If you've ever seen photos of Norway, you already know that the entire country looks like it fell directly out of a calendar. (We're talking about major #EyeCandy) With every turn in this Scandinavian escape, you're surrounding by breathtaking fjords and picture-perfect landscapes. However, did you know that a great way to see this wonderful place is by sea? That's right! One great way to see everything Norway has to offer is by boat and Azamara Luxury Cruises has you covered. Recently Magical Moments Vacations had 2 agents (Alison Singer and Meredith Kerner) hop across "the pond" to Europe to experience a 7-day Intensive Seminar at Sea with Azamara out of Oslo, Norway. They're back home and ready to share a little bit of the fun they experienced. Let's check it out!
Recently MMV was invited to attend a 7-Night Norway Intensive Seminar at Sea with Azamara. This was an incredible opportunity to not only learn about their AzAmazing ships but also to fully experience Azamara’s destination immersion. We embarked on the Azamara Pursuit in Oslo, Norway on June 29th and disembarked in Copenhagen, Denmark on July 6th. Both Canada Day and July 4 were celebrated during our voyage.
Azamara is an upscale, boutique cruise line sailing to more than 275 ports of call in more than 70 countries worldwide. You may have not heard of Azamara because they do not market their brand like the average cruise line company. They have four cruise ships that each hold around 700 passengers with a 2:1 crew to guest ratio. Loyal Azamara cruisers say the genuine crew, delicious cuisine and longer time in port keep them returning. Azamara looks to connect people - to themselves, to others and with cultures - through destination immersion. Their smaller ships are able to sail into ports not frequented by larger ships. Guests sailing with Azamara will spend more time in port, including some overnight stays. Azamara known for its White Night parties where they celebrate under the stars while guests are dressed in their best white attire. And returning for 2023, sailings of 7 nights and longer will once again have the guest-favorite and complimentary AzAmazing Evenings Event. “Each private, bespoke event delivers authentic travel moments that bring you closer to your destination, its culture and its people.” Guests traveling with Azamara have an explorer mindset. They like active travel and learning new cultures in an upscale but non-pretentious environment. Children are allowed to sail with Azamara, but there are no Youth Clubs onboard. There were only a handful of well-behaved younger children on our sailing. Included with Azamara voyages are gratuities, most food and house beverages and cultural evenings. Beverage package upgrades are available, and wi-fi packages are also available for purchase.
"Meredith and I took a taxi to the port where we were greeted by Azamara crew under a large, white tent at our arrival time of 2PM. Pre-cruise Covid testing was available at the port, but we were led straight to check-in since we showed proof of our recent negative tests. The check-in process took approximately 3-5 minutes, and we were handed our room key cards, along with an Azamara card holder. We were directed towards some chairs, where we waited for about 10 minutes before being allowed to board the ship. Immediately upon being welcomed aboard, our bags were scanned. Next, a crew member took us and two other people into the Discoveries lounge where we were offered champagne or juice. The lounge had seating for about 20 people, and when it was filled after a few minutes, a crew member instructed us on our safety briefing. The briefing lasted about 5 minutes, and then Meredith and I were escorted to our stateroom. After stowing our luggage, we decided to walk around and become familiar with the ship."
A peek inside the stateroom:
Around the Ship:
The pool deck looks familiar with the chairs having nice cushions, and towels rolled up, ready for use. The pool is heated for our sailing, but there are also 2 hot tubs. There are no water slides or other water features. There is a bar at one end of the pool deck and an outdoor dining location, The Patio, at the other end of the pool deck. The pool deck never felt crowded during our voyage.
Discoveries is the complimentary, Main Dining location onboard. Located on Deck 5, this is where many guests dine for dinner each night. Azamara has an open seating policy; there is no early or late dining time you have to select. The food and service are excellent, and the atmosphere is lively. "We never feel rushed to finish our meal."
Mosaic Café, also located on Deck 5, is located centrally across the small gift shops. Mosaic Café is a coffee and tea shop that also has a window case of select sweets and savories to offer. The complimentary food offerings change daily. Windows Cafe, located on Deck 10 is the complimentary buffet-style dining. This is a great spot for breakfast. The food options are plentiful and not just your average fare. While many food item are consistent daily, like fresh fruit, other features change daily. I love having this variety. Windows line the inside dining area, but you may also go outside and sit looking at the back (aft) of the ship. On cooler mornings, they turn on heaters and have flannel blankets placed over the chairs to keep you warm. Of note, though food is presented in a buffet, the dining crew plate the food for guests. Crew members walk through the dining area to take drink orders, bringing hot coffee, tea or other drinks to guests.
Two fine dining options are available on the ship: PrimeC and Aqualina. PrimeC is a known for quality steaks. Here, we appreciate a four-course meal with stellar service. Located on Deck 10, tables are set along the floor-to-ceiling windows, so the views are stunning. Aqualina is adjacent to PrimeC and offers fine, Italian fare. Reservations are recommended and can be made once onboard. There is a small fee to dine at these restaurants.
Two locations where guests can sit and relax, enjoy a cocktail or test their trivia knowledge are The Den and The Living Room. The Den is slightly more casual, located on Deck 5. The Shore Excursion and Cruise Again desks are also located here. The Living room is located on Deck 10, forward, and has sweeping views. The Living room serves complimentary tapas during the afternoon. This serves as the location for the Azamara Circle Loyalty cocktail reception on the last evening of our cruise.
Active travelers will be pleased to know the ship has a full gym onboard, complete with cardio equipment and weights. There is also a small studio that offers spin cycle classes and yoga. These classes are complimentary, but sign up is required. And within this general area, called The Sanctum, the spa is located. A full spa menu is available onboard.
The Cabaret is the place where evening shows are held. There is abundant seating and crew walk around to take your drink order.
When not off exploring the local port, refueling on mouth-watering cuisine, relaxing by the pool or socializing with friends in The Living Room, you will find yourself in the comfortable space of your stateroom. Suites sell out quickly, but we are fortunate to have a veranda stateroom. These verandas are well-appointed with a King bed that can be split into 2 twin beds. USB outlets are plentiful by the bedside, the vanity and in the corner cubby. Sodas and water in the stateroom are complimentary and replenished daily. The bathroom has plenty of storage space as well. There is an oversized lounger chair with table across from the vanity, and the veranda has a lovely table with two chairs. Cushions for those chairs are kept just inside the sliding door. One of the things I love most about our stateroom is the comfort of the bed mattress. Meredith and I also enjoy the TV channel where crew members discuss different ship features, as well as features specific to our sailing, such as when Captain Antonio is shown talking about navigating through the fjords of Norway. This is informative and fascinating.
Our Norway Intensive voyage includes stops in Arendal, Eidfjord, Stavanger, Olden and Bergen. To wake up at 3AM as we sail into the fjords is a surreal experience. We sail so slowly into the fjords that the water appears as glass. Each Norwegian village is so clean, and fresh flowers were omnipresent. Norwegians are friendly people. While shore excursions are offered at each port, Meredith and I elected to do our own walking tour of each village and town. Some highlights include the cute city center of the quaint Arendal, the waterfalls of Eidfjord, the Three Swords in Stavanger, the Old and New Churches in Olden and the Stave Church in Bergen.
If a luxury escape to Norway is calling your name, Azamara’s may be the perfect fit for you! With numerous destination experiences in an upscale cruising environment, each of the four Azamara ships have something special to offer. Contact me to learn more about sailing with Azamara.