The cruise ship industry makes up a major part of Croatian tourism, often to the dismay of other visitors and local business owners. It was recently announced that Croatia expects 1.2 million visitors from cruise ships this year, but each passenger spends only 43 Euros during their stay in the country. This is far less than other visitors who spend money on accommodation, tours, transportation, souvenirs, food, and drinks. Most of these services are already provided on the ships, so cruise ship passengers often buy little more than an ice cream and an inexpensive souvenir.
During the last 5 years the number of cruise ship passengers visiting Croatia has doubled. This had lead to overcrowding in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, a problem that is obvious to anyone visiting the Old Town on a busy day in July or August. Often there are long lines just to enter the city and the conditions inside the city walls can be very unpleasant. Luckily passengers head back to their ships in the evening and the Old Town regains its beauty and charm at night; a reward for those who decide to stay in Dubrovnik for more than just a few hours. For those that wish to avoid the crowds, the Dubrovnik Port Authority website has a schedule of cruise ship traffic (listed as “Dolasci/Odlasci”) and a color-coded chart showing how many passengers will be in the city on any given day. By using this chart visitors can make the most of their visit by planning their excursions out of town on busy cruise ship days and then exploring the Old Town on lighter days.