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Day 1: Fly UK » Dubrovnik
You'll arrive at the airport to take your flight to this historic walled city. On arrival, you will be escorted to the harbour where the superb four-star MV Corona awaits. The captain and crew will welcome you aboard and help you settle into your comfortable, well-equipped cabin. For the rest of the day it's time to relax and get to know your fellow passengers – there are just thirty-eight of you in total! Perhaps you'll catch some 'rays' on the Sun deck or take a stroll ashore. It'll soon be time for dinner and the ship's restaurant awaits. After dinner, why not take a stroll around Dubrovnik, or enjoy a digestif in a local bar?
Day 2: The Elaphite Islands - Mljet
As you rise refreshed in the morning and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, you'll be so glad you chose this holiday. The MV Corona, our home for the next week and every inch the private yacht, slips out of the harbour and out to sea. Dubrovnik soon fades into the distance – but we will be back for a more in-depth visit later. It is impossible for large cruise liners to visit the charming and almost deserted hamlets accessible to the MV Corona. The Dalmatian coastline is legendary: one of Europe's most dramatic, extending for hundreds of miles, where steep limestone cliffs plunge into sapphire-blue waters. The mirror-like Adriatic is studded with countless islands, some tiny, some large, some inhabited, some not. We arrive at Mljet, one of the most seductive of such islands, where the hillsides are clad in a green carpet of lush pine forests bringing that instantly recognisable Mediterranean aroma to the air. Nestling in picturesque coves are medieval fishing villages, refreshingly free from tasteless development, where the alleyways are simply pebbles set into the earth and overhead shutters sway precariously in the warm, gentle breezes. Life here continues much as it has for centuries. We go ashore to the tiny islet of St Mary's and visit the 12th century former Benedictine monastery. With its colourful walls and altar carved from local stone you will already feel a long way from home. Gaze around you during dinner at one of the hospitable local restaurants and absorb the ambience. It's easy to see why legend has it that the Greek hero Ulysses came here to contemplate!
Day 3: Mljet - Hvar
After breakfast, you can take to the deck to see the spectacular coast of the island of Korcula sliding by as this morning we cruise northwards along one of the world's most beautiful stretches of water to another stunning island in this enchanting archipelago, Hvar. Disembarking this afternoon into the delightful and bewitching little town, wandering here is pure joy. Remarkably, it's so compact and cosy the streets don't even have names. With its fresh water springs, the island is unusually green, its hillsides boasting spectacular pine forests. Elsewhere you'll find olive groves, orchards and vineyards, the aromatic pleasures of the island exemplified by the delicate fragrance of abundant lavender fields. Hvar has been inhabited since Neolithic times; later, the ancient Greeks founded a colony here, and during the 14th century, as the Venetian Empire extended its influence, it became a major naval base. Also on the island's northern shores are some distinctive fortified 16th century buildings, built to repel pirates and assaults by the Ottoman Empire. After exploring Hvar's agricultural, historical and cultural splendours, dine at leisure where you wish. The ship remains moored in Hvar overnight.
Day 4: Hvar - Split
En-route to Dalmatia's capital, Split, we call for a swim stop at Brac, a remote and unspoilt island far from any madding crowd's interruption. Split is principally famous for a single building, the Emperor Diocletian's huge palace, one of the greatest structures of the Roman Empire. No expense was spared in its construction - the best Italian marble, with columns and sphinxes from Egypt. But what makes this palace so astonishing is that during medieval times it was fully integrated into the town's fabric with a jumble of buildings grafted onto and inside it. This means, for example, the temple of Jupiter became a baptistry. It's all the more fascinating that today 3,000 people still live here. You will find surprises at every turn: there are tall medieval buildings lining the streets, but buttressed by unmistakably Roman columns! We have a guided walking tour of this fascinating complex which has recently been used as the setting of the TV spectacular 'Game of Thrones'. Take dinner at your leisure whilst the ship remains moored in Split. Back on board enjoy a digestif on the sun deck, gaze into the night sky and try to recall the last time you felt so 'at ease' with life.
Day 5: Split – Pucisca, Makarska or Omis
We come ashore for an opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters of one of the remote and unspoilt bays of either Pucisca, Makarska or Omis, and then enjoy a leisurely lunch where you wish. Pucisca, perhaps the most spectacular jewel in the crown of Croatia's villages, boasts dwellings of gleaming white stone reflecting the sun onto the water. From Makarska you can marvel at the rocky splendour of Mount Biokovo, nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, which shelters the coast from less temperate climates further inland. During the 10th century this region was bedevilled by fearsome pirates preying on passing ships. A slightly raffish atmosphere still prevails but piracy has long since been replaced by more peaceful activities such as fishing, olive oil and wine making. St Mark's Baroque church and some palatial 18th century Venetian style houses stand guard over Makarska's main square. Omis, formerly a stronghold of the formidable Corsairs of Almissa, is where the spectacular emerald-green River Cetina runs into the Adriatic. By the time you have breathed in the atmosphere and history of this glorious part of the coast, it's time to relax back on board as the Chef presents the Captain's Dinner - a delicious selection of Croatian and Mediterranean specialities.
Day 6: Pucisca, Makarska or Omis - Korcula
Morning breaks and we find ourselves breakfasting over more stunning views of this most spectacular coastline. After a leisurely morning and another tasty lunch on board we soon arrive into the historic town of Korcula. Ruled by the Venetians for 800 years, it is rather reminiscent of a much smaller Dubrovnik, with its host of tangled lanes so typical of medieval Mediterranean ports. The town is a charming small fortress, celebrated for supplying timber for the wooden walls of Venice and its harbour was a major shelter for the Venetian fleet. You'll find architectural gems at every turn in its narrow cobbled streets. Famous for its artistic and musical traditions, Korcula has its own unique sword dance, the 'moreska', and a form of a-capella singing, but is much more famous as the birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo. His house can still be visited, as can the All Saints museum with its glorious collection of Byzantine icons. After our guided walking tour, you are free to explore this beautiful town further. After dinner at your leisure, why not take an after-dinner drink in one of the innumerable harbour side cafés whilst admiring the sleek lines of the MV Corona.
Day 7: Korcula - Dubrovnik
This morning we depart on our last stretch of this cruise, arriving in Dubrovnik just after lunch. We take a guided tour of the old town, an independent city-state for much of its history, it has evolved differently to the rest of Croatia. The city threw off its Venetian shackles during medieval times founding a commercial empire trading with the eastern Mediterranean, France, Spain and later the Ottoman Empire. As so often happened, the city began to reflect its resultant wealth and today this wonderfully Baroque city proudly nestles behind its huge imposing ramparts in a situation of outstanding natural beauty. The main avenue, lined by intimate cafés, is completely paved with marble, which dazzles in the sunlight and gives credence to the city's description as the 'Pearl of the Adriatic'. Throughout the city you will find a wonderful array of monasteries, beautifully decorated churches and civic buildings dating from the 14th century. The guided walking tour encompasses all this and more, after which you are free to explore as you wish. This evening enjoy a final dinner at your leisure in this most beguiling of cities; and as you relax, your thoughts inevitably turn to the wonderful places you have experienced and the interesting people you have met on this most fascinating of maritime adventures.
Day 8: Dubrovnik » UK
After breakfast, disembark MV Corona and head to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Terms & Conditions: Fare shown is per person, based on 2 adults sharing the lead grade of stateroom - based on 6 May 2018 from London Gatwick. Promotional details, fares and itineraries were correct at time of publish but can be changed/withdrawn at any time without notice. E&OE.