Itinerary, 25 September–5 October
Unfortunately the days of the week and timings do not allow us to fly directly on this departure. Direct flights are available with Easy Jet, with whom we cannot make a group booking.
Split. Fly 9.00am from London Heathrow to Split via Vienna (Austrian Airlines). Board the MS Desire before an introductory walk around Split’s city walls. First of a series of lectures on board before dinner. Moor overnight in Split.
Šibenik. Early morning departure from Split. Sail northwest to Šibenik, an attractive medieval maritime town, with a Gothic-Renaissance cathedral. The rest of the afternoon is free with the option of a riverboat tour to the Franciscan monastery on the island of Visovac. Moor overnight in Šibenik.
Zadar. The morning and early afternoon is spent sailing through enchanting coastal scenery to Zadar. Sometime capital of Croatia, the town is well endowed with architecture including a Romanesque cathedral and a circular pre-Romanesque church. The Museum of Church Art has important Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque exhibits. Moor overnight in Zadar.
Trogir. Sail back down the coast and arrive mid-afternoon in Trogir, a delightful little island city with a delightfully restored Old Town and Romanesque cathedral with exceptionally fine sculpture (c. 1240). The 15th-century clock tower and loggia, with its large Meštrović bas-relief, complete the square. Moor overnight in Trogir.
Split. The core of Split consists of the vast quadrangular palace built by Emperor Diocletian ad 295–305 for his retirement. Particularly well preserved are the colonnaded central court, Temple of Jupiter (now a church), Diocletian’s mausoleum (the cathedral) and the halls of the palace’s substructure. Visit the home and studio of Ivan Meštrović, the great Croatian sculptor (1883–1962), and the Archaeological Museum, with an excellent collection of Roman antiquities. Moor in Split.
Salona. The once great Roman city of Salona (now Solin, 5km north of Split) affords a unique insight into the last stages of urban life, its walls now encircling a complete ecclesiastical quarter. Just outside, the funerary basilica of Manastirine illustrates the emergence of Christian architecture, authority and artistic style after the age of martyrdoms under Diocletian. The afternoon is spent sailing to the island of Hvar. Moor overnight in Hvar.
Hvar, Vis. Visit the medieval walled town of Hvar: narrow streets with Gothic palaces, 15th-century Franciscan monastery and beautiful 17th-century arsenal. Some free time before departure in the early afternoon. Arrive in Vis, Croatia’s farthest flung possession and its oldest recorded settlement. Visit the Archaeological Museum with its famous 4th-century BC bronze head of a Greek goddess. Moor overnight in Vis. As the most unsheltered island in the Adriatic, it can be difficult to moor in Vis in bad weather. It may be removed from the programme at short notice.
Korčula. Most of the day is spent sailing south-east to the island of Korčula whose history stretches back as far as anywhere in Croatia. Moor in the old town for a guided walk including the magnificent Gothic-Renaissance Cathedral of St Mark with two paintings by Tintoretto. Moor overnight in Korčula.
Korčula, Slano, Ston. The morning is free for independent exploration of Korčula town. Sail before lunch to Slano, a quiet town on the Pelješac Peninsula, 35km north of Dubrovnik. By coach to Ston, which is surrounded by a series of remarkably well-preserved 14th-century walls, built to protect the saltpans, among the oldest in the Mediterranean. Stay in town for dinner to sample Croatia’s best oysters and mussels. Drive back to Slon and moor overnight here.
Dubrovnik. Arrive in Dubrovnik and take the wall walk along the fortifications which are among the most complete, daunting and handsome of any in Europe, rising and falling with the terrain and affording prospects across the rooftops and out to sea. Then explore the city; while a pleasing uniformity was imposed on the façades after the earthquake of 1667, fine medieval monastic cloisters survive and two major palaces are Gothic. Moor overnight in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik. Second visit to Dubrovnik: the cathedral, a delightful exercise in Venetian Baroque, possesses an altarpiece by Titian, while the Dominican convent has an excellent collection of Croatian and Italian Renaissance paintings. Free time and independent lunch before leaving for the airport. The flight from Dubrovnik via Vienna (Austrian Airlines)arrives London Heathrow at c. 6.40pm.
Please note that weather conditions can be unpredictable and the itinerary is dependent on them. Changes to moorings may need to be made at short notice.
Itinerary, 5–15 October
The sites and visits are the same as the other sailing, though the order is different. Flights are direct:
Fly at c. 1.45pm from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik (British Airways).
Day 11. Fly from Split to London Gatwick (Croatia Airlines) arriving c. 3.45pm.
Dr Zoe Opacic
Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture at Birkbeck College, specialising in medieval art, architecture and urbanism. She received her BA, MA and PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, she edited the Journal of British Archaeological Association (2015–18). She has longstanding family connections with Dalmatia.
Dr Ffiona Gilmore Eaves
Read Archaeology at Cambridge followed by a PhD from Nottingham on the early church at Porec. She has lectured for the WEA, for whom she founded and managed a study tours section, and for various extra-mural departments. She is the co-author of Retrieving the Record: A Century of Archaeology at Porec published by the University of Zagreb.
The ship & prices
The MS Desire is a first-rate, 20-cabin vessel, launched in 2017. Cabins and bathrooms are finished to a high standard. There is an air-conditioned dining room and a bar. Cabins vary in size according not only to deck but also according to position within the outer curves of the ship’s deck plan. All cabins have at least one opening window.
Lower deck cabins: have small porthole windows, of which one can be opened. There is little difference in size between lower and middle deck cabins. Price, per person. Two sharing: £4,080 or £3,910 without flights. Single occupancy: £4,680 or £4,510 without flights.
Main deck cabins: fully opening windows. Price, per person. Two sharing: £4,520 or £4,350 without flights. Single occupancy: £5,190 or £5,020 without flights.
Upper deck cabins: spacious with large opening windows. Price, per person. Two sharing: £4,990 or £4,820 without flights.
Suite: stands alone on the sundeck, with panoramic views. Price, per person. Two sharing: £5,460 or £5,290 without flights.
Flights (economy) with Austrian Airlines or British Airways and Croatia Airlines; travel by private coach; accommodation on the ship; breakfasts; 9 lunches (on board) and 7 dinners (of which five are in restaurants ashore) with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
There is a lot of walking in the city centres, some of it on uneven ground, and there are steep flights of steps to be climbed.
Between 20 and 30 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'Congratuations for choosing to sail the Dalmatian Coast – the best way to see this beautiful coast.'
'We had an excellent guide who was brilliant with the history, delivered in highest quality English and humour.'
'It was great fun, and a particularly friendly crowd of like-minded people.'