For as long as we’ve been exploring the world, Azamara guests have known that the thing setting us apart is how friendly our staff and fellow travelers are. When you set sail on an Azamara cruise, it can feel like you’re joining a community — forging bonds that will last long after your adventure has finished. And that sense of joy and community spills over to the ports we visit. Let’s face it, there’s something special about being welcomed to a destination with open arms. You feel more comfortable, more at home, and more open to experiencing everything the port and its people have to offer.
When you travel with Azamara, you have an opportunity to provide us with feedback to make future cruises even better. And cruisers often share with us which ports they found to be the friendliest during their journey. We’ve compiled that information and are excited to share the friendliest ports in the Mediterranean for 2022, as determined by our guests, with you.
Number Five: Palma De Mallorca, Spain
Arriving in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for the first time, it’s easy to see why everybody is so friendly. One glimpse at the architecture on display here is sure to put a smile on your face! Among the most prominent buildings that will delight you is the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, or simply, La Seu. This is one of the most beautiful churches in the Mediterranean and home to the world’s largest rose window, as well as 1,236 pieces of stained glass. The exterior is a mix of Catalan Gothic design and Northern European influences, with a sandstone facade that is especially beautiful when illuminated in the evening. Visit the Cathedral and several other highlights of this beautiful port on shore excursion. In addition to La Seu, we’ll also take you to Bellver Castle and Almudania Palace, where you’ll learn the details that make these destinations so special from local experts.
Elsewhere in Palma, expect friendly faces strolling through art galleries, checking out local cafes, and dining in world-class restaurants. Our suggestion? Grab a bite at Restaurant Celler Sa Premsa, a local institution since 1958. Be sure to try the tumbet, a Mallorcan-style vegetable ratatouille.
Number Four: Funchal, Portugal
Funchal, Portugal, is all effortless charm and beautiful views. Stunning squares, classic boulevards, and idyllic landscapes give this city a laidback vibe that’s easy to love. Of course, it’s also a place where it’s easy to have a lot of fun — especially if you take the high-tech cable car ride to the hills overlooking the city. From here, make your way down the mountain by toboggan. Believe it or not, this mode of travel was considered a form of fast transport for locals. Today, it’s a must for thrill seekers interested in navigating winding streets in a wicker sledge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime that’s sure to put a smile on your face and generate some friendly encouragement from locals! You can experience this exciting opportunity on our Funchal Cable Car & Monte Toboggan Ride shore excursion.
Looking for more smile-inducing adventures? Set off on a 4x4 shore excursion for a free-spirited and fun-filled journey through the wilderness led by local experts. You’ll make your way over mountains and through valleys, taking in sights and scenic spots rarely seen by visitors. After these thrills, cap off your day with a visit to Venda da Donna Maria for an authentic meal you’ll be surprised isn’t coming out of the kitchen of a Funchal avozinha (grandmother).
Number Three: Nice, France
With a name like Nice, this French hotspot has to be included on this list. After all, the hub of the French Riviera is overflowing with joie de vivre. Take a stroll through this iconic destination and soak in the colorful buildings, lush palm-lined boulevards, and turquoise blue harbor — you may feel as though you’ve stepped into a painting come to life.
For a true taste of Nice’s vibrancy, make your way to Place Resetti, a bustling square home to Cathédrale Saine-Réparate and Fennochios’s ice cream and sorbet shop. Grab a refreshing treat, and people watch as locals go about their days. Then, when the sun sets, watch as this square transforms into the city’s beating heart — complete with an open-air dance club and lights that bathe the area in a colorful glow.
As such a popular destination, it should be no surprise that there’s much to do here and many opportunities to meet friendly locals. You can discover Nice’s Old Town with a guide who will help you navigate the narrow cobblestone streets. Or, embark on an unforgettable bike ride along the Promenade des Anglais and Cote d’Azur. And, of course, it wouldn’t be France without sampling some of the region’s famous beverages. Take to the charming port town of Antibes, where you can sample some of “The Green Fairy”, more commonly known as Absinthe, on a guided walking tour. And that’s only scratching the surface. There are world-class art museums (Musées Matisse and Chagall are particularly enthralling) and charming wine cellars, medieval villages and drives down the legendary Corniche. Indeed, there’s no other way to say it — Nice is nice.
Number Two: Cesme, Turkey
In 2022, Cesme, Turkey, has captured the hearts and attention of Azamara guests. And it’s easy to see why. This seaside town is full of local flavor and character, and attracts surfing aficionados from around the world to its shores to test their skills in the waves. This influx of surfers chasing the endless summer gives the port a laidback, easy-going vibe that you can’t help but fall in love with.
When you join us on a stroll through Cesme, you’ll learn all about the port’s fascinating history and stop by important local landmarks, all before visiting a traditional local tea house to enjoy some Turkish tea and cookies with friendly locals. And if you’d rather go full relax mode, make your way to Ilica, a nearby resort area famed for its healing mud baths and thermal springs. Unwind on the nearby golden sand of Ilica beach, take a dip in the warm waters, and maybe even strike up a conversation with one of the aforementioned surfers when you try your hand at windsurfing!
After your time at the beach, make your way to Çeşka Anne Mutfağı for some Turkish homestyle cooking off a seasonal menu. This humble restaurant is located off Cesme’s busy main street and is as authentic as they come.
Number One: Split, Croatia
Azamara guests certainly weren’t “split” when they ranked Split, Croatia, as the friendliest port in the Medderteranian for 2022. Teeming with exuberance, the Dalmatian spirit is on full display in Croatia’s second-largest city. And the friendly atmosphere is certainly welcome, especially when you find yourself wandering this ancient city’s meandering streets and need to ask for directions! Exploring this historical hotbed is half the fun of visiting here, especially when every turn unveils new wonders.
Among those wonders is the Diocletian Palace. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 4th century and is the city’s heart. What was once the Emperor’s Palace is now alive with bars, restaurants, markets, and people. It’s the perfect place to get a feel for the city. For a deeper dive into Split, join us on a historic walking tour. This immersive tour is led by a local guide who will take through local landmarks, including Diocletian Palace, Temple of Jupiter, and Cathedral of St. Duje — believed to be the oldest cathedral in the world!
If you’d prefer to travel by food rather than by foot, try the Croatian Cooking Experience shore excursion. This tour will take you through fruit, vegetable, and fish markets to choose ingredients for your authentic dish. From there, a local chef will lead you in creating a delicious Dalmatian meal that you can enjoy with a unique wine pairing. Food in your stomach and a smile on your face — sounds like a recipe for a friendly stay in sensational Split.
The Friendly Waters (and Ports) of the Mediterranean Await!
The best thing about cruising the Mediterranean is no matter where you go, you’re bound to meet a friendly face — maybe it’s something in the water! Start planning your Mediterranean cruise today to experience this fantastic part of the world for yourself.
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