Shortly after sunrise, Sea Cloud entered the "Black Mountains" of Kotorfjord, a seventeen-mile indentation on the Dalmatian Coast of Montenegro. Since the area was carved by rivers instead of ice, it's not a true fjord. We enjoyed a scenic sunrise cruise into the harbor lined with 3,000-foot mountain peaks. We sailed by small towns and shipyards before passing the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Skrpjela), which is located on a small island.
We hopped on buses to drive along the scenic Kotorfjord coastline to the small town of Perast, known for the Church of St. Nicholas. At Perast, we boarded local boats to make the short journey to Gospa od Skrpjela. According to legend, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found floating at the site after a seafaring tragedy. The manmade island where the church stands was created by fisherman transporting rocks by rowboat. Fittingly, the church is dedicated to mariners. With local guides, we visited the church’s interior and a small museum. There we saw historical artifacts as well as various artwork inspired by local mariners and religion.
After returning to Perast, we visited the maritime museum and had some free time to explore the seafront and historic town. We then returned to Kotor, where our local guides took us on a brief walking tour of the medieval town. We stopped at the beautiful St. Tryphon's Cathedral, which was partly damaged when a 1979 earthquake destroyed half of the old town. After the tour, some adventurous souls hiked up the castle walls to St. John’s Fortress for scenic views of the harbor and the ship.
After lunch, we boarded buses to navigate twenty-seven switchbacks to the small village of Njegusi. There we tasted their famous smoked ham, local cheeses, and wine. We peeked into the smokehouse and visited the local stalls selling knitted clothing, meats, and cheeses. During cocktail hour, we enjoyed a sunset cruise through the Kotorfjord with fresh local oysters!