Like most people, I thought superyachts were reserved for the super-rich, and that the closest I would get to one would be watching reruns of the reality TV show Below Deck.

So, when I got sent an invite to step aboard the Ohana, a 49-metre superyacht, I thought I might be the target of a too-good-to-be-true scam email. The offer came from charter firm Goolets (named after the founder’s fascination with gulets, traditional Turkish wooden sailing boats), a Slovenian-based organisation that specialises in bespoke yacht experiences.

The Herald:

Goolets offer rental of a fleet of yachts, all fitted to the highest standards, that can be chartered for individual groups according to their needs. From the 20-metre Christal Mio to the 68-metre Variety Voyager, their boats can fit anywhere from 10 to 70 guests. And although the word “superyacht” might seem out of reach for anyone but billionaires, the weekly cost per head on some of the boats is not dissimilar to the price of a cruise. The cost to rent the Ohana during the spring season, when we were on board, is a rather eye-watering €90,000 (£77,275) per week. However, if you could find enough friends to fill the maximum quota of 30 guests, that price would become €3,000 per head (around £2,567) for the week. A seven-night trip on the Marella Explorer Cruise with TUI, which visits Croatia and other southern Mediterranean stops, is £1,948 per person.

This makes an experience on the Ohana more than worth the cost, in my eyes, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate a birthday or special occasion. Because instead of being crammed like sardines into a floating mega hotel, the beauty of a Goolets trip is that you have almost complete control over the itinerary and activities of the trip. Want to dock in a scenic bay and have a shot on the on-board jet ski? No problem. Fancy stopping off at a postcard-perfect island for a long lunch? The crew will sort it. Even down to the times you have dinner, the kind of food that’s cooked, the (complimentary) drinks that are served – guests really are king on board the Ohana. There’s no screaming kids to put up with, no cheesy on-board entertainment like that sometimes found on cruises. It is just you and the water, a feeling of peace and contentment like none other I’ve experienced.

Our trip started in Split, a beautiful port city that’s the largest on the Adriatic coast (it was famously used as a filming location for Game of Thrones). You can fly to Split from Glasgow and Edinburgh, but we found the best deal travelling from Manchester with the ever-reliable Jet2. We soaked up the city with a wander round its historic walls, admiring the yachts moored in the harbour with a frisson of excitement about the boat we were about to board. It was only built in 2020, but the Ohana has just had a complete renovation. From the minute we set foot on the deck, luxury abounded: our cabin was spacious and bright, with a fully-fitted en suite bathroom, while the communal areas were full of stylish touches. The highlight of the upper deck was a hot tub to soak in and admire the views, but the huge lounging areas were also a perfect vantage point to take in the panorama of the Adriatic Sea. We ate in the spacious, yet intimate dining space, sharing wine and conversation with other invited guests. The food was similar to what you would expect in a fine dining restaurant, with plenty of fresh fish (naturally) and some show-stopping desserts.

The Herald:

The next day we headed to the charming town of Bol, located on an island called Brac that’s around one hour’s sailing from Split. After docking in the harbour, we wandered along an idyllic coastal path peppered with olive trees – providing welcome shade from the midday heat – before arriving at a stony beach for a refreshing dip. The friendly crew awaited with freshly-prepared lunch back on the Ohana, where we took some time to sunbathe on the deck while sailing to the island of Vis. Vis was used as the main filming location for Mamma Mia 2 (doubling as a Greek resort island), but this starring role has not resulted in hordes of tourists, with the streets mercifully peaceful upon our arrival. After finding a gourmet ice cream parlour, we ambled down to a small jetty and dipped our feet in the water as we watched the sun slip behind the buildings. We had a cocktail at a beach bar (it would have been rude not to) and then went back to the boat for dinner and more drinks.

Nursing slightly sore heads the next morning, we were informed by the crew that we would be docking in a bay nearby to allow us to swim in the water and use some of the on-board “toys”. I was brave enough to have a go on the sea bob (surprisingly good fun), the jet-ski (pure thrills) and even managed to psyche myself up to leap from the Ohana’s highest deck into the cobalt water below. I drew the line at a James Bond-esque hoverboard surfboard that looked a bit too high-octane for my liking, but watched in admiration as some fellow guests gave it a go.

The Herald:

After a quick shower it was time to head to Hvar, the famous “party island” that’s long been popular with day-trippers from Split. The harbour was too busy for the Ohana to dock, so it anchored out at sea and we got transported into Hvar town via the ship’s very own high-speed RIB. It felt absurdly cool to bounce across the waves at speed and step into the town in such style. Hvar has plenty to see: gorgeous cobbled streets, a grand castle with a viewpoint, trendy bars and tiny beaches. We spent a few hours exploring but vowed to return for a longer visit.

Spending our final night on the Ohana was bittersweet. It was a truly inimitable experience and I felt acutely aware that any holiday afterwards would struggle to live up to the glamorous standards it had set. I will undoubtedly return to Croatia – it has the ideal combination of breathtaking beauty and friendly people – rivalling any other Mediterranean nation for a holiday. It’s just a question of convincing enough friends to charter a yacht with me …

Yacht rental prices vary depending on chosen boat and time of trip. Fly to Split from Glasgow with EasyJet, or from Edinburgh or Manchester with Jet2. Prices from £155 return. See for more details