With vaccines for COVID-19 beginning to be distributed around the world, it seems that we have hope of a return to travel in 2021.
I know we are all looking forward to getting on the road and seeing new places around the world. Heck, most of us would love to be able to get out of our houses again by now!
Personally, I'm excited for the prospect of heading off to some of the places on my travel wish list that I wasn't able to get to in 2020. I long to see new historic sites, drink delicious beers and try new foods with friends and family.
Even with the coming vaccines, travelers and destinations are still likely to be conscious of hygiene and health protocols. No doubt, the world has been reshaped for the coming years by the coronavirus pandemic.
With that in mind, small-group travel is quite appealing. It always has been for a number of reasons, actually, but now it really stands out as a terrific option.
Travel surveys reveal that nearly 40 percent of people plan trips as part of a multigenerational group. If you are looking to head out in 2021 with friends and family, parents, grandparents and kids, you might want to consider a cruise voyage on a small ship.
With some of the smallest boutique lines, like Katarina Line, you can even book a charter and have the whole experience to yourselves. Like your own safe "travel bubble." I'm highlighting Katarina Line here because the company reached out with some interesting details about what they are offering and because the cruise line operates in Croatia, which is among the most beautiful destinations I have visited. It's a great place for outdoors adventures, and it happens to be open to travelers from North America.
Katarina Line offers sailings off the coast of Croatia, and the company sees a trend when it comes to families planning to travel together in the coming year.
"We're seeing grandparents book entire ships to treat their extended families and couples celebrating special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries," said Daniel Hauptfel, the company's marketing manager. "We're also seeing more special interest groups that focus on such themes as gastronomy, health and wellness, history, and culture; as well as schools creating music, athletic and other academic programs."
Sailing the Adriatic Sea
Katarina Line operates a fleet of more than 60 ships that cruise the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, visiting the picturesque islands and port towns of Croatia. Ships range from modern, deluxe superior vessels that accommodate as many as 38 people, to traditional wooden gulets carrying as few as five people for a truly intimate sailing voyage.
Among Katarina Line's larger, deluxe vessels, whole-boat charters prices range from approximately $36,000 to $65,000 for a seven-night cruise with a crew. The vessels typically feature a crew of nine, with 18 to 19 air-conditioned and fully-equipped en-suite cabins.
Prices include buffet breakfasts and three-course lunches daily, complimentary tea, coffee and water. They also include a Captain's Dinner, as well as an olive oil and wine tasting demonstration onboard. Other dinners are on your own in the destinations that you visit.
The ships also feature amenities such as sundecks with deck-beds and hot tubs, plus low rear platforms for easy access to the sea, with numerous opportunities to swim in secluded coves. For an added fee, you can add inland excursions, such as guided walking tours, wine tastings, and visits to national parks, with UNESCO World Heritage site Plitvice Lakes National Park a perennial favorite.
"Katarina Line's itineraries give travelers the chance to explore the stunning natural beauty of the islands of the Adriatic, as well as the small, coastal towns that are steeped in mythology and history," Hauptfeld said. "We depart from major destinations that include Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik, with unique land and cruise programs that offer some of the most memorable and easiest ways to experience the true Croatia."
Katarina Line's smaller cruise vessels tend to offer more pricing and cruise flexibility. Gratuities, drinks from the bar, taxes and fees are not included.
An Eye on Health
Katarina Line observes strict health and safety protocols, with frequent and regular cleaning of all common areas, as well as handrails, doorknobs and light switches. Cabins are cleaned on a daily basis, with all surfaces thoroughly sanitized.
Open for Visitors
Croatia is open to U.S. citizens throughout the COVID crisis. A negative PCR test (within 48 hours) is required for entry to the country. You probably won't find direct flights from the U.S., but airports in Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik offer daily connections from major European hubs. Katarina Line's cruise season runs from April through October.
About Katarina Line
Katarina is one of Europe's premier small-ship companies, with a fleet of 60 vessel and weekly guaranteed departures from the end of April to mid-October. It operates out of the major tourist centers of Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik. With a growing fleet in six categories of ships, the itineraries give travelers the opportunity to explore the stunning natural environment and picturesque Mediterranean towns of Croatia while hopping from one island to another.
I have sailed on a small yacht charter in Greece and had plans to get to Croatia in 2020. Of course, that was nixed, but I am looking forward to exciting new adventures like this soon, and I'm putting one of these intimate voyages with my friends and family on the calendar.
Who wants to join us?
Thanks for reading,