Something really has to be done. Nine million foreign tourists visited Dubrovnik in 2010, and one million were expected to visit Dubrovnik in 2011 off cruise ships. This teeny, tiny town is perhaps four blocks long and four blocks wide. Statistic: A record amount of 15,000 people crammed this minute area one day. I certainly don’t have a solution but below are facts for you to ponder.
The shopkeepers aren’t happy. I had a long discussion in one store with a resident. One million tourists off cruise ships don’t generate business for restaurants. Why would it when all meals are included on board the ship? If you happen to own one of the many ice cream shops, that is a different ball game. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, walks around with an ice cream cone in hand.
Looking for souvenirs? Stores are usually staffed by one person that don’t have time to wait on more than one prospective buyer.
Sightseeing? Do you call dueling groups spieling information in different languages, holding numbers high for their people to recognize, crowding around each monument of importance to take photographs “sightseeing”? The only way around it would be to wait until evening when ships and tour groups have left Dubrovnik. Or…really go out of season. The ebb and flow of groups coming, departing. Distracted tour leaders running around to round up strays to direct them towards the proper tour buses and/or ships becames more amusing and engrossing than Dubrovnik’s vaunted sights.
Where do the ships dock? The ships dock at the Port of Gruz, approximately 2.5 kilometers/1.5 miles northwest of Old Town. Many cruise lines offer free shuttle bus service into the center of town. If your mega-liner is lucky enough to be first of the day, it may be anchored in the middle of the bay from where you will be tendered in to the old city port, one of the most charming sections in Dubrovnik.
ex-Marine and I visited Dubrovnik on two separate days. Three to four cruise ships are common each day in season and little Dubrovnik was filled to the brim. Not only with ship passengers but also with individuals and other tour groups. This partial list will give you a small idea of the hyper-congestion caused by cruise ships in Dubrovnik:
- Costa Victoria, 1,950 passengers.
- MSC Magnifica, 2,418 passengers.
- NCL Jade, 2,402 passengers.
- Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, 3,114 passengers.
- Holland America Noordam, 1,924 passengers.
- Silversea Silver Spirit, 540 passengers.
- Seabourn Odyssey, a mere 450 passengers.
Sadly, these behemoths also cruise to little Kotor, Montenegro and Hvar, Croatia. Thank God none were in port the days Steve and I visited these two idyllic spots.
Even small Cavtat suffered from the onslaught of tour groups walking streets wearing red buttons and blue buttons but nothing like Dubrovnik. Another fact that colored our Dubrovnik experience was that it was almost completely rebuilt after the disastrous bombings. I know it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but we could have been in Epcot or Disney World and wouldn’t have known the difference.
Neither of us “loved” Dubrovnik.