Lucy Abbott joins Riviera Travel to sail the Split, Hvar and the Delights of Dalmatia itinerary, and discovers the beauty of a relaxing yacht cruise.
Standing on the dedicated swim platform at the rear of MS Mendula, I gaze out at the crystal-clear Adriatic sea, as majestic mountains frame the sky and the peaceful rocky beach.
I can’t help but jump in, breaking the peaceful water and joining an array of colourful fish. I pinch myself to double check this is real life and not an amazing dream that will rudely be interrupted by my alarm clock.
Swimming further out, I look back to admire Riviera Travel’s stunning MS Mendula, the 30-guest twin-mastered yacht.
The start of an adventure
I join this vessel on an itinerary that is crafted to sail to lesser-visited ports and one that focuses on relaxation – all of this is delivered and more, helped by the ship’s petite size, which allows us to access ports of call not visited by larger ships.
Stepping on board for the first time truly feels like the beginning of an adventure. Although small, with just one dining venue, the ship features everything needed for a week’s adventure and more.
Exploring the ship further, glossy wooden interiors, plush blue seating and expansive open-air areas greet me.
Beyond these public areas, my room (an A-class cabin) is conveniently located in the middle of three decks – on the same level as the dining room and swimming platform.
There are four other A-class cabins on the same level, featuring a high-pressure shower, twin, double or single bed, air conditioning as well as plenty of under-bed storage for a suitcase.
Above on the top deck are three A+ cabins, which are the same size as the A class, each with twin beds. Here, guests can enjoy top deck views through one port hole window and one opening window.
The most budget-friendly option is the B class, located in the lower deck, with two porthole windows for plenty of sea gazing and daydreaming.
After only a few hours on board, I can safely say this is shaping up to be my dream cruise, and, with a week in which to take it all in, I can finally live out my yacht fantasies.
Soaking up the yacht cruise experience
A massive benefit to sailing on a Riviera Travel yacht cruise itineraries is that all the excursions are included within the price. So, I’m looking forward to a mix of locally guided excursions and cultural experiences in our ports of call – Brac, Bol, Jelsa, Korcula, Vis, Hvar and Trogir.
After my morning of a buffet-style breakfast with my newfound friends and a quick swim, we pull into the first port of call – Brac.
The main trades in Brac are olive oil and wine, which is evident by the constant flurry of olive oil trees and vineyards we pass.
After absorbing the magnificent panoramic view, we head over to a quaint olive oil restaurant to partake in an olive oil tasting. Although I personally cannot stomach the idea of drinking a spoonful of olive oil, when combined with sea salt, fresh tomatoes and soft bread, I feel as if I am in foodie heaven.
The split between guided tours and independent discovery is perfect. On our visit to Bol, we have the choice between exploring quaint alleys and coffee shops in the centre or walking to one of the most famous beaches in Croatia – Zlatni Rat.
This perfect balance is crafted by our cruise director, Pina, who possesses so much information about each port of call that I am left in amazement as to how she keeps all this in her head.
She also has the ability to think on her feet as she changes our e-bike tour of Hvar to a wine tasting.
In fact, Pina thinks of this cruise itinerary as her “baby”, adding: “There was a huge interest with people who have already travelled in Croatia, so why don’t we come up with a really relaxing journey where it is just us, and we have all that peace.”
Speaking of peace and quiet, before we depart to our final port of call, we stop for one last swim.
As I float in the serene water dreaming of my next yacht cruise, I wish I could bottle the feeling, as I know this will be an experience I will remember forever.