MV Avangard Katarina Line Review 2020

MV Avangard docked in Pomena, Mljet

Hello everyone! I can finally say that I’m back from another amazing cruise adventure! Hard to believe I know, especially with everything going on around the world right now and in the cruising industry, but I can happily say that I’m back from one of the most relaxing cruises I’ve ever been on, one that I will remember for quite some time! This cruise was a bit different from my usual cruises, it was on a small cruise ship, owned by a Croatian cruise line, Katarina Line, and we cruised around the beautiful Croatian islands. Perfect for my first post-COVID cruise. This was a one way 7-night cruise from Dubrovnik to Split visiting many islands on the way. I didn’t know what to expect from small ship cruising in the Adriatic, but now I can finally show and share with you all what’s it like!

About the ship!

Avangard anchored during one of our swim stops

I cruised onboard the MV Avangard, one of the biggest and most luxurious ships in Katarina Line’s fleet! Avangard belongs to a Deluxe Superior class of ships. Deluxe Superior vessels are the best in the Katarina Line fleet, offering superior comfort and special services. (Katarina Line also has more affordable and slightly less premium ship categories like Deluxe, Premium Superior, Traditional… something to suit everyone) Avangard is just around 50 meters long and 8 meters wide. At full occupancy it can accommodate 36 passengers in its 18 luxurious cabins. It honestly, looks and feels like a fancy yacht. This is for sure the smallest ship I ever cruised on and to be honestb I expected it to feel cramped and not spacious at all but I was certainly proven otherwise, it felt so spacious, light and open, completely the opposite of what I was expecting. What made it feel extra spacious was the fact that there were only 18 passengers on my sailing, doesn’t get more exclusive than that!

The ship has 4 decks so everyone can really spread out. There is one big open lounge/restaurant area which serves as the ships main social hub really. You could always find someone there chatting or having a drink before lunch or dinner. This lounge is also used as the main restaurant where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served and it can accommodate all 36 passengers at one sitting!

Just behind the lounge, there is this beautiful covered, outside seating area offering sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding. This seating area probably has the longest couch, I’ve ever seen! Apparently 19 people can sit on that couch, but I feel like all 36 passengers could comfortably sit on it together! This was probably my favorite area to visit during the day. it also has these see trough sun shades so you’re never directly in the sunshine but you can hear the sea and feel that ocean breeze. And also you’re near the lounge so you can order whatever you want from the bar and just enjoy the cruise life.

There is also a spacious sun deck with a whirlpool on the top deck with plenty of deck chairs so you never have to wake up extra early to secure your spot on the sun deck, like you have to do on some bigger ships.

One of the best features of this ship is located at its aft. Avangard has this water level, swim-up platform that we used everyday when we would anchor in a random bay on the way to our next destination just to have a swim! You can easily get in the water, there are also showers there so you can wash the salt off when you get out! Basically back of the ship becomes a beach, these swim stops were probably my favorite thing about this cruise, there’s nothing like swimming around with no one around just the passengers from your ship! Oh, and views of the ship are spectacular! 

Cruising on smaller ships, like this one, is really special because you’re always so close to the sea. I know that on some bigger ships I wouldn’t even feel like I’m actually on the ship, but on the Avangard I could always feel that connection to the ocean, I just loved standing on the ‘promenade deck’ that was literally on the water and just looking out to sea. Best therapy ever!

A lot of people also asked me “Do you feel the ship move?” Well it certainly moved more than bigger ships I’ve been on, but there was never a lot of movement because you’re usually sailing around islands where the sea is not really rough and you are never out at sea for more than a few hours because destinations on the itineraries are really close to eachother.


One thing that’s really different about this cruise line/ship is that there are no cabin categories or certain experience packages or however different cruise lines call them. Every cabin onboard is the same category but their layout and location might vary. On this cruise I had Cabin number 3 (I never had a single digit cabin on a cruise before!) Which is located on the lower deck forward.

I was surprised by this cabin. I expected something much more… modest from a cabin on a smaller ship, but this cabin was actually the same size if not even slightly bigger than a cabin on my last cruise which was on the 5th largest ship in the world. The cabin had everything you might expect from a cruise ship cabin, it was nicely furnished and decorated. Since this is just a three year old ship everything felt pretty new and was in working order. Storage space was decent, large closet with drawers, hanging space and lots of shelves. There is also a large desk, night tables and lots of storage space for your toiletries in the bathroom as well.

One thing that shows you how fancy this ship is the fact that all towels and pillowcases have the ship’s name embroidered onto them. Fancy!

Since I was on the lower deck I had portholes closer to the ceiling. It was nice to have natural light in the cabinbbut it pretty much felt like an inside cabin on larger ships. I could see the water from my cabin which was certainly a plus and I also had a window in my bathroom which I never had on a cruise before, just make sure to close the blinds when in port! Cabins on the upper deck do have normal large windows which can be opened. No balcony cabins on this ship but the rest of the ship is pretty much your balcony.

Two things that I loved about the cabin was that there were seven, yes, 7 power sockets in the cabin so I could charge all of my devices at the same time and the other really important thing, the shower didn’t have a shower curtain but a real glass door! That’s all I need… power sockets and no shower curtain! Here are some pictures of the cabin!

Onboard experience!

So what’s the onboard experience like on a smaller cruise ship? Well first of all, the ship itself is not the destination, I’m used to talking about rock climbing walls and bumper card but this cruise is the complete opposite and there’s just something so relaxing about that.

The itineraries are organised and planned in a way that you spend every night in a different port and with each port being just a couple of hours away that is easily doable! On most days you leave the port around 8AM, sail for a couple of hours until you reach a bay on the way (oh look that rhymes!) to anchor in for a swim stop. Stay there until lunch time and then by the time the lunch is over you’ve reached the next destination.

This is great beacuse every morning is a relaxing morning, there is no rushing to the buffet early in the morning to catch your early excursion, none of that. Each morning you have enough time to eat your breakfast, relax on the sundeck, have a swim in a remote bay that can only be reached by ship, have lunch and by then you’re ready to explore the port! Spending nights in ports also has its perks. You get to experience the evening atmosphere of these coastal towns, you can even enjoy the local night life or watch the sunset from a local beach. I found this to be one of the best perks of small ship cruising, these coastal towns really do come alive in the evenings!

In most ports there is an organised walking tour of the town you’re visiting which is included in your cruise fare. You can of course go on your own and explore the port by yourself. These included walking tours were really great for me because usually on cruises I go off to explore the city on my own, mostly because I want to save money and also because it’s much more flexible but that means that I usually miss out on some fun facts that only local guides know, really interesting!

In conclusion this cruise is really geared towards relaxation and destination immersion. I love the mix of relaxing mornings and afternons that can be whatever you make of them, active or equally relaxing as the mornings.

Onboard the ship there is a cruise manager that also organises some events during the cruise, such as wine tastings, social meet ups… things like that. There is a nice collection of board games on the ship, and to me that’s a perfect way to spend a relaxing evening and to meet new poeple. If you like night life, good thing the ship spends the night in every port so you have the perfect opportunity to see how the Croats party!


As they say, the most important thing about cruises is the food and the most important person on the cruise is the chef! Jokes aside, we all love eating on a cruise and believe me, you won’t be left hungry on this ship! Everything you eat onboard is bought locally, made and prepared onboard the ship. That’s why everything onboard is fresh and delicious!

All meals are included in your cruise fare and those are breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your choice is limited to only one restaurantb but what can you expect from a smaller ship haha! For breakfast you’re offered a buffet selection of cold cuts, cheeses, pastries, eggs, ham, pancakes… pretty much an average cruise buffet. I love brekfasts on cruises, I usually don’t eat breakfast at home so I always overeat on cruises… pastries are definitely my weakness! Though this was not a self service buffet because of the obvious situation so everything was plated and served to you by the staff.

Both lunch and dinner have a set time and a set menu. The lunch is usually around 1PM and dinner around 7PM. I didn’t know what to expect from lunches and dinners onboard. On cruises you usually have a variety of dishes to choose from so you can always find something you like, with a set menu that can be a bit tricky, but I have to say, I really enjoyed the food onboard, pretty much everything was delicious and there were only a couple of dishes that I didn’t really like, but I am a picky eater who’s not a big fan of sea food so… All in all I was pretty much stuffed after every meal! All meals consist of 3 courses except the Captain’s dinner (formal night) which is 4 courses!

Everything was pretty delicious and looked amazing, but my favorites were desserts! From simple cheesecakes and homemade ice creams to some cakes I don’t even remember the names of, every dessert was so tasty!

Don’t worry if you have any dietary restrictions or any food allergies, they are really flexible when it comes to that! Just make sure to notify your cruise manager on the first day if he doesn’t approach you first! They did ask everyone about their dietary restrictions and allergies on the first day during check in!

Here are just a couple of pictures of the meals onboard, all made by our amazing Chef Ivo!


The itinerary is what made this cruise really special as well. I was on a 7-night “One Way Wonders” itinerary that started in the popular city of Dubrovnik and ended in the busy port city of Split! In these 8 days we visited 8 beatiful destinations on the south coastal Croatia and some of those destinations are truly hidden gems on the Adriatic. Since the Avangard is a smaller ship, it can dock in towns that bigger ships never visit, and in these smaller towns is really where you can experience the local culture as it is, not changed by the mass tourism.

Another perk of small ship cruising is that the ship docks right in the city center. In most cities and towns we were docked right on the waterfront, you can’t beat that! You can just walk off the ship and be right where everything is in a couple of minutes!

We boarded the ship in Dubrovnik, a city I’m sure you all know something about, if not from history books or travel brochures then from huge blockbusters and popular TV shows like the Game of Thrones. There is something in this city for everyone, cultural sites for history lovers, night clubs for party lovers, mountains and endless beaches for nature lovers… no wonder it’s so popular.

Next stop for us was the port of Slano and the town of Ston.  Ston is small town located around 30 minutes away by bus from where the ship docks. It is famous for its walls which are still one of the longest fortification systems in the world that is still standing, it is commonly called the “European wall of China”! The walls are in a great condition to this day so you can walk almost the whole length. Truly amazing!

If you’re a nature lover, you would’ve loved our third stop, the National park Mljet. The National park Mljet is one of 8 national parks in Croatia and it is situated on the island of Mljet, one of the largest islands in south Dalmatia. To say that it’s beautiful would be an understatement! The scenery is just stunning, it looks like a nature reserve untouched by modern tourist development! On the island there are two connected salt water lakes and on the “Big Lake” you will find the St. Mary’s island where a Benedictine Monastery was built in the 12th century! So you could say that I was on an island that’s on an island!

Our next stop was probably my favorite on this cruise, Korčula! It is believed that the famous explorer Marco Polo was born right here in the town of Korčula! The town is rich with history and it’s definitely one of my favorite towns on the Croatian coast, would definitely recommend visiting it! I would describe it as a smaller, less crowded Dubrovnik! The old town itself is so picturesque!

We also visited the island of Vis! Vis is a really historic city, it is THE oldest city in Croatia! It was established by the ancient Greeks 397 B.C. under the name of Issa. Since then the island was under the rule of many empires and kingdoms. Romans, Greeks, French, Austrians and even the British once called Vis their territory, but since the 1990s the island of Vis is officially a part of Croatia! Because of how remote the island is and because of its military role in the former Yugoslavia, today it’s really a perfect picture of how Mediterranean once looked, without any new high rises, huge resorts or rows of apartment developments! A beautiful town if you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of bigger coastal cities!

One of our last stops was the town of Hvar! Hvar is the longest island in Croatia and probably one of the most popular ones! The island of Hvar is the sunniest island in Europe and is on the “15 most sunniest places” in the world list. So if its sunshine you’re after you should definitely visit Hvar! The town of Hvar is best known for its many beaches, historic buildings and its lively night life! It is one of the locations of the popular “Ultra Europe” music festival: You won’t get bored in this town after sunset!

And our final stop before reaching the city of Split was Bol on the island of Brač, the highest island in Croatia! Bol is a small town with only 1.600 residents, made famous because of the beautiful Golden Horn beach! It used to be a fishing village and influences of that can still be seen today!

We ended our journey in the city of Split, 2nd largest city in Croatia. It is the busiest passenger port on the Adriatic. One of its most popular selling points is the Diocletian’s Palace, you can spend hours walking around the narrow allyways of the old town, honeslty, my favorite big city on the Adriatic!

If you’d like to read more about the itinerary and my daily routine onboard check out my “Katarina Line Avangard – Cruise Diary!

Katarina Line

Katarina Line is a premier small ship cruise company with weekly guaranteed departures from the end of April to mid-October from the major tourist centers in Croatia, such as Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik. With a fleet of more than 60 ships in six different categories, the cruise line caters to all ages and budgets. Katarina Line itineraries give travellers the chance to explore the stunning natural environment and picturesque, quaint Mediterranean towns while hopping from one island to another. This unique way of travelling and exploring coastal towns is one of the most popular and easiest way to experience the true Croatia. 

Katarina line, founded in 1992, evolved into one of Croatia’s leading cruise & travel operators. I always wanted to give Katarina Line a try since I saw their ships in Croatian ports so many times!

Is Katarina Line for me?

Katarina Line is perfect for people who would like to see and explore more of Croatia, it really perfectly combines the independent style of travel with the benefits of a cruise ship. Depending on which category ship you book, the cruise experience can really rival the one of those on large cruise ships. It is also a Croatian cruise line with Croatian crews onboard so you’re sure that they know what they’re talking about and that they will show you the best of what Croatia has to offer!

Most of Katarina Line’s passangers come from continental Europe (countries such as Germany, Switzerland… ) United States, United Kingdom, Australia…. it’s a really international bunch onboard. Average age of passengers onboard depends on which category ship you’re on. I was on their most luxuruious category, Deluxe Superior, and I would say that the average age was around 50-60. Other, less inclusive, more budget friendly categories tend to have a slightly younger crowd.

Katarina Line also organises charter cruises, group cruises, theme cruises, LGBTQ cruises, so there’s really something for everyone!

Cruising during the pandemic

I cannot ignore the elephant in the room, this cruise was also slightly different because of the current COVID situation we’re living in. I was cruising in Croatia, my own country so I didn’t have to worry about borders, international requierments and things like that. Katarina Line did introduce new measures to insure the health and safety of their passengers. You can read more about their new protocols HERE!

But in short, they introduced new cleaning and hygiene protocols, social distancing is strongly encouraged, capacity in the dining room is limited to ensure that. It has been really easy to maintain social distancing with just 18 people on-board. Hand Sanitizers were everywhere and everything was being constantly cleaned. So nothing that really impacted my overall cruise experience, but the changes are noticeable.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, I loved my Katarina Line cruise. I came into this not knowning what to expect from small ship cruising as this was my first cruise on a small ship and I have to say that I was blown away. I loved the more relaxed, slower pace of the cruise, it is really different from big ship cruising, but in a good way. I really wouldn’t think twice abuout cruising on the Avangard or with Katarina Line again, they offer a great product at reasonable prices, and now that I’ve seen what’s like, I can confirm that this really is the best way to see Croatia.

What also makes or breaks a cruise is the ship’s crew! And the crew of the Avangard definitely made this cruise special. I want to thank all of them for taking good care of us. There were 18 guests on this cruise and 8 amazing crew members and believe it or not, I know everyones names!
Thank you to our amazing Captain Damir, our cruise manager Zvonko who probably knows 50 languages, to waiters Antonio and Tomy that made every meal special, seaman Duje and Matij who took great care of the Avangard, to Milena who made sure that the ship is spotless and of course to the most important person on every ship, chef, Ivo! Every single meal was delicious, I already miss those delicious desserts!

If you have any questions about this ship or Katarina Line feel free to ask!

All in all, I’d like to thank Katarina Line for an amazing cruise experience and all of your for your likes, comments and constant support here and on Instagram. I am so grateful that I get to share my cruise passion and adventures with all of you! This was my first post-covid cruise and I was so excited that I could bring you something new and different. A lot of people are turning to small ship cruising lately so I’m really happy that I could show you what’s it like to explore Croatia on a smaller ship. Thank you again!

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