With 2011 marking the 20th anniversary of Slovenia’s foundation as an independent nation, it’s only fitting that Crystal Cruises is making a maiden call there this fall.  As part of its November 16 “Italian Splendor” sailing, ultra-luxe Crystal Serenity will visit medieval Koper, Slovenia’s largest coastal town.  Six new shore excursions, spread throughout the tiny Italo-Slavic nation, provide an in-depth exploration of the history and culture well beyond the Adriatic port.  Fairytale castles, oenophile indulgences, coastal hamlets, and underground geological wonders are all part of the authentic local experiences planned.

“Slovenia is a largely-undiscovered European gem that has suddenly become trendy in the travelsphere,” says Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president operations.  “Offering travelers new, intimate global experiences, delivered in our signature luxury style, are at the heart of Crystal’s six-star ethos.”

Guests can explore Koper, full of historical charm from centuries of Venetian rule…or, join a Crystal Adventure to:

• Ljubljana: The country’s picturesque capital, and a former center of Yugoslavian music and arts, full of cobblestone streets and architecture ranging from the Baroque, to the Neo-classical of famed local architect Joze Plecnik.

• Bled & Miramare Castles: Two majestic, storybook castles--one, the oldest in Slovenia (dating to 1011); the other, a 19th century Austro-Hungarian relic of the Habsburg era.

• Postojna Cave: Twelve miles of underground stalactite-filled passages, galleries, and cathedral-like chambers, with the world’s only operating cave train.

• Wine Region: A wine-tasting visit to Slovenia’s most prominent winemaker (out of 40,000 in the country), where the vines pre-date those of Italy, France, and Spain.

• Piran: A quaint, Mediterranean-style coastal town, full of Venetian Gothic buildings and narrow, atmospheric streets.

• Portorož: A modern, beachside resort hub for sunbathing, swimming, and thermal spas.

• Trieste: A crossroads of Germanic, Latin, Austro-Hungarian, and Slavic trade and culture, situated just over Slovenia’s border in Italy.

Besides Koper, the 11-day Thanksgiving sailing visits: Venice (embarkation overnight), Dubrovnik, Sicily/Catania, Naples, and Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Florence and Barcelona (debarkation overnight).  Fall Sale fares start at $4,970/person, double occupancy, and include:

• Free air from 24 North American gateways (or generous air credit), 

• $1,000/person “All Inclusive—As You Wish” shipboard spending credit,

• Additional savings, credits, and perks for traveling with someone new-to-Crystal (“Bonus Share the Experience” program)

• Family or friend groups of ten or more can enjoy “Crystal Family Memories” bonuses.