Adriatic: Surf and turf

Mljet, where t is said Ulysses stayed for seven years during his Odyssey, is home to  St. Mary's, a 12th century monastery.
Mljet, where t is said Ulysses stayed for seven years during his Odyssey, is home to St. Mary's, a 12th century monastery.
  • Not sure whether to cruise or explore on land? Chris Hutchinson discovers the best of both worlds on the Adriatic.
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There were differences in the Hutchinson household – my wife Pam fancied a holiday in Montenegro, I wanted to cruise the Dalmatian Islands. Thankfully Daisy from Anatolian Sky broke the deadlock. ”I can organise for you to do both,” she said. I paid the deposit immediately.

We boarded the elegant Adriatic Pearl, a deluxe boat, capacity 36 people, in Dubrovnik and setting sail we passed lush green islands with tiny golden beaches etched into their rocky shore line.

First port of call, the island of Korcula, birthplace of explorer Marco Polo. Our guided tour concentrated on the ‘old town’ claimed to be one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in the Adriatic. It lived up to its reputation, with a labyrinth of cobbled streets. Our evening meal of Korcula style chicken at Cupido Restaurant was delicious and cost just £8 each including local beer.

Next day we sailed into the picturesque harbour of Brac, famous for white marble used to build the White House. We watched in awe as the stonemasons manually turned rough slabs into objects of beauty. Our visit ended with an invigorating swim in crystal clear waters.

The Adriatic Pearl seemed to glide across the Brac Channel to Omis, where we took an excursion up the river Cetina, a stunning canyon, to an old flour mill, where we enjoyed various hams, cheeses and breads, with wine from nearby vineyards.

At the next stop, the vibrant town of Split, a highlight is the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace and an open market which offers quality goods at keen prices.

By now we were thoroughly enjoying life on board the Adriatic Pearl. Heading towards the island of Hvar we anchored off a tiny bay on an uninhabited island, to swim above underwater beauty.

Last port was Mljet. It is said Ulysses stayed for seven years during his Odyssey, I can understand why. What sets this island apart is its National Park which occupies most of the island, characterised by lush forests and colourful undergrowth. You take the ferry to the tiny island of St. Mary’s, home to the 12th century monastery, where a short climb reveals roman ruins and breathtaking views. It cost £2 but I would have paid 10 times more.

We spent our final night on the Adriatic Pearl in Dubrovnik with new friends from down under. I could not help but raise an eyebrow when Pam said “how pleased she was in choosing the cruise”. I thought it was my idea.

We started our land-based stay with three nights at the impressive Hotel Croatia, above Cavtat, and surrounded by cyprus and pine trees, this hotel is perfectly located on the peninsula, offering stunning views of islands, and its easily accessed harbour.

It is easy to relax in Cavtat, with its idyllic natural waterfront and laid back bars and restaurants. During our stay, guess who said “why don’t we take a day cruise to three more islands”? I smiled and nodded.

We chose the traditional boat ‘Rudolfo’ and its Skipper Dom lived up to his promise of a “day to remember”.

After we returned, a scenic one-hour journey took us to Montenegro where we stayed four nights in Budva with its quaint squares and pristine beaches nestling in natural coves. A must visit is Porto restaurant on the marina where the fish was exceptional.

We certainly discovered pearls of the Adriatic creating indelible memories from our first tailor-made holiday

• Anatolian Sky Holidays offers a tailor-made holiday for the same 14-night itinerary, including flights and transfers and based on a seven-night Adriatic Cruise on the Adriatic Pearl (HB), three nights at the 5 star Croatia Hotel in Cavtat (B&B) and four nights at the four star Avala Resort in Budva (B&B) from £1299 pp travelling in April or early May. A seven-night stay at the Croatia Hotel in Cavtat costs from £465pp. Call 0844 2733586 or visit www.anatoliansky.co.uk