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An extraordinary week in Alaska

Safari Endeavour and kayak

As we left Seattle the pilot announced that the flight would be smooth but that the approach and landing to Juneau wouldn’t. In fact, not to worry, but the cabin crew would be taking to their seats earlier than usual due to expected turbulence caused by unusually high winds in the Juneau area. I don’t mind flying, but I do get sea sick (I know, I am in the wrong job) so I was more worried about what the sea would be like than the flight. As we approached Juneau we could see countless white caps on the waves so I was planning my sea sickness medication in my head.

To see dates and prices for this cruise - Please click Alaska Cruise (From £ 3599 GBP pp (+ Port taxes/fees 375 USD pp) or to see a similar cruise in July and August click Glacier Bay Cruise .

We had a couple of hours to kill in Juneau before we embarked on Safari Endeavour so we had a quick wander around an eerily quiet town with rows of tourist shops with no shoppers. It turns out that there were due to be three vast cruise ships in port that day but it was too windy for these behemoths to dock, so great for us but terrible for the shop owners who were missing out on an influx of some 10000 potential shoppers. No problem however for the comparatively petite Safari Endeavour, moored as she was just by the centre of town.

We were welcomed aboard by the amazingly abundant crew (37 crew to look after 82 passengers) who showed us to our cabin, provided a champagne cocktail and talked us through the plans for the following days - expect rain - ignore the weather forecast, this is Southeast Alaska. It rains. We slipped the mooring at around 19.30, just as dinner was served, and, here’s the thing, our progress was so smooth and sedate that we didn’t realise we were cruising. The sea was flat, the progress steady and the dinner fantastic. And the bar(wo)man coped with a rush of passengers all wanting exotic drinks simultaneously without actually keeping anyone waiting. Early to bed in anticipation.

Dawes GlacierTwo weeks in a day - Endicott Arm an extraordinary 24 hours
The tail end of jet lag had me awake at 05.00 so I was out on deck by 06.00 to see the pink dawn over the fjords ‘berry bits’ and mountains. 06.30 an early riser coffee and pastry before - for some anyway- the 06.45 yoga session on deck. We indulged in a full breakfast as we cruise down the 30 miles long Endicott Arm fjord admiring the mountains and forests from our tables. Endicott Arm is part of the Ford’s Terror Wilderness and home to the magnificent Dawes Glacier.

The channel began to fill up with more and more ice before the skipper decided that was as far as the ship could go, so we took to the Zodiacs to navigate a mile or two towards the glacier. We spotted the brilliant white coats of several mountain goats stark against the granite walls of the valley, and several curious seals broke the surface as we cruised by. This would all have been spectacular in any weather, but due to severe ‘cloud failure’ the whole scene of the vast glacier and mountain backdrop was set against a brilliant blue cloudless sky - Quite breath-taking. And all helped along by a cup of hot chocolate charged with some schnapps - No idea where the yardarm was but the sun was definitely up. What an hors d’euvre.

The main course was to follow. - I know people who go on 2 weeks cruises in the hope of seeing what we saw in the next 4 hours. As we left the 30 mile long Endicott Arm we saw our first spout and the cry ‘Humpback’ went out. A lone whale feeding a little way off, but it got the pulse going a little. We saw a couple more in the distance as we cruised down the main channel, but towards dusk we spotted at first one, then two, and then dozens of spouts all around. I counted a minimum of 24 whales all around us, mostly in the distance, but not all. I couldn’t drag myself away - so I was late for dinner (fresh halibut or seared duck).Alaska Humpback whales

Aurora in Alaska - P EttingerAnother bucket list tick
We could still glimpse a few whales through the large dining room windows but as dusk fell the light soon faded so we could enjoy our meal and the company as we argued over the highlight of the day (and there were many, and the argument got quite vociferous) without distractions. Until about 10 o’clock when the captain announced that the Aurora Borealis could now be seen quite clearly - Cue dash to the top deck where those slightly the worse for wear after a long dinner mingled with those wearing their worst - Pyjamas and a shawl - but none of us felt the cold as we watched in awe for an hour.

And here's an odd thing. When you see the Aurora Borealis, or at least when we saw them, they aren't green. They are just waves of light dancing across the sky, but when you take a photo the Aurora appears a ghostly green colour - You need someone more intelligent than I to explain.

 

How to follow that?
Sea Lions in AlaskaAlmost impossible, but a great effort. I stepped out of my cabin at 06.30 to be greeted by two whale flukes about a mile away across a flat calm sea. Almost blasé by now about Humpbacks so I opted for the kayaking. 30 harbour seals - yawn. Bald eagles, turnstones and Harlequin ducks - so what. Harassed by a bachelor gang of 30 adolescent stellar sealions - fantastic, amazing, and a little edgy, culminating in our kayak guide positioning her kayak between us and sea lion pack and banging her kayak to ward them off when they became a little too insistent on showing us who was boss.

I had signed up for a bushwhack in the afternoon but decided to change the plan and go back in search of the sealions on a skiff outing. We headed roughly in their direction passing a selection of bald eagles enroute but were distracted by what the guides call ‘whale soup’. Try to imagine – 12 small humans sat in a small inflatable vessel in the middle of a wide channel surrounded by mountains, glaciers and forests, with Humpback whales spouting, fluking and breaching 360 degrees around you. Some 1-2 miles away, some within 100 yards (one dived under the boat, I felt very very small) ; at this point I run out of superlatives. All thoughts of sealions forgotten, we tuned the engine off and sat for 45 minutes not knowing which way to look. I discovered that this isn’t particularly unusual, but the weather was and continued to be over the next few days. As I write this I am sitting on the top deck in shorts and a t-shirt with at least 1/2 dozen humpbacks within view, feeding and fattening themselves lazily within 1 mile of the boat.

Bear shitBushwhack
This isn’t a walk or a trek, there are no paths (except the odd bear trail) and the going is not easy. You are clambering over tree trunks, through stands of ‘Devil’s Club (a particularly spiteful spiked plant) and scrambling up muddy banks, but it is a great way to see the forest. Plenty of fungi, including ‘chicken of the woods’ a common and safe to eat staple of woodsmen. Berries abound and after checking with our guide I was happy to try Huckleberries, sweet and juicy. We learned that if you lick a banana slug your mouth goes numb for an hour or so, and that yes, bears do _ _ _ _ in the woods.

Humpback playtime
In the afternoon we turned north towards one of the most popular spots for feeding Humpbacks - somewhere we should be able to see even more of them apparently, if that is possible. Well, it did prove untrue, but.........

While we probably only saw a dozen or so, a couple decided to come very close to the boat and give us a great view as they dived in unison, but their efforts were soon forgotten. One whale decided that leaping out of the water, or breaching, was something he needed to practice, a lot. So for 40 minutes or so we hove to and watched as he/she alternatively slapped the sea surface with his massive pectoral fin, dived and breached.

Humpback breaching in AlaskaNo one knows why whales do this, though there are several theories. To dislodge barnacles, to stun fish, to send a long-distance message (breaching makes a hell of a splash and an accompanying boom that can be heard for miles away under water), or just because they can - it’s fun! Watching this whale breach 12-14 times, each progressively closer to the vessel, before he finished with a grandstand display before disappearing completely, there was no doubt amongst most of our shipmates that not only was he/she doing it for fun, but he was well aware that we were there and the show was for our benefit.

Proper Alaska
Day 5 dawned grey and dull, the first and amazingly only time that would happen. We had time to squeeze in an hours kayaking before we took to a skiff. We could see whales spouting in the distance but learned that another skiff had spotted a bear on the shore about a mile away so we sped off in search. We hadn’t got more than 1/2 way there when 3 Humpbacks appeared in front of our skiff and deflected our interest - Bears would have to wait until another day. The Humpbacks swam, spouted, dived slapped and provided another short breaching display before the rain set in and we returned to the vessel for a particularly fine lunch. The rain had abated by early afternoon so we took a forest walk, not a bushwhack, but a gentle stroll albeit along a bear path just inside the forest- This was old growth forest, mighty 200 year old Sitka Spruce and Hemlocks but more daylight in between so something of a cross between a a cathedral and a forest out of Lord Of The Rings, with great strands of moss hanging from every branch, swamps full of fallen trees and shafts of sunlight illuminating the deep forest.

Glacier Bay, the highlight!
Glacier Bay grizzlyThe extraordinary Glacier Bay is home to dozens of glaciers, including 7 tidewater glaciers, and a great range of wildlife, and forms part of the largest international protected area on the planet. Surrounded by a host towering peaks between 10-15000 metres it is surely one of the most photogenic places on Earth. Every ship that spends time in Glacier Bay has to take on board a National Parks ranger. We only had to share ours between the 80 passengers on board, and over 2 days - compare that with the large vessels that pass through in 4-5 hours with 1500 - 4000 people on board. Rebecca, the ranger, was available to answer questions about the wildlife and geography of the area, and gave a couple of short talks when time and views allowed.

We started with a fine piece of seamanship as the skipper crept past the South Marble Islands, before allowing the tide to drift us back past on the opposite direction before we crept past again as we headed deeper into the bay. These islands are a mini sub-glacial Galapagos, being. Home to large numbers of sealions, seals and sea otters as well a variety of sea birds including puffins and Pelagic cormorants, plus the odd sail past by a Humpback or two. And surrounded by mountains and glaciers too. Pressing on into the bay we made a short detour into an inlet to watch a couple of brown bears collecting salmon before we hove to for another 20 minutes to enjoy half a dozen mountain goats defying the odds several hundred feet up an apparently sheer sea cliff.

After lunch we headed to the furthest reaches of the bay where not one but two vast and vastly different glaciers flow into the sea within yards of each other. An ideal location for a (extravagant I grant) geography field trip as the Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers are a perfect illustration of glaciology I action, yet with different results. As one of the very few vessels afforded a night in Glacier Bay we headed down the extraordinary John Hopkins Inlet passing 1/2 dozen glaciers on the way to the head of the John Hopkins Glacier (One of the few glaciers in this part of the world still advancing), where hundreds of seals chose to have their pups every year and then keep them on small ice floes until large enough to swim free into the wilderness - in fact this particular part of Glacier Bay is closed to vessels until 1st September to protect the seal colony.

Safari-endeavour and Lamplugh GlacierNot wanting to miss out on any possible experience I took the chance to check that the jacuzzi was in good working order - I can confirm it was just fine. We spent the night anchored near the foot of the Lamplugh Glacier so were greeted by the sunrise over the mountains and glaciers on yet another perfectly still and cloud free day. The mornings options included kayaking along the cliffs and glacier, a skiff tour of the area and a ridge walk and scramble to a magnificent viewpoint. The viewpoint won it for me so I joined a skiff load of fellow hikers for the short but ice ridden cruise to the beach. This was one of those walks where the views were magnificent from the start, and just got better as we went higher. And better. And better. I will let the images do the talking.

I was then hoisted on my own petard, having declared at the start of the week that I would try everything going, Captain ‘Shep’ announced that there was just time for a ‘Polar Plunge’ before. Lunch, so around 15-20 idiots/brave souls/hard as nails types (delete as appropriate) appeared on the fantail -the floating dock as the aft of the vessel - to leap or dive into the decidedly chilly water at the foot of the glacier before frantically thrashing our way back to the fantail to be hauled out by waiting crew -actually quite restorative and I would go again - before a quick dip in the hot tub to restore normality. We cruised back to Juneau overnight to disembark the next morning and say our goodbyes.

I haven’t gone into any detail about the fantastic food that was served up morning noon and night, the crew who seem to memorise everyone’s name, dietary requirements and drink preferences by the second day, or the ship itself, which provided the perfect platform to explore the nooks and crannies of South East Alaska in great comfort. All of that goes without saying but is true – A perfect boutique hotel. All of the above took place between 9 - 16 September 2018 on board the Safari Endeavour. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that mid-September is too late to go to Alaska!

Postscript - One extraordinary hour
Not part of the cruise but one of the most amazing things I have ever done - we took to a small 6 seater Cessna for a flight seeing tour of Glacier Bay and the surrounding mountains. Glacier Bay was stunning from the air, but I was struck speechless by the flight over the glaciers, climbing just high enough to pop over the ridge at the top of one glacier before descending the length of the next. One extraordinary hour.

Flightseeing over Glacier Bar - Powell EttingerFlightseeing over Glacier Bar - Powell EttingerFlightseeing over Glacier Bar - Powell Ettinger

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Sicily Cruise - The sights and tastes of Sicily

We had an excellent time on the cruise but felt that the courier tried to fill the days with too much and her manner and English left a lot to be admired. The ship and crew were wonderful but we did not have enough time to enjoy it all. The inter-Island transport could have been better. RR

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Luxury Gulet Aegean cruise

Stellar experience start to finish!! Thank you!

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Cruise from Dubrovnik to Split in Luxury

We stayed on in Split for three nights which partly explains this belated reply. We would do it again which really says it all. In fact we are interested, not now but maybe in twelve months time, in a similar cruise if it was between Venice and Split. The northern half of the Croatian coast. We think we were lucky to have one of the best cabins (4) and we wouldn’t want any less comfort than that. 

We liked the Diamond very much.The small but hard working crew were terrific.  Our timing was good as the vast crowds around Dubrovnik and Split in July and August had eased and the weather was hot but not too hot. Most of our fellow guests were Canadian who are friendly and good mannered. We didn’t think the food was very good apart from breakfast. We longed for a salad bowl. Despite the advertisement that there was a fresh water fountain on the boat they were rather mean in handing out half litre because titles which we thought was penny pinching. 

The concept of the 499 ton boat really appeals to us. We wouldn’t take a cruise on the ordinary leviathan. We loved Croatia and think we saw the best of it. We had a splendid holiday.

Robin

Thank you for your feedback Robin. The Water cooler should have been in operation, and water is free on these cruises in Croatia from 2020 onwards. Powell Ettinger, The Small Cruise Ship Collection


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Southern Croatia cruise from Split

My wife and I enjoyed the Croatian Cruise on board the Meridijan 100%.   The crew could not have been better and the food was perfect.  We will go on other trips in other places.  Thank you.  Larry snd Sun S

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Southern Croatia cruise from Split

The cruise on Pape Prvi from Split

The cruise on Pape Prvi from Split - Dubrovnik and back was wonderful experience: family owed boat with great food, friendly hosts, clean; well informed and nice guide from Katarina tours; great choices of places to dock (and see), good balance between history, culture and nature. The sunny and warm weather was a surprise plus, also the group consisted of very pleasant people (not a single "professional" complainer). Dream vacation! Daniela P

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Alaska's Glacier Bay & Island Adventure (Alaskan Dream)

 

We selected this trip as we wanted a “small boat cruise” around Alaska’s Inside Passage. Not all 20 cabins were occupied and there were only 33 passengers in total – just us from UK, 7 Australians and 4 Kiwis with the rest from US (so all English-speaking). Perhaps the style of trip meant that all seemed of a similar outlook and the group got on well together.

Alaskan Dream seem to be an environmentally-aware company with a good local reputation and are very welcome in the communities they visit. The small size of the boat means that they can access areas and ports unavailable to larger ships. The crew are generally long-serving with the company, competent and approachable. This particular voyage had an on-board naturalist/guide from the start, with a second joining part way through. There is at least one “off boat” opportunity every day.

Cabins are compact but comfortable with ample storage space. We were in the lowest grade; the next one up seemed to have no more amenities, just slightly bigger (although they are on the same level as public spaces). The “shoilet” takes some practice but is actually extremely practical and functional (better than facilities in other boats of a similar size that we have experienced). Rain gear (jackets, trousers and boots) are available for use. Meals were, without exception, excellent; hot drinks and water were always available.

The itinerary is flexible so we were able to take advantage of an unexpected permit to stay in Glacier Bay for an extra day. It also meant that potential wildlife sightings could be pursued and this was done on several occasions. There is also various interactions with each local community that we visited.

We would unreservedly recommend this trip but be warned that it is not a “cruise” – evening entertainment is limited to some short wildlife talks. But if your priorities are exciting wildlife and stunning scenery with an insight into local culture, you should seriously consider this.

Anne H

 

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Southern Croatia from Split - Premium cruise

A week in paradise on a luxury small ship. We were upgraded to a fabulous ship called Black Swan on a similar circuit from Split to Split in Croatia. The boat was amazing with everything you could wish for on board. The crew of 8 were very professional but at the same time friendly and chatty. The captain and his wife owned the boat and were also friendly with us all. The captains dinner was excellent with 2 live musicians.

We saw beautiful totally unspoilt islands,small fishing villages, ancient palaces and visited towns full of interesting history, all with a guide and "whisper" ear phones so we could all hear perfectly. We had plenty of free time in ports where we could go sightseeing, shopping or find a nice restaurant or bar. Our guide even arranged for us to do an exclusive 4 x 4 safari buggy tour in Dubrovnik that was not on this boats schedule but on our original one.

The food was really excellent, the boat kept immaculately clean at all times.

I particularly enjoyed the opportunity for swim stops or a tender ride to a deserted beach, even though it was October and late season. Something you do not get to do on a huge impersonal cruise ship!

At night in port the boats always raft up next to one another and its fun to go from boat to boat checking out what they all look like. We were not disturbed by this at all and the gaps between the various boats were not a problem to us, but could be to a disabled person.

I would recommend this type of holiday to anyone.... its so relaxing compared to a huge cruise ship and with only 36 people on board the guide makes sure from the very first evening that we all get to talk to one another and great friendships were formed. Our travelling companions nationalities were Americans, New Zealanders and Australians and we were the only 2 from Europe which we loved.

 

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Southern Croatia from Split - Premium cruise

I thoroughly enjoyed my recent Croatian cruise on board Moonlight. Everything was of a very high standard - the ship, the cabin, the crew, the destinations, the on board guide and the local guides, the meals... I can't fault anything. It was an outstanding trip and we were fortunate in having such congenial fellow passengers. Bernadine R

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Luxury Croatia Cruise Split to Dubrovnik to Split

It was a fantastic holiday I was travelling alone, but it didn't feel like that once I arrived the crew were great our meals were delicious there wasn't anything you could fault. Travelling on board a ship this size you meet and make friends easier and have a great time together.also you get to see of this beautiful country while having a great time. Tina L

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Split to Dubrovnik in comfort

The cruise from Dubrovnik to Split on the boat Vapor was excellent in every way; the cabin was comfortable and clean. The crew were very helpful, courteous and efficient. The islands we visited were interesting and well-chosen and our tour director was really excellent; he had a delightful combination of knowledge and humor. I would happily do it all again. Sue Z

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Luxury Gulet Aegean cruise

This was our second trip that we booked with The Small Cruise Ship Company. We love both the Croatia Cruise and the Turkey/Greece Cruise. I would highly recommend this company! Diane B

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Croatia cruise from Split in Luxury

We had a wonderful time and loved the ship and all the stops.  Look forward to another cruise in the area......thanks so much for your help!

Our only question was in previous documentation, it was stated beer and wine were included during lunch.  However, none of our drinks were included.

Look forward to why the discrepancy.....but simply loved everything else; ship, staff, captain, and director! Donna Z


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Dalmatian Paradise: Split - Split (Deluxe Superior Ships)

A truly wonderful experience

We took a 7 night round trip cruise from Split on the Avangarde. It was an absolute delight. We were thoroughly looked after from the moment we arrived in the boat to the final transfer to our hotel at the end. The crew and tour manager were extremely good at what they do and showed great humor. The food was outstanding and cabins much for luxurious than I could have imagined for a small boat. There was a great balance between free time and organised excursions. I cannot recommend this cruise highly enough. Katherine A

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Luxury Gulet Aegean cruise

Fabulous cruise, thoroughly enjoyable experience. Captain and crew were lovely.

Small Cruise Ship Collection were most helpful throughout

 

Small quibbles:

Would have liked much more sailing instead of motoring.

Would have preferred an extra day/night in Greece instead of early return to Turkey.

Cabins were hot at night (in October!)

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The Island Of Simi & The Hisaronu Gulf

Great crew, fantastic food and the MV Myra was a very good layout. Would highly recommend. Brian D

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Croatia Luxury Cruise North: from Split to Split

Great holiday

We had a lovely week on the Esperanza . The guests all got in great and Ivana was a wonderful hostess.

Positives : Guests and the amazing Dalmnation coast

Negatives: Agritourism visit was nothing special and wine was borderline awful. Most guests felt this was something of a wasted evening in the middle of nowhere.

Food on the boat in particular fruit at breakfast and salads at lunch and dinner could have been more plentiful .

But all in all ... Great !

Thank you Conor I

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Alaska's Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise (Wilderness Discoverer)

We booked a 2 week cruise in Alaska through the Small Cruise Ship Collection. The Small Cruise Ship Collection we’re efficient and helpful, answering any queries promptly. The cruise itself was fantastic, everything we hoped for and more. Alison M

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Luxury Gulet Aegean cruise

Our cruise with your company was wonderful....the boat was spotless at all times.  Some one has taking their time to ensure the boat is well maintained. The staff was incredible, thoughtful,  courteous, helpful, but above all the service was beyond expectations.

One problem, I can never cruise in a large ship again!!!! I would only be disappointed by the quality of food  and experience.

great experience..thank you very much.

Paula and Tom

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Southern Croatia from Split - Premium cruise

Enjoyed the cruise. Food was good considering the size of the kitchen. Seating was a bit cramped.

We were "below stairs" and again the room was basic but spacious.

Having said all this the cruise was not expensive.

We thought the port fees should have been included in the price and tipping caused a lot of discussion. . Most people found it excessive especially those countries that don't tip. Liz B

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Cruise from Split to Dubrovnik in luxury

Yes, we did enjoy our Croatian cruise.  The boat manager did a wonderful job, despite her youth!  She often had to re-arrange our programme because of the Captain having received instructions about where we could moor and the impact of the weather.  We had one very wet and rough day (when my friend was sea-sick!) but most of the weather was fine, with a gentle breeze to avoid getting too hot.  Dubrovnik was a great disappointment for me, being over-run with tourists, even so late in the season.  I would think it would be better to have a guided walk in the afternoon, rather than the morning, when there were so many others that it was difficult to keep with your own group.  Unfortunately, the walls were beyond our ability, but we had a taxi up to the mountains where the cable-car started, stopping at various viewing points, and then back via the new bridge to our boat.  I could recommend that.  We had spare time on the last day, owing to our late flight, and the cruise manager suggested we took the boat to Lokrum, a nearby island, and this gave us great views of the walls, etc.  The island is kept for wild-life, and we had to share our sandwiches with the peacocks!  Going out we did not see anything of Split, as the programme had been changed, and the guided walk in Split happened before we arrived at 7 p.m. instead of the next morning.  

The end of the cruise was not good for us, but in no way the fault of the cruise firm.  My friend lost her handbag when we got to the airport and she thought she had left it in the taxi, but it could not be found so the official at the airport found us accommodation for the night, and next morning the handbag was found on the boat, and returned to us, and then we had to pay for another flight back to the U.K. It was all a nightmare for us, but we must say the Croatians were very helpful and took great care of us. 

Going back to the boat cruise, we would have much preferred evening meals instead of the dinner at lunch time. We only had two, one the day we arrived, and then the captain's dinner.  In the evening we did not want another dinner, and were rather at a loss to find something to do, as it was getting dark by 7.30 p.m.  There is no menu for meals, but when I saw the size of the galley, I was not surprised, and the chef did well to prepare nearly 40 meals for us, plus more for the crew.  All the crew were pleasant and helpful, especially getting us on and off the boat safely.  We thought the wine and drinks were VERY expensive, so did not drink much on the boat, and the allowance of 1/2 a litre of water per day was not very generous if it is very hot.  Then tax was added to the bill as well.  We thought they were expecting very large tips, and we had to reduce them to a more reasonable level.  We were also stung very high charges when using the ATM in Gruz port and at the airport, which I have never experienced before in other countries.  However, we still enjoyed the experience.  And Vicky was very helpful when we made the booking.

Margaret H
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Northern Croatia Cruise

Hello, I have returned from a small cruise ship holiday  in Croatia. Not the one my friend  I planned but due to cancellation we were put on another boat going to the southern islands, but still had our three days extra seeing lakes etc.

Everything went to plan hotels, boat, transport connections etc were all there for us . We also had an added extra  on a transfer by taxi from Split to Zagreb on our last we shared a taxi with 'Katarina' and her family.  What an unexpected pleasure.

We want to thank you all for a wonderful holiday even though at the beginning it seemed doomed.

We shall be back

Regards Margaret B 


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Southern Croatia from Split - Premium cruise

We really enjoyed the cruise, thanks!

Hazel


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Cruise from Dubrovnik to Split in Luxury

Wonderful experience

We cruised on the MS Diamond in September from Dubrovnik to Split and it was 7 days of swimming, laughter and relaxing unlike any other cruise we have taken. The cruise director Paul, Bruno and Ivan the two bartenders and waiters were wonderful, always smiling and couldn’t do enough for you. The rest of the small crew were also wonderful. Our cruise had a total of 38 passengers and everyone was friendly and we all enjoyed each other’s company. The Diamond was very comfortable with areas to just relax and the swimming everyday in small coves in the clearest water we have ever experienced and that’s says a lot as we live in Hawaii. I have thought of our cruise everyday since our return and would love to do it again Roger F

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Classic Norwegian Fjords (Roundtrip)

I can't thank Small Cruise Ship Collection enough for their assistance in arranging my first Hurtigruten voyage along the coast of Norway in October, 2019. Although the ship's mechanical issues saw me returning home just a few days into the voyage, Small Cruise Ship Collection helped me quickly rebook the trip, using Hurtigruten's full refund and discount offer for my future booking. I just returned from a most amazing experience in Norway, and I thank Caroline of Small Cruise Ship Collection, in particular, for such superb assistance.

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Gokova Gulf Luxury Gulet Cruise

Just a quick email to say a very big thank you from Bruce & myself for the wonderful week we had on board MS Nikola. I knew it would be special, but had no idea just how special! The gulet is superb, the crew were out of this world, the weather was perfect, & the company just brilliant… there is no way we could have improved on any aspect of our trip whatsoever. I didn’t know that Bruce had mentioned it was our honeymoon; the crew went above & beyond in terms of making it memorable for us, as did the other 3 couples on the gulet! Although the week at sea fell into the middle of our honeymoon (as we were in Kos & Bodrum either side of the cruise, & both of those were special too), it was by far the highlight of it… neither of us wanted our time on board to end. Having read some of the comments in the gulet’s guest book, we could see just how special it is; and the current crew (capt Ramazan, chef Tekin & 1st mate Hassan) are deservedly well-loved by all.

I’d also like to say a really big thank you too to Small Cruise Ships for letting us join the Nikola, because of course we shouldn’t have been on it at all, having booked to join the Myra. She was alongside us in port so we had chance to see her also; another beautiful gulet indeed. But we both quickly realised that we’d been incredibly lucky to be swapped onto the Nikola… it’s a truly fantastic itinerary & there really wasn’t a minute we didn’t enjoy. (…possibly with the exception of me dropping my mobile phone – or rather the special photos on it – onto the Eastern Aegean seabed! Ramazan was amazing, and gave us some lovely photos of us he’d taken, which of course more than made up for the loss )

I also hope this is useful from a feedback point of view; do let me know if you’d like me to write something more articulately! We decided there & then in Bodrum we’d start saving on our return, because without any doubt whatsoever we wish to sail with the Nikola & crew again next year, wherever she’s going…

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Split to Dubrovnik in comfort

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip, all the ports and the food. The cabins were very average. Rene U

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Southern Croatia cruise from Split

The small size of the sailing ship and the wonderful character of the crew made this a wonderful week packed with once in a lifetime views, excursions and food. I enjoyed it very much. I hope to do it again. Linda M

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Split to Dubrovnik Cruise in Comfort

Hi Susi, we travelled on Vapor on 31 Aug until the 6 Sept from Split to Dubronik. The crew were very helpful and friendly. The food was good and Stan our cruise manager was fantastic. His knowledge of the area was exceptional. We really enjoyed our cruise. The islands are amazing. I would recommend this cruise to our friends. Thanks.

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Croatia Island Hopping Cruise from Dubrovnik

An excellent island hopping cruise experience

An excellent way to experience the interesting islands of Croatia. Travelling with 38 like-minded people made the cruise a wonderful experience. The crew were very professional and extremely hardworking. The breakfast and lunch offerings were more than ample. Having the opportunity to eat dinner on the islands at the restaurants provided us with time to mingle with the locals, walk around the amazing towns and provide incomes locally. Jen A

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Split to Dubrovnik Cruise in Comfort

The cruise from Dubrovnik to Split on Vapor was excellent in every way; the cabin was comfortable and clean. The crew were very helpful, courteous and efficient. The islands we visited were interesting and well-chosen and our tour director was really excellent; he had a delightful combination of knowledge and humor. I would happily do it all again. Susan

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Wonders of Croatia: Dubrovnik - Split (Deluxe Superior Ships)

The Ave Maria was a pretty boat.  Three separate outdoor conversation areas were nice to relax in.  The cabins were nice and roomy. The cruise director Stan was very friendly and informative throughout the day and on the excursions on shore. 

The server and bartender were nice, but not the most friendly.  I am sure they get tired of new people each week. Food was good.  Just one comment - more fresh vegetables with meals would be great. 

Overall, the week was very enjoyable. Linda M

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