One of the great benefits of not traveling as tourists is that we do not have to travel in a rush to get some place. What this has done is allow us to use alternative means of getting from point A to point B. Recently we rode on two ferry boat services to help us get from one country to another.
One, Blue Line Ferry, got us from Split, Croatia to Ancona, Italy. It is one of two ferry services that connects Croatia and Italy. The other is Jadrolinija which runs more frequently but not on the day that we were interested in so we booked with Blue Line. This commuter ferry service has sleeping cabins for those who wish to purchase a little more comfort, cargo hold areas to transport your vehicles; and restaurants, casinos and cafes to help kill the time. With a trip lasting approximately 12 hours it was a pleasant enough way to travel.
The cabin’s on the lowest level, which is what we booked; were small and the air inside was hot and stagnant. The hallways smelled like diesel so we weren’t able to leave our cabin door open to get any fresh air but we had comfortable beds to sleep in which beats how many people travel on the ferry’s – they sleep in the hallways!
The bathrooms were serviceable but no one is going to try and take a shower in a place where the toilet and the shower share the same floor drain.
The food was cafeteria style and this night they had 26 groups going from Croatia to Italy so the main restaurant dining room was closed to anyone not a member of these groups. This ferry boat service is incredibly popular with the locals and many Italians were on board this night. The ride was smooth and calm and the time passed quickly. The boat docked and because we did not get off with the main stream of passengers they called our name at 7:30am to make sure we were getting off the boat!
Total cost for the two of us was 80 Euros or $110.
Our second ferry experience came on our departure from Rome where we took the Grimaldi Ferry Line ship, The Roma, from Rome to Barcelona. Service between the two countries is done regularly and it’s easy to see why this line is a favorite of the locals.
From the time of boarding we were helped on board with our luggage and shown to our cabin. The room was large for just the two of us and comfortable. We had booked an outside cabin which gave us natural light from the very large window. The ride was 20 hours from Rome to Barcelona with the boat leaving Rome at 22:15 and arriving around 16:15 the following day. This boat makes this trip all week (except Sunday’s) so you can go round trip on this loop.
What we liked best was that there were no carpets anywhere on board; it was all hard surface flooring. The ship was clean and the staff for the most part was friendly. They have cafeteria dining; a formal dining room (and the prices to go with a formal dining room); a coffee bar and a full bar with food and drink around the outdoor pool! Yes, this ferry boat actually has a swimming pool and outdoor bar area. They also have a casino, internet café, gift shop, spa and fitness center. Since this trip takes 20 hours it must be incredibly busy during the summer to travel on the sundeck and in the pool area as you make your way to Rome/Barcelona (a nice way to spend a few hours). The ride was also smooth and effortless and one would be hard pressed to know that you were sailing on the Mediterranean.
Total trip cost, with a private room with bath for the two of us was 250 Euros, or roughly $340. Again, airfare would have cost us more and we wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much done. I was able to get several more stories written and Mike got some much needed rest.
Food costs are high on both of these vessels so carrying food with you is recommended if at all possible. No one stopped us from carrying in fruit or water and both ferry lines scanned our luggage prior to boarding.
Our experiment in alternative travel is complete for now. Any other time we can use either of these services to get around we won’t hesitate to do so. And we definitely recommend them to anyone else who might have a little extra time to travel, like a local.