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Day by Day Itinerary

The sun may have set long ago on the Roman Empire, but the lure of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast continues to seduce travelers. On this Small Ship Cruise Tour, you'll discover its lush islands and magnificent walled cities during a great time of year for an Adriatic cruise—when the weather’s mild and the summer crowds are thinning out. Stroll the medieval streets of Zagreb … explore the walled beauty of Zadar … discover Roman Emperor Diocletian’s summer palace … and cruise to the Croatian islands of Hvar and Korcula, on a private small ship designed for just two groups of 25 travelers each. From Zagreb to Zadar, and Montenegro to Mostar, it’s a journey that will linger in your memory like a gentle Adriatic breeze.

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    You depart from the U.S. for Zagreb, Croatia.

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    Explore Zagreb's Main Square and gardens

    Arrive in Zagreb, where a Grand Circle representative meets you at the airport and assists with your transfer to our hotel. Depending on your arrival time and hotel check-in policy, you may not be able to check into your room immediately upon arrival. Your Grand Circle Program Director will advise you of your check-in status and activity schedule for the day when you arrive. Enjoy a short orientation walk in the vicinity of the hotel.

    This evening, meet your fellow travelers during a Welcome Dinner at your hotel.

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    View the Port of Zadar while touring the peninsula town

    After breakfast at your hotel, travel overland toward the Adriatic coast to meet your small ship in Zadar, one of Croatia’s true hidden jewels. Originally founded as a Roman colony, this charming peninsula town is replete with 2,000 years of architectural treasures. View Roman ruins dating back to the third century BC—when the Holy Roman Empire ruled the city—and the 16th-century fortified walls built on three sides of the city by Venetians to defend against invading Turks—a prominent remnant of Venice’s often unwelcome imperial power over Zadar until the Venetian Republic’s fall in 1797.

    Embark your small ship and enjoy lunch onboard before departing on a city tour of Zadar. Stroll along the marble, pedestrian-only streets of Old Town where you’ll discover the medieval churches for which the city is famous, including St. Donatus’ Church—an imposing, round, stone building dating from the ninth century—and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia—a Romanesque-style cathedral built in the 12th and 13th centuries and which holds the distinction of being the largest church in Dalmatia.

    After a Captain’s Welcome Dinner aboard ship, you may want to visit one of Zadar’s charming harborside cafes for a glass of maraschino, a liqueur distilled from local marasca cherries—a centuries-old Zadar tradition.

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    Explore the ancient port of Sibenik

    Depart Zadar early this morning, arriving in Sibenik as you’re finishing breakfast onboard. The ancient port of Sibenik, a hillside city that fans out like an amphitheater and reflects the elegance of late-Middle Ages architecture, is located in one of the Adriatic’s most naturally protected harbors. Your included morning tour will reveal the city’s highlights, such as the Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built completely of limestone and marble in the Gothic and Renaissance styles, its construction lasted from 1431 until its completion in 1536. Its impressively detailed stone sculptures include 71 human faces—believed to represent local Sibenik residents—carved into the cathedral’s outer sides.

    Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to make your own discoveries in Old Town, perhaps enjoying local specialties at one of the many lively cafes lining the Dolac quarter in the city center.

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    See Diocletian's palace while exploring Split

    Enjoy free time this morning to explore Sibenik on your own.

    Or, join an optional tour to Krka Falls, home to a series of cascading waterfalls that is one of Croatia’s great natural wonders. Over millennia, the Krka River has carved canyons into the surrounding limestone of the Dinara Mountains, creating a spectacular landscape where you’ll view the river’s waterfalls cascading over and around lush, dense vegetation. You’ll also explore the surrounding Krka National Park, home to abundant indigenous flora and fauna, including over 200 bird species. It’s a memorable excursion to one of Croatia’s most pristine locales.

    After lunch aboard, you'll begin cruising to Split. Along the way enjoy a Croatian language lesson onboard ship. Upon arrival, enjoy an evening walk in the stunning medieval town built around the Roman emperor Diocletian's summer palace. Your ship will be docked near Split’s fashionable waterfront promenade known as the Riva. After dinner aboard ship, enjoy a performance of Dalmatian folklore.

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    This morning in Split, discover the Imperial Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the greatest Roman ruin in southeastern Europe. Built like a fortress with walls 590 feet by 705 feet, the palace was occupied by the Emperor Diocletian from 300-313 AD. As you stand in the peristyle (central court) of this grand structure, its scale is sure to impress you.

    Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site Split

    The medieval town of Split took shape within the palace walls; Diocletian's Temple of Jupiter was converted into a Christian baptistery and his mausoleum became a cathedral. The entire old section of Split, with the palace as its centerpiece, is a virtual open-air museum with the city's contemporary life bustling through it.

    After lunch onboard, you will have free time to explore Split on your own.

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    Discover Hvar's local culture and the island's beauty

    Early this morning, you'll sail to Hvar Island, the longest of the Croatian isles, and enjoy an included tour. Occupied since at least 3500 BC, beautiful Hvar has been ruled variously by the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Austrians, and French, without ever losing its character as a place of fresh fish, wild herbs, and verdant vineyards. Today it is still known as one of Europe’s most beautiful islands, benefiting from warm summers, mild winters, and more than 2,715 hours of sunlight in an average year—making it arguably the sunniest spot in Europe. During your tour, you’ll discover Hvar’s Venetian flavor, reflecting the island’s long history of rule by that city-state.

    After lunch onboard, you'll set sail for Dubrovnik. Enjoy dinner onboard tonight.

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    Explore the historic sites of Dubrovnik

    Today, enjoy a tour of Dubrovnik, Croatia’s crowning jewel. With its old section, the Stari Grad, surrounded entirely by white stone walls, Dubrovnik gleams like the proverbial City on a Hill. Your tour today in this historic gem includes visits to the Rector’s Palace, a Franciscan Monastery housing one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies.

    Regarded today as one of the world’s most exquisite walled cities, Dubrovnik’s character reflects its storied past as an independent city-state that rivaled Venice. Also known by its Latin name, Ragusa, this was a fortress city that served as the base for a fleet of ships that carried trade between much of Europe and the Middle East. The city-state’s period of autonomy extended from 1358 to 1808. In recent times, some of Dubrovnik’s historic sites sustained damage in the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s, but the city has been peaceful for more than 15 years and largely restored under UNESCO supervision. Donations from Grand Circle Foundation have contributed to this restoration work.

    After lunch back onboard, your afternoon is at leisure to explore Dubrovnik on your own. You might wish to climb the city’s ramparts or visit some of Dubrovnik’s hidden museums.

    Tonight, discover the warmth of a Croatian welcome when we enjoy a Home-Hosted Dinner in a nearby village.

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    Early this morning, cruise to Croatia’s southern neighbor, Montenegro, a small Mediterranean country at the foot of the Balkan mountain range. Your destination is Kotor, a picturesque walled city nestled at the head of Europe’s deepest fjord. During a talk this morning, learn the turbulent history of Kotor Bay, a strategic port that has been variously ruled over the centuries by Bulgaria, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, Napoleon’s French Empire, and Austria-Hungary.

    View the Venetian Baroque architecture of Kotor

    Your afternoon tour will reveal the architectural splendor of this ancient Montenegrin city, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ruled by the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, the city features fine Venetian Baroque architecture in its Old Town, one of the largest and best-preserved medieval areas of the Adriatic region. Your tour of the Stari Grad (Old Town) includes a visit to the Maritime Museum, which highlights the long and proud sailing traditions of Kotor, including navigational tools and maps dating back to 1168.

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    See the Baroque Our Lady of the Rocks shrine

    This morning, take time to discover more of Kotor at your own pace.

    Or, join an optional tour to Montenegro’s cultural heart and one-time capital, Cetinje. Today, this tiny city, built in the 15th century, retains enough importance to Montenegrins to hold the official residence of the President of Montenegro. Here you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the summer palace of Nikola I, Montenegro’s only king, who ruled from 1860-1918. You’ll also have free time to explore the cultural treasures of this ancient royal town, including the 15th-century Cetinje Monastery, with its fence made out of barrels of captured enemy rifles, and the National Museum of Montenegro.

    Rejoin your fellow travelers for lunch onboard as your ship sets sail. After lunch, disembark and take a bus to Montenegro. We will stop in front of the town of Perast so you can take a small boat to visit the Baroque “Our Lady of the Rocks” shrine. According to legend, local fishermen saw the Virgin Mary in the reef here in 1452, and began a ritual of dropping a stone each time they sailed by, eventually creating the island where the church now sits. The isle is, in fact, the only man-made island in the Adriatic—created by scuttling old ships and depositing stones around the small crag until the picturesque church was constructed in 1630.

    This evening, cruise north to the island of Korcula, docking just outside the fortified towers of Korcula Town.

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    Explore the picturesque medieval town of Korcula

    Today, explore Korcula—the largest island in an archipelago of 48 and the site of a picturesque medieval town. After breakfast, you’ll soak up the character of the city on an included walking tour. You'll also get acquainted with Korcula town’s history—which included centuries of rule by Venice—with a visit to its local museum. Then call on the spot believed by many historians to have been Marco Polo’s birthplace, where one stone wall of his original house remains.

    Then learn about the historical importance of the Roman Catholic Church in Korcula when you visit St. Mark’s Cathedral on the main square, which features a detailed Romanesque portal by Bonino of Milano depicting Adam and Eve on either side and St. Mark perched at the top. Inside the cathedral, we’ll see a 16th-century painting by the master Tintoretto above the main altar. Even more treasures await as you visit the Bishop’s Treasury—a sketch by Da Vinci, drawings by Raphael, and paintings by Italian masters like Carpaccio are highlights.

    Return to your ship for lunch onboard before a discussion about Croatia Today. You are then free for the afternoon to continue exploring Korcula Island on your own, relax, or revisit the medieval streets of Korcula Town.

    This evening, enjoy an authentic Dalmatian dinner onboard, followed by a demonstration of klapa singing. This a cappella singing style is an informal tradition in which friends gather to sing in four-part harmony, and is perhaps the most definitive of all Croatian music forms.

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    Explore Mostar while touring Herzegovina

    Arrive in Neum before breakfast. This morning, tour Mostar, the principal city of the Herzegovina region. The city is named for the watchtowers (mostars in Bosnian) of its historic bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bridge spans the Neretva River, which divides the town into Muslim and Croat sections and was designed by the Ottoman architect Mimar Hayruddin in the 16th century. The stone structure was built over a network of wooden supports and the ruling sultan told Hayruddin he would be executed if the bridge collapsed once the supports were removed. Though Hayruddin dug his own grave in preparation, he lived because the bridge stood—for four more centuries. When the original structure was destroyed by a bomb during the Bosnian conflict in 1993, UNESCO helped fund its rebuilding as a symbol of unity—using a combination of steel and original white stone which had been salvaged from the wreckage. Its eleven-year reconstruction took two years longer than its original building.

    Stop for lunch in the quiet rural village of Blagaj which is best known for it Byzantine fortresses but is actually much older—it has been inhabited for 9,000 years. A Dervish monastery rests nestled among the cliffs over the river Buna here, and a serene grace pervades the area.

    Return to your ship late this afternoon and enjoy a port talk before a special Captain’s Farewell Dinner this evening.

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    Today, say farewell to your ship’s crew and travel overland to Opatija, a seaside resort nestled under the pine-covered slopes of Mount Ucka near Istria.

    Explore the coastal resort town of Opatija

    On your overland journey to Opatija, you’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, arriving at the coastal resort town in the late afternoon. Opatija has been a popular all-season resort destination since the mid-19th century, when fashionable aristocrats from around Europe came here to rejuvenate. For several years, the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I used to enjoy his winters in Opatija. You can still see many of these late 19th-century luxury hotels and villas scattered along Opatija’s mountainous coast.

    After dinner at your hotel, you should take the opportunity to stroll along the Lungomare, a famous waterfront promenade that stretches for seven and a half miles along the Gulf of Kvarner, linking Opatija to the town of Lovran.

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    After a morning in Opatija with lunch on our own, journey overland to Zagreb, where you can enjoy your final evening at leisure.

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    • Meals included:

    This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or begin your post-trip extension in Zagreb, Croatia.

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    You depart from the U.S. for Zagreb, Croatia.

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    Explore Zagreb's Main Square and gardens

    Arrive in Zagreb, where a Grand Circle representative meets you at the airport and assists with your transfer to our hotel. Enjoy a short orientation walk with your Program Director in the vicinity of the hotel.

    This evening, meet your fellow travelers during a Welcome Dinner at your hotel.

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    After breakfast in your hotel, transfer overland to Neum, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant en route. Upon arrival in Neum, embark your small ship, meet the crew, and enjoy our first dinner onboard. Spend the evening aboard ship docked in Neum.

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    This morning, tour Mostar, the principal city of the Herzegovina region. The city is named for the watchtowers (mostars in Bosnian) of its historic bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bridge spans the Neretva River, which divides the town into Muslim and Croat sections and was designed by the Ottoman architect Mimar Hayruddin in the 16th century. The stone structure was built over a network of wooden supports and the ruling sultan told Hayruddin he would be executed if the bridge collapsed once the supports were removed. Though Hayruddin dug his own grave in preparation, he lived because the bridge stood—for four more centuries. When the original structure was destroyed by a bomb during the Bosnian conflict in 1993, UNESCO helped fund its rebuilding as a symbol of unity—using a combination of steel and original white stone which had been salvaged from the wreckage. Its 11-year reconstruction took two years longer than its original building.

    View the New Old Bridge while touring Mostar

    Stop for lunch in the quiet rural village of Blagaj, which is best known for its Byzantine fortresses, but is actually much older—it has been inhabited for 9,000 years. A Dervish monastery rests nestled among the cliffs over the River Buna here, and a serene grace pervades the area.

    Return to your ship late this afternoon and enjoy a port talk before a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner this evening. Later this evening, your ship sets sail into the Adriatic toward the island of Korcula. Upon arrival, you'll dock just outside the fortified towers of Korcula Town.

  • hidden

    Explore the picturesque medieval town of Korcula

    Today you'll explore Korcula, the largest island in an archipelago of 48 and the site of a picturesque medieval town. After breakfast, soak up the character of the city on an included walking tour. You'll also get acquainted with Korcula town’s history—which included centuries of rule by Venice—with a visit to its local museum. Then call on the spot believed by many historians to have been Marco Polo’s birthplace, where one stone wall of his original house remains.

    Then learn about the historical importance of the Roman Catholic Church in Korcula as you visit St. Mark’s Cathedral on the main square, which features a detailed Romanesque portal by Bonino of Milano depicting Adam and Eve on either side and St. Mark perched at the top. Inside the cathedral, you’ll see a 16th-century painting by the master Tintoretto above the main altar. Even more treasures await when you visit the Bishop’s Treasury—a sketch by Da Vinci, drawings by Raphael, and paintings by Italian masters like Carpaccio are highlights.

    Return to your ship for lunch onboard before a discussion about Croatia Today. You are then free for the afternoon to continue exploring Korcula Island on your own, relax, or revisit the medieval streets of Korcula Town.

    This evening, enjoy an authentic Dalmatian dinner onboard, followed by a demonstration of klapa singing. This a cappella singing style is an informal tradition in which friends gather to sing in four-part harmony, and is perhaps the most definitive of all Croatian music forms.

  • hidden

    View the Venetian Baroque architecture of Kotor

    After breakfast, cruise to Croatia’s southern neighbor, Montenegro, a small Mediterranean country at the foot of the Balkan mountain range. Your destination is Kotor, a picturesque walled city nestled at the head of Europe’s deepest fjord. During a talk this morning, we’ll learn the turbulent history of Kotor Bay, a strategic port that has been variously ruled over the centuries by Bulgaria, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, Napoleon’s French Empire, and Austria-Hungary.

    Your afternoon tour will reveal the architectural splendor of this ancient Montenegrin city, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ruled by the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, the city features fine Venetian Baroque architecture in its Old Town, one of the largest and best-preserved medieval areas of the Adriatic region. Your tour of the Stari Grad (Old Town) includes a visit to the Maritime Museum, which highlights the long and proud sailing traditions of Kotor, including navigational tools and maps dating back to 1168.

  • hidden

    See the Baroque Our Lady of the Rocks shrine

    This morning, take time to discover more of Kotor at your own pace.

    Or, join an optional tour to Montenegro’s cultural heart and one-time capital, Cetinje. Today, this tiny city, built in the 15th century, retains enough importance to Montenegrins to hold the official residence of the President of Montenegro. Here, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the summer palace of Nikola I, Montenegro’s only king, who ruled from 1860-1918. You’ll also have free time to explore the cultural treasures of this ancient royal town, including the 15th-century Cetinje Monastery—with its fence made out of barrels of captured enemy rifles—and the National Museum of Montenegro.

    Rejoin your fellow travelers for lunch onboard as your ship sets sail. After lunch, disembark and take a bus to Montenegro. We will stop in front of the town of Perast so you can take a small boat to visit the Baroque “Our Lady of the Rocks” shrine. According to legend, local fishermen saw the Virgin Mary in the reef here in 1452 and began a ritual of dropping a stone each time they sailed by, eventually creating the island where the church now sits. The isle is, in fact, the only man-made island in the Adriatic—created by scuttling old ships and depositing stones around the small crag until the picturesque church was constructed in 1630.

    This evening, cruise to Dubrovnik, where you'll dock for the night.

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    Explore the historic sites of Dubrovnik

    Today, enjoy a tour of Dubrovnik—Croatia’s crowning jewel. With its old section, the Stari Grad, surrounded entirely by white stone walls, Dubrovnik gleams like the proverbial City on a Hill. Your tour today in this historic gem includes visits to the Rector’s Palace, a Franciscan Monastery housing one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies.

    Regarded today as one of the world’s most exquisite walled cities, Dubrovnik’s character reflects its storied past as an independent city-state that rivaled Venice. Also known by its Latin name, Ragusa, this was a fortress city that served as the base for a fleet of ships that carried trade between much of Europe and the Middle East. The city-state’s period of autonomy extended from 1358 to 1808. In recent times, some of Dubrovnik’s historic sites sustained damage in the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s, but the city has been peaceful for more than 15 years and largely restored under UNESCO supervision. Donations from Grand Circle Foundation have helped with some of the restoration work.

    After lunch back onboard, your afternoon is at leisure to explore Dubrovnik on your own. You might wish to climb the city’s ramparts or visit some of Dubrovnik’s hidden museums.

    Tonight, discover the warmth of a Croatian welcome when we enjoy a Home-Hosted Dinner in a nearby village. Later this evening, your small ship begins to cruise toward Hvar Island.

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    Discover Hvar's local culture and the island's beauty

    After an early breakfast, set out for a tour of Hvar Island, the longest of the Croatian isles. Occupied since at least 3500 BC, beautiful Hvar has been ruled variously by the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Austrians, and French, without ever losing its character as a place of fresh fish, wild herbs, and verdant vineyards. Today it is still known as one of Europe’s most beautiful islands, benefiting from warm summers, mild winters, and more than 2,715 hours of sunlight in an average year—making it arguably the sunniest spot in Europe. During our tour, we’ll discover Hvar’s Venetian flavor, reflecting the island’s long history of rule by that city-state.

    Then cruise to Split, arriving in late afternoon. Since your ship will be docked just outside the Riva, the city’s famous waterfront promenade, you’ll be able to step off for an evening stroll before your dinner back onboard ship followed by an evening of local entertainment.

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    This morning in Split, you'll discover the Imperial Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the greatest Roman ruin in southeastern Europe. Built like a fortress with walls 590 feet by 705 feet, the palace was occupied by the Emperor Diocletian from 300-313 AD. As you stand in the peristyle (central court) of this grand structure, its scale is sure to impress you.

    Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site Split

    The medieval town of Split took shape within the palace walls; Diocletian's Temple of Jupiter was converted into a Christian baptistery and his mausoleum became a cathedral. The entire old section of Split, with the palace as its centerpiece, is a virtual open-air museum with the city's contemporary life bustling through it.

    Return to your ship for lunch onboard. Then take the afternoon to make your own discoveries. This evening, begin your cruise to Sibenik, where you'll spend the night onboard ship.

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    Explore the ancient port of Sibenik

    After breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Sibenik. The ancient port of Sibenik, a hillside city that fans out like an amphitheater and reflects the elegance of late-Middle Ages architecture, is located in one of the Adriatic’s most naturally protected harbors. Your included morning tour will reveal the city’s highlights, including the Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built completely of limestone and marble in the Gothic and Renaissance styles, its construction lasted from 1431 until its completion in 1536. Its impressively detailed stone sculptures include 71 human faces—believed to represent local Sibenik residents—carved into the cathedral’s outer sides.

    Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to wander the network of tangled streets and alleys of Old Town on your own, perhaps enjoying local specialties at one of the many lively cafes lining the Dolac quarter in the city center. Your ship will dock for the night in Sibenik.

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    View the Cathedral of St James while touring Sibenik

    Take another morning to delight in Sibenik’s historic architecture.

    Or, join an optional tour to nearby Krka Falls, a series of spectacular cascading waterfalls that comprises one of Croatia’s true natural wonders. Over millennia, the Krka River has carved canyons into the surrounding limestone of the Dinara Mountains, creating a spectacular landscape where you’ll view the river’s waterfalls cascading over and around lush, dense vegetation. You’ll also explore the surrounding Krka National Park, home to abundant indigenous flora and fauna, including over 200 bird species. It’s a memorable excursion to one of Croatia’s most pristine locales.

    This afternoon, cruise to Zadar, and enjoy a Croatian language lesson en route. Arrive in Zadar in time for an evening walk before dinner onboard your ship.

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    View the Port of Zadar while touring the peninsula town

    After breakfast, explore Zadar, one of Croatia’s true hidden jewels. Originally founded as a Roman colony, this charming peninsula town is replete with 2,000 years of architectural treasures. You’ll view Roman ruins dating back to the third century BC—when the Holy Roman Empire ruled the city—and the 16th-century fortified walls built on three sides of the city by Venetians to defend against invading Turks—a prominent remnant of Venice’s often unwelcome imperial power over Zadar until the Venetian Republic’s fall in 1797.

    During your city tour of Zadar, stroll along the marble, pedestrian-only streets of Old Town where you’ll discover the medieval churches for which the city is famous, including St. Donatus’ Church—an imposing, round, stone building dating from the ninth century—and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia—a Romanesque-style cathedral built in the 12th and 13th centuries and which holds the distinction of being the largest church in Dalmatia. This afternoon is yours to explore Zadar on your own.

    This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a Captain’s Farewell Dinner aboard ship. Afterwards, you may want to visit one of Zadar’s charming harborside cafes for a glass of maraschino, a liqueur distilled from local marasca cherries, a centuries-old Zadar tradition.

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    Disembark your small ship this morning and transfer overland to Zagreb. Lunch is on your own en route. Upon arrival at your hotel in Zagreb, your final evening is at leisure.

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    • Meals included:

    This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or begin your post-trip extension to Ljubljana, Slovenia .

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Striving for Excellence

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Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

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Overall Trip Excellence
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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

  • This Adriatic cruise features a fair amount of walking over uneven surfaces. The M/V Athena and Artemis do not have an elevator onboard. For your comfort and safety, we recommend this trip only to individuals in good physical condition. If you have difficulty walking or are wheelchair-bound, please ask your Travel Counselor about choosing another Grand Circle Cruise Line vacation.
  • We reserve the right for our Program Directors to modify participation, or in some cases send travelers home if their limitations are impacting the group's experience.
  • Climate & terrain: The coastal region of Croatia has a Mediterranean climate, and temperatures average in the mid-50s during November through February in Dubrovnik. We recommend that you bring a rain jacket and sunblock regardless of the time of year you travel. We’ll walk on city streets, uneven cobblestone paths, and rocky slopes. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended. You must be in good health and physical condition.
  • Pacing: 2 locations and 10 or 11 nights onboard ship in 14 days with 2 or 3 one-night stays.
  • Transportation: We drive overland in a heated/air-conditioned coach, and we cruise in a private small ship. We’ll board a small boat for a shore excursion.
  • Accommodations: Accommodations are hotel-standard, with a variety of amenities and personal service, including private baths with hot showers and Western-style toilet facilities.
  • Group size & leadership: 25 maximum. We share our ship with one other group of 25 Grand Circle travelers. Each group has its own Program Director.

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for this trip.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • M/V Artemis or M/V Athena

    Our M/V Artemis was ranked #1 on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 20 Small Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

    Owned, operated, and staffed by Grand Circle Cruise Line, these ships were designed exclusively for two small groups of just 25 Grand Circle travelers, each with its own Program Director. When not exploring your destination, relax in the welcoming lounge and bar area or enjoy panoramic views on the ship's Sun Deck. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in select common areas. Wireless Internet access is not available in cabins and connectivity is limited in certain locations on your itinerary. While cruising, you’ll enjoy daily breakfast and lunch buffets; sit-down dinners feature international and local specialties paired with regional wines. 

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Main Trip

  • Best Western Astoria Hotel

    Zagreb, Croatia | Rating: Superior First Class

    The Best Western Astoria Hotel is a 15-minute walk from the historic city center in Jelacic Square. There is a restaurant featuring international cuisine and Croatian specialties. The six-story hotel has 100 rooms, each with satellite TV, a refrigerator, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Palace Hotel

    Zagreb, Croatia | Rating: First Class

    The Palace Hotel is located on J.J. Strossmayer Square, about a ten-minute walk to Zagreb’s main square and the Croatian National Theater. Originally a private palace, the hotel now features a restaurant and an informal cafe with a piano bar. There are 118 air-conditioned rooms, each with satellite TV, a minibar, Internet access, direct-dial telephone, and private bath with hair dryer.

    Please Note: Select departures feature similar accommodations.

  • Hotel Milenij

    Opatija, Croatia

    Located along Opatija's famed seaside promenade, the Hotel Milenij features 99 air-conditioned rooms, each with satellite TV, telephone, safe, and private bath with hair dryer. Hotel amenities include two restaurants, bar, swimming pool, health spa, and an on-site exchange office.

Extensions

  • Hotel Slon

    Ljubljana, Slovenia | Rating: Moderate First Class

    Situated in the heart of the city center, the Hotel Slon is just steps away from historic Old Town, Ljubljana Castle, and other highlights. The hotel features three restaurants, a fitness center, and lounge. There are 168 comfortable and well-appointed rooms, each with satellite TV, minibar, safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with robe and slippers.

    Please Note: Select departures feature similar accommodations.

  • Best Western Astoria Hotel

    Zagreb, Croatia | Rating: Superior First Class

    The Best Western Astoria Hotel is a 15-minute walk from the historic city center in Jelacic Square. There is a restaurant featuring international cuisine and Croatian specialties. The six-story hotel has 100 rooms, each with satellite TV, a refrigerator, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Palace Hotel

    Zagreb, Croatia | Rating: First Class

    The Palace Hotel is located on J.J. Strossmayer Square, about a ten-minute walk to Zagreb’s main square and the Croatian National Theater. Originally a private palace, the hotel now features a restaurant and an informal cafe with a piano bar. There are 118 air-conditioned rooms, each with satellite TV, a minibar, Internet access, direct-dial telephone, and private bath with hair dryer.

    Please Note: Select departures feature similar accommodations.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle Cruise Line vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $1895
w/ standard air $3095

The Bay of Kotor

The 33-mile jewel box of Montenegro

by Philip McClusky, for Grand Circle

Although small … the bay is a treasure trove of historical significance and local lore.

The Bay of Kotor’s allure has resulted in more than 2,000 years of a sort of imperial musical chairs: a steady stream of invading armies that take over and are eventually replaced by the next great conqueror. And if you visit, it’s easy to see why the area has been so coveted throughout the centuries.

Although generally referred to as Europe’s southernmost fjord, the bay is technically a submerged river canyon in what is today southwestern Montenegro. Ringed by mountains that are reflected in its placid waters, with idyllic, terra cotta-roofed villages dotting its coastline, it can seem as if every nook of the Bay of Kotor is a postcard scene waiting to be photographed. Add its pleasant climate and strategic location along the Adriatic and the region’s allure is undeniable. So it’s no surprise that a number of kingdoms sought to capture it through the years.

A prized parcel of land and sea

Although small—just a little more than 33 square miles—the bay is a treasure trove of historical significance and local lore. One of the most notable early leaders was Queen Teuta of the Illyrians, who ruled this region in the third century BC. Her reign was heavily dependent upon piracy and levies placed on those entering through Verige Strait, the narrow entrance to the bay. Only a quarter-mile across, this portal left approaching ships vulnerable to attack.

When incoming ships didn’t pay Queen Teuta, they were subject to an elaborate ship-wrecking system created to defend the strait. To this day, the bottom of the bay is strewn with unlucky vessels that ran afoul of Teuta. Later, chains were laced across the entrance to keep nautical aggressors out. In fact, the name of the strait—Verige—is derived from the Slavic word for “chain.”

Queen Teuta’s prosperity drew the attention of the budding Roman Empire, which eventually assumed power here after defeating the Illyrians. It is said the obstinate queen leaped to her death rather than submit to the vanquishers, adding to a legend that still survives in this part of the world today (a depiction of Teuta is on one of Albania’s coins).

The Romans ruled for centuries, establishing what would be the seat of the region and the namesake for the bay itself—Kotor.

"Bride of the Adriatic"

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Kotor seems frozen in time. The reputation of this walled city, sheltered by the fjord-like bay, grew over time, eventually coming to be known as the “Bride of the Adriatic.” In the Middle Ages, the schools of architecture and art here were well-respected, and the city became a center of commercial activity and wealth.

The past was prologue, of course, and the success of the city of Kotor once again attracted unwanted attention in the form of voracious empires. From the tenth century onward, the settlement was consecutively under Byzantine, Venetian, Hungarian, French, and Austrian control before becoming part of Yugoslavia. Due in part to the many visiting armies from around the region, there are several unique buildings in this fortified city—including the twelfth-century cathedral built in honor of Kotor’s patron saint, St. Tryphon. Kotor remains one of the best-preserved medieval outposts in the Adriatic, yet it wasn’t the bay’s only region to celebrate success over the years.

Prosperous Perast

Known as the “Pearl of Venetian Baroque,” the town of Perast flourished under the rule of La Serenissimas—or the ancient Serene Republic of Venice. Perast was situated in a strategic location near the Verige Strait; to many, it now feels as though a piece of Venice simply broke away and was placed in the middle of the bay. Perast is home to a number of churches and shrines; one of the most famous is Our Lady of the Rocks, which is found on the spot where some fishermen claim to have seen the Virgin Mary. Local lore holds that the fishermen dropped a stone in the same spot every time they passed, eventually creating the island on which the church rests.

Although this section of Europe is traditionally Eastern Orthodox, reminders of non-Orthodox religions are plentiful here. The Venetians and Austrians left behind their Catholic churches, and the Ottomans have left an Islamic legacy. This mixture of faiths has become an institution, and religious tolerance has become a hallmark not only of Kotor, but of the whole country of Montenegro.

Europe’s newest country

After many centuries of suitors, the Bay of Kotor is now part of Europe’s most recently independent country: Montenegro. Originally one of the six republics that made up Yugoslavia, Montenegro remained tied to Serbia once the Soviet Bloc began to disintegrate. In 2006, the country’s independence from Serbia was put to a vote, and by a mere 2,300 votes, the citizens voted to become an independent state.

Though Montenegro is “new,” its ancient roots add to its compelling character. The Bay of Kotor is a big part of that profile. In fact, the bay has become the country’s most popular region—proving that even many centuries later, it can still draw a crowd.