View from the Inside - Croatia
Waking up in the morning and looking out onto a completely new view was a novel experience for me, and one of the benefits of cruising in this destination.
July 2017 - Amy Cavill, Personal Travel Expert
As a cruise novice and a seasickness sufferer, I was apprehensive about spending a week on La Belle De L’Adriatique – but luckily all my fears were unfounded. Croatia is a country of more than 1,000 islands, and cruising is the best way to see this beautiful and fascinating area. La Belle De L’Adriatique is a beautiful vessel and a great introduction to the cruising way of life. Although it sleeps 200 passengers, it feels like a much smaller boat – especially when you are docked next to a huge cruise liner! The staff all knew my name by the second day and went out of their way to make me feel right at home. An honourable mention must go to the chef, who really outdid himself with the incredible 3 course meals – making me wish I could take him with me on my return home.
We started in Dubrovnik – a fascinating city that has become increasingly popular in recent years, mostly due to the filming of scenes from both Game of Thrones and Star Wars. We spent an enjoyable morning wandering through the main street, visiting the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries and learning about the history of Dubrovnik. For our free time in the afternoon, we were recommended a walk around the walls of the city – well worth the £15 fee. It is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the red rooves of the city and to see the surrounding area. That night, as we set sail for our next destination, we were able to see the lights of the city as they faded into the distance.
Waking up in the morning and looking out onto a completely new view was a novel experience for me, and one of the benefits of cruising in this destination. We disembarked by tender to the island of Mljet, one of the larger islands on the Adriatic Archipelago. One third of this island has been declared a National Park, so is an ideal location to see some of the unspoiled natural landscape of this region. One of the predominant features is the Benedictine Monastery, which is built on a small island on one of Mljet’s lakes. We enjoyed a 20 minute walk followed by a boat ride to access this picturesque location. While the monastery itself is in the process of being restored, there is a church on the island that is still used for weddings and has a lovely view of the surrounding hills that can be appreciated while taking a quick walk around the island.
Krka National Park was definitely one of the highlights of this tour. We drove from Trogir to view the Skradinski Buk – a collection of 17 waterfalls that range in height by over 45 metres. These waterfalls are the location of one of the world’s first hydroelectric plants, and earlier than that, had mill wheels that were used to mill grain – these can still be seen today. Strolling along the raised wooden walkways built directly over the water, the only sounds that can be heard are the rushing of water over the falls and the occasional bird noise. There are quite a lot of stairs, but the view of the falls from the bottom is incredible and well worth the leg ache.
In my opinion, the best experience was on the second to last day of the tour, when we went up onto the sun deck after breakfast to watch the ship sail into the bay of Kotor. The bay is actually made up for 4 smaller coves, and Kotor itself is in the furthermost inlet, which meant that we were able to enjoy the remarkable scenery made up of dramatic mountains, and small medieval towns and churches.
I had not expected much from Kotor, to be honest. It’s not really a city that I had heard much about (unlike Dubrovnik). It is one of the most stunning places I have visited – a beautiful walled town surrounded by tall, green mountain ranges and crystal clear blue water – what is there to hate? Due to its isolation, Kotor has retained much of the buildings and character from when it became part of the Venetian rule in 1420. The old town is watched over by a fortress set high on the hill, but sadly we did not have enough time to climb the 100-odd steps.
This visit was the perfect end to the cruise – a physically stunning and historically interesting town, and a perfect way to describe this region of the Adriatic as a whole.
Cruising, in my opinion, was the perfect way to visit Croatia. To be able to see as much of the country as we did in 7 days is made so effortless by the amazing crew and the ability to unpack only once. When the sun is out, there is nothing better than relaxing on the back deck of the vessel, sipping a cocktail and watching the wake of the ship and the islands as you drift past.