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Photo by Rob Shenk
A Voyage to the Balearic Islands and Italy
This seven-night sailing on the Azamara Quest begins and ends in two of the Mediterranean’s most legendary cities, Barcelona and Rome. As your ship travels between them, it calls at a number of less-visited destinations—in Spain’s Balearic Islands, on the French island of Corsica, and at the Italian ports of Portoferraio (on the island of Elba) and Livorno. 

For the history buff, the itinerary will stand out for its opportunities to walk the atmospheric warren of streets that is Ibiza’s Old Town and visit the houses where Napoleon lived when he was in exile on Elba. The traveling gourmet enthusiast will want to sample the cheeses and gin of Menorca, and tour the wineries of Lucca. At every port, you’ll soak in the beauty of the Mediterranean in summer, when the sun warms the sea and locals enjoy the long days and the bounty of produce.
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    Day 1
    Barcelona
    Your cruise will depart from Barcelona at 6 pm. If you book a pre-cruise stay in Barcelona through Azamara, you’ll be able to hit the city’s cultural highlights, including the Picasso Museum located in five palaces constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries. The collection includes more than 4,000 works by Picasso, with an emphasis on the early years of his career.

    After your visit, take a stroll along La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous street, running up from the port to one of the city’s grandest squares, the Plaça de Catalunya. It’s now a pedestrian mall and its sidewalk cafés are popular spots for a meal, coffee or cocktail paired with people watching. Must-see sites just off La Rambla include La Boqueria market (a good option for a lunch on the go); the stately Plaça Reial dotted with palm trees; and the Palau Güell, a house designed by the city’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí.
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    Photo By Julian Blake
    Day 2
    Ibiza
    You’ll start the second day of your cruise by pulling into the port of Ibiza. This sun-kissed island has a reputation as a party destination with discoes that go until dawn. It’s not undeserved, but that’s only one aspect of the island. On the Dalt Vila Walking Tour (Dalt Vila is Catalan for “Upper Town”) in the city of Eivissa, you’ll see medieval and Renaissance sites such as the Patio de Armas Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace, and ancient convents. This centuries-old cityscape helped earn Ibiza a place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. You’ll also have some free time to wander on your own and pop into the area’s art galleries and boutiques, or grab a seat at a café or restaurant.

    Your ship won’t depart from Ibiza until the following morning, at 6 a.m., so if you want to sample the city’s legendary nightlife, you can. And it’s not all about DJs on the beach—Eivissa also has plenty of low-key tapas bars if that is more your tune.
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    Photo By AGE FOTO STOCK
    Day 3
    Mallorca
    You’ll depart early this morning and sail northeast to the largest of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca. After you arrive, you can visit one of Palma’s most fascinating natural sights on the Drach Caves excursion. They’re located near Porto Cristo, a fishing village on a sheltered bay. Locals have known about these caves since the Middle Ages, though they were only extensively explored in the second half of the 19th century. Beneath the surface, these dramatically lit caverns reveal stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological formations as well as Lake Martel, one of the largest underground lakes in the world. After touring the caves, the excursion stops at a pearl workshop, where visitors will learn about one of the Balearic Islands’ traditional exports.

    This evening you’ll attend a concert of choral music in a spectacular setting on the AzAmazing Evening—Classical Concert at Le Seu Cathedral. The harborside cathedral was built atop an earlier mosque. Construction began in 1229 but wasn’t completed until almost 400 years later. This concert is an exclusive opportunity for Azamara guests who can visit Spain’s second-largest Gothic cathedral after it has closed to the public for the day.
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    Photo By AGE FOTO STOCK
    Day 4
    Menorca
    You’ll arrive this morning in Menorca, one of the more exclusive of the Balearic Islands and noted for its natural beauty. Your Taste of Menorca excursion will take in its sights and flavors. From the island’s largest city, Mahon, you will drive to the picturesque fishing village of Fornells and on to Monte Toro, the island’s highest point with panoramic views. Your next stop will be the town of Sant Patrici farm, whose intense cheeses are known as mahones.

    After the cheese tasting, you’ll head to Son Martorellet, a historic sheep farm and estate. On the way back to Mahon, you’ll make a stop to learn about one of the island’s local products: gin. For nearly 200 years Menorca was a British territory and local distillers began to create gin to cater to the soldiers stationed there. While the British left Menorca in the 18th century, distilleries continue to produce gin using local juniper berries. After some free time to explore historic Mahon, you’ll return to your ship.
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    Photo By Atout France Robert Palomba
    Day 5
    Corsica
    You’ll spend this afternoon in a little corner of France, the port of Bonifacio on the island of Corsica. The Bonifacio Highlights walking tour covers some of the most notable sites, and a small train will take you to the summit of a hill above town—on clear days, you can see as far as Sardinia, Italy, to the south. You’ll return to town where your guide will point out historic homes, with Renaissance and Baroque details, and the local market. At the end of your tour, you’ll return to the marina with time to explore the area’s shops.

    Alternatively, you can join the Bonifacio Boat Trip to the Island & Grottoes. Some of the best views of Bonifacio are from the water, as it rises above the Mediterranean atop white chalk cliffs. You’ll set a course for the protected Lavezzi-Cavallo Archipelago and visit the Grotte du Sdragonatu, with its beautiful turquoise water and accessible only by boat. You’ll disembark on one of the uninhabited granite islands in the strait separating Corsica and Sardinia and see some of the wildflowers unique to this archipelago. You’ll then sail along Cavallo, a low-lying island famous for its beaches with brilliant Caribbean blue waters, on your way back to the Azamara Quest.
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    Photo By AGE FOTO STOCK
    Day 6
    Elba
    Elba is Italy’s third largest island, but at only 86 square miles, it’s a distant third after the largest (Sicily) and second largest (Sardinia). It’s best known for the brief year when Napoleon was exiled here for 300 days in 1814. (He then escaped back to France and resumed his role as emperor before being definitively defeated at Waterloo and exiled to Saint Helena in the Atlantic.)

    Azamara’s Historic Elba and Napoleon House excursion to the Villa San Martino, Napoleon’s summer residence, includes most island sights as you drive to and from the neoclassical home. After touring the villa, with antiques dating from Napoleon’s time, you’ll continue on to the town of Porto Azzuro, which sits in the shadow of a medieval fortress. You’ll visit the shop-lined harbor and then, on the return to Portoferraio, stop at a scenic viewpoint to take photographs of Elba’s largest city.
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    Day 7
    Lucca
    You’ll dock in Tuscan port of Livorno on the Italian mainland. The city is a gateway to Florence and Pisa, but Azamara’s Lucca and Wine Tasting excursion provides an opportunity to get a little off the beaten path. Your tour of the medieval hill town will include the stately Piazza San Michele, the Via Filungo, which dates from the days of the Romans, and the 12th-century Duomo, home to a painting of the Last Supper by Tintoretto.

    After exploring the town of Lucca, you’ll explore its nearby wineries—sampling the best local vintages paired with salami and cheeses from the region. It also produces excellent olive oil if you want to buy a bottle or two after wandering t an ancient grove.
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    Photo By AGE FOTO STOCK
    Day 8
    Civitavecchia
    Your cruise concludes at Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. If you want to extend your stay in the Eternal City, Azamara can arrange post-cruise stays giving you time to explore ancient Rome, the Vatican City, or the city’s exciting contemporary side in its boutiques and leading restaurants.