Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Small-ship Cruising Aboard the Azamara Pursuit

Small ship cruising is new to me.  I always felt the larger the ship, the more bells and whistles, the better the cruise experience. But more recently I started feeling that all those innovative, revolutionary additions no longer enhance my cruise experience…they just don’t matter much to me.  Last week I cruised on the Azamara Pursuit, a ship not much larger than 30,000 tons which carries a max of 777 guests. It was wonderful and I’m now a small ship enthusiast and an Azamara Club Cruises aficionada!

The larger cruise ships I’ve sailed featured rock climbing, skating, sports court, casino and a plethora of other entertainment options. And that was all a lot of fun when I was cruising with my family. Now I cruise with just my husband or girlfriends and I find having all those activities distract me from the culture of the destination. The Azamara Pursuit had wonderful destination lectures that focused on history and culture instead of shopping. We stayed in port late or overnight which allowed us to experience the area with less tourists running around and we had time to dine ashore to experience local foods and wine.  Shore excursions on the Pursuit go beyond traditional tours and immerse you deeper into the destination. There are cooking lessons, family visits, winery tours and arts & crafts classes… experience that just isn't offered on the larger vessels.

Another notable difference in small ship cruising is that the intimacy of the vessel  provides the opportunity to get to know fellow passengers, and even the ship’s crew. The Azamara Pursuit had so many lounges that resembled cozy living rooms that were warm and inviting. It made socializing with the other guests come so naturally. But what really surprised me was the approachability of the ship’s officers, from the cruise director, to the food and beverage manager, right up to the captain

The buffet restaurant is such a different experience on a small ship.  Though a buffet is generally not my first choice, I did have breakfast in the Pursuit’s buffet venue,  Windows Café on several mornings and was pleasantly surprised. The lines were minimal and fast moving and there were always available tables. After all, what is worse than walking around with a plate of pancakes that are getting cold as you search for a place to sit! The food selection was diverse and there were made-to order selections that were brought to the table quickly and piping hot. 

It’s so much easier to navigate a small ship. There’s no endless lengthy walks to the elevator, no getting lost looking for the theater, or waiting in long lines to get on and off the ship. As a matter of fact, on our Azamazing evening (more about that next week) the entire ship disembarked quickly and orderly in order to board waiting busses. No doubt about it, a small ship is just more manageable.

The staff aboard the Azamara Pursuit kept referring to themselves, along with the guests, as family.  Sound hokey?  I have to tell you, by midway through the cruise I was feeling the same way!  I loved cruising on this boutique cruise line so much so that I’m already booked for next year.  Are you ready to try small-ship cruising?

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