Note: This is a special feature post from Chris Owen of ChrisCruises.com.
At each port of call on our Azamara Journey sailing, we have been able to capture an image of the ship, as seen from shore, while making a direct connection with each destination. To those just making the jump from simply visiting places to connecting with them, a bit of security and confidence can come from knowing the ship is within view of where remarkable experiences can happen. Still, the difference between visiting, making a connection and making a direct connection is significant. Interestingly, it does not take much extra effort to gain the benefits possible from that direct connection, enabled so very nicely by Azamara Club Cruises.
Making a connection with any given destination can be accomplished by not only visiting somewhere but doing something once we get there. As I began to build my cruise history and take advantage of the ‘unpack once, visit multiple destinations’ element of it all, if I walked off the ship and my feet touched ground, that counted as having visited there. Take a photo or two to prove it and call it a day. Next port please.
Making A Connection
Going beyond simply walking off the ship to say “I was there”, more advanced cruise travelers think about that visit before arrival. They might book one of Azamara’s Cruise Global, Connect LocalSM shore excursions either in advance or on the ship with the help of an onboard destination expert or some other tour that includes an organized way of discovering a place. Doing so provides a connection between travelers and destinations that brings rich memories of a visit. We could stop right there, as those who sail with most other cruise lines do, feel good about the places we have visited and walk away with some quality travel memories.
Making A Direct Connection
Making a direct connection with a destination does all of the above but includes direct contact with someone who lives there, usually someone other than a tour guide who is paid to highlight the best of the places we visit. When that goes well, we walk away with contact information and a new friend who we hope to visit again some day, tell our friends about and do social engagement in person, old school. I like to find a nice sidewalk café to spend part of my day ashore and often meet some of the nicest people working there or visiting. Others enjoy engaging in their interests at home when traveling like cycling, shopping, hiking or other activities. It can be as simple as adding a refrigerator magnet to a growing collection, hunting for just the right one. In the process, a direct connection can be made.
The Azamara Advantage
A distinct advantage of sailing with Azamara Club Cruises: they enable those direct connections, a number of ways we have seen on this sailing. Docking closer to the action in Venice provided easy walk on/walk off destination access. . A limited number of tours done well, as opposed to many more offerings to keep track of, makes insuring a quality experience much more efficient. Staying late in port brings the opportunity for night touring or simply a leisurely dinner at a little hole in the wall restaurant. In Zadar came a perfect example of the flexibility Azamara has when it comes to matters such as this. Captain Borsheim made the call to stay later in port than the itinerary advertised, something a destination-focused cruise line can do.
Earlier in the day, I saw the Captain walking around the ship, talking to passengers as he commonly does. When I thanked him for staying later in port, now with plans to go ashore for dinner, he explained the reasoning behind his decision. It was driven by a company belief that the passenger experience has more value than the few hours of revenue the ship may have made off the casino and shops being open, something they can’t do in port. I can’t recall ever experiencing or hearing about an itinerary modification for that reason. Impressive.
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