Tauck's Croatia tour and cruise begins at 6:00 PM at Hotel Danieli, Venice or Westin Europa & Regina. A transfer from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Hotel Danieli or Westin Europa & Regina is included upon your arrival. Join us this evening in this wonderful setting for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner.
Sightseeing in Venice including St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace
You'll get a taste of how opulent life was for the ruling elite of medieval Venice at the richly decorated Doge's Palace; it served as the official residence of the Venetian Republic's rulers through the Renaissance and beyond. There's nothing quite like getting to know a new destination through the eyes - and the experiences - of a local expert... and you'll do just that in Venice today when you join a resident guide in this city of canals for a tour of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the center of Venetian life and home to dramatic St. Mark's Basilica. After some first-class people-watching (not to mention pigeon-watching) in one of the most recognizable public squares on Earth, go inside the Basilica, a magnificent blend of Eastern and Western influences, for a close-up look at its gleaming mosaics and other priceless treasures including statues, icons and its famous horses (day of visit may vary). The rest of your day is free to explore car-free Venice as you please.
Islands of Murano and Burano then your cruise begins
The little island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon became Europe's principal glass-producing center during the Renaissance, and its artisans still craft their signature glass the traditional way. See how it's done during a glassblowing demonstration at a Murano studio before visiting the small island of Burano, renowned for little fishing villages dotted with brightly painted houses favored by European artists - and for the delicate lace it produces. After exploring Burano on your own, return to Venice and board the innovative yacht Le Lyrial. Sip welcome cocktails as Le Lyrial departs from Venice for the Adriatic and the Dalmatian Coast.
The remarkable island of Korcula
Sail today to the Adriatic island of Korcula, birthplace of famed 13th-century explorer Marco Polo, and discover its medieval walled city with Cathedral Square at its center. You have a choice of three sightseeing excursions today - a guided walking tour that highlights the variety of architectural styles seein Korcula include its most famous house, the Museum of Icons in the church, and the Cathedral St. Marco, decorated with statues on the façade. Alternatively, enjoy "A Taste of Korcula" where you'll visit a family estate to sample the hospitality and lifestyle of local residents. If you wish, there's also an opportunity to do some kayaking in Korcula's Islands. Late afternoon everyone is treated to a firsthand look at the island's folkloric traditions with a private Moreska dance presentation of a Moroccan folk story, performed only in this town. Enjoy some free time into this evening to explore on your own, before returning to the ship for a welcome reception and dinner. The ship departs for Sibenik tonight.
Sibenik, Krka National Park and Split
Le Lyrial arrives in Sibenik, Croatia, where you'll have an opportunity to choose morning and afternoon sightseeing excursions. Morning choices include a walking tour of Sibenik and a visit to a local Dalmatian village; visits to the medieval town of Trogir (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a local Dalmatian village; or a scenic coastal drive along the Adriatic that takes you to Krka National Park for walks and swimming - the Krka River, waterfalls, lush canyons and a multitude of birds makes it special. Everyone arrives in Split, Croatia's second-largest city, for afternoon exploring that includes a choice between a "Historic Split Walking Tour" showcasing the remains of Diocletian's Palace, built between the 3rd and 4th centuries, whose well-preserved ruins house shops, homes, and one of the world's oldest cathedrals within their ancient walls; "The Best of Split and a Cetina Rivercruise" featuring the highlights of Split on a guided walk, including Diocletian's Palace, and a riverboat cruise on one of Croatia's most scenic rivers; and a guided bicycle tour of Split plus a visit to Diocletian's Palace. Board Le Lyrial late afternoon for cocktails and dinner; sail on to Dubrovnik this evening.
Along the Dalmatian Coast for a day in Dubrovnik
Cruise along the Dalmatian Coast to the next port of call - the great walled city of Dubrovnik, the "Pearl of the Adriatic" - where the day begins with a private lecture aboard the ship by a former officer in the Croatian Army, who will speak about the country's formative war in the 1990s. You can experience Dubrovnik three ways this morning: A cable car transports you upward for a panoramic view of Dubrovnik followed by a walking tour with a local guide of Dubrovnik's magnificent Old Town declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its wealth of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains, not to mention its splendid medieval ramparts. Or, you can take a guided walking tour of the City Walls of Dubrovnik, including a climb to the top of the walls and a visit to the Maritime Museum. Alternatively, do some wine tasting at a family-owned winery, take a scenic drive along the Croatian Riviera, and enjoy a guided walking tour of Dubrovnik's landmark sights. The afternoon is yours to spend as you please in Dubrovnik; after dinner this evening, Le Lyrial sets sail for Montenegro.
Exploring Kotor, Montenegro
Head to the observation deck as Le Lyrial sails into Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, Europe's southernmost fjord - the view is inspiring and unforgettable. The bay and the city of Kotor are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of their natural and cultural uniqueness. Morning shore excursion choices include a guided walking tour tour of Kotor and a visit to the small village of Perast and a private boat trip on the Bay of Kotor including a visit to Our Lady of the Rocks Church; a fascinating journey to Lovcen Mountain for culinary tasting and a guided walking tour in Kotor; or a boat trip across the stunning Boka Bay to the seaside town of Prcnj, whose 17th and 18th prosperity is evident in its architecture to this day. Everyone spends the afternoon as they please in Kotor, returning to the ship for an evening sail for Hvar.
Three choices to explore the chic island of Hvar
Experience the enchanting island of Hvar, a well-known playground for international celebrities and royalty. Sightseeing includes traveling to Stari Grad, dating back thousands of years, for a walking tour that includes a visit to the Dominican Monastery with its rich library with priceless books and paintings; you'll also take a scenic drive to Vrisnik for a special wine tasting. Or, if you wish, visit the well-know beaches of Hvar on a cruise to the Pakleni Islands archipelago, a maze of several small islands that offer perfect bays for swimming and snorkeling. Your third choice is a hiking adventure that takes you through villages where you will see the beauty of the traditional architecture and the traditional way of living - and have lunch in a small tavern in the picturesque, hidden village of Malo. Everyone returns to Hvar midday; spend the afternoon in Hvar exploring as you please amidst its intricately carved Venetian architecture. This evening you'll cruise to Pula - you can capture the scenic beauty of the coast from the outside decks of Le Lyial.
The Istria Peninsula: Pula and Rovinj
Discoveries along the Istrian Peninsula begin when you dock in Pula; choose between a walking tour where you'll visit its 1st-century amphitheatre, considered the best-preserved in the world, along with other well-preserved ancient Roman structures; or, alternatively, tour the Pula amphitheatre and visit the village of Vodnjan for olive oil tasting at an award-winning family-owned establishment. This afternoon the ship arrives in one of the most picturesque and romantic little towns in the world, Rovinj. Three sightseeing opportunities include a walking tour of Rovinj; a visit to the UNESCO town of Porec and a sparkling wine tasting at a renowned countryside wine cellar; or a visit to the medieval town of Labin for a visit to the Labin National Museum and an artists workshop where local artisans display their craft. Back aboard ship, join us for farewell cocktails and dinner as Le Lyrial returns to Venice.
Tour ends: 9:00 AM at Venice's Marco Polo Airport. Disembark ship for an 8:30 AM coach transfer from the dock in Venice to Marco Polo Airport. Allow 3 hours for check-in at the airport. Flights should depart after 12:00 PM.