We woke up the next morning to a wonderful breakfast prepared by our Genoese host before heading off to meet our family friend at the cruise ship terminal. She got us all checked in & even took our bags so we could head out for the day unencumbered.

We’d gotten a recommendation to take the train to Santa Margherita & then hop on the boat or bus to Portofino – a small, but well-known Italian fishing village. We bought our tickets from one of the machines in the Genoa Piazza Principe Station for under 10 euros. The only confusing part was finding the right destination. Look for S. Margherita Ligure & a travel time of about 45 minutes. The trains seem to run often that time of year, so we didn’t need to book in advance.

Santa Margherita

The weather was perfect when we arrived in Santa Margherita so we opted to take the ferry over the bus. It would also give us the opportunity to enjoy the coastline we’d heard so much about. As a boat lover, I can’t imagine a more perfect introduction to the beauty of Liguria.

If you’re looking for the cheaper option, the bus is a better choice. Seeing as only we only paid 10 euros round-trip each for the boat, it wasn’t a huge splurge either. We had perfect weather too – all blue skies & calm waters. If you’re planning on using the ferry service, this is their handy website. Or you can do like we did & just show up in Santa Margherita & buy a ticket for the next boat. We weren’t travelling at peak time, but we had no trouble.

As our boat pulled into the narrow harbour in Portofino, the reasons for its popularity became obvious. Crystal clear water, colourful homes, & a slower pace make this little village a breathtaking & relaxing stop. We spent the day wandered the surrounding hilly paths, checking out the castle, church, & lighthouse before sitting down to lunch in the busy harbour.

We hadn’t done any research about where to eat so we picked a spot a bit further from the water & hoped for the best. Luckily, Trattoria Tripoli was a pleasant surprise. We went for a local beer (recommended by our waiter) followed by a clam spaghetti for N & the regional pesto & potato pasta for me. I’d read about the pesto in the region & jumped at the first opportunity to try it. I have no regrets.

Italians have this incredible ability to take the simplest ingredients & turn them into something unforgettable. Its origins are in this region, so while I expected it to be great, I didn’t expect it to blow me away. I’ve made pesto many times, but I have never tasted a pesto with such depth of flavour. I truly didn’t think pesto could taste like that. The simple fact that I don’t love pasta when I’m at home, but ate it daily in Italy certainly speaks to the quality of the food in this country & the level of care that goes into its preparation.

I could write a novel on how much I enjoyed everything we put in our mouths in every city we visited in Italy, but just take my word for it & go. Eat! I promise it’s worth it.

I’m drooling over this pesto

After lunch we wandered a little more, hiking a steep road to take it some more of the incredible views, before catching a boat back to Santa Margherita. Trains come through the area pretty often that time of year so, once again, we easily caught one back to Genoa.

Our ship: Ventura!
It was our first time on a cruise so we were pretty in awe of everything from the moment we boarded. We found out which cabin we were in & arrived to our find out luggage had been delivered & we’d been gifted a bottle of prosecco from our family friend. It was such a lovely surprise!

My parents had also upgraded us to a cabin with a balcony as a wedding gift. They insisted that we would want it & after our week onboard, I couldn’t agree more. I’d highly recommend the splurge to anyone. We used ours every day.

As our ship prepared to leave, we popped the prosecco & got comfortable in our chairs. We sat outside watching the shore fade into the distance, sipping on prosecco, & enjoying the perfect evening.

Our first meal was in the main dining room. Each meal included three courses & we took advantage of cheese for dessert every night, ordering Branston Pickle to go with it, of course. Every since my mom introduced us to Branston Pickle with Stilton Blue Cheese, we’ve been kind of obsessed. (& when you’re on a British Cruise, why not take advantage!)

Branston Pickle & Cheese

The rest of the evening was spent exploring the ship. It was huge! You can do pretty much anything from relaxing with a drink to golfing or playing a game of basketball. It’s amazing! I think we only really figured out where everything was halfway through our week onboard.

It was nice to get a feel for the ship, but we made sure to get to bed pretty early. We had scheduled an early transfer to Florence so we wanted to get a good night’s rest.