Jadrolinija Ferries Review
P.S: We are not associated with Jadrolinija in anyway nor is this a sponsored post. This review post was purely written to help travelers who wish to get on-board Jadrolinija ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik.
PPS: Read the entire post! It is nothing less than a thriller movie!
So, last summer on our Europe tour, while finalizing our itinerary, we were looking at options to travel from Italy to Croatia. Our plan was to visit Alberobello in Italy and then proceed to Croatia from there. And the most feasible option to travel to Croatia from Alberobello was through an overnight ferry from Bari in Italy to Dubrovnik in Croatia. And the only ferry operator in that region was Jadrolinija – spelt as Jadrolinia/Jadrolina.
Then started my fanatic search online for the reviews of Jadrolinija ferries. I searched endlessly only to come back to the same point. No clear review of Jadrolinija ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik. Had to solely rely on reviews on TripAdvisor and then we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best!
Surprisingly, though it didn’t turn out to be a luxury cruise like experience, it was not a bad journey! We had a sound night’s sleep! After all, they call it a ferry not a cruise!! But looking at the sheer size of the ship, it’s hard to rule out that it’s not a cruise jet ship!
We had read about how confusing it can get while searching for the ticket office in Bari and it did!!
So, here I am to share my experience of Jadrolinija Ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik and to guide you well – as to how to get into the ferry without getting confused!!
How to get to the correct Jadrolinija ferry boarding point?
First off, while searching the entry to the port, we could spot huge ships docked and written Jadrolinija in block letters on the ship. We knew that that was the ferry we needed to get into. So, we tried entering the port. Alas! Our rental cars were stopped at the gate. We showed them the print out of the tickets. We were shooed away. Reason?? We don’t know!! There was no one who knew English there! All we could understand was 2 kilometers and they showed us the main road in which we should head in!
So, we followed the road, didn’t exactly know where to go!! No signage or no directions – nothing mentioned in the ticket nor mentioned anywhere in Bari. After a kilometre or so, we stopped at what looked like a port gate and asked the gentleman there. He was a total sweetheart and explained us in his broken English with a piece of paper and a pen – drew a straight line and a couple of landmarks and a big Port entrance symbol and told 1 mile. And we understood the universal language of symbols!
Moving ahead for one mile, we found a huge entrance and spotted the word ‘Porto di Bari’. Yay! We thought – clueless of what lie ahead of us. Time was ticking – we had to return the car rental which we hired in Rome to Bari airport and had to come back to ferry boarding point!
We rushed and got our boarding tickets as soon as the lady in the counter appeared in front of us! She told – boarding point 2 miles ahead. We knew we had to get to that place where we had gone first and got shooed away!!
So, we went there – only to be shooed back again!!
What?? Wait!! Now what?
We have tickets in hand and are still not allowed to enter the port?? Why?? And there was nobody who could answer our questions as nobody understood English and none of us knew Italian!
Time was ticking!
Mind you, we were travelling 2 miles back and forth inside the city which had some decent traffic. So every trip took around 15 minutes one side in the car.
We went back 2 miles again and entered the port where we had gone to collect the tickets and then asked the lady there.
Yet again, same answer – 2 miles and a hand direction. But, this time, she said something like free shuttle. We were confused as hell but those words seemed to us like finding an oasis in a desert! So, we discussed among us and told our family members to board the shuttle bus with all our luggage while we get out of the port to Bari Airport return our rental cars.
A little background here : We were 12 people, all family members on our European Odyssey. Eldest was 72 and the youngest one was 3 years old! We hired 3 cars and drove around Italy. Read about our European adventures here (opens in a new tab)
A couple of taxi drivers approached us and said they will drop us to the Ferry boarding point for a fee. We told them we have a rental car and we can go on our own but we were denied entry. While taking to him, we asked him which way to go. As he showed us the direction, we saw another car moving past us!
This is when we realized our blunder! A big one which cost us a precious hour!
What was the mistake?
What we did was – we collected the tickets, exited the ‘Varco Della Vittoria Porto di Bari’, traveled 2 miles ahead and tried to enter the port back near the boarding point!
We were not supposed to exit the port at all!!!
There is a road inside the port which runs parallel to the one outside (i.e. the one inside the city which we took) which will take us to the ferry boarding point!
Very silly mistake! Right? But who was there to guide us?
Any signages? NO
Any instructions on the ticket? NO
Any board with directions while collecting the tickets? NO
All was left to us to figure out on our own!
What happened next?
We then dropped off all our family members and our luggage near the boarding point and rushed to airport to drop our cars!
We lost our way to airport and did a couple of detours! Again lost 15 precious mins!!
Reached the airport, returned the cars, debated whether or not to venture into the airport for a quick bite in MacDonald or KFC. Decided against it as it was turning dark and we had a very important ferry to catch – more important than the butterflies in our stomach!
We came back in a taxi to the port and entered the passport checking point just in the nick of time!
Was all well? Freaking NO!!
The Croatian officials would not let my son enter inside though he was with his grandparents – as both me and my husband had gone to drop off the car and they told that the grandparents were not mentioned as his guardians and they needed us to let him in.
Our names were being called out in a crowded hall full of passengers. We could see our family members waving wildly at us in the far end. So, understood something was wrong and we rushed through a long queue of people to explain them the situation!
After a very detailed verification of our faces and our passport (Thankfully, our pic in the passport was a recent one and we really did look like ourselves!!) – we were let inside with a shining new Croatian stamp on our Passports!!
After a Roller-coaster ride, finally we entered the ship, collected our keys from the reception and rested for the day!
Ferry was to depart at 10 PM and we had to be in the ship by 8 PM.
4 PM – We arrived at Bari City centre and were shooed away at one of the entrance to port.
4.30 PM – We collected our tickets.
4.45 PM – Back to earlier port Gate only to be shooed away!
5.10 PM – Re-entered ‘Varco Della Vittoria Porto di Bari’ port and were aimlessly roaming around in the parking lot.
5.30 PM – Dropped our family members near the correct ferry boarding point.
6 PM – Reached Bari Airport
6.30 PM – Departed in a taxi from Bari Airport to Port to board the ferry.
6.55 PM – Our names were being called out and we were celebrities for the day and everyone gave us the way and ushered us to the passport checking counter!!
8 PM – Settled neatly in our cabin – thus giving a sweet ending to this thrilling experience!
Important Tips to take away from our Jadrolinija boarding experience from Bari to Dubrovnik:
- Search for ‘Varco Della Vittoria Porto di Bari’ on your GPS. That should be your holy word!
- DO NOT Exit the ‘Varco Della Vittoria Porto di Bari’ port. There is a road from INSIDE the port which takes you to the Jadrolinija ferry boarding point.
Jadrolinija Ferry Review:
- As I mentioned earlier, though it looks like a cruise ship from outside, do NOT expect any luxury inside.
- All facilities are basic and will suffice to survive an overnight journey.
- The sheets and the restrooms were clean.
- The ferry left on time and arrived on time. They are punctual unless there are rough weather situations.
- There are no decent eating options for the dinner in the ship. So try packing something from outside before boarding the ship!
- But surprisingly, there were enough options to explore in the breakfast and the food was tasty too!
- The cabins were very small but the bed was comfortable!
- The lifts are very very slow and old school.
- Lift facility is only from the reception floor till the basement and not available to all floors.
- So be ready to pull and push your luggage back and forth the stairs!!
- The ferry frequency for Bari to Dubrovnik is 2 per week i.e. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in low season.
- And its 3 per week in high season i.e. additionally on Saturdays from June to August/September.
Jadrolinija Ferry booking process:
Though there are other third party websites which could book us a spot in Jadrolinija ferry, we chose to book through their website. The website is very basic and straightforward – just like their ferry!
You can choose the dates, route and the type of Cabin you would require for your journey. Apart from cabin charges, a handsome passenger tax is added in the total fare. So be sure to enter correct details of the passengers while keying in the details.
Take a printout of the online ticket, present it to the attendant in the ticket counter, collect your boarding pass and you are good to go!
Other routes in which Jadrolinija sails:
There are some other famous routes in which Jadrolinija sails. A few of them are:
- Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia
- Ancona, Italy to Hvar, Croatia
- Ancona, Italy to Zadar, Croatia
- Split to Hvar in Croatia
- Split to Vis in Croatia
- Rijeka to Split in Croatia
- Split to Korcula in Croatia
- Split to Supetar, Brac island in Croatia
Further Reading Suggestions :
For more information on International routes see Jadrolinija ferry timetable 2017
Note: Trajekt / Trajekti / Traghetti in Croatian means ‘Ferry’
‘Red Plovidbe’ in Croatian means ‘Time Table’