On 15 May, 2020, the Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure issued clarification on the cruising and chartering restrictions set out in the latest Decree published on 9 May, 2020. Superyachts are now allowed to enter Croatia and are free to cruise and charter in its waters. Yacht owners and their close family members, charter clients and crew are allowed to arrive in the country and embark without undergoing a quarantine period.

According to Sanja Dujmic, operations manager at SOS Yachting, there has been a significant increase in interest from superyachts wanting to come to Croatia since the first announcement was made. However, there are certain administrative requirements that crew, owners and charter clients will need to be aware of before arriving in the country. “Owners of private yachts will need to prove ownership of the vessel or entitlement to use the yacht on arrival at the state border,” Dujmic advises.

“If a yacht is owned by a legal entity, a foreign national must submit a proof of the ownership (or responsible person) of that legal entity. Along with this documentation, it will also be necessary to submit a berthing contract or proof from a marina or port that the yacht is currently located in that facility, as well as a completed crew and passenger list, when crossing the border. For charter clients, all guests will need to present a completed crew and passenger list.”

“It is now one of the first countries ready for cruising this summer and we have seen a sharp upturn in requests from captains and management companies looking for options for the season...”

The general rules for the arrival and navigation of yachts in Croatia stipulate that, during stay in ports or marinas, it is necessary to prevent the passage of crew and guests from one yacht to another. Upon entry into Croatia, all Croatian and foreign citizens are also obliged to follow the recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Maja Ban, director of MYS Yachting, also confirms that there has been an immediate uptick in the number of superyachts interested in visiting Croatia now that restrictions have eased. “We have a few clients on their way and I have just heard from one client currently in Barcelona that every yacht he has spoken to is planning to go to Croatia if other countries don't open up soon,” she says. “Time will tell, but things have definitely started to move forward.”

Caterina Oliviero, Adriatic area manager at Evolution Yachting, is optimistic for the season ahead. “Croatia has been one of the countries with the least COVID-19 cases across the Med. It is now one of the first countries ready for cruising this summer and we have seen a sharp upturn in requests from captains and management companies looking for options for the season,” she explains. “The country, with its many islands, is an ideal destination for yachts looking for isolated destinations where they can stay at anchor and have all services and provisions taken by tender to the yacht. We do feel that it will be one of the most popular cruising grounds this summer.”

As Croatia becomes one of the first popular cruising grounds to open its doors to superyachts and guests following COVID-19 restrictions, it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts. If a significant number of owners and charter guests use this as an opportunity to go yachting, it will be indicative of a eagerness to start the summer season and may even encourage other destinations to follow suit.

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