The Yacht Week Croatia is the brain child of William Wenkel and Erik Biörklund, this amazing phenomenon involving yachting, youthful bodies, tons of drinking and breathtaking scenery has taken recreational travel for people between the ages of 20 and 39 years by storm.
As legend has it, a couple of drinking buddies decided to go on a sailing trip in the Mediterranean and posted pictures of their trip to their social media accounts.
People were so amazed by their pictures that they asked to join their next sailing trip.
Other people joined them, posted pictures and a domino effect of sailing and social media posts soon led to a business venture (The yacht week) that by 2013 had grossed nearly one million dollars in profits.
As a representative of the Partytrail, I was fortunate to attend the festivities of “Week 29” of the Yacht week-Ultra combo, a daring combination of the Ultra music festival in Split, Croatia and 5 days of the yacht week.
Before I delve into my experiences at the Ultra-Yacht week in Croatia, I think it might be necessary to give you some background into how the yacht week works.
The Yacht Week Destinations
The original route for the yacht week was Croatia but the routes have since expanded to six other destinations around the globe.
At the time of this writing, Greece, The British Virgin Islands, Montenegro, Thailand and Mallorca in Spain can be counted as sailing destinations for the yacht week.
To book whatever destination you fancy, simply go to their website and search for the location you intend to sail.
Once your route is selected you can move on to the next stage of the process, selecting the week of the year you want to set sail.
What Week Do You Intend to Set Sail?
Once your destination has been selected, the next step is for you to pick what week of the year you intend to sail. Most of the summer weeks of the year seemed to be geared towards European destinations, i.e: Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, and Italy while the winter events happen on the Caribbean and Asian route.
Where’s Your Crew At???
Without crew mates, the yacht week is no fun and this has been taken into consideration, so it is usually advised that you rent a yacht with an equal number of guys and girls. Part of your crew will include a skipper who will sail the yacht and a hostess (a recently added option) who cooks and cleans up after you.
The number of people in a boat should range anywhere between three and twelve people.
If you don’t have a large posse of friends to attend yacht week with, the option is there to rent a cabin. This option accommodates two people, which provides a bunk or double bed for two.
If you are however riding solo, do not despair as you can use the yacht week’s crew finder option to find a yacht that is looking for a crew mate. If you search well and long enough, you should find a yacht waiting to accommodate you.
Word of Caution: If you are traveling as a duo or riding solo, be warned that the vibe on your yacht is largely decided by the rest of your crew mates, keeping in mind the fact that your crew mates will ultimately be strangers when you board your yacht.
If you are a fun-loving person stuck with a bunch of squares, kill joys or people with corrosive personalities, you just might have a long week ahead of you.
The organizers of the Yacht week have done their part to give you one of the most memorable weeks of your life, however, the wrong crew, skipper, or hostess will quickly torpedo your week into a downward spiral of regret, dysfunction, and despair.
From everything, I gathered during the week, if you are riding solo or a duo the most pertinent determinant of what your week will shape up to be are the people who will be on your yacht.
How Big Is Your Yacht?
Once you have selected your crew mates and fingers crossed, hope you get some amazing people as crew mates, the next step is for you to select the yacht you will sail on.
There are four yacht options to pick from at the yacht week; Economy, Standard, Premium and Premium plus.
The choice of yacht you select depends on how deep your pockets are. Considering the yacht week is a pretty expensive endeavor I would advise you save a little bit on your yacht size and put the extra cash towards enjoying the week itself.
How Deep Are Your Pockets??
The Yacht week is not cheap and we were blind-sided by some hidden costs. I would place the cost for the yacht with skipper and hostess included at around 1000 Euros per crew member.
Since we were on the Ultra yacht week Croatia-route, the costs jumped to about 1700 Euros per crew member. These did not include costs like the deposit for the yacht. Our deposit for the yacht came out to be 2500 Euros or 315 Euros per person in our case.
The good news is that you get your deposit money back if the boat is left in good condition. Also costs like fuel, mooring, water taxis, the cost of your hostess’ and skippers’ meals when you go out for crew dinners, yacht staff tips are not included in the initial cost of the yacht week.
Other expenses you will incur during the week include the cost of eating out, buying drinks at event venues, and the costs for any other extracurricular activities you may partake in during the week.
What to Pack for The Yacht Week
The things you need to pack for the week include floaties for the raft parties, bathing suits, toiletries, earplugs and a sleep mask if you sleep light.
An auxiliary cord to connect your music to the yacht speakers, a portable fan, if your yacht doesn’t have air-conditioning, boat shoes to protect your feet when boarding water taxis, outfits for the theme parties.
Since you will be exposed to lots of sunlight, you will need sunscreen, dark glasses, a light jacket because it gets cold at night, strap-on sandals, a duffel bag because suit cases are not allowed on the yacht, and any other essentials required to help you survive a typical summer event.
Your Itinerary for The Week
What you do during the week depends largely on what route you select. Since I was on the Ultra-Yacht week Croatia route we are going to just give you a description of our itinerary for the week.
Arrival at The Marina
On day one, we headed to the yacht week tent at the “ACI Split Marina” in Split and we registered, got our Yacht week wrist bands and went to a restaurant at the ACI marina to wait for our other crew mates.
There is a deposit that has to be paid to the yachting company you are renting your yacht from, in our case, until this deposit had been fully paid, we were not allowed to get on our yacht.
Since we only rented a cabin and not the whole yacht we had to wait for our other crew mates to arrive so we could settle the boat deposit.
Shopping for Supplies
You and your crew mates will need food and lots of alcohol to fully maximize the week’s potential. Our hostess requested two of our crew mates come along with her so that our yacht could get some of the food and drinks we needed for the week. The general rule is to buy triple the amount of beers and liquor you think you will need.
The hostess knows what ingredients she needs to buy for your meals throughout the week so no need to sweat it. Just let her know of any food allergies you have and anything else about your dietary requirements and she has you covered.
Once we did our shopping and settled the yacht deposit, we took the supplies to the boat and selected cabins. In all, there were ten of us, including our skipper and hostess. The yacht was a Jeanneau 53 2011 model, it had 2 smaller cabins each with their own toilet and shower combos. The toilets were however cumbersome to use as we had to use a manual pump to flush.
The other cabins included a bunk bed for the skipper and hostess and two other cabins with shared bathroom facilities.
Nationalities You Will Encounter
One of the major upsides to the yacht week is the mind-boggling number of nationalities that take part in the festivities. While people from different parts of the globe do indeed attend the event, I found there were more people from certain countries in attendance. Countries like the United States and Australia seemed to have the most attendees at week 29 Ultra-Yacht week.
However, there were people from South Korea, India, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Colombia, Germany, Norway and Spain also in attendance. All this goes to show is the extent of the global reach of the yacht week.
Speaking about nationalities, make sure you represent your country by bringing your country’s flag with you.
Ask your skipper and he or she can hoist your flag up for you along with those of your crew mates.
The Yacht Week Festivities
The activities packed into the week were amazing and left us not wanting the week to end. In fact, as at the time of this writing, my yacht week wrist band is still on and I have been back home for two weeks.
The events of the week will definitely leave an indelible mark on your soul and you are sure to remember the yacht week as one of the better weeks of your existence.
To keep up to date with all the latest news during the week, make sure you download the yacht week app on Android or iOS as this will give you updates to all the latest news and events throughout the week.
The Ultra Music Festival
The “Ultra” music festival was held at the Stadion Poljud in Split Croatia and featured some top of the line DJs including Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, and Armin Van Buren.
The acts were good but getting our tickets at the Yacht Week Ultra-booth could have been better organized. Gaining entry into the stadium was cumbersome and a mini stampede occurred while we were trying to gain entrance onto the stadium grounds.
Once we got in though, all was well, and the night turned out to be everything we expected and more.
The Raft Party
Once the Ultra-music festival in Split wrapped up, our skipper got the crew together and we set sail and headed to Stari grad for one of two raft parties (the circle and tunnel raft parties) scheduled for the week.
In my opinion, this was one of the best events of the week. We docked in Stari grad, got our floaties inflated, the yachts were lined up in two perfectly lined rows adjacent to each other and the crews from different yachts jumped into the water for an epic all-out raft party.
To make the event even more epic, a boat with a DJ docked and played some high-quality tunes for the duration of the raft party.
At night, people got out of the water because it was too cold and instead resumed partying on the boats.
At this point, people had made new friends, so the raft party had synergized into one big party of yachts merging all the crews of the different yachts into more or less one big crew.
The Ultra Beach Party
After the raft party in Stari grad, we set sail for Hvar, also known as the St. Tropez of Croatia. Here, the yacht week attendees and Ultra attendees got together for the Ultra beach party. The event was held at the Amfora grand beach resort in Hvar.
There was a DJ booth set up overlooking the hotel’s large swimming pool and guests from the yacht week and Ultra got into the pool for some more fun.
The event started around 4 pm and ended abruptly at midnight. The stop in Hvar is a good time to re-up on supplies, explore the city, dine at local restaurants, or contribute to the island’s local arts and crafts economy.
Hvar itself has a lot to see and depending on the amount of time you spend in the city; my advice is that you use it as judiciously as possible.
The Riviera Theme Party
Just when you thought the yacht week couldn’t top itself, then comes along the Riviera theme party. Set in the beautiful island town of Komiza, we took a water taxi from Vis to get to the open-air beach club in Komiza and it was an amazing time.
The party this time was an invite-only party for yacht week crew members and it was pure nirvana.
The party was themed and more or less Riviera chic inspired. See the yacht weeks Riviera chic theme here.
Bottle service was also available for purchase and if you had great synergy with your crew and you have some extra cash to spend, it might be worth it to get your own table at the event.
Once the event wrapped up, people took a water taxi either back to their yachts or back to Hvar where they continued partying into the night.
One of the favorite hot spots for the night was Kiva bar where a mix of Yacht week attendees, locals, and tourists visiting the island got to mix and mingle.
If at this point, you decide to depart from the yacht week crowd, it’s easy to do so as there are tons of bars, restaurants, and cute little eateries where you can hang out till you are ready to head back to your yacht.
Tip: The water taxis from Hvar to Vis where you are docked stop running at some point during the night and resume once again at 11 am. If you miss the last boat leaving Hvar for Vis, you will most likely have to sleep on the dock till the boats start running again at 11 am in the morning.
The Circle Raft Party
In between the Riviera theme party and the Tropical retro party was a quick stop at one of the bays on the islands for the circle raft party. While not as intense as the first raft party, it was a chance for the crew of the different yachts to once again to throw their floaties in the pool while their yachts circled around them in perfect formation.
The Last Supper
After spending a night in Vis recovering from the madness that was the Riviera theme party, it was time for the “Tropical retro party”. However, before the event, each yacht got their crew mates together for “a last supper” of sorts.
The hostess of the boat while docked in Vis makes reservations for the crew, herself and the skipper at a local restaurant and you all dine together and bond even some more before the Tropical retro party at Fort George.
The Tropical Retro Party
Video Courtesy: The Yacht Week
The Tropical retro party is another themed party held at the incredible Fort George in the town of Vis, Croatia. The city of Vis itself is a naval town and Fort George is a product of two centuries of naval squabbling in the Adriatic Sea.
In recent times, however, after extensive restoration, the fort has been converted into a venue where music, art, and cuisine all come together in perfect harmony.
Shuttles left from the port in Vis at around 11 pm, and to keep things organized, there was yacht week personnel dressed in light blue polos with “crew” embroidered on their backs, shuttling attendees into buses. These buses were departing for the fort at 15-minute intervals.
Once there, the full flamboyance of Fort George was on display and the afore-mentioned grandiosity was amplified by the booming music emanating from the fort. Once again, we danced into the night and there was a festival-level DJ spinning his tunes.
On this night, however, while I was sandwiched between all the twenty-somethings and young professionals pumping their fists to the booming music, I had an epiphany about how lucky I was to be a part of the festivities of the week. The opulence of the venue, the smiles on everyone’s faces, the positive energy, the euphoria and exuberance of the attendees all made it seem like I was on the set of the 2013 flick “The Great Gatsby”.
It was personally one of the more memorable nights of the whole week for me and a part of me was left wanting the week to never come to an end.
At the end of the night, after dancing all night, chanting at the top of our lungs, we were left totally spent, we boarded one of the shuttles waiting to ferry people back down the hill and strolled beneath the blanket of glowing stars back onto our yachts.
Before we headed to bed, our skipper alerted us to the fact that we were heading back to Split at sunrise. I was tired from the festivities of the night so I simply passed out in my cabin.
The Regatta is held as all the yachts race back to the island of Split (the starting point of the trip). Each crew is supposed to come up with costume themes for their yacht and this is usually the time you get to show all the skills you learned about yachting during the week.
A winning yacht is selected from all the participating crew and gifted a prize at the final party which is held in Split at the Vanilla club.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to participate in the regatta event as the event scheduled for our week had taken place earlier on in the week.
This was vital information that our skipper forgot to alert us to. On the bright side, we used the time to get some much-needed rest as all the week’s activities had left us feeling depleted.
One last dance
We had finally arrived in Split and what seemed like a week that would never end was now on the verge of painfully coming to a close. All the crews from the week of about 50 yachts came together one last time to dance and bond before it was time to head back to their yachts, pack up their stuff and be off the yachts by 9 am the next day.
There were two shuttle options to get us back to the marina, one which, took attendees back to their yachts at 2 a.m. and another which, took attendees back to their yachts at 4 am.
We decided to leave a bit early, we said our goodbyes to friends new and old and headed out the door of the venue. With a heavy heart, we hailed a taxi for about 70 Kuna and went back to the yacht for one last time.
At sunrise, with our belongings packed, we got our deposit back, got the remainder of the crew kitty returned to us and headed off the yacht. It had been an unreal week but every good thing as the saying goes must come to an end.
We said our final goodbyes to crew mates, tipped the skipper and hostess for their friendship and hospitality, boarded a taxi and headed to the airport for our flight back home.
I have been to a lot of events that are preceded by a ton of hype, fortunately, this time around, my experiences from the Ultra-yacht week Croatia far exceeded the hype that preceded it.
I left the event not wanting the week to end. The magical scenery of Croatia’s islands, the fraternal bonds formed, and the experiences gained could only have emanated from this unique event. I couldn’t help but think that all this came about as a result of friends sailing together in the Mediterranean.
One of my crew mates and I talked about how we were left in awe at the level of organization that was in place to keep the yacht week machine rolling. What I was personally awe-stricken by was the fact that William Wenkel and Erik Biörklund were capable of putting together an event that was sure to leave an indelible mark on the lives of so many.
Some people have criticized the yacht week as an overly extravagant, over the top, frivolous and destructive event.
To them I say, have fun being a bunch of f*****g kill joys.
A yacht week alumnus.