A sojourn along the stunning Dalmatian Coast is a breathtaking experience. Here, majestic mountains meet a crystalline sea and archaeological treasures abound, from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sibenik and Trogir to the Venetian flair of Vis and Hvar, the center of Croatian arts and literature. Travel is aboard the Crystal Esprit, a luxurious all-inclusive boutique yacht designed to host just 62 discerning travelers who wish to discover exotic destinations in a more intimate way. Its privileged guests will relish the legendary Crystal Experience in a new and unique setting. Designed with adventurous travelers in mind, the Crystal Esprit offers a brand-new cruise alternative.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Though it has only recently re-emerged as an independent nation, Croatia is by no means a new country. There were settlements along the Dalmatian Coast before recorded time. When Slavic people migrated here in the 6th century, they converted to Catholicism and adopted the local Latin alphabet. The region eventually became part of the powerful Kingdom of Croatia. Medieval Dubrovnik, formerly the Republic of Ragusa, was one of several walled cities established in the 7th century to guard the coastal approaches. Its fortification was completed in the 13th century and it has remained relatively unchanged. The city walls are in excellent condition and today prevent invasion by automobiles. Within the walls, the lovely sleek lines of Venetian-style buildings complement a wealth of ancient stone architecture. Nearby islands feature beautiful beaches as well as intriguing ancient ruins. Board your luxurious yacht, the Crystal Esprit, for evening departure to Korcula.
Long stretches of beaches, rocky mountains within reach of the sea, fervent summers, untouched nature, and unique city monuments make up the beautiful country of Croatia. The town of Korcula is the historical, cultural, and political center of the island. Considered the birthplace of Marco Polo, Korčula's history and tradition are apparent when you walk along the paved streets and squares of this lovely town. Cultural and historical monuments such as the Treasury of the Abbey, the City Museum, and the Museum of Icons can all be found in Korcula.
This small island located in the center of the Mediterranean is a nature lover’s delight. The arrival of Croatians to Hvar in the Middle Ages turned this temperate island into the center of Croatian arts and literature, thus ensuing the production of extraordinary works in sculpture, paintings, and music. Greeks founded their first colony here in 358 BC, and since then Hvar has survived frequent changes of occupancy throughout the Middle Ages and into modern times. The impact of the long period of Venetian rule is most evident in the town of Hvar, where there are numerous reminders of the glorious Renaissance Movement. Today, Hvar offers stretches of beaches that melt into the azure waters of the Mediterranean—a paradise to tourists and locals alike. Year-round, the sun shines brightly on the splendid island of Hvar, making its limestone towns sparkle amid the fertile green hills, rocky terrain, and the surrounding sea of clear cobalt blue. Situated between the islands of Brac, Vis, and Korcula, Hvar is the longest island in the Adriatic Sea, and it boasts one of the most beautiful landscapes nature has created. The climate is unmatched, and the clear, fresh air will refresh your soul. The magic of Hvar is eternal, its beauty is unforgettable.
Farthest from the mainland and until 1989 a military base for the Yugoslav National Army, the tiny isle of Vis has mostly escaped modern development, making it an appealing place to find a bit of Mediterranean authenticity. Fishing and wine are longstanding traditions, still alive and well in maritime villages, homey cafes, and vineyard expanses. While relatively distant from its own Croatian mainland, Vis is culturally close to Venice, as Vis was once under the rule of the Republic of Venice. This rich history can be seen in the island’s architecture, humble and rustic with a Venetian flair. For the nature lover, there is much to make the heart flutter, from pretty pebble beaches and rugged shoreline to secluded coves and the ever-present blue waters of the Adriatic.
In a region where the words "Baroque," "medieval" and "Renaissance"—not to mention "beautiful" and "charming"—describe virtually every sight, one might think it would be difficult to find any one town that is a standout. Yet Trogir, Croatia, may just be that place. Located on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Ciovo, the city of Trogir has a history that reaches back to the 3rd century BC, when it was founded by the Greeks. Later influenced by the Romans and Venetians, Trogir is nothing short of an open-air museum, sprinkled liberally with churches, palaces, towers, and fortifications. Its Romanesque-Gothic quarter is one of the best-preserved not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe. UNESCO has recognized Trogir as the special place that it is, designating the historic center as a World Heritage Site.
Sibenik is a unique place. First, unlike many other cities on the Adriatic coast, Sibenik was founded by Croats and not by Romans, producing an interesting regional story and a collection of remarkable architecture. One example is Sibenik’s central church, the Cathedral of St. James, built completely in stone between 1431 and 1536 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Second, Sibenik might be compared to Stockholm, as like the Swedish capital, the city unfolds over an archipelago. Yet Sibenik’s Mediterranean climate and volleyed possession among Venice, Byzantium, Hungary, and Bosnia give it a sun-glow warmth and distinct heritage. Then there is Sibenik’s appearance. The city rises up in layers from the harbor, fanning out from St. Anne’s Fortress and into a maze of narrow alleys and squares. It’s all quite charming, a medieval gift to unwrap and discover. If the attractions—and attractiveness—of the town center are not enough, then visit one of the area’s two national parks, Kornati, an archipelago of about 150 small islands, and Krka, famous for waterfalls and archaeological treasures.
Tucked up under the arm of the Adriatic where Croatia meets Italy, Rovinj reflects a cross-section of cultures, not just of neighboring Italy but also of Greece, Austria, and the Slavic nations. Empires have been competing over this wooded and strategically located region for centuries, contributing to Croatia’s rich tapestry of history along the way. The resulting complex and vibrant fabric, ever-evolving as time weaves, is yours to discover with your visit. One of the most striking of Rovinj’s buildings is the Church of St. Euphemia, with its bell tower rising above the city. Around every corner seems a grand gesture of architecture or quaint cafe. If you aren’t careful, you may begin to think you are wandering the cobbled lanes of Venice, as Rovinj’s colorful facades and charming piazzas are not far from the once-governing canal city, just two hours away by ferry across the gulf.
Venice rests three miles off the coast of mainland Italy and is considered one of the world's most enchanting cities. Known as the "Queen of the Adriatic," it actually comprises more than 100 separate islands. Laced together by a string of 400 intricate bridges, Venice is legendary for its labyrinthine network of canals. A whimsical stroll through the city can lead one to a hidden world of ornately decorated piazzas and shops. As you explore colorful marketplaces and busy town squares, marvel at a priceless legacy of Baroque architecture. Admire the richness of St. Mark's Basilica and the lavishness of the Palazzo Ducale. Getting lost in Venice can be a truly delightful experience. The place of dreams, this romantic city will live long in your memory. Disembark the ship and depart on homeward-bound flights.
Reverse Itinerary for August 27 Departure
Day 1: Venice, Italy
Day 2: Rovinj
Day 3: Sibenik
Day 4: Trogir
Day 5: Vis
Day 6: Hvar
Day 7: Korcula
Day 8: Dubrovnik