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Selected departures up to October 2016 & May to October 2017
Sail away on board a yacht cruiser: Imagine yourself reclining under a deep azure sky, as the polished teak deck moves almost imperceptibly with the rhythm of the Mediterranean and a refreshing evening breeze ruffles the air.
Imagine yourself reclining under a deep azure sky, as the polished teak deck moves almost imperceptibly with the rhythm of the Mediterranean and a refreshing evening breeze ruffles the air.
In the small, picturesque ports on the Dalmatian coast, surrounded by low cliffs, where the cruise liners boasting ever-larger passenger numbers are conspicuous by their absence, you are cruising the Mediterranean aboard your very own yacht-cruiser. Normally the preserve of the wealthy, you can now experience a magnificent vessel carrying just thirty-eight guests.
Smaller numbers means a more personal service, but even more importantly you call at stunningly attractive out of the way ports like Split, Makarska and Hvar, which offer a much more intimate onshore experience. The MV Corona often sails between the islands and the shore, affording spectacular views that will stay with you for a lifetime, whilst every evening you can explore another fascinating port. You are free to dine where and with whom you wish, seeking out those tiny intimate restaurants in some of the Mediterranean’s most attractive hamlets.
With so few fellow travellers a ‘select’ atmosphere soon prevails as you gather in the convivial surroundings of the bar or up on the sun deck for a nightcap. The friendly, attentive yet unobtrusive staff attend to your every need as if you owned the vessel yourself – that’s how relaxed it is on this unique type of cruise. Lunch is prepared on board specialising in local menus delivered with a beaming smile. If you wish you can dine al fresco on the shaded decks. There is no ‘seating plan’; you choose your own table and dining companions. Lunch on a sun-bed – no problem!
And you won’t be sacrificing other creature comforts either – cabins are of 14 to 18 square metres, larger than many conventional cruise liners and all outside facing, with either windows or portholes.
Every evening you can take an after-dinner stroll off the vessel, exploring those typically unspoilt ports. After just a few days of this extraordinary experience you will be on first-name terms with the ship’s company and most of your fellow guests. There is little formality – shorts and t-shirts are the order of the day. This is exactly how holidays should be!
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a double or twin cabin. The price includes return flights to Dubrovnik, all transfers, breakfast, five lunches, one dinner and captain’s dinner, tours and visits as per the itinerary and port taxes.
In the event of unsatisfactory weather conditions the Captain reserves the right to alter or reschedule the itinerary.
Please note due to the size of the yachts there is no lift between decks; therefore a reasonable degree of mobility is required to negotiate the stairs and overall design. Due to specific mooring conditions and requirements in some Croatian ports the ships may be moored side by side with other ships, making it necessary for you to cross from one to another with gaps in between, in order to get on board/on shore.
You’ll arrive at the airport to take your flight to this historic walled city. On arrival, you will be escorted to the harbour where the superb fourstar MV Corona awaits. The captain and crew will welcome you aboard and help you settle into your comfortable, well-equipped cabin. For the rest of the day it’s time to relax and get to know your fellow passengers – there are just thirty-eight of you in total! Perhaps you’ll catch some ‘rays’ on the Sun deck or take a stroll ashore. It’ll soon be time for dinner and the ship’s restaurant awaits. After dinner, why not take a stroll around Dubrovnik, or enjoy a digestif in a local bar?
As you rise refreshed in the morning and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be so glad you chose this holiday. The MV Corona, our home for the next week and every inch the private yacht, slips out of the harbour and out to sea. Dubrovnik soon fades into the distance – but we will be back for a more in-depth visit later. It is impossible for large cruise liners to visit the charming and almost deserted hamlets accessible to the MV Corona. The Dalmatian coastline is legendary: one of Europe’s most dramatic, extending for hundreds of miles, where steep limestone cliffs plunge into sapphire-blue waters. The mirror-like Adriatic is studded with countless islands, some tiny, some large, some inhabited, some not. We arrive at Mljet, one of the most seductive of such islands, where the hillsides are clad in a green carpet of lush pine forests bringing that instantly recognisable Mediterranean aroma to the air. Nestling in picturesque coves are medieval fishing villages, refreshingly free from tasteless development, where the alleyways are simply pebbles set into the earth and overhead shutters sway precariously in the warm, gentle breezes. Life here continues much as it has for centuries. We go ashore to the tiny islet of St Mary’s and visit the 12th century former Benedictine monastery. With its colourful walls and altar carved from local stone you will already feel a long way from home. Gaze around you during dinner at one of the hospitable local restaurants and absorb the ambience. It’s easy to see why legend has it that the Greek hero Ulysses came here to contemplate!
After breakfast, you can take to the deck to see the spectacular coast of the island of Korcula sliding by as this morning we cruise northwards along one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of water to another stunning island in this enchanting archipelago, Hvar. Disembarking this afternoon into the delightful and bewitching little town, wandering here is pure joy. Remarkably, it’s so compact and cosy the streets don’t even have names. With its fresh water springs, the island is unusually green, its hillsides boasting spectacular pine forests. Elsewhere you’ll find olive groves, orchards and vineyards, the aromatic pleasures of the island exemplified by the delicate fragrance of abundant lavender fields. Hvar has been inhabited since Neolithic times; later, the ancient Greeks founded a colony here, and during the 14th century, as the Venetian Empire extended its influence, it became a major naval base. Also on the island’s northern shores are some distinctive fortified 16th century buildings, built to repel pirates and assaults by the Ottoman Empire.
After exploring Hvar’s agricultural, historical and cultural splendours, we transfer by coach to the Northern side of the island, Stari Grad, where you can dine at leisure where you wish. The ship remains moored in Stari Grad overnight.
En-route to Dalmatia’s capital, Split, we call for a swim stop at Brac, a remote and unspoilt island far from any madding crowd’s interruption.
Split is principally famous for a single building, the Emperor Diocletian’s huge palace, one of the greatest structures of the Roman Empire. No expense was spared in its construction - the best Italian marble, with columns and sphinxes from Egypt. But what makes this palace so astonishing is that during medieval times it was fully integrated into the town’s fabric with a jumble of buildings grafted onto and inside it.
This means, for example, the temple of Jupiter became a baptistry. It’s all the more fascinating that today 3,000 people still live here. You will find surprises at every turn: there are tall medieval buildings lining the streets, but buttressed by unmistakably Roman columns! We have a guided walking tour of this fascinating complex which has recently been used as the setting of the TV spectacular ‘Game of Thrones’. Take dinner at your leisure whilst the ship remains moored in Split. Back on board enjoy a digestif on the sun deck, gaze into the night sky and try to recall the last time you felt so ‘at ease’ with life.
We come ashore for an opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters of one of the remote and unspoilt bays of either Pucisca, Makarska or Omis, and then enjoy a leisurely lunch where you wish. Pucisca, perhaps the most spectacular jewel in the crown of Croatia’s villages, boasts dwellings of gleaming white stone reflecting the sun onto the water. From Makarska you can marvel at the rocky splendour of Mount Biokovo, nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, which shelters the coast from less temperate climates further inland. During the 10th century this region was bedevilled by fearsome pirates preying on passing ships.
A slightly raffish atmosphere still prevails but piracy has long since been replaced by more peaceful activities such as fishing, olive oil and wine making. St Mark’s Baroque church and some palatial 18th century Venetian style houses stand guard over Makarska’s main square. Omis, formerly a stronghold of the formidable Corsairs of Almissa, is where the spectacular emerald-green River Cetina runs into the Adriatic. By the time you have breathed in the atmosphere and history of this glorious part of the coast, it’s time to relax back on board as the Chef presents the Captain’s Dinner - a delicious selection of Croatian and Mediterranean specialities.
Morning breaks and we find ourselves breakfasting over more stunning views of this most spectacular coastline. After a leisurely morning and another tasty lunch on board we soon arrive into the historic town of Korcula. Ruled by the Venetians for 800 years, it is rather reminiscent of a much smaller Dubrovnik, with its host of tangled lanes so typical of medieval Mediterranean ports. The town is a charming small fortress, celebrated for supplying timber for the wooden walls of Venice and its harbour was a major shelter for the Venetian fleet. You’ll find architectural gems at every turn in its narrow cobbled streets. Famous for its artistic and musical traditions, Korcula has its own unique sword dance, the ‘moreska’, and a form of a-capella singing, but is much more famous as the birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo. His house can still be visited, as can the All Saints museum with its glorious collection of Byzantine icons.
After our guided walking tour, you are free to explore this beautiful town further. After dinner at your leisure, why not take an after-dinner drink in one of the innumerable harbour side cafés whilst admiring the sleek lines of the MV Corona.
This morning we depart on our last stretch of this cruise, arriving in Dubrovnik just after lunch. We take a guided tour of the old town, an independent city-state for much of its history, it has evolved differently to the rest of Croatia. The city threw off its Venetian shackles during medieval times founding a commercial empire trading with the eastern Mediterranean, France, Spain and later the Ottoman Empire. As so often happened, the city began to reflect its resultant wealth and today this wonderfully Baroque city proudly nestles behind its huge imposing ramparts in a situation of outstanding natural beauty. The main avenue, lined by intimate cafés, is completely paved with marble, which dazzles in the sunlight and gives credence to the city’s description as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Throughout the city you will find a wonderful array of monasteries, beautifully decorated churches and civic buildings dating from the 14th century. The guided walking tour encompasses all this and more, after which you are free to explore as you wish. This evening enjoy a final dinner at your leisure in this most beguiling of cities; and as you relax, your thoughts inevitably turn to the wonderful places you have experienced and the interesting people you have met on this most fascinating of maritime adventures.
After breakfast we disembark from the MV Corona and return to the airport at the appropriate time.
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