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Day by Day Itinerary

Visit Croatia, a destination which has enchanted travelers for more than a millennium, on this Small Ship Cruise Tour. Witness turquoise lakes linked by soaring waterfalls … islands covered in lavender and myrtle … whitewashed villages perched on sun-baked cliffs. And cruise the Dalmatian Coast aboard our private small ship—expressly designed and constructed for two groups of just 25 travelers each—for ten or eleven nights. Soak up the medieval beauty of Dubrovnik. Walk in an emperor’s footsteps in Split. Journey to the island that gave Marco Polo his wanderlust. And savor a warm welcome from locals who extend to us a taste of legendary Croatian hospitality. A visit to ancient Delphi and Athens rounds out your discovery on this singular journey of epic beauty.

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    Fly from the U.S. to Athens, Greece.

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    Arrive in Athens, where a Grand Circle representative meets you at the airport and assists with your transfer to our hotel. Travelers on the Ancient Glories pre-trip extension will join you today. This afternoon, enjoy a short orientation walk with your Program Director in the vicinity of the hotel.

    This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at your hotel.

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    Explore the Corinth Canal aboard MS Athena

    After breakfast, enjoy a tour of the lovely historic city of Athens. Ride past the historic Panathenean Stadium, originally constructed in 330 BC and restored for the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896; the Greek Parliament building, where ceremonial guards in traditional Greek dress watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and the Presidential Palace. Designed in Neo-Classical style, the three-story Presidential Palace elegantly combines elements of Greek, Roman, and Renaissance architecture. Then enjoy a city center walking tour.

    You'll then depart for Mikrolimano and enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant before embarking your ship. As you cruise, meet your crew for a Welcome Drink and a briefing before dinner on board. Begin your Dalmatian Coast cruise with a passage through the Corinth Canal after dinner, and then arrive in Itea, a port town near Delphi, where you'll overnight onboard in the port.

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    This morning, disembark in Itea for about a 40-minute ride to Delphi. Here, you'll enjoy a half day of discovery, including the Temple of Apollo, where the oracle once prophesied. This ancient sanctuary is beautifully set in a landscape fit for a god, at the foot of a mountain with a vista over olive groves to the Bay of Itea.

    Explore the Temple of Apollo in Delphi

    Those entering this place in ancient times first purified themselves at the nearby Sanctuary of Athena, where the enigmatic Tholos—a round building of unknown purpose—stands as it has since the fourth century BC. As you approach the Temple of Apollo, you'll walk the Sacred Way used by ancient Greeks such as the historian Plutarch, who was a priest of Apollo at Delphi. You’ll see treasuries built here by the Athenians, the Thebans, the Corinthians, and the Syracusans—the great societies of their day—and enter the theater, built to seat 5,000 people. If you climb to the top row, you're rewarded with an amazing view.

    Then, enter the nearby Delphi Archaeological Museum. The unmatched holdings here include the larger-than-life bronze Charioteer, dating to about 470 BC, one of the finest surviving works of antiquity. The museum is filled with other masterpieces from the Archaic, Classical, and Roman periods, including scenes of the gods watching the Trojan War, a nine-statue family monument from the fourth century BC, and a sculpture of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s son Antinoos.

    Return to the ship for lunch, after which you can explore the city of Itea and make your own discoveries.

    Tonight enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Dinner as your ship cruises through the night to Corfu.

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    View Corfu at sunset while enjoying a Greek style party aboard the private cruise ship

    Enjoy a leisurely morning on board; arrive in Corfu in the late morning. After lunch, enjoy a fairy-tale excursion to the 19th-century villa of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.

    In her day, Elizabeth was known by the nickname of “Sisi,” and was as popular as the late Princess Diana of England. Uncomfortable with the constraints of court life in Vienna, Sisi retreated to Corfu in her later years and immersed herself in the world of the ancient Greeks. Today, you’ll tour the Achillion—the palatial villa she commissioned in Corfu between the years 1890-1892. The large Neo-Classical building and vast gardens surrounding it are lavishly decorated with artwork, including two notable statues of Sisi’s favorite Greek hero, Achilles.

    This evening, relax during a Greek dinner onboard and enjoy a Greek-style party. The ship remains moored through the night at Corfu.

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    View an archaeological site in Butrint

    Cruise this morning to Saranda, Albania, then travel overland to visit the ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint was at various times the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city, and a bishopric of the Byzantine Empire. Following a period of prosperity under the Byzantines, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city’s development.

    Then return to the ship for lunch and begin cruising toward Kotor, located in the tiny Republic of Montenegro.

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    Explore Kotor Bay by ship and discover Montenegro during a walking tour

    Cruise into Kotor Bay this morning. After lunch aboard ship, you'll go ashore in Montenegro to discover the perfectly preserved historic center of Kotor on a walking tour. In the Middle Ages, this natural harbor on the Adriatic coast was a walled city and an important artistic and commercial center, with well-known schools of masonry and iconography. Here, you’ll visit the maritime museum that preserves the rich seafaring heritage of this region.

    Enjoy time on your own in Kotor before returning to your ship for dinner.

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    Today, you may choose to spend the morning relaxing onboard, or choose our optional tour to Montenegro’s cultural heart and one-time capital, Cetinje.

    See the Baroque Our Lady of the Rocks shrine

    Along the way, you’ll enjoy a scenic uphill ride that culminates in a spectacular view of Kotor Bay. Then, stop in the village of Njegusi, famous for its smoked ham and a local cheese. Sample a few of Njegusi’s home-grown delicacies before continuing on to historic Cetinje, nestled at the foot of Mount Lovcen and encircled by steep hills. After a guided tour of the palace of King Nikola, you’ll have some free time to explore the cultural treasures of this ancient royal town. Please note: This tour includes a drive along a steep, narrow mountain road.

    You'll then reunite with your fellow passengers for lunch onboard before continuing on to Perast. There, you'll take small boats to visit the Baroque “Our Lady of the Rocks” shrine on a man-made islet. The shrine contains 68 paintings by local 17th-century artist Tripo Kokolja, while its greatest treasure is the icon of Our Lady of the Rock, painted by the Dubrovnik artist Lovro Marinov Dobricevic. Then cruise toward Dubrovnik, the first of your stops in the Croatian region of Dalmatia. This evening, enjoy dinner onboard.

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    View Dubrovnik while cruising on MS Athena

    With its old section, the Stari Grad, surrounded entirely by white stone walls, Dubrovnik gleams like the proverbial "City on a Hill." 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 fortified 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. This restoration work was supported by a donation from Grand Circle Foundation. You’ll take a tour of the city to admire the results, visit the Rector’s Palace, and see a Franciscan Monastery housing one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies.

    Later in the afternoon, you will experience Gromaca, a village near Dubrovnik, where you'll meet some local people, learn more about their daily lives, and join them for a Home-Hosted Dinner. During the night, cruise to Korcula, the largest of the archipelago’s 48 islands and the site of a picturesque medieval town.

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    See Marco Polo's birthplace while exploring Korcula

    After breakfast, embark on an included tour of Korcula. Visit the spot believed by many historians to have been Marco Polo’s birthplace (only one stone wall of the house remains). You'll also get acquainted with Korcula town’s history—which included centuries of Venetian rule—with a visit to its local museum. Learn about the historical importance of the Roman Catholic Church here when you visit St. Mark’s Cathedral and the treasury of the 14th-century Abbey Palace.

    Return to your ship for lunch onboard, and in the afternoon, you can continue your individual exploration of Korcula Island or just relax on the sun deck of your ship. You’ll also enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about daily life and politics in contemporary Croatia. After a port talk from your Program Director, enjoy dinner on board this evening. Then, your night cruise will take you to another Dalmatian island—Hvar.

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    Discover the island of Hvar while cruising the Adriatic Sea

    This morning, ride through this luxuriantly green island’s patches of lavender, rosemary, and heather to Hvar, whose Venetian flavor (like Korcula’s) reflects its long history of rule by that city-state.

    After a brief orientation, you’ll have free time here to discover more on our own. Then, ride to the quaint seaside village of Vrboska, which lies in a picturesque cove surrounded by pinewood forests and lovely beaches. After, you’ll enjoy a wine-tasting at a small, privately owned winery nearby.

    After lunch aboard the ship, cruise to Split, where you'll dock and take a short orientation walk of the area. Then enjoy dinner and traditional folklore entertainment onboard.

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    This morning in Split, you'll explore 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 AD 300–313. As you stand in the peristyle (central court) of this grand structure, its scale is sure to impress you.

    Explore the medieval town of 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, surrounded by a thriving modern town with shops, cafes and restaurants.

    Return to your ship for lunch on board, and then enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Split.

    Or, you may join an optional tour of Omis, a quaint town at the confluence of the Cetina River and Adriatic Sea. The Omis Riviera is noted as a top holiday destination among active, outdoorsy Croatians. Start by exploring the area by small boat, as we cruise up the river to the docile river canyon and witness the laid-back Dalmatian way of life. Then take in the emerald green color of the Cetina and the great depth of the canyon from another perspective as we venture inland.

    After a port talk from your Program Director, you'll enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Dinner onboard this evening.

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    Discover the beautiful Plitvice Lakes and UNESCO World Heritage Site

    This morning, disembark your ship and travel overland to the Plitvice Lakes region, stopping for an included lunch en route. Afterwards, enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful region's lower lakes.

    Here, a 114-square-mile national park has at its heart 16 turquoise lakes that are linked by a series of waterfalls and cascades. The natural wonder has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

    Continue to Zagreb and check in to your hotel. This evening, dinner is on your own in Zagreb.

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    This morning, enjoy a guided tour of Zagreb, the city that has been Croatia’s capital since 1557. Your tour begins with a stroll through the Lower Town, whose well-designed street grid was laid out in the 19th century.

    Here you’ll be introduced to many of the Zagreb’s civic and historic monuments. Then, take the funicular to the older Upper Town, where you'll be introduced to the city’s medieval landmarks.

    View the civic and historic monuments while touring Zagreb

    This oldest part of the city developed between the eleventh and 13th centuries from the two municipalities of Kaptol and Gradec, whose historic remnants you can still see today. Here we see the neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Assumption and St. Mark’s Church. We’ll also pay a visit to the Croatian Museum of Naive Art, dedicated to the untrained European artists of the 20th century. Many of the colorful artworks are done with a childlike simplicity, and the bulk of the intriguing collection is rooted in Croatia. Your city tour ends at Zagreb’s most colorful open-air market, Dolac.

    You will have some free time for shopping and lunch on your own and then the rest of the afternoon is free. This evening, dinner is on your own in Zagreb.

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    Encounter local flower markets while touring Zagreb

    Enjoy a free day to make your own discoveries in Zagreb, with lunch on your own. Or join our full-day optional tour to the lovely Baroque city of Varazdin.

    For centuries, this was the home of several aristocratic families, who built magnificent palaces and churches that continue to grace the city today. Varazdin’s centerpiece is its moated castle, entered via a drawbridge, which is now a museum featuring antique furniture from different eras. Begun in the twelfth century, the castle was still used as a seat of local government until 1925, and is set in a park with striking landscaping. The cost of this optional tour includes lunch.

    This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner.

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    • Meals included:

    Depart for the airport to catch your flight back to the U.S. Or begin your post-trip extension in Bled, Slovenia.

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    Fly from the U.S. to Zagreb, Croatia.

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    View the civic and historic monuments while touring Zagreb

    Arrive in Zagreb, where a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel.

    Zagreb is a city of about 750,000 people and has been Croatia's capital since 1557. The city developed between the eleventh and 13th centuries from the two municipalities of Kaptol and Gradec, whose historic remnants still stand today in the Upper Town.

    This evening, enjoy a Welcome Drink before celebrating the start of your journey during a Welcome Dinner.

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    Encounter local flower markets while touring Zagreb

    Enjoy a guided tour of Zagreb after breakfast today, beginning with a stroll through the Lower Town, whose well-designed street grid was laid out in the 19th century.

    Here, you’ll be introduced to many of the city’s civic and historic monuments. Then, take the funicular to the older Upper Town, where you'll discover Zagreb’s medieval landmarks. These include the neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Assumption and St. Mark’s Church. Pay a visit to the Croatian Museum of Naive Art, dedicated to the untrained European artists of the 20th century. Many of the colorful artworks are done with a childlike simplicity, and the bulk of the intriguing collection is rooted in Croatia. Your tour ends at Zagreb's most colorful open-air market, called Dolac.

    You can seek out lunch on your own, followed by a free afternoon to pursue your own interests. Art lovers may want to peruse more of Zagreb’s excellent museums and galleries—for example, the eclectic collection at the celebrated Museum Mimara. View European paintings from the 14th to 19th centuries at the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters.

    Your evening is free to dine on your own.

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    Enjoy a free day to explore Zagreb independently, with lunch and dinner on your own.

    View Varazdin's Main Square and City Hall

    Or join our full-day optional tour to the lovely Baroque city of Varazdin. For centuries, this was the home of several aristocratic families, who built magnificent palaces and churches that continue to grace the city today. Varazdin's centerpiece is its moated castle, entered via a drawbridge, which is now a museum featuring antique furniture from different eras. Begun in the twelfth century, the castle was still used as a seat of local government until 1925, and is set in a park with striking landscaping. Lunch is included on this optional tour.

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    This morning, travel overland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, where you'll enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful region's lower lakes.

    Discover the beautiful Plitvice Lakes and UNESCO World Heritage Site

    This 114-square-mile national park has at its heart 16 turquoise lakes that are linked by a series of waterfalls and cascades. The natural wonder has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

    After an included lunch, continue to Split, which is on the Adriatic seacoast in the Croatian province of Dalmatia. When you arrive in Split, you'll embark your small ship. Meet the crew for a Welcome Drink and Briefing before dinner onboard.

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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 AD 300-313. As you stand in the peristyle (central court) of this grand structure, its scale is sure to impress you.

    Explore the medieval town of 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 small ship for lunch onboard. Then, the afternoon is yours to explore this second-largest Croatian town, or to just relax in one of Split’s many cafe bars on Riva, the town’s famous seaside promenade.

    Or, you can join an optional afternoon tour of Omis, where the Cetina empties into the Adriatic Sea. Along the 65-mile-long river are ruins of fortresses that were once of great strategic importance—including Mirabella, once a popular hideout for pirates. You'll see how the locals relax and take advantage of their beautiful natural surroundings here. First, take a small boat to the Cetina River canyon, a calm pocket of the river three miles inland, where locals gather for picnics and to fish for trout. Then, enjoy another perspective: Venturing on land to see the emerald river from the top of the deep canyon.

    This evening, after a port talk from our Program Director, enjoy dinner and traditional folklore entertainment onboard. Then, your night cruise will take you to your first Dalmatian island—Hvar.

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    Discover the island of Hvar while cruising the Adriatic Sea

    Ride through this luxuriantly green island's patches of lavender, rosemary, and heather to Hvar town, whose Venetian flavor reflects its long history of rule by that city-state.

    After a brief orientation, you'll have free time here to explore on your own. Next, journey to the quaint seaside village of Vrboska, which lies in a picturesque cove surrounded by pinewood forests and lovely beaches, where you'll enjoy a wine-tasting at a small, privately owned winery nearby.

    After lunch aboard the ship, cruise to Korcula, the largest island in the archipelago and home to a picturesque medieval town. You'll also enjoy an informative discussion about daily life and politics in contemporary Croatia.

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    After breakfast, soak up the history of Korcula which, among other things, has been the center of a proud musical tradition.

    See Marco Polo's birthplace while exploring Korcula

    You'll visit the spot believed by many historians to have been Marco Polo’s birthplace (only one stone wall of the house remains). You will also get acquainted with Korcula town’s history, which included centuries of rule by Venice, with a visit to its local museum. Learn about the historical importance of the Roman Catholic Church here when you visit St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Treasury of the 14th-century Abbey Palace. Then, set sail for the enduring grandeur of Dubrovnik.

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    View Dubrovnik while cruising aboard MS Athena

    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 and 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. This restoration work has been supported with a donation from Grand Circle Foundation.

    Later in the afternoon, experience Gromaca, a village near Dubrovnik. Here, you'll meet some local people and experience their way of life. Then, join these local residents for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

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    Explore Kotor Bay by ship and discover Montenegro during a walking tour

    This morning, arrive in Montenegro. Enjoy an informative a talk about the beautiful Kotor Bay area.

    After lunch onboard, you'll continue our cruise toward the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor, which is also in Montenegro. Upon arrival, discover the city's perfectly preserved historic center on a walking tour. In the Middle Ages, this natural harbor on the Adriatic coast was a walled city and an important artistic and commercial center with well-known schools of masonry and iconography. Here, you'll visit the maritime museum that preserves the rich seafaring heritage of this region.

    Enjoy dinner on board this evening.

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    Enjoy the morning at leisure.

    See the Baroque Our Lady of the Rocks shrine

    Or, you may join an optional tour to Montenegro's cultural heart and one-time capital, Cetinje. Along the way enjoy a scenic uphill ride that culminates in a spectacular view of Kotor Bay.

    Then, stop in the village of Njegusi, famous for their smoked ham and a local cheese. Sample a few of Njegusi's home-grown delicacies before continuing on to historic Cetinje, nestled at the foot of Mount Lovcen and encircled by steep hills. After a guided tour of the palace of King Nikola, you'll have free time to explore the cultural treasures of this ancient royal town. Please note: This optional tour includes a drive along a steep, narrow mountain road.

    Then reunite with your fellow passengers for lunch onboard before continuing on to Perast. There, you'll take a small boat to visit the Baroque "Our Lady of the Rocks" shrine on a man-made islet. The shrine contains 68 paintings by local 17th-century artist Tripo Kokolja, while its greatest treasure is the icon of Our Lady of the Rock, painted by the Dubrovnik artist Lovro Marinov Dobricevic. Then, set sail for Saranda, Albania.

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    Arrive early this morning in Saranda, Albania. Then travel overland to visit the ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint was the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city, and a bishopric of the Byzantine Empire. Following a period of prosperity under the Byzantines, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city's development.

    View an archaeological site in Butrint

    After lunch on board, cruise to nearby Corfu in the Ionian Islands of Greece. Here, you’ll take a walk with our Program Director that introduces us to the island. Corfu is a verdant island paradise particularly popular with the English, who have settled here in some numbers. It has been inhabited since ancient times, but the most evident historical influence you’ll see is that of Renaissance Venice, which ruled here for centuries as you’ve seen on other islands in this region.

    Return to the ship, where you can relax during a Greek dinner onboard. Then join your fellow travelers for a Greek dancing class and deck party. The ship remains moored through the night at Corfu.

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    Today, enjoy a fairy-tale excursion to the 19th-century villa of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.

    View Corfu at sunset while enjoying a Greek style party aboard the private cruise ship

    In her time, she was known by the nickname “Sisi” and was as popular as the late Princess Diana of England. Uncomfortable with the constraints of court life in Vienna, Sisi retreated to Corfu in her later years and immersed herself in the world of the ancient Greeks. Today, you'll tour the palatial villa she had built in Corfu between the years 1890-1892, which she named the Achillion. The large Neo-Classical building and the vast gardens surrounding it are lavishly decorated with artwork, including two notable statues of Sisi’s favorite Greek hero, Achilles.

    After lunch, depart for our overnight cruise to Itea, the port from which you will explore Delphi.

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    Explore the Corinth Canal aboard MS Athena

    This morning, disembark in Itea for about a 40-minute ride to Delphi. Here you'll enjoy a half-day of discovery, including the Temple of Apollo, where the oracle once prophesied. This ancient sanctuary is beautifully set in a landscape fit for a god, at the foot of a mountain with a vista over olive groves to the Bay of Itea.

    Those entering this place in ancient times first purified themselves at the nearby Sanctuary of Athena, where the enigmatic Tholos—a round building of unknown purpose—stands as it has since the fourth century BC. As we approach the Temple of Apollo, you'll walk the Sacred Way used by ancient Greeks, such as the historian Plutarch, who was a priest of Apollo at Delphi. You’ll see treasuries built here by the Athenians, the Thebans, the Corinthians, and the Syracusans—the great societies of their day—and enter the theater, built to seat 5,000 people, from which it’s possible to get an amazing view if you climb to the top row.

    Then enter the nearby Delphi Archaeological Museum. The unmatched holdings here include the larger-than-life bronze Charioteer, dating to about 470 BC, one of the finest surviving works of antiquity. The museum is filled with other masterpieces from the Archaic, Classical, and Roman periods, including scenes of the gods watching the Trojan War, a nine-statue family monument from the fourth century BC, and a sculpture of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s son Antinoos.

    Return to the ship for lunch, followed by a free afternoon. After dinner on your ship, cruise through the legendary Corinth Canal on your way to Athens.

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    View Plaka and Acropolis while touring Athens

    Today, we arrive in Athens and enjoy a tour of this lovely historic city.

    We ride past the historic Panathenean Stadium, originally constructed in 330 BC and restored for the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896, the Greek Parliament building, where the ceremonial guards in traditional Greek dress watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Presidential Palace. Designed in Neo-Classical style, the three-story Presidential Palace elegantly combines elements of Greek, Roman, and Renaissance architecture. We also enjoy a city center walking tour. After lunch back on our ship, you have the rest of the afternoon to relax on board or take a shuttle and return to Athens.

    This evening we'll gather for a cocktail and Farewell Dinner.

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    • Meals included:

    Depart for the airport to catch your flight back to the U.S.

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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 Dalmatian Coast cruise features a fair amount of walking over uneven surfaces. The M/V Athena and Artemis do not have elevators 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 circumstances send travelers home if their limitations are impacting the group's experience.
  • Due to the varied geography of the regions we visit on this program you will experience a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. We recommend that you bring a rain jacket and sun-block regardless of the time of year you travel. If you travel in spring or fall, you can expect cooler temperatures or inclement weather.

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. 

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Main Trip

  • St. George Lycabettus Hotel

    Athens, Greece | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located at the foot of Lycabettus Hill overlooking the city of Athens, the Superior First-Class St. George Lycabettus is also close to the exclusive shopping area of Kolonaki. Rooms are contemporary-styled, most have balconies, and all are air-conditioned and equipped with satellite TV, telephone, minibar, and private bath.

  • Hotel Holiday Suites

    Athens, Greece

    The Hotel Holiday Suites is a boutique-style hotel situated in the Kolanaki area of Athens, less than a mile from Syntagma Square. Along with a lounge area, there are 29 air-conditioned suites at the hotel, each with satellite TV, minibar, safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • 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.

Extensions

  • Kompas Hotel Bled

    Bled, Slovenia

    Situated on a hilltop location in the center of picturesque Bled, the Kompas Bled Hotel offers panoramic views of the surrounding scenery. There is an outdoor pool, restaurant, and fully equipped fitness center on the premises. The hotel features 95 stylishly furnished rooms, each with a balcony, minibar, cable TV, and hair dryer.

  • Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas

    Nafplion, Greece | Rating: Superior First Class

    Surrounded by three World Heritage Sites, the Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas is situated above the historic town of Nafplion, with excellent views across the bay. There are three restaurants, two bars, two pools, a poolside bar, and spa treatment facilities to choose from at the hotel. There are 85 rooms, each with climate-control, minibar, safe, satellite TV, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Hotel Europa

    Ancient Olympia, Greece | Rating: First Class

    Situated at the top of Drouvas Hill in Ancient Olympia, the Hotel Europa overlooks the valley filled with ruins, monuments, and the stadium of the Ancient Olympic Games. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, tavern, outdoor swimming pool, garden, and pool bar. There are 78 air-conditioned rooms at the hotel, each featuring balcony, safe, wireless Internet, satellite TV, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • St. George Lycabettus Hotel

    Athens, Greece | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located at the foot of Lycabettus Hill overlooking the city of Athens, the Superior First-Class St. George Lycabettus is also close to the exclusive shopping area of Kolonaki. Rooms are contemporary-styled, most have balconies, and all are air-conditioned and equipped with satellite TV, telephone, minibar, and private bath.

  • Hera Hotel

    Athens, Greece

    The Hera Hotel is ideally situated near the Acropolis and other archaeological sites. Your air-conditioned room includes coffee- and tea-making facilities, high-speed Internet access, and private bath.

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 will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $4095
w/ standard air $5545
Approximate travel times

A Day in the Life of Gromaca Village

Grand Circle was founded upon the principle that travel needs to be about more than just sightseeing if it's going to change people's lives—which is why this vacation features a day of in-depth cultural exchange through Grand Circle Foundation’s A Day in the Life program. By continuing to expand our worldview through exposure to other cultures, we are learning and growing throughout our lives—and the more we engage ourselves in the daily lives of the villages we visit, the more valuable our learning becomes.

"This was an excellent opportunity to interact with the local people and share a meal with a family. We were very warmly received. I was impressed with the openness of the hospitality, the good food, the music (our family had a son who played the accordion!), and dancing. It was a time of sharing and a look at village life."

Joan & Richard Clinch
Annapolis, Maryland

Meet the People of Gromaca Village

Your Day in the Life experience will bring you to the hills surrounding Dubrovnik for a visit to the village of Gromaca, Croatia. This farming village was badly damaged during Croatia’s war for independence in the early 1990s. The residents of Gromaca were forced to flee their homes during the war, but have now returned to their largely rebuilt village and continue to produce much of their own food—including curing delicious smoked meats and making wine and brandies.

During a tour of the village, you’ll see some of the ways the people of Gromaca have managed to preserve their long-standing traditions. Then you’ll be invited into a local home for a brief tour before sitting down to a delicious Home-Hosted Dinner featuring local specialties—a time to say “dobar tek!” (bon appetit!). Dinner will be followed by an informal folklore performance for another side of Dalmatian culture.

You'll head back to the ship with a better understanding of a different culture, in a way that only living a day in their lives can provide.

Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

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Handmade in Hvar

Croatia’s unique aloe lace tradition

by Jana Stepic, Program Director, Slovenia

The sisters weave delicate, intricate pieces from a unique material: fibers that they harvest from local aloe plants and make into thread.

Croatia’s long tradition of creating elaborate lace patterns by hand is so significant that in 2009, it was listed by UNESCO as part of the world’s intangible cultural history. One type of lace, made in the town of Hvar on the island of the same name, is so rare that it is only made by less than a dozen Benedictine nuns. The sisters weave delicate, intricate pieces from a unique material: fibers that they harvest from local aloe plants and make into thread.

The aloe plants—also referred to locally as agave—grow all over the island of Hvar. The sisters collect leaves from plants three years or younger and remove the hair-thin white threads from the core of fresh leaves. After the meter-long threads have dried, the nuns attach them to a cardboard background and weave them into elaborate, freehand patterns using metal needles.

Aloe weaving was brought to Hvar in the 19th century by sailors returning from the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the west coast of Africa. In Croatia, the Canaries are called Tenerife, thus aloe lace became known on Hvar as tenerifa lace.

Beginning in the early 1800s, the nuns operated a girls’ public school, where they taught domestic skills to local young women. They developed tenerifa lace-making as part of this education. The girls’ school is long closed, but nuns continue to live in the closed convent, spending their day in prayer and lace-making. Today, guests may visit the convent daily before noon to watch aloe lace being made and talk with the sisters as they weave.

The delicate lace cannot be washed or ironed, making it suitable mainly for decorative purposes. There are three styles of the lace. Tenerifa lace is sewn on a piece of cardboard with a needle, over a spider web of aloe threads. With tenerifa s mreskanjem (tenerifa “with netting”), circles of round eyelets (mreska) are woven together around a central point with a hooked netting needle, creating a flower-like shape. Finally, the mreskanje na okviru (“filet embroidering”) technique involves embroidering decorative motifs onto a piece of netting with small square eyelets.

Hvar lace makes for a unique souvenir. Since each piece is distinct and handmade, prices vary widely. Even if you don’t purchase any lace, the experience of visiting the Benedictine nuns in their ancient home, watching them practice an art form they have perfected—and of which they are the sole practitioners—is sure to be an unmatched experience.