We took a night ferry from Split to Italy, in large part because Lindsay thought it would be fun to take a ferry somewhere, but also because it’s a pratical way of getting from Croatia to Italy. The original plan was to go to Arcona, then go to the South of Italy and then head back North, on the way down sticking to the East coast and on the way back up sticking to the West coast. That has since changed because we realized that it was probably a bit crazy to go in a circle around the country, so we’ve instead decided to go North to Venice, then work our way South to Sicily and then finally fly to France (Marseille) from there. Basically, only go South (except to go North to Venice from Ancona).
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We walked with our packs from our AirBnB apartment in Split to the port of Split, which was roughly one kilometer, not to bad. Then we walked around until we found the pier that our ship was leaving from.
The Ferry was sort of like a cruise ship, except the entire bow of the boat folds down and makes a huge ramp for cars and trucks to drive in. So it’s bit more utilitarian then a normal cruise ship, and holds more semi-trucks. Before we actually got on the cruise ship we had to wait and pass through imigration which is always sort of fun and exciting, especially when it’s with a new form of transportation (airports are all pretty much the same, but the ferry was a bit different feeling).
Getting onto the ferry is also a lot different then getting on a cruise ship because you walk through the GIANT part of the ship that is for cars (the bottom level), and again it feels very utilitarian. But then you walk up stairs into something that looks like the lobby of a cheap hotel, if that cheap hotel was on a ferry. There was a reception person and everything.
This was a bit strange for us, because as far as I could tell everybody on the boat had a reserved cabin for the trip. There are a few different types of tickets you can buy, ranging from ~70ish dollars to ~170 dollars a ticket. The cheapest are the “deck seating” which we had, and then there is the “cabin” which is what everybody else seemed to have. The cabin is basically, as you may have guessed, a cabin with a bed, etc. The “deck” is basically, as far as we could tell, “sit anywhere you want as long as somebody doesn’t tell you that you can’t sit there.” This sounds easy enough, but when you get on the ship it’s a bit disorienting and I felt what I imagine the third class passengers on the Titanic must have felt like. There were lots of people directing passengers to their cabins, but there wasn’t a person directing deck people to their decks, you just sort of had to figure out where you could/couldn’t sit.
We ended up walking up some stairs and findng a big room with a bunch of tables and chairs in it. It looked sort of like a mess hall or something, or perhaps a cheap restaurant seating area. We said, “maybe THIS is the deck?” Again, sounds simple enough, but it wans’t clear if this room with tables/chairs was the place we were supposed to sleep that night. But, on the end of the room was a big bench with a comfortable enough cushion, so Lindsay and I put our stuff on the cushion and made it home for the night.
One thing I’m sad about is that I didn’t really walk around the ship much, or go out and enjoy the brisk sea air. This was in part because I was worried that if I got up I’d give up my seat, and in part because it was freezing cold outside and we pretty much went straight to bed when we got on the ship to try to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
One highlight on the trip: the tables in this room ended up filling up with a bunch of men who ate dinner at the tables, and after dinner they all sang songs. For like 3 or 4 hours. It was slightly surreal. Lindsay and I are on the bench at the end of the big room on this boat, each in our silk sleeping bag liners, with eye masks on (the lights are on fullblast all night), and then the rest of the room is filled with men eating dinner and singing songs. I guess they were in some sort of choir, apparently traveling to Italy to sing or something. It was pretty cool. Eventually I had to put in earplugs, because these were not quiet songs, they were loud, full on choir songs until after midnight. Video/audio recording hopefully will be posted here.
Around 7:50 AM, after my alarm went off but I apparently didn’t hear it, somebody nudged me and said “Ancona” – and sure enough, we were docked in Ancona! Like magic! So I woke Lindsay up, we threw our stuff in our packs and ran down the stairs and got off the boat, while we were still waking up.