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An old Roman proverb states, "To know one nation, sit at their table, try their food, and drink their wine, then you will know their customs and what kind of people they are.”
Join us aboard our 2020 Croatia & Culinary Gems of the Adriatic Coast small ship cruise tour and savor the sights, the history, and, most deliciously, the flavors of Croatia — fully immersing yourself in every facet of its culture. Vantage is proud to offer this exclusive culinary-inspired itinerary that unveils both the surf and the turf that’s made Croatia such a dynamic global foodie destination and a favorite of late chef Anthony Bourdain. Your tour along the country's coastline often features fresh, locally-sourced seafood — while sumptuous beef and cheese dishes reign supreme further inland where local farmers raise much of the cattle. You certainly won’t go hungry for choices on this tour!
Specially enhanced for 2020 with better pacing and accommodations, this cruise will tempt you with a smorgasbord of delights, from chef-led market tours to local food samplings to historical excursions and stunning landscapes. Marvel at seaside resort towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Hvar's lavender fields, waterfall-laden Krka National Park, and the iconic walled city of Dubrovnik where you’ll experience an exclusive private concert in a centuries-old church, and perhaps live out your Game of Thrones fantasies in the city that often provided a backdrop to the iconic series.
Learn about folk customs thanks to insightful, Vantage-exclusive Culinary Features and Cultural Connections that introduce you to traditional song and dance and humble villages where you’ll meet families and taste their homemade wine and regional specialties. Be pampered aboard the 26-traveler La Perla, an intimate yacht with farm-to-table and fish-to-dish dining, and raise a toast with one of Croatia’s world-class wines to traveling with Vantage in 2020 — reserve your spot today!
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 introducing the ship's farm-to-table ethos
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 settle into your cabin before joining your fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing and delicious Welcome Dinner. Tonight, you will be anchored in Dubrovnik's Old City Harbor (weather permitting) with direct views of the city’s famed fortified walls.
During the course of your cruise, opportunities abound for enjoying the clear, clean waters of the Adriatic. You may swim, snorkel, fish from the ship or from the private tender, or take an active walk during shore excursions.
On the La Perla, meals will be elevated to an experience. Croatia features a rustic, Mediterranean cuisine with influences from nearby Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Dine on fresh, locally sourced foods purchased daily from local markets and from well-trusted vendors, some of which you may visit, too. To ensure the freshest seafood and best cuts of meat, we work with local fishermen and butchers and we’ve even brought onboard the best commercial coffee from Italy, Illy, as well as La Perla’s own homegrown blend of olive oil label. No detail has been spared to bring you the most delicious options. Aboard La Perla, you'll soon see that “a fish swims three times: the first time in the sea, the second time in oil, and the third time in wine.”
Exploring Dubrovnik’s Old City, classical concert, and home-hosted dinner in Gromaca
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.
Following the tour, you’ll relax in a centuries-old church for a Vantage-exclusive private classical concert by the Sorkocevic Quartet, who are members of the Croatian National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Return to your ship for lunch, then enjoy a leisurely afternoon. 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.
Head to nearby Gromaca for a home-hosted dinner with a Croatian family to learn about local customs and life in the region.
Explore bucolic Cavtat
This morning, depart for Cavtat, a beautiful resort town just a short drive away that makes it easy to see why the birthplace of artist Vlaho Bukovac was also his muse. Known most for large compositions and portraits, his fascinating story is surely just part of what you’ll hear about during an included walking tour. You’ll have free time afterward, or take part in something a bit more active — a walk to the hilltop Račić Mausoleum. Imagined by famed Croatian sculptor, writer, and architect Ivan Mestrovic, the building is made using famously white marble from the island of Brac.
Next you’ll visit an old water-powered working mill and learn about how they were a community gathering place and helped fuel the local economy for centuries. Then, head to the village of Ljuta, where you’ll be treated to a lunch with local specialties like ham, traditionally baked bread, cheese, and homemade wine.
Cruising along the Dubrovnik Riviera to Slano is a pure delight. The waters here are crystal-clear, and because Slano is a shallower bay, you can see shells and sea life from the deck. Are you a swimmer? You’ll love the opportunity to go for a dip in the summer.
You'll be treated to some incredible regional flavors when a local fisherman comes aboard La Perla with his family-owned wine as well as oysters for you to sample. You'll learn about how oysters are farmed as well as the culture surrounding this popular shellfish while appreciating locals wines, as varietals from the Peljesac peninsula are among the very best in Croatia.
Discover the Dalmatian islands of Korcula and Hvar
You’ll depart Slano early this morning, cruising farther along the Dalmatian Coast. Pass by the Peljesac Peninsula and Mljet Island National Park on your way to the stunning island of Korcula, one of the greenest in the Adriatic.
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 Korcula and dock under the walls of the old city. You’ll disembark your yacht for a tour that includes the Korcula City Museum, as well as free time to explore on your own. Enjoy additional opportunities for swimming, cycling (we have two complimentary bikes on board or there are bikes to rent locally) or strolling down the long promenade along the sea.
Later this afternoon, soak up more mesmerizing scenery as you cruise between the lush, green island of Korcula and Hvar, one of the sunniest and most popular Croatian islands.
Arrive in lovely Hvar this evening and take the opportunity to explore the area after dinner, perhaps to visit a pub to mingle with the locals over drinks.
Exploring Hvar and its UNESCO treasures
An idyllic Mediterranean port, Hvar is a popular celebrity destination known for its vast fields of lavender, ancient olive trees, and fruit orchards.
Set off on a guided walking tour this morning and learn the town's history, hear about local legends, and visit the lace museum inside the Benedictine Monastery.
Later, discover even more that Hvar offers on an island tour, including a visit to Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return for lunch on board and take the afternoon to explore Hvar at your leisure. During free time, you may choose to go swimming, snorkeling, or fishing (weather permitting). Later, walk to Hvar Fortress, with entrance included so take in the magnificent views on top.
Before dinner, attend an informative lecture about the healthy Mediterranean diet and taste local products. Cruise to Split during dinner this evening. You’ll dock overnight at the town center.
Revisit the Roman era at Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Welcome to Split, one of the oldest cities in this historic region. Explore the ancient Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which the emperor chose as his retirement home because of the area’s spectacular beauty. Your special tour also 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. You’ll have the chance to try a local tuna steak at one of the local restaurants in Old Town.
If you're up for more exercise, you can walk to Marjan Park, where limestone cliffs enclose a lovely cove.
Depart Split and sail to Sibenik, soaking up views of St. Anthony's Channel and UNESCO-designated St. Nicholas Fortress around sunset. Following dinner, enjoy local entertainment on board.
Natural beauty and rural traditions: Krka National Park and Sibenik
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).
Your next stop is Jurlinovi Dvori, a Dalmatian estate with an ethnographic gallery to discover. Be our guest and enjoy a lovely lunch, prepared with centuries-old local traditions from homemade products, including the “Babic” wine — this quaff is derived from Primosten vineyards, and is strong and dry to represent the harsh land it grew on.
Upon returning to Sibenik, set off on a walking tour among the medieval 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 a delectable Farewell Dinner.
Exploring ancient Zadar and beyond
Following breakfast this morning, disembark La Perla to set off on a walking sightseeing tour of Zadar — another coastal gem that was named Europe's top destination in 2016 and was inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. This Roman-era city boasts a historic blend of Ancient, Renaissance, Romanesque, and medieval architecture.
Tuna farms surrounding Zadar were a favorite of the late, great Anthony Bourdain who featured the region in his hit show, No Reservations. We invite you to join us for a lunch at a local restaurant in Old Town where you can experience the city's famed tuna steak for yourself.
We’ll continue 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. As you take in the passing scenery, you’ll be treated to a fascinating discussion about Croatian history.
Check in to your hotel, conveniently located in the very center of Opatija, upon arrival late this afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the day on your own. Your Cruise Director can recommend local restaurants for dinner.
Discover Opatija: Jewel of the Adriatic
After breakfast, enjoy 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. Continue to tour the Opatija Riviera’s villages, including Moscenice — and be charmed by the amazing views. Lunch is on your own, and the afternoon is at your leisure.
Enjoy a walk along the Opatija Promenade for lovely views and perhaps 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 and, in total, connects 5 towns and villages of the Opatija Riviera. Alternatively, you may want to try your luck in one of Opatija's casinos.
Back at the hotel this evening, you can attend an insightful discussion about "Everyday Life in Croatia" by a local lecturer.
Let us treat you to dinner at a local restaurant, to 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 Croatia on a full-day tour of the Istrian Peninsula. 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 the 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. Perhaps you’ll walk to the nearby village of Volosko, where culinary delights await to be explored.
Travel overland to Zagreb with a Croatian farm experience
Today, transfer to Zagreb through the hills of central Croatia, with amazing views en route.
Along the way, we'll stop at the farm estate of the Kezele family. Tour the stables where livestock is kept and the wine cellar to savor a tasting of the family's excellent wine — before being treated to a tasty lunch of farm-raised delicacies. While savoring 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 historic hotel in the center of Zagreb. Enjoy the evening at your leisure to explore this pleasant, low-key capital on your own. If you like, stop into your hotel's casino to try your luck. Dinner will be on your own tonight because of the hearty lunch. But your Cruise Director can recommend several excellent restaurants; Zagreb has one of the best restaurant scenes in Croatia.
Enjoy the best of Zagreb: monuments 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, including 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.
Visit the bustling Dolac Market — the largest in the nation! — where locals from the countryside come to sell locally-grown and produced fruits, vegetables, honey, oil, handicrafts and more.
Enjoy a free afternoon. Zagreb has one of the world's most extensive tram systems, so consider boarding the local tram to Jarun Lake and Park. 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.
This evening, join us for dinner at our renowned hotel.
Head into the country at Kumrovec, village and open-air museum
Today you’ll head into the countryside to visit Kumrovec, a preserved open-air museum because it's the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito — the Yugoslavian communist revolutionary (and later, dictator) who led the resistance to the Nazi and the fascist forces during World War II. Here, you'll enjoy a lecture on Tito and his role in bridging the Eastern and Western Blocs.
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.
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.