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.
The luxury cruise ship Norwegian Star sailed into the Port of Dubrovnik this weekend and it wasn’t just another cruise ship arrival and the captain of the ship has a connection to Dubrovnik.
The commander of the ship is Captain Teo Grbic, born and bred in Dubrovnik, and this was the first time that he had sailed into his hometown. And a special welcome was prepared for the Dubrovnik captain with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, along the Deputy Mayor, Jelka Tepsic, both waiting to greet Grbic back to his hometown.
And of course Grbic prepared a special welcome for all of the representatives of the city, journalists and Dubrovnik guests. A tour of the luxury Norwegian Star as well as a formal lunch with many delicacies.
After docking in Dubrovnik the Norwegian Star made its way, with around 4,000 on-board, to Venice. In a week the cruise ship will once again visit Dubrovnik.
The future Peljesac Bridge is slowly but surely taking shape. The first stage of the construction, the installation of 148 permanent pilots was finished a full 12 days ahead of schedule, on the 11th of May, and now comes news that these pilots are being filled with concrete. In the longest and deepest bridge pilots concrete is being pumped after the mud and sludge was removed.
Concrete mixer trucks are arriving on site and then a ferry takes them to the site of the pilots where they unload. "We now filling the first pilot group with reinforced concrete," said Zhang Fei, the Construction Control Manager of China Bridges and Roads.
The concrete production plant of the Croatian co-operative is on the Peljesac side of the construction site. From now on, the plan is to fill two to three pilots a day.
The rains and grey skies of May are long behind us, Dubrovnik is in for a June to remember with blazing sunshine and possible record breaking high temperatures. The weather forecast for the next week, the 10th to the 17th of June, shows a week with temperatures in the high twenties to low thirties with endless blue skies and high humidity. The days of rain and storms are a thing of the past as the whole country looks set for a summer of sky-high temperatures.
Next week will see the warmest temperatures of 2019 in Croatia so far with highs on Friday predicted to hit 32 degrees. Weather experts are also warning the public to make sure they have enough water with them and to stay out of the midday sun. Of course wearing sun cream, especially on the beaches of Dubrovnik, is highly recommended.
And not only are we in for long, hot summer days but also very warm and humid nights. All next week the night time temperatures in the wider Dubrovnik won’t drop below 19 to 20 degrees Celsius.
The long-range weather forecast also shows a settled and very warm period with plenty of sunshine and very, very little rain.
Given the fact that the vast majority of international tourists who visit Dubrovnik arrive at the Dubrovnik Airport the arrivals figures are a good source of information as to the number of tourists in the city. So the latest news direct from the airport is very positive for the city’s tourism industry.
In May saw 315,037 pass through the Dubrovnik Airport a healthy increase of 8.1 percent compared with the same month from last year. And from the beginning of 2019 until the end of May the airport experienced a massive 19.7 percent in passengers with 643,808 passing through the doors. In total this means that an extra 106,000 passengers have used the airport so far this year when compared with the same period from last year. A truly impressive start to the year.
And with the Irish low-cost airline, Ryanair now operating flights from Dublin and American Airlines adding a route from Philadelphia to the city the figures by the end of June should be even more positive. Dubrovnik is connected to around 70 international destinations this year and there are strong hopes that more international airlines will extend their flights schedules into the winter months.
Why pay Airbnb prices or even for a camping space when you can sleep with the Adriatic Sea whispering you to sleep. It probably isn’t the most comfortable bed in the world or even the safest but at least it has a nice view.
This photo was sent to us this morning of a group of wild campers in the Kupari bay, the site of a former resort that is still waiting for redevelopment. Waken by the sun and an early morning dip in the Adriatic, just don’t fall off the wall.
The Hollywood actor and one of the stars of the hit CBS serial S.W.A.T is currently honeymooning in Dubrovnik. David Lim, who plays Officer III Victor Tan in the hit police drama, recently got married in Prague to the stunning Czech model Marketa Kazdova and the newlyweds decided to spend their first few days as a married couple in Dubrovnik.
Clearly Lim is a huge fan of the Game of Thrones and has been filling his social media accounts with photos of King’s Landing, including a photo sitting in the Iron Throne.
And the couple also received a rather special Game of Thrones wedding present, a signed copy of the pilot script for Game of Thrones, signed by the author of George R. R Martin. “Geeking out over this dope wedding gift, signed by the legend George R.R. Martin himself,” wrote Lim on his Instagram account only with a photo of the prized script.
Lim plays Officer III Victor Tan in the CBS drama S.W.A.T and has also starred in the the ABC thriller Quantico.
“That day has come. We have linked Philadelphia, the largest airline hub of American Airlines, and Dubrovnik as a tourist attraction for American tourists,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic, at a special reception organised for the first flight from American Airlines to Dubrovnik for this year.
This is the first time in 28 years that Croatia has a direct, or nonstop, air connection with America, and the flights have proved so popular with American visitors that in addition to the three flights a week an extra flight has been added throughout September.
Last year in Dubrovnik Americans were the second most numerous visitors, largely thanks to the HBO serial Game of Thrones, and this fact is even more impressive when you bear in mind that there were no direct flights to the city.
“After long negotiations, we recognized American Airlines as the largest company in the world and we started talking. Two years ago we promised to establish a direct line to Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik and our county, US tourists are in second place behind guests from the United Kingdom,” said Luetić.
Satisfaction with the establishment of direct flights was voiced by the United States Deputy Ambassador to Croatia, Victoria Taylor, and the American Airlines Director of Europe, Richard Muis, who together with the hosts from Dubrovnik Airport officially cut the cake.
“This is a big day today, the first direct flight from the USA since Croatia's independence, and in this way we have opened the way for better cooperation between the two countries. Last year more than 500,000 US visitors visited our country, and since the beginning of the year we have seen a 14 percent increase in guest numbers,” commented the Frano Matušić, the State Secretary, of Ministry of Tourism of Croatia.
Flights to Dubrovnik will be scheduled on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and flights from Dubrovnik will take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays. And according to reports many of the flights have been completely sold out already.
The first passengers at the Dubrovnik Airport were welcomed with special gifts and a performance by traditional music and dance. This new link will be especially interesting for Croatian expats who live in America. “We are delighted and we wanted to get to the very first flight to Croatia. Now we will come a lot more often than before. This is something unreal to us,” commented Ana Cavlovic from Kansas City.
More positive news for the state of the Croatian economy comes with one of the most renowned financial ratings companies in the world, Fitch Ratings, raising the country’s credit score to “investment-grade” level on Friday.
"Croatia outperformed its budget target for the third year in a row in 2018, with the government posting a surplus of 0.2% of GDP,” commented Fitch Ratings.
"Croatia's structural features are generally more favourable than 'BBB' peers. GDP per capita is 30% above the 'BBB' median and the country scores better than peers in governance indicators and human development, thanks in part to EU membership," added Fitch.
Until now Fitch kept Croatia's credit score in the speculative category at BB+ with a positive outlook. But this new rating and acknowledgement means that even more foreign investors will be keeping Croatia on their radar.