One of the most often asked questions from prospective cruisers is 'what differentiates cruise ships and lines from each other?' Personal preference, style, facilities, ship size, capacity, accommodation, staff and inclusive excursions are all factors as well as the general “feel”.
I frequently describe the Azamara experience as being akin to staying in a floating boutique hotel, sophisticated yet relaxed, with fantastic amenities and immersion in destination cultures and traditions by way of carefully selected ports of call.
Azamara was created to offer luxury and unique, destination-rich itineraries at a price point lower than those of competitors, as well as access to less-travelled ports, courtesy of its smaller ships that can dock in places unsuitable for larger vessels.
And once you arrive in port, you’ll discover things not found on other ships. Like night-time.
Overnight and late-night stays and a focus on Destination Immersion®, a collection of excursions and activities from independent, local tour operators gives more time to venture deeper into the heart of local life to fully experience the arts, culture, history, cuisine, scenery, and people of your destinations.
AzAmazing Evenings are a special touch. Complimentary night-time shore excursions offered once per cruise (except on transatlantic sailings or cruises less than five days long) visit a unique location in one of the ports of call, where passengers are treated to a concert or a type of performance.
Drinks and hors d'oeuvres are served where permitted (church venues, for example, usually do not include food and drink).
I had clients on a Baltic cruise who loved watching the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra performing centuries of classical music in a beautiful 19th-century concert hall.
Clients have also been impressed with the overall level of service received, not just highly efficient but genuinely friendly, informal staff who like to know your name, tastes, preferences and go above and beyond expectations.
With meals and drinks along the way included, a wide choice of complimentary activities, nightly shows, spa treatments, personal training sessions and 24-hour room service, all on the menu, perhaps the hardest decision is choosing the right itinerary for you.
I have been looking ahead at some enticing voyages and next November’s 19-night spectacular Indian Ocean Odyssey departing from Dubai and taking in India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, grabbed my attention as a good illustration of an Azamara route.
Your journey begins in Dubai - a city unlike any other in the world. What was once an endless desert is now home to many triumphs of modern technology, including the world’s first underwater hotel, the world’s tallest building and the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Explore merchant stalls in the Gold Souk... and for an experience you’ll have to see to believe, why not go skiing in the desert at Ski Dubai?
The next three days will be spent relaxing at sea, discovering specialty dining, engaging entertainment and enjoying the surroundings.
Mumbai is buzzing with adventures to discover. From the flashy Bollywood and the vibrant Chor bazaar to swirling saris along Fashion Street, its chaotic energy thrills at every turn and late into the night.
To get a sense of the region’s history, visit the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, where over 3,500 objects tell the city’s story.
To escape the hustle and bustle, travel to Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to tour the maze of cave temples and impressive temple carvings.
After a day at sea, it’s an overnight stay in Cochin, India. Rise early to see fishermen at Fort Kochi casting their massive Chinese 14th-century fishing nets, then head to nearby stalls to sample the day’s catch.
The mixture of cultures and influences from a 400-year-old synagogue to ancient mosques and Portuguese-style homes is a reminder of Cochin’s history as the former centre of the Indian spice trade. The combination of old and new, east and west is incredibly harmonious and today the city is also renowned as a centre for Ayurvedic medicine.
Onwards to the beautiful teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka for engaging encounters both in the capital city and the surrounding countryside.
Wind your way through the streets of Colombo's old quarter to find some world-famous tea and explore the eclectic cafés and shops.
Then trek into the jungle to meet the friendly residents of an elephant orphanage and visit ancient Kandy, where Buddha’s tooth is said to be housed in a sacred temple.
After an overnight in Colombo and three days of leisure at sea, three magnificent days await in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, where a mix of British colonial architecture, modern high-rises and gilded Buddhist pagodas define the skyline.
Marvel at the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda and join the thousands of Buddhist pilgrims who flock to this sacred site and perform a sacred act of giving. Hear the enchanting prayers of monks at sunset and take a tour on the Circular Train, which offers a panoramic glimpse at daily life in and around Yangon’s urban neighbourhoods and rural villages.
Two final days at sea before the final port of call Singapore, a city of tranquil gardens, inspiring natural surroundings, sci-fi architecture and considered by many to be the food capital of the world. Sink your teeth into this gastronomic paradise and be sure to try the unofficial dish of the city, chili crab.
If eating can be considered Singapore’s national pastime then shopping makes a decent case as the second most popular activity. Head to Orchard Road where miles upon miles of shopping malls await, featuring everything from the trendiest fashions to the latest electronic gadgets and the perfect opportunity to pick up gifts for loved ones back home.
This voyage for next autumn is available for booking now. Please contact me for further information on this and additional Azamara cruise options.