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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.