ captains were attentive to our needs and open to feedback on improving the charter experience.
And it was undoubtedly palpable the sense of pride the owner-operators had when it came to their boats.
Navilux was the largest of the four Croatian gulets, coming in at 37.3 meters (just over 122 feet). She is a genuinely modern Croatian Gulet with all the amenities a charter guest could expect during a luxury charter experience.
Her interior is ultra-modern with clean lines. All the bedrooms have funky art deco above the beds. There are six berths, so she comfortably sleeps 12, five double beds, and one twin (all en-suite). There are TVs in every room, and individual AC/HVAC controls so guests can adjust the temperature to their liking.
The main salon table seats 14 guests and, as with most Gulets, sits on the deck, so there are great views from the interior looking over the water.
The deck is the shining glory of Navilux. The back deck offers protected seating for dining and lounging, while the fore deck is great for taking in the sights during a cruise down the coast. Her jacuzzi on the front deck isn’t bad, either.
The flybridge is the place to be, with nine sunbeds and side seating. It has a little fridge, so you don’t have to walk far to grab a drink. The views from this top deck are incredible, especially when you are out on anchor, surrounded by vivid blue and green water.
From wakeboards to kayaks, Navilux has a wide array of water sports accessories and toys to play on.
Chef Dragan Grbic makes incredible dishes, mixing traditional ingredients with modernized cuisine preparation. The entrée of Crudo sea bass with strawberries was a mix I would have never thought to try. It was incredible.
The dessert was white chocolate, berry ice cream, and yogurt bits. It instantaneously became the best dessert that I’ve ever tasted.
There is a crew of eight onboard Navilux at all times. She also has two kayaks, seabobs, paddleboards, and jet skis onboard.
Meaning “Secret of the Sea” in Croatian, Tajna Mora is 31 meters long (101 feet) and has nine cabins in total: four double beds and five twin beds. The cabins are simple in design, with a dark wood interior. Eight out of the nine have en-suite bathrooms.
This yacht is perfect for group holidays or larger family groups. Tajna Mora generally carries five crew on board, and all the crew members I met were knowledgeable and friendly.
Her upper deck has ten sunbeds, ideal for hanging out on a warm, sunny day.
Tajna Mora has a wave runner, canoes, and water ski equipment. The waver runner is at an additional cost.
The food onboard Croatian gulet Tajna Mora is also incredible. One night we had a Croatian steamed fish meal wrapped in olive leaves and cooked to perfection. We had a truffle risotto served in a Parmesan bowl on another night. It is truly one of the best meals that I have ever eaten. Although I must admit, I am partial to any meal with cheese and truffles in it. But who wouldn’t be right?
Ivan Yojick helps serve these delicious dishes while pairing them perfectly with Croatian wines. I found many of the whites to be particularly enjoyable. Not too sweet and reminiscent of the sea.
Of the four boats departing Split, Lotus was the most perfectly balanced between modern and traditional design. She was built in Turkey in 2006, and both the interior and the exterior woodwork are impeccable.
At 86 meters (85 feet), she offers a more private experience than the other boats. Lotus has four cabins and can carry eight guests. Each room has a separate ac/heat unit. The master aft cabin is incredibly luxurious, with an island bed and a walk-in closet.
There is also one double bed and one twin bed. The VIP room is at the front and offers a minibar and TV.
The main salon is comfortable and inviting. The intricate and ornate glass fixture on the ceiling perfectly complements the very Turkish styling of this boat.
The captain can navigate the vessel inside the main salon and the flybridge. Guests can also chill out and take in their surroundings from this vantage point. The ever-present sunbeds on the deck are also a perfect chill-out spot.
The little platform on the bow is also an excellent lookout for guests to sit and watch as the bow pierces the waves. Lotus cruises at around 9-10 knots. She also has side thrusters which make coming into port quick and easy.
She has satellite TV, too, although not in the twin or double bedroom.
There are typical water sports toys like sea scooters, SUP boards, and snorkeling.
Libra is a true gem. She is a beautiful boat, and her crew is some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of being around. Marko Mrcic and his brother Niko own this 34-meter (111 feet) yacht, keeping her in impeccable condition.
It is very hard not to fall in love with Marko and his enthusiasm and love for his boat and country. Antonia, the chief stew onboard, is incredibly attentive, and there is not a moment where she does not have an eye on the guests to ensure their every desire is taken care of.
Antonijo (pronounced Antonio) is an accomplished chef despite being just 22 years old. It is truly incredible what he can cook up compared to the size of his kitchen space. From beef dishes to incredible seafood ones, the variety and complexity of his dishes keep you guessing what meal he will serve up next.
There is generally four crew onboard during charters, and Marko runs his crew and boat seamlessly.
There are six cabins on board, with the four double cabins accessed through the main salon and the two other cabins.
Four cabins are entered through the main salon and are pretty airy and nicely lit. The other two are at the bow and accessed through a separate bow entrance.
The main salon offers plenty of space for lounging and socializing, as does the aft deck, which has a large table protected from the elements with zip-down canvas and Plexiglas when needed.
The foredeck has furniture and sunbeds making it a perfect place to relax.
Libra is the most traditional in the design of these four Croatian Gulets. She is probably not the boat for you for guests who want a more modern design and amenities. However, when it comes to excellent service and a genuinely authentic Croatian experience, in my opinion, she is a perfect choice.
Are you convinced yet that you need to go?
Croatia is a wonderful country. A definite must-see. It is beautiful, and the people are welcoming and sincere. It has come a long way for a country still reeling from the war in the mid-90s. To see it by Gulet makes the experience more special as you gain access to areas that would be hard to see if traveling just by land or air. And you also get the expertise of the crew, who know the area and want you to have the best experience possible. Many boats, like Gulet Fortuna, are family-operated, operated by the Toric Family.
For more on Croatian Gulets, Contact Luxury Yacht Charters, a division of CKIM Group.
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