Azamara Club Cruises
We’ve recently returned from a cruise on the Azamara Journey, and it was definitely an experience that I feel many people would appreciate. Yes, as a luxury cruise, it was more expensive than a cruise on one of the mass-market cruiselines. But the value is definitely there for this product, and there are many inclusions on a luxury cruise that you won’t find elsewhere. The crew is very friendly and accessible (even the captain!), and the focus is on “destination immersion”. The wide variety of offered excursions reflect that concept and are geared toward all activity levels.
The ship itself is lovely and was just refurbished in January 2016. With a capacity of about 690 passengers, it’s considered a “mid-sized” ship. Staterooms are rooms are good-sized and nicely appointed. Do keep in mind that even luxury cruise ship staterooms are generally smaller than standard American hotel rooms. There is plenty of closet and drawer space and your room comes equipped with a flat screen TV, a safe, a mini-fridge, and plush robes and slippers. My one tiny issue is that the bathrooms are quite small.
The food is nicely prepared and presented in the main dining room, and the buffet is always fresh and varied. Specialty dining is a bit more “premium” for a small up charge. We dined several nights in the the two premium restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, and it was a more intimate, upscale dining experience. Tip: make your reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you board, otherwise, they may not have availability for your preferred date or time.
Luxury cruises provide an experience that is elevated significantly from the mass-market lines. In addition to staying longer in port, there are quite a few more inclusions than you’d see on a “regular” ship. Bottled water, soda, beer, wine, and cocktails are included. They also have premium packages (for additional $$) for those who want top-shelf liquor or premium beers. Azamara also includes a shore event that is produced exclusively for their guests as well as shuttle service in many of the ports, and 24 hour room service.
One of my favorite inclusions was the on-board guest laundry room. There is no fee for using the machines and laundry soap is provided free of charge. This is especially nice on longer cruises since you don’t need to pack nearly as many clothes! Tip: you may need to go early in the morning or later in the evening, because this is a popular spot!
Luxury Cruise Demographics
The passengers on the luxury cruise lines tend to be older than what you’d find on the mass-market lines. I would say that at least half of the passengers on this summer sailing were over 50. There is no kids’ program on-board – no water slides, climbing walls, or group scavenger hunts. They do have table tennis, darts, shuffle board,and a Wii station.
There were a good number of families and some multi-generational groups on our summer sailing. In general, the children were all well-behaved and always under supervision from a family member.
There were also some younger couples and honeymooners on the ship. I met some honeymooners (on a winery tour that we did) and spoke with them about their experience. This couple had selected a luxury cruise because of the inclusions and the ports (they weren’t really interested in partying or wild nightlife). The opportunity to explore new destinations and experience more of the culture were more interesting to them. Both of them were very happy with their experience, the ship, and the range of excursions offered.
The Suite Life
For those who are looking for suites or butler service, these luxury cruise ships have some impressive options. All of the suites include butler service, afternoon tea service in suite, 235 minutes of complimentary internet, and unlimited complimentary dining in the specialty restaurants. Several bottles of liquor were in the bar area along with juices and mixers. En-suite dining was available from any of the restaurant menus.
The Club World Owner’s Suite was 560 square feet of living space (including a large bathroom with full-sized bath tub, separate shower, and 2 sinks). There was also an additional 233 square feet of balcony (with loungers and sitting chars) right on the back of the boat. What a view!
Unique Cruise Itineraries
Itineraries on the Azamara ships are unique and varied: cruise from Rome to Dubai, sail to Monaco for the Grand Prix, or cross 3 continents in 16 days! It’s also possible to extend your stay with a “back to back” sailing without repeating ports. For example, sail on a 9-night Greek Isles cruise and stay on-board for an 8-night Venice and Amalfi Coast Voyage. Once you are on board, you won’t want to leave.
Let us help plan your next luxury cruise! Fun ‘n’ Sun Travel & Cruise creates bespoke getaways to Europe and the Caribbean. Cruises, family vacations, and honeymoons are our specialty. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, or visit us on the web for more information.