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For those craving a mood-boosting, sun-induced hit of serotonin, here are three of the hottest warm-weather cruise destinations out there.

Madeira, Portugal

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Long a staid vacation spot for British retirees, the island of Madeira is getting a refresh. The formerly rundown Old Town in the capital of Funchal has transformed into a hopping quarter packed with bars, restaurants, shops and galleries while still retaining the charm of its narrow cobblestoned streets and medieval houses.

The Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva showcases contemporary artwork inspired by the island's culture, while Museu CR7 is a celebration of homegrown football legend Cristiano Ronaldo. Score a table at Kampo where the chef puts creative twists on traditional Portuguese dishes, including gazpacho with red fruits and cured fish and white chocolate mousse with black olives and passionfruit.

Menorca, Spain

Lesser known than neighboring Mallorca and Ibiza, this Balearic island is a hidden gem with 112 miles of sandy beaches, an Anglo-Spanish capital, Mahón, lined with Georgian mansions (courtesy of almost a century of British rule) and a food scene so distinctive that Menorca was named a 2022 European Region of Gastronomy by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism.

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Mahón is also home to the Xoriguer Distillery, which produces a juniper-forward gin that makes an excellent negroni when mixed with Amontillado sherry. At Michelin-recommended Sa Pedrera d'es Pujol, the chef serves contemporary interpretations of rustic seafood as well as an immensely popular beef Wellington. Check out the island's fashionable footwear, which includes Pretty Ballerinas, a celebrity-endorsed brand of flats handmade since 1918, and Avarcas, a reimagined version of traditional sandals that have become a favorite of the Spanish royal family.

Bari, Italy

Puglia is the heel of Italy's boot and its capital, Bari, is a lively university town with a historic old center home to two recently restored main squares: Piazzas Mercantile and del Ferrarese. Highlights include the Basilica of St. Nicholas, which houses the relics of Santa Claus, and Strada Arco Basso, the famous “Strada delle orecchiette” street where a dozen grandmothers make the city's iconic orecchiette pasta.

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Young chefs like Antonio Scalera are putting a fresh spin on traditional Pugliese recipes, with dishes that include ravioli with shrimp tartare and crunchy focaccia (Stanley Tucci raved about Bari's local specialty, spaghetti all'assassina, which is prepared directly in the pan).


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