A recent hot topic in the holiday press discussed the relative merits of booking holidays oneself online, using conventional travel agencies or engaging the services of more specialist, often smaller companies. As my wife, Margaret, and I wanted a quite complicated holiday this summer, to combine multiple destinations and modes of travel, we decided to consult the experts – if, that is, we could find someone able to help us achieve our goal.
By chance, Margaret discovered a company called Unforgettable Croatia; fortunate, as we wished to spend our holiday’s first week cruising the coast and islands of this beautiful country. Preferring something smaller than the typical cruise liner, we initially investigated chartering and skippering a yacht ourselves.
But when Margaret contacted Graham Carter of Unforgettable Croatia, we struck gold: thus our first week would be on a 49-metre ship with just twenty spacious, comfortable en-suite cabins, cruising between Dubrovnik and Split. Two daily sea-swimming stops, breakfast, lunch, overnight stops in different ports and professionally guided tours (in English) were all included.
Flying to Dubrovnik to join the ship, we then cruised to places of interest including Mljet and its spectacular National Park; lively Hvar (with superb guided tour); delightful Bol and Pucisca (on the idyllic island of Brac); Makarska, a town backdropped by mountains that rise with reality-defying suddenness; exquisite Korcula town on its namesake island (another excellent guided tour); then back to Dubrovnik for a tour of its historical Old Town.
Aboard ship, with 36 passengers catered for by 8 crew, we found the roomy living areas and well thought out decks facilitated both socialising and private time. A truly international group, our fellow passengers hailed from Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Tunisia and the UK. We lunched with different people each day, relishing the mix of ages and nationalities; indeed, we’ve kept in touch with four couples we met on board.
But when our cruise companions left Dubrovnik to fly home, we instead stayed the night in the luxurious Hotel Lapad…
Margaret had asked Graham to extend our holiday considerably, and he made every further arrangement with the utmost attention to detail. We wanted to visit the south-east, then the north east of Italy, travelling by ferry, train and hire car. On the Sunday, we aimed to take the midday ferry from Dubrovnik harbour for the seven-hour crossing to Bari. Graham had arranged a deluxe cabin which we initially thought unnecessary: we’d anticipated enjoying our Adriatic crossing al fresco… but, in the only poor weather we encountered, heavy rain on Friday and subsequent high winds conspired to severely delay the Jadrolinija ferries. Thus we left Dubrovnik five hours later than planned, entering Bari’s harbour at midnight. Although we’d neared the harbour entrance at 11.30 p.m., the Italian authorities were prohibiting entry until calmer conditions prevailed.