I arrived in Barcelona on the day prior to my cruise for one night stay at the Avenida Palace. The hotel is an older boutique hotel with a location close to La Rambla. It has a European atmosphere and is lovely inside. There is a doorman to call cabs. The staff was helpful and was able to sell discounted Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tickets. A bus stop is located very close to the hotel and the bus is a wonderful way to see the city with three different routes.
Upon arrival at the ship, checking is handled very efficiently and we were soon on board. Since the cabins were not ready, we went to Windows Café for their buffet lunch, which has a lot of variety and is very good. They have a beautiful back deck, where it is lovely to eat and enjoy the views.
We had dinner in Discoveries Dining Room and the food and the service were excellent. The meals there were always wonderful and they included a delicious healthy choice every evening. There are two specialty restaurants with a surcharge to dine there. One of them is seafood and the other is a steak restaurant, and they require reservations. Both offer a memorable dining experience.
Azamara has begun offering a more inclusive cruise, with complimentary standard alcoholic drinks & wine, and tips included in the cost of the cruise. They also offer one special evening with every cruise that is unique to that specific port. With our cruise, we were able to watch our captain participate in the ancient sport of water jousting following a parade through the town, and regional wine and delicacies shared with local residents after the event. It was great fun.
Azamara is also focusing on destinations, with longer stays in ports and at least one overnight per cruise. This leaves more time to experience the ports, even into the evening hours. This also allowed us to sleep in a little and still have plenty of time to savor each port of call. They have trademarked this concept “Destination Immersion” to describe their cruises. Because the ship is much smaller than most other cruise ships, it is able to dock in smaller, unique ports and closer to the center of things. The shore excursions are well led by knowledgeable guides and very interesting itineraries.
All in all, my Azamara cruise was a very positive experience; I will definitely recommend this cruise line to clients.