Despite its often turbulent past, cultural and natural wonders abound in the Balkans and the region offers so much for the genuine traveller. At the crossroads of east and west, and with a history forged over the centuries and influenced by so many, there are a wealth of fascinating cultural sites and natural world marvels to discover during this exploration which includes Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In addition the coastal scenery is amongst the most beautiful Europe has to offer with mountains that sweep down to the sea covered in rich vegetation and islands that lace the coast creating endless inviting waterways perfect for small ship cruising. We will explore Medieval towns and cities, ancient castles, impressive monasteries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the marvellous town of Kotor and the unique old town of Dubrovnik. For natural world highlights we have included Mljet National Park, the majestic Krka Falls and the Neretva Wetlands.
We begin our journey with three nights in Albania during which we will learn of its intriguing history while based in the lively capital of Tirana. The centrepiece of our journey then follows, a nine night voyage aboard the delightful Princess Eleganza along the beautiful coastline between Kotor in Montenegro and the charming Croatian town of Opuzen. Along the way we will witness breathtaking natural beauty, an intense blue sea, amazingly picturesque islands and some stunning architecture. With the Princess Eleganza which accommodates just 36 guests, we are able to visit some marvellous places which do not cater for the big ships and an added advantage is that each night we will remain moored in the picturesque harbours affording the opportunity to take an after-dinner stroll and dine ashore on certain evenings.
Following on from our voyage, we will spend three nights in Croatia’s lesser-visited neighbour, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a truly fascinating country. Often overshadowed by its tumultuous past, it has emerged from its recent civil war reincarnated and offers the visitor a wealth of historical and cultural treasures, highlights of which will be the cities of Mostar and Sarajevo.
Whether it be the heady mix of Croatia’s islands and ports, sailing through beautiful scenery, the wealth of historic buildings or the intriguing history of the region, this unique area has so much to offer and our new itinerary will be appreciated by those who enjoy an informal style of cruising and an eclectic mix of places. We will be joined along the way by local experts who will add much to our understanding of the Balkan’s past and present.
Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival transfer to the Mak Albania hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before we meet for dinner this evening.
This morning we drive the short distance to Kruje, renowned as the birthplace of Skanderbeg, a military commander who defended the country against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. We will visit the 6th century castle perched above the city before visiting the Skanderbeg Museum. After lunch we spend the afternoon in Tirana where we will see the fascinating nuclear bunker built by the dictator Enver Hoxha in the 1970s and only recently opened to the public. This underground building is packed with original artefacts from the communist period. Afterwards continue to the National Museum where we will learn of Albanian history from ancient to modern before walking through the city centre to see the mosque, Clock Tower and the “Bloku” area of the city. Tonight is free to either find a restaurant in the city or to dine in the hotel.
After breakfast we drive to the coastal city of Durres which was colonised by the Greeks in 627 BC and still has the remains of a 15,000 seat amphitheatre, the second largest in the Balkans. We will explore the Medieval city and the Archeological Museum and after lunch we will return to Tirana and visit the House of Leaves Museum. Located in the former headquarters of the Sigurimi, the Albanian secret service, it provides a fascinating showcase from documents to surveillance equipment used by the Hoxha regime. Return to the hotel for some free time before we dine in the hotel this evening.
Check out this morning and drive to the town of Shkodra which was founded in the 4th century BC and has been occupied by the Romans, Serbians and Venetians. Here we will visit the Rozafa Castle, which rises majestically on a rocky hill just outside the city and explore the museum within the walls. Afterwards we will visit a nearby farm for a “slow food” lunch of locally sourced ingredients. Continue to the border to cross into Montenegro and drive through the countryside to Kotor to embark the Princess Eleganza. After settling into our cabins this evening, enjoy drinks and dinner on board as we moor overnight.
This morning we take a walking tour of the Medieval town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor. This really is an extraordinary place full of marvellous architecture and pretty town squares. Our walk will include the 12th century Cathedral of St Tryphon, the ancient town gates, the Maritime Museum and Romanesque churches including St Luke’s. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail to Dubrovnik. Arrive this evening and enjoy dinner on board.
Spend the morning in Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic“. After a short drive to Pile Gate, enjoy a guided walk through the unique Medieval Old Town, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. See the major attractions such as the Rector’s Palace, the Romanesque-Gothic Dominican and Franciscan Monasteries and the Sponza Palace. Later we sail to Mljet. This is one of the few Dalmatian islands that was never ruled by Venice, which is apparent in the architecture and the absence of any sizeable historic town. What it lacks in terms of great architecture it more than makes up for in natural beauty as we will see on our tour to the National Park including its beautiful lakes. Enjoy dinner independently in one of the local restaurants as we moor overnight.
Arrive this morning in Korcula, the reputed birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo. A guided tour will include a walk along Korcula’s crooked Medieval streets to the elegant squares which are flanked with palaces of the old nobility. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail this afternoon to the island of Vis where we have dinner on board as we moor overnight.
This morning we depart for an island tour of Vis. The island spent much of its recent history serving as a Yugoslav military base, cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s right up until 1989. This isolation preserved it from development, and today it offers tranquility and a unique beauty. Sail over lunch to Hvar. This afternoon we take a brief walking tour of the Old Town of Hvar including the main square, which is the largest piazza in Dalmatia, the cathedral, the Franciscan Monastery and the Benedictine Nunnery, where we hear about the aloe lace still produced today by the nuns. Enjoy dinner on board as we moor overnight.
Sail this morning to Trogir, our base for a visit to the majestic waterfalls of Krka. We will take a guided walk on wooden walkways and across bridges through this unique fjordlike landscape with its multiple waterfalls and interesting flora and fauna. Return to Trogir this afternoon and take the chance to explore this former Greek settlement. See the 13th century Cathedral of St Lawrence, the Cipiko palaces and city walls before finding a restaurant for dinner this evening.
Sail this morning for Split. This afternoon enjoy a guided walk through the town. Explore the Palace of Diocletian, built by the emperor in 295-305 AD as his retirement villa. Much of this large building is well preserved and the palace contains Split’s old town within its walls, making it the only Roman palace that has been continuously inhabited since Roman times. It is a wonderful spot to wander the maze of streets. We will moor centrally this evening and you can enjoy dinner independently in one of the many restaurants on the Riva Promenade.
Over breakfast we sail the short distance to the island of Brac and the attractive port of Pucisca located at the end of a long bay. Brac is world renowned for the quality of its stone which was used for the Diocletian’s Palace in Split as well as the White House in Washington and other parliament buildings in Europe. Spend the morning in the charming small town, voted one of the prettiest in Europe, where the buildings white roofs create an ambient atmosphere. Over lunch we sail to Makarska port located in a stunning location on the coast backed by the Biokovo mountains. A popular summer destination due to its nearby beaches it also has a historical centre including the Franciscan monastery, Church of St Peter and the city museum. This evening there is the opportunity to dine independently in one of the local restaurants.
Sail this morning and this afternoon arrive in Opuzen, located 12 kilometres from the coast on the Neretva River. Situated in the Neretva valley, the region is known as the centre of mandarin production in Croatia. Here we will board local boats to sail through the canals and backwaters of the Neretva Wetlands ending with a tasting of the local brandy at the local villa. Return to the ship for dinner on board as we moor overnight.
After breakfast we will disembark the Princess Eleganza in Opuzen and begin our journey to Bosnia. Our first call will be at Pocitelj, situated on the Neretva River, which is a splendid Ottoman city dating back to the Middle Ages. Here, King Tvrtko I of Bosnia built a fortress in 1383 which was later conquered by the Turks in 1471. Today this is truly a magical open-air museum with many Ottoman monuments, such as the Hadzi Alija Mosque and the Clock Tower. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before we continue on to Blagaj Tekke, also known as the Dervish Monastery. The tekija was built to host gatherings of the Sufi Brotherhood, and the stunning half-timbered tekija rests beside the fast-flowing blue-green Buna River. Arrive in Mostar in the early evening and check in to our hotel for an overnight stay. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
In the 15th century, Mostar became a thriving centre on the banks of the emerald Neretva River under the Ottoman Turks. Damaged by the military conflict in the 1990s, the town has been carefully restored by UNESCO and declared a World Heritage Site. Admire the ethereally graceful Stari Most (“The Old Bridge”), originally built in 1566, the nearby Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and an old Turkish house, among other sites. You may also wish to explore the old bazaar independently, a haven for the city’s artists and craftsmen. After lunch we will continue our journey to Sarajevo and check in to our hotel this afternoon. Meet later for dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast in the hotel we will take a walking tour of Sarajevo including Sarajevo City Hall, one of the most beautiful buildings from the Austro-Hungarian period. It is the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it faces the Miljacka River and the Emperors’ Mosque, the city’s oldest mosque. We will then continue on to see the Latin Bridge, where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914. We will also take a walk through Bascarsija, the old part of the town built in the Ottoman period, where we can learn about the local food, crafts, and traditions. We will take lunch in a local restaurant and this afternoon we continue for a visit of the nearby mini spa town of Ilidza, where Franz Ferdinand and his wife stayed in June 1914. On arrival we will make our way to the public park of Vrelo Bosne, an oasis of greenery and gushing streams of water, one of the country’s prime natural attractions. Our day ends with a visit of the Tunnel Museum, the centrepiece of which is a 25 metre section of the 1 metre wide, 1.6 metre high hand-dug tunnel under the airport runway that acted as the city’s lifeline to the outside world during the 1992–95 siege. Walking through a short, restored section is the moving culmination to a visit that includes an archive video, a minefield garden and an engrossing museum within the shellpounded house that hid the tunnel entrance. Return to the hotel and this evening enjoy our final dinner.
After breakfast in the hotel transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Itineraries are subject to change.
09 October, 2020 to 24 October, 2020
Double Cabin aft, Main Deck. The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Main Deck cabins have port holes. Cabins measure between 14 and 15 m2.
Twin/Double Cabin, Main Deck. The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Main Deck cabins have port holes. Cabins measure between 14 and 15 m2.
Twin/Double Cabin, Upper Deck. The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Upper Deck cabins have small windows. Cabins measure between 14 and 15 m2.
Single Cabin on Upper Deck. The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Upper Deck cabins have small windows. The two single cabins measure 12m2.
Master Double Cabin on Upper or Promenade Deck. The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Upper Deck cabins have small windows, the Promenade cabins have larger picture windows which offer panoramic views. The Master cabins measure 20 m2.
Vessel Type: Small Ship
Passenger Capacity: 36
Built in 2015, this beautifully crafted vessel sails the Adriatic coast from Opatija to Kotor taking in the highlights of this stunning area.
If you are looking for an escape from the formalities of the larger ships, then look no further than the Princess Eleganza. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, with the dress code reflecting this. With just 36 like-minded passengers, the mood is intimate, and what better way to enjoy the views of magnificent islands and cities, than sitting on the Sun Deck watching the world pass slowly by. Part of the joy of a cruise aboard this vessel is its capability to dock in small ports or drop anchor in any suitable spot. Being such a small operation, the close knit team work excellently together and will enrich your overall enjoyment of small ship cruising.
The 19 cabins are finished to the highest standard with sleek lines and neutral colours. All are equipped with a safe, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer, and flat screen TV. Each cabin also has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin. Most cabins also feature a dressing table and chair. Main Deck cabins have port holes, whilst Upper Deck cabins have small windows. The Promenade cabins have larger picture windows which offer panoramic views.
Voyage on board in selected cabin cateogry
House wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board
Noble Caledonia expedition team
Shore excursions as per the itinerary (Note: Some itineraries have optional excursions as per the specific exclusions)
Port Charges/ Taxes
Transfers as per the itinerary (Note: Transfers are offered in conjunction with group flights)
Trip specific inclusions;
International Flights: London to Albania and Sarjevo to London. Can be removed resulting in a reduced fare
Three nights hotel accommodation in Tirana with breakfast
Breakfast & lunch daily
Dinner on days, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 & 15
Three nights hotel accommodation in Bosnia-Herzegovina with breakfast
Passport and Visa costs where applicable
Beverages other than those listed in inclusions
Meals when not on board the ship unless otherwise stated
Pre and post voyage accommodation unless otherwise stated
Optional excursions as per specific itinerary
Any items of a personal nature
Trip specific exclusions;
Dinner on days 2, 6, 9, 10, 11