En route to Venice, Phoenicians, Greeks and all the maritime traders of the ancient world plied these waters, bringing wealth and culture to settlements all along the coast. Palaces, towers, churches and mighty walls bear testament to a memorable past, whilst the myriad lavender scented islands, pretty bays and secluded beaches make this the perfect cruising destination. Here is our guide to the best small ships visiting Croatia and the Adriatic:
The intimate SeaDream I, with just 114 fortunate guests on board, offers a laid back, al fresco and inclusive yacht experience on a number of Adriatic itineraries throughout the summer months. Space is already limited in 2020, so you might need to hold fire until 2021 - book early to make sure you don't miss out.
Windstar's magnificent five-masted flagship Wind Surf, with a complement of 342 guests, explores the Adriatic on an expanded programme of itineraries visiting Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Italy and Greece: relaxed and unpretentious, this is the perfect choice for easy-going exploration.
Ponant's chic and elegant little Le Lyrial, with just 244 guests, brings a touch of ooh la la to the Dalmatian Coast. Various itineraries are on offer, and we particularly like the Venice round-trip with its port-intensive itinerary including gems such as Rovinj and Korcula.
The tiny 62-guest Crystal Esprit offers the finest yacht experience, with outstanding food, stylish décor, outstanding service and fares that include everything: drinks, gratuities and even shore excursions are taken care of. If you're lucky you can enjoy watersports from the marina too (depending on the weather).
Silversea's newest ship, Silver Moon, joins the fleet in 2020. The perfect opportunity to test her out will be a 10-day round-trip from Venice in early October, an intriguing itinerary with lots of opportunity to explore ashore, and to get the measure of this lovely new 596-guest vessel.
In 2020, Ritz-Carlton makes its very first foray into cruising, bringing the same Ritz-Carlton land-based style to holidays at sea. Accommodating just 298 guests in spacious sea view suites, the intimate Azora will be in the Adriatic in summer 2021, the perfect combination of new ship and great itinerary.
Seabourn's sublime 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey sails between Athens and Venice on appealing seven-day itineraries. The company's close ties with UNESCO will make visits to the UNESCO sites along the way all the more exciting, and the ship itself is elegant, comfortable and relaxed.
Romance abounds as you slide gracefully under full sail on the lovely 227-guest, five-masted Royal Clipper on a lovely 7-day Croatia and Montenegro itinerary. Availability is already very limited for summer 2020, so book now for 2021. Heads will turn as you sail into the sunset as liberated as ever, with the salty sea breeze rushing through your hair.
New for 2021, the stylish 100-guest yacht Emerald Azzurra offers a range of intriguing itineraries visiting the Dalmatian Coast, the Venetian lagoon and beautiful Istria, a top destination for foodies in search of the tastiest local produce.