Med and Mex: Cindy on Azamara

In October 2015, Cindy Newman jumped at the chance to experience one of her favorite cruise lines, Azamara, in one of her favorite parts the world: the Mediterranean coasts of France, Italy, and Greece. In February 2017, she was offered another opportunity with Azamara; this time, in Mexico. Cindy reflects on the Azamara cruises below, both of which were on the Quest.

Provence Azamara Cruise Cindy
Provence, France while in port with Azamara

Where She Went

October 2015 (Mediterranean) Cindy spent 3 days in Nice, France, before embarking for 9 wonderful days on the ship. The ports included Nice, Eze, Provence, Florence, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Athens, and Santorini. She spent an additional night in Athens after the cruise so that she could experience the Grande Bretagne Hotel, a historic landmark.

February 2017 (Mexico) Cindy sailed roundtrip from San Diego, where she resides. She observed that the San Diego departure was a fabulous benefit for people from the West Coast. The ports she visited on this cruise included Topolobampo (Copper Canyon), Cabo, Mazatlan, and Loreto. This cruise lasted 12 days.

Loreto Mexico Azamara Cindy
Loreto, Mexico, while in port with Azamara

The Experience

In the Mediterranean, simply put, the highlight was eating everything. One of her favorite moments was trying Greek yogurt in Santorini. Taormina, Sicily was another favorite port of hers, where, as Cindy puts it, “One feels as if s/he is in the throes of The Godfather. I could see Al Pacino everywhere I looked.” And who could not love the food in Italy? She confirms that the gelato is not to be missed.

Santorini Greece Azamara Cruise Cindy
Exploring in Santorini, Greece

 

Nice France Azamara Cindy
Lovely pastries in Nice, France

 

Athens Grande Bretagne Greece Cindy Azamara
Dining at the Grande Bretagne in Athens, Greece

Cindy had not visited Mexico in years, and found it interesting to see the development of Cabo San Lucas in particular. She describes Loreto as “charming,” and enjoyed a quesadilla there with a friend. When asked where she would recommend for a long weekend in Mexico, she said she would recommend Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, or Puerto Vallarta.

Loreto Mexico Cindy Cruise Azamara
Anyone for fishing in Loreto?

More on Azamara

Azamara is a boutique cruise line with under 700 passengers each voyage. Cindy appreciated the hands-on captain who made himself visible on and off the ship. She also described the staff as “friendly, willing to please, with no request being too much.”

One quality that sets Azamara apart is the amount of time in port: Azamara spends more time in port than any other ocean cruise line. Furthermore, once per itinerary, they arrange an “AzAmazing Evening”; an included onshore experience exclusively for Azamara passengers. The evening is a performance in a special venue, and the performance is tailored to the location for an authentic local experience. More on AzAmazing Evenings for 2017 here.

Cindy’s first AzAmazing Evening had an unexpected twist that further showcased Azamara’s exceptional staff: on the Mediterranean cruise, the weather did not permit them to be bused into Taormina for their AzAmazing evening, and so the captain arranged for the opera performers to be brought to the ship. They earned 2 standing ovations, and the Azamara passengers had a night unlike any other.

Mazatlan Mexico Azamara Cruise Cindy Captain
Meeting Captain José in port in Mazatlan

Points to Consider: Budget/Value

Cindy recommends Azamara cruises for friends traveling together, couples, and families with adult children. Azamara has promotions that run throughout the year, and if you have an agent with firsthand knowledge, you could get a good fare and amenities. They are considered deluxe—the boutique premium line of Royal Caribbean—so not quite the luxury price point, but they are a high value. Wine, spirits, water, gratuities, and plenty of food are included, along with the AzAmazing Evening, and more time in port/more overnights than other cruise lines.

When to Go

The winter is the only time of year Cindy wouldn’t recommend visiting the Mediterranean. Most cruise lines do not operate in the Mediterranean during the winter, and some hotels in the region will close for the season. Cindy’s cruise with Azamara was in October, which she says was a lovely time of year to go.

Provence France Cindy Azamara Cruise
Provence, France in October
Monaco Azamara Cruise Cindy Port
Blue skies in Monaco in October

Azamara only goes to Mexico certain times of year (February), but in general, Cindy says January and February are best, before it starts getting hot.

Advantages of using a travel agent to book this trip, and how to book this experience

A travel agent has a way of monitoring when promotions are offered, and she knows the best locations on the ship. An agent with firsthand experience is a fantastic resource: she has industry knowledge and connections, and she can provide insights that one cannot simply Google.

To learn more about Azamara, book an Azamara cruise, or contact Cindy with questions, please reach out to her at cindy@kahalatravel.com and/or by phone at 619-742-0996. All photos in this article were taken by Cindy during her travels. Read our Travel Consultant Spotlight on Cindy for more information here. Find Cindy on Yelp here.

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Spotlight: Cindy Newman

Cindy cruise Azamara
Cindy in Eze, France – a port on her Azamara cruise itinerary

Cindy Newman is a Travel Consultant for Kahala Travel. She entered the world of travel in 1980, and has been traveling the world, cultivating relationships with cruise lines, tour operators, and clients ever since.

TDI: What kind of travel do you prefer for your own travels?

CN: My favorite destinations are Italy, Australia, and Israel, and in those places, I like traveling by land and staying in hotels. I like cruises as long as I can experience more port days—the more, the better.

Amalfi Italy Cindy Newman Azamara
Amalfi Coast, Italy, while on an Azamara cruise

TDI: What are some of your favorite destinations to send your clients?

CN: Wherever makes them happy.

TDI: What sort of travel do you find yourself arranging most frequently? What do your clients gravitate towards?

CN: Since I’ve grown with my clients, I’d say mainly cruises, and they gravitate towards longer cruises now.

TDI: In this day and age, why do you believe people should use a travel agent?

CN: We have so many connections with cruise lines, tour operators, and hotels that the average person just does not have. Our connections at Kahala Travel and TravelDesign International have offered the clients onboard credits, upgrades, and immediate notifications if and when cruises drop in price after a client has made a deposit. The latter is an example of the personal touch of a travel agent: a “box company” won’t call you and let you know.

Cindy in Provence, France
Cindy in Provence, France

Cindy can be reached at cindy@kahalatravel.com and by phone at 619-742-0996. All photos in this article were taken and supplied by Cindy. Find her on Yelp here.

TravelDesign International is an independent affiliate of Kahala Travel.

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