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Activities & Excursions on a Croatia Small Ship Cruise

While a cruise can be a great way to relax and simply soak up breathtaking scenery, there are many activities and excursions that can be enjoyed too. For the ultimate Croatia vacation, a mix of both is ideal. From the over 1,100-mile coastline and more than 1,200 islands and islets, there’s something for everyone. Look forward to lots of swim stops, often in secluded bays and off beautiful beaches, and enjoy a marred of watersports like paddleboarding, snorkeling, and jet skiing. Wine enthusiasts and foodies will find plenty while medieval cities with centuries-old landmarks are always fascinating to explore. Whilst not every Croatia small ship cruise features the same activities and excursions, these are just some that you may experience. 

Swim Stops

Swimming in Croatia
My Wish Swim Stop

Guests on a Croatia small ship cruise can enjoy memorable swim stops off remote beaches and in secluded bays where big ships can’t anchor. Leaping into the crystal-clear turquoise waters surrounded by breathtaking scenery is often a daily pastime. The crew will seek out one of the most beautiful spots to safely put down the anchor, near an island or the mainland. While swim stops depend on weather conditions, most days you’ll enjoy at least one. The steps off the back of the ship (or a swim platform) are lowered by the crew, making it easy to get in and out of the water. The stops typically last for an hour, providing plenty of time to savor the experience.

Watersports

Paddle boarding Croatia
Snorkelling Croatia

Surrounded by all that water, it’s no surprise that activities on a small ship cruise in Croatia not only include swimming, but watersports like snorkeling, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. This is a paradise for recreation on the sea thanks to the ideal conditions of the Adriatic, including no sharks, no strong currents, and being one of the most pristine bodies of water in the Mediterranean. Perhaps you’ll grab a snorkel, mask, and fins to explore the underwater world off a secluded cove on Hvar where the water is so remarkably clear you can easily see fish swimming 30 feet below. It’s always a thrill to speed around in a jet ski while paddleboarding provides another active option for exploring.

Guided Walking Tours

Korcula old town
Dubrovnik City walls

Guided walking tours are another highlight of a Croatia vacation, and many are included on a small ship cruise. You’ll have the chance to explore some of the most alluring historic towns with a local guide for the most authentic insider insight. Just imagine strolling the limestone-paved streets of Dubrovnik with its Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque architecture like the glorious Rector’s Palace with its unique mixture of styles. Discover Split and its ancient Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, a vast complex with some of the world’s most well-preserved Roman architecture. A walking tour through Korcula‘s Old Town is always memorable. Sometimes referred to as a “mini-Dubrovnik,” its narrow streets and alleyways are encircled by massive stone walls, towers, and gates.

Wine Tasting

Croatia vineyard
Korcula wine tasting

Croatian wine may not be well-known to those who live outside of the region, but more and more are discovering its delights. The country’s viticulture has a long legacy and it’s something that’s almost always explored on a Croatia small ship cruise. Depending on your itinerary, you might visit the Peljesac Peninsula, one of the most popular places for wine enthusiasts in southern Dalmatia. Located near Dubrovnik, it’s renowned for its red wine made from the indigenous grape Plavac mali. The reds produced here have a deep color while being rich, fruity, and full of tannins. There are some lighter wines produced inland too. Typically, you’ll learn more about the winemaking process, perhaps chat with the winemaker, and enjoy a tasting.

The Blue Cave, Bisevo

Blue Cave
Blue Cave

One of the top excursions you may experience on a small ship cruise in Croatia is a tour of the Blue Cave. Located on the southeastern side of Bisevo Island near the island of Vis, the entrance is narrow, requiring a small boat to get through. When conditions are right, the rays of the sun enter a crack in the interior and reflect on the white limestone sea bottom to illuminate it in a surreal blue glow. First described and presented to the public in 1884 by Austrian explorer Baron Eugene von Ransonet-Villez, the artificial entrance was created to be small enough so that it doesn’t affect the interior lighting. It’s been a popular attraction ever since, attracting over 10,000 visitors annually.

Traditional Dalmatian Dinner

Peka Croatia
Korcula Village

One of the best aspects of traveling to any country is the food. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample some delicious eats that can provide insight into the culture too. Along the Dalmatian Coast, fresh fish and seafood are commonly featured along with staples that nearly every household has: olive oil and wine. Other ingredients often come from the family garden, such as vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, Swiss chard, and potatoes, along with native herbs, although meat is often consumed as well. On some cruises, you will enjoy an excursion to try a traditional Dalmatian dinner at a family home, an ideal opportunity to get to know the locals and learn about their history.

Oyster Tasting

Ston Town
Oyster shucking

The Peljesac Peninsula, and particularly the settlement of Ston, is renowned for its oysters. One of the best activities on a small ship cruise in Croatia is a fresh oyster tasting. The experience includes a boat ride into Mali Ston Bay where you’ll sail around the tiny islets where the delicacies are grown. This is the top spot in the country and beyond to try them – in fact, they’ve often been called the best in the world. Their delicious flavor is said to be thanks to the high concentration of salt and other minerals in the water. You’ll learn how to open them, all about the process of cultivation, and enjoy a taste straight from the sea.

Visit National Parks

Mljet National Park aerial
Krka Waterfalls

Croatia is home to eight national parks, including Kornati, Northern Velebi, Brijuni, Plitvice Lakes, Risnjak, Paklenica, Krka, and Mljet. They’re ideal for exploring picturesque scenery and watching for wildlife with everything from bottlenose dolphins and eagles to bears. Krka is most notable for its river, waterfalls, and abundant flora and fauna, including many endemic, rare, and threatened species. The most popular attraction is Skradinski buk waterfall along the Krka River which is the Mediterranean’s highest at 150 feet. Mljet National Park is also a popular stop on a Croatia small ship cruise, known for its dense forest and saltwater lakes. The larger lake is home to an islet topped by an ancient monastery and church that can be accessed by boat.

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