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Cruises to Portofino

73 Reviews
Portofino (Photo:haveseen/Shutterstock)

About Portofino

Portofino is so quintessentially Italian, so synonymous with the Italian Riviera, that it's hard to imagine that at one time it was actually part of France ... but it was! From 1805 to 1815 that feisty little self-proclaimed "Emperor" Napoleon Bonaparte decided to annex the entire region into his empire.

Originally named Portus Delphini for the abundance of dolphins in the sea around it, Portofino had been under the rule of the Abbey at San Fruttuoso -- over the ridge of the promontory -- for over two centuries. Then it was annexed into the Republic of Genoa in the 12th century, followed pretty much the history of the Ligurian region, and then Napoleon got it for 10 years, then it went back to Italy. It was primarily a protected little fishing village until the 1950's, when one or two of the beautiful people found it, told their friends, who told their friends and so on. And then some friends told the paparazzi and the rich and famous moved to the hills and cliffs above the sea.

The town sits on a tiny bay within the Gulf of Tigullio; pastel-colored buildings rim the harbor while the verdant land surrounding it rises almost vertically. It's a naturally beautiful environment, so much so that the promontory to the north of the village has been designated a national park, complete with paths and trails for all to enjoy. The sea surrounding it has also been declared a national park and a diver's and snorkeler's haven, where red coral grows and flourishes. A bit further out at sea is the "Cetacean Sanctuary," where whales and dolphins congregate peacefully. It's La Dolce Vida for everyone: fish, fowl and Homo sapiens.

The yachts that line the harbor give one a sense of what the village has in store -- aside from the beautiful ancient buildings with their trompe l'oeil facades, the stunning backdrop of sapphire-colored water and scarlet bougainvilleas trailing down the mountainsides, the slight scent of pine and olives perfuming the air. There's Louis Vuitton! Ferragamo! Gucci! There's Cartier and Hermes! There's a cafe where for a cool $10 you can buy yourself a Coke or a cup of coffee! Oh, all of these and more are within view, but it's the natural beauty of the place that can make you breathless.

If you're in Portofino in mid-summer, you're likely to be shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other tourists. Do your exploring early and come back to the village in the afternoon when the crowds thin and you can actually see what all the hoopla is about. You'll be hooked.

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Riviera

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713 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
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Enchantment of the Seas
Enchantment of the Seas

7 Night
Western Mediterranean CruiseDetails

1,929 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
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22 Night
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713 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
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650 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
May 1, 2023
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7 Night
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1,929 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
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1,929 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
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9 Night
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1,892 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Sep 2, 2023
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9 Night
Italian Riviera & France CruiseDetails

1,892 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Jun 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Spain, France, & Italy CruiseDetails

650 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

17 Night
World CruiseDetails

713 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Apr 24, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Italian Riviera & France CruiseDetails

1,892 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Mediterranean Rivieras VoyageDetails

116 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Azamara
Aug 18, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

13 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
May 21, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Portofino

Why go to Portofino?

Pros:

The surrounding waters are a diver's paradise and a great place to spot whales and dolphins

Cons:

The town tends to be packed with tourists in mid-summer

Bottom Line:

Portofino is a quintessential Italian Riviera village with upscale boutiques, colorful houses and sweeping sea views

Portofino Cruise Port Facilities?

Once you exit the tender, you can spend quite awhile gawking at the luxurious yachts that surround you. Depending on the time of your visit, who knows ... you might see the likes of George Clooney or Donatella Versace lunching on the aft end of their multi-million dollar toys (they do that, you know). Otherwise, you can amble around the main plaza (the Piazzetta), up to the church (St. Martin), back down again, and stick your head into any one of the uber-upscale shops that line the alleyways. Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Missoni all have retail outlets in Portofino too -- but don't expect steep discounts.

Good to Know?

It isn't the pickpockets who can grab hold of your wallet; it's the shopkeepers and cafes. Portofino is expensive, from a fridge magnet souvenir to a little cup of coffee.

Getting Around?

If you are just visiting the town of Portofino for the day, walking is the best way to see everything. If you are going to other areas, you can walk to Santa Margherita Ligure along the seawall or you can take a shuttle bus (arriving every 20 minutes), cab (both available at the main plaza), or by Tigullio ferry (the times vary from season to season). Visit www.traghettiportofino.it, and from there you can catch a train to Genoa, Rapallo and other regional cities. For schedules, see www.trenitalia.it.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Currency in Italy is the euro. There are two ATM's near the main square. Banks won't exchange traveler's checks, so you have to go to the post office or to the change booth, located just off the main square near one of the ATM's. For up-to-the-minute exchange rates, be sure to check www.xe.com.

Language?

Italian, but you're likely to hear English, French and German as well.

Where You're Docked?

Portofino is a tender port. Tenders arrive at the yacht moorage in the center of town. Editor's Note: Some larger ships visiting the area are required to tender off the coast of Santa Margherita, a little over two miles south, and are bussed into Portofino.


Portofino Cruise Reviews
Really enjoyed Santa Margherita (which is the stop - not Portofino). Beautiful church, great restaurants. No place to swim, so no need for swimmers & Portofino is cute, but way to packed & overpricedRead More
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TheRealReview15
tender to santa margharita for boat to porto ino if required. check times or take a trip. choppy waters , disabled may find high step at margharita difficult. pretty area worth the tender trip alone. more expensiveRead More
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chiusi
Sestra Levante is a must see! Fun tour through Royal Caribbean.Read More
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Redline
The ship docked in Santa Margherita Ligure. We took the water ferry to Portofino. What a beautiful place! We had lunch at a cafe, walked around the port and walked to a beautiful church on the hill. This was one Read More
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