DAY 4 | ZADAR, CROATIA
ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY — I awoke well rested mid-Adriatic following a good night’s sleep. Although one can feel the engines throb as we cruise, it is not noticeable enough to disturb me. As well, the ship does not rock but rather cruises smoothly. All but the most sensitive may leave the Dramamine at home. I had a breakfast of coffee and croissants on my balcony overlooking a light blue sea, with the coast of Croatia in the distance. What a great way to start the day!
At 10:45 a.m. we had a morning lecture from Dr. Candace Weddle entitled “The Time of the Tetrarchs: Strength and Suspicion at the End of the Empire.” Dr. Weddle is an excellent speaker, and comes well qualified for this type of cruise. She holds a Ph.D. in classical art history from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, an M.A. in medieval art history from Tulane University in New Orleans. As an archaeologist, she has joined teams at several sites including Classe (the Roman Imperial fleet harbor outside of Ravenna), a neolithic site in the Transylvanian region of Romania and Princeton University’s Euchaita/Avkat project in north-central Turkey. She also worked on excavating the Temple of Domitian at Ephesus in Turkey.
A walking tour of Zadar
At 2 p.m. we disembarked for a half day walking tour of historic Zadar. Zadar is the historical center of Dalmatia as well as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar. It gained its urban structure in Roman times. During the time of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus the town was fortified and the city walls with towers and gates were built. On the western side of the town were the forum, the basilica and the temple; outside the town were the amphitheater and cemeteries. The aqueduct which supplied the town with water is partially preserved. Inside, a medieval town developed with churches and monasteries.
We visited the central Roman Forum, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, the finest example of Romanesque architecture in the town, the church of St. Donatus, and the 16th century St. Mary Church. We had plenty of time to wander the narrow Roman tiled streets filled with shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlors, which are famous in Zadar. The ice cream of Zadar comes in a myriad of flavors and is delicious.
Upon our return to the Aegean Odyssey we dressed for the traditional captain’s welcome cocktail party, the most formal of the evenings on board. Champagne and canapes were served while we mingled with the captain and his officers. “Formal” is perhaps not quite descriptive of the evening’s attire. About two-thirds of the men wore jackets with open collared shirts and ladies wore dresses. In general guests dress casually at all times. Shorts, cotton slacks and sport shirts are the norm although shorts are not allowed for dinner in the Marco Polo restaurant and bathing suits are not permitted in any of the ship’s restaurants.F
Following the cocktail party most of the guests moved on to dinner at the Marco Polo, as did I. This evening I had caesar salad, roasted veal top round with marsalaauce and a selection of fresh pastries for dessert. Everything was well prepared and served.
Later in the evening a concert of classical music was presented by the Café Concerto Strings trio. The program included Mozart, Massenet, Vivaldi, Debussy, Dynic and an arrangement by the trio itself. The group was quite good.
A word about handicapped facilities
The Aegean Odyssey currently has one handicapped cabin. For those with modest ambulatory problems, there are a few things to consider. Ship doorways and public space entrances all have 1-2 inch transoms. Cabin entrances have transoms as well, and doorways into cabin bathrooms have transoms 7-8 inches in height.
In some ports tenders were used to get ashore. Although the crew is ready to assist all passengers on and off the ship, navigating the steps up and down in the tenders could prove difficult. Individual ports vary, of course, and shore excursion fliers provided daily specify information on walking difficulty in advance.
On the other hand, there are elevators fore and aft to all decks and I found none of the walking surfaces on board slippery. There were a number of passengers with observable modest ambulatory difficulties and they seemed to manage well.