We needed to return our car to France, but really didn’t want to drive all the way around the Adriatic and back across northern Italy.

This left the ferry from Split, Croatia, to Ancona, Italy. So we booked our tickets and THEN read the reviews.

They were not good. Lots of people complaining about how chaotic it is, that it is dirty and the staff are rude and that they’re old and run-down. And after going on the Spirit of Tasmania far too many times we have a slight ferry phobia, someone always throws up over Bass Strait – one memorable trip had five of us throwing up the whole time.

But we’d already paid our $600 so we were stuck with it – and it still seemed better to put up with 12 hours of being uncomfortable than days driving roads we’ve already seen.

We turned up on time and check-in went smoothly, and we then waited around, spent our last remaining kuna on walnuts (we got the woman to weigh them out exactly to use up all of Gabrielle’s busking change) and had our passports checked and stamped and drove to the parks to wait. The staff waved us on on foot (everyone just walks up the car ramp) and Daniel and Asha settled in to wait 1.5 hours for about 20 trucks to reverse in.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were in the lounge, searching out the best bit of floor to sleep on.

Did we mention we only bought deck tickets? We weren’t entirely sure until we boarded that they didn’t mean OUTSIDE, actually on the deck, but luckily we didn’t have to upgrade at the last minute (because we’re definitely not sleeping outside in the middle of winter).

So we could sleep anywhere we wanted, but the lounge chairs all had plywood separators so we couldn’t lie down on the chairs – so the floor it was.

Luckily, we’re good at sleeping anywhere. Even when they leave the overhead lights on ALL NIGHT.

So we spent the night napping, wandering, and jealously ogling the couple who brought air mattresses, pillows, and blankets, and had the only space with no overhead lights.

We know for next time.

Oh, and the sea? We’d braced ourselves for rocky seas and vomit, but as usual Australia takes everything to extremes and it was nothing like Bass Strait. Crossing the Adriatic is more like crossing a placid lake, the ship stayed perfectly flat and didn’t rock at all. It was fantastic.

We reached Ancona right on time, drove off (actually reversed, which was a little tricky) ten minutes early, and went straight through customs and were on our way to Lucca by 7.30am.

Turns out all the reviews were wrong – it was clean, quiet, well organised, on time, and the staff were fine. And we don’t have the horror story to tell that we were anticipating, which is quite nice for a change.