By Azamara Club Cruises on Tuesday, February 10, 2015
When we think of summer, we think of Greece. The warm sunshine, sparkling blue seas and quaint, whitewashed villages make it the perfect destination for relaxing and slowing down. Athens, Mykonos and Santorini are tried and true cruise destinations. But there’s much more to this beautiful country! Greece includes more than 6,000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, and many stunning coastal towns. A small, luxury cruise ship is the perfect way to explore them. These Instagram photos of a few of our favorite lesser-known ports will have you daydreaming in no time.
Lesvos is the third biggest island in Greece, after Crete and Evia. It’s famous for producing Ouzo and olive oil, so make sure you sample both when you visit. Soak in authentic Greek culture by relaxing in one of the cafes surrounding the village square. June is a perfect time to visit, and this cruise will take you there.
Gythion is a charming Grecian town perched on the Mani peninsula, and a memorable stop on the way from Istanbul to Croatia during this 12 Night cruise. Quaint pastel houses and fishing boats dot the harbor, making it a picturesque stop for cruisers. The cuisine is fresh and local – think figs, olive oil, oranges and seafood. Swim, surf and relax at Mavrovouni Beach, or go on an excursion to historic Sparta.
Visiting Hydra is like traveling back in time. This island is home to one town, no real roads and no cars. Instead, you’ll travel by donkey or taxi boats to visit the beaches, tavernas, monasteries and churches that this unique destination has to offer. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike two hours to the top of Mount Eros and be rewarded with incredible views.
Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit for a cruise to Skiathos. This tiny island boasts more than 60 beautiful sandy beaches. While here, you can visit the fascinating Evanelistra Monastery, the medieval town of Kastro and the thermal springs of Kyllini.
A visit the stunning monasteries of Meteora is a must while in Volos, Greece. You’ll be awed by both the history and beauty of this incredible destination. Last year, world traveler Lee Abbamonte visited with Azamara Club Cruises and wrote about the unforgettable experience.
Kos, Greece was made for small cruise ships like Azamara’s. We dock right next to the town’s impressive fortress, providing guests the perfect jumping off point for exploring the colorful town. History buffs will love this port. The large ancient excavation site of Ancient Agora features fascinating ruins of temples, shrines and a gymnasium. See artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age at the Archaelogical Museum. Guests of this July 2015 cruise will have plenty of time to see and do it all – we won’t depart Kos until 11:00 pm.
Corfu, Greece is the setting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is said to cast a spell on all who land upon its shores. It will certainly charm guests with its beauty – many consider this to be the most beautiful of all Mediterranean islands. It’s a statement that’s hard to argue against once you’ve strolled along Old Town’s narrow alleys, taken in the fragrances of olive and lemon trees and watched the sunset reflecting on the sparkling sea. Visit Corfu during this August cruise with Azamara.
Patmos is best known for the imposing Monastery of St. John. You can’t miss the huge fortress atop a hill, standing out among the traditional white and blue houses surrounding it. You’ll love exploring the many courtyards, arcades, galleries and rooftop terraces of the monastery. The Azamara Journey won’t depart until 10:00 pm during this cruise, so there will be no need to feel rushed.
Thanks to yachts, stylish shops, idyllic beaches and quaint cafes, the island of Cephalonia is known as” the Saint-Tropez of Greece”. Don’t miss out on swimming in the bright turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea while you’re here. Focki Beach is a favorite for sunbathers and picnickers, while snorkelers will want to pay a visit to Emblisi Beach. August is the perfect time to visit – after all, there’s nothing like summer in Greece.
By Azamara Club Cruises on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The voyage for those who love travel. Azamara guests travel with us for a reason. Many reasons, actually. They love our internationally acclaimed ships, our wonderful staff and crew, and our excellent onboard amenties. But cruising isn’t just about the onboard experience, it’s about seeing the world.
Travel is more than just a collection of passport stamps. It’s about the memories you make, the people you meet and the feeling it gives you. We asked Azamara fans on Facebook and Twitter to tell us why they #lovetravel. Here’s what they had to say.
By Azamara Club Cruises on Monday, February 02, 2015
We always say “smaller ships mean better parking”. Truer words were never spoken! In 2015, Azamara ships will dock at the closest berth to the center of Venice, the San Basilio Berth, pictured below. It’s only 25 minutes walking distance to St. Mark’s Square, and you will want to walk. Venice is one place you’ll be happy to get lost in.
Here are five things to do while you explore one of the greatest cities Europe has to offer – whether it is your first time visiting, or your fifth.
Claudius Docekal designs our itineraries, and it’s unlikely you’ll meet a more well-traveled man. “On the way to or from San Basilio Cruise Terminal to St. Mark’s Square, allow a bit of extra time for exploring the many shops along the way,” Claudius advises. “Walk along the Rio de San Trovaso. On the East side of this canal, you find the Cantinone gia Schiavi wine shop. It’s a great place to grab a light snack and sample Italian wines. Small, simple and local! You can hang out outside the shop along the canal, wine glass in hand, and take in the atmosphere.”
As you wander, you’ll find wonderful jewelry stores, souvenir shops, silk fabric stores, and mask shops. Film buffs might enjoy visiting Ca’Macana (in the same Dorsoduro neighborhood as the wine shop Claudius recommends). This authentic mask workshop created the masks for the movie Eyes Wide Shut.
2 St. Mark’s Square
Piazza San Marco is one of Venice’s most famous tourist destinations. There’s so much to see, returning visitors to Venice will still want to pay it a visit.
St. Mark’s Basilica
The basilica is the most famous of Venice’s churches, and a stunning example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Thanks to its opulent design, gold ground mosaics and status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, it has been nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold) since the 11th century. If it’s your first time in Venice, visiting the cathedral is a must.
Situated next to St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace is a lavish example of Venetian Gothic architecture. Inside the palace you’ll find incredible art, staircases and government chambers. Guests of this August 2015 cruise have the option to book an after-hours tour of the palace, through our Nights and Cool Places land tours.
The sprawling Museo Correr houses ancient maps, statues, books and art. The ballrooms are stunning, and visitors will appreciate the insight the museum provides into the history of Venice. If you’ve already been to the Basilica and Doge’s Palace, revisit St. Mark’s Square to spend time in the museum.
St. Mark’s Campanile
This bell tower is one of Venice’s most recognizeable landmarks. Ascend the tower, and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city.
3. Travel Venice’s Canals
There are many ways to experience Venice’s incredible canals. To explore the Grand Canal, take a vaparetto. Catch the #1 vaparetto near the train station, and enjoy a leisurely 45 minute ride to Piazza San Marco.
Hyperlapse video taken during a vaparetto ride.
In the evening, opt for something a bit more romantic. Through our Nights and Cool Places shore excursion program, arrange a sunset gondola ride for you and your loved one. Music from a singer and accordionist will drift through the air as you soak in the atmosphere of one of the world’s most romantic cities.
4. Visit the Nearby Islands of Murano and Burano
A visit to these quiet islands is the perfect excursion for someone who has been to Venice many times. Visit a glass factory in Murano, an island known for producing stunning, colorful glass for jewelry, lamps, chandaliers and more. Burano is known for producing lace, as well as for their quaint, brightly hued houses.
5. Discover Culture Through Food
Dive into Italian culture with our Insider Access program. A tour available during this cruise allows you to discover the culinary traditions of Venice, Naples and Sicily at home with Countess Leila Passi. Learn her tips and secrets as she prepares a meal with ingredients fresh from the market, and enjoy the meal over wine and conversation in her elegant dining room. This unique excursion is perfect for travelers looking for an exclusive, local experience to remember forever.
Cruise to Venice with us this year:
This voyage in May calls on favorite ports like Monte-Carlo, Sorrento, Dubrovnik and concludes with an overnight stay in Venice.
By Azamara Club Cruises on Thursday, January 22, 2015
Longer stays. Overnights. Night touring. It’s why Azamara voyages are for those who love travel. After all, why travel all the way to an exotic destination only to leave it before the sun has set? Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we searched Instagram for these incredible photos of our favorite cities to experience after dark.
Evenings in Venice were made for wandering. Enjoy a sunset gondola ride, take in the live music from cafe orchestras at St. Mark’s square, and stroll down cobblestoned alleys that lead to dead ends. The city is quieter, mysterious and charming at night.
If you visit St. Petersburg in June, you’ll experience the famous “White Nights”, when the sun only sets briefly and city streets bustle around the clock. But as this photo shows, the city can be just as beautiful at dusk.
Just like Venice, Amsterdam’s canals and bridges make it a beautiful place to visit at night. Enjoy a late dinner, explore the city by bicycle, or people-watch from a sidewalk cafe to soak up the ambiance of Amsterdam in the evening.
Night markets, bars and coffee shops are all popular places to spend a night in Ho Chi Minh City. Street food is popular here. Be prepared for the aromas of grilled meats and fragrant soups to tempt you away from formal dinner plans. Don’t leave without trying authentic banh mi, the popular Vietnamese baguette sandwich.
In Sorrento, your favorite way to spend the evening just might be watching the sun set. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the relaxed ambiance, quaint streets and stunning panorama of this part of Italy.
Late-night and overnight stays in Barcelona are a must if you want to experience the city like a local. Most restaurants serve dinner from 9pm to 11pm. Enjoy cava wine, tapas and churros while you’re here.
The photo above is of a church, perched on Mount Tibidabo. The mountain provides stunning views of Barcelona and the surrounding coastline.
This November cruise includes three overnight stays! Spend the night in Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, and Barcelona.
Sydney Harbour is so stunning, we couldn’t choose just one photo. This 10 Night Great Barrier Reef voyage concludes with an overnight stay in Sydney, so guests have the opportunity to extend their stay in this incredible city.
Now there’s just one question: where will you go next?
By Azamara Club Cruises on Thursday, January 15, 2015
We love seeing your Azamara cruise photos almost as much as you love Azamara cruises. These photos showcase fifteen incredible Italian travel destinations that can be visited via cruise – all courtesy of our incredible guests.
Photo Credit: Anne T.
The beautiful island of Elba might be best known for its connection to Napolean. We love it for Portoferraio’s bustling waterfront boardwalk, historic villas and fortresses, and incredible cuisine. Indulge in fresh cuttlefish, squid and octopus, while you’re here.
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Photo Credit: Hermi Z.
The five cliffside villages of the Cinque Terre show guests a quieter side to the Italian Riviera. Manarola is the second-smallest of the towns, and possibly the oldest. Make sure you try the locally produced wine, Sciacchetra, while you visit!
Rome, the eternal city. Art, history, culture, food, shopping – Rome offers something for everyone. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can’t be experienced in one either. Travel here countless times, and you’ll always discover something new. The awe-inspiring Colosseum and breathtaking beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica may even justify repeat visits.
Livorno is the gateway to Tuscany, and a wonderful port for both new and veteran cruisers. If you’ve been to Florence and Pisa already, you can spend your time in port exploring quiaint Tuscan villages like Lucca and Volterra.
Photo Credit: Vanessa J.
From the famous Blue Grotto to the incredible views of Monte Solaro, the island of Capri will take your breath away. Take the chairlift from Anacapri to snap a photo like this one.
Giardini Naxos, Sicily
Photo Credit: Corinne W.
Here you’ll find the still-active Mount Etna volcano, towering over this port at 10,900 feet. Volcanic soil has enriched farmland, resulting in lush crops of olives, citrus and grapes.
Positano is one of the most picturesque towns along the Amalfi Coast, making it a favorite stop for Azamara cruisers. Visit Spiagga Grande, a beach lined with restaurants, cafes and gelaterias. If you’re in the mood for shopping, pick up some beautiful handmade leather sandals.
Photo Credit: Jill M.
Florence is a bustling mecca of culture. Take in incredible architecture, food, shopping and art while visiting. Try not to get overwhelmed! Use our “Seven Things To Do in Tuscany” blog as a guide for planning your time in port.
Photo Credit: Hermi Z.
Considered by many to be the most picturesque of the Cinque Terre towns, Vernazza has recovered well from a devastating mudslide in 2011. For the best views, begin hiking from Vernazza towards Monterosso al Mare.
Photo Credit: Andrea
Portofino is the quintessential storybook Italian town. Thanks to charming streets, picturesque pastel homes, exclusive boutiques and quaint cafes, the calm fishing village has become a favorite of the “Jet Set”.
Plan your visit for 2017 – this cruise calls on Portofino and includes a stop in Monte Carlo during the world’s largest yacht show.
Photo Credit: Jillian
Santa Margherita can be a starting off point for a visit to the Cinque Terre, but is also a wonderful resort town in its own right. Visit the Villa Durozzo Palace, a beautiful building from the 1600s that now serves as the Vittorio Rossi Museum.
The backdrop of Mount Vesuvius makes for a striking photo when our Azamara ships tender in Sorrento. Visit the preserved ruins of Pompeii, a city captured in volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. You can also climb to the summit of the volcano.