Sea Cloud arrived early in Boka Kotorska, taking on the local pilot before sunrise. As the ship passed through the picturesque, fjord-like waters, the rising sun revealed the steep surrounding mountains of Montenegro. Disembarking in the former Venetian city of Kotor, we first traveled by bus to the nearby town of Perast, where we boarded a small local tender to visit the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. This artificial island consists of stones cast into the sea by passing sailors, marking the spot where an icon of Mary is said to have appeared. The chapel built on this island features a magnificent coffered ceiling painted by Tripo Kokolja, a seventeenth-century local artist.
Returning to Kotor, we proceeded on a walking tour of the beautiful walled city. This ancient city, already established in the Roman era, became an important Venetian outpost in the early 1400s. We explored some of the highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the twelfth-century Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, restored on multiple occasions due to the region’s frequent earthquakes. After a lunch break on the ship, docked next to the main gate of the city, we traveled by bus up the mountains. Along the road, patches of wild fig and pomegranate grow among the pine trees that darken the rugged limestone cliffs, giving the country its descriptive name: Black Mountain. After passing 25 harrowing switchbacks on the narrow two-way road, we reached the mountain village of Njeguši to sample the rustic cheese and pršut (smoked ham) that makes the village famous in the region. Our full day in Montenegro concluded with a sail-away featuring local oysters and a dinner on the Lido Deck as twilight descended over the dramatic landscape.