Our last day aboard Sea Cloud takes us across the Adriatic Sea, en route from Otranto to Croatia and our final destination in Dubrovnik. As a long offshoot of the Mediterranean, the Adriatic separates the Italian Peninsula from the Dalmatian Coast. Along its western shores the landscape has a gentle gradient and meets the water with sandy beaches. In contrast, the eastern side is characterized by a fragmented coastline of sheer limestone formations which plunge into the water. These vastly different topographies have shaped the use of the Adriatic over the centuries – the Italian side was ripe for agriculture but also repeatedly invaded, while the nooks and crannies of Dalmatian side were long the harbor of pirates. During the Middle Ages, Venice and its rivals would vie for control of this important thoroughfare.
Today we were treated to glimpses of dolphins gliding through the water, playing off the bow wave. During the morning conditions were ideal so the crew scaled the rigging and once again we set sail. On the Lido Deck, Captain John Svendsen talked us through the working of a square-rigged sailing ship, and also gave us a harrowing account of his closest call in rough seas. Then, he took us on a comprehensive tour of the ship, highlighting the vessels original materials and how they are still standing the test of time.
Later in the morning, National Geographic expert Bill Saturno explored the phenomena of the medieval maritime republics, in which competing polities, ideologies, and economic models would clash upon the high seas. For lunch we enjoyed a hearty Italian meal with the marvel that is the Pasta Wheel. The afternoon took on a leisurely pace, whether lounging on deck chairs, or playing cards and board games. In the evening we gathered for one last hurrah, with the Captain’s farewell cocktails and dinner.