Monday September 18, 2017

There’s something extra exciting about arriving at a port or cruise terminal and seeing, for the first time, the ship that’ll be your hotel-on-water for the next week or whatever. And seeing the sleek white-&-grey Agape Rosealongside the dock in Split was no exception. Our long-awaited Croatian Cruise was about to start – yeehaa!

The intimate, well-appointed Agape Roseis pretty much brand spanking new, having left the ship-builder’s yard in May this year. She is rated 5-star, and is perfect for showcasing the historic, scenic splendour of the Adriatic – an easy choice for our Mad Midlife cruise. She’s small enough (48.5 metres long x 8.5 metres wide) to get into bays, inlets and ports that bigger ships can’t approach … fully air-conditioned, with sun-decks, shaded lounge areas, restaurant and bar, free WiFi … plus 18 tastefully-designed ensuite cabins (queen-size or twin) spread over three decks.

Anyway, she’s our home for the next eight days … chartered exclusively for our Kiwi group! (Bet you feel sorry for us – right?)

We wasted no time on Saturday, going aboard, looking around, and unpacking in our cabins. And we’ve been spoilt rotten ever since with gourmet meals, sunshine (most of the time), and several stunning stopovers. Like what? Well, like these …

SPLIT: We overnighted aboard the Agape Rosein this attractive seaside city (largest on the Adriatic Coast). Roman Emperor Diocletian had his palace-cum-fortress built here 1700 years ago, and that still dominates the surrounding Old Town area, with its maze of cobblestone streets. Pre-Romanesque churches stand proudly alongside Gothic chapels and art galleries … and delicious-smelling cafés beckon from every corner.

SKRADIN: Sunday morning saw us out on deck after a yummy breakfast, enjoying the breeze and the watching the coastal landscapes pass slowly by as we cruised to Skradin – a charming small town on the River Krka (something like ker-r-kaa). From there we caught a smaller-boat-ride up that river and hiked to the Krka Waterfalls Skradinski buk – a natural wonderland, famous for its endless series of amazing cascades.

SIBERNIK: Back on board the Agape Rose, we continued our lazy, leisurely cruise to Sibenik, one of many pearls awaiting us along the Croatian coast. It boasts a magnificent, gleaming-white medieval heart, Renaissance architecture, a UNESCO-protected cathedral, a tree-lined corniche, quaint red roofs, excellent food, impressive shopping and eye-popping views. Ahh, yes … what more could one ask for?

After overnighting here, we had ourselves a morning wander through Sibernik’s narrow, twisty-turny lanes … getting an eyeful of Really Old Stuff from centuries long past … learning a little more about the history (ancient and modern) of this fascinating region … and enjoying a classy a-Capella performance within some well-preserved stone walls.

VIS: Later this morning, we stopped for a swim in the warm, crystal-clear sea off the back of the boat – accompanied (as you can probably imagine) by lots of hooting, laughter and general rudeness. Vis, where we finally docked for the night, is truly beautiful little island – reputedly ‘the Mediterranean as it once was’ – its sun-drenched waterfront crammed with posh yachts and launches and relaxing holiday-makers.

Across the bay we could see early signs of movie-making: apparently a sequel to Momma Mia, is being shot in the same place as the original film (starring Meryl Streep and other celebs). Watch this space – we might yet be in it!

COMING UP: More balmy, sunshiny Adriatic days … more luxury cruising … more coastal highlights … more Croatian delights … and more Yellow Ducky awards. It’s awful, I tell you, and it just goes on and on …

PEOPLE-NEWS: The Duck-stampede has slowed temporarily, but two more have managed to flap their way into new hands …

  • LESLEY scored our ‘Knock Three Times’ Award the other afternoon when asking our barman, Ranko, for a sparkling wine. Going around behind the bar to have her photo taken with him while he poured it, she posed with her arm around him, and said coyly, “By the way, my cabin number is three …” (so he could put the charge on her tab). Then realising what she’d said, she blushed with embarrassment (while everyone roared with laughter). “Oh, I’ve already got a roommate!” she added … but that didn’t really help!
  • ALLAN romped home with our ‘Kreuzfahrten’ Award for his behaviour yesterday. Kreuzfahrten is a German word we’ve seen several times on the side of other boats, and I’m not exactly sure what it means. But Allan gets this award for dropping a noisy one out on the top deck yesterday within the hearing of other Mad Midlifers. Nice one Allan!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Keep it brief – and be sure to say who it’s for and who it’s from.)

This entry was posted in 2017 Italy & Croatia by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Agape Rose looks stunning Coons. Wow!!!!!
    You have to experience that trip down the Croatian coast aye. It’s one of the best I reckon.
    Love the pics. Love the stories. Yahoooo
    Love you guys 💞💞

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