As our day broke, it certainly looked like it would be a rainy day in Portofino - it was a grey and cloudy day as Azamara Journey neared the coast of the Italian Riviera. The ship’s arrival was scheduled for 8:00am and we were still slowly heading towards Portofino as we made our way to Windows Café for breakfast at 7:00am. The restaurant was quite busy this morning but we found a table and enjoyed a hearty breakfast in preparation for a day of touring on the picturesque Italian coast.
Portofino was one of the locations that our original tour plans had been cancelled. Our on board revised choice was to take a tour of “The Three Pearls” of Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.
After a pitstop back at our room following breakfast we made our way to the Cabaret Lounge for our tour. We didn't need to wait too long before the tour was called and we made our way to the tender accessed from a gangway on Deck 3. The sea was quite rough as we made our way from the gangway to the tender, with the distance between the two in a constant state of flux - both in distance and elevation. This was the first time we’d ever experienced any measure of rough conditions entering one of the ship’s tenders. It made it tough to pick the moment to step from the gangway to the tender, even with the help of two crew members. Inside the tender one had the feeling of a pinball being directed this way and that in the attempt to walk to find a seat on the bouncing boat. That was interesting.
Once the tender was full it set off towards Portofino, and the sensation changed from pinball to roller coaster as the tender rode the waves towards the shore. It highlighted the power of the sea...to just look at the sea from the ship one wouldn’t consider it too rough, yet any small craft on the water gave clear evidence to the contrary.
The conditions improved as the tender reached the shallower water closer to the dock and getting off the tender was significantly easier than getting in it. We were only on terra firma for a few minutes before heading back into another small craft to make our way to Rapallo.
We made our way back to Azamara Journey in the mid-afternoon once we had felt we had seen and done all of what we had intended to do while in port. The sky was slightly clearer than it had been earlier, but still mostly cloudy and dull. We anticipated that it was going to be another bumpy ride back to the ship, and we were spot on with that prediction.
Beyond the turbulent travel to the ship, the more disconcerting moments were once the tender reached the ship. The tender pilot worked hard to manoeuvre the tender along side Azamara Journey, but then had to keep working the controls to keep the tender next to the ship. It didn’t look easy. It also wasn’t so easy to actually step off the tender - the distance between ship and tender kept changing as did the elevation of the tender as it rode the waves. Each person would need to wait momentarily at the door for a good moment to be helped by two crew members to make the step over the flexible gap. Anyone with physical difficulties would have had a very tough time. It did feel good to be back on Azamara Journey after the short tender trip that felt anything but short.
Back onboard, we decided to grab a light bite to eat and made our way to the Pool Grill on Deck 9. We had a dinner reservation at 8:00pm at Aqualina so we weren’t going to eat much, but it was nice to grab something near the pool and then finish it off with coffees and treats at Mosaic Café on Deck 5. Following that we went back to the open Deck 10 to enjoy the views of the pretty Italian Riviera coast. It was interesting how much the ship was moving around - so we were getting changing views of Portofino, Santa Margeherita Ligure and Rapallo. It was nice to see the places we had been earlier as the ship moved and turned slowly on the Mediterranean Sea. Azamara Journey set sail from Portofino at 6:30pm and by then we had returned to our room to rest and freshen up before dinner, so it was from our balcony that we watched the departure. It was interesting how quickly the sky began to clear as the ship moved away from land. It reminded us of our departure from cloudy Copenhagen to clearing skies out in the open water on our last cruise in 2010. The ship, though, was still rolling a fair bit on its way to Saint-Tropez. We met back up with Shaun & Nona ahead of our dinner reservation intending to take a walk out on the open deck, but it was too windy to do so. Even walking in a straight line on the ship was a bit difficult this evening with the roll. Dinner at Aqualina was indeed lovely, and more than lived up to our expectations based on previous dinners at this restaurant. It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to get reservations at both of signature dining rooms on board Azamara Journey, but if it was only going to be one it would always be Aqualina for us. It was a good experience all around once again as we had now come to expect at Aqualina. We opted to skip the evening’s entertainment on offer after dinner and with that made our way back to our room for a bit of photo backup before bedtime. We could still feel the ship moving as it sailed towards Saint-Tropez. As normal, a copy of the daily programme Pursuits had been left in our room when it had been prepared for the evening, and the expected weather for Saint-Tropez was certainly better than the weather we had experience in Portofino. That was good news.
Final thoughts on our day? Well, the part of the Italian Riviera that we had toured today was extremely quaint and picturesque. The pretty old buildings looked wonderful against the rugged natural beauty of the hilly coastland. It would have been so very nice to have seen it in sunny conditions. Maybe next time. There was something that surprised us a bit - the size of these towns, they really are quite small. One more word comes to mind: memorable.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.