Today Azamara Quest is docked in Split, Croatia. Split is the largest and most important city of Croatia's Split-Dalmatia County and the country's second largest city. It is a Mediterranean city, situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. There are approximately 410,000 people in the Split metropolitan area, and the port is a busy place, serving as a jumping off point for exploration of the coast, the Adriatic, Italy and Greece.
Looking out over the balcony this morning when Azamara Quest docked, I could see a number of ferries coming and going transporting locals and tourists to other islands, and coaches and buses waiting to pick up more pax as they disgorged from these boats. Its certainly a lot busier than Hvar yesterday. Across the harbour the tower of the Cathedral of St Duje, which is part of the Diocletian Palace, dominates the skyline.
After getting ready we headed to the main dining room for breakfast (Eggs Benedict again, I cant help myself!) - service today seemed a bit slicker that yesterday and we were soon on the gangway and heading to town to meet up with our private guide that we had booked before leaving the UK. After a bit of a mix up as to where we were meeting, we found each other and she took us around the historic Diocletian Palace. This is a walled area that has a magnificent stone gate set in each of the walls with a cross roads at its centre. Splits old town has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. Emperor Diocletian erected the Roman Palace in the 4th century, and what began as an imperial residence and fortified camp is today an intriguing maze of narrow cobblestone streets. The palace's main open space is known as the Peristyle, which is surrounded by a colonnade of six columns to the eastern and western sides and an arch. We entered via the cellars of the palace, which are very well preserved and recently excavated. Huge stone pillars supported an arched roof, and this area is now full of stalls selling souvenirs and locally produced handicrafts. The atmosphere was lovely and cool here and a welcome respite out of the strong sunshine. After walking through the cellars our guide took us to visit the Cathedral of St. Duje, and the Temple of Jupiter, and then we went off exploring the cobblestone streets of this walled town. Many of the original arches can still be seen and there is still a lot of excavation and restoration work to be done. The town is now filled with a myriad of houses, restaurants, bar, shops and stalls and has lively atmosphere with plenty of shopping opportunities. After our tour we sat down with our guide for refreshments (Ok it was beer!) and had a good chat with her. After bidding her farewell, we went back into the town for another mooch about and to take more photos, before returning to the ship for lunch and a relax - this cruising is hard work! Split is a charming and busy town and well worth a visit, with plenty of good high-end shops as well as stalls selling quality locally made souvenirs and local foods. There are also plenty of museums and art galleries too, along with a vibrant night-life.
Last night we were chatting with the cruise director Kirk Detweiler, and he said the ship was pretty much full, with just a few staterooms empty. Even with the ship nearly full, there is plenty of space around and nowhere feels crowded, we have not had to wait in line for anything, which is an advantage of cruising on a smaller ship. Our fellow guests are a mix of people from the UK, USA and a few from other European countries, with a large contingent from the UK on this particular voyage. When we have been chatting to our fellow guests, I have asked them why they chose this cruise, and most of them selected it for the itinerary, as it calls at so many Croatia ports of call - I have to admit that is one of the reasons I chose it too. A few of them have cruised before, for others it's their first time and all seem to be enjoying themselves. Most of the other guests I would say are age 65 plus, however there are quite a number of 30-somethings onboard and quite a few young-at-heart people judging from the filled dance floor in the nightclub!
In our stateroom today was the option of a late-disembarkation on Saturday that you can book if you have later flights when you disembark Azamara Quest, it costs $25 pp and you can stay onboard until 12.30, including lunch in the Windows Café. Also you can pre-book the Azamara transfer for $33 pp to take you to the airport if you're doing independent travel. We had not booked our transfer and as our flight is at 12.45 have decided to take this option - its takes the hassle and stress out of trying to get to the airport from Venice!
Dinner was again delicious; we sat with a very nice couple from New York and another couple from the UK. The Louisiana Gumbo and Rib eye steak (the chefs suggestions) were both excellent, and the complimentary red wine flowed freely too!
After dinner we went up to the main lounge to watch the end of the show (we were so busy chatting we missed the start) - It was a tribute to Broadway - so not the most imaginative of shows, however the singers did a good job on the first night so we thought we would give it a go. We stood at the back of the theatre as it was pretty full, however it didn't sound too great to be honest and there was a lot of microphone feedback - I hope that was just a one off as the first show was pretty good. After the finale (from Hairspray) they announced there would be a quiz, however most people left straight away. It was off to bed for us as it's an early start in the morning sailing into Kotor.
|Author||Mr Paul Bailey|
|Date||03 August 2011|
|Comment||Great information, im not going on a cruise this year but I am heading over to the Dalmatian Coast in two weeks. I will be following your blog posts to see if you can give me any top tips of where to go. Good stuff :)|