Week 35

Day 7: Split

Never. Drink. Croatian. Moonshine. If you don’t take any other advice from the TYW Croatia section of my blog, please remember this. I have five years of university parties under my belt and only once have I ever felt as bad as I did that morning, and that happened to be the last night I drank tequila. The only silver lining of the situation was that I wasn’t nauseous, I was just plagued by a skull-splitting headache. Luckily I had also woken up pretty early and was able to down a few bottles of water before really being forced to get up.

By noon all the girls were up and we were cleaning off the deck in preparation for the regatta! We unfortunately still hadn’t learned to put away all of our cups before going to bed so our boat was housing a small army of bees. I actually have a serious bee allergy – the last time I was in Croatia I got stung and my ankle swelled to the size of my thigh and I couldn’t walk for a week – so I spent the greater portion of my morning hiding below deck.

Once the bee infestation was taken care of we changed into our regatta costumes and said goodbye to Hvar! We had been looking forward to the regatta all week – our costumes were pretty great if I do say so myself. In true Canuck fashion we had ordered Canada flag bathing suits and those ridiculous umbrella hats that can be found at Dollaramas around Canada Day. The other boats thought they were hilarious, especially because of our boats “Canadian Girls” nickname that was coined at the beginning of the week.

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The day of the regatta was also my birthday, and there was no better way to completely rid myself of that pesky Croatian Moonshine hangover than to do a birthday funnel as we sailed! The film crews boat was beside us most of the time and later said they were having a hard time getting usable pictures of us because the funnel was in every shot. Ooops.

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James was quite possibly the best skipper on TYW and so naturally we were one of the leading boats in the regatta. We were about halfway to Split when tragedy struck! Ok maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but we realized we were missing the papers we needed to be able to dock at Kastela so we had to turn around and head back to Hvar, forfeiting the race :(. I ended up napping once I heard the bad news and actually slept until we arrived back in Split. Apparently our boat had gone through almost two cases of beer – no regrets during regatta.

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Docking back in Kastela Marina almost seemed surreal – it felt like just yesterday when we had checked-in and packed up the boat to depart on our yacht week adventure. It was really bittersweet. On one hand I was very excited to use the showers at the marina, but on the other I felt as though I would gladly sacrifice the health of my skin, liver, and sanity for another week of fun. I opted out of a fancy birthday dinner in favour of pick-up pizzas and some red wine that could be enjoyed on the boat. We sat and reminisced about the week and all the fun memories we had made before gearing up for our one last hurrah at the Vanilla Club in Split.

We took a bus arranged by TYW into Split and arrived at Vanilla around 11:30pm. The venue was great, it had a massive patio and two large bars. It didn’t actually reach capacity until much later in the night; I imagine a lot of crews were stuck packing up their things in preparation for our early disembarkation the next morning.

If I haven’t mentioned it enough, the music on TYW was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and the DJs really outdid themselves the last night. My favourite of the week by far was Roman Cleiss (Here‘s his Soundcloud), he’s a French DJ who played a lot of Oliver Heldens-esque sets throughout the week. Towards the end of the night TYW set off a huge firework display, whether this was something they did to end every week or just because ours was the last week of the summer, I’m not sure. I of course lost track of time and ended up missing the last bus (it left at 3AM) so I stayed back with one of my friends.

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Saying goodbye to all the friends we had made during the week was really sad – but I’m hopeful that we’ll be seeing each other again next year (I’ve already started tentatively planning my next yacht week)! True to their tagline, it really is nothing like the real world. When you’re on TYW it’s like being in your own little universe full of amazing parties, places, and people. You only really understand how amazing it is after living it – I know it sounds somewhat cult-like, but once you experience it, you’ll understand. Looking back, it still seems surreal and somewhat unexplainable. All I can say is that it was the best week of my life and the perfect way to celebrate my 23rd birthday!

Have any of you been on TYW, something similar, or want to go?? If you have any questions about TYW I’d be happy to answer them :) or what are some of your vacation-of-a-lifetime stories?

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Day 6: Hvar

The second day in Hvar marked the start of our boats birthday celebrations! We woke up fairly late Thursday morning and were all well rested and ready for the day ahead.

I’m not ashamed to say the first time we showered properly was in Hvar. We had become pretty accustom to ocean baths and using the hose at the back of the yacht to clean off, but I must admit the prospect of a fresh water shower made me absolutely giddy. Six days of salt-caked skin had really taken a toll on my moisturizer supply.

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After our showers we took a water taxi over to the main part of Hvar for Alex’s birthday lunch at Adriana Hotel. There’s a little restaurant/bar area on one of the top floors that has an amazing view of the port.

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We decided to do a little souvenir shopping before heading back to the boat so we could get ready for the Carpe Diem day party that started at five. I know a 5 o’clock seems ridiculously early for a party, but it was definitely the best one of the week and it only runs for a few hours before dinner! Make sure you get there on time!!

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One of our friends who worked for TYW made a reservation at Spice, an asian fusion restaurant just steps from Carpe Diem, for Alex and my birthdays’. We all had a GREAT time at Carpe Diem and were significantly buzzed by the time we headed over for dinner. I felt awful for our waiter, he ended up having to circle the table twice asking for our orders because we had made so many changes. After enjoying a heavenly crème brûlée in lieu of birthday cake we walked around town taking in the Croatian nightlife.

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Thursday was definitely the most action packed day event-wise, there were two other parties to attend after dinner – the first was at Kiva Bar in town, and the second was an after party back at Carpe Diem Beach Club. After sharing a bottle of wine (and a few vodka redbulls) over dinner I was definitely feeling warm and fuzzy, so when I walked into Kiva bar and saw how packed it was I walked right back out.

Being 5’1″ has some serious disadvantages – a main one being that when I go out without heels on my head is about shoulder level with every average-sized person. Typically I can deal with it, but the bar was so crowded that I literally couldn’t move without banging my head on someone and my alcohol-induced claustrophobia was in full effect. Instead, a few of us decided to enjoy one of the patios back near Spice.

Right before midnight, the official start of my birthday, I was thoroughly enjoying my glass of wine when one of the waiters headed over with a large tray of “surprise birthday shots” that the girls had ordered. I of course assumed they were vodka, but was severely mistaken. After the first one I realized no vodka in the world could taste this strong, especially after my tastebuds were numbed by the numerous vodka redbulls I had during dinner. After fighting back my urge to vomit, I asked the waiter what they were shots of and he said it was their homemade liquor and to be careful because it was very strong. In other words we just had Croatian Moonshine. I’m not going to lie, they were awful and tasted exactly how I imagine rubbing alcohol would, but we each shot back another before grabbing a water taxi to the Carpe Diem Beach after party. It was my birthday after all.

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As we approached the party I could already hear the DJ dropping some absolutely unreal tracks. I’m a big fan of deep house and techno and I felt completely spoiled during TYW, the DJs were great at mixing in songs other than the typical big room bangers you hear at most nightclubs. After my feet were nice and sore from dancing, I headed back to the boat where I was once again convinced to go swimming. I would honestly live in the ocean if possible, so there was really no arm-pulling necessary – night swims really are the best way to wind down before bed.

Day 4: Komiza

I don’t think I could ever grow tired of waking up in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. My hammock bed was absolute heaven – I got to experience the beautiful stars every night, and I awoke to the warm sun every morning.

When I got up early Tuesday morning I assumed that I had turned in pretty early the night of the circle party, though I’m not sure how that would have been possible. We apparently had a party on our boat until the wee hours of the morning.

Despite the throbbing pain behind my eyes, there was really no time to nurse my mini-hangover, today was the day we were meeting with the film crew to shoot some scenes for the aftermovie! This fact alone was enough to get all the girls going fairly early. I imagine it was pretty humorous to watch 11 girls scramble across the deck trying to clean up, “shower” (I use this term extremely loosely), and do our makeup all the while trying not to throw up the vodka shots from the night before. By some grace of God by 11am the deck was clear and we were sailing towards Komiza to meet the film crew!

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It was a beautiful day to shoot – we met the guys and girls of Orillo in the middle of the ocean where they boarded our boat and we got to work! They had a few specific shots they needed to catch first – the opening scene where all of us hung our legs over the side of the yacht and laughed, one of me steering the boat (with a LOT of help from our skipper James), and a one of the girls laying in the hammock giggling.

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At first it was really awkward having a camera thrust in our faces while trying to look natural, but the crew really helped us loosen up. Drinking between shots may have assisted in the overall relaxed feeling too :)

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There was a hilarious scene where we are holding onto a rope and getting pulled (AKA dragged) behind the boat in the middle of the ocean. My friend Carolyn was behind me with a GoPro strapped to her chest in attempt to capture some of the action, but I’m fairly certain the only thing that camera caught was shots of me hiking up my bikini bottoms every few metres. Not only were we all struggling to stay decent, my friend Milly was in front of me screaming things like “NOW I KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO BE DROWNED IN A WASHING MACHINE”. My overactive imagination merely caused me to envision the eleven of us as the perfect shark shishkabob trailing behind the boat. When the aftermovie was released I was genuinely surprised this shot actually made the cut because when we were shooting I was almost certain the scene could have been used as evidence in the case that one of us had drowned.

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The last scenes of the day were shot at the Green Caves which were home to a massive cliff jump site. I opted out of the jumping – with my luck I’d be walking around with a massively bruised backside, to accompany my already destroyed shins and thighs, from hitting the water at an awkward angle. I did enjoy climbing to the top of the caves though! This is when you’ll be VERY happy you brought water shoes, the rocks on the way up were extremely sharp and slippery. Despite my best efforts I left a chunk of my left shin on the Croatian cliffs. Once we had scaled the Green cliffs the crew had their drone pan over top of us – the shot they’d use for the aftermovie’s closing scene.

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After a few more hours of playing in the water we set sail for Komiza where we were promised food and the chance to restock our store of booze – the party from the night before nearly cleared us out.

We had dinner at a pizzeria just off the riva and started to get ready for the night’s festivities – a foam party in an open air club. Coming from Toronto where foam parties are usually associated with slimy all-ages events at our infamous Guvernment nightclub we weren’t quite sure what to expect. If you share my usual sentiment that foam parties should be banned from existence you’ll be surprised to know that TYW Foam Party was a great time. The venue – foam seems less disgusting when you can wash it off in the ocean a few steps away, and the music were absolutely amazing. I haven’t talked about TYW DJs yet, but they are absolute top notch – Toronto has an expansive music scene and I consider myself fairly picky, but every night I remember thinking that the DJ could sell out shows back home.

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Around 4am I once again I found myself wandering around town with friends looking for drunk food, and once again I ended up at a bakery, but this time I chose a decadent nutella filled pastry because there is apparently no such thing as a diet on vacation. Oh well, I figured I deserved it after struggling not to drown behind the boat that morning anyways :)

Day 2: Vis

Hey guys, I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated TYW part of my blog, but I have a (sort of) acceptable excuse. To be honest it’s been really difficult to remember the order that we visited places … I remember the actual parties perfectly, I just can’t quite put my finger on when they happened. I blame the prolonged sun exposure! Anyways, I think I’ve finally narrowed down the order – this is going to differ from the other weeks in Croatia because they merged the routes and changed things up a bit for the last week.

Day 1 (Sat): Trogir – Riva Party
Day 2 (Sun): Vis – Fort George
Day 3 (Mon): Scedro – Circle Party
Day 4 (Tues): Komiza – Foam Party
Day 5 (Wed): Hvar – Carpe Diem Beach/ ??
Day 6 (Thurs): Hvar – Carpe Diem Day Party/Kiva Bar/Carpe Diem Beach
Day 7 (Fri): Split – Vanilla Club

I’m going to try to get the rest of the my YW posts finished this weekend! Especially because bookings for Summer 2015 yachts just opened up on October 27th :) The 2014 aftermovie just got released too! My crew and I were filmed throughout the week and made the opening and closing scenes. The camera crew also caught a few shots of me swimming at the circle party and steering the boat!

Here’s a link to the 2014 aftermovie if you want to take a look!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKYnIeCv1CM&feature=youtu.be]

My first official morning of TYW started around 830am and by some gift of God I wasn’t horribly hangover – I was handed these delicious (and strong) sugary shots all night and was prepared for the worst. All the other girls were still sleeping so I headed up to the deck to enjoy some morning rays. Mornings were the only real downtime I had throughout the trip so I tried to take advantage of them.

Within the hour the Somersbys were cracked and we had set sail for Vis. Travelling between islands is prime tanning time, but don’t forget to use sunscreen! I was pretty bronzed from being outside all summer and still got a little pink the first day.

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We were anchored just offshore from Vis and had to take a water taxi in. You’ll get accustom these, they’re basically little dingy boats driven between/around islands by locals. Prepare to spend about half your weekly budget on them. No joke, it was probably one of my only complaints. If we’re already paying extra for port fees and such we should at least get free water taxi rides!

Getting ready on the boat became a ritualistic experience. We’d all sit out on the deck with our mirrors and makeup bags attempting to mask the fact that we were all still fairly drunk from the day’s shenanigans. This is where my Makeup For Ever green primer came in handy. The green tone actually combats redness in your skin, whether it is due to a little too much sun or alcohol, virtually masking all you daily indiscretions :)

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Moving on to my favourite part of every day – meal time! Make sure you ask your skipper which restaurants they recommend for dinner – they have a summers worth of experience eating in Croatia so they’ll know the good spots. Ours suggested hands down the most picturesque restaurant I’ve ever been to called Luma. If you’re ever looking for a romantic dinner setting this is it! We were surrounded by lush green gardens and enjoyed our meal by candlelight. I was unfortunately too enthralled by the view, food, and my wine to remember to take pictures. The menu had a little something for everyone – I ended up ordering the catch of the day which was a white fish and a side of mixed veggies. It was absolutely delicious and light, but I had complete food envy when some of the girls’ steaks arrived (I may have ended up stealing a few bites).

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After were done stuffing our faces with the delicious local cuisine we caught a TYW scheduled bus up to Fort George for the white party. I had heard that Fort George was an incredible venue from some of our skipper/crew friends, but I didn’t expect it to be so massive! Picture a club in an old world castle courtyard – that’s Fort George. Needless to say, it was an amazing night, especially because everyone kept the to the dress code! Make sure you pack a white outfit – preferably one that’s easy to wash as it’s inevitable that you’re going to get something spilled on you throughout the course of the evening. By the end of the night I was safely tucked back to my hammock bed I was just praying for the hangover gods to take pity on me.

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The Yacht Week: Introduction, Booking, Getting There, and Check-In

My trip of a lifetime started out in Croatia! Our YW preparations started months ago when two of my girlfriends decided to rally some of us together for a graduation/Eurotrip. Most people thought that we were nuts when we said we had booked a yacht. There’s a stigma attached to YW that makes most people think it’s super expensive and unattainable, when in reality if you plan it out it costs just slightly more than a really nice all-inclusive in the Caribbean.

Booking the yacht itself was very simple – we simply had to log onto TYW website and chose the number of people sailing with us (not including our skipper – more on this later) and the website listed off the yachts that could accommodate our party.As of right now our crew is actually the background movie playing on the bookings site! I even have a quick headshot in there:)

One thing that could throw some people off is that they ask for the exact number of girls & boys that will be on the yacht (no doubt to ensure fairly even gender ratios for that week). When choosing the yacht, there is a percentage directly beside the model year that shows the percentage of females that must be on the yacht for you to be able to book. From experience going over this ratio is encouraged – being the only all girl boat (that I knew of) on our week was a TON of fun. We were immediately coined the ‘Toronto Girls or Canadian Girls’ and were known for hosting a few too many APs on our boat.

Depending on which week you plan on travelling you follow a different payment schedule (all of them include 3 instalments) – the first two are usually around the same amount (30% of the total cost) and the last is the largest (40%). We opted to purchase TYW bracelets which grant you entry to all TYW parties – I STRONGLY encourage this as TYW puts on some of the best parties I’ve ever been to, especially at Fort George in Vis and Carpe Diem and Carpe Diem Beach in Hvar. You also need to budget in money for a skipper, unless you are particularly skilled at driving large yachts, and even then I recommend hiring a skipper – who wants to be worried about steering when you could be funnelling beers? Our skipper was an absolute godsend – I have no idea how he dealt with 11 girls for a week without loosing his mind, but we absolutely adored and appreciated him for it. Skippers also know all the best places to eat on the islands, bays to swim in, and they party the hardest – you don’t survive a summer of yacht week without being able to out-drink the average 20-something. That last reason alone is enough to befriend your skipper – ours brought us a funnel, something that I had originally wanted to bring but had no room to pack – yes, he is actually the best skipper in existence.

Looking for a taxi outside of the Split airport

Three of the four Ninja Turtles looking for a taxi outside of the Split airport

If you choose to sail in Croatia you will be leaving from a marina near Split, a city situated right on the Dalmatian coast. I chose to fly through Rome in order to reach Split airport, but I know that it’s possible to fly through other large European airports such as Frankfurt and Munich, it all really depends on your budget and timeline. I arrived with 3 of my girlfriends the night before (Friday, August 22nd) and would definitely recommend this as the day of is very hectic with grocery shopping and check in.

We easily found a cab that took us from the airport into our hostel in town where we met the rest of the girls. If you’re travelling to Split and need a hostel stay at Grand Hostel LerO. The owners were SO incredibly friendly and helpful – they actually greeted us with their garden grown watermelon and grapes alongside a platter of figs that I still dream of to this day. In addition to feeding us an assortment of mouth-watering fruit, they insisted on us drinking some of their homemade grappa. Coming from an area that is largely Italian back home, I was initially horrified as my first memory of grappa was quickly taking a few too many shots before a friend’s 17th birthday in a moment of sober desperation. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the fruity taste when I tried it with the girls at 11am (yes 11am, I was on vacation and it was considered celebratory – no judgment). The owners also helped to set us up with a shuttle to the marina in the morning (I told you they were the best) for around 10 EUR each.

All of us waiting outside the hostel - yes, that's me fixing my bralette.

All of us waiting outside the hostel for our shuttle – yes, that’s me fixing my bra, clearly not ready to be photographed.

There are a few different marinas in Split so make sure you check your itinerary on TYW booking to see which one you leave from. We were assigned to leave from Kastela Marina, which was around a 20-minute ride from central Split. These 20 minutes flew by thanks to our shuttle driver who was absolutely hilarious – he was an actor and actually sang to us the entire way while playing his Ukulele. If that’s not talent I’m not sure what is.

Waiting what seemed like eternity to board our yacht.

Waiting what seemed like eternity to board our yacht.

Once we arrived at Kastela we met a few of the crew members who handled the whole check-in process. Since our party was arriving at different times from the hostel (the shuttle couldn’t carry all of us at once) we decided to wait to check-in later and went grocery shopping! The closest grocery store to Kastela Marina is a Getro that is literally a 5-minute walk up the road – if you’re coming in from Split you’ll pass it on the way. The only unfortunate thing is that travelling back with groceries isn’t as easy – we had to take a cab that cost us 100 Kuna (I think it was equivalent to around $20CAD), which was obviously a complete rip off, but it was way too difficult to carry 4 jugs of water and all our groceries back. I’d say grocery prices at the Getro were comparable to those in Canada; they also had a small shop outside that had towels, water shoes, and floaties. If you’re going to buy something there buy water shoes! I think they were around 50 Kuna, but were completely worth it. I was very thankful I bought them when I climbed the Green Caves as the rocks heading up are extremely sharp (I also lost a chunk of my shin this day) and when I had to shower in some fairly gross public stalls. Buy floats if you can as well; they’re a lot of fun during the circle party that happens later in the week! Getro had a decent selection of produce, non-perishables, and most importantly – alcohol. If you’re lazy there was a small convenience store at the marina, but they jacked up the price of pretty much everything by 20-50 Kuna.

Now onto groceries – we just bought the essentials because we really didn’t plan on cooking all day. Here is our basic list:

1) Water (Buy double what you think you need – I would buy my own large bottle every time we docked because the thought of being hungover and dehydrated in the middle of the ocean was my absolute nightmare)

2) Pasta

3) Tomato sauce  – Be careful you aren’t buying the red pepper sauce – we, along with a bunch of crews made this mistake… luckily it tasted good as a sandwich condiment

4) Fruit – we bought peaches, apples, bananas and plums … it made an excellent breakfast/mid-day snack

5) Vegetables – avocados (we were craving some guac), onions, garlic, tomatoes, lettuce

6) Bread

7) Chips – Europeans seem to love their Pringles and so did we! We also bought some tortilla chips for our guac day

8) Peanut butter

9) Peanuts

10) Chase – Redbull, OJ, and Coke were necessary

11) Alcohol – buy a variety, I can tell you from experience you aren’t going to be able to drink the same thing for 7 days and nights straight. I ended up alternating between Somersby, Red Wine, Vodka, and Beer

12) Lunch meats – Sandwiches are generally a crowd-pleaser and make the best lunches when you’re sailing between ports

13) Olive oil

14) Balsamic vinegar

15) Plastic cups/paper plates – no one wants to do millions of dishes

16) Garbage bags (big ones) – So incredibly necessary for clean ups after parties

17) Salt and pepper

18) Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash – the majority of our showers happened off the back of our boat and in the ocean, so if you’re a princess this may not be the trip for you (think camping on a boat)

19) Toilet paper

20) Paper towels

This was just our first grocery trip, we ended up purchasing more food at each port depending on what we needed. Whenever we stopped on an island we found it easy enough to find a market so there is no need to buy supplies for the entire week – you don’t have enough room to store it all anyways!

We ended up boarding our yacht around 5PM which we initially weren’t very happy about, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. There was a huge thunderstorm (something VERY uncharacteristic of Croatia in the summer) that we would have been sailing though if we had made it on earlier. There were only two yachts that left before the storm and passengers on both boats said they thought they weren’t going to make it!

I hope I gave you guys a little insight into what to expect before getting onto your yacht – if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them :) My next few posts are going to focus mainly on what we did on each island and little tips on making the most out of the best week of your life!

xx R

The Yacht Week Croatia

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Hey guys,

Sorry for the huge gap between my posts – I’ve been in Europe for the past three and a half weeks! I actually planned on keeping a detailed journal of everything that happened during my trip so that I could write about it here, but there was always something to do that sounded more exciting that staying home and writing about my day! My resolution for my next trip (yes there is already one in the works) is to actually complete said journal on the daily.

This is most definitely going to turn into a series of posts just because I have too many things to say to get it all out at once. This first post is just going to be a general introduction to my experience booking and boarding our yacht. The next few posts will go into more detail about each destination, what I brought – including what I should of packed and what I wouldn’t next time, and a few tips on surviving YW!

When you watch the trailers for The Yacht Week you really can’t comprehend what they mean by “It’s nothing like the real world” until you’ve actually lived it. The trailer depicts young, attractive, carefree individuals who look like they’re having the time of their life and let me assure you, they are. I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced numerous wonderful vacations, but nothing will ever compare to the memories and friends that I made on YW.

Here’s the 2013 trailer in case you haven’t seen it.

The Yacht Week started in Croatia and now has routes in Italy, Greece, Thailand, and British Virgin Islands. We chose Croatia because it’s known to be the most party-centric route. They cater to the 20-35 year old demographic, as 22 & 23 year olds we were definitely one of the youngest crews – and trust me, this wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Let me just warn you, YW isn’t for those who want a relaxing travel experience in five star accommodations. I barely slept the entire week, most nights I crashed in our hammock or on the top deck of the boat, but I wouldn’t change a single second of it. If you’re doing YW it’s to experience the insane parties, meet amazing people from around the world, and see the coastline of a beautiful foreign country – NOT to lie in a bed and enjoy ideal sleeping conditions. Believe me most nights sleeping isn’t even an option until around 6am when the party settles down. This isn’t to say that you’re going to living in absolute squalor for a week, but it’s definitely more like living in residence first year-university that being put up in the Ritz. Be prepared to be woken up by people scrambling across your boat mid-morning trying to find their boat before their crew leaves to the next port or just by your own crew mates who insist that 9am is a perfectly acceptable time to start drinking (this may or may not have been me). Exploring the islands and sailing a little buzzed is half the fun anyway.