This is my 6th cruise with Azamara and I keep coming back so I must enjoy it! The staff of course is the reason, but a lot should be said for the Azamara clientele. I met so many nice people and enjoyed great company. I have cruised the ... Read More
This is my 6th cruise with Azamara and I keep coming back so I must enjoy it! The staff of course is the reason, but a lot should be said for the Azamara clientele. I met so many nice people and enjoyed great company. I have cruised the big lines but I will never go back, and the main reason I stick with Azamara is the solo-traveler price. That said, the prices have steadily increased over the last several years, so I don’t know the future for me.
The recent refreshment is lighter, although I worry about how they will keep that carpet looking good. The cabin curtains and linens are much improved. I LOVE the Living Room refresh, and the availability of tea/coffee is a much-needed reprieve from the often-overcrowded Mosaic Café.
I ate in the MDR and the Buffet four nights each. The Patio was a very nice dinner option and I ate there two nights and also one night at Aqualina. I felt the new MDR menu is reduced in selections, but EVERYTHING I had was delicious. So perhaps quality is emphasized with less variety. The buffet was a bit stale. I tend to eat there because it is quick and I enjoy the view (Santorini at sunset for example), but there seemed a real lack of variety. The salads for instance were similar almost every day (tomatoes, cabbage based, mushrooms, and a pasta salad) and that became boring.
Itinerary: The cruise was originally Istanbul to Rome, and later changed for an Athens departure, with Napfoli and Mykonos added. I have been to several of the ports (Mykonos, Santorini, Valetta, Sorrento and Florence. The new ports for me were Napfoli Greece, Trapani Sicily, Amalfi Italy, and Porto Vecchio Corsica. Due to the disembarkation port change I was given a $100 credit, that I planned to use on excursions, but both the ones I signed up for were canceled for lack of participants.
Athens: I arrived the same day so did not go into Athens. As an aside, the Athens port workers were on strike, and the Azamara staff unloaded and loaded all luggage and supplies at the port. This was the quickest I ever got my luggage, truly exemplary in the face of adversity. This is what I love about Azamara.
Nafoli: I had arranged a private tour with guide Patti Staikou who met us at the Mycenaean ruins. I really enjoyed her insights and learned a lot about the site and culture. The taxi dropped me off in town and I had a nice lunch (the best of the trip). I walked round the old town. Looking back this was the nicest and least touristy port. Thoroughly enjoyable town filled with flowers.
Mykonos: I took it easy and went into port at 5 PM, after most people have left, walked around the town, had a wine and returned to the ship at 8 PM for dinner.
Santorini: I did not get off the ship.
Valletta, Malta: I had been to Malta twice so I used the HOHO bus to get to Mdina to look around. Lovely town then boarded the bus back to Valletta and walked around the town. The Azamazing evening was back to Mdina for a concert by the local choir.
Trapani, Sicily: I played it easy and booked a 4 hour combo transport package right at the port. The RT bus/funicular to the old town Erice was €20. It was a lovely day walking around the old hill town. The views were incredible, and the ticket included a “free local pastry”. It was a fun exploration. Back at the port I walked around the city of Trapani and had a nice and very late lunch.
Amalfi: I have previously visited most of the tourist sights on the Amalfi coast (Paestum, Sorrento, Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Ravello), but had never been to Amalfi proper. First, I arranged a tour to Ravello and Positano through Aldo tours, since I thought I would never make that drive again. The tour was great, and I appreciated the driver’s skill and patience. However, the best part of the day was just walking around Amalfi. It is a lovely town and less touristy than Positano. I spent time walking around, shopping, and watching a bride ascend the steps to the Duomo. Back on the ship as Amalfi was also “white night” and I had a very nice time.
Sorrento: I first visited Sorrento about 30 years ago, and it has changed so much it makes me sad. I visited my favorite music box store “Gargiulo Inlaid” at 33 Via Fuoro and purchased two boxes including one puzzle box with a hidden key. I returned to the port via bus that had a circuitous route, so I got to see a bit more before going back to the ship.
Ponte Vecchio, Corsica: We arrived just for an afternoon; since my planned excursion to Bonifacio cliffs was cancelled I took the shuttle bus into town and walked around. It was a nice pretty town. Others that took tours into the interior of Corsica raved about how beautiful the island was.
Livorno/Florence overnight: On the first day, I took a taxi to the train station, and the train to Lucca. I really enjoyed the lovely walled town of Lucca. You can walk along the walls. I also visited the Cathedral, the Cathedral museum, and Santi Giovanni e Reparata (as a package ticket and mainly as relief from an unexpected rainy period). There is some interesting art in the cathedral, but the Church of St John was very interesting for the archeological excavations 6 feet under the floor of the modern church. There is a walkway exposing the five previous occupation levels going back to Roman times. It was quite interesting and well worth a visit. After the rain cleared, I explored more of the town, had a lunch, and took the train back to Livorno (45 minutes) and a taxi back to the port. A party of four (or more) could have easily arranged for a taxi to Luca (at the port) for only slightly more than the train/taxi price for the four combined. Something to consider.
On the second day in Livorno my excursion to Florence was canceled (I was going to use it as a one way transit) so I packed up and headed into Florence by taxi. I spent three nights at the Hotel Degli Orafi. A lovely hotel on the Arno between the Ponto Vecchio and the Ufficci. I had booked a single room, and was upgraded to a single apartment. I highly recommend this hotel. Read Less