“Cruising out of Venice on our first cruise was pretty special, but we soon realised that every day was going to offer something incredible — it was icons all the way.
“Dubrovnik was our first stop and one of the highlights of the cruise for me.
“We opted for a full-day tour and were picked up and taken into the old part of Dubrovnik, which is a walled city.
“We did a tour of the city’s Franciscan monastery, which is located just inside the old town’s Gothic Pile Gate and has what is said to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe, operating since 1317.
“The pharmacy looks out onto a cloister with a lovely garden, and that’s really worth seeing.
“We then walked down the Stradun, which is the main pedestrian walkway through the city and is lined with cafes and shops [with] little narrow streets going off to the sides.
“We did a tour of the 15th-century Rector’s Palace, which is very elaborate and has great views from the upstairs windows. Then had some free time to explore.
“On our way out of Dubrovnik, the bus stopped at a lookout and we had a fantastic view back down onto the orange-tiled roofs of the city, largely unchanged since mediaeval days.
“We were then driven to an old mill that has been turned into a restaurant, where we had a wonderful lunch under the trees, with the sound of the flowing water in the background. The river has been diverted to run through the mill and the old wooden wheels are still turning.
“The staff were all dressed in national costume and we had a traditional Croatian lunch.
“After lunch we went on to Cavtat, which is a town further along the coastline.
“I’d never heard of it but I read that it was a very glamorous holiday spot back in the 1920s and ’30s.
“Cavtat is a beautiful seaside resort with expensive yachts and luxury cars everywhere – you could almost be in Monaco.
“The harbour is lined with restaurants and the water is so clear you can see the bottom.
“Once I’d seen it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t known about it.”
Value for money?
Princess Cruises’ Best of Dubrovnik and Cavtat excursion costs from $155 a person, including lunch.
“Shore excursions are not cheap in Europe but oh boy, are they worth it,” Pitman says.
“We started out thinking we’d do half-day tours but then we looked at what was on offer and decided that we needed more time, rather than a quick in-and-out tour.
“You don’t want to miss out on something that everyone else comes back raving about.”
WHO Gary Pitman, of Adelaide, on his first cruise.
WHAT A full-day tour of Dubrovnik, Croatia, on the Adriatic coastline.
WHERE Dubrovnik’s Old Town, a World Heritage-listed site.
THE SHIP Gary cruised with his wife Lesley and three other couples on Star Princess (princess杭州夜生活m), for 14 nights from Venice to Rome, via Croatia, Greece and Turkey.
As told to Jane E. Fraser
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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.