Category Archives: Azamara Club Cruises

ToaD’s Unforgettable Journey

As we continue to celebrate our 6th birthday, we thought there was no better time to announce another group cruise.  We brought you information from our recent Azamara Journey cruise over Easter this year.  While onboard, we had to book another trip on this incredible ship.  We floated the idea of making it a group trip and had some great interest, so we are doing it!

Azamara Journey

November 24, 2018, we embark on a 10 night Caribbean Sunsets Voyage.  With Azamara Club Cruises, we will spend more time in port than on most other cruise lines.  Additionally, since the ship is smaller than your contemporary cruise line ships, we can get in to smaller ports of call.

Itinerary Map

Itinerary

An Azamara Club Cruise is like no other contemporary cruise you have been on.  So much is included in the cost of your cruise, leaving less to take care of at the end of your voyage.  For all guests, your fare includes a complimentary AzAmazing Evening event, select standard spirits, international beers and wines, gratuities, bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas, self-service laundry, shuttle service to and from port communities, where available, and concierge services for personal guidance and reservations.

Select a suite and in addition to the above, you’ll also receive English butler service, 235 complimentary internet minutes, per guest, one free bag of laundry service per suite, each seven days, complimentary seating in specialty restaurants, afternoon tea service in-suite.  Guests in the Club World Owner’s and Club Ocean suites may also choose a complimentary Insider Access or Nights & Coll Places Land Discoveries excursion.

Reserve the Club Spa Suite and receive all of this plus a $200 spa credit per suite, Nights in Private Places for one night and daily delivery of healthy snacks each afternoon.

Booking early also qualifies you for an onboard credit of between $300 – 1500 to be used for Land Discoveries.  Amount is based on the room type booked.

Prices for this cruise start at $4294.80 for two in an inside room.  Deposits are $550 per person ($50 of which is non-refundable).  Click here to request your quote today!

 

Easter Onboard Azamara Journey

In our April newsletter, we shared the first day onboard Azamara Journey from our recent cruise to the Western Caribbean.  When we scheduled our cruise, we didn’t realize that it was sailing over Easter.  We were wondering how this would impact the sailing.  One way was a lovely brunch on Easter Sunday which featured this ice sculpture.

20160327_131931

As well as some cool deviled eggs.

20160327_130744

We also had an Easter Egg hunt for everyone of all ages.  We attended although we didn’t care to get much chocolate, we helped the kids involved find some of the treats.

I forgot to mention on the first day we had a Cruise Critic meet.  This was very well attended with over 50 people who signed up.  I didn’t spend much time on Cruise Critic before the sailing so I didn’t really know anyone, but it was still fun.  Hors d’oeuvres were brought around as well as beverages.  Everyone introduced themselves.  We did run into a few Cruise Critic members over the course of the cruise which was fun.  Check out their Roll Calls for your upcoming cruise on most cruise lines!

One thing I should mention about myself, I love trivia!  I may not be good at all trivia, but I still like to participate and sometimes even win.  Even if there isn’t a real prize, it’s the thrill of the competition and seeing what I know.  We were happy to see a lot of trivia onboard.  We regularly joined in when we weren’t busy with other activities.

We started out the day with breakfast in Windows Cafe, followed by Trivia in the Living Room.  Because it was Easter, we planned to go to brunch, but did so closer to lunch time.  Before brunch though, we decided to try out the Sanctum Terrace and the thalassotheraphy pool.  We had purchased a cruise long pass for $160 for two.  While not very expensive, we found that we didn’t go as often as we had thought we would (dang trivia!).  Over the course of the cruise, we only went three or four times.

IMGP0189

IMGP0187

One thing that we really liked onboard Azamara is there were select activities each day where you could participate in to earn prizes.  On the daily Pursuits, activities marked with a * would earn you a signature if you participated.  If it was a competition (like ping pong or trivia), you would get an extra signature if you won.  At the end of the cruise, you took all of your signatures to the Cabaret and turned them in for prizes.  Of course, you know I had to do this!  One of the first things we did each day was see which activities would count.

After brunch, we participated in the Tribond Trivia and then the Easter Egg Hunt.  The cruise staff hid chocolate eggs all around the ship and we had to explore to find them.  We helped some of the kids go in the right direction, including one who found a Godiva chocolate bunny.

Then it was up to the Living Room for ’60s music trivia.  We met a couple from Canada in the morning trivia that day and over the course of the cruise would become trivia teammates.  We had a lot of fun, even if we didn’t win very much.

Tonight we would attend the first of three Chef’s Table meals.  The Chef’s Table was held in Prime C, right outside of the wine cellar.

20160326_152447 20160326_152513

The first dinner didn’t have very many participants, probably because it was so early in the cruise.  Check out the menu.

Italian Chef's Table

The Sommelier went over all the wines we would be having with the meal for each course.  The Executive Chef went over the menu at the beginning and stopped to visit us at the end.  He asked if there were any recipes we would want.  I said “all of them, for all of the dinners!”.  He said he would work on that for me.

After an amazing dinner, we stopped down to the Captain’s Welcome Reception and got a glass of champagne, just in time for the toast.  Afterwards, we decided to call it a night early rather than stay for the entertainment.  It was before 10 pm, but we would be changing our clocks one hour earlier so we ended up getting a good night’s sleep before our arrival in Cozumel.

Disney Cruise Line vs Azamara Club Cruises

As many of our friends and fans know, I just returned from my first Azamara Club Cruise on the Azamara Journey.  I traveled over Easter, so more children were onboard than normal.  According to the stats we were given, there were six onboard under 17.  Yes, I did say that was more than normal.  Part of the reason it is surprising is that Azamara does not have dedicated children’s programming like all of the contemporary cruise lines.  That was ok with us as we are two adults with no children.

20160402_115213

We have cruised 27 times on Disney since 2002.  People are amazed when I tell them that.  We have been very happy with Disney Cruise Line and to be honest, the experience on board has rarely been less than excellent for us.  We have realized that we pay a premium to cruise on Disney and it hasn’t been a problem for us when we consider all we are getting.  This started changing about 2 1/2 years ago when the Disney Magic came out of her reimagination.

As I was preparing to host a group onboard for the five night sailing, I received a call from Disney Cruise Lines, indicating that the cruise was going to be cancelled as the ship was not ready yet.  This was three days prior to sailing.  I scrambled to reschedule or postpone all of my clients to another cruise date and then I started worrying about myself.  Our flight was in the morning and we had been scheduled to cruise back to back, plus meeting friends at Disney World pre-cruise.  We couldn’t just cancel, we had a lot of arrangements to be made.

Of course, since our notice was three nights prior to the sailing, we figured that the rest of the work should only take three more days, right?  I think I would have been more accepting if it had only taken three days, but instead, when we got onboard eight days after we received the notice, there was still work being done.  Some cabins weren’t completed.  Reserved cabins weren’t cleaned, toilets weren’t attached, etc.  This made me realize that Disney should have been able to give more than three days notice.  As far as I can tell, this is when my opinion started to change.

After this time, Disney started putting limits on onboard bookings, changed the alcohol policy, significantly increased pricing, yet didn’t vary many of the sailings at all.  After 27 sailings, we really didn’t see a need to cruise except if it was a very special itinerary or a new ship.  When summer 2016 sail dates were released, we made our decision that unless it was work related, we would not be cruising Disney again after our scheduled cruise to Iceland and Norway in summer 2015.  It was a very sad moment in our household.  It was a tough decision, but we had decided that unless people started to send a message about the itineraries and the pricing, nothing would ever change.  As long as people were paying, Disney had no incentive to change.  I was no longer going to be a part of the problem.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you have young children and haven’t been on every Disney Cruise Line itinerary, you have every reason to cruise.  The children’s programming is fantastic.  I don’t know of any cruise line that comes close to what Disney does for the kids.  I’m not saying the other lines have bad children’s programming, I’m saying that Disney far exceeds the others.  Disney is a great line to go on a multi-generational trip.  There is something for every age to do.

Disney prides itself on is exceeding the competition in terms of what they offer onboard.  I think the children’s programming is a great example.  But when it comes to the rest, I think you can reasonably argue that Disney has started to fall behind the competition.

With summer 2017 sailings released last week, it was great to see some new itineraries out there for more than just the Disney Magic.  Four and five night “double dips” to the Bahamas, new ports in Alaska, a nine night sailing in Alaska, plus two Southern Caribbean sailings on the Fantasy.  However, when I looked at the pricing on those sailings, it was the same old, same old.  New itineraries mean higher prices, justified because they are during summer break and because you can’t compare to previous sailings as there weren’t others.

Let’s turn back to our Azamara Club Cruise.  This cruise far exceeded our expectations.  From the food, to the service and everything in between, Azamara was, well, just amazing.  While onboard we booked a future cruise in November 2018.  This was a 10 night Eastern Caribbean, visiting many islands that we have not visited before.  The price was not cheap, but the experience made us realize it was worth it to us.

Balcony Cabin

After Disney announced 10 and 11 night sailings on the Fantasy, we felt it was important to compare the two lines and sailings.  Here is a comparison of the ships and what is offered.

DisneyvAzamara3

Yes, gratuities and standard alcoholic beverages are included in the cruise fare.  The inclusions listed above are for all cabins, not just concierge and suites.  They have other extras as well.  I should also mention that with a new booking on a future Azamara cruise, onboard credits are available for most of the categories.

Of course, you have to compare the pricing as well as the ports of call as it wouldn’t mean much without that.  Below I compared the 10 night Disney Fantasy sailing with the 10 night Azamara Journey sailing that I am booked on.  The price difference is staggering!  Yes, the Journey is not going as far south as the Fantasy, but I will get nearly 20 more hours in port and visit three ports of call I have never been to, and return to three ports that I loved in the past.  Plus I won’t have to pay for gratuities or beverages.  If I opt for the concierge room, I’ll pay just a little more than a balcony on Disney and I’ll also get my specialty dining included.  Plus I’ll get between a $300 – $1500 onboard credit from Azamara.

Next I compared the 11 night Disney Fantasy sailing with the 11 night Azamara Quest sailing in January 2017.  Editor’s Note:  Price comparison removed by request.

10 vs 11

One other thing that I forgot to mention about Azamara pricing.  Several sailings a year will have single rates at 125% instead of the industry norm of 200%.  This is great for the solo travelers.  Additionally, if you are a cruiser who has been on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises, you have an advantage.  When you are part of either the Crown and Anchor or Captain’s Club, you can request a one-time match into the other club.  You will come in to the other club at a corresponding level, then start earning loyalty with the second line.  Azamara shares the club levels with Celebrity.  What this means is if you have cruised with Celebrity, when you cruise on Azamara, you come in at their respective level.  What is different is that you continue to earn points with both!  We started our Azamara Journey cruise 6 points away from the next level with Celebrity and Azamara.  After completing the cruise, we have now reached the next level with both of them.  The repeater benefits are much better as well with both of these lines.

This has made me feel even better about the amount I’m spending for my Journey sailing.  The only question left is “Who wants to join us?”  If there is enough interest, we will make this a ToaD group sailing!  Drop my wife a note at tracy@travelonadream.com.

An Azamazing Journey

We have just returned from a 10-night sailing on the newly refurbished Azamara Journey.  When I tell many friends that we cruised on Azamara, the most common question is “who?”.  While I admit the only reason I know about this cruise line is because I’m in the business, since cruising on Azamara, I want to shout out to everyone about this line.

20160326_151423

Azamara is a small cruise line owned by Royal Caribbean International.  Each of their two ships holds just under 700 guests.  Azamara is a mostly inclusive cruise experience with standard beverages (including alcoholic beverages) and gratuities included with your cruise fare.  Also included is an Azamazing Evening event, which is an evening shore excursion that is nothing less than spectacular.  We paid for specialty dining and shore excursions, that was pretty much it.

20160401_230824

20160401_232750_001

After taking a course on Azamara last year, I decided that we needed to try out this cruise line.  Since we had been to Europe twice in 2015, we were looking for an experience in North America.  We found the March 26 sailing to fit into our schedules and pricing was not bad.  As previous Celebrity Cruise guests, we were already members of Azamara’s Le Club Voyage which offered a discount for the March 26 date.

I can tell you that the service onboard was nothing short of spectacular.  The food was very good to excellent, with the specialty restaurants consistently excellent.  We enjoyed the best steak dinner we have ever had, on land or at sea, when we attended the French Chef’s Table.

20160326_152447

The service onboard was something that we won’t soon forget.  Servers, bar staff, managers, officers remembered you when they met you again.  And with the size of the ship, you were constantly seeing familiar faces.  This also rubbed off on the guests.  While I will admit there are times on every cruise line when you run into “entitled” folks, the vast majority of cruisers we met were friendly and welcoming.  We made several new friends onboard.  I truly think the cruise line does that to you.  We have been on other cruise lines where you just don’t interact with other guest.  You just don’t feel like it.  I think that is reflective on how you interact with the crew.  If they are outgoing and friendly, you feel like being the same.

In future blogs, I will talk about more details with this cruise, including a cost comparison to our Disney cruise last year (here’s a sneak preview – Azamara cost us considerably less when all was totaled).  We enjoyed this sailing so much that we are considering a group cruise in the future.  What do you say?  Sounds like fun, right!?

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an onboard credit of $100 for Bill and I to try both specialty restaurants, which we planned on doing anyway with our onboard credit we received from a booking promotion.  My opinions and impressions of this cruise line are independent of any perk I received.  While a travel agent rate may have been available, we booked at prevailing rates and promotions, getting a discount only because of our prior sailings with Celebrity, a benefit any other previous Celebrity cruiser would have been eligible for.

20160405_065849

The Sixth Day of ToaDmas

Azamara Club Cruises is one of world’s top “up-market” cruise lines.  They are proud to offer wonderful service, fine dining, a glorious spa and wellness experience, and longer stays and overnights in ports. 

Azamara has some very unique offerings – butler service in every suite, enrichment programs that offer everything from culinary to photographic explorations, nightly live entertainment and the highest level of personal service.  They only have two ships, the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.  Each ship carries only 694 guests, and because of its size, is able to discover hidden corners of the world that larger cruise ships cannot reach.

One of these corners is in the Mediterranean.  This summer, you can experience 7 nights on the beautiful Azamara Quest, as she journeys from Athens, Greece to:  Ephesus, Kos, Thodes, Santorini, Chania Crete, and Nauplion.  As you can see, these are not ports that are visited by the larger cruise lines.  This gives you a more intimate experience, where you can really get to know the people and culture of the different areas.

Sample pricing* for this itinerary (not including airfare):

July 12, 2012

Inside room: $2,049 per person
Oceanview room: $2,299 per person
Veranda room: $2,799 per person
Club Suite: $3,799 per person

Please feel free to contact me for more information about this wonderful cruise line!  You can email me at Rhonda@TravelOnADream.com for a quote or with questions or request a quote at Travel On A Dream.

*Prices do not include tax and port fees and are subject to change until booked.  Other dates and itineraries are available.  Pricing will vary.