An Introduction To: Azamara Club Cruises
December 4, 2015
Azamara offer small ship, luxury cruising and are a line known for doing things a little differently. Both their ships are of a boutique style and afford intimate numbers whilst travelling to far-flung destinations and interesting ports that the megaships of the world could never hope to dock at.
But who are their typical guests, what’s the entertainment like on-board and what is it really like to travel with Azamara? Read on to find out!
Meet The Fleet
Azamara have two cruise ships in their fleet which both joined the company in 2007.
Azamara Journey – Joined the fleet in May 2007. Weighing in at 30,277 tons and with a capacity for 686 guests she was refurbished in 2012.
Azamara Quest – Joined the fleet in October 2007 and weighs the same, has the same passenger capacity and was last refurbished in 2013. You can read all about our visit to the Azamara Quest here!
Both ships are scheduled to be completely refurbished again in 2016.
Is There A Typical Azamara Passenger?
So who chooses to travel with Azamara?
Well, they’re very popular with those who want a small ship experience whilst enjoying the feel of a boutique ship. It’s ideal for those guests who don’t want flow riders and sky diving simulators but instead desire the intimacy of a ship where all the serving staff will know their name.
Because of the nature of Azamara (being all-inclusive), guests tend to be those who think ahead by paying out a little extra up front to avoid high bills at the end of the cruise and to have a special, memorable luxury cruising which is far beyond ordinary. Guests who don’t want to worry about having to pay gratuities and want to enjoy the free flowing wine, beer and spirits.
Azamara also attracts passengers who are well travelled and want a really unique itinerary. Because of the small size of their ships they can get to ports no one else can reach. Unlike most luxury cruising with Azamara means you will tend to stay in ports overnight to give you the chance to explore by night; a time when a lot of destinations really come to life!
A past passenger explained why they like Azamara and their small ships: “They are small enough to get into less visited ports and with only 5-600 passengers, the resultant visits by tender ( if necessary) run fairly smoothly and rapidly.” Read more about Cox’s experience on-board here!
Whist children aren’t unwelcome, there’s no babysitting services or children’s entertainment programmes on-board and children must be at least 12 months old to travel.
On-board Experience and Entertainment
You may expect that there will be nothing to do on smaller ships, and you certainly shouldn’t choose Azamara if you’re expecting flow riders or bumper cars on-board. That being said – you’ll probably be surprised by how much there is to do!
Every evening there’ll be live entertainment in the cabaret lounge where you could to be entertained by skilled locals specially brought on-board and depending on your itinerary you could end up watching a Thai dance group, a Turkish belly dancer or a Spanish classical guitarist.
The Looking Glass Lounge is a great place to sit in the evening and appreciate the stunning views of the ocean with a cocktail in hand as you listen to jazz playing. There’s also a dance floor here to show off your moves! Nearby the Drawing Room features a piano bar in which you can listen to the music and relax as you chat to your fellow guests. For some excitement and gambling visit the Luxe casino which has blackjack, poker, slot machines and roulette tables.
Did you know? There will be a pool party on every cruise – weather permitting of course! Music plays, a small dance floor is set up and people revel under the stars – cocktail in hand!
There is also an enrichment programme offered throughout the cruise that you can choose to take advantage of should you wish. You can attend lectures and workshops on topics such as travel, art, leisure, fashion and/or literature. Alternatively, learn something new as you attend culinary themed workshops. They’ll include “rare wines from around the world,” “culinary experiences” and “wine and food festivals at sea.” There’s wine tastings hosted by a Sommelier, culinary demonstrations and local experts tell you all about your destination. Those amongst you that want to improve your skills online are able to take “eConnections” workshops where you’re schooled in the use of Photoshop, Excel and PowerPoint for a nominal fee.
During the day you can make use of the pool and two whirlpools or just sunbathe on deck and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. For even more relaxation you could visit the on-board spa where treatments include aroma stone therapy, body sculpting, exotic lime and ginger salt glow or a facial. The spa also has a Thalassotherapy pool (which has salt water) which is good for easing aches and pains in the bubbles.
For the active amongst you there’s a gym with a range of cardio equipment and a series of classes to keep you fit. Work out at step aerobics, yoga, spinning classes and Pilates.
Both ships also have on-board shops selling luxury goods, fine jewellery and fragrances. Whether you want to buy toothpaste or get camera supplies, the shops will have what you need. Each ship also has a library.
Did you know? Azamara also offer “Nights In Private Places” which isn’t as creepy as it sounds! For a price you can enjoy an evening of pampering for two with a personal butler on a private section of outdoor deck. You’ll receive champagne, canapes before a buffet dinner of fresh seafood and cooked meats. You’ll then sip your champers in the Thalassotherapy pool before wrapping up in plush robes before lying back on your outdoor bed where you can spend a night staring at the stars.
Despite having small ships, Azamara still give you the choice between main dining room eating, eating at the buffet or enjoying speciality dining.
The main dining room is in the Discoveries Restaurant. Passengers can eat here without fixed seating arrangements or fixed dining times. This gives you the freedom to eat at a time to suit you with who you want. Examples of classic favourites from the menu include chicken consume with chives and sherry, broiled New York strip steak with café de Paris butter or Tahitian vanilla crème brulee. The menu will always have a healthy option as well as a vegetarian option and the restaurant is open for breakfast as well.
Did you know? Wine is served with lunch and dinner free of charge and unlike many cruise lines soft drinks and water are also free of charge!
On-board there are two speciality dining restaurants called Aqualina and Prime C. Aqualina is inspired by coastal cuisine from Italy, Greece and Northern Africa and is a fusion of Mediterranean flavours. To dine here costs $25 per person and suite guests can dine here for free. The restaurant also has a caviar and champagne bar. Examples of the great food here includes a goats cheese soufflé starter, lobster bisque soup, pan seared Chilean sea bass and warm chocolate beignet. Below are some pictures of what the www.CRUISE.co.uk team ate the last time they were on-board the Azamara Quest!
Prime C is also $25 a head and is complimentary for suite guests. Here the restaurant serves prime cuts of meat in a venue that has stunning floor to ceiling windows. Examples of the menu include macadamia nut crusted tiger prawns and a mix grill of tender lamb, pork and chicken.
Our cruise consultant Jacqui told us about her experience of dining in Prime C: “My favourite moment on the last Azamara Club Cruises cruise I sailed on was eating in Prime C while we sailed past Stromboli an active Volcano, we watched the sun set over the volcano which was firing off every 10 – 15 minutes…” You can read more about her adventure here!
As well as this you could choose to dine at the Chef’s Table. For an additional cost you can enjoy an exquisite five course meal with wines chosen to accentuate each course. The dinner will be hosted by a senior officer or guest speaker and is your chance to make your night even more memorable.
For something a little more casual you can have a burger poolside from the Pool Grill, have a coffee or pastry from the Mosaic café or enjoy a full meal from the Windows Café buffet. Here you’ll find a wide range of foods such as freshly made pastries, cake and ice cream. You can eat in the buffet at any meal whilst the Pool Grill is open between 11am and 6pm.
What Makes Azamara Different?
This leads us on to explain what makes Azamara special from other cruise lines out there…
Well, to begin with you’ll be on a cruise that is really destination focused. “But all cruises say they’re destination focused” you may cry – well, the difference is that Azamara actually mean it.
The ship itineraries include night touring in 100% of ports that they offer, so that you can see your destination at night as well as day, which as we all know is when a city or port really comes alive! You’ll also stay in port for several days on certain itineraries. For example, when you visit Russia you’ll have three full days and two nights there – giving you enough time to really explore the St Petersburg! Azamara call excursions “land discoveries” for a reason!
You may also be surprised by how much is included in the price. You’ll have your gratuities included in the price, as well as selected spirits, beers and wines, the use of self-service laundry as well as shuttle service to and from port communities. These are all things you would expect to pay extra for on other lines.
On every cruise there’ll be an included “AzAmazing evening” whilst you’re in port. This is a private event for you and your fellow passengers where you’ll get to enjoy an intimate event in the heart of your destination. This could be a polo match and reception in St Tropez, a visit to the ballet at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg, a gala at the Belfast Titanic Museum or a garden party under the stars at Villa Rufolo on the Amalfi Coast.
A past passenger told us about their experience of these evenings: “The highlight of our cruise was an evening arranged by Azamara to go to a concert at the Cathedral in Palma! It commenced with folk dancing display outside. Inside was an organ recital followed by the choir, it was magical we really appreciated this gesture from Azamara.” You can read more about Wilson’s experience here.
Lots of ships have a spa – but how many of them have spa suites? The new suites will have rain showers, ocean views, double sinks and an outdoor Jacuzzi tub overlooking the sea. Sounds like bliss to us!
You can expect to find a good range of amenities on-board. Whether you need to make use of the self-service laundry room on-board or use one of the cash dispensers to get euros or dollars, Azamara have you covered.
In a standard room there’ll be a welcome basket of fruit, flat screen TV, cotton bathrobes, slippers, the use of an umbrella and binoculars, fresh cut flowers, turndown treats and 24 hour room service.
Our cruise consultant Peter told us that “It’s these little touches that make Azamara stand out.” Read more about Peter’s time on Azamara here!
Those guests staying in suites will receive enhanced amenities which include the service of an English style butler, complimentary dining in speciality restaurants, daily hors d’oeuvres, afternoon tea service, one bottle of vodka, rum, gin and scotch, priority check in, complimentary garment pressing and 235 minutes of complimentary internet.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship for a charge. Every day guests will receive a “daily pursuits” newsletter which includes information like restaurant opening times, information about evening entertainment and details about your port of call.
Did you know? The loyalty club on-board is called Le Club Voyage and you earn credits the more you cruise. Benefits increase the more credits you have and you could be enjoying perks such as free internet, exclusive cocktail parties or savings towards on-board purchases.
Dress Code, Staff and Gratuities
Your gratuities are included in the price of your fare already. However, you will have to pay 18% on top of spa charges and certain drinks (such as bottled sparkling water) will carry a charge.
Our cruise consultant Lee told us what he had experienced on-board: “I noticed from the moment I boarded the ship was how friendly everyone was, and I mean everyone – Security, bar staff and even the customers/fellow travellers.” You can read more about Lee’s trip on Azamara here.
The dress code on-board is always resort casual. It’s recommended that women wear casual dresses, skirts, blouses and knit tops. Men are recommended to dress in golf and polo shirts, casual trousers (but not jeans) and don’t need to wear a dinner jacket unless they wish to. Whilst “casual” you should not wear tank tops, baseball caps, bikinis or jeans to dinner in the main dining room or speciality restaurants. Tuxedo rentals are not available on-board.
There’s also a very high staff to passenger ratio (one crew member to every two passengers) and because of the small size of the ship, the staff will all soon know your name as well as all your favourite preferences.
So do you like the sound of Azamara? Have you sailed with them before?
What’s your opinion on luxury cruising?
Let us know in the comments below!
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