By Azamara Club Cruises on Thursday, April 16, 2015
Want to get a taste of your upcoming vacation before you even leave the house? Now you can with Azamara 3DI, the latest groundbreaking (and seafaring) innovation from Azamara!
Here at Azamara, we tend to see the world differently, especially when it comes to cruising. We already spend longer in port than any other cruise line. We offer such inclusive amenities as international wines & beers and select spirits (big cheers to that!), plus, our complimentary AzAmazing Evenings are truly unprecedented and trendsetting—although so far, no one else has pulled it off like we do…if we do say so ourselves!
Well, once again, Azamara is ahead of the cruise line curve, as we’ve pioneered a new way to learn about cruising with Azamara 3DI, a 360-degree virtual reality tour that takes you from your stateroom to some of the most fascinating ports in the world.
Officially launched at Travel Massive in New York City on April 16th, Azamara 3DI not only lets you explore onboard and take part in Land Discoveries®, but you’ll also see and hear—literally!—the sights and sounds of what makes us such a unique destination-focused cruise line.
How did we do it? Through 360-degree filming during the 12 Night National Parks of Panama Voyage, we created a fully immersive virtual reality experience, which is viewable through a virtual reality headset, or on your computer or mobile device. Simply go to Azamara3DI.com, where you’ll find several immersive experiences including zip lining, a horse and carriage ride through Cartagena, and so much more.
It’s that easy. And it’s that uniquely Azamara.
So once you’ve experienced Destination Immersion® in virtual reality, make sure you start planning your next voyage, so you can see everything in “real” reality!
On April 27, we’ll make our return to the Mediterranean with a voyage calling on Mykonos and Santorini. One of the things we’re most looking forward to? The food! After all, one of the best ways to experience a culture is to experience the food. The fresh, farm-to-table flavors of the Mediterranean are hard to top.
Can’t you imagine yourself having a leisurely lunch in Santorini, soaking up the sun? The wonderful thing about this July cruise is that the Azamara Journey will arrive in port at 7:30am, before the crowds of tourists, and won’t depart until 10:00pm. That leaves you plenty of time to eat, sightsee, and take in a famous Santorini sunset!
One of our favorite places to visit in Greece is Sparta. This former military powerhouse is now a hot destination for foodies. Sparta is nestled among mountains and the Valley of the Eurotas River. The fragrant lemon and olive groves in the valley provide the town with a heavenly scent. You can learn more about Greek culture and cuisine when you explore the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil. Visit in August 2015 during this voyage.
Though nothing beats the real thing, it’s easy to have a delicous dinner of Greek cuisine at home. To start, serve fresh pita bread with tzatziki dip. Grill some souvlaki skewers and halloumi cheese, and serve alongside rice pilaf and salad. And don’t forget the life of the party – Ouzo!
Robert van Rijsbergen is the Corporate Executive Chef for Azamara Club Cruises. He says, “A Greek Salad is quite simple and very popular. The perfect summer salad if you ask me.”
Though Americanized versions of Greek Salad often include lettuce or other greens, a true Greek Salad does not.
Make your Greek Salad stand out from the crowd by using Robert’s unique recipe! In this salad, Robert uses olive tapenade instead of regular olives, uses creamy feta instead of cubes of cheese, and chops vegetables on an angle rather than dicing. The result? A delicious Greek Salad with a twist that’s sure to wow your friends and family!
Greek Salad With A Twist (Makes Six Servings)
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick in an angle
1 red bell pepper, large-diced
1 green bell pepper, large-diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large-diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, julienned
5 scallions, sliced on an angle
1/2 pound feta cheese, blended until creamy (you can add a little sour cream)
1/2 cup olive tapenade
Small bunch flat parsley
Rosemary or thyme croutons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the chopped cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour most of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the creamy feta, scallions and olives tapenade on top immediately before serving. Garnish with croutons and flat parsley. Drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette around each serving of salad, and serve at room temperature.
By Azamara Club Cruises on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Istanbul, Turkey is where West meets East, and tourists can visit Europe and Asia in the same day. The city is an exotic, fascinating mix of old and new. World travel expert Lee Abbamonte wrote “Istanbul can be maddening at times, but Istanbul is a treat for the senses and will take your breath away. It is one of my favorite cities in the world.”
We currently have 28 voyages that begin or end in Istanbul. Once you book, you might want to extend your vacation by a few days to explore this incredible city. Or, make the most of your time in Istanbul by choosing a Land Discoveries tour that will help you hit all the highlights. Our voyages feature late-night departures and overnight stays, so there’s no need to rush. Though Istanbul itself is a bustling metropolis, your time there shouldn’t feel hectic. After all, you’re on vacation!
Istanbul has lots to offer, but we’ve narrowed down the list to five things you must experience while you’re there.
Istanbul is home to many incredible museums that highlight the city’s rich history. Topkapi Palace (pictured here) was home to Ottoman Sultans (and their harems) for over 300 years, but is now a museum. Visit to see the grandeur of the palace, the famous Topkapi Diamond, and other historical treasures.
The famous Hagia Sophia was once a church, then a mosque, and is now a museum. This makes it one of the most interesting places in Istanbul, both historically and architecturally. You’ll see both Ottoman and Byzantine influences under one great dome, as well as spectactular Byzantine mosaics that weren’t uncovered and refurbished until 1930.
For those with a deeper interest in history, the Istanbul Archaelogy Museums are a highlight and can be found near Topkapi Palace.
Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is the city’s most famous mosque, and absolutely worth visiting. From the outside, you may wonder how the mosque got its name. Inside, the Blue Mosque is covered with 20,000 spectacular, shimmering blue-green tiles. 260 stained glass windows and intricate floral patterns painted on the ceiling give the mosque a bright, airy atmosphere very different from the experience of the Hagia Sophia.
Of course, the Blue Mosque is not the only beautiful mosque in Istanbul. The Süleymaniye Mosque is the second-largest in the city, and features a grand courtyard. At Rüstem Pasha, you’ll find the best examples of Iznik tiles (the distinctive Ottoman decoration) in all of Istanbul.
Turkish cuisine is diverse, flavorful and world-renowned. Indulging in street food is a must, as well as enjoying a leisurely late-night dinner. (There’s another reason to be thankful that Azamara ships stay late in port – great cuisine should never be rushed!)
Döner: Turkey’s most popular street food, a sandwich filled with meat (usually lamb) that has been thinkly sliced from a rotating spit.
Börek: Phyllo pastries with a variety of fillings, like ground meat, cheese and spinach.
Meze: Instead of a main course, order these shareable plates of cold starters. Eggplant, artichokes, yogurt, chilis and tomatos are common ingredients.
Midye: Mussels (and seafood in general) are popular in Istanbul. You’ll see roving vendors carrying baskets piled with shells, which have been stuffed with mussels, rice, herbs and spices. At snack bars, look for mussels that have been battered and fried.
Kumpir: Huge baked potatos, taken hot out of the oven and split, then filled with a variety of toppings – cheese, pickles, olives and more. It’s not uncommon to ask for six or seven ingredients. The kumpir-maker mixes everything up and stuffs it back into the potato skin.
Simit: Sesame-coated bread rings. Simit is the ultimate street food – cheap, delicous, easy to eat and seemingly available on every corner.
Baklava: A popular Turkish dessert made with phyllo pastry, nuts and syrup.
Turkish Tea and Coffee: Turkish black tea is the national drink, and consumed plentifully. Turks often add cubed sugar, but never lemon or milk. Turkish coffee is made with sugar and very finely ground coffee. It’s typically double- or triple-boiled, with some of the grinds remaining in the bottom of the cup. The result is a strong, flavorful cup of coffee that is traditionally served with a glass of water.
Rugs, linens, fabrics, jewelry, art, antiques, spices, ceramics… the list of things to buy in Istanbul is endless! Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. It spans 61 streets, is home to over 3,000 shops and attracts anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 daily visitors. Bring your bargaining skills, and take your time as you wander this incredible complex.
Photo Credit: Azamara guest Diane
Sometimes night is the best part of your day. In Istanbul, that couldn’t be truer. The city is vibrant and fun-loving, and comes alive after dark. Settle in at a meyhame for platters of hot and cold meze, or find a great rooftop patio where you can sip a cocktail and take in the views.
This June voyage embarks from Dubrovnik, Croatia and visits several popular Greek ports before concluding with an overnight stay in Istanbul.
By Azamara Club Cruises on Thursday, March 19, 2015
Beaches are great, but there’s more to summer than sunbathing. Imagine strolling down the cobblestoned streets of a village that appears to be straight from the pages of a fairytale, or cruising through mystical Fjords highlighted by picturesque waterfalls. The natural beauty of Northern Europe is best experienced in the summer, and it will take your breath away.
Belfast is no longer a destination that travelers should avoid. The city has undergone quite the transformation and visitor numbers are on the rise. Find Donegall Square in the heart of the city to see the Edwardian City Hall, and the Titanic Memorial. Afterwards, grab a pint at the Crown Liquor Saloon, a Victorian pub dating back to the 1880s.
Copenhagen is known for its skyline of spires, its colorful waterfront and its beautiful parks. Explore Tivoli Gardens, or cruise the canals with our Land Discoveries tour.
Douglas, Isle of Man
Douglas on the Isle of Man is small, but definitely worth visiting. Charming cafes and restaurants line the sea front, gardens brighten up quaint streets, and the island’s village of Cregneash is home to the fascinating Manx community.
A cruise through the Norwegian Fjords might remind some of Disney’s hit film Frozen. It’s a place so magical, you’ll think you must have entered a fairytale. A small luxury cruise ship is the ultimate way to explore the fjords and see the spectacular Seven Sisters Waterfalls.
When our ships dock in Edinburgh (Leith), Scotland, we often spend several nights. You’ll be thrilled to have so much time to explore this incredible city. Begin your day at Edinburgh Castle, perched high above the city.
The quiet seaside town of Cobh in County Cork is your gateway to this stunning part of Ireland. Explore Cobh’s hitosry of seafaring and relationship with the Titanic, see the fortress and monestrey on Spike Island, or take the train to the charming village of Cork.
Traditional architecture meets modern design in Helsinki. Visit Kauppatori Market Square to find fresh, local food and unique handicrafts. Join our Land Discoveries tour, and you’ll visit one of the largest ice bars in the world. How cool is that?
Fans of the British TV series Broadchurch have all fallen in love with the show’s locale, England’s stunning Jurassic Coast. Dover’s steep white cliffs and sparkling ocean made for a stunning panorama, so pack your camera.
Honningsvag, Norway, is the last village before North Cape and home to only 4,000 people. From Honningsvag, you can the majestic cliff of North Cape where the Atlantic meets the Arctic.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Enjoy several days exploring art and history in St. Petersburg, Russia. The stunning Catherine Palace (pictured here), the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress and the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood are only a few of the city’s must-see spots. Land Discoveries tours can help you make the most of your time in port.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Portree, Scotland is your gateway to the magical Isle of Skye. Soak in the ambiance of rolling green hills, thick misty air and rugged coastline. The spectacular Quirang hike will leave you breathless. This is what Scotland is all about.
Guernsey, Channel Islands
If you’re in a book club, there’s a good chance you’ve read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The work of fiction brings Guernsey during wartime to life for readers. The small island of Guernsey was occupied by Germans during WWII, a fact that makes it such an interesting place to visit today.
Love sports? Music? History? There’s something for everyone in Liverpool. The city is home to excellent rugby, football (or, soccer, to Americans) and golf, and is the birthplace of The Beatles.
Tromso, Norway is situated far North of the Arctic Circle, and boasts a dramatic landscape of snowcapped mountains, stunning fjords and scattered islands. The town’s Arctic Cathedral is an architecural masterpiece, with eleven arching triangles representative of icebergs.
The fairytale-like town of Tallinn, Estonia will charm you immediately. There’s no need to rush here. Find a seat at an outdoor cafe along the Palace Square and enjoy your surroundings.
Ahh, Athens. The cradle of European civilization and the birthplace of democracy. That’s quite a reputation! Athens offers incredible sightseeing opportunities for tourists, thanks to the immense history of the city. But there’s another side to Athens, too. Resident Athenians and visiting night owls have been showcashing the incredible beauty of the city after dark using the hashtag #AthensByNight on Instagram. We searched through thousands of photos and selected ten of our favorites to share.
Athens glows at night. It’s the perfect city to take a few days to explore, before or after your cruise. Azamara Club Cruises has sixteen upcoming voyages that embark or disembark in nearby Piraeus.
The Acropolis is a wondrous place to visit during the day, but it’s even more beautiful when it’s lit up at night. In the evening, find a rooftop bar that faces the historic site and enjoy a glass of Ouzo and your breathtaking surroundings. Though hotel bars aren’t often frequented by locals, “A” for Athens in Monastiraki is an exception. The Terrace Bar at Central Hotel is another favorite. Wherever you go, arrive early to ensure you get a good view.
Culture lovers will enjoy Athens in the summer, when you can easily find outdoor concerts, folk dance and theater performances. The Lykavittós theatre is a magical venue, carved into rock and perched high above the city, close to the summit of Mount Lykavittós.
Athens is a foodie paradise. If you’re eating at a restaurant, check out what locals are ordering and follow suit. But don’t leave Athens without ordering a traditional Greek salad at least once. Horiatiki is a rustic salad made with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, Kalamata olives and delicious feta cheese. No matter how great a Greek salad you think you’ve had before, it won’t compare to the real thing in Greece.
You also may want to try tyropita (cheese pies), souvlaki (kebabs), tyropita (cheese pies), and a tasty dessert of Greek coffee and baklava. Don’t forget to indulge in some street food! Greece is famous for its gyros. Gyro actually means “turn”, and the sandwich gets its name from the meat roasted on a vertical spit. The pita is filled with meat, onions, tomatos, french fries and tzatziki sauce.
Make your way to the Plaka neighborhood in Athens one evening. Plaka sits beneath the Acropolis, is the oldest section of Athens and is a favorite part of the city for many. You’ll be instantly charmed by the cobblestone streets lined with tavernas, cafes and shops. Sit back, sip on a frappé (a popular iced coffee drink) and enjoy the sounds of nearby street musicians.
While you’re in Plaka, visit Brettos. This old-fashioned distillery dates back to 1909, and draws guests in with its colorful, unique decor. The distillery boasts over 30 flavors of liquors, based on delicious Mediterranean fruits, herbs and spices. You can also sample Greek wines by the glass.
At Syntagma Square, you’ll find the Greek Parliament building. Visit during the day to witness the Changing of the Guards (this occurs every hour), but return at night for another photo opportunity – the illuminated building is beautiful.
World traveler Lee Abbamonte wrote a blog about visiting Athens and said: “…Ask the locals what’s good when you’re there, if you want a little off the beaten path. Athenians love to help tourists and share their city.”