Azamara Club Cruises: Spotlight on Beautiful Ports of Call

Exploring the coastal cities of France and Italy, from dinner in Rome to late-night parties in Monaco
Kristen Oliveri

Our contributor visits seven cities in Italy and France during an eight-night cruise.

Some people travel to sightsee. Some travel to learn a new language, and others, to immerse themselves in new and different cultures. I happen to travel for a combination of all those reasons, but most importantly, to explore the local food and drink culture. Azamara Club Cruises provides the vehicle for total destination immersion, where guests have the ability to eat and drink onboard and then do more of the same, but this time, in exotic locales.

The boutique cruise line now offers longer stays and more overnights in port that allow guests to grab dinner in a quaint town of Livorno and go dancing late-night in Monaco, which is often simply not an option on more traditional cruise lines.

Recently, I sailed on the Azamara Journey for an eight-night tour of Tuscany and Provence. While on board, there were opportunities to dine in the two specialty restaurants, a steakhouse and seafood restaurant, as well as multiple casual dining options. It was the best of both worlds for a full-time eater and drinker. I was able to fuel up in the morning with the in-room breakfast service that I leisurely ate on my veranda while plotting the day ahead. (My usual became the corned beef hash with poached eggs over gluten-free toast).

While on land, I couldn’t run fast enough to local gastronomic treasures, like the olive oil shop in St. Paul de Vence, the picturesque Tuscan winery that served gluten-free pasta, or the best fried artichokes in Rome in the Jewish ghetto.

Below is a roundup of the ports of call including: Rome, Livorno, Monaco, Nice, St. Tropez, and Elba, and the corresponding culinary highlights of the trip:

Rome: We began and ended our Azamara journey in the eternal city of Rome. While there are many tours offered for those who are looking to see the unforgettable sights of Rome, like the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Vatican, and so on, we decided to meander through the city and check out the Jewish ghetto. We made our way to Nonna Betta for traditional Roman Jewish cuisine. On the menu were fried artichokes and whole sea bass roasted to perfection. (Don’t worry, we spent hours in the Coliseum, too! Unforgettable photo op at dusk.)

4 New Celebrity Chefs Join Top Chef: The Cruise Onboard Competition

Livorno/Florence: The beauty of Livorno is that once you’re in port, guests can choose to venture to Florence, Lucca, and nearby Pisa. If you’ve spent time in any one of those cities before, you can easily amend your schedule to explore somewhere new. On day one we visited the small town of Maiano, nestled on top of a hill just outside of Florence. We stopped at local restaurant Trattoria Le Cave di Maiano for an unforgettable meal consisting of burrata and tomato, prosciutto and melon, zucchini flower risotto, and grilled beef. That night, we visited Goldoni Theater to catch an exclusive performance of three Italian tenors who performed classics from famous operas such as Rigoletto.