Boutique Cruising

for the discerning traveller (OR ‘A Woman’s Prerogative to Change her Mind’)

Boutique Cruising

for the discerning traveller
(OR ‘A Woman’s Prerogative to Change her Mind’)

When I was invited to join the boutique cruise liner, Azamara Journey, for a long-weekend in the Mediterranean earlier this year, I have to admit I was a little reticent. It’s no secret – I’m no fan of cruise ships. Just the word cruise conjures images in my mind of gargantuan mega ships, disgorging thousands of happy-go-lucky tourists, engulfing many a picturesque town, possibly even whole islands, each time they pull into port. And of course polluting the seas as they go and contributing little, if any, to the local economy.

My only prior experience of cruising though was with Hurtigruten to Arctic Norway and they certainly ripped down many of my preconceptions.

At first glance Azamara Club Cruises, however, seemed more inline with the mainstream cruise lines that I feared so greatly. Or were they?

When I was invited to join the boutique cruise liner, Azamara Journey, for a long-weekend in the Mediterranean earlier this year, I have to admit I was a little reticent. It’s no secret – I’m no fan of cruise ships. Just the word cruise conjures images in my mind of gargantuan mega ships, disgorging thousands of happy-go-lucky tourists, engulfing many a picturesque town, possibly even whole islands, each time they pull into port. And of course polluting the seas as they go and contributing little, if any, to the local economy.

My only prior experience of cruising though was with Hurtigruten to Arctic Norway and they certainly ripped down many of my preconceptions.

At first glance Azamara Club Cruises, however, seemed more inline with the mainstream cruise lines that I feared so greatly. Or were they?

Looking into the company further, including their sustainability policy, I began to question my initial reaction and so on a sunny day in spring I stepped aboard the Azamara Journey to find out for myself. The fact that she, just like her sister ship the Azamara Quest, has a capacity of 686 guests – relatively small numbers in the cruiselining world – certainly played a big part in my change of heart.

My first impressions were good. Elegance and comfort without pretension. My suite was spacious with a big picture window and private balcony. Not one but two bottles of bubbly on ice, a range of complimentary spirits not to mention fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate. My dear Azamara, if you are trying to seduce me, it’s working.

 

the refurbished Azamara Journey

 

While onboard I spoke to many of my fellow passengers and they were all die-hard fans of Azamara Club Cruises, every single one of them was a repeat customer.

I found the ship stunning, the choice and quality of the restaurants superb, the facilities excellent. But two things above all else stick in my mind. Firstly, the praises heaped on the staff by everyone I spoke to. And well deserved they were too in my experience.

Secondly, all the time I was onboard I felt as if I was a member of a very exclusive yet quite unpretentious country club.

Another plus on Azamara side is that her ships spend longer in port, including occasional overnight stops, allowing guests to get to know destinations a little better. Their land excursions offer diverse activities and events focused on cultural immersion and include local food tastings, panoramic drives, museum visits and scenic walks. Wines, food and entertainment on board also often reflect the destinations visited.

Being smaller, the Azamara ships can also visit ports that their big brothers simply can’t and you may often find you’re the only cruise ship in town, yet another reason to love them.

I found the Azamara experience completely beguiling. If my words haven’t persuaded you perhaps my images will.

Looking into the company further, including their sustainability policy, I began to question my initial reaction and so on a sunny day in spring I stepped aboard the Azamara Journey to find out for myself. The fact that she, just like her sister ship the Azamara Quest, has a capacity of 686 guests – relatively small numbers in the cruiselining world – certainly played a big part in my change of heart.

My first impressions were good. Elegance and comfort without pretension. My suite was spacious with a big picture window and private balcony. Not one but two bottles of bubbly on ice, a range of complimentary spirits not to mention fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate. My dear Azamara, if you are trying to seduce me, it’s working.

 

the refurbished Azamara Journey

 

While onboard I spoke to many of my fellow passengers and they were all die-hard fans of Azamara Club Cruises, every single one of them was a repeat customer.

I found the ship stunning, the choice and quality of the restaurants superb, the facilities excellent. But two things above all else stick in my mind. Firstly, the praises heaped on the staff by everyone I spoke to. And well deserved they were too in my experience.

Secondly, all the time I was onboard I felt as if I was a member of a very exclusive yet quite unpretentious country club.

Another plus on Azamara side is that her ships spend longer in port, including occasional overnight stops, allowing guests to get to know destinations a little better. Their land excursions offer diverse activities and events focused on cultural immersion and include local food tastings, panoramic drives, museum visits and scenic walks. Wines, food and entertainment on board also often reflect the destinations visited.

Being smaller, the Azamara ships can also visit ports that their big brothers simply can’t and you may often find you’re the only cruise ship in town, yet another reason to love them.

I found the Azamara experience completely beguiling. If my words haven’t persuaded you perhaps my images will.

The Sanctum Spa & Terrace

Destination Immersion

Alicante & Palma de Mallorca

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Disclosure: Thank you to Azamara Club Cruises for this wonderful complementary experience. As always, these are my own honest opinions.

The only thing I didn’t like about this cruise (which in all other respects was exceptional) was the number of plastic bottles on board. Even if recycled, these are far less sustainable than you would think. So while giving their guests complimentary bottled water (and plenty of it) may seem a great idea, supplying refillable bottles would be a vast improvement. 

 

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