In my video of Azamara Club Cruises Tips you will discover 7 things you really should know before cruising with Azamara on a cruising vacation. I discuss things like who they are, who they compete with, who they are best for, what they do different to other cruise lines, what their fares cover and do not, the sort of facilities and entertainment, range of accommodation and more. Azamara Cruises is a small cruise lines with three ships that hold just 700 people. They focus on destinations and immersing guests into the varied and more out of way paces they can all into due to their smaller ships. Find out more in the video.
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Transcript of my Azamara Tips Video
In this I cover seven things that you need to know about Azamara Club Cruises before you cruise with them.
#1 Who are Azamara?
Azamara is part of the Royal Caribbean group of cruise lines. Royal Caribbean operate obviously he Royal Caribbean line, Celebrity, they have Azamara and also a major stake in Silversea the ultra -luxury cruise and expedition line. Azamara operates in the upmarket mid to small ship cruise category, so they compete with lines like Oceania, Viking cruise line and
lines like Windstar.
All of their ships are what is known as R-class ships and they were originally built for Renaissance cruise lines. They have three ships all holding around about 700 passengers. They have the Azamara Journey, the Azamara Quest and in 2018 they added Azamara Pursuit.
#2: What does Azamara do that’s different or unique to other cruise lines?
Azamara would argue that their real focus is around destinations. There’s a couple of things that Azamara do around destinations that I think are unique and different:
- First of all what they call “stay longer experience more”, so they call in smaller ports because they have smaller ships and they tend to have much longer stays. For example, the cruise I’m on which is a 10-night cruise around Greece and the Greek islands, in many of the ports we were staying until 10 o’clock at night and in other ports we’re staying until 8 o’clock at night, which enables you to get out and see much more both during the day and also into the evening. The second thing they do is lots of country intensive cruises.
- You’ll find a lot of their cruises are called intensive, so it’ll be Greece intensive or Spain intensive. So, they’re tend to structure their cruises around a particular part of the world and call on lots of places and again, because they have smaller ships, they can call it lots of different ports.
- The third thing they talk about is this real sense of immersion once you’re there. So, they talk about “cruise global connect local”, so the idea is they have lots of excursions which ready try and get you to connect with the people, cultures, the food and they group these into a number of different types of excursions. So, for example Taste Local, Bike local, Meet local and Night local. So, the Bike Local obviously are bike tours. They have bikes on board the ship which are around about 16 bikes, so the tour runs with about 16 people. Taste Local is where you would get out and have markets or local restaurant visits, Meet Local is cultural exchanges with the families and residents and of course Night Local will be where you can get out and experience the nightlife.
- The tour sizes are quite small. The normal tours will be around about 25 people if it’s a walking tour or it’s cycling tour they’re often focused just on having 16 people. I noticed a lot when we were traveling around at different sites on different tours that we had a small group or between 16 and 20 people and other cruise lines were having 30 to 40 people on their tours.
- They use only local tour guides, which of course many cruise lines do, but local experts.
- They normally have some speaker on board who will talk about the region and the places that you’re visiting.
- They also provide port guides in every port. Personally, I felt the port guides were okay. I don’t think they were amazing and particularly considering that Azamara is really focused on destinations I thought that perhaps their destination guides will be very different to other cruise lines, but I felt they were quite similar.
8. What they do though, which is great, is in every single port of call they will bring on board local tourist reps who will be there for a couple of hours in the morning when you arrive, so they can obviously give you much more specific information, maps and advice.
9. The other thing that they do is if the local town or the nearest town is not within easy walking distance, they always provide a complimentary transfer to get into town.
So that whole destination area is something that they do really well.
Now the other thing that they do, which is unique, they have a number of signature events. Azamara have probably four of them that I think are worth talking about.
- First of all, they have what is known as their as AzAmazing evenings. So normally on a cruise they’ll have one evening where take the whole ship onto land somewhere and they’ll have some big event. So, for example when were in Corfu the whole ship was taken to a beautiful park in the centre of the town and a concert was laid on of local Corfu music and dancing. So, every cruise will normally have some kind of AzAmazing evening where they try and take you out to experience again the local culture or something that’s unique.
- The other big signature event is the White Night Party. One of these is held on every cruise and if it’s great weather or in a warm climate it’s held on the pool deck and there’s the most amazing spread of food and the other great twist is that normally the officers are the ones serving the food, then there’s dancing and singing. The other big highlight is they have a crew parade where a big chunk of the crew will march onto the deck.
- Another big signature event is the chocolate buffet which is held on Deck five once during the cruise in the evening. A great spread of chocolate treats.
- The other big feature is it’s normally on a sea day is they have a brunch which is held in the main dining room, the Discoveries restaurant.
#3: Who is as Azamara best suited and best targeted for?
Well most of the passengers onboard are the baby boomer generation, so you’re going to find mostly people in their 50s, 60s and 70s and people who are very interested in destinations and really want to have the chance to get to know a region and spend time exploring it and are pretty active in the way that they like to explore things.
I would say it’s not really, although it’s not excluded, but it’s not really a family / kid’s kind of experience.
It’s very American focused, so most of the travellers on board would be American. There will be a good amount of people from the UK and from Australia, but it is a very English-speaking experience and again it’s with a sort of an American twist. So, the entertainment, the quizzes tend to have a slight American bias.
#4: What is included in the fare?
On Azamara the fares are largely all-inclusive. So, what does that mean?
Well the accommodation is obviously covered, all gratuities are covered (with the exception of the spa), all of your food in your main dining room, the Discoveries restaurant, is included, in the buffet restaurant which known as the Windows Cafe, there’s also snacks which are available during the day in places like the living room and also at the Mosaic cafe. Room service all through the day is also included within your fare. There are two speciality dining restaurants, which unless you’re in a suite, you pay to go to. You have Aquiina which is a beautiful Italian restaurant and you have Prime C which is the steak restaurant. They cost thirty dollars per person to eat there.
When it comes to drinks these are again largely included. You have a selection of wines at meals that you can choose from, you also have a wide range of spirits, bottled water is available, and sodas are all included, and specialty teas and coffees are also included. Now what’s very important is there is a list of specialty drinks and cocktails and beers that are
included. Also, you have a minibar in your room which will have some sodas and water that is included. If you’re in a suite you do actually get spirits included within your minibar. Of course, going to things like the white party and AzAmazing evenings are all included and the drinks there are included. They do have a self-service laundry which is free to use.
So, what’s not covered?
I’ve already mentioned specialty dining, excursions are not covered. The excursions because of the smaller groups they are perhaps a little bit higher than on some of the bigger mass-market lines where they have many more people, so obviously they can amortize the cost of things like the guides and the bus across more people, so the cost of excursions is a little bit higher and excursions are not included.
Wi-Fi is not included, unless you’re in a suite where there are some minutes included depending on the grade of suite that you’ve got.
#5: What are the range of facilities and the kind of entertainment you can expect on board?
In terms of dining you’ve got the main restaurant the Discoveries restaurant, the windows cafe, the two speciality restaurants Aqualina and Prime C, you also have the patio which is on the pool deck.
In terms of bars and lounges you have the Den area which includes the Spirit bar now this on the Pursuit is also partly where the casino used to be. The line’s other ships still have the casino and although I believe they are going to be removed and the Den is going to be introduced much more across the rest of the fleet. You have the living room which is known as the Crow’s Nest on many lines, also the drawing-room which is where the library is, there’s a bar outside at the pool and fact all of the restaurants have their own bars.
The Cabaret lounge is the main entertainment area and in here is where they’ll have the guest entertainers and they’ll also have the four onboard singers who perform a series of singing and dancing shows. In terms of other entertainment there is music across the ship, so they have a trio that plays up in the living room and they have a pianist down in the spirits bar and then they have a daily program packed full of activities. These activities tend to be fairly traditional, so there’ll be lots of quizzes and competitions and they’ll be various meet and greets solo traveller meets and greets LGBTQ meet and greets.
#6: What is the on-board experience like?
On Azamara club cruises it’s pretty casual, it’s pretty relaxed and a couple of things really illustrate that. First of all, the dress code. There’s not a strict dress code at all, so they do talk about smart casual resort dress code but it’s fairly informal. So, in the restaurant in the evening for example you could wear jeans if you want, you can wear polo shirts. They ask you just don’t wear distressed jeans and you can’t wear shorts in the evening. People tend to dress up a little bit smart, so the gents might wear slacks or something like that and long-sleeve shirts and a few people you will find with jackets. Ladies will tend to dress in fairly smart clothes, but it’s not a very formal in the evening and there are no gala evenings. A lot of people when they go to the speciality restaurants, because they might be doing that for more special occasion, you’ll find a few more gents in jackets and ladies with perhaps more cocktail style dresses.
Also, in terms of dining it’s all open seated dining. You’ll just, if you’re going to the main dining room, you’ll go in and say if you want to share with people or if you want to table for two you can as there’s lots of tables for two. The service is good but it’s not very in-your-face and it’s not very formal. If you do like much more formal dressing up kind of cruise, then Azamara cruise is probably not exactly right for you.
#7: What accommodation options do they have?
A great thing about Azamara is they have a huge range of accommodation. So, if you want to travel relatively inexpensively because it appeals to you, you can as there are inside cabins, there are Oceanview cabins, there are balcony cabins and balcony are the main type of
cabin on board. That’s the one that I was cruising in. You then move into Suites and of course they get progressively bigger. So, there’s a wide range you can go from inside right through to suites.
Azamara club cruises is really focused on immersing people into destinations. Their real focus is destination, they have very country intensive cruises, they try to go to more unusual ports, they try to stay in those ports as long as they possibly can, and they try to give excursions and tours which really let you connect with the people and the culture and the history of the place that you travel to. So, you’ll find a lot of the tours are actually around
experiencing rather than just looking at. So, if you are interested in history and sights, they have those too, but they have lots of tours which are around taste local, bike local and really get you out and meeting people.
They are sort of a luxurious cruise line in terms of the style, the approach, the decor, the service but it’s not stuffy. Azamara club cruises has lots of loyal people on the cruises as kept meeting people that have been five, six, seven times and they’ve already booked more cruises with some people doing three a year! People are very passionate about the destination concept, so if you’re interested very much in destinations, in a smaller ports, staying there longer, not too stuffy not too formal. It is a little bit or more on the premium side than the mass-market lines so it is going to cost a little bit more but obviously you then have those pros of doing it that way.
Note: I travelled as a guest of Titan Travel on their two-week Italian Lakes and Greek Isles trip which included time at Lake Garda before the 10-night Azamara Intensive Greek Islands cruise. Follow Titan Travel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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