The bliss of a Croatian superyacht holiday (that’s more affordable than you think), with hot-tub time in the middle of the sea, five-star rooms and excursions to paradise beaches
- Sarah Holt spent four nights on the superyacht Freedom, visiting Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula and Vis
- The superyacht is available for private hire through charter company Goolets and sleeps up to 23 guests
- During her time on Freedom, Sarah visited remote island cocktail bars and a mysterious blue cave
Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Roman Abramovich and me. What do the four of us have in common? We all know what it’s like to be given the VIP treatment on a superyacht holiday – and thanks to the launch of a new yachting concept in Croatia you could find out, too.
From April 2022, groups of family and friends from the UK will be able to book private breaks on the newly refurbished 48-metre (157ft) Freedom yacht through the charter company Goolets.
The Freedom can accommodate up to 23 guests across 11 cabins, with the cost of chartering her for a week starting at 80,000 euros (£67,000), or £2,910 per person. While this price is by no means low, you don’t need to be a millionaire to be able to afford it.
In this shot Freedom is pictured sailing past Zlatni Rat beach on the island of Brac. Sarah said: ‘From a distance the waters that surround it look like they’ve been tie-dyed blue. Step in for a swim, though, and you’ll discover a sea that’s almost as transparent as the air around you’
Freedom is available for private charters along the coast of Croatia, from Umag in the north of the country to Cavtat in the south
‘With her pouty bow and Grace Kelly curves, Freedom makes an impression from the harbourside’, says Sarah
However, you’ll certainly be treated like said millionaire when you take a trip on Freedom, as I discovered during my time onboard.
With her pouty bow and Grace Kelly curves, Freedom makes an impression from the harbourside, and the glamour-puss looks continue onboard.
The yacht’s decks are all smooth teak and disco ball-bright chrome. There’s a smart restaurant and bar with designer lighting on Deck 3 and the top deck is home to a yawning sunbathing area with a dipping pool (out of action during my time on the ship) and a hot tub.
Pictured is the hot tub that takes pride of place on the top deck. It’s surrounded by sun loungers
Following the refurbishment, the hot tub will be haloed by a range of Ibiza beach club-style seating, as this rendering shows
Hull of a holiday: This rendering shows what the top deck of Freedom will look like by April
This image shows what the relaxation area on the top deck of Freedom will look like following its refurbishment. Sarah found the space to be a ‘hedonistic HQ’ even before the work was carried out
This space is already a hedonistic HQ – one of my most indulgent hours onboard was spent in the hot tub, sipping a glass of Dalmatian Posip wine, and watching the waves of the Adriatic ripple around the hull.
However, in April, following the refurbishment, it will look even plusher thanks to the addition of a range of Ibiza beach club-style day beds, sofas and banquette seating. The refurbishment will add a sleek cinema room, sauna and indoor gym to the yacht’s offering, too.
The cabins, meanwhile, make most standard cruise ship rooms look like prison cells. Featuring super-king-size beds and bathrooms with twin sinks, they’re big enough to swing a lion let alone a cat.
The refurbishment of Freedom will add a sleek cinema and gaming room with a PlayStation (pictured) to the yacht’s offerings
This image shows what the sauna on Freedom will look like following the refurbishment. An indoor gym space will also be added to the yacht
Sarah says of the cabins on Freedom: ‘Featuring super-king-size beds and bathrooms with twin sinks, they’re big enough to swing a lion let alone a cat’
During my time onboard, the rooms were dressed in mustard and mocha colour schemes. In April, they’ll be decorated in soothing pebble grey and seafoam white tones.
It’s the experiences that you can have when you’re on Freedom that really make trips on the yacht memorable, though.
Goolets’ concierge team prepares a bespoke itinerary for every party that books Freedom. The yacht can travel anywhere from Umag in the north of Croatia to Cavtat in the south.
One of the trip highlights was a visit to the island of Stupe, off the coast of Korcula. This lily pad-sized island, pictured, is uninhabited apart from an exclusive cocktail bar called Moro Beach
Pictured is the walkway to Moro Beach bar on Stupe. You can only access this exclusive bar by boat
This is a shot of Freedom taken from the island of Stupe. The superyacht can drop anchor a few metres away from the shore of the island and guests can take the yacht’s tender boat the rest of the way
Pictured is a bottle of the unusual Ostreum sparkling wine served at Moro Beach that’s aged underneath the sea, so the bottles come with barnacles on
What’s more, the yacht’s captain, Ivan Rakuljic, and many of its 11-person crew grew up on the coast of Croatia, so the company draws on the team’s local knowledge to craft trip schedules that are full of one-of-a-kind experiences.
During my time on Freedom, we squiggled our way along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, heading from the city of Split to the islands of Brac, Hvar, Korcula and Vis before returning to Split again.
One of the highlights of my journey was a visit to Stupe, off the coast of Korcula. This lily pad-sized island is uninhabited apart from an exclusive cocktail bar called Moro Beach. The Freedom dropped anchor a few metres from Stupe, and I took the yacht’s tender to the shore.
Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Horn, is often ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world
Sitting on Moro Beach’s white bench seating, watching the light breeze corrugate the Adriatic Sea, I had my first taste of Mali Ston oysters. These pillowy shellfish are a Dalmatian delicacy and at Moro Beach, they’re best washed down with a glass of Ostreum – a locally-made sparkling wine that’s aged underneath the sea, so the bottles come with barnacles on.
Another highlight of my Freedom trip was a visit to Stiniva on Vis. Rocks draw around this beach like half-drawn curtains, hiding it from view. Again, the Freedom put its anchor down mere metres from the concealed entrance, and I swam right into the cove.
Then there was a trip to the Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo in the Vis archipelago. Freedom docked at Bisevo port, and I took a dinky motor boat over to the natural wonder itself.
This shot shows Stiniva on Vis. Sarah said: ‘Rocks draw around this beach like half-drawn curtains, hiding it from view.’ Freedom can put its anchor down mere metres from the concealed entrance
The Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo in the Vis archipelago. Sarah writes: ‘[Inside] it feels like Mother Nature is having a rave’
The entrance to the cave is so small you have to duck down in your seat to get in. Once inside, there’s darkness. Then you turn a corner and it feels like Mother Nature is having a rave – the waters flash a vivid strobe-like blue.
I can’t talk about my time on Freedom without mentioning Zlatni Rat on the island of Bol, either. Also known as the Golden Horn, this zipper-shaped pebble beach is often ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world.
From a distance, the waters that surround it look like they’ve been tie-dyed blue. Step in for a swim, though, and you’ll discover a sea that’s almost as transparent as the air around you.
Pictured is the stern of the Freedom, where guests can use the ladders to lower themselves into the water at swim stops. A range of water toys are also available on the yacht, including sea bobs, jet skis, paddleboards and rubber rings
The water that surrounds the islands of Croatia remain deep very close to the shore, which means Freedom can drop anchor a matter of metres from deserted beaches and coves, as shown in this image
Of course, a lot of the appeal of a Freedom trip is the time you can spend with your friends and family onboard.
Maritime law in Croatia means that yacht captains can drop anchor anywhere, so guests can simply fill their days with swim stops and make full use of Freedom’s range of ‘water toys’ – sea bobs, jet skis, paddleboards and rubber rings.
Guests onboard Freedom can also take advantage of its onboard dining options. The Goolets team can arrange everything from group buffet evenings to four-course gala dinners for guests for an extra cost. They can also make reservations at the restaurants on land.
Pictured is the dining area on Freedom with its teak floors and designer lighting. A bar area with leather seating sidles up to this space onboard
This shot shows some of the local Croatian food that Freedom’s chefs prepared during Sarah’s time onboard. In the foreground is a platter of local cheeses and meats – including truffle-infused cheese. In the background is a plate of soparnik (a savoury Croatian chard pie)
Pictured is a white chocolate mousse with white truffles and macarons, rustled up for Sarah during her time on Freedom
This shot shows a plate of burrata with blanched cherry tomatoes, emulsion of basil and dried olives. Sarah said: ‘The chefs on Freedom work in a kitchen that’s no bigger than a store cupboard, yet they still manage to cook up five-star-restaurant-standard food’
The chefs on Freedom work in a kitchen that’s no bigger than a store cupboard, yet they still manage to cook up five-star-restaurant-standard food.
As with the itineraries, the guests on Freedom can call the shots when it comes to the dishes they want to try.
The yacht’s talented chefs are as at home making up platters of Croatian truffle-infused cheese and satellite-dish-sized plates of soparnik (a savoury Croatian chard pie) as they are preparing fillet steaks, racks of lamb and dishes with emulsions, foams and edible soils on the side.
In fact, Goolets say there’s barely a request they can’t accommodate, whether it’s to do with the itinerary, food or something else entirely.
One former guest asked for the hot tub to be filled with Champagne. Another requested that their airport transfers take place in a fleet of Hummers.
Of course, you really would need an oligarch’s budget to ask for the above. For the rest of us, a little bit of earnest saving or a raid on an already well-tended piggy bank is all it needs to take to experience the movie-star lifestyle for real.
Sarah was hosted on Freedom by yacht charter company Goolets. It costs from 80,000 euros (£67,000) a week to charter Freedom.
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