Cruising Carnival, Magic-Style: Port of Dubrovnik, Croatia

by Don Faust on May 18, 2011

Carnival Magic: A stop at the Dubrovnik cruise port in Croatia

 

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Our first port on the Carnival Magic inaugural cruise was Dubrovnik, in Croatia. Before the trip, I didn’t know much about the city, other than it had been part of the former Yugoslavia. I had read some information on TripAdvisor and knew that the city’s Old Town walls were one of the top tourist attractions. I later learned that the old city is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik’s port is about a 40 minute walk from Old Town. Most people get there by bus, but we chose to go on foot, mostly because  I suspected we would see some interesting things along the way.  The four individuals in our party were glad we took that route, as we were able to see parts of the marina, and some old neighborhoods prior to arriving at the gates of the Old Town.  We even stopped off for a round of beers at a local pub and drank the local Croat beer.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

The Old Town in Dubrovnik, built between the 13th and 15th centuries, has city walls, a main city gate and fortressed look-out towers.  It reminded me a bit of the medieval hilltop towns that you see in Tuscany.  The elevated forts were added to the walls in the 15th century to protect against invasion from the Turks.  The walls span 1.2 miles, are 82 ft. high, and up to 20 ft thick at some points.  Even today, the wall appears in good condition and has been maintained well.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

The same can be said for many of the residential homes inside the walls.  We were told by our waiter that after Croatia became an independent sovereign state in 1991, foreigners were offering some pretty good money, in Croat standards, to purchase homes within the Old Town, so many people sold.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

At the front gate, we decided to get some lunch before touring, so we backtracked a few blocks to select a dining spot a little more quaint and less touristy. We ate at Sesame Taverna, which turned out to serve one of the best meals I had on the trip (even better than meals I had on board).  We started with complimentary anchovies over tomato and lettuce, all placed on a light pastry-like cracker.  We followed that with a cheese assortment plate with olives. The entrees, which we all shared, included margarita pasta, white risotto, black risotto (with squid ink for color), and a blue cheese pasta (deliously creamy).

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

I had been told in advance by Tim, Carnival’s VP of PR, that Croatian wines were very good.  In fact some people regard them as good as many Italian wines.  We ordered two red bottles during dinner – Mendek Moziac and Kozlovic Teran (even better).  Both were chance orders by our expert picker, Cruise Radio personality Matt Basford.  The first wine tasted like a bold California wine, not an earthy old-world wine.  I asked the waiter about the second – his English was pretty good, and he explained that the wine was from a variety of Zinfandel grapes. I reported back to Tim, and he explained to me that the Zinfandel grape originated in Croatia (and another variety in the heel of Italy).

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

The Old Town is more commercial than what I experienced in Montepulciano and Volterra, similar walled cities in Tuscany – probably because Dubrovnik gets lots of day visitors through the port. Because of this, there are a lot of jewelry stores, chocolate shops, restaurants, t-shirt shops, ladies bag shops, and places to buy various other trinkets.  Fortunately, I didn’t see any men painted silver or gold – a sure sign of a tourist trap.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Dubrovnik Cruise Port

Despite the commercialism, I found the Old Town incredibly facinating, with endless staircases branching upward in all directions up hills from the main pedestrian arteries.  From there, it’s an endless maze of little cobblestoned walkways through all the residential areas.  Almost all of the buildings are constructed of what appears to be large limestone blocks, and the roofs are almost exclusively curved clay shingles.

We returned to the ship  just before 5:30 pm, the latest time to board. One day didn’t give us nearly enough time to see Dubrovnik.  I’d like to go back so I can walk the city wall and really explore the city and its history.

This trip was sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, but the opinions are solely those of the writer.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Leigh May 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

The food looks amazing and the city from your pictures has great character. Are the big cruise ships disgorging oodles of passengers changing the city for the better or not?? That’s always my worry about cruise ship’s ports of call.

Reply

Don Faust May 18, 2011 at 9:48 am

Leigh – I don’t know… good question. I suppose in the case of Dubrovnik, having come out of a war not too long ago, it’s an economic boon – a symbiotic relationship for the town and the cruises. Sure, there are lots of t-shirt shops and touristy things on the main walkways of the Old Town, but once you veer off of those streets, you see that people actually live there.

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Shawn Mercer April 30, 2012 at 10:48 am

Don,

We are cruising with Carnival in August and we are planning on strolling the old city We were planning on taking a taxi in, but I see that you walked in. I like that idea, but I have 3 boys aged 8 to 11. They are athletic, but I may lose their patience in 40 minutes. Are there taxis available upon disembarkment?

Thanks,
Shawn

Reply

Don Faust May 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Shawn – I don’t recall if there are taxis, but I’ll bet there are. There are definitely buses that go from the port to the old city if you don’t feel like walking, and they are going to circle through fairly frequently between the two points. If your kids like scenery and you need a good selling point, there are some good hillside lookouts over the Mediterranean, plus you get to check out the neighborhood architecture along the way. You’ll also pass by a nice marina around the corner from where the Carnival ship is ported. If you focus on walking, it won’t take you quite 40 minutes – we were taking photos along the way.

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