Monday, June 03, 2013

Destination Immersive Experiences with Azamara Club Cruises

Imagine a cruise line that believed its guests wanted to spend more time in port and less time at sea!  Envision a cruise line that believes it can market itself to a sophisticated class of travelers who not only want to see the places they visit, but to live them…by interacting with local people, by enjoying the native food, and by becoming inspired by the culture.  What a radical idea!  Yet, it is those philosophies that are the foundation of Azamara Club Cruises.

Azamara Club Cruises specializes in destination immersion and goes about achieving this in various ways, the most obvious by spending more time in port than other cruise lines do. This allows guests more time to take in-depth tours or venture further away from the port city. In addition, when your ship is in port until 10 PM, midnight, or in many cases overnight, the opportunity arises for night touring!  Having that extra time to dine at a local trattoria, take in an evening at the opera or simply stroll around after all the tour busses have gone, adds so much to your overall port experience!  On my recent cruise aboard the Azamara Quest, an overnight stay in Barcelona allowed us to take in a late night flamenco show with dinner, that we otherwise would not have been able to schedule.  We feasted on gazpacho, paella, jamón ibérico, washing it all down with fruity sangria and cava!

Azamara is taking destination immersion to a whole new level with AzAmazing Evenings. These complimentary onshore events, not open to the general public, offer an up-close experience of local traditions—dance, music, theater and cuisine—in gorgeous private settings and landmarks.  For my cruise, it was the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band and Corps of Drums in the magical setting of St. Michael’s Cave. During intermission guests nibbled on tapas and sipped wine.  The evening was enchanting and was certainly something I’ll remember forever!

Many Azamara voyages encompass a special event that will take you to the heart of local culture; an opportunity for a distinctive cultural experience. Such special events include the Chelsea Flower Show in London or Carnivale in Rio! The cruise I took included an overnight in Seville during La Feria de Abril (April Fair). This is not a fair created to entertain tourists, but a special yearly tradition the people of the city look forward to.  We  strolled through the fair grounds and watched a procession called the ‘Paseo de Caballos’ in which local girls in their full flamenco outfit are pulled through the city in beautiful carriages by splendid horses! Music filled the air, and people were dancing in the streets!  It was wonderful!

Even shore excursions, called Land Discoveries, offer so much more.  Reservations at exclusive local restaurants, visits to vineyards where guests can meet with the people who actually make the wine, or special shopping opportunities all emphasize the “cultural track” an Azamara voyage takes you on. For those that prefer to explore on their own, the Azamara staff is on hand to hand out maps as well as share their knowledge of “must sees”, and little known special spots!

Traveling with Azamara is a memorable, one of a kind cruise vacation.  Their philosophy of destination immersion allows guests to discover the essence of a place through its people, cuisine, and customs.  Indeed that was my experience.  Shouldn’t that be yours?

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