Review: Azamara Club Cruises
Travel Service - Tour Operator/Travel Provider
Weybridge, United Kingdom
Introduction to Azamara
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My introduction to Azamara Cruises was with a group of Indian runner ducks and a border collie. Not, I hasten to add, on a cruise ship. Even Azamara would draw the line at bringing such animals on board; though the picture of the dog chasing the ducks to the kitchens might be quite amusing.
I was invited to meet Azamara Cruises new Managing Director, and the start of the afternoon was to be “fun filled”. Our group of 12 or so participants was divided into four teams with three in each team in competition to see who could get the “well trained” border collie to herd the ducks around an obstacle course and into a pen. The plot was for one member of the team to run around the outside of the circle, another to run (sort of) round the inside and the third member of the team to shout commands to the dog. It soon became obvious that the dog and ducks had done it all before and my team came in a miserable last place owing, mainly, to my command shouts of “away” and “stand” being totally ignored by the dog. It looked so easy on One Man and his Dog on television.
Then on a buggy and a short drive to the main building of the Coworth Park Hotel, in leafy Virginia Water, for afternoon tea. With champagne. Afternoon tea on cruise ships is one meal I always try and miss on account of it adding to the expanding waistline but here I realise what I had been missing: lots of dainty sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam and an eye watering amount of yummy cakes. And champagne.
Cruise ships come in many sizes. Smallest ones could accommodate only 20 or so passengers, mid size (my preferred size, so far) something just under 100. Then there are what I term the “monsters” with two or three thousand passengers up to the gigantic colossus ships with upwards of six thousand. These would never, ever be my choice. But Azamara Club Cruises’ two ships accommodate only 686 each and with double cabins also offered (at a supplement) for single travellers that number could well be fewer. I am a single traveller but I think we are now called “Solo Travellers” Azamara ships have 400+ crew and staff so an optimum staff to passenger ratio is assured.
The majority of cruise ships sail at night, departing port around 5 – 6 p.m. arriving at their next destination in the morning and spending all day in port for passengers to go ashore on organised excursions. Azamara, on the other hand, very often not only stay longer in port in the evening but also stay overnight and arrange visits ashore with what they call their Land Discoveries, Destination Immersion, Insider Access, AzAmazing Evenings and finally Nights and Cool Places. (Whoever thinks up these names?!) All of which enable small groups of their guests, as Azamara calls its passengers, to visit private homes, museums, theatres, night tours. These last might include a Classical music Concert, Ballet, Three Tenors singing Opera (Not THE three tenors, there are only two left …) Wine tasting at a French Chateau, The Horses of Andalucia, Discovering Bangkok, Carnival and Calypso in the Caribbean, The Culture of Kerala, South India or simply the opportunity to wander along the sea front and enjoy an after dinner drink at a local bar or café and listen to pleasant music.
The recently published 2015 brochure offers a wealth of destinations. Itineraries are clearly set out with arrival and departure times indicating when and where the ships dock for longer stays or overnights. A small photo of the destination and a brief description add to the temptation. You might need a magnifying glass to read the eight pages of very small type on the Booking Conditions and Before you Go Information but don’t let that put you off! But book now; these cruises are flying off the shelves, to coin a supermarket phrase and some, even as far ahead as 2015 are already sold out. There are obviously many people out there who have an eye for a enjoyable cruise.
5 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Azamara