In many ways, Adriatic cruises are the most enjoyable European cruises. First of all, the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and Montenegro offers spectacular scenery. The ports are some of the most interesting in Europe. And because some of them have limited docking facilities, you’ll likely arrive on a smaller ship and with fewer other cruises – and cruisers – in port.

In places like Kotor, you’ll be able to dock close to town, so you’ll enjoy more time ashore. And many of these ancient cities are a walker’s dream.

Well-known cruise lines including Princess, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Holland America, MSC and Costa Cruise offer cruises in the Adriatic. And ultra-luxury lines like Sea Cloud and Ponant are other options.

Most Adriatic cruises begin or end in Venice, and Norwegian (NCL), MSC, and Costa Cruises all offer seven-day roundtrip cruises from there. If you have two weeks, you can stay aboard for a second week on NCL and see different ports on the latter half of the voyage.

The one-week cruises usually include a couple of the beautiful Greek Islands – Santorini, Mykonos, or Corfu, depending on which itinerary you choose. Two-week voyages usually call in Athens too. A 200-passenger French ship does a seven-night cruise round trip from Dubrovnik.

Sailing roundtrip from Venice makes your air arrangements a little less complicated, and Venice is a magical place to spend a couple of nights before or after your cruise.

There are also 12 and 14-night cruises that begin or end in Rome. These will often call in Malta, Sicily, and Sorrento or Naples for the Isle of Capri. If you haven’t been to Southern Italy, it’s well worth exploring.

Bear in mind that Rome is some distance from Civitavecchia, where the port is located. If you haven’t been before, give yourself a few days to see Rome before heading home.

The highlight of any Adriatic cruise is Dubrovnik. Known as the “jewel of the Adriatic,” the medieval walled city was extensively restored following the war in the early 1990s. With its orange tile roofs, smashing ocean views, and marble squares, it’s indescribably beautiful.

A hike on top of the walls that encircle the city is rewarded with incredible views of the Adriatic. When you’re done, you’ll find plenty of cafes in the piazzas for a beer or a glass of wine.

Split, also in Croatia, is similar to Dubrovnik, but on a smaller scale. It’s best known as the site of Diocletian’s palace, built in the fourth century AD. Parts of the palace are remarkably well preserved, and the old town is delightful.

Some of the smaller ships call at the Crotian island resorts of Hvar and Korcula.

Kotor, in Montenegro, is also a stop on many cruises in the Adriatic. Sailing through the Gulf of Kotor to reach the city provides some of the best scenery in the region, and you’ll pass the gorgeous island of Sveti Stefan, which is now home to a luxurious resort.

The old, Byzantine city of Ravenna boasts some of the most brilliant mosaics in the world in its superb churches. If your cruise calls here, it will be one of the highlights of your trip.

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