Note: This is a special feature post from Chris Owen of ChrisCruises.com.
Sailing on the Azamara Journey, our first stop was the Greek port of Gythion, a seaside town known for beaches, shoreside cafes and fishing boats. It’s where Greeks go for vacation and is not on the itineraries of very many cruise ships.
An Azamara Cruise Global, Connect LocalSM shore excursions tour brought an in-depth exploration of the place with plenty of free time to enjoy what we experienced along the way. As anticipated, the destination focus of Azamara Club Cruises is alive, well and good reason to sail with the boutique cruise line. A number of respected sources have provided verification of that in the posts here before mine and more will follow. My focus is a bit different, concentrating on how that destination focus is attained at such a high level. We begin with the shared experience.
On our "Wonders of Mystras" Cruise Global, Connect LocalSM shore excursions tour, we explored medieval ruins, the remains of what were once palaces and a number of churches. It was a walking tour over steep and uneven terrain that started high in the mountains and ended beachside. Along the way, our local guide shared a love for the region as only a lifelong resident could. Moving right along from beginning to end, the five-hour experience could easily have been stretched into a longer tour. Still, what made the day memorable was more than the places we saw and what we learned. It was doing so with like-minded people who shared each other’s passion for travel.
That a shared experience can bring a wonderful travel memory is nothing new really; those who have sailed before might remember others they have met on cruises of the past. The difference here is that the travelers seem hand-picked to gel quickly as a group with a keen sense of adventure and serious desire to do more than visit a place. It’s the direct connection with destinations, enabled by Azamara, that is the gold here and it did not take but one tour to see it clearly.
Still, along with the end result of what Azamara does bringing like-minded travelers together, those same people have a higher level of independence. They want free time to explore on their own and Azamara makes sure that happens. Several times throughout our tour, time was given to go off on our own. At the conclusion, we had the option to go back to Azamara Journey or stay ashore with hours left in the day to enjoy the port. That’s exactly what many of us did, too, lingering at a shoreside café to enjoy a few Greek beers, olives (as only the Greeks know how to grow) and Baklava. Take away the shared experience element and it would still have been a good day. That it was shared with keenly focused, like-minded travelers put it over the top.
The Azamara Journey will call on Gythion, Greece again in August. Click here to view the itinerary.
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