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Jaffa by Konrad von Grunenberg Jaffa by Konrad von Grunenberg

The history of cruising in the Adriatic from the 15th century

By  Jan 10, 2017

It is a well known fact that the cruise business started in the 19th century, i.e. in 1818 when the first shipping company offered regularly scheduled service from the US to England; however, few people know that the first cruise ships appeared in the Adriatic more than five centuries ago.

''Jaffa'' the pilgrimage galley in the drawing of the German knight Konrad von Grunenberg from the 15th century (Karlsruhe, 1486.), is proof that this ship used to transport pilgrims from Venice to the Holy Land i.e. to the port of Jaffa in Palestine during the 15th century and in the first half of the 16th century.

By type, equipment and characteristics ''Jaffa'' is considered an ancient cruise ship which didn't only transport pilgrims but also regular passengers. Therefore, it can be said that the Jaffa galley maintained passenger traffic along the eastern coast of the Adriatic 530 years ago.

''It was a large Venetian galley which was converted into a passenger ship. The galley was 55 metres long with three masts (two Lateen sails and a quadratic sail). Generally, the ship was trireme galley; it had three rowers on each of 58 rowing benches i.e. 174 rowers in total. There were 270 crew members on board, whilst the galley's capacity was 100 to 120 passengers. The average speed was 3 to 4 knots, whilst the fastest recorded speed was 9 knots. German pilgrims described in detail the entire galley in their records'', explained Marinko Peric, the curator at the Museum of Hvar's heritage on the island of Hvar.