Uber has transformed many a transportation scenario, but they still haven't quite solved the annoyance of the taxi line leaving the airport. The experience of standing on the curb in some new climate, elbowing around other travelers to hail a car (or spot a car you've ordered) remains an unpleasant and unwelcome start or end to a trip.
The tech giant's newest offering hopes to change that, at least for their Croatian travelers. Starting on June 26, is launching UberBOAT, a service for tourists and residents alike among a few islands in Croatia, with particular focus on getting to and from the airport in Split. While Uber has launched pop-up boat promotions in Miami and Istanbul before (and has a in select locations, like UberCOPTER in the South of France), the new Croatian option represents the first time boats will be available on the mobile app for an entire season. Here's info about UberBOAT so far.
The toughest news: for now, UberBOAT is only available in Croatia. "Point to point" transportation can be ordered among four main locations: Split, the Split airport, Hvar, and Dubrovnik. Users can also opt to use the app to rent a boat for a half-day or full-day adventure, in which case there is more flexibility as to which islands you can hit.
Users can begin ordering on Monday, June 26, with service running all summer long. Boats are available on demand all day and night.
Croatia is a great market for Uber to experiment because it's comprised of over 1,200 tourism-loving islands — but it's still not as crushingly popular as nearby locales like, say, Greece, where supply could outpace demand. If this summer goes well, it's easy to imagine the company expanding into other areas around the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
Just as with a car, Uber customers can use their mobile app to drop a pin and find a boat nearby. As experienced with Uber Pool, the company's algorithm will send them to the nearest convenient location (in this case, the best pier) to meet their driver (or rather, a captain).
The flat rate to/from Split airport to Split or Hvar is €352 (or $394 at today's rate) for a boat of up to 8 people, or €440 ($493) for an XL boat of up to 12 people. Uber's "split fare" feature can be used to share the cost with other riders.
As for renting the boat for a half-day or full-day trek, prices are based on mileage and time spent, but Uber approximates the cost will start around €980 ($1097) for a full day.
While UberBOAT may not disrupt the experience of being a tourist in Croatia, for better or for worse, it is an example of one of Uber's greatest strengths: convenience. Being able to order, arrange, and pay for a boat in a country with a different language and currency means less chance of being (or feeling) ripped off. It all happens within the app. Anchors aweigh!