COVID-19 update: One year wiser and ready for the challenge

A year into COVID-19 pandemic, we sat down with our managing director, Ajka Matijevic, to get her predictions of the upcoming yachting season. We talked about current health protection (coronavirus) regulations in Croatia and Montenegro and how they will impact yacht operations in the Adriatic.

Today is March 15, and we are officially one year into the coronavirus pandemic. Do you think that summer 2021 will be less testing than that of 2020?

“Anniversaries” like this one are tough to ride out. What we hoped this summer to be, now seems far from likely. As regional vaccination campaigns run slower than anticipated, and new virus strains emerge and spread, I think we have another challenging summer season ahead.

The health protection regulations are expected to be similar to the last year’s ones, and we need to brace ourselves for travel restrictions yet again. Negative PCR test certificates and quarantines for some nationalities are, unfortunately, a “new normal” for the time being.

However, I would say that we are more prepared, that Goverments are more clear on the procedures and measures that they would implement in certain stages of the pandemic, and we expect less suprises and hasty decisions this year.

Current health protection regulations in Croatia

Unlike other EU countries, imposing stringent travel bans on non-EU citizens, Croatia is not a member of the Schengen group. This year, we will continue implementing our wise border management policies.

  • All crew members, regardless of nationality, when arriving by yacht, are excluded from mandatory PCR testing;
  • Crew members and guests coming from any EU country, having previously spent 14 or more days in an EU country, are excluded from mandatory PCR testing;
  • All yacht guests can enter Croatia based on a charter contract or invitation letter that proves that they will stay on the yacht;
  • All incoming crew members can enter based on their seaman status, regardless of nationality. However, if they are of a non-EU citizen, PCR testing is mandatory;
  • All non-EU citizens must present negative PCR test certificate not older than 48 hours, when entering Croatia. If they do not have one, they can make arrangement for testing on board a yacht, and self-isolate while waiting for the results;
  • NEW regulation at the moment: The citizens of the following countries are subject to both negative PCR test results and 14-day self-isolation upon arrival: Tirol area in Austria, UK, South Africa, Zanzibar, and Brazil.
  • Self-isolation can be spent on board a yacht, requiring the guests to stay on the vessel for 14 days from embarkation. If they want to shorten the isolation period, on day 7, they can take another PCR test, and if the results are negative, they are free to go ashore;
  • Self-isolation for crew members can be spent in hotel rooms;
  • Persons who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past three months are exempt from the obligation to provide a negative PCR test certificate and to self-isolate (for ten days).

The latest update on March 25th 2021:
– As of today, UK citizens are no longer required to quarantine on arrival.
– It is important that with this provision children under the age of seven are exempted from presenting a negative test result and self-isolation if the parents/guardians have a negative PCR or rapid antigen test, or confirmation of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19.
Source: Croatia National Tourist Board

To prove their recovery, passengers need to have a positive PCR test certificate, or antigen test result, or a positive neutralization test (NT) result obtained within the last three months and older than 14 days, or a certificate of recovery from a doctor.

Croatia had a major four-month lockdown during the winter to ensure low virus transmission and remain a safe country for visitors in the upcoming summer season. Right now, all restaurants and shops are open, and apart from mandatory masks in-doors, life is the closest to the “old normal”.

Current health protection regulations in Montenegro

Presently, Montenegro entered lockdown to slow down the transmission and lower number of cases for the upcoming season. Vaccination campaign has began, and the authorities assessed that 35% of the population will be vaccinated by summer.

Border crossing:

  • All nationalities (except for neighboring countries) must present negative PCR test certificate (not older than 48 hours).
    Alternatively, to enter Montenegro, you would need: antigen test certificate (not older than 48 hours), or positive IgG antibody test certificate (not older than a month), or a proof of having been vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • Children below the age of five are not subject to PCR testing;
  • Crews and guests on yachts in transit, entiring only for fueling and supplies are not subject to PCR testing, but they have to remain on board during the entire stay in Montenegro.

So, what are the main implications for yachts planning to operate in the region?

Similarly to last year, Croatia will be the most convenient place in Europe to execute crew changes and pick up your guests or owners regardless of nationality. Additionally, being an EU country, it will be easier to travel to other EU countries from Croatia than from Turkey or Montenegro.

All yachts can still come to Montenegro to take tax-free fuel and supplies, with no significant obstacles. Hopefully, regulations in Montenegro will be eased closer to the summer season, so that yacht crew and guests coming from EU countries will be allowed to enter without PCR testing, if they have previously spent 14 days in countries that have low virus transmission.

That would allow crews to use Montenegro’s superyacht marinas for the downtime between charters, get ready for the next trip, get supplies and tax-free fuel, and return to Croatia for the charters or owner’s cruise.

With the latest changes in the pricing policies, Porto Montenegro has once again created tremendous advantages for the yachts cruising in the region. For this coming summer, all vessels over 30 meters can pay upfront weekly or monthly berthing fees and then use the days as they need them during the whole season. Any additional daily rates will be charged pro-rata, as per the initial package.

We sincerely hope that a flexible and unified approach to the Adriatic as one cruising region will once again bring great benefits for superyacht guests and crews, providing a safe haven and a feel of the old normal.

Contact us to assist you arrange your itineraries to suit your schedule and interests.

Good advice can save you time and money, and our itinerary planning is entirely free for all our clients.

We will continue to bring you the latest Covid updates from the region, in the meantime, make sure to reach out with any specific queries.

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