Best Souvenirs to Pick up on a Mediterranean Cruise

Whilst you can always shop on board Norwegian Cruise Line Ships, the Mediterranean offers a vast array of gifts for yourself, or friends and family back home. Besides standard soccer shirts and Eiffel Tower key rings, there are much better choices that will invoke memories of your travels for months to come. Here are my picks for the best souvenirs to pick up on a Mediterranean cruise!

France

When I think of France, it conjures up delectables like indulgent chocolate, hot chocolate, and those oh-so-colorful (and gluten free!) macarons. Which are quickly followed by thoughts of sumptuous coffee and tea, or a glass of really good red wine. Any of these would make for wonderful gifts from France! But so would a perfumed candle or skin care products from a traditional pharmacy. Small coffee table art books and French fashion magazines, along with stationery items including notebooks and calendars, all make for meaningful gifts. There are also plenty of Parisian-inspired artwork and illustrations to choose from, including sets of frameable postcards, plus you may find the perfect antique at a flea market. If you decide to break the bank, shop for a designer Hermès scarf.

Greece

The Greek Isles always make me think of enjoyment – celebrating life through good food, music and quality family time. Souvenirs to pick up on a Greek cruise include their famous local honey, olive oil, and fresh herbs, spices and teas. You can accompany these gifts with a bottle of wine, anise-flavored Raki or traditional Ouzo. Music fans may enjoy a bouzouki (Greek guitar), while others may love a handmade backgammon set. Natural cosmetics and skin care are big sellers, and the same applies to handcrafted leather sandals, as well as popular evil eye talisman jewelry.

Pottery from Greece

Italy

In my opinion, a trip to Italy is all about food and wine. Some of the best souvenirs to buy here include locally pressed olive oil, handmade dried pastas, balsamic vinegar, and wines or Linomcello, a popular lemon-flavored liqueur. Hand-decorated Amalfi coast ceramics could also satisfy culinary lovers. If you have an avid holiday fan in your family, consider Nativity figurines, while kids may enjoy hand-carved wooden marionettes. If Italian fashion is more your thing, take a look at colorful Murano glass jewelry, silk scarves and ties, as well as leather goods including belts and luxury, buttery soft gloves.

Portugal

Since Portugal is the worlds’ largest producer of cork, it’s no wonder some of the most popular items to pick up here include lightweight cork souvenirs like wine stoppers, jewelry, wallets and more. Olive oil and traditional port wine are always good choices, as are specialty liquors like Ginjinha (sour cherry liqueur) and Medronho fruit brandy. If you’re visiting the Canary Islands, be sure to grab a bottle of Mojo sauce, that’s widely used for dipping and marinating. Other great buys in Portugal include leather shoes and boots, along with glazed ceramic accent tiles (individual and mural sets).

Spain

Besides rich coffees and herbal teas, the Spanish love their sherry and Cava, a sparking white or rosé wine. A traditional guitar may strike a cord with your music loving friend, while Majorca pearls or gold and silver jewelry may be a better choice for the bling lovers. Castanets are fun souvenirs, as are colorful Flamenco fans and dresses for girls, or perhaps a Flamenco figurine would do the trick.

Beautiful fabrics in Spain

Cruising The Aegean Sea Aboard The Azamara Journey Cruise Ship

Cruising The Aegean Sea Aboard The Azamara Journey Cruise Ship

by Lisa Loverro,

The Azamara Journey Cruise Ship Tendered In Santorini. Photo Credit: Lisa Loverro

On a recent cruise to the Greek Isles and Turkish coast on board the Azamara Journey, I was reminded that good things come in smaller packages.

Azamara Club Cruises, originally launched in 2007, is a more intimate and higher-end ship than its sister ships, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Accommodating up to 694 passengers, my week cruising on this mid-sized ship (as a guest of Azamara) was nothing short of spectacular. In a category falling somewhere between a large-scale vessel and a boutique luxury boat, Azamara has found a niche all its own.

One Of The Visually Breathtaking Ports Of Call, Santorini

The itinerary, designed to accommodate as much time on land as possible, called for arrival into each port in the early morning hours, docking for the full day and departing in the late evening hours. The Greek Islands visited on this itinerary were Mykonos, Kos, Rhodes and Santorini along with the Turkish port cities of Kusadasi and Marmaris (more on these spots in subsequent posts).

Beyond the exotic ports of call, the experience onboard the Azamara Journey cruise ship was as good as it gets. Accommodations included 24-hour room service and butlers who seemed to be available tout de suite. The cuisine was better than average and in addition to their three full service restaurants (and two cafes), there are two specialty dining restaurants; Aqualina, offering a Mediterranean seafood menu and Prime C, an upscale steakhouse. Oddly enough, I preferred one of their non-specialty restaurants, Discoveries, where the scene was quite lively and the food delicious, including a melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank.

Aqualina Specialty Restaurant On The Azamara Journey Cruise Ship

The gym was large for a smaller-sized ship and although the pool was small, it was sufficient with lounge chairs readily available. There are a multitude of activities from cabaret shows, hosted by their charming and talented cruise director, to nightclub dancing (with a below par DJ but I found myself dancing the night away regardless).

A Private Concert At The Roman Ruins Of Ephesus, Hosted By The Ship’s Captain. Part of Azamara’s “AzAmazing Evening” Experiences

What I found most interesting was the ever-present Captain of the ship, Captain Johanne Tysse. He seemed to be everywhere, answering questions, talking to guests and telling stories of the high seas. Captain Tysse also hosted one of the more unique programs Azamara offers; their AzAmazing Evening program. This new concept offers guests an invitation to experience a once in a lifetime excursion. On this trip, our AzAmazing program included a classical concert among the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey. On a glorious evening, as the tourists left this ancient city, passengers of Azamara are treated to mimosas and wine among the ruins, along with a chamber orchestra concert in the ancient Roman amphitheater. As the sun slowly set, casting a beautiful orange glow on the ruins, the classical music serenaded us to an evening soon not forgotten at Ephesus.

Azamara seems to have gotten it right.