Croatia ~ Cruise

21 May 2024

The Croatian coast is beautiful, but I also enjoyed exploring the Skradinski Buk series of cascades at the Krka National Park.

This was an outstanding one-week cruise along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia on Noble Caledonia's little Queen Eleganza with about 30 passengers (upbeat and engaging, well-travelled Brits, plus me).

Except for one briefly rainy afternoon, the weather was ideal, crisp and partly cloudy. The ship's chef was superb. And the Croatian coast is lined with one charming town after another.

I visited Zagreb the capital in 2002 and Dubrovnik, its most famous city, in 2011, but I had not seen any other parts of Croatia and I wanted to see more, especially its Adriatic coast. 

We started in the old town of Zadar with its beautiful old cathedral and bell tower dating back to the 1200s but requiring major restoration after intense bombing during World War II. Every night on the waterfront you can see an unusual light show "Greeting to the Sun." 

Near Šibenik is Croatia's Krka National Park with its famous Skradinski Buk waterfalls. (See headline photo at the top.) I'm always crazy about waterfalls and these cascades were magical. But wait, there's more: Croatia constructed a wonderful long boardwalk meandering through lush vegetation and gurgling streams flowing toward the waterfalls.

Strong gusts of wind were predicted for our part of the Adriatic (see screenshot above), so the captain cancelled our stop in Hvar and added the more protected port of Split. Many small cruise ships took refuge in Split (see a few above). But we were happy that interesting Split was added to the itinerary, even if we did miss Hvar.

Part of Split's long handsome waterfront packed with sidewalk cafes.
Touring the substructure of Diocletian's Palace.
A new movie (Momo) was being filmed in the old town of Split.

Our smart guide offering interesting details about the area in and around Diocletian's Palace. Diocletian is infamous of course as the Roman Emperor who unleashed the bloodiest and most vicious persecution of Christians. And here is a Roman soldier cosplay.

Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) was a world-renowned sculptor from Croatia. In Split, we had a chance to visit a collection of many of his powerful, unique sculptures. I'm now a fan. Among his other extraordinary works, Meštrović sculpted the dramatic "Equestrian Indians" in Chicago.

We visited other charming old towns in Šibenik, Trogir, and Zadar as well as larger ones in Split and Dubrovnik, but cozy, picture-perfect Korčula (pronounced "Kor'-chu-la") was everyone's favorite.

Korčula has an exquisite, petite old town with narrow cobbled lanes inside its medieval walls and a stunning series of restaurants overlooking the sparkling Adriatic all along the pine-lined northeast wall.

Be sure to spend a day in Dubrovnik and another day in Split, of course, but allot at least a couple of days to relax and enjoy Korčula.

Not counting tourists, Korčula has about 6,000 residents, but it can be packed during the summer. Our May timing was idea.

Korčula claims to be the birthplace of Marco Polo so that is another reason for hardcore travelers to make a pilgrimage here: honor our historic role model!

The view after a delicious dinner in the little port of Pomena on Mljet Island.

On the way to the airport I took these two shots of Dubrovnik from my speeding Uber.

Since I visited Dubrovnik in 2011, it has become known, for better or worse, as the key venue for filming Game of Thrones, which coincidentally began airing on HBO in 2011. The series ended in 2019 and I never watched the show, but it left many fans who want to visit in person the fantasy "King's Landing." Guides offer special Game of Thrones tours.

Our guide focused on the rich history of Dubrovnik and not a sleazy TV series, but — the day after our walk around Dubrovnik — I did a quick internet search and discovered that many of the places we saw were indeed sites of GoT scenes. This website explores 22 noteworthy locales. Above is my shot looking up at the Jesuit Staircase where HBO filmed its brutal "Walk of Shame" scene looking down the stairs.

Dubrovnik's thriving commerce was protected for many centuries by its high, thick walls — often 20ft or 6m deep and up to 83ft or 25m high in some places — and even higher towers.

Dubrovnik has plenty of narrow lanes typical of medieval cities, but it has two wide grand streets unlike anything in Split or other old towns we visited.


Saving the best for last, here are some of the many great Brits onboard, plus Sara and Andrija from the ship's dining and bar. The last night we had good musicians, golden oldie singing, and dancing (rhumba above).

I can highly recommend Noble Caledonia's small-ship cruises along the Adriatic coast of Croatia — especially in May before the crowds arrive.