Sailing Azamara: Actually, The Ship Is A Destination Too

At every port of call on our 12-night Journey I have scheduled a tour through the ship and put Azamara Club Cruises to test. In Azamara: Expert Status Verified, we documented unique differentiating factors that make Azamara a solid choice. Travelers wishing to visit interesting places with a travel company that ‘gets it’ about destinations will find a nice home here. Still, the ships of Azamara have some unique features worthy of discussion. While moving us from place to place efficiently might be their primary purpose, what happens on board seems to sneak up on us until we realize; the ship is a too.

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Nicely Appointed Staterooms

As cruise ship staterooms go, these are as nice as any other cruise line and about to get better. Soon, both Azamara ships will be go through a major remodeling, adding a number of new features that will affect most public areas. Right now, these staterooms have everything one might need to focus their attention on whatever aspect of the cruise experience interests them most. Attentive stateroom stewards do a good job providing specific needs of each passenger. Beginning with an introduction on the first day of sailing, they pay attention and hit individual needs with a high consistency. I don’t have many requests but happen to like ice cold Diet Coke. There has been one on ice every minute of every day since I boarded this ship.

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Personal Dining Options
I like that in addition to a main dining room, there is a buffet that is well-staffed and always has something unique on the menu. Themed nights range from Asian to American with careful attention paid to details right down to background music that reflects the part of the world being featured. A made-to-your-order station does one thing every meal and does it very well. Signature specialty restaurants Prime C (steakhouse) and Aqualina (Italian) are offered for a nominal extra charge that most passengers I have talked to agree seems fair. 24-hour room service and a pool grill complete the culinary offerings that add up to a seemingly unimpressive lineup if it were not for one very unique factor that is probably one of the most difficult parts of the Azamara experience to explain: This is a very relaxed product.

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Slow Cruising
There is no pressure to pick a certain dining time and schedule your evening around it. Open seating in the main dining room and long hours of operation are a combination that’s hard to beat. But other cruise lines have open seating too. This is different. It is not unusual to be in any given area of the ship and strike up a conversation with someone I have not met before. Speaking well of Azamara’s efforts to define what they do in advance, that conversation usually happens with other people like me. They may be from different parts of the world but they all love to travel and enjoy a back and forth conversation with others of similar background.

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After our Azamazing Evening at an opera house in Venice, a welcome back buffet was offered with passengers sitting randomly around the dining room. A couple from the UK came to the table I was sitting at, sat down, began to eat then one of them looked at me and said “Would you have ever believed when you were younger that you would have just done that?”, referring to the marvelous experience we had all just shared. “The thought would have never crossed my mind,” I replied, touching on the untold, unadvertised, you-gotta-be-there-and-experience it part of what Azamara brings to the table: slow cruising that gives time to appreciate every single part of the experience.

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Active Or Not, Your Choice
For those who want/need/prefer a lot of onboard activities, they are there. A full roster of them comes to our staterooms every night just like every other cruise line. Different here, they are not shoved down our throats. There are no announcements about anything ever, other than a daily briefing by the Captain and safety-related information on embarkation. That’s it.

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Interestingly, while much of the focus here is on destinations, there is also onboard entertainment, a topic I have not written one word about during this entire voyage until now…and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that. Also not mentioned thus far: the cruise director. There is good reason to hold these topics to the end, trust me on that.

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Again, It’s All In The Details
The ship itself is not something we read much about. In advance, little information is provided. Even on board, there is not much fuss made about the different dining options, venues, activities and features. Clearly, the primary purpose of Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest is to take their well-traveled passengers to amazing destinations around the world. As they do that though, there is careful attention given to details, as one might expect of a small ship, luxury cruise line.   As we continue to profile Azamara Club Cruises, those quantifiable tiny details are making a big impact on passengers.

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Note: Pictured here, images captured during our visit to Hvar, Croatia- another beautiful stop on our itinerary, again blessed with lovely weather.

 

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