Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
Dubrovnik is melting under blazing temperatures for the past month as June was one of the hottest Junes on record. Over the past week temperatures haven’t dropped below 32 degrees with the heat wave at the end of this week bringing mercury breaking highs of 38 degrees Celsius in the shade.
This weekend in Dubrovnik has also been hot and sticky with daytime temperatures around 34 degrees, whilst night-time temperatures haven’t dropped below 24 degrees.
The popular weather website Accuweather.com have released a yellow weather for Monday warning stating that “Hot day. Maximum temperature > 33 °C STAY ALERT for expected high temperatures. Health risks are possible in the vulnerable population, in particular senior citizens and small children.”
The forecast for the coming week will see more sunshine and settled weather with no signs of rain for the foreseeable future. Tuesday and Wednesday this week will be the warmest of the week with temperatures expected to reach 35 degrees. The Adriatic Sea has been slightly cooled by the strong northerly wind that started on Friday, but is still a bath like 24.5 degrees. However, with the wind dropping and the sun blazing down the sea temperatures will soon rise to 26 degrees and even warmer.
The long range weather forecast for the rest of July is for temperatures in the mid-thirties and settled and warm weather, in fact the forecast well into August shows plenty of sunshine, blue skies and roaring temperatures.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids, with experts stating that between 5 and 7 litres a day is recommended. And if possible avoid the strongest sunshine from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Of course sun cream should be layered if you intend to spend more time in the sun.
The legendary Welsh singer, Sir Tom Jones, will perform in Dubrovnik tomorrow as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
The 78-year-old singer holds many distinguished titles, but none more so than the title of Sir which was awarded to him in 2006. Sir Tom Jones has already arrived in Dubrovnik and this is his first time in the city. Unlike the vast majority of his concert which are held in massive arenas and stadium tomorrows concert will be held on the Stradun for around a thousand fans.
“It will be a very exclusive event for just a thousand fans to come to the front of the Dubrovnik cathedral where the concert will be held,” commented the organisers of the Tom Jones concert.
Croatia’s national airline is looking to expand into China as the Asian market shows more interest in Croatia as a holiday destination. Croatia Airlines have taken on Pacific Aviation Marketing in China to represent the airline and to act as a sales agent in this huge market.
"Pacific Aviation Marketing will take charge of an array of services, including sales, distribution, reservation and ticketing, public relations and marketing for the airline in China and Hong Kong", stated the Chinese company in a press release. PAM has a head office in Hong Kong, with other locations including Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Chinese business are investing ever more into the Croatian market and this move will clearly attract more Chinese tourists to visit Croatia as a holiday destination.
“It’s another public holiday tomorrow isn’t it?” I questioned the friend opposite me in the café bar. “Yes, but I really don’t know what for….is it anti-fascism day, or something like that,” she replied. It wasn’t. Although she was close, just a few days out.
Public holidays in Croatia are like London buses. You wait for one to turn up and then four arrive at the same time. In fact, it was probably one the most important days on the Croatian calendar. But a date that has somewhere lost its meaning, lost its importance.
To be honest I can’t really blame people for not knowing what holiday they were supposed to be celebrating. As is so often the case here, it’s complicated.
“No, its Independence day tomorrow,” another friend added. “Oh, so like the 4th of July in the USA,” I replied. “No, you wrong its Statehood Day,” added another friend. “What the hell is Statehood day,” came my reply. This was getting complicated. Were we celebrating the day that Croatia became an independent state or not? “I think it’s the day when independence was declared…or maybe I’m wrong…I don’t know,” this friend looked particularly puzzled and reached for her phone to Google.
“Wait, wait, wait. I though Statehood day was at the end of May,” the friend who brought he first question jumped back into the debate. This was going on in front of me like a meeting in parliament. And all the time I was thinking “How does nobody know what the holiday is tomorrow.” Then a burst “Ah yes, got it. Yes, you are both right. This day used to be marked on the 30th of May until it was changed to the 25th of June in 2002,” said the friend reading from her phone. By now I thought I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie detective novel. There were more twists and turns than a snake in the grass.
“So we all agree its Statehood day and not Independence Day, yes?” I felt like a chairman of parliament asking for a vote. It turned out that these friends weren’t alone. Pretty much everyone I asked that day, the day before Statehood Day, had absolutely no idea why they didn’t have to go into work the next day.
I could hardly blame them. In its short history the date had already been moved once. And with this general confusion it is also hard to convince people to actually mark the day, a day when independence was declared from Yugoslavia, but it’s not Independence Day. Apart from a few messages on Facebook and at the bottom of the page in the media there were no special celebrations at all. The day came and went like any other summer’s day in Dubrovnik. In fact, people paid more attention to Jon Bon Jovi arriving than a notable day in Croatia’s short and complicated history.
In order to try and rustle up some kind of patriotic feeling the County actually gave away 210 flags to the cities and boroughs in the county. Now when you actually have to give flags away in order to raise some pride and atmosphere for any event then you probably are already fighting a losing battle.
A couple of events were held in the Old City. Again more tourists than locals, or more realistically 99 percent tourist, watched as the singers sang and the dancers danced. Again they probably had absolutely no idea why the events were taking place, they probably thought it was for their benefit.
I purposely drove around the city to hunt down these 210 donated flags. I saw zero. In fact, the only ones I did see where hanging in the shop windows of bakeries because the owners would get probably get fined if they didn’t hang them. Again forcing people to hang flags is another sign you are losing the battle.
So the day came and went. The beaches were full. The shopping centre packed. And, as Wikipedia states, the National Day of Croatia passed by like most other Tuesdays. No pomp, no ceremony, no flag waving, just a Tuesday on the beach. And this is only the 28th time this day has been celebrated. I’ll bet 100 Kunas that in another 28 years it won’t be celebrated at all. And I’ll give another 100 Kunas to anyone who actually knows the date of Croatian Independence Day.
Croatia has a new famous citizen, the son of Jon Bon Jovi, at least according to his social media profile. Clearly the rock family are having a vacation to remember as they cruise along the Croatian Adriatic coastline. And the son of the world famous rocker, Jake Bon Jovi, has commented on a photo on Facebook that “I’m a Croatia native now!”
Jon Bon Jovi arrived in Cavtat on the 25th of June and jumped on board the luxury yacht Rarity, which is setting back the rocker a whopping $260,000 a week. The family then spent a day in Dubrovnik, before sailing off along the coastline and visiting the island of Korcula and Hvar.
Thousands of fans have commented on Jake’s Croatian photos, with one commenting “I married a Croatian after visiting the first time!!” and another “When you almost have as many followers as the country of Croatia.”
After just over two months of inaction the Dubrovnik Cable Car will resume carrying passengers this morning. On the 25th of April this year the cable car was forced to close by the City of Dubrovnik for non-payment of their concession fees. This situation has finally been resolved after two months and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city will restart this morning at 9:00am.
"Following the signing of the concession agreement between the City of Dubrovnik as a concessionaire and Excelsa Real Estate as the concessioner, officials of the Customs Administration today lifted the ban on the cable cars operation,” stated Excelsa Real Estate.
They added that “The cable car will therefore continue with its regular work from Saturday the 29th of June 2019 at 9 am.”
The company concluded with an apology stating that “We are grateful to our supporters and business partners for the patience and understanding they have shown over the past two months when we have not been able to provide them with a cable car service.”
Dubrovnik is full of exciting things to see and do and one of them is watching the grand cruise ships that dock at the port almost daily.
Here are five of the biggest companies that sail to the city and whose masterpiece vessels can be spotted this year.
MSC Cruises is the world's fourth largest cruise operator and the largest privately-owned one. Founded in Naples, Italy the company currently is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. A staggering 23,500 people work for the line which operates sixteen ships in five classes with thirteen more expected to enter operation before 2026.
MSC Cruises is also the company with the most substantial presence at Dubrovnik's port with 61 visits planned for 2019. The line is bringing here five of its ships—Opera, Lirica, Orchestra, Sinfonia, and Musica. Of them, the two largest are the travelling under Panama flag 294 m Orchestra and Musica. Both of them belong to the Musica class, which the company boasts as its "ecological cruise ship" line. MSC Musica features luxurious amenities such as a cigar lounge, a live-show theatre, and a casino. MSC Orchestra comes with a spa, a sports centre, and a theatre among many other extras. Both ships also host on deck several restaurants serving a variety of cuisines—from sushi and Chinese to Italian gourmet and, of course, pizza.
Costa Cruises is based in Genoa, Italy and it's part of the largest cruise operator in the world—Carnival Corporation. Costa operates 15 ships in nine classes, with three new vessels expected to join the fleet by 2021.
To Dubrovnik, the line sails with Costa Deliziosa (294 m) and Costa Victoria (253 m) of Luminos and Victoria classes, respectively. Both sail under the Italian flag. Deliziosa comes with a plethora of entertainment and relaxation facilities.
It hosts on its deck a spa, pool tables, sports pitch, and outdoor tracks. When it’s time to relax, guests can go to the 4D cinema, to the theatre, or visit the shopping centre. For mealtimes, there are four restaurants and 11 bars, including a Coffee & Chocolate bar. Victoria is also a fun place to be with outdoor swimming pools, live shows, and a casino among other entertainments. There are also spa procedures and a sports centre for some active relaxation.
The ship is home to a variety of restaurants and bars where guests can enjoy a gourmet burger, tapas, or pizza, or simply relax in the Aperol Spritz bar.
British Marella Cruises used to be known as Thomson Cruises. It is under the umbrella of Luton-based TUI UK, which in turn is owned by the world’s largest tourism company—TUI Group.
Currently, the company operates six ships, with another to join the fleet in 2022. The ones that dock at Dubrovnik’s port are Marella Discovery (264 m), Mirella Celebration (215 m), and Mirella Explorer 2 (246 m), all sailing under the Maltese flag.
The all-inclusive Marella Discovery features a rock climbing wall, mini-golf, an outdoor cinema, and Broadway shows among its amenities. There are seven restaurants and seven bars on deck. Celebration hosts five restaurants and six bars and also presents Broadway shows. There is a spa and pools for some quality rest.
The Marella Explorer 2 features nine restaurants, 10 bars, and a Broadway show lounge. This ship also has a spa onboard and what sets it apart is that only adults are allowed to board the vessel.
Royal Caribbean International
Founded in Norway, the Royal Caribbean is based in warmer seas at Miami, Florida. It is one of the largest cruise lines in the world and owns 26 ships in eight classes, with five vessels to be set afloat by 2024.
The company’s ships that can be seen in Dubrovnik this year are the 293 m Jewel of the Seas and the 279 m Rhapsody of the Seas, both sailing under Bahamian flags.
Known for their luxury, Royal Caribbean’s vessels are chock full of amenities. Both ships host many entertainment programs—from Broadway plays to live orchestra and an Argentinian tango show. Pools, spas, sports centres, and shopping centres are all available onboard. Of course, cruise operators consider each aspect of guests' comfort and entertainment.
Which is why, as land based and online casinos have gained popularity, the Royal Caribbean’s ships feature Vegas-themed casinos branded under the Casino Royale name.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
This one used to be called Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, and it is also based in Miami, Florida. It operates four ships with two more coming in 2020 and 2023. Two of them—the 224 m Seven Seas Explorer and the 207 m Seven Seas Voyager, both sailing under the Bahamian flag—are travelling to Dubrovnik this year.
The Explorer is the newest addition to the fleet, as it became operational in 2016. It is one of the most luxurious cruise vessels ever, and upon its release it made the news all over the world. It offers suites ranging from 28 to 412 sq. m. The last one costs $10 000 per night, is located at the top of the ship for a stunning view, and among its extras is a hand-made mattress, Hermès and L'Occitane amenities, and a personal butler.
Overall, the stay at the Seven Seas Explorer is built to satisfy the most exquisite taste, and passengers can even enjoy a culinary lesson at the ship’s Culinary arts kitchen. Passengers can even enjoy a culinary lesson at the ship’s Culinary arts kitchen.
The mega yacht Satori dropped anchor in the Bay of Zupa this afternoon, and weighing in at an impressive 63 metres in length it certainly caught the attention of swimmers on the beaches.
Satori is owned by one of the sons of the Mexican beer giant Corona. Originally built for an American steel company owner in 2011 and at a cost of a cool 75 million dollars.
The mega yacht can accommodate 12 passengers in the height of luxury and has a crew of 18.