Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Wed April 22 2015

Exploring Croatia's Dalmatian Coast

Destination & Tourism | James Ruggia | April 22, 2015

Exploring Croatia's Dalmatian Coast

PHOTO: One of the many sights in Dubrovnik toured by Wayfarers. Eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fans will recognize this bay from the epic Battle of Blackwater. (Courtesy of Wayfarers)

Rovinj, on the top end of the Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, will host the 100th jubilee session of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (May 28 and 29). About 300 participants from ministries of tourism from around the world will convene in the old Roman port. Those ministers may well weigh in on the Croatian National Tourist Board’s new marketing campaign, Croatia 365. Designed to strengthen the off-season, the campaign aims to strengthen brand awareness by stressing authentic product and experience offered during the pre- and post-season.

Small ship cruising and yachting on the Dalmatian Coast is an area of growth for Croatia. The Dalmatian Coast is about 1,100 miles long and has more than 1,200 islands lying off of its shores. The new Slano marina in Dubrovnik includes catering facilities, shops, external swimming pool and parking facilities for 100 vehicles, as well as a water breaker, a pontoon bridge and anchoring facilities for 200 berths for vessels from 11 to 25 meters.   

Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations will use a fleet of modern 150-foot yachts that carry 38 to 40 guests per sailing on 17 island-hopping departures along the Dalmatian Coast this season. “The nature of our Island Hopper itinerary is to explore the history and culture of Croatia but also to enjoy swimming, hiking in the countryside, kayaking and bicycling,” said Todd Smith, AdventureSmith Explorations president.

This eight-day/seven-night Croatia Island Hopper Cruise uses such yachts as the Futura, Prestige, President or M/V Admiral, which are all similar in size and amenities. Priced from $1,440 per person double, this is the only deluxe, small ship cruise on a fully crewed yacht (including guides) that focuses exclusively on the Dalmatian Coast. Other cruises, says AdventureSmith, only feature the region as part of a larger Adriatic or Mediterranean itinerary or are only available as a full boat charter with no crew and little guidance.

The cruise begins and ends in Split and includes a guided tour of the town on day one, capped by a welcome reception and briefing to greet guests on their return from visiting Roman ruins. Day two has an excursion to Marco Polo’s birthplace, Korcula Island, where appetizers and local vintages are sampled on the tail end of an excursion.

On day three, passengers visit Dubrovnik and Mljet National Park. Day five visits the Peljesac Peninsula for local wines and a dinner in a rural village. Jet-set Hvar, known for lavish lavender fields and such beauties as a Renaissance cathedral, comes on day six followed on day seven by the final stop on the Island of Brac and at the town of Bol. Fishermen and tourists blend together here before the Captain’s farewell dinner on board and the journey back to Split.

The rate includes accommodations, daily buffet breakfast and lunch or dinner; a beverage with lunch; drinking water; services of a professional tour manager; guided walking tours; fees for bus transfers and cable cars; visitor taxes, port and national park fees; porterage; daily cabin service and free Wi-Fi on board.

AdventureSmith Explorations explores other destinations using small ships as well, including Greece aboard the 49-guest Harmony V. An eight-day Greek cruise is priced from $2,790. Another is a nine-day luxury cruise of the Cyclades aboard the windjammer Sea Cloud from $8,790 per person double.

With the new season five of Game of Thrones back on HBO, Croatia is promoting the locations the producers used to render the current home of the sinister Lannister clan, King’s Landing. saw an increase through their booking site for the locations in which filming takes place. For instance, tickets to Dubrovnik in Croatia, used as King's Landing and located close to Lokrum, another shooting site, increased between eight to 16 percent dependent on the travel mode.

Dubrovnik’s Hotel Bellevue launched the "Discover King's Landing" package. Located just a short walk from Old Town Dubrovnik where the King’s Landing scenes of "Game of Thrones" from $389 per room, per night and includes sea-view room for two guests, daily breakfast, a private guided tour covering the shooting locations within the Old Town (transfer from the hotel included), airport transfers in a BMW 7 series or Mercedes E class.

For a slow Croatian travel option you might consider Wayfarers Walking Vacations, which has added a night on Hvar Island and the resort hotel Amfora. The package combines island-hopping with coast and countryside. “The Mediterranean as it once was best describes Croatia and its position between central Europe and the Mediterranean - perfect for those who want to discover hidden gems off the grid,” said Walk Leader Ante Batarelo. “The pristine waters of the turquoise Adriatic, the photogenic vistas combined with meals at organic, farm-to-table family-run taverns, make our trip truly one to be remembered.”

The seven-night tour, priced from $4,595 per person double,  also explores the islands of Lopud, Hvar and Brac, stays in Dubrovnik, visits Diocletian's Palace in Split, a private boat trip to lunch on a secluded terrace restaurant overlooking the sea and more. The trip departs three times in 2015 in May, September and October.

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