Dubrovnik Maintains its Status as "Pearl of the Adriatic"
With over one million passenger arrivals and 500 ships per year, the port of Dubrovnik is among the world's busiest cruising destinations, second only to Venice. Its rich history, scenic architecture and its many festivals have attracted travelers for generations.
In recent years, its phenomenal traffic growth has been driven by a more modern claim to fame: on screen, it doubles as "Kings Landing," a fictional location in the hit TV show Game of Thrones. It also serves as a backdrop for parts of the latest Star Wars movie, an upcoming Robin Hood movie and - according to rumors - will appear in the next James Bond movie. Ever since Game of Thrones went on air in 2011, the city has seen its tourist traffic rise at an astonishing rate.
Last year, Dubrovnik mayor Mato Frankovic asked the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and leading cruise operators for help in managing the flow of visitors through Dubrovnik's old city, seeking to preserve its historic beauty and maintain the quality of the tourist experience. “The City of Dubrovnik is open for cooperation and plans to take advantage of the close working relationship that we have always had with the cruise industry,” Frankovic said. His administration has launched a three-year plan for the sustainable development of the city's cultural resources, dubbed "Respect the City," and with the assistance of private sector partners he expects "to reach the optimum distribution of visitors by 2020."
Last month, the mayor visited the Port of Los Angeles in to learn more about how LA's cruise terminal operator has developed its infrastructure, notably its arrangements for shore power. Cruise ships arriving in Los Angeles have to shut down their auxiliary engines and run on the port's electrical supply during their stay, reducing diesel emissions - an environmentally-friendly feature that could make its way to the Adriatic coast in future years.
Small ship options
Big-ship cruising isn't the only way to visit Dubrovnik. Locally operated Katarina Line offers plenty of luxury cruise ship itineraries that include Croatia's most famous port, along with other popular spots along the Adriatic like Split, Bol, Hvar Town, Korcula Town and Trstenik. Seven-night voyages from Dubrovnik to Split are available on the newly built 38-passenger ship Infinity from $1,900 per person. For a less expensive option, seven-day voyages departing and returning to Dubrovnic are available aboard the 38-passenger Adratic Explorer from $1,050. For those seeking a classic experience, the line's traditional, wooden-hulled vessels ply these waters as well. The smaller vessels departing Dubrovnik can reach local ports and tucked-away destinations that 4,000-passenger-plus megaships cannot access.