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Croatia and all of its many delights for the palette and palate beckon in 2019, where aboard your deluxe small ship yacht with just 26 travelers you’ll glide through the waters and explore some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse landscapes. Experience a gorgeous European vacation as you travel from vineyard-studded inland toward the glistening seas of Istria and as you explore from turf to surf, indulge your palate with savory steaks and briny oysters, plucked straight from local tides by a fisherman who will explain to you the fascinating lifestyle and marvels of his native land.
It’s a feast for the senses, too, as the red roofs of Dubrovnik shine from the tops of castle-studded hills, a cluster of rubies making for picture post-card worthy memories. On our European tours, step into medieval towns where time seems to have stood still. Connect with those who’ve lived here for centuries, immerse yourself in history at 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And enjoy active opportunities fish, hike to ancient hilltop fortresses, or swim and snorkel in intimate coves, traversing to ports where ships larger than the exclusively chartered small ship La Perla just can’t visit.
Of the constellation of coastal towns in small-yet-beautiful Montenegro, Budva may very well be the brightest star. The town boasts an abundance of beaches, but it is perhaps the charming Stari Grad (Old Town) that impresses travelers most. As picturesque as it is historic, this part of Budva features a timeworn citadel as well as a quaint cluster of churches. The Old Town is adjacent to the marina, where jet-set yachters dock their ships to enjoy the upscale boutiques and eateries in town. Budva also serves as an excellent base from which to explore some of Montenegro’s other gems, which you’ll do on this extension. You’ll experience Cetinje – a city that once welcomed diplomats from all over Europe – as well as Sveti Stefan, a picturesque islet that has welcomed foreign dignitaries and Hollywood celebrities alike. You’ll
Depart the U.S. and fly overnight to Dubrovnik
Today you’ll take an overnight flight to Europe. Or, if you like, begin early with a delightful pre-trip extension to Budva.
Arrive Dubrovnik and come aboard La Perla for a Welcome Dinner
You'll arrive in Dubrovnik today and transfer to your deluxe ship, La Perla, which will be your home for the next seven nights. Once on board, you’ll enjoy white-glove service as you are personally escorted to your cabin before joining your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner.
Active features: During the course of your cruise, opportunities abound for enjoying water sports in the clear, clean waters of the Adriatic. For example, you can enjoy a paddle in the ship's two-person kayak, fishing from the ship or from the private tender, and swimming and snorkeling. The tender can also be used for water skiing and for getting towed on the banana and "meteor" tube floats. In addition, you'll have opportunities during shore excursions for active walks.
Exploring Dubrovnik’s Old City, classical concert, and home-hosted dinner in Gromača
Unforgettable Moment: Today, your carefully selected local guide will lead you through Dubrovnik's Old City — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — introducing you to its most heralded landmarks as well as its hidden gems.
Cultural Connection: Following the tour, you’ll relax in a centuries-old church for a Vantage-exclusive private classical concert by the Sorkočević Quartet, who are members of the Croatian National Philharmonic Orchestra.
You'll return to your luxurious ship for lunch, then enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Active Feature: You'll be supplied with a one-day Dubrovnik Card, which provides free entrance to numerous sites around the city, including access to walkway around the top of the walls surrounding the Old City. Your Cruise Director will be happy to recommend things to do and see. If you like, you can take a ride on La Perla's private tender to visit nearby islands, or take pictures of the city's famous fortified walls from the seaside.
Cultural Connection: You’ll head to nearby Gromača this evening for a home-hosted dinner, giving you the opportunity to dine with Croatian families and learn about life in the region, local customs, and their experiences.
The best of Dalmatia & Bosnia: oysters, wine, and the romantic city of Mostar
This morning, cruise to Slano, a town situated on a small bay. The area is known for the succulent oysters harvested from local waters and for the wine produced in nearby family vineyards. From there, you'll embark on a tour of nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina, setting off for Mostar with a photo stop in Počitelj en route.
Cultural Connection: Upon arrival in Mostar, you'll enjoy a traditional Bosnian lunch. Then, take a guided tour and visit the city’s famed Old Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic stone bridge crosses the Neretva River, dividing the city into Croat and Muslim sections. Constructed in the 16th century, the original bridge was destroyed by a bomb during the Bosnian conflict in 1993 and has since been reconstructed. You'll also enjoy an included visit to a "Turkish House" and a local mosque. Active Feature: During your free time today, go swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking in the clear bay waters (weather permitting).
Cultural Connection: You'll be treated to some incredible regional flavors during dinner this evening, as a local fisherman comes aboard La Perla with his family-owned wine as well as oysters for you to sample. During the sampling, you'll learn about how they are farmed and the culture surrounding this popular shellfish.
Discover the Dalmatian islands of Korčula and Hvar
Farther up the Dalmatian Coast lies the island of Korčula, one of the greenest in the Adriatic.
Cultural Connections: As you cruise to this stunning island, you’ll enjoy a lecture about the famous Dubrovnik Republic. During lunch on board, you'll arrive in Korčula and dock under the walls of the old city. You’ll disembark your yacht for a tour that includes the Korčula City Museum, as well as free time to explore on your own. Active Feature: Enjoy additional opportunities for swimming and other water sports this afternoon.
Later this afternoon, you’ll set sail for Hvar — one of the most popular Croatian islands. You'll arrive this evening, giving you the opportunity to explore the area after dinner. Perhaps you'll visit a pub where you can mingle with the locals over drinks.
Exploring Hvar and its UNESCO treasures
Your journey continues today in Hvar, an idyllic Mediterranean port known for its vast fields of lavender, ancient olive trees, and fruit orchards. It's also a popular celebrity destination.
This morning, set off on a guided sightseeing tour of Hvar. You'll learn about the town's history, hear about some local legends, and visit one of the oldest theaters in Europe.
Following your trek around the city, discover even more of what Hvar has to offer on an island tour, including a visit to Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon, you'll have time to explore Hvar at your leisure. Active Feature: During your free time, enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking (weather permitting). Later, walk to Hvar Fortress, with entrance included so you can go to the top for the magnificent views.
Revisit the Roman era at Diocletian’s Palace in Split
This morning, you’ll explore Split, one of the oldest cities in this historic region. Active Feature: In this exciting port, explore ancient Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which the emperor chose as his retirement home because of the spectacular beauty of the destination. Your special tour takes you into the mysterious passages in the lower levels of the massive structure.
You'll have the balance of the day free to explore this fascinating city on your own. Active Feature: If you're up for more exercise, you can walk to Marjan Park, where limestone cliffs enclose a lovely cove.
Natural beauty and rural traditions: Krka National Park and Sibenik
Active Feature: Keep your camera handy today as you explore some of the Adriatic's most stunning landscapes. Your first stop is Krka National Park, where waterfalls tumble through dramatic gorges. Your visit includes walks on the trails around the fall and a boat ride from magnificent Krka Falls to Skradin (weather permitting).
Cultural Connection: Your next stop is a Dalmatian village called Primosten Burnji, where you will feel that time has stopped. You'll visit a traditional stone house that is a birthplace of a local priest who has preserved more than a century of traditions. You'll also have the opportunity to view his private collection of indigenous art and enjoy a healthy lunch of traditional Mediterranean foods.
Upon returning to Sibenik, set off on a walking tour among the ancient streets, where you’ll see the Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tonight, toast the conclusion of the cruise portion of your journey at the Farewell Dinner, with entertainment by local musicians who come aboard ship.
Exploring ancient Zadar and coastal Istria
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll disembark La Perla and set off on a sightseeing tour of Zadar — another coastal gem that was named Europe's top destination in 2015. Following your tour of this Roman-era city, which boasts a historic blend of Renaissance, Romanesque, and medieval architecture, you’ll savor an included lunch at a local restaurant.
Your journey continues on to Opatija today with a scenic drive through the mountains of central Croatia, along the northern Croatian coastline, and through the city of Rijeka. Cultural Connection: As you take in the passing scenery, you’ll be treated to a fascinating discussion about Croatian history.
Upon arrival late this afternoon, you’ll check in to your elegant hotel.
Discover Opatija: Jewel of the Kvarner Riviera
After breakfast this morning, you’ll set off on a walking tour of this lovely seaside town, which once catered to European royalty taking in Opatija’s stately villas, seaside promenade, and lovely gardens. Next, you’ll enjoy a tour of the Opatija Riviera’s villages, including Moscenice — where you'll enjoy the amazing views.
Lunch is on your own, and the afternoon is at your leisure. Active Feature and Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy a walk along the Opatija Promenade. You enjoy lovely views and stop for a bite to eat or a drink. How far you go is up to you — a roundtrip walk can cover up to 7.5 miles. Alternatively, you may want to try your luck in one of Opatija's casinos.
Cultural Connections: Back at the hotel this evening, you’ll attend an insightful discussion about "Everyday Life in Croatia" by a local lecturer You’ll then enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, where you’ll be entertained with a traditional performance of klapa singing — part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
Touring Roman Pula and the Istrian Peninsula
Explore one of the most beautiful regions of western Croatia on a full-day tour of the Istrian Peninsula. Active Features: During our stop in the ancient town of Pula, explore Europe's most complete Roman amphitheater. During our visit, you'll be able to go beneath the arena floor to see the actual passageways and rooms where gladiators and their foes, including wild animals, awaited their turn in combat. Our tour also takes us to the picturesque coastal town of Rovinj, which was part of Venice's mercantile empire and has a distinctive Venetian aspect to it. For the best views of the town and the harbor, make the mile-and-a-quarter trek uphill to St. Eufemia church — it's well worth the effort! Your tour includes a stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Upon your return to Opatija, you'll have the evening at leisure.
Travel overland to Zagreb with a Croatian farm experience
Today, you’ll transfer to Zagreb through the hills of central Croatia, with amazing views enroute. Cultural Connection: Along the way, we'll stop at a the farm estate of the Kezele family. During your visit, enjoy a tour of the farm, including the stables where livestock is kept and the wine cellar, where you'll enjoy a tasting of the family's excellent wine. You'll also be treated to a tasty lunch of farm-raised delicacies. Your visit provides an opportunity to compare the cuisine and traditions of inland Croatia with that of the coastal communities you've been visiting. This afternoon we check in to our hotel in the center of Zagreb. Enjoy the evening free to explore this pleasant, low-key capital on your own. If you like, stop into your hotel's casino to try your luck.
Enjoy the best of Zagreb: monuments, museums, and markets
You'll be met by your expert local guide this morning for a tour of Zagreb to view the city’s impressive landmarks. As you explore this stunning city, you'll see the Croatian National Theater and Opera House, Croatian Parliament and Prime Minister's office, St. Mark’s Square, the Old City, the Stone Gate, and Zagreb Cathedral. Cultural Connection: Visit the famed Dolac market where locals from the countryside come to sell their products.
Active Features: Enjoy a free afternoon. Zagreb has one of the world's most extensive tram systems, so consider using your free time to board the local tram to the outdoor recreational center at Jarun Lake. Here, you can enjoy the walking trails or rent a bike to go for a spin. Your Vantage Cruise Director will be happy to assist with directions or suggestions for other activities in Zagreb. This evening, if you like, join your Cruise Director to visit a popular café where locals gather.
Croatian country traditions at Tito’s birthplace, Kumrovec
Today you’ll head into the countryside to visit Kumrovec, the birthplace of Marshal Tito — the Yugoslavian statesman who led the resistance to Nazi and fascist forces during World War II and established a communist state. His home and village are maintained as museum of traditional rural life in northern Croatia. Cultural Connection and Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy a fascinating discussion on "Tito: The Bridge between East and West" followed by lunch at a private family-owned estate with traditional music. You’ll return to your hotel this afternoon and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Fly home from Zagreb or stay on for your Lake Bled post-trip extension in Slovenia
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll transfer to the Zagreb Airport for your flight home. Or, continue to Bled, Slovenia for the post-trip extension.
Enhance your Adriatic cruise by stealing away to Lake Bled, Slovenia, for a four-day stay at a tranquil resort surrounded by the majestic Julian Alps. Take daily excursions to the region’s beautiful sights, such as Bled Castle, set on a cliff high above the lake. Cultural Connections — including visits to a mountain village and a gingerbread maker — give you insight into the unique local lifestyle. Stay at a grand lakeside resort that offers unbeatable views and relax after each day of sightseeing.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.