Island Hopping Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast

July 27 – August 5, 2023

Price listed below the daily itinerary and trip closes out April 10


Come sail with us for 8 glorious days of luxury aboard our own private yacht as we explore the stunning coast of Croatia and the Pearls of the Adriatic.  We don’t often like to repeat trips but were inundated by AFSers begging me to repeat this cruise. We discovered the newly launched yacht Bellissima two years ago and left behind a long wait list of those who wanted to be a part. Not only have those people been asking for a do-over, but the group who went on the trip said they would do it again in a heartbeat.  Now it’s your turn for some Vitamin Sea!

 Croatia alone will leave you breathless, but this cruise will absolutely blow you away. Along with its gorgeous beaches and shimmering Bluest Aegean Sea, Croatia is filled with natural wonders of sweeping coastal cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, rolling vineyards and year-round sunshine. 13th-century castles dot the landscapes and UNESCO sites abound. In fact, this tiny country has more UNESCO sites per capita than any other on earth! Now, experience it all while being pampered aboard what is virtually our own private yacht. No way do you want a mega-ship here on this unique coastline. Our luxury vessel gets us deep into hidden hamlets of beauty. The spectacular Bellissima only holds 34 guests and with nearly all AFS, it’s like our own private charter.   You’ll get signature service with a concierge team that treats you like royalty and our guides are Croatian Experts. Every day provides unique thrills, and it all ends with a party in unforgettable Dubrovnik, a city that stuns on its own.

This trip is so inclusive with private swim spots in stunning lagoons, daily guided walking tours to iconic sites, evening entertainment, even Wi-Fi aboard. You’ll have free time to wander the postcard-perfect ancient streets of Split, Sibenik, Vis, Korcula, Strom, and witness the magnificent cascading waterfalls of Krka National Park. Plus, most meals are included as our private chefs aboard the Bellissima prepare gourmet meals! We also included the fabulous Blue Cave, a family winery, oyster farm, walled cities, museums and more. From the jet set island of Hvar to the hidden gem of Bisevo, you’ll experience an unspoiled part of Europe in a way that few ever will. These charming towns and ports are off the tourist trodden path and you only need to unpack twice on this dreamy vacation.  

Incomparable Croatia is one of the hottest destinations for 2023, so affordable! And we make it even more so with specially negotiated rates during what is their high season. This is a small-group trip in high demand and will sell out fast. It’s your chance to sail the Aegean in a way that only the uber-rich enjoy.  Book now to grab your cabin choice!

“Everyone keeps asking me how I managed to pull off such a fabulous vacation with Covid restrictions in place and my answer is, travel with AFS Travelers. Honestly, Suzy, I couldn’t even begin to describe how incredible my trip to Croatia was. Everything was seamless. All I had to do was show up and enjoy. I don’t know how you manage to price this trip within my travel budget. I seriously live like a billionaire for 10 days! I had to keep pinching myself when I got on our yacht because it exceeded my expectations in every way.  The food was spectacular. The crew on the ship became like family. I swear I want each one of them to join me on my next AFS trip. And then there was our Croatia group, best group of people ever! Never have I been on a vacation with kinder, engaging and a more caring group of people. Thank you SuzY for putting this trip together. I can’t wait for my next adventure.” – Lisa Forrest 2021

Welcome to Croatia by Lonely Planet   – If your Mediterranean fantasies feature balmy days by sapphire waters in the shade of ancient walled towns, Croatia is the place to turn them into reality.

Coastal Croatia
Croatia’s extraordinary island-speckled coastline is indisputably its main attraction. The first thing that strikes you is the remarkable clarity of the water. When it’s set against a dazzling white pebbly beach, the water sparkles with a jewel-like intensity in shades of emerald and sapphire. There are long sandy and shingly stretches too – perfect for lazy days spent lounging and devouring trashy holiday novels. If that all sounds too relaxing, there are water-based activities at hand to lure you off your sun lounger – snorkeling, diving, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing, just for starters.

The Edge of Empires
Precariously poised between the Balkans and central Europe, this land has been passed between competing kingdoms, empires and republics for millennia. If there’s an upside to this continual dislocation, it’s in the rich cultural legacy that each has left behind. Venetian palaces snuggle up to Napoleonic forts, Roman columns protrude from early Slavic churches, and Viennese mansions face off with Socialist Realist sculpture. Excellent museums showcase treasures that cover the gamut of European history, from the prehistoric to the post-communist, telling a story that is in equal parts fascinating and horrifying.

Beauty on the Inside
Shift your gaze for just a moment from the glittering waters and chances are an almighty mountain will loom into view. The Dinaric Range, which stretches all the way from Italy to Albania, hugs much of the coast. The limestone karst has bequeathed a wonderland of craggy peaks, caverns, river canyons, waterfalls and ridiculously picturesque lakes. Head further inland and things flatten out again into rolling farmland. Active types will find plenty of chances to get among it on the numerous hiking and biking trails, while the more adventurous can have a go at rock climbing, rafting and zip-lining.

Cultural Feast
If you’re lucky enough to cross the tourist/guest barrier and be invited into a local’s home, you’ll soon become acquainted with the refrain ‘Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!’ (Eat! Eat! Eat!). Sharing food and drink plays a big part in the culture here, which speaks both to the nature of Croatian hospitality and to the quality of local produce. Simple, homestyle cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of chefs are bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile, Croatian wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top awards.

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary


Click for printable PDF itinerary (Croatia)

July 28th – Arrival to Split

Even flying in, you can peer out the window and see what a gorgeous country awaits. Welcome to Split! Our driver will meet us at Split Airport and take us to our hotel in Split where we’ll have time to freshen up and perhaps explore the local area.

In the early evening, join your tour director for some welcome drinks to meet the rest of our fellow AFSers.

Overnight: 4-star Hotel Aphora  (1 Night)

July 29th – Split Guided Tour & Check in on the Bellissima  B,D

After a leisurely breakfast, our local guide will meet you and take you on a guided tour of what is one of Croatia’s favorite cities. Split is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts an abundance of classic Roman architecture, which includes the splendid Diocletian Palace.

While we are on the tour, our luggage will be transferred to the Bellissima, and we’ll go to the port directly following the tour. We’ll board your beautiful vessel in the early afternoon, where you will get a chance to meet the crew and check into your cabins before the scrumptious welcome dinner on board.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

July 30th – Trogir & Krka National Park  B, L, D

The charming medieval town of Trogir is our first destination today. This UNESCO listed gem with its pristine marina is often compared to a mini-Venice. Before we arrive in Trogir, it’s time to enjoy your first swim stop off the back of the boat. The captain will find a secluded spot for you to take a refreshing swim in the beautiful turquoise sea.

We’ll arrive in Trogir after lunch and have a fabulous trip to the stunning Krka Waterfalls National Park. Spend the afternoon admiring the beautiful waterfalls and lakes and strolling along pathways winding through the lush flora. In the early evening, return to Trogir with free time to enjoy dinner on your own and explore the labyrinth of backstreets and medieval alleyways in this hidden gem.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

July 31st – Golden Horn Beach & Stari Grad (Hvar) B ,L

 We set off from Trogir today during breakfast and sail to the beautiful Island of Hvar. On route we have a swim stop at one of the most famous beaches in the world planned, Zlatni Rat (The Golden Horn Beach). After a refreshing swim near this stunning beach, we continue to the charming town of Stari Grad on Hvar, arriving shortly after lunch.

This afternoon, we’ll be able to sample some locally produced wines at a very sought after family winery, before spending time in the cosmopolitan town of Hvar itself. We’ll have free time to explore this picturesque town at your leisure. In the early evening, you can choose to stay in Hvar and enjoy its thriving restaurant scene or come back to Stari Grad and enjoy a more tranquil dining experience.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

August 1st – Pakleni Islands & Vis B, L

 Set sail during breakfast from Hvar and head to the peaceful island of Vis, famed for its seclusion and isolation. To get to Vis we sail through the beautiful Pakleni island archipelago which is known for its stunning secluded bays. The captain will dock in one of these bays giving guests an extended swim stop and time to snorkel or use the various water toys on the yacht.

We will arrive in Vis in the mid-afternoon. Vis was once a strategic Yugoslav naval base and off limits to visitors. Due to the island’s seclusion and isolation, Vis has retained a very unique charm that typifies ‘the Mediterranean as it once was.’ Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful waterfront or join the tour leader for a walk up to Fort George, which enjoys truly spectacular views over the island.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)


August 2nd – Blue Cave & Korcula B,L

 We set off early from Vis and head to the Island of Bisevo, home to the magical Blue Cave. On arrival, we’ll have the optional opportunity to enjoy a guided tour inside this beautiful natural phenomenon. The countless blues you see here defy description! (EUR20pp entrance fee payable on the day)

Please note that entry to the Blue Cave is subject to weather and sea conditions.

 After exploring the Blue Cave, we will then sail on to the island of Korčula, which is best known as the birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo. Relax on board the Bellissima and admire the stunning secluded bays on route. On arrival in Korcula, we’ll have an expert local guide who will take us on walking tour of the charming Old Town. The picturesque, fortified town was ruled by Venetians in the past and has an ingenious layout in the shape of a fishbone.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

August 3rd – Slano & Ston B, L, D

 We depart from Korcula during breakfast and sail down the beautiful Dalmatian coast. We’ll have an extended swim stop along the pristine Peljesac Peninsula where we can enjoy a multitude of water sports. After lunch, we will arrive in the charming village of Slano, situated on the mainland. It is a peaceful traditional fishermen’s village and the entrance point to Ston, another small, fortified village that is famous for its oysters. After exploring the town’s medieval ramparts, we will take you out on the water to an oyster farm, where you will have the opportunity to sample delicious fresh oysters. The evening is reserved for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board, with live music and entertainment.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

August 4th – Dubrovnik Sightseeing B, L

 On the final day of our cruise, we will depart early to incomparable Dubrovnik. The ancient city boasts many historical buildings that date back to the time of the old Dubrovnik Republic. We will take a cruise along the walls of the old Dubrovnik city center. You will join a guided walking tour of this magnificent city with an expert local guide with free time to explore the old town at your leisure afterward. Tonight, we have a wonderful array of excellent restaurants available within the city walls where we can choose to have dinner.

Overnight: Bellissima (7 nights)

August 5  – Depart for home                     B

After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to the crew and to all of our new friends. Check-out is by 9:00 am. Our driver will transfer us to Dubrovnik Airport or your hotel in Dubrovnik if you choose to extend your trip.


Land & Cruise per person twin share:

Deck One Outside Cabin  $2995  + $50 port charge *  

Deck Two balcony cabin $3395 + $50 port charge *

*$40 add to invoice for hotel gratuities.  Please note 34 participants are needed for a private AFS yacht.  If less, a few strangers may join us.

Initial Deposit Deck One $1242 (includes $600 initial deposit plus secondary payment that was due Mar 8. Final payment due April 10)

Initial Deposit Deck Two balcony cabin $1442 (includes $600 initial deposit plus secondary payment that was due Mar 8. Final payment due April 10)

Based on 30 participants

What’s Included Pre-Cruise Inclusions

  • Private Split Airport to Split Hotel transfers for guests on arrival
  • 1 Night hotel accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis in a 4-star hotel in Split on a twinshare basis. Single supplement will incur a free of $175.
  • Welcome drink with the tour director on the first evening at the hotel

Getting to and from the ship

On Board Dining

  • Luxury bus transfer to Split Harbour to board the vessel
  • Private transfers from Gruz Harbour (Dubrovnik) to your hotel or Dubrovnik Airport
  • Buffet breakfast with fresh fruit served daily
  • Daily three course set lunch with fresh salad and cheese bar
  • Three course welcome dinner
  • Captain’s three course dinner with live band
  • Unlimited filtered water
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and daily afternoon tea and biscuits
  • Complimentary fresh fruit available daily
  • Wines of Croatia presentation and tasting on board


On Board the Yacht

  • Wine tasting experience on the Island of Hvar
  • Oyster farm visit and tasting experience in Ston
  • Guided tour and entrance to the Krka National Park and Waterfalls
  • Guided tour of Dubrovnik Old Town with a local expert
  • Expert guided tour of Korcula Old Town with a local expert

• Guided tour of Split’s Diocletian Palace with a local expert

  • Experienced captain and English-speaking crew
  • Professional English-speaking Cruise Director
  • Optional on board lectures on Croatian history
  • Complimentary use of water sports including SUP’s and Sea Kayaks
  • Complimentary WIFI on-board
  • Luggage handling and porterage
  • Whisper headsets for guided walking tours
  • Beach towels (one per person)


AFS Croatia Sailing 2023 Trip Tips

 Prepare to be thrilled by enchanting islands, charming hill towns, sparkling waterfalls and culinary delights. Croatia is trending at the top of the traveler’s lists. This trip by land and sea has it all with diversity at every port. I wonder which will be your favorite? Our past groups here loved them all. What makes your visit special is our small yacht, the MV Bellissima.  This sold out quickly and you are the fortunate ones to grab space early. We have a wonderful group of 34 travel lovers to fill our boat. This cruise adventure was so loved, we had dozens of thank you letters from our last group. Our 10 crewmembers on board are so excited to receive another AFS group. They know every inch of the fabulous Dalmatian Coast. No entry restrictions now. Just let us know if you are not vaccinated. 3 weeks out, will send you final cruise docs with details of everything you’ll need to know.  After final payments are in, we will send you the contact and room lists. Please print these out (copy & paste them). Updates will be added here as departure nears.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  All updates will be posted here, so check back from time to time.

Jan 8 – Update:  United Airlines codeshares with Aer Lingus and has a good price from Newark July 26-Aug 5.  Jeff on the trip reports that he bought direct air on Delta into Split and out of DUB for $1629

Important Payment Dates-

  • DATE: Mar 10.   2nd deposit and April 10 – Final Payment due.

Wetravel is our data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080 If you are in a high-risk group, you should not choose to travel


Your Fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly)

Your GTL Carol Huntington


Trip Prep –

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.  Carefully read Covid rules and RT-PCR below.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after your return date and has two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
  • To speed through US Customs, download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc companies of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Visas – No visas are needed for US citizens for this trip.

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

Air – Land dates are July 28 – Aug 5.  For cruises, it’s wise to fly in a day early to relax and not miss the boat! Air dates then are departing USA, July 26 or 27 to August 5. Fly into Split and out of Dubrovnik.  Dozens of airlines fly USA round-trip to Dubrovnik and are affordable. You can do this and get an internal leg or boat up to Split. Best routes are on United, American, Swiss, Lufthansa, Air Canada, BA and Brussels Air. Consider, adding to stop over in Brussels, Germany, Switzerland, London, and more in route.

How do I get from Dubrovnik to Split?  The shortest way to get from Dubrovnik to Split, or from Split to Dubrovnik is by the coastal road, crossing the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina in Neum. Peljesac Bridge, connecting mainland Croatia in the village of Komarna with the Peljesac peninsula in the village of Brijesta is scheduled to open in July 2022.  Journey is 3 ½ hours. There are mini buses, trains, and catamarans to get you there.

Group Air – it is fun and easy to fly together. No group air at this time but will advise you if we find a good price and route. Problem is a minimum of 14 seats are required and we know by experience it’s hard to reach as most now prefer to do their own air for flexibility.

Doing Own Air– We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.   We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed.  We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan. If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy:   Phone is 305-676-2314.   For business class of tickets, email your exact air dates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers-  
With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air.  Unfortunately, now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each person’s air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.)

Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  We can always book you a private meet and greet transfer, but cheaper just to grab a cab.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary, day one when trip begins.

Meet Up With Group- On July 28 (day one), a time will be set to meet the group at the Hotel Amphora in Split for a briefing.

Click here for More Tips like transfers, packing, money, shopping and more

 Baggage –  No Godzilla bags! This is a small boat with limited space. Think light to ease your burden – not like you’re fleeing your homeland. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 40 lbs are standard. Weigh on a bathroom scale. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans that have limited space.

Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.    The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.

Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags.  This trip is so easy. Simply pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights. Think umbrella, daypack, wide-brim hat, sunscreen, comfy sneakers, swimsuit and swim gear.

Electric – European plugs are onboard. Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets don’t need a voltage converter, but you will need an adapter plug. AFSers often leave charger cords in their rooms, so be sure to double-check your room before check out.  Croatia has the two rounded European outlets and operates with types C and F associated plugs. Type C is the plug that has two round pins, and type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Most electrical devices support both.  See


Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping – $300 should suffice. I convert half of it upon entry. Be cautious when withdrawing local currency from an ATM. The safest ATMs to withdraw from are at airports, banks, or hotels. Independent ones are risky. Always shield your pin number when entering info.  Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.  Most things in Euros.

Currency – Current Exchange Rate (approximate)

  •  $1USD = 7.00 Croatian Kuna

Follow the link to create a conversion cheat sheet.

Gratuities –   It is protocol to tip our private guides, airport assistance and drivers on land portion in Split, Dubrovnik.  $30 will be added to your invoice for ease of distribution by Carol pre-and post-cruise.  The ship will add gratuities to your final bill to cover your crew

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a stash of $US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. AFSers will roll bags to their own rooms. If you choose to use bell staff or a porter, please tip $2 USD. Restaurants – 10% unless you note that tip is already included.


Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
  • Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots? Book a Tele-chat with a travel doctor for shots and meds at  Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.

Be Smart –

  • “Avoid Hackers on Vacation,” experts say! Thieves not only want your money, but also your hard-earned Frequent Flyer Points. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. It’s worth the cost. In hotel and ship rooms, hide iPads or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Grab a hotel business card before heading out in case you get lost.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere – especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. That being said, Croatian water is one of the cleanest in the world. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.

 Retail Therapy –  There is wonderful shopping in Croatia. Even non-shoppers will find themselves tempted by local goodies. Our past groups have come back with the coolest stuff. Sought out treasures in Croatia include traditional Croatian cravats (ties), Sestine umbrellas, beautiful local jewelry or crafts, Samobor crystals, traditional woven lace, licitar hearts (gingerbread), artisan olive oils, cheeses, lavender products, coffee, salt, sweets, and rakija (a popular regional liqueur).

 Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, please know it is always polite to first ask for permission.

Websites of Interest – Google each port:  Split, Kotor, Hvar, Krka Nat. Park, etc.  Best site !


Cuisines – Traditional Croatian dishes typically consist of meats and charcuterie, skewers, seafood, black risotto, octopus salad, pastas, cheeses (try pag cheese), and variety of deserts, sweets, and pastries. Chicken and veal with gnocchi and hearty sauces are often on the menu. You will delight in eating oysters in Dubrovnik and relish trying the popular dish soparnik (a savory pie filled with Swiss chard) in Split. Zagorski Štrukli, an authentic Croatian dish, is a cheese based thin pastry layered with a local cheese and is worth the calories!  Croatia is a country of coffee drinkers, and there are coffee houses located throughout the country. Sample the many locally made or home-brewed beers as well as local wines (sip on Croatian Prošek, a red fortified wine). Common liqueurs and spirits include maraschino (derived from cherries) and rakija.

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   (The best option is to invite a friend.  We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness.  How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.  If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room we will offer it to all in group or share in the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.   Arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Leisure Time – Our expert crew will advise on options like hiking, biking, sea kayaking, rafting and more  AFS travelers revel in the element of surprise in new destinations and allow the wind to blow them where it will. It’s best to ask our local expert guides for suggestions upon arrival. Our trip is filled with awesome daily tours, but there will also be some free time.

Split: Exhilarate with a city view from the bell tower, check out the blue caves, or rent a paddleboat for some sporting activity. Have dinner cooked from produce you choose at local morning markets – Pazar (farmer’s market) and Pescarija (fish market).

Sibenik: Take a dip into the Skradinski Buk cascade.

Vis: Think about renting an all-terrain bike or hiring a scooter to cruise the coastal roads for stunning panoramas.

Hvar: Feel free to roam to the backstreets of Hvar around St. Stephen’s Square. Here, you will find beautiful architecture featuring typical Venetian windows, and these streets are terrific for random urban exploration and shopping.

Korcula: Windsurf or catch an independent film at the local open-air theater. Take in a traditional sword dance and theatrical drama (Moreska) at an open-air stage. Book a donkey ride to see fantastic vistas of the city, or watch the city’s glorious sunsets from Maksimilijan Garden.  Rent a bicycle to explore the island and be sure to enjoy the area’s fresh local seafood and wine (Posp and Grk). Seek out a restaurant that serves scrumptious Zrunovksa Makuruni (homemade pasta shaped tubes with sauce), and make sure to try homemade limoncello!

Mljet: Comprised of a large forest surrounded by crystal-clear sea allows one to soak in the serenity and peacefulness of unadulterated nature.

 Slano:  Indulge in relaxing at a Hammams/Turkish bath and spa or engage in local water sports.

Dubrovnik:  Beyond historic discovery and cable car climbing, gaze upon the city from Park Orsula, visit Buza Bar (hole-in-the-wall gem), catch a show at an open-air cinema, kayak to Lokrum Island, or escape the crowds & cool off at Sveti Jakov Beach.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – Please call the AFS phone at: 770-432-8225, or email us at: Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.

 Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again:

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

AFS “How to have a perfect time in port or Suzy’s secret port tips revealed.”

Cruises are a great value as an inclusive vacation but optional shore tours can cost a fortune if you’re not careful.  I do recommend doing a few ship tours, particularly to sites far from port or when the only way to gain access to a place is via the ship.

Here are some tips to make the best of your time and money.  (All your tours are included).

  1. Decide in advance how you want to spend your hours in port. Do online research before departure on what you most want to see.  Google each city.  Find local events or public holidays when sites may be closed.  For private tours go to
  2. At most ports, everybody is heading to the same famous sites. Hire a taxi outside the port fence,  Get several friends to join you.  Negotiate in advance a half day rate.  Use same taxi driver for drop off and pick up time by meter.
  3. Hire a private car and driver at local tour agency or hotel concierge. I do not recommend renting a car due to strict and different driving laws.  I do rent scooters often.
  4. Onboard, read the daily descriptions of the ship tours to get ideas of significant places you can visit independently.  Calculate the travel time from ship to site.  Ask the crew.  They know estimated times needed for transfers in and out at every port.  When the ship anchors, you either walk into town or ride small tenders.  Passengers who booked the ship tours are allowed off first to board the tenders.  Be patient.  You’ll have plenty of time to explore.
  5. Onshore, walk into city center. Use public transit options.  They are cheap, fast and authentic with locals.  Lonely Planet guidebooks have the best logistical information on bus, train and ferry schedules for each city.
  6. Sometimes a ship tour is greater value than doing it alone. For example, precision timing for visiting Egypt’s pyramids.  Port docks can be far away.  In Italy, it’s a 2 hour drive to Rome.  If a site is too challenging to get to or expensive to enter, book with the ship.
  7. Private AFS tours. Sometimes we can offer our own private group tours that are the same or more creative than the ship’s tour.  They are always less expensive, more fun and leads to group unity.  Cruiselines hate this.  Some will even penalize us with fines to prevent it.  If we offer one, please be discreet and follow disembarkation details form your trip leader.
  8. Don’t believe everything you’re told by the port lecturers on cruise ships. Sometimes they are being paid by stores or get kickbacks from entrance fees at ports.  Go listen, then determine if you can do sites on own.
  9. If you can afford it, feel free to book all shore excursions with the ship but beware. The guide may speak poor English or present store shopping may be included in your tour.  Whatever you choose, be smart, be bold and use every minute onshore to the fullest.

Tips and tricks that will make your first cruise go smoothly       Gene Sloan  Jan 6, 2021

Cruising is easy. Or so cruisers will tell you.

For starters, you only have to unpack once, even as you travel from place to place. You also don’t have to go hunting for a restaurant every night. There usually are a bunch just steps away from your cabin, and they have tables waiting for you. You’ll also have no trouble finding entertainment.

But even in its simplicity, cruising still can be daunting for a first-timer. What should you bring? What should you plan on doing in ports? What is the best way to book?

This brings me to the tips below. If you’ve read this far, you are likely a first-time cruiser looking for advice for an upcoming trip, and that’s exactly what this story is meant to offer. It contains my list of 21 ways to make your first sailing go more smoothly.

It’s a list drawn not just from my own experience over 20-plus years of cruising but the observations of more than 100 cruising fans who shared their tips with TPG in a lively conversation on the topic at the TPG Lounge on Facebook. If you’re not a member yet, we highly encourage you to join!

Arrive at your departure port a day ahead of schedule

If you only follow one piece of advice in this story, it should be this one. It is the only way to ensure you won’t miss your ship — something that happens to cruisers more often than you would think.

Many cruises depart in the afternoon, so it might seem just fine to fly or drive to a port on the morning of departure. But all it takes is a moderate flight delay, or a pile-up on the highway, to upset such plans. If you’re delayed in your arrival at the port, the ship will not wait for you.

If you’re traveling overseas for a cruise, we recommend traveling to the port two or even three days in advance. This isn’t just so you don’t miss the ship. It’s also so you have some time to recover from jet lag. European cruises, in particular, can be port-intensive, with lots of touring, so you want to be ready to hit the ground running right after the cruise begins.

Pack your bathing suit in your carry-on

When you first arrive at a ship, in most cases, a porter working with the line will whisk away your luggage. It’ll be delivered to your room later in the day. This is a great convenience — there’s no need to haul your bags through the entire check-in progress. But it also means that you might not have access to your luggage for many hours on your first day on board. Be sure to pack anything you think you might need for these first hours of your cruise in your carry-on bag. This means things like medication, for sure, and a phone charger, but also a bathing suit, hat, sunscreen and other items that’ll let you head straight to the pool deck to start the fun.

Don’t overpack

Throw all the clothes you think you’ll need on a cruise in a pile, and then take out half of it. You won’t need it. Trust us. Most cruising these days is casual, and you really only need a few outfits to rotate through a voyage. If things get dirty, no problem. Many ships have launderettes on cabin decks where you can run a load or two of laundry every few days. If not, you can send laundry out to be cleaned on board. It’ll usually come back in a day or two.

The extra cost of doing a few loads of laundry on a ship is a small price to pay for the freedom of not having to lug a giant suitcase around as you travel to and from your ship. Plus, you’ll want to save room in your suitcase for all the little treasures you’re going to find along the way.

Sign up for activities in advance or soon after boarding

Some lines will let you sign up for shows, tours and other activities (including meals at specialty restaurants) in advance of sailing using online portals. If you want to be sure that you get a seat for a specific show on a specific night, or a specific tour or restaurant reservation time, it’s a good idea to do this. It’s not uncommon with some ships to find that some shows, tours and restaurant reservation times book up in advance.

If you don’t sign up for activities in advance, a back-up strategy is to do so just after you board a vessel. That said, whether or not you need to race to sign up for activities at the start of a voyage depends a lot on which ship you are on. I am more careful about signing up for a lot of things in advance when I am sailing on a giant ship such as Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas where there are thousands of other passengers.

Don’t feel like you have to do it all

While we’re on the topic of signing up for activities, note that … it’s okay if you miss a few things. You don’t have to do it all. In fact, you should force yourself to try to not do it all. Remember, you’re on vacation. Relax. Take some downtime. Sit on your balcony, if you have one, and just stare out at the ocean for a couple of hours. You won’t regret it.

Always carry the ship’s contact information with you

When going ashore, always bring the ship’s contact information with you. Those details are usually printed in the newsletter that’s delivered to your cabin each night. If something goes wrong when you’re away from the ship, you’ll want to get in contact with the cruise line right away.

Don’t tip twice for drinks and spa treatments

Most cruise ships now automatically add a gratuity to bar bills — often in the amount of 18% to 20% of the total. Such automatic gratuities also are becoming more common in ship spas. But many first-time cruisers don’t know this and write in a hefty tip at the “additional tip” line on bills at cruise ship bars and spas. Be sure to ask if a gratuity already has been included before adding another 15% or 20% to the total. Otherwise, you may end up tipping twice.