Destination Immersion Blog

The home of insider destination info, travel tips and things Azamara

Captain Jason Ikiadis, Master of the Azamara Journey

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Captain Jason, as he’s known to the crew and guests, is guiding the Azamara Journey  into the port of Southampton, England, our disembarkation port after an adventurous 12-night voyage across the North Sea and around the British Isles.

I can tell he’s excited about arriving in his hometown of Southampton. Captain Jason, age 48, was raised in this seafaring town, and lives there still with his American wife, Kristie, and their two children, Aiden, 5-years old, and Bridget, 1 ½. He happily shares with me a list of restaurants we may enjoy for lunch in his hometown of Southampton.

Capt Jason smiling

Captain Jason has the demeanor of the stereotypical ‘all-business’ British maritime officer; tall and thin with perfect posture and a somewhat shy manner. But once you’ve engaged him in a conversation you realize he has the underlying sense of humor we ‘Yanks’ often associate with the tongue-in-cheek British comedians we grew up with such as the Monty Python team. His eyes sparkle when he finds the humor in the mundane; and he has the quick wit to match. You sense he has the perfect one-liner but is too proper to dishonor his station.

Trained and certified in the British tradition, Captain Jason received his 2nd Officer License from the Warsash Maritime Academy, and his 1st Officer License and Captains License from Newcastle Maritime Centre. Now with 30 years at sea, and 16 of those years at the helm of various ships, since 2007 he has comfortably found his home as master of the Azamara Journey . And he’s equally comfortable mingling with the guests, giving the presentation “Journey Behind the Scenes with Captain Jason Ikiadis” in the Cabaret Lounge, and sharing the daily progress of the cruise on the navigational update at noon.

Q&A onboard

Early in his career he made his living onboard cargo ships. He recalls the exact moment he decided he wanted to change from cargo ships to cruise ships. He was helping clean a cargo hold of coal when appearing like an epiphany he spotted a gleaming white cruise ship approaching. He looked down at his uniform black with coal and then up again at the white vision. His fate was sealed in that moment. 

In the interview I bring up the topic of the happiness of the staff and crew onboard the Azamara Club Cruises ships. This is compliment #1 on the social media sites I participate in and I am wondering to what he attributes this happiness and the crew’s desire to serve. His belief is that the company culture fosters this. The staff and crew are free to express themselves. They feel a connection to the management both aboard and ashore and are on first-name basis with everyone, including himself. He believes this culture allows them to maintain their individuality and not feel a mere cog in the corporate wheel. Their voices are heard and their opinions are valued. 

On a personal side, Captain Jason admits that the first dream of his youth was to play rugby for a living. He told me rugby is “a proper man’s game…15 men start, 15 men end.” It was only as a young adult did he realize that dream would be difficult to achieve, what with the sport only turning professional in the 1990s. He is now very happy with his decision to become a ship captain like his father. He admits that the sea is in his blood. His maternal grandfather was a submariner in the Royal Navy.

Captain Jason enjoys the rotations of 10-12 weeks onboard the Azamara Journey  followed by the equivalent time ashore with his family. Once each contract his family joins him onboard the Azamara Journey , and to satisfy his lifetime passion for rugby, he coaches a team of 8-year olds when home in Southampton. A busy man, a happy man; Azamara Club Cruises is lucky to have him at the helm of the Azamara Journey.

Journey in DartmouthAzamara Journey in Dartmouth, England

Dartmouth, England (34)Teaching son Aiden the family trade!

Family in Big ChairA family photo in Dublin, Ireland

 

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travel Lovers

holiday gift guide

Here at Azamara Club Cruises, we love to travel. And we know other people who love to travel. So every December, we find ourselves wondering “What’s the perfect holiday gift for a travel lover?”

Luckily, we have the email addresses of several travel experts. So we posed the question: what travel-related gifts do you plan to give, or hope to receive this year? The result is a list that features something for everyone, from luxury lovers to tech junkies. Thanks to these great gift ideas, your holiday shopping just got a little easier! 

Lee Abbamonte, Writer

“My number one gift would be a comprehensive annual travel insurance policy. That is some real value that people often forget about, or don’t like to think about – but you’re always happy when you have it, and have peace of mind.” 

Great suggestion, Lee! That’s a great gift for anyone who has travel plans in 2015

Bonnie MacLaird, Blogger

“A nice two time zone watch – or how about access to all the First Class airline lounges!” 

Zurich Weltzeit WatchSource.

We love the Zürich Weltzeit watch from NOMOS, perfect for the busy world traveler.

Jenna Pimentel, Photographer

“I’m snap happy with my camera and my iPhone. So for me, I can’t live or travel without portable chargers that provide extra juice for my iPhone and iPad. It’s awesome for when you’re out and about, or on a long-haul flight. Nothing is worse than when you want to take that last video or picture and your phone dies. Nooooo!”

Jenna recommended this stylish charger from Photojojo, which holds two full 100% charges AND has two USB ports, so you can charge two devices at the same time. 

Portable ChargerSource

Carrie Finley-Bajak, Writer

The top of my list is a universal global wi-fi account that works everywhere, with unlimited data. The next best thing would be a membership to a wine of the month club that is catered around a destination or region that I want to discover. Love at first sip.”

Bordeaux_ChateauD'Agassac_65

Great idea, Carrie! It sounds like Cellars Wine Club’s “International” package is for you. It’s the perfect gift idea for people who love travel and wine. Here’s another idea – one of these top ten cruises for wine lovers

More Gift Ideas From the Azamara Team

Check out even more great gift ideas for travel lovers on our Pinterest page! Below are some of our favorites:

The Olloclip 4-in-1 camera lens is perfect for Instagram-loving wanderlusts. 

Olloclip iPhone camera lens

This Moleskine Voyageur Traveller’s Notebook will make a thoughtful gift for anyone with an Azamara cruise coming up. What a great way to keep a diary of your adventures!

Moleskine Voyageur Traveller's Notebook

 

The ideal gift for someone who’s just come back from an Azamara cruise? These mini photobooks! What a fun to show off your Instagram photos in real life.

Instagram mini photobook

For the seasoned traveler on your holiday shopping list: a cork globe to keep track of the places you’ve been.

Cork Globe

 

Don’t forget to put an Azamara cruise on your own wish list! And from everyone at Azamara Club Cruises, Happy Holidays!

The Next Place You Should Travel Is Myanmar

adv-abroad-lee-abbamonteFor decades, and really for centuries, Myanmar was a place that was almost taboo. Nobody really went there and if you met someone who went there, it was really exciting. Nowadays, Myanmar is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world with luxury cruise lines and hotels moving in at lightning pace – and with good reason, because Myanmar is a fascinating place. 

Myanmar

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Port Collectors: Real or Legend?

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As a travel writer I believe, or want to believe, that there are avid cruisers out there who “collect ports”. I like to imagine these travelers having a map on their den wall where they put a pin in each port they visit, ticking them off after every cruise. But is this reality or simply an industry folk legend? Where did I get this idea of the map with the pins?

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Highlights of Vietnam

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It’s shocking to me that more people don’t know about Vietnam. To this day, I hear that people are scared to go there based on the Vietnam War from 40-50 years ago. Popular culture and movies haven’t done much to endear Vietnam to the hearts of Americans but I am here to tell you it’s well worth a visit and will be a destination you won’t soon forget!

Hue (Danang), VietnamDa Nang, Vietnam

First, Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful and fascinating country with significant coastline, beaches and two of the cooler cities in Asia. From Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly and still often referred to as Saigon, in the south-Vietnam has their bases covered. Filling in the middle of the long, skinny country is an abundance of fun destinations including Nha Trang and Da Nang.

However, perhaps the most scenic and certainly a must-see in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay. This is located a few hours from Hanoi and is one of the jewels of Southeast Asia and is possibly the most photogenic place in the region, with apologies to Angkor Wat in Cambodia!

Floating village and rock islandsHa Long Bay, Vietnam

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