Why We Continue to Love G Adventures: An Ode to Skipper Toni!
Why We Continue to Love G Adventures: First, Dear Reader, a disclosure. We love G Adventures. They are not paying us to say that; we really do love them. We do not receive any incentives, nor are we affiliated with G Adventures or anything like that. Our blog post is an honest, based-on-our-experience evaluation. And I think that is important. I am sceptical when a blogger is affiliated with the company under review, unless the affiliation is a result of a prior positive experience.
And now a second disclosure. We are experienced travellers, to be sure, but we have never travelled with Intrepid, G Adventure’s main competitor. So while we can sing the praises of G Adventures—and we’re about to do just that!—we can’t provide you with any kind of comparison.
Whew. Okay. So, with that housekeeping out of the way, I want to tell you about our amazing sailing trip with G Adventures along the Dalmatian coast.
We chose G Adventures for this trip for three reasons. First, we’ve sailed with G Adventures before and had an amazing time. Our Greece: Santorini to Santorini experience remains one of the best experiences we have ever had. So, if it isn’t broke … ! It really did feel right to reach out to G Adventures again. Second, G Adventures is a Canadian company and, well, as Canadians, we like the idea of supporting a local (to us) company. And third, G Adventures allow me on board. I have yet to ask Intrepid how they feel about canine travellers and maybe I should, but it was nice to return to G Adventures knowing we’d be okay.
And we were more than okay! From the moment Mom called, things were smooth sailing. (Pun intended!) Mom telephoned to reserve our spot on the Croatia sailing trip and to ask once again if I—the dog—would be welcome on board. The young woman on the other end replied, “Wait … you guys sailed with us two years ago right? Your dog’s name is … it’s … Montecristo, right?” Mom grinned and confirmed that yes, that was me. And then the funniest thing happened: the young woman we were booking with said to us, “Hold on … ” and then to her team, she shouted, “Guys! That cute Montecristo is traveling with us again!”
Aw shucks … they remembered me! How wonderful is that? Why We Continue to Love G Adventures? Really you need to ask? So we booked, and we paid, and we showed up at the lovely marina just outside of Dubrovnik. It’s a very pretty marina. See?
The small group of bipeds cobbled together for this trip jived immediately. And I mean we got along really well! There were a lot of laughs and a lot of silliness.
It isn’t critical to have that awesome connection; as long as everyone is polite, it’s going to be a pleasant trip. But the fact that we all really liked each other certainly made things far more fun! Major bonus? I had SO many laps to choose from!
And yes, we still love sailing as a way to see a country’s coastline. We like it so much that we are now looking at the Cuba and Turkey sailing trips on offer with G Adventures, and maybe even the Amazon river boat trip! Having accommodations and transportation all rolled up into one certainly makes things easier. No packing and unpacking all the time.
For eight days, we just glided from one destination to the next. It was pretty darn awesome. This trip, Mom only got a little sea sick. Not nearly as bad as the trip in Greece. We think it’s because the waters of Croatia were calmer. The waves were not high, but the winds were strong. Ideal conditions, truly. Dad was in sailing heaven.
The shoreline was always in sight and always magnificent. The water was every shade of turquoise. Monasteries in the distance and picturesque villages and towns … even a dolphin or two. Simply put, it was magical.
The islands are varied and spectacular, each one offering up something new and unique: quiet and unpopulated Šipan; the nature reserve of Mljet National Park; Korčula, the quaint birth place of Marco Polo; the upscale fortified town of Hvar; and the military home base at Vis. Every stop brought new insight into Croatian history and culture.
But do you know what REALLY made this trip, Dear Reader? What really, really, really made it awesome? This guy:
Toni. Our skipper. Toni went so far above and beyond what was required of him that I am almost at a loss for where to start. Sure Toni was friendly and fun and an all-around nice guy.
But he was so much more than that! Toni was passionate about sharing the best his country had to offer: recommending stellar food options such as the fish platter in Šipan or the best steak we’d had in years in Hvar …
… to truly caring that we were having a good time. Toni was always looking for new and extra things to add in terms of activity. And he actually joined us on nearly every tour—tours he had taken all summer, over and over again. But he came along, acting as guide and interpreter more times than we could count. Something he is not paid by G Adventures to do!
Toni definitely choreographed the best days on our trip—again, going far beyond what was required or expected. Strong winds stranded us for a second day on Mljet. Toni could have simply left us to our own devices and suggest we explore more of the national reserve on our own. After all, we had easy access to bikes and even car rentals. And Mljet is superb.
But no. Toni organized an entire day of adventure for us! I will later get into a proper blog post (or two) about Mljet because the island is simply breath-taking, but it was Toni who made us see it … really see it. Sure, we would have made it to the monastery on the tiny island in the middle of the lake. But Toni made sure we brought bread and showed us the donkeys. Yes, donkeys! I got to feed donkeys, people!
When the ferry boat captain balked at letting me come on board, Toni found the solution. He told the driver to pretend he had never seen me and we activated “stealth mode.” I hid in Dad’s courier bag. Thanks, Toni!
And then later that day, after Toni’s awesome idea of a picnic by the lake he got a van to pick us up and drive us half around the island to places tourists never go, and then he showed us the most amazing cave!
What fun the bipeds had there! The water colour was hypnotizing. Everyone swam—okay, not me (oh no, not me!) but yes, even Mom with that terrible cold. We hiked to and from, and had so many laughs and goofy moments. It was a love fest, Dear Reader! A total LOVE fest!
Oh, and Toni was so patient when one of our group kinda freaked out a bit with a fear of heights. Toni was so silly, singing Croatian songs and asking for more group selfies!
What a day that was. But Toni was great every day. He pitched in with making meals too!
And for us … well, it was his love for me that sealed the deal. His fascination with my “tiny but mighty” won us over. I love Toni. I am not ashamed to say so. I consider him a part of my extended pack now. Because he got me. I would follow him about happily. Sit on his lap or in his arms. I was happy to be with my new amigo and give the bipeds some alone time.
Toni is a huge asset to G Adventures and I hope they know that. Toni even invited us to his parents’ home for an outdoor BBQ after the trip was all done and over. We ate like kings and had fresh pomegranate right off the tree. And then something happened that made us get really teary-eyed. As a group, we had developed a habit of sharing our favourite moment of the day after dinner every night. It was a nice little tradition brought to us by our lovely Canadian, now-living-in-Hawaii photographer, Meg. This night, after feasting, she asked what our favourite moment was over the entire eight days. As we went around the table, we all nodded as we each shared fondly remembered moments. Lastly, it was Toni’s turn. And this is when he told us about first hearing about … me.
When G Adventures contacted him to say that a small dog would be joining the group, he was surprised. “What kind of dog?” he asked them. “An emotional support animal.” He was puzzled. “How big?” he sent back in a text. He waited for the reply. “Chihuahua,” responded G adventures. He didn’t believe it but then they sent him my blog link and he read up on me. By the time we met, Toni had the advantage of knowing a lot about me!
But that isn’t why I am telling you this. See, right away, Toni thought it was awesome that I was travelling with my bipeds. And Toni being Toni and always going the extra mile … well … he set out on a quest. With permission and a little money from G Adventures, he set out to find me my very own G Adventures dog tag! And that night, as we said good-bye to each other, Toni presented the tag to me.
Yeah … I know. Mom got SUPER emotional accepting this little gift for me and right away it got put on my harness. I am a G Adventures mascot now! You see how easy it is to get attached to Toni … right, Dear Reader? So much so that before we left Split—a whole week AFTER our sailing trip was over—we met up with Toni for a last drink and hug! I will never ever forget his cheerful shouts of “Mali!” every time he saw me. That’s Croatian for “small” but Toni made it big. Every time. And I loved him for it.
And that is the reason we love G Adventures. In Greece, our Skipper was great. In Croatia, our Skipper was totally AMAZING—so fantastic that if it weren’t for the quarantine laws, we’d be sailing with Toni right now in the British Virgin Islands. Because we’d love to sail with Toni again. He’s that fabulous.
So here is to G Adventures and their fantastic staff. Please, G Adventures, as you grow, do not let that spirit die away. Don’t get so big that you lose that local feel. We sincerely hope you reward those like Toni who have forever changed how we see a country and its people. And to Toni, in remembrance of that evening when you made us hike all the way up to the Castel of Hvar to watch the sun set from above …
… and then surprised us with a local drink to toast our good fortune at meeting each other—here is to you! May your life continue to be one of laughter, song, and adventure.
In review: Why We Continue to Love G Adventures? Small sailing tours are the best way to see any country, in our opinion. We will take a sailboat over a cruise ship or ferries any day! G Adventure not only wins for its passionate and intimate approach to travel; G Adventures also wins hands down because of its phenomenal staff. In a day when the personal touch is going the way of the dodo, customer service means everything. E v e r y t h i n g.