Croatia ~ Gem of the
Start in Venice, Italy
Finish in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Nine days 0f Beautiful Discovery
March 26 – April 3, 2016
You can do this tour as a post-trip to our third Italy Ski Week
You can do this as a stand-alone tour.
You do NOT have to be a skier to enjoy this trek! Skiing has no part in our Croatian tour.
~ 4 and 5-star hotels
~All private charter transportation
~Dedicated tour guide entire trip along with
Skiman and Deb
We offer trip cancellation insurance directly to you for at a savings. Click HERE details.
Scroll down to the links of the photo galleries to view our scouting trip last March. You will see why we are EXCITED to go back!
Single occupancy upgrade for the entire tour is $469
**Trip based on minimum 30 participants. If group is between 25-29, a surcharge of $69 is added to total per person cost. If group is between 20-24, surcharge is $159.
**Air taxes of @$40 not included in base price, subject to small adjustment up to time of final payment.
*We can try to get a same-sex roommate for you upon request, but make no guarantee. We are usually successful.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE HAVE ONLY 30 SPACES AVAILABLE AT THIS TERRIFIC PRICE!
We have a strong feeling this tour will fill up quickly. After the first 30 spaces are gone, we will attempt to add more passengers, but we cannot guarantee that the price will be the same. Bottom line: Read it, think about it, dream about it…. If you heart and your head are saying to do it, DON’T WAIT too long. Send in your deposit, lock in your space, and don’t worry about anything. You will be good to go!
Included in this tour:
-One night 4 star hotel in Venice, Italy
-Venice – Opatija charter bus
– One night 5 STAR accommodation in Opatija with breakfast
– Rovinj Private City Walking Tour
– Rovinj – Plitvice Lakes region charter bus
– One night stay at Ogulin 4 star hotel with breakfast and DINNER included
-Half day visit to magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park. Entrance fees and guided walk included.
– Charter bus to Split with a stop at a farm to have lunch and try homemade prsuto, cherry brandy.. real Croatian fare! (lunch not included)
1 night 4-star accommodation in Split with breakfast
– Split Private Walking Tour Split
– Hvar Ferry round trip
– Split Port Transfer
– Two nights 4-star accommodation in Hvar with breakfast
– Hvar – Dubrovnik charter bus with stop in Ston, one of the oldest Croatian towns with the second-oldest fortified wall in the world. We will have a lunch at a world-famous restaurant the specialized in black rissoto and muscles cooked in garlic and wine.
– Two nights 5 STAR SEA VIEW ROOMS accommodation in Dubrovnik with breakfast.
– Dubrovnik Private Walking Tour
– Dubrovnik – Tivat, Montenegro Airport Transfer with half day at leisure Kotor Bay, Montenegro
-One way air ticket from Tivat to Milan MXP airport (taxes of @$40 not included)
– Dedicated local English speaking guide plus Skiman & Deb entire tour.
See detailed daily itinerary.
NOT included in the tour cost:
–Charter bus ride from Milan to Venice for the start of the tour. This transfer is needed by all our skiers who are doing Croatia after our third ski week and for any stand-alone passengers who are arriving into Milan and not flying into Venice. The cost per person will be determined when the final number of participants is established at time of final payment in Mid-January. We will either do a charter bus for the entire move, or a combo bus/ train for the move. We will determine what is the most economical and convenient way. PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT included in the tour cost. Exact cost will be determined when we have the final number of passengers involved. The cost per person will be close to $100.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SKI GEAR STORAGE: You CANNOT take skis or boot bags with you to Croatia. You do not want to lug them around for 8 days and, most importantly, you would have to pay a hefty baggage fee on our one-way flight back to Milan at the end of the tour. At the end of the ski week in Sestriere, skiers will travel by bus to Milan Malpensa airport where we will drop off skis and boot bags for long-term storage. A guesstimate cost : @ 75 Euros for two bags for nine days. Upon arrival back to Milan MXP on April 3, you retrieve your bags. It is a simple solution. Or, you may want to consider not taking your skis at all and just renting to avoid this expense.
-Any hotel nights in Milan are not included. Virtually everyone doing our flight at the end of the tour back into Milan from Croatia will have to overnight in Milan. We do not arrive into Milan until 8pm, which is too late to arrange any international return air on that day, April 3. Everyone will have to fly back on April 4, so one hotel night will be required on the night of April 3. We have arranged rooms for those who would like to stay at the Sheraton MXP Airport Hotel. This is a beautiful 4-star hotel that is connected to the airport, making it VERY accessible… no need to take a taxi. Milan hotel costs are not included in the tour and will be @$95 per person double occupancy, t.b.a. Of course, you can arrange your own hotels in Milan if you would like, but we recommend the Sheraton.
-For those doing Croatia as a standalone (not doing our ski trip prior), you will need to get international air for this tour. We can offer a round trip ticket on Emerites Air from JFK to Milan for @$729 per person, subject to availability. We can also help arrange air you need to get to JFK from anywhere in the U.S. Let us help with this.
Two air options for stand-alone passengers: 1- You can arrive in Milan and bus with our skiers to Venice, OR 2- you can fly into Venice directly and meet us there. If you do fly into Venice, it would be best to arrange your return flight from Milan MXP airport. The air options at the end of the Croatia trip are few and expensive. You can try to arrange air to any city you want to, but be forewarned: it will probably be more expensive than using our air to Milan. The best thing to do before doing anything is to give us a call so we can explain your options.
– Extra nights in Venice, Italy before the tour begins.
– Extra nights Milan, Italy
-International air for those not doing the ski tour prior to Croatia.
Please read the details of this program below. There are many moving parts and some decision points specific to each traveler. Read carefully and you will have a good grasp of how this tour will work. BE SURE to click on all the photo galleries listed below for EVERY destination!
See detailed daily itinerary.
What makes our tours different?
We are different from most tour companies. We have been where we are taking our clients. We go back on every trip with the group. It is the way we roll and we think you will see the difference. Have a look at the amazing places in Croatia YOU can see with us this March.
THIS IS NOT a “see Europe from a bus window” tour! Skiman is not into those type of tours and would not subject his guests to said torment. We are only covering @180 miles during the whole course of the tour. AND there will be 4 days (2 in Hvar Island and 2 in Dubrovnik) where you will not be on any vehicle. You will be at your leisure to explore as you please. The bus journeys are never all-day affairs on this tour and the travel-time on any given day is at most 1/2 a day.
Below: Photo galleries of our Croatia destinations taken on our scout trip.
Plitvice Lakes is a series of unbelievable water falls and water features. We will spend 4 hours walking and exploring the park. Unlike anything you have ever seen or experienced you will discover why it is on National Geographic’s “10 places in Nature you must see in the World” list.
Hvar Island From Split we take a fast ferry ride of 1.5 hours to the island of Hvar. It is a natural paradise with a pristine shoreline and natural beauty throughout the island. Inland is dotted with historic remains many centuries old. You will have two nights to enjoy this magical island. Boat rides, scooter rides, great hiking or walking… Hvar has it all. In the summer months it is very crowded, but if you go in late March you will have the island almost to yourself. That is the way we like it. We think you will fall in love with Hvar.
Dubrovnik: The crown jewel of Croatia World Heritage site
One of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world. Surrounded by a walkable ancient wall and the cobbled streets that echo much history… this is Dubrovnik. It is the most famous location in Croatia. If you come in the summer you will be literally in a swarm of tourists. Cruise ships disgorge thousands daily here. That is not enjoyable and that is why we go to Europe in the non-tourist seasons. Dubrovnik in March/April is a joy. You can absorb this beautiful place without the crowds. Eat where you want. Walk where you want. Do what you want. Staying in a nearby 5-star hotel just adds to this already wonderful mix.
Split Built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement palace, Split morphed over the centuries. It has been continuously inhabited for over 1800 years. Inside the walls of this Roman palace is a living museum of every architectural style from Roman to Renaissance. Located on a gorgeous bay, the Adriatic almost laps up on the ancient Roman walls that still surround Split. It is the best-preserved Roman site in the world,quite something to behold.
Ston The second-oldest remaining fortified city in the world. We will visit it on our way to Dubrovnik. You won’t believe this place. Check out these pics!
PHOTO GALLERIES OF ALL OUR CROATIAN TOUR HOTELS
We are very proud of the hotels we have collected for this journey. They are ALL 4 or 5 star beauties. Below please find links so that you can see for yourself the level of quality we are offering you. We are confident you will be more than happy with our choices.
Venice, Italy: 4 * Hotel President
Opatija, Croatia: 4* Hotel Milenij
Ogulin, Croatia: 4* Hotel Frankopan
Hvar, Croatia 4* Hotel Adriana
Dbrovnik, Croatia: 5* Hotel Villa Argentina
See detailed daily itinerary.
“Corkscrew your way up impossibly twisty mountain roads to panoramic vistas of cut-glass peaks. Ponder the fading scars of a recent war, and admire how skillfully the locals have revitalized their once-troubled region. Dine on a seafood feast and sip a glass of local wine as you watch the sunset dip into the watery horizon…feeling smug for discovering this place before all your friends did. Unfamiliar as it might seem, Croatia has what you’ve been looking for: some of Europe’s most spectacular natural wonders, a fascinating recent history, and a spirit of adventure – much of it still off the beaten path.” Rick Steves
The above quote captures perfectly what Croatia is about. Rick Steves nailed it. Croatia is on the cusp of becoming the next huge tourist magnet. Now is your chance to experience this magical place without the maddening summer crowds and before it becomes a big, expensive deal. Dan the Ski Man (President of Morningstar Ski Tours) and his wife Deb had been hearing marvelous rumors of this Adriatic Coast gem and started to dream “what if?” Could we take a group there after our European Alps ski tour? Was it worth the effort? Was it affordable? We decided to do an exploratory trip to Croatia in March 2015 after we finished our ski tours in Italy and our post-trip to Greece.
We decided to go big. We would start at the north end of the country and work our way down to the most famous attraction of Croatia in the south: the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik. We spent 9 days on this journey and fell absolutely in love with Croatia. For Skiman, it was a personal journey of discovery that had special meaning. His heritage is half Italian and half Yugoslavian. He had spent over a year of his life in Italy but had never visited the country of his other half. What a joy it was for him to find such warm and wonderful “cousins”!
Croatia has everything you could look for in an exciting vacation destination. The history rivals Italy. In fact, the best-preserved Roman site in the world is in Split. The food rivals Italy. The people are wonderfully friendly and helpful. The natural beauty of the region is beyond description. It even has a site (which we will visit) that is on National Geographic’s “Top Ten Nature Sites in the world” list. The coastline of Croatia is spectacular and literally hundreds of islands dot the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea that hugs the entire country’s length. For those who know us, you will understand how big this statement is. Croatia rivals Italy on every level and we found ourselves enjoying it as much as we always enjoy Italy. After experiencing Croatia for ourselves, we now have a tie for our favorite Euro-country. We love Croatia. We are excited to bring a big group of friends back with us to share what we have found.
With open arms and excited hearts we welcome YOU to join us on a journey that you will never forget.
The Challenge we faced: The biggest hurdle we faced was getting affordable air into and out of Croatia. April is not peak season, so there are limited flights available. It literally took months to find a solution. After looking at every permutation we came up with a perfect plan that allows us to offer the tour at a great price.
The Solution: We are going to start the tour in Venice, Italy. For those doing our ski tours and joining us for Croatia as a post-ski trip, we will have a charter bus take us at the end of the ski week to Venice. (You will store your skis and boots at the Milan airport). It is a beautiful 3.5 hour drive through northern Italy. This option affords us the exciting possibility of spending one night in Venice before we begin our tour. Leaving Venice mid-morning we will start our Croatian adventure heading to the spectacular northwestern section of the country: Istrea. With medieval hilltop towns and spectacular seaside panoramas, there could not be a better place to start our journey. Deb and Skiman are especially excited by this prospect because we did not visit this region on our scouting trip. We started in the capital city of Zagreb. We loved Zagreb and would have loved to share it with you all, but at the end of the day, the air cost and difficult air schedules were too problematic to overcome. We took our lemons and will make some wonderful lemonade. Istrea here we come!
At the end of the Croatia tour, we will be heading back to Milan MXP airport on Air Serbia, an airline we flew last year and enjoyed. We have a good flight for a great price that flies from Kotor Bay in the neighboring country of Montenegro. From Dubrovnik we will take a 90 minute charter bus ride to Kotor Bay where we will have the morning and part of the afternoon to explore this awesome medieval port town. It is just a short fifteen minute ride to the airport for your flight to Milan.
RELEVANT NOTES AND MUSINGS ABOUT THE TOUR: The time of year we are visiting: Croatia is very crowded from late May thru September. Sun-starved northern Europeans flock to Croatia filling the resorts and hotels to overflowing. Add in countless cruise ships unloading thousands of people a day into Dubrovnik and Split… you get the picture. To us, the PERFECT time to visit Croatia is in late March / early April. It is less expensive, way less crowded, and less stressful. You will find this the best time to truly experience this country without drowning in a sea of tourists.
Cost of things in Croatia: Bargain is the operative word! Once you get there, Croatia is a fantastically-priced region. We guesstimate it is at least 40% less expensive than Italy, and for some things even more than that. It was a ball to be able to go to Croatian “expensive” restaurants and have 4 course meals for the both of us with a great bottle of wine for under $60…. no kidding! The art work is very affordable, more so than anywhere else we have seen in Europe, We bought some incredible paintings and reproductions on our visit that were literally 1/10th the cost of similar items in Rome or Paris. We found amazing hand-crafted work done by local artists for a song. They have all added a nice Croatian touch to our log house in Bend. Truly, Croatia is a deal.
Speaking of wine: I will let out a secret : Skiman and Deb love good wines! Those of you who know us are shocked at this statement, but it is true! I tell you this: Croatia has some of the best wines in all of Europe. They have grapes that have grown in only their region since the Roman times. Dingac and Plavac Mali are two of the wines unique to Croatia and they are some of the best we tasted. Sadly, because the production is small, you will hardly ever find these wines outside of Croatia. Deb and I had one of the top five wines of our lives in Zagreb with dinner. We took over an hour to savor and enjoy it. The cost for this bottle in the 4-star restaurant: $16! Are you kidding? Ask yourself: how much do you pay in the States for a great bottle of wine in a nice restaurant? Answer: not $16. Of course, after this intro to the wine of Croatia, we were on a never-ending quest to find more varieties in as many stores as we could. We found unbelievable wines made from grapes we had never tried for under $10 a bottle. We think we will go back and sip a bit… wanna join us?
The best spa deal ever! We experienced a wonderful and amazingly affordable 90 minute spa session at our spectacular hotel in Hvar. It included a couples massage and salt rub finishing with a soak in the hot tub replete with martinis… all this for around $150 dollars for both of us. Are you kidding?! Come prepared to soak and chill in Croatia.
IF YOU ARE A SKIER, CONSIDER: It is possible to do Croatia as a stand-alone tour without a ski week prior. But if you are a skier, we suggest that it makes little sense to do Croatia and not do at least one preceding ski week in Italy. You have to pay the same for your international air whether you do Croatia alone or do it in conjunction with a ski week. So, at the end of the day, you can add an entire ski week for $1159. If you have the time, it simply makes sense to maximize the value of your air and do a ski week as well.
WHEN YOU DECIDE YOU WANT TO JOIN THIS TOUR:
→Make an initial deposit of $400 per person/ per trip. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable. (Note: We highly recommend you purchase trip insurance from us or anyone else at the time of depositing to ensure the return of any monies deposited on the tour(s) if cancellation is necessary.
→Make SURE that you have a valid passport and that it does NOT expire within 3 months of your trip return date.
→Read all the financial details pertaining to the tour(s) on the Trip Logistics page. Use the link below.
WE ONLY HAVE 30 SPACES for this tour. We advise depositing as soon as possible to ensure slots for you and your party.
CLICK HERE for all the pricing and deposit data.
See detailed daily itinerary.