Windstar Cruise Day Six: Dubrovnik, Croatia
PHOTO: High above Dubrovnik, Croatia after a cable car ride (c) Sery Kim
Before there was a Croatia or a Serbia (or a Montenegro), there was a combined Yugoslavian republic the "Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." While I won't embarrass myself by reciting the little I know about the wars in the 1990's leading to the split, what I do know is Croatia is my new favorite country to visit -- and apparently I am not the only one. Croatia has seen a significant increase in tourism over the past few years, especially from North American travelers. A record of 7.5 million passengers came through the Dalmatia airports in 2016, almost 2 million of which from Dubrovnik alone – a 17.7% increase from the previous year.
In fact, there are so many tourists coming into Dubrovnik, the airport is building several new terminals. This also doesn't even account for the cruise ships which, on any given day of high season, there can be as many as eleven (count them E-L-E-V-E-N) ships pouring into the city.
So yes, day six onboard my love the Wind Surf began with a scenic journey into Dubrovnik, the Old City best known now for playing King's Landing in HBO's hit series Game of Thrones (I haven't watched most of the series but I have read the George R.R. Martin books which the series is nominally based upon, nerd alert!). The Old City's walls run about 1.2 miles around the city of 1,000 inhabitants. I personally think the city is best seen early in the morning, when the stunning limestone marble streets don't quite reflect as much heat.
PHOTO: Franciscan Church and Monastery in Dubrovnik (c) Sery Kim
There are two ways into the city: if by cruise ship then it is a boat which has you enter near the Franciscan Church and Monastery and if by the roads then it is on the side of the city closest to Kotor, Montenegro. The church, pictured above, belongs to the Order of the Friars Minor and has a monastery, church, library and pharmacy. The main street of Dubrovnik -- the Placa -- runs in front of it.
PHOTO: Obligatory selfie in Old City (c) Sery Kim
I think what makes the Windstar Cruises so special, in addition to the brilliantly charming staff and great food, is the incredible itinerary they craft. After all, there are a lot of cruises which take you around the Mediterranean, but how many of them take you from Rome to Pompeii to Taormina through upward to Montenegro, three cities in Croatia as well as a day in Venice? This is literally the only one I found. Still, without Croatia on this list, I would have probably done one of Windstar's great James Beard cruises, a partnership created last year.
I've also gone through the itineraries of the other places Windstar Cruises visits, see all here: https://www.windstarcruises.com/destinations/, and from Alaska to Tahiti every cruise is carefully curated to get the maximum, most unique exposure to the territory. Additionally, in every port, there are multiple options for what you can do with the always available option of wandering around the city yourself. I highly HIGHLY recommend always picking an activity from the selection. In Dubrovnik, the choices were to enjoy "Historic Dubrovnik & Wine Tasting"; "Dubrovnik City Sights & Cable Car" (that's the one I picked); "Adriatic Sea Adventure" (a zodiac boat ride); "Best of Traditional Dubrovnik" (a visit through the very green Konalve Valley); and "Kayaking the City Walls & Lokrum Island). Each of these options range from $99 - $159 and it is completely worth it.
PHOTO: Walking the Old City walls with our Wind Surf in the foreground (c) Sery Kim
This was my favorite stop of all the stops simply because the city was so clean, so well-preserved, and then you get the amazing view of all of Dubrovnik from the cable car. Furthermore, the waters of the Adriatic are exquisitely clear. I didn't have enough time to get from the top of the cable car to the beaches but I 100% will be traveling back to Dubrovnik to get in more of the city!
PHOTO: View of the Old City just outside the walls (c) Sery Kim
Also, three iconic Adriatic Luxury Hotel properties are opening its doors to the public in 2017: Villa Agave, Villa Orsula and Villa Sheherezade offer glorious views of the seaside that pay tribute the city’s moniker, “the pearl of the Adriatic.” Can't wait to come back and check them out as well as explore more of Dubrovnik! Particularly, I can't wait to come back and do more shopping. I found this flawless mother-of-pearl necklace (real pearl with an antique latch) for a mere $60 U.S. I have worn it nearly non-stop since buying it, and I can't even begin to count the number of compliments I get on it! There is so much pearl jewelry to buy in Dubrovnik, I honestly think it is worth it just to buy the airplane ticket over to Croatia rather than pay $5,000 for something akin to this at Tiffany's or Cartier! Plus you get to say, coyly, "Oh this little thing? I bought it in DUBROVNIK, CROATIA!"
PHOTO: My new favorite necklace (c) Sery Kim
Every day just keeps getting better and better! So grateful to Windstar Cruises for bringing me along!