By Lynn & Cele Seldon
Long-known for its destination- and experience-focused cruises around the world, Azamara, the upmarket cruise line with three mid-sized ships sailing to all seven continents, remains a leader in what it refers to as “Destination Immersion.” Azamara’s boutique ships, Azamara Journey (just 690 guests), Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Quest (both just 702 guests), are able to reach smaller ports that larger ships simply can’t visit. That’s particularly true for the line’s European cruises generally—and “Country-Intensive” cruises specifically—in 2022 and 2023, as well as 2021, for those looking to cruise sooner.
More than ever, Azamara is committed to creative immersive itineraries for guests who want to connect more deeply with local cultures, including longer stays in ports, night tours and more overnight stays. Their intimate hotels at sea feature inclusive amenities, like gratuities, concierge services, self-service laundry, select beverages and much more. Of course, the smaller luxury ships make for easy social distancing and enhanced health and safety measures onboard the ships and for the entire cruise and travel experience (including travel, going ashore and more).
For 2022 and into 2023, Azamara is featuring more than 80 new itineraries worldwide, with 300-plus late-night stays and more than 170 overnights. Azamara now offers more than 275 ports of call in more than 70 countries around the world. To further their commitment to in-depth exploration, they’ve added more Country-Intensive voyages than ever before. Of course, many of these possibilities are available in 2021 as well.
“As the leader in Destination Immersion, we are always enthusiastic about sharing our new deployment [and] this year it’s even more special, as we have the opportunity to announce an extension of our Country-Intensive Voyages,” said Chief Operating Officer Carol Cabezas, in late-2020. “When we were working on our itineraries for 2022/2023, our goal was to invite new and returning guests to explore places they have never visited before, or better yet, connect our guests to a country they have traveled to before, but adding in ports that are considered hidden gems to allow for a new experience, which our Country-Intensives are designed to offer.”
For 2022 and into 2023, Azamara’s European sailing schedule now includes 26 ports in Greece alone, with two new maiden Greek ports, Syros and Tinos. There are also voyages to the Black Sea and Egypt-Israel Country-Intensive voyages. Further south, the line will continue to offer another guest favorite, with their popular South Africa intensive sailings.
A quartet of European intensives in Ireland, Norway, Iberia and Croatia provides a great overview of the many “AzAmazing” possibilities with Azamara. These particular cruises currently range from seven nights to more than two weeks, but Azamara offers voyages of varying lengths, as well as renowned pre- and post-cruise stays and experiences to further the destination immersion.
Some Ireland intensives begin in Dublin and then Cork, including evenings in both cities famed for Irish pubs. The “Seaweed Foraging, Local Cooking and Artisan Dishes” shore excursion in Cork is typical of Azamara’s tasty experience offerings. Next, there’s another late stay in the village of Foynes, before heading to Galway, which was a European Capital of Culture in 2020. Delightful Donegal, in the shadow of the Blue Stack Mountains, follows, with artistic Londonderry next before an overnight stay in revitalized Belfast.
Upon leaving the Emerald Isle, your itinerary might spend a day at sea while enroute to Scotland and a stop in the remote Orkney Islands port of Kirkwall, with a visit to famed Highland Park Distillery a popular experience.
Up in Scandinavia, the Norway intensive voyage begins in Amsterdam and ends in Copenhagen, Denmark, with more than six unique and lesser-known Norwegian ports of call and several days of scenic fjords cruising and more. Unique experiences on this itinerary include hiking with huskies along fjords and mountains surrounding Tromso and ATV, bird and king crab safaris out of remote Honningsvag, the northernmost town in mainland Norway.
The Iberia itinerary begins with embarkation in charming Lisbon, Portugal, before sailing overnight to pretty Portimao on Portugal’s sunny southern Algarve coastline, with a dolphin safari experience and fresh Portuguese seafood and crisp Portuguese vinho verde sparkling wine awaiting visitors. Seville, Spain, is next, with a unique overnight stay and two days of Spanish history, tapas and wine.
After returning to the ship, a late stay in Gibraltar awaits. Then, it’s the Costa del Sol’s Malaga and the legacy of Pablo Picasso. A day at sea is next, followed by an overnight in Valencia, known as the “City of Porcelain” and offering a Lladro porcelain factory and museum experience. Plus, what Iberian intensive would be complete without a visit to Barcelona, where disembarkation and popular post-cruise stays await.
The Croatia intensive will appeal to Azamara veterans and first-timers alike. Guests actually start (and end) their Croatian adventure in the nearby floating city of Venice, Italy, where pre- and post-cruise stays are irresistible. The first stop in Croatia is the seaside Adriatic resort town of Opatija, which features a popular promenade and Croatian cuisine and wine. A late-night stay in historic Sibenik is followed by a visit to Split, which features Diocletian’s Palace.
There’s another late-night stay in Dubrovnik, with its medieval walls and maze-like streets, plus an opportunity to experience Ston, “The Oyster Capital of Croatia. It’s followed by a call to the island of Hvar, which is famed for its wine as well and acclaimed Tomic Winery is a featured Azamara shore excursion and experience. Artsy Zadar is the final stop of the Croatian itinerary before returning to Venice.
These are just a few of many “AzAmazing” itineraries being offered in 2022 and 2023, as well as many that are available in 2021, for those who are ready to cruise sooner.
Azamara offers an itinerary for every interest! Call your AAA Travel Agent at 800-750-5386 or visit AAA.com/Travel and book your cruise today.