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8 of the best small ship cruises to Croatia and the Adriatic

Cruise Advice

The beautifully sheltered Adriatic Sea, running between the east coast of Italy and the coast of the former Yugoslavia and Greece, is a cultural gem, the coastline dotted with ancient city states, trading posts and bishoprics.

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:

1. SeaDream Yacht Club

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. These voyages often sell out, so book early to make sure you don't miss out.

SeaDream II in Hvar, Croatia

2. Windstar Cruises

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.

Wind Surf in Kotor, Montenegro

3. Ponant

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.

Ponant - Le Lyrial in Venice

4. Silversea

Silversea's newest ship, Silver Dawn, joins the fleet in 2022. The perfect opportunity to test her out will be a 7-day round-trip from Venice in October, a classic Adriatic itinerary with lots of opportunity to explore ashore, and to get the measure of this lovely new 596-guest vessel.

Silversea - Silver Dawn

5. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

In 2022, 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 2022, the perfect combination of new ship and great itinerary.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection - Azora artist's impression

6. Seabourn

Seabourn's sublime 604-guest Seabourn Encore 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.

Seabourn Odyssey in Venice

7. Star Clippers

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. Pent-up demand means that voyages are filling up quickly, so book now for 2022. Heads will turn as you sail into the sunset as liberated as ever, with the salty sea breeze rushing through your hair.

Star Flyer at sea

8. Emerald Yacht Cruises

New for 2022, 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.

Emerald Azzurra cruising the Dalmatian Coast near Dubrovnik
Edwina Lonsdale, Mundy Cruising
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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