Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oceania Cruise: Dubrovnik, Croatia

(Photo of Hotel Excelsior, from Expedia)

This is the second in a series of posts that is an anticipatory “following in the wake,” so to speak, of the Grecian Glory itinerary of Oceania’s new ship, Marina. (The actual cruise will be in May 2011.)

Last week’s post covered Venice, the city of embarkation. This is now the first stop, Dubrovnik, Croatia, at the extreme south of the Dalmatian Coast. It sits across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

Oceania’s new ship, Marina, which will make the trip we’re outlining in this series  (Photo from Oceania Cruises)

This particular land excursion is of special interest to me, as Dubrovnik has long been on my top-five wish list. We’ve traveled in Croatia and its Adriatic neighbor, Slovenia (both then part of Yugoslavia), but we didn’t have time to go as far south as Dubrovnik. For those who have traveled, you know it often involves the disappointing elimination of places you just don’t have time to squeeze in!

(Photo from

It was sad to miss this ancient city on our earlier trip.
In a way, this series will marry two different objectives. The overall stated intent of this blog is to pick the ScheckTrek favorite accommodations in each of the destinations “visited” around the world. But the aim of this particular series is to mirror the destinations a specific cruise ship will visit. For this series I will allow myself the flexibility of making it more or less about the accommodations vs. places of interest, depending on the location. However, for Dubrovnik, we’ll continue with accommodations picks.

Dubrovnik is one of those places where I imagined the perfect vacation rental home might be. In addition to magnificent Adriatic and Old City views, it would be about 600 years old and have tall windows, beamed ceilings and a stone wall or two or three. And of course there would be a terrace and some bougainvillea.

Try to find that! I did locate some vacation rentals with price tags of $10,000-$16,000 a week, but they were missing a certain charm. Not that they had none, but I expect a lot of charm for $16,000 a week! I almost gave up and went for a hotel. Because of it’s tub, the Hotel Excelsior would have definitely been in the running.

(Photo of Hotel Excelsior from Expedia)

I then spied this picture of a villa, but the link for more information was broken, so I never could discover anything more about it. I call it the “one that got away.”
(Photo of Villa Dubrovnik from

It's amazing how much a few yards of gauzy fabric can add to the "come hither" appeal of a place!

After much diligence I finally found what I was looking for. And then I found a second one! I think they mutually excel each other, but it turns out one of them is actually in nearby Mlini, rather than Dubrovnik, so I’m making that one the runner up.


This isn’t what I’d pictured in my mind’s eye, but it certainly is fun to imagine being there! I didn’t see the price. Maybe it’s like the old saying, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”  (Except as noted, photos of Villa Mlini from 

(Photo from

An incredible view…

…and a beautiful way to enjoy that view!

SCHECKTREK PICK for Dubrovnik: Villa Celeste

Villa Celeste has 4 bedrooms, rents for an average of US $1040/night, and offers a buffet breakfast, served on the terrace each morning.

This villa is more what I had in mind, though with a fresh and contemporary twist. It’s both elegant and fun, and it beautifully reflects its surroundings.  (Photos of Villa Celeste from Expedia.)

Just because I like it so much, we’ll start with the bathroom.

I absolutely love how they handled this room, from the ceiling treatment with its angles and unfinished wood; to the sculptural toilet, bidet and free-standing tub; to the large glass shower. It looks like quite the basin too. And I especially like that they set off all the clean, straight lines with the little cabriole-legged stool.

This room is cozier with its stone wall, weathered beams, and arched fireplace openings. But again, with a fresh twist: notice the modern lines of the chimney.

Staring at the Adriatic from Villa Celeste

I do love that view, but where I really want to be about this time of day is back out there on the ship, because that's what will take us on our overnight "virtual" voyage to the next port of call.

So, much as I enjoyed our tour of Dubrovnik, in my dreams, here is where I’ll rest my feet, weary from walking its cobbled streets...

Oceania Marina’s Veranda Stateroom

Next destination: Kotor, Montenegro!



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