First impressions aboard a smaller ship to the Caribbean
This particular sailing marks the beginning of a new concept for Azamara Cruises. Which, by the way is now Azamara Club Cruises and making a new name for itself in the cruise world. Today is the first full day of the new semi-all-inclusive concept. Among the new features included are complimentary wine by the glass in all dining venues and room service during lunch and dinner, complimentary self-service laundry and all the coffee (cappuccino and lattes, too), soda and bottled water 24/7 you can consume.
The staterooms are elegantly appointed with silky-soft cotton linens, fluffy terry robes to use during your stay, Elemis bath amenities and finally, a cruise line is using oversized European-style bath sheets to snuggle into after your shower. Azamara is definitely doing something right.
Many a non-imbibing cruiser has said, regarding totally all-inclusive cruise lines, “I don’t want to pay more just to support someone else’s alchohol habit.” Not so on Azamara. It’s only wine that’s available at meal times free of charge. If you want a cocktail, you’ll pay for it. If you want a special wine, by the bottle or glass, it’s available in the dining rooms at a fifty-percent discount. It gets even better. The two specialty restaurants, Prime C (steakhouse) and Aqualina (Mediterranean influence) are only $15 per person (except for the suite guests – it’s included in their package). There’s no restaurant anywhere on land with the ambiance, service and food quality that offers a $15 five course dinner.
So, I’m enjoying my now two full days at sea. Every day I pass by the pool deck several times to check out the all important lounge chairs availability. Both upright and lounge chairs are adorned with at least four-inch cusions and backrests. Even at high noon there were always some vacancies in the shade and around the pool. Feel like snoozing? You don’t have to search to find a lounge chair away from a blaring speaker. It’s quiet out there.
Once this cruise has ended I know I’ll look back on my new experience with a smile. Getting used to a smaller ship means appreciating the smallness of scale – even the main theater is only a raised platform stage which is used by the eight-piece orchestra to accompany the main production shows. The cast performs on floor-level. Even though there is no fixed dining time in the main dining room, the staff always greets you as if you are a familiar fixture on their ship. The front desk staff knows you by name and your room attendant is there to help as though you were his only cabin to service.
I’m editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com and a solo traveler who cruises the world on waves and wheels. As an avid cook, I collect recipes along the way from ships and places. I hope my articles, reviews, news and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to try solo travel and see the world without flying. Take a breath… stop for a meal and a glass of wine along the way.