We’re jazzed to announce that in just over two weeks time, Popular Cruising will be setting sail on the newly refurbished Azamara Quest from Azamara Club Cruises down in South America. This will be the very first time that my dad – who will be joining me on this journey – and I have experienced Azamara as a cruise line and South America as a destination, and we couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity and to share it with all of our readers.
Popular Cruising has become very familiar over the years with cruising onboard Azamara’s sister brands – Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises – and we even recall how Azamara was once a direct offshoot of Celebrity, so it will be quite interesting for us to fill in the gaps of our Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited experience and compare notes.
Historically, the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey – themselves, two former R-ships from the now defunct Renaissance Cruises – were very briefly the Celebrity Quest and Celebrity Journey. And in fact, Azamara Club Cruises was once simply Azamara Cruises before establishing its highly-regarded brand under the leadership of CEO, Larry Pimentel – previously CEO of Cunard Line and Seabourn Cruise Line.
Azamara Club Cruises is now known for an “up-market” product focused on “destination immersion” as self-described by the cruise line. This translates into longer and often overnight stays in the exotic ports of call Azamara travels to. With varying degrees of inclusive cruise experiences available, Azamara fits nicely into a high-value niche with additional perks in the pipeline.
First off, Azamara currently touts up to 50% savings off its brochure sailing prices plus 25-50% discounts off its shore excursions through May of 2013. Inclusive onboard offerings comprise gratuities; bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas; butler service in the suites; self-service laundry; and shuttle service to and from the ports, as available. Come the European sailing season of 2013, certain spirits, beers and wines will be included throughout the voyage as will one AzAmazing Evening – a nighttime shore excursion to highlight Azamara’s unique overnight stays.
What’s more, all Celebrity Cruises Captain’s Club members and Royal Caribbean International Crown & Anchor members at Platinum or higher levels receive reciprocal benefits onboard with Azamara’s Le Club Voyage program.
And Azamara Quest – with her vintage ocean liner-inspired interiors – was just refurbished last November, so we anticipate stepping aboard a pristine ship with fresh paint and carpets and rejuvenated spaces as seen in the latest photos from her shipyard visit.
The icing on the cake is the chance to take in all of Azamara Quest during a sublime 18-day South American cruise itinerary as outlined below. Our voyage will begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – home to the world-famous art deco Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue and annual Carnival – for Azamara’s signature overnight stay. This itinerary is sure to be a very relaxing one as no two ports are visited in consecutive days. There is always at least one sea day separating each destination.
Next in Brazil is Salvador de Bahia, access port to the colonial town of Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 16th century town of Olinda, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, can later be accessed from Recife, Brazil. Of particular interest, at least to me personally, is the port of Belem, Brazil where we will have the opportunity to take a brief river cruise on the Amazon and see glimpses of the famous rainforest.
Upon leaving the mainland of South America, we will set sail for three Caribbean islands before making our way stateside in Miami, Florida. Our first anchorage will be off Ile Royale before tendering ashore for a self-guided exploration with vistas of the Devil’s Island, French Guiana penal colony. We get another late night stay at Bridgetown, Barbados where we expect to first tour the natural wonders of Harrison Cave before traversing the rest of the island. Finally, Virgin Gorda and its boulder-formed baths, caves and grottos await, followed by two glorious days at sea before we must disembark.
Please join us as we set sail on our latest Live Voyage Review beginning on February 12th and feel free to ask any questions you may have about Azamara Club Cruises, Azamara Quest, or this exceptional itinerary in the comments section below. We’ll be happy to answer them!
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