The twin ships of Azamara Club Cruises are tiny when compared to most other ocean cruise ships sailing today. Carrying just 694 passengers, the 402 crew members on board have a good chance of making a positive impact on the travel experience of the intellectually curious global citizens on board. But whether big ships or small ships, it’s usually the little details that we remember and tell others about…unless we forget. Like I did. About a number of little things Azamara did to make me love travel. It’s these little things about Azamara Club Cruises that I will remember for quite some time.
They Sent Me Text Messages
I appreciate instant information. It’s why I use the TripIt app for iPhone to organize my travel plans. Also commonly seen on my home screen, apps for airlines I will fly with, airports I will be navigating, electronic boarding passes for flights, a World Clock app that tells me the time at all the places I will visit, a number of photo, weather, financial and other apps that help me along the way.
Unexpected: this text message I received upon landing in Istanbul to begin our Croatia and Greek islands sailing earlier this year. I had transfers through the cruise line but appreciated having the information right at hand should I have needed to make my own way to the port. Better yet, me replying “YES” that I received the message told them I had landed in Istanbul and was ready to be picked up.
I can’t imagine why every cruise line would not do this. In addition to where we would be and how long we would be there, this handy pocket itinerary listed the different currency that would be accepted and used at each port of call. That’s great information to know when it changes from place to place.
Also nice to know; when time changes would occur and we would be setting our clocks forward and back as we traveled as well as when the included Azamazing Evening was scheduled. That’s helpful when planning time ashore. In Venice, I chose a self-guided tour with the help of a local expert brought onboard for the morning, knowing the night would bring a late stay and a wonderful opera concert.
When they dock or when they tender, Azamara Club ships can get closer to the action. It sort of reminds me of the way river cruise ships commonly park close to the city center of towns in Europe. This photo was taken from a coffee bar/hookah den on the shore in Istanbul as I sampled Turkish coffee, about a 10 minute walk away.
Tendering, they go to anchor closer to shore than bigger ships too, making the process an easy one. That’s super important because Azamara ships visit lesser-known smaller ports that might not have docking facilities at all.
Small Ships Make It Easy To See Everything
Another great part of smaller ships, it takes little time to go from one side to the other, if that is even necessary. Unobstructed views of the places we stopped to see, on both sides of the ship, were a matter of turning your head rather than trekking from one side to another.
That the walking/jogging track is used a lot speaks to the clientele on board who seemed quite active and engaged with the destinations we visited. On Azamara Journey, the ship itself enabled up close connections with the destinations without even getting off. But you want to. The places we visited were just beautiful and begged us to come ashore. Most passengers did too.
Even if everyone is on deck, which is possible on these ships, it does not seem crowded. During the time we sailed, there were glorious sunsets every day that demanded our attention. There was always a nice place to sit or stand and watch them.
All of the sudden the published sunrise and sunset times, otherwise glanced at like the weather, became major events and rightfully so. These were lovely colors and our ship glided through the Adriatic with little movement felt onboard.
To look at this tiny space one would not think it would be all that popular of an area. That would be wrong. From a space smaller than the average Starbucks, this place pumps out coffee drinks and a rotating menu of snacks all day long and into the night. (See below) While we could just walk up to the counter and walk away with our favorite beverage, the crew members who work in this space really did want us to sit down, relax and enjoy the moment.
It was my first and last stop on Azamara Journey and will probably be the same on Azamara Quest coming up in August. After two times stopping by, they knew exactly what I wanted (triple espresso to go) and if they saw me coming, had it ready when I arrived. I miss this place terribly now.
Also a feature at the Mosaic Cafe, tiny snacks that change throughout the day. It’s like eternal tea time, sea day or not. Bonus points here for always-available cookies too.
Its a little thing but little things add up like a tiny biscotti with my espresso served in an attractive cup in a pleasant little area of the ship. Tiny is good. These little prosciutto flowers are just one of a number of items that change throughout the day. It seemed like every time I went by there was something different.
I walked into the buffet area at lunch time on the first day and was talked into trying a made to order sandwich. Asked what I would like on it, I said “Whatever you think is best, whatever you would make for yourself if you could pick anything”. What came of that was one of the most unusual but best sandwiches I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
Continuing that process at every possible meal throughout the voyage, I never made it to the main dining room.
Lots of places to plug things in are nice as is fresh fruit replenished as consumed. This little image captured upon arrival in my stateroom on Azamara Journey features some of my favorite parts of the layout including a sofa and coffee table, a nice desk that can actually be used for something and a nightstand with included clock…that my cabin steward took care of setting ahead when needed and then back at the appropriate time too. Details make a difference.
This looks to be getting even better when the ship is overhauled at the end of the year. See Reimagine Azamara: If You Can Imagine That for more.
Happy Little Faces
Do I really need to say more? This is not a ship full of scowling crew members who fake a smile if they must. Pass people in the hallway and they smile naturally. I like that.
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