Azamara Club Cruises is a boutique cruise line which is part of the Royal Caribbean family. The two 690 guest ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest are unashamedly aimed at the luxury market.
These ships are small enough that they can go places where the larger cruise ships can’t venture, and they stay in port longer, enabling guests to see and experience more of the local cuisines and culture.
I was lucky enough to be invited for a tour and Afternoon Tea on Azamara Journey; fresh from a $US25 Million makeover and on her maiden visit to Wellington.
Azamara Journey has a comfortable feel, like a boutique hotel on water. Guests tend to be a mix of retired and younger couples without children who have a disposable income and desire luxury in their travels.
The ship has everything you’d expect to see on a cruise ship – shops, a casino, beautiful restaurants, a lounge style theatre and the pool deck.
Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and bottles of water throughout the cruise are included in the cruise price unlike on a standard cruise, and the included extras increase for guests choosing to stay in suites. They receive complementary dining at the two specialty restaurants (for most there’s a $30US per person cover charge), as well as having English butler service and a few other perks.
Cruise Global, Connect Local
Azamara’s positioning of ‘Cruise Global, Connect Local’ is an important one. In each port the crew connect guests with personalised, local discoveries ensuring unique, authentic experiences.
As well as an information desk hosted by locals at each destination, there are bikes on board, something which would be perfect in Napier for example, to cycle around Ahuriri, down Marine Parade or just to the nearest winery.
Once every cruise there is an ‘AzAmazing Evening’ event which is a night of culture, music and tradition held off the ship. The event in Wellington was held at Te Papa, hosted by Temuera Morrison, and included a private tour of the Gallipoli Exhibition as well as Maori cultural performances.
Afternoon Tea with Captain Johannes Tysse
Given one of the points of difference is their nimbleness, over afternoon tea in the Library I wanted to hear about the tightest spaces Captain Johannes Tysse had navigated Azamara Journey though.
Upon hearing I was a travel blogger Captain Johannes promptly followed me on Twitter and seeing his Twitter feed gave me some serious job envy.
He had beautiful pictures of the tightest three channels he named: Pasajes in Spain, the port of Nice in France, and Trollfjord, a Fjord in Norway which is only 100m wide and 1km long. He claims to have never had a close call so clearly knows what he’s doing and often there are crowds of people out on the banks watching the ship pass through.
Azamara Journey return to New Zealand will next March and begin a 115 night world cruise from Auckland to London. Imagine getting to spend almost a third of 2018 on here and visiting 61 ports and 29 countries!
Most Images courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises.