Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Azamara Club Cruises - Seminar at Sea - 2-6 June 2010
I was one of the fortunate and privileged travel agents to be given the opportunity to attend this, the first seminar at sea, by Azamara Club Cruises. When I received the call from ACE inviting me I got very excited as I missed this wonderful ship (Azamara Journey) when it was in Belfast a few years ago. I have tried to keep it as brief as possible and welcome any questions you may have in relation to this fantastic cruise line.
A brief outline of my itinerary:
02nd June - overnight onboard the Azamara Journey in London (Greenwich)
03rd June – set sail @ 5.30 am from London (and I did attend the sailaway!)
04th June – Ijmuiden (Amsterdam)
05th June – Kiel Canal (Germany)
06th June – Copenhagen – Disembark and complimentary B.A. flight to London.
Once I received my cruise confirmation number I completed my online check-in and printed my Xpress Pass in order to speed things up at check-in (I will be happy to complete this for you).
Day 1 (London).
I confirmed my return flight with BMI from Belfast City and arrived at 1.30 pm on the 02nd June.
I was not looking forward to the Camel Hike from Heathrow to Greenwich and managed to do this via 3 tubes and Dockland Light Rail in 1 hour 20 minutes (I was very impressed and on a very hot day)
On arrival at Greenwich Pier I met 4 other travel agents and we took the short tender service to the ship. Once onboard we made our way to the Guest Relations desk on deck 4 for check-in and the lovely Nikki (Purser) greeted us with champagne cocktails served by the equally lovely Elena. A very quick and efficient check-in followed and we were handed our Cruise Card in a small leather wallet with our stateroom numbers on a separate welcome aboard card (So that your stateroom number is not visible on your cruise card)
We were directed to our staterooms and I was allocated a Club Oceanview Stateroom (Category 04, number 4017). It was very spacious, comfortable and had a queen size bed, flat screen television, in-room safe, hairdryer (not that I need one) and Elemis products in the bathroom (I need those). Other amenities include cotton bathrobe and slippers, fresh fruit basket, fresh flowers, the list goes on (please ask me for the full list).
On my bed was my copy of Pursuits (Daily Programme) informing me of a list of events taking place, dining options (both Culinary & Signature) and the bar hours with deck locations for all. A few of us made our way to the Pool Grill for a quick snack as we had to meet our hosts at 7pm for cocktails and the rest of the group. My Stateroom Steward was called Bartoleme, a lovely gentleman whom I only met twice in the 5 days purely because I was rarely in the room and we kept missing each other.
At this point I am going to give you a very brief overview of Azamara Club Cruises.
Lots and lots of information can be found on their website: www.azamaraclubcruises.com
They have two ships: The Azamara Quest & The Azamara Journey, they are sister ships and carry the same amount of passengers: 694. Their ships are categorised as Boutique, sophisticated and relaxed.
They visit 140 ports in 50 countries with their two ships and because of the smaller size of these ships they can visit unique worldwide destination ports. Their motto is “you’ll love where we take you” and you really will. The officers and crew are International and speak many languages. I found them all to be very pleasant and helpful yet unobtrusive. Electrical outlets in all staterooms and suites are 110 Voltage.
Currency onboard is $US, all your entertainment is Free and the dress code is smart/casual attire.
They have three different Club Suites and four different Club Staterooms. The Suites offer much more amenities such Priority Check-in, Priority Luggage, Dry Cleaning to mention a few. (Also see below)
Gratuities are included in all Suite & Stateroom categories and additional gratuities are at your own discretion.
Since April 2010 the new Azamara Club Cruises now offer more inclusive amenities:
• Preferred vintage red & white wine with lunch & dinner
• Bottled water, sodas, speciality coffees & teas on the house
• Housekeeping, dining & bar gratuities all included
• All meals and room service with speciality dining complimentary for suite guests
• Destination-influenced entertainment & enrichment programmes
• Shuttle service to/from port communities, complimentary where available
• Complimentary self-service laundry
• Butler service for Suite guests
Day 1 (London….Continued)
At 7pm we all met for cocktail’s and were greeted by the UK & Ireland Sales team of Michael English, Cindy Tamblyn and later by Ruth Gardiner (who was hosting an agent’s show around) and the rest of our group.
After a brief hello and introduction we split into two groups and one half dined in the Aqualina and the other in the Prime C – Signature Restaurants. (We then swapped around for the following evening)
The food was to die for in both of these Restaurants, the service was excellent and the “House” wine was the best house wine I have ever drank (not that I drink that much as you know!!!) We all gathered afterwards for drinks and then retired as it had been a long day travelling.
Day 2 (Sea Day).
After a very comfort night’s sleep, most of us met (as requested) at 5.00 am the following morning (have photos to prove it) and we set sail at 5.15 am. The skyline was wonderful and almost everyone was in good spirits. It was back to bed for a couple of hours and then we had our travel agent’s seminar which went on until 5.15 pm after our wine tasting session with Boris, Elena & Laurentia.
I had a fabulous steak for dinner at Prime C this evening and we all met up again later for cocktails.
The clocks went forward one hour at 2am the following morning.
Day 3 (Amsterdam).
We arrived into Amsterdam’s Ijmuiden Cruise Port and I did not get off as I had been to Amsterdam before so spent the day with a few of the agent’s by the pool. Azamara Club Cruises offer extensive Shore Excursions in all of the ports they visit at competitive prices and can be pre-booked prior to sailing or onboard (the issue with booking onboard can lead to excursions being full and you - very disappointed).
I had lunch at the Pool Grill and the crew were very generous with the complimentary wines at both lunch and evening meals.
This evening we had a choice of either dining in the Cova Café di Milano or Discoveries Dining Room. I chose the latter as this is the main dining room and the menu choices are extensive over all courses.
Day 4 (Kiel Canal).
After another great night’s sleep we entered the Kiel Canal at 10:00 am. This canal is the first connection between the North & Baltic Seas and the transit of the canal take approximately eight hours. While this may appear a sea day to some, Azamara Club Cruises offer a City Tour of Hamburg – additional cost.
We all decided to meet at the Martini Bar on deck 5 and the lovely Michael (Barman) looked after us so well while Jacqueline Dolan (The Harpist from Ireland) entertained us with some ABBA tunes. She was excellent.
Dinner this evening was in the Discoveries Dining Room for everyone. It was our last night and the great group of people I had met were all up for a long night. And a long night it was……
Day 5 (Copenhagen).
We were leaving today and all very sad. We docked at Pier 245 in Copenhagen and an air conditioned coach was waiting for us to take us to the Airport for our B.A. flight to Heathrow.
We all went our separate ways from there and I caught the BMI flight back to Belfast City.
Just one or two things to point out to you:
• Azamara Club Cruises will not serve alcoholic drinks to anyone under 21 years of age.
• While both ships appear to cater for adults only, they do allow children, however you must be aware that there are no children facilities onboard, but they are most welcome.
• They have an excellent Fitness Centre and Spa facility.
• 13 laps around the jogging track on deck 10 = One nautical mile.
I have to say I loved my short cruise on Azamara Club Cruises and think that you will enjoy it too.
I have crammed as much as I could into these three pages and if there is anything else you would like to know then please contact me and I will be happy to talk to you in more detail and provide any future quotes for you. I would sincerely like to thank Cindy, Ruth, and Michael from Azamara for their generous trip, friendly and professional training and also the lovely group of people I met for their company too.