Today, we started our day in Dubrovnik with a city tour with our local guides. We observed the outside of Rector’s Palace and the interior of the 13th century Franciscan monastery, and we took a walk along the city’s walls. We spent 45 minutes walking along the walls with beautiful views of the St. Lawrence Fortress and surrounding areas. After our tour, we had free time to explore the city. A Viking television series is being filmed in the city, and we got to see the film sets and actors. Sea Cloud’s pool opened up before teatime in the afternoon, and guests were able to swim in the Adriatic Sea for the first time during the trip! Our historian, Robyn, gave a presentation on the Venetian Empire. This was followed by a Klapa performance by a local a cappella group that performed on the Lido deck. For dinner, we enjoyed a Filipino feast on the Lido deck with the option to tender back to the city afterwards.
It’s hard to believe it is the last day of our magical cruise along the Dalmatian Coast. A visit to the beautiful island of Hvar, the “lavender capital” of Croatia, was the perfect way to end our voyage. Sea Cloud slipped through the narrow channel between the Pakleni Islands and dropped anchor just in front of the old Venetian harbor of the town of Hvar. We tendered into the pier for an early morning walking tour of this delightful town full of Venetian-inspired Renaissance palaces with pointed trefoil windows and ground-floor loggias. Cafes, bars, and lavender stands lined one side of the quay, while yachts and catamaran ferries from the Split jostled for position on the other. Our guides took us along the seawall and out to the Franciscan Monastery to see their little physic garden with its 500-year-old cypress tree and the impressive 16th century painting of the “Last Supper” that dominates the monk’s refectory. This magnificent work was done by a Venetian artist of the school of Paolo Veronese. The artist was shipwrecked on the island and nursed back to health in the monastery. We wound our way back to the main square, then climbed up through the narrow Porta Maestra that was once the main entrance to the fortified section of the town. We stopped in front of the small Benedictine convent, where five cloistered nuns still make lace from the fibers of the agave plant. After a visit to the basilica of St. Stephens on the main square, some of us fanned out on our own to explore the alleyways leading up to the Venetian fortress that protects the city, while others chose to buy a few lavender products or just sit and enjoy a cool drink in one of the many bars along the quay. All too soon, the tenders arrived to shuttle us back to the ship so we could partake in the famous “parmesan wheel” pasta feast on the Lido Deck. As we moved away from Hvar, the captain had the sailors go aloft for one last afternoon under sail.