Along the Adriatic Coast with Noble Caledonia

Walled cities and wet cuddles

As we were boarding Princess Eleganza in Kotor I can't honestly say that I was blown away by its graceful lines. As with many things though, the beauty was within and over the next 11 days we couldn't help but develop a fondness for the vessel that would carry us along the coastline of Montenegro and Croatia. 

Upper Deck CabinOur cabin on the Upper Deck was surprisingly spacious for a small ship carrying just 36 passengers and was pleasantly decorated in neutral colours and fabrics of quality. Well equipped with a safe, air con, hair dryer, TV and ensuite facilities, it was a pleasant oasis to rest our heads at night (there's so much beautiful scenery to admire on this cruise we spent little time in our cabin). Apart from a little stormy blip, we were blessed with glorious weather and the majority of our meals were taken alfresco on the promenade deck. There was quite an interesting dining schedule, which included eating on shore (cost not included) roughly every other night. This gave us the opportunity to dine on local dishes in vast squares and watch the world go by, or secluded corners and be crooned by the local saxophonist. We also really enjoyed seeing these places beautifully lit at night and mercifully free from the crowds brought by the now departed cruise ships. 

Views from the Sun DeckIt has to be said though that there was a little part of us that resented being parted from the food provided by the truly amazing on board chef, who seemed to able to do such mouthwatering things with simple ingredients, whilst retaining that home cooked feel (sadly she declined all offers to come home with us). She was supported by the waitress with the winning smile, who would top up my wine glass at lunch or dinner with the merest lifting of my eyebrows (wine/beer is included with on board lunch and dinner). To be fair all the staff were excellent and contributed significantly to a relaxed atmosphere and an enormously enjoyable cruise. The cruise director was also a standout individual whose knowledge of the itinerary, places to eat, attention to detail and concern for the welfare of his passages was impressive. Often I would notice him discreetly covering a sharp edge with one hand whilst helping you on or off a boat with the other, a really caring approach without making you feel like a geriatric.

Fabulous fortsBeing on a small vessel had some distinct advantages. It's easy to get to know your fellow passengers and the crew to get to know you. At some ports there was not enough dock space, so the biggest ships needed to moor offshore and tender people ashore. This took a significant amount of time, whereas we were often docked in a neat corner of the port and could come go as we pleased without delay. Perhaps the key advantage was that we parted company with the cruise ships along the way and visited the quieter less crowded destinations, plus we could find a quiet bay to go for a swim off the back of ‘the Princess’.  The Adriatic is so beautiful to swim in, clear blue, incredibly clean and not a fish in sight.  It has to be said that a couple of our dips were a little bracing, so after a particularly enjoyable swim I was shocked that all on board refused my offer of a cold wet cuddle (hard to believe eh!).

Amazing architectureAll excursions were included on this cruise, impressively well organised and utilised by knowledgeable local guides. This whole coastline is a kaleidoscope of change, influences of the Ottomans, Venetians, Austrians, Hungarians, the forming and break-up of Yugoslavia (and so much more) mean that history buffs will be in seventh heaven.  Walking tours are supplemented by boat rides through amazing scenery, like Lake Skadar and Cernojevica river. We were enthralled by medieval architecture, walled cities, forts and narrow, sometimes quite claustrophobic, streets particularly in Dubrovnik and Split. The big sometimes crowded cities were completely contrasted by the wide open spaces of Krka National Park and the spellbinding waterfalls there (take good shoes though, to see it at its best there are about 200 steps to navigate). The excursion to Zrmanja Canyon also offers grand vistas with the entrance to the gorge being quite dramatic.

Krka WaterfallsWhilst all this sightseeing might leave some breathless, fear not, there was plenty of time to relax on the Sun Deck, grab a cold one and watch this awesome coastline go by. Of the many outstanding views to be on deck for, the sail into (or out of depending on which way you do the cruise) the Gulf of Kotor and the fjord like approach to the medieval and UNESCO listed Kotor, is one you absolutely must not miss. On top of that there were local wines to taste, monasteries to visit, cable cars to ride, Game of Thrones locations to take selfies in, sunsets to be holding hands in, sunshine to tan in and lavender ice cream to taste.

Sounds exhausting doesn't it, but it was all done at a relaxed pace with plenty of free time to catch your breath. We’re so glad we chose this cruise to explore the Adriatic coast.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Noble Caledonia


Video by Cathy Bartrop

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Other Members' Thoughts - 4 Comment(s)

  • coolonespa
    3 months ago
    Thanks TravelEditor
  • coolonespa
    3 months ago
    It was DavidT, we certainly enjoyed it. That's a really good question and the answer is that Noble Cal are all about giving you the chance to experience the region you are visiting. In my view dining in local restaurants is part of that experience, where I can explore local dishes from a wider menu than its practical to offer onboard, also from a greater selection of wines (tried a few Croatian wines) than its practical for the vessel to stock. To give an example, we dined alfresco in a atmospheric square in Split. The weather was glorious, the waiter helped us with our selection of food & wine and we enjoyed some interesting people watching whilst surrounded by outstanding architecture. We would not have wanted to miss that experience for an inclusive meal onboard. That said the nights we did eat onboard with our fellow passengers were brilliant. We also got to enjoy the Chef's skills at breakfast and lunch most days (some days lunch was included on an excursion). Noble Cal do make it very clear that this is the way dining will work in their literature, so nobody was surprised on the cruise. Budget is a tough one because it depends on what standard you wish to eat, from grabbing a burger to fine dining. We ate in nice restaurants and probably only spent 50/60 Euros each time for two people with a bottle of wine. One night we were so stuffed from an outstanding lunch, that we ate Pizza at a small place at a table overlooking the sea (the bill including a nice local wine was peanuts). The Cruise Director was very good at giving multiple options at each port we dined ashore, based on previous passenger feedback. Hope that helps.
  • TravelEditor
    3 months ago
    A great review !
  • DavidT
    3 months ago
    The whole cruise sounds great, but I was a bit surprised about the meals that were not included in the price and had to be taken onshore. Why would this be the case if dining on board was so good? How much extra would you have to budget for this? And were there any directions given as to how/where to find the best eating places??