(Zadar, Croatia) As Adriatic towns go one would be challenged to find one more beautiful than Zadar; our second of three stops in Croatia on Azamara Journey. But then I could have said that about Korcula, also visited with Azamara Club Cruises on this 12-night itinerary. Back that up further and past posts here rated Dubrovnik a must-see destination, visited on a number of other cruise lines. In other words, we have been blessed with wonderful weather and Mother Nature did some of her best work in Zadar. Still, the magnitude of Azamara’s focus on destinations is beginning to sink in: they mean business. Serious business.
One hope I had for this trip was to reaffirm that Azamara Club Cruises is the leader among cruise lines in destination immersion, still scoring as high with passengers now as they did when I last sailed the two-ship line in 2012. After all, they were focusing on destinations well in advance of other cruise lines, perhaps starting a revolution that brought more focus on what is done off the ship than ever before. As I write this post, with just two more ports of call left to visit, the verdict is in.
Expert Status Verified
No one I have sailed with does destinations better and with more commitment than Azamara Club Cruises…and I can prove it.
This is not Chris choosing to look on the positive side of things. I absolutely do focus on positive, differentiating factors that define what a cruise line is or wants to be. That positive view is consistent with our purpose; to take you inside cruise vacations. Follow along with us here and on our social properties before sailing then compare your actual experience to that promised. We won’t tell you something that is not going to happen. Still, we can put a positive spin on anything in our sleep. It’s what we do. Rarely do we get as much quantifiable data, as many perfect examples and support for our happy views as we do sailing Azamara Club Cruises.
That said, a wonderful example of just how committed Azamara is to destinations came in Zadar via Captain Sindre Borsheim, master of Azamara Journey on temporary assignment while regular Captain Johannes Tysse is on vacation. Those who follow us on Instagram and Facebook already know this story, but it is worth repeating in this space as well.
Scheduled to stay in Zadar, Croatia until 7:00PM by the planned and published itinerary, Captain Borsheim made the call to stay later until 10:30PM, giving passengers more time ashore at a remarkable destination. When I asked why that decision was made, Borsheim had no hesitation explaining “to give our guests more time in port”, something other cruise lines just would not do.
Azamara’s business model is built on making the lion’s share of revenue from cruise fares. Higher than that of a larger ship that makes a little revenue on a lot more people, Azamara charges a higher but fair price and includes more in that price to create value. On a bigger ship where the cruise fare often does not cover the cost of operations, they must leave port on time. There are no ifs ands or buts about it for a very good reason: Not doing so could cost them as much as $100,000 per hour or more in lost casino action (not everyone wins) as well as gift shop and other purchases (most people buy). This is also a reason passengers late back to the port on an independent tour could find that the ship left without them.
Staying late enabled us to have dinner ashore at a great little restaurant, stick around to see sundown and experience Zadar’s Sun Salutation and Sea Organ.
Zadar shares a similar rich history with other places in Croatia too. The heart of Old Town is the 13th century St Stephen’s square, bordered by abundant shops, restaurants and cafes…one of which I started my day at.
The day ended nicely, with passengers coming back on board Azamara Journey later than normal, taking full advantage of the gift of time given to us by Captain Borsheim. Azamara promotes what they do a number of ways with television advertising, colorful brochures and a variety of social media efforts. Accurately tagged #LoveTravel, that element is quite visible in everything they do. It’s more than a buzz word. It’s their way of life and an evolving way of life at that.
Back to Zadar briefly, check this video of their Sun Salutation and Sea Organ
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