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Venice, Split and treasures of the North - MS Stella Maris

10days from
£2,599*per person


10 Days - Ocean Cruises

Explore the northern coast of Croatia with its charming islands, sandy bays, pebble beaches and emerald-green seas on a specially chartered yacht. Discover the area's natural beauty and diverse wildlife on a visit to Brijuni National Park and stop for swims in the warm waters off the coast of Croatia. From Roman to Renaissance, Byzantine to Gothic, explore the history of this fascinating country through its architecture, seeing the Roman amphitheatre in Pula and the UNESCO-protected Gothic cathedral in Šibenik. As we travel, we’ll stop to taste some of Croatia’s culinary highlights through freshly cooked food - both on board and ashore. To round out the trip, enjoy a two-night stay in Venice, seeing its most iconic structures as you wander through the city's intricate labyrinth of paved streets, bridges and canals. This holiday is ideal for history and architecture enthusiasts looking to explore Croatia’s rich history and foodies looking to explore the local cuisine. 


  • The elegant MS Stella Maris will be waiting to welcome you as you arrive in Split and transfer to the harbour where we stay for the evening. After a warm welcome from the crew, there's time to settle into your cabins and venture ashore to begin exploring. After your journey, we wouldn't blame you for wanting to stop for a drink in one of the bars facing the twinkling waters of Adriatic. Or if you want to stretch your legs, you could wander the ancient maze of narrow streets and little squares. Only a ten-minute walk away are the palace's golden gates and the gigantic statue of Grgur Ninski – a medieval Croatian bishop. Touch his toe for good luck (not that you'll need it on this holiday). As the sun begins to set, it'll be time to find your way back to the ship for a delicious welcome dinner on board.
  • This morning, enjoy a walking tour of the famous sights. Any pop culture fans might recognise Emperor Diocletian's palace as the Slave City of Meeren on Game of Thrones, but this huge palace is impressive in its own right. As one of the greatest structures of the Roman Empire, no expense was spared in its construction - the best Italian marble, with columns and sphinxes from Egypt, and today tall medieval buildings still line the streets, buttressed by unmistakably Roman columns. But if you're expecting to see a museum here, you'd be wrong - the complex is a living part of the city. Shops, restaurants, churches, and houses are built into the very fabric of these ancient walls. Then, you can watch the city fade as we set sail for Šibenik and enjoy lunch on board. Later this afternoon, we arrive in Šibenik, a medieval town with not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the fortress at the top of the hill, the city seems to tumble down the hillside towards the sea. On our guided tour, we'll stroll down the marble-slabbed promenade between the huddles of cafes that line the tangled streets until we find the old town. The shady squares and winding streets lead to St James Cathedral - which blends Gothic and Renaissance styles - and a restored Renaissance town hall. After our tour, there's time at leisure to continue to explore. Near the harbour, you'll see faded awnings advertising pivo and posip - beer and wine. Give in to temptation. With a long tradition of winemaking and viticulture in the Šibenik region, it's the perfect excuse to try lasina or babić wine - both are grown and produced locally.
  • Today, we'll get to experience a concept coined by the Dalmatians that has no equivalent in English: fjaka - a lazy mood of complete contentment. You can start your morning slowly as we cut through the waves on MS Stella Maris. There's time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and watch views of the coastline glide past. As we reach the small island of Murter, we'll drop anchor in the emerald-green waters for a chance to cool off with a swim stop. Later, from the ship, you'll spot our next destination, Zadar. The magnificent walled city twinkles in the sunshine that's typical of the Adriatic. On our guided tour, we'll see a captivating mix of ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture and modern attractions. During time at leisure, linger by the waterfront to hear the rhythmic sounds of the Sea Organ and, as night falls, enjoy the Sun Salutations installation that utilises the sun's rays to create a light show from sunset to sunrise. Old ivory buildings with gently sloping roofs and deep overhanging eaves give the city an Italian feel. Streets - paved with marble that's been polished with centuries of wear - lead to a Venetian fortress, turned public park, partly hidden by a canopy of trees. Even the modern cafés hide historical secrets - like the 1,000-year-old chapel tucked away at the back of Kavana Lovre. Coffee is another Croatian essential: first thing, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, dusk, at midnight, it's always coffee time - so there's plenty of places to stop and watch the world go by. Dinner tonight is up to you - but if you want a recommendation, try grilled meats or freshly caught fish, rounded off with a glass of maraschino - a local cherry liqueur.
  • After an evening in the Port at Zadar, we'll enjoy a leisurely morning cruising the Croatian coastline. We'll stop en route for a swim in some of the clearest water you'll ever swim in. (If you choose not to swim, don't miss the scenery from the top deck for your first "oh wow" moment of the day). We'll continue our journey to the island of Rab. Known as a safe anchorage on the Medieval trade route from Venice to Constantinople, Rab's ancient stone buildings, Romanesque architecture and grand Italianate houses are a legacy of Venetian rule. It is one of the busiest islands around Kvarner, gaining popularity after Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson brought the world's press in the summer of '36. Local lore says the pair were granted special permission to skinny-dip in the nearby Kandarola Bay - scandalous in those times. The island's golden beaches are the perfect place to sunbathe or take a dip (although, unlike the Duke, we recommend keeping your bathing suit on). With an evening here, there's plenty of opportunity to find dinner in one of the restaurants or relax in a bar by the waterfront while watching boats rocking gently. Top tip: Try one of the stylish seafood restaurants tucked away in the old town, serving the catch of the day - simply fried with white wine, garlic and herbs.
  • The morning is yours to spend at leisure in the comfort of our first-class vessel as we sail. You can enjoy a delicious lunch on board and a refreshing swim stop (assuming that the sea cooperates, of course) before our next stop, Mali Lošinj. Nestled on the southern side of the Bay of Lošinj on the island of the same name. Its remoteness - it is only possible to reach in a small plane or, as we do, by ship - explains the lack of crowds. As the more commercial part of the island, it's a great place to shop and people-watch. You could stroll through the eye-catchingly colourful former sea captains' homes, which date back to the 19th century. Throughout the city, architecture lovers will spot the influence of the island's different rulers - including the Venetian Republic and the Austro-Hungarian Empire - all over the charming coastal town. Some may know Losinj for the Croatian Apoxyomenos, the restored Greek statue of a young athlete discovered off the coast - which now resides in a museum in Mali Lošinj and is well worth a visit during your time on the island. Tonight, you're in for a treat with a delightful Captain's Dinner - it's always a guest favourite.
  • There'll be time to relax this morning as we sail out of Mali Lošinj and scope out the perfect place to stop and swim on our way to Pula. Pula comes into view as we reach the tip of the Istrian peninsula - this great vantage point helped protect the bay. Its strategic location is probably why it's had so many foreign rules - from the Romans in 1 BC to the Austro-Hungarians (who still have a foothold here today). On our guided tour, we'll see the remnants of these great empires. One highlight that's hard to miss is the magnificent amphitheatre with a network of limestone arches that stand three storeys high. It's one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in Croatia, and the sixth-largest amphitheatre in the world. With a capacity for over 22,000 spectators, it's bigger than the O2 Arena - although why such a big theatre was built in such a small Roman town remains a mystery. Our Tour Manager swears that if you listen closely, you can hear the echos of the gladiatorial spectacles that used to unfold here. Architectural shards of history litter the town squeezed between more modern houses and adorning little squares amongst a tangle of streets. We'll also see the Triumphal Arch of the Sergii, built between 29 and 27 BC to honour the Sergii family who fought for Octavian in the Battle of Actium. We'll spend time in the old town's square, with the imposing Temple of Augustus and the town hall with its Renaissance arcade. Other highlights include a historic cathedral and bell tower, interesting little churches and city gates, as well as an archaeological museum with a wealth of Roman exhibits. After our guided walk here, gain a glimpse into Pula's soul with a stroll down Ria Ulica, the main waterfront street. Traditional yew and cypress trees line one end and, from the other, you can watch your dinner go from sea to table as sea and wind-ravaged fishing boats decant their catch onto the quayside. The cuisine - a mix of seafood and Italian dishes - pair perfectly with the fruity flavours of a native istarska malvazija white wine. (Of course, you could choose any drink, but why settle for your usual when a delicious local vintner is on offer?)
  • A brief early morning sail brings us to Brijuni National Park, an archipelago of 14 islands and inlets surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic. Sit back and relax as we tour the park on a land train following the coastline past a Venetian citadel and 20th-century farm buildings. Over 100 different types of birds call the national park home, so remember to pack your binoculars for a bit of bird watching. We'll return to the ship for lunch and savour our last journey on board MS Stella Maris as we navigate to the former Roman town of Poreč, located in the heart of the western coast of Istria. On arrival, we'll take a brief orientation tour followed by time at leisure to explore as you wish. The town's rich history dates back to the prehistoric era, with notable settlements during the Roman times and in the 13th to 18th century while under Venetian rule. As a result, Poreč has history seeping out of every alleyway, including a 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica - known for its beautiful gold mosaic - which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and is well worth a visit.
  • We'll say goodbye to our home for the last seven nights as we disembark MS Stella Maris and board a catamaran from Poreč to Venice. You may have seen it in pictures, but nothing can prepare you for how beautiful Venice is up close. It has a dreamy, almost magical feel. Around you, tourists and locals alike look up in wonder at the lavish palazzos. Not even the watermarks can deter you from its beauty. But don't waste time wondering how this seemingly floating city still stands after all of these centuries, there's too much to see on our guided tour. No visit is complete without a trip to St Mark's Square, home to the Campanile Tower and the Basilica - a luxuriously decorated Byzantine structure with a shimmering mosaic-clad façade. We wouldn't be surprised if you come back here later - during time at leisure - to explore further. The 323 steps to the top of Campanile Tower are well worth the effort as you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city from just under 100 metres up. Nearby is Doge's Palace, a spectacular Gothic building once home to the head of state of the Republic of Venice, offering a glimpse into the life of a Venetian official. And, of course, we won't miss a chance to see the iconic Bridge of Sighs with its rather grim history. Lunch at leisure is a great opportunity to find Venetian dishes in one of the many small restaurants throughout the city. Ask your guide or Tour Manager for the best places to eat for the most authentic cuisine - they'll know the lesser-known spots the locals love. We check into our hotel for the next two nights, and the rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city - or enjoy blissful idleness wiling away the hours, spritz in hand, in a cafe overlooking the canals (this is a no-judgement zone).
  • Today will be the day to put your research skills to the test and discover Venice for yourself as you spend the entire day at leisure.    For those who love an action-packed itinerary, there's plenty to see and do. The world-famous Accademia will be a hit for any art enthusiast (or anyone looking to learn).  The gallery features a staggering collection of Venetian masterpieces, including outstanding works by Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Rosalba Carriera, and Canaletto. And if you don’t know these artists yet, the Accademia will give you the most atmospheric introduction. You could take a stroll through the vibrant Jewish Quarter and explore its winding streets and historic buildings, including the Jewish Museum of Venice - which showcases the history and culture of the Jewish community - and five fascinating synagogues.   Looking for souvenirs? You'll find traditional Venetian shops tucked under streets covered with canopies of washing stretched high between crumbling buildings. Or you could join the lively throng of shoppers at the traditional Rialto market and enjoy the sights and smells of the fresh Mediterranean products sold here. The stalls are a treat for the senses with artistic piles of seasonal fruits, vegetables and fish as far as the eye can see - you won't be hungry for long here.
  • After a phenomenal journey up the Dalmatian coast, it's time to say goodbye to your fellow explorers as we transfer to the airport for your flight home.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover the natural beauty of Brijuni National Park from a land train. 
  • Visit the Croatian islands of Mali Lošinj and Rab with free time to explore. 
  • Uncover Croatia's fascinating history in Pula, Šibenik, Zadar and Split on guided tours of these historic cities.  
  • Cool down in the emerald-green waters of the Adriatic with opportunities to stop and swim. 
  • Explore The Floating City with a two-night stay in Venice and see all the highlights on a guided walking tour. 

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a double/twin room and cabin. The price includes:
  • Flights to Venice, returning from Split (or vice versa) 
  • 7 nights on MS Stella Maris in your choice of cabin 
  • Daily breakfast, 6 lunches, 1 welcome dinner plus the captain’s dinner 
  • 2 nights in a four-star hotel in Venice with breakfast 
  • All tours and visits as mentioned 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board 
  • The services of an experienced Tour Manager 
  • All port charges, airport taxes and overseas transfers  
  • ABTA and ATOL protection 
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Dates and Prices

September 2024
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  • Limited Availability
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Price from:£2,599
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Hotel Casanova -


The Hotel Casanova is just a stone's throw from St Mark's Square making it the ideal location to explore Venice. Start the morning with a continental breakfast in the dining room before venturing out to explore the heart of the city. After a day of discovering the secrets of The Floating City, there's nowhere better to appreciate the beauty of Venice than on the panoramic terrace (it's best enjoyed with a drink from the hotel's elegant bar). Then, head to your Venetian-style room - which features individually controlled air-conditioning, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi - for a restful night's sleep.

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Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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