A LUXURY CRUISE AROUND ITALY & ST TROPEZ WITH KUONI TRAVEL
I’m kinda dreading writing this post. In case you’re sat there like “boo you went on a trip of dreams, please don’t p*ss me off” hear me out on this one. I’m dreading writing this post for two reasons. Number 1) We covered so much on the trip that you might need to grab a tea/book a day off etc. to get through it, but number 2) mainly because the trip was so god damn frickin incredible that absolutely no words or photos will do it justice.
So just take my major fangirl and then times it by 10 to get an accurate account of this one.
Recently I went away with Kuoni travel to experience the Azamara Journey which is essentially a cruise ship. I had never in my life done – or even thought about doing – a cruise before so it was the kinda opportunity that I couldn’t turn down but also had absolutely no idea what to expect. We started out in Rome, stayed there for a night, ate all the pasta and saw as much as we could see and then headed to board the ship which then went on to take us to St Tropez, Santa Margherita and Rapallo.
Yeah, that sentence makes me feel just a little bit sassy. [insert sassy hand emoji here]
So I thought the best way to do this post would be to divide everything up. I’m going to start by going through each city we visited, what we did and how many artery clogging calories we managed to consume before moving on to showing you around the Azamara ship, telling you all about it, and basically making you want to book on the next voyage right this second because oh my god the whole damn thing is life goals.
So Rome. Landing in what was described to us by the craziest, most energetic tour guide you’ve ever seen in the entire universe as an archaeological lasagne, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about it was the fact that we wasn’t there for long enough. Every inch of Rome is kinda perfectly imperfectly put together. It’s a little rough around the edges but there’s absolutely no denying that the architecture is breathtaking, the food is outrageously good and it’s just absolutely full of character! We stayed at Hotel Artemide which is strangely modern but classic, has cosy but perfectly comfy rooms and staff that were so friendly and accommodating that there was no way in the world that you could ever have a problem or ever be hungry. The type of people that bring you cannoli, figs and mozzarella, gluten free muffins/rolls/biscuits/granola and bruschetta alongside your already limitless breakfast buffet.
I bloody love those kinda people.
Our time in Rome was only short but I like to think that we did it right. We ate in the cutest back alley restaurant which serves perfect pasta (yep, gluten free and all) and great wine. We went on an illuminated tour discovering the Trevi Fountain, the Trastevere are and the Coliseum. We went to Eataly, a place that has four floors of food – #IFoundHeaven – and took a tour which ended in demolishing my weight in cheese, ham, pistachio ice cream and gluten free beer before heading to the ship for the next destination. Just before we headed to the ship, our ridiculously cute driver took us to the most random spot, pulled up and told us to get out and look through a tiny hole in a door. We had absolutely no idea what we’d find but I think you’ll agree that the view was 100% worth it (the last Rome photo was the stunning view, I’m pretty sure it’s called the Keyhole view of the Vatican). It was a short but oh my god sweet trip and I will 100% be back for more.
Next up was St Tropez and I have to be honest in that I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I thought yachts, and chic sassy ladies walking around in head to toe designer. I thought luxury on top of luxury with a side of sophistication and it was a strange mixture of all of that and so much more. It’s a place that I never expected to have a huge amount of character but walking around the streets – which just happen to be mostly pastel coloured and perfect Instagram porn – I felt so much atmosphere and such a buzzing vibe for a place that doesn’t have an awful lot to do. I spent my few hours there taking 103598353948934 instagram photos, checking out the cute and quirky boutiques, drinking iced coffee, buying Kiko lipsticks and lusting over the Gucci, Pucci, Chanel, D&G, Louis Vuitton etc. that I’ll only ever be able to afford in my dreams. It was a pretty dreamy few hours.
Next up was Santa Margherita and Rapallo and I think this day may have been one of my faves. Santa Margherita blew me away from the moment I got off of the boat; it may have been the houses that looked like they belonged in the most perfect little dolls house, it may have been the rolling hills with said perfect houses scattered between them, it may have also been the smell of coffee and pistachio ice cream but either way, I loved it from the get go. We had a little tour before chilling in a coffee shop, watching the world go by and digesting 4 plates of buffet breakfast. Then we headed to Rapallo, equally gorgeous and slightly more rural, to a humble little restaurant for some pesto making and pesto eating (both were great but this is me so obvs the eating was my favourite). And this is where I ate the best pasta of my life. One, a pesto pasta, the other a creamy, garlicky plate of food porn that I’m still dreaming about weeks on. The restaurant was small but totally authentic and so blimmin fresh. I basically just ate amazing food and chatted all things life and doilies (it’s a long story but if you love a good doily then we can basically be friends) with the biggest babe’in group of ladies, I’m all about that life.
Our final stop was Ostia Antica which is surprisingly close to Rome considering that it has a gorgeous beach and very coastal feel. We actually were there on a bank holiday which meant we couldn’t see the ruins or the castle but we did sit in a very cute restaurant garden with ice cream and drinks and swapped more life stories and it was just really nice to chill before we all left what had seriously been a trip of a lifetime.
The Azamara journey cruise ship holds 694 passengers which I actually had no idea that this is pretty small (compared to those gigantic bad boys which hold a whopping 6000 or so) and I have to say, if any of you are thinking of going on a cruise for the first time, I would highly highly recommend starting off small because it can be completely overwhelming even then. I also can’t speak highly enough about the cruise that we did as we a) discovered the most beautiful places and b) had just enough time to get a little taster without going away for 2 weeks.
So let’s start with the cabins. We stayed in a Club veranda stateroom and dear lord, can I be back there now in the marshmallow bed or on the veranda with a coffee and room service please and thank you? It was simply amazing – I was going to say “Azamazing” and then realised I’d want to shoot drown myself in a bucket of cheese – and far exceeded my original thoughts. For a cabin, it was surprisingly roomy, the bathroom was a decent size and the bed/sofa’s/storage etc. were pretty perfect. I have to say, I’m not sure how I would’ve coped without a veranda as this was the single most thing that made me not feel claustrophobic and closed in – it’s also luxurious af! – so get yourself a veranda room boos and I promise you, you and your instagram feed will not regret it. Sitting out there for breakfast as the boat approached Santa Margherita was a highlight that I’ll truly never forget.
The food. I almost considered doing a whole post about the food before deeming this slightly excessive but sweet baby lord jesus, the food was on another level. I can genuinely say that nothing I ate was “just OK”. Everything was stunning. From Prime C, a steak restaurant which provided me with my new favourite steak ever – seriously though, you kinda have to eat there because it was mouthwateringly good – to Discoveries, a beautiful, super classic and stunning restaurant which all of the group also adored. Specific recommendations? The Lentil soup and the Courgette soup which was genuinely the best I’ve ever had. Oh, and the creme brûlée which just happened to be the size of my head.
I kinda wanted to hunt the chef down to propose to him but thought better of it.
We had breakfast in The Living room which served a gorgeous buffet which really did have everything imaginable and I also ordered a cheeky room service brekkie one morning
because I needed a veranda breakfast instagram shot which was just stunning. Nothing quite compares to breakfast on a veranda, in the middle of the ocean. I also adored the Mosaic cafe which was the perfect place to head for a coffee and cake and watch the world go by. (It reminded me a little bit of the sassy ladies on the titanic but I also feel like that’s probably not the best film to bring up in this post. Lols).
The facilities were second to none; from a gym that obviously never saw my face once, to a library. A theatre to a casino. Not to mention a dreamy spa to a treatment room where you can actually get fillers (I kid you not), acupuncture, teeth whitening and a whole variety of massages and facials.
The pool deck was ridiculously cute and jam packed every day so obviously a winner for most guests. It also hosts a white party every trip too which I absolutely adored. It was one of those “I’ve never felt sassier” moments that I’ll never forget, especially considering that St Tropez blessed up with the most spectacular sunset that I’d ever seen whilst we were singing/eating away on the deck.
I always wondered if I’d get bored on a cruise but I guess I just answered my own question really. With the facilities and amazing land discoveries possible when you head to a new destination, there really isn’t a second to get bored.
And I think that might be my favourite thing about it all. In 5 short days, we saw 5 different places, discovered new cultures, ate with different locals, discovered the sights and learnt the history, all without the stress of airports and different flights every day. You literally just fall asleep on the marshmallow bed and wake up in a new destination and that to me, is just a little bit Azamazing.
Sorry, sorry… I had to get it in there at least once.
As a first time cruiser, this Stay and Cruise – i.e stay in a hotel 1 night to discover a city and then join the ship – is something that I wholeheartedly couldn’t recommend enough. The 3 day taster cruise is the perfect option for those wanting to dip their toes into the world of cruising without being too overwhelmed, or even seasoned cruisers that just need a short break… it’s something that I’ve already looked into booking again.
Yes Kuoni, those 10,000 additional hits to your site each day come in the form of me 😉
And I think that brings my slightly mammoth – but hopefully pretty beautiful – round up of an incredible 5 days to an end. I would love to know if you’ve ever cruised before or if it’s something you’d consider. Are you rushing over to Kuoni and Azamara to stalk their next journeys like I am? I always love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
As always, thanks so much for reading!
A huge thank you to Kuoni and Azamara for organising such a perfect trip.