MIAMI, March 4: The deluxe smaller-ship, exotic-destination cruise line known as Azamara Cruises will send its entire fleet to Europe for the third consecutive summer when the 694-guest Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest sail in the region in 2010. Azamaraâ€™s Europe and transatlantic itineraries for 2010, which opened for sale today, will focus on additional time spent in ports of callâ€“including overnight staysâ€“and will offer a slate of port visits new to the brand. The line also will offer numerous land excursions and a total of four cruisetour packages.
Azamara Cruises specifically selected the line-up of ports that the two ships will collectively visit throughout the season to give travelers the opportunity to more thoroughly explore cities and towns rich with culture, history and tradition. With a total of 93 different ports visited throughout 39 sailings, travelers will have numerous opportunities to get to know Europe while being treated to a luxurious yet relaxed onboard experience.
Expanding its destination offerings, Azamara will visit nine European ports for the first time in 2010. These include the following:
- Bastia, one of the two largest cities on the mountainous Mediterranean island of Corsica
- Chania, one of Creteâ€™s most appealing cities, marked by stately neo-classical mansions and massive Venetian fortifications
- Korcula, Croatia, an island rife with small, uninhabited beaches, breathtaking views of nature and medieval architecture
- Katakolon, the Greek seaside town offering a gateway to Olympia, the birthplace of the competitive athletic games
- Skiathos, one of Greeceâ€™s most environmentally protected islands, known for its pine tree forests as well as its long, shining beaches
- Zakynthos, Greece (also known as Zante), part of the Ionian Islands and home to the endangered caretta caretta species of sea turtle
- Trieste, the historic Italian port and capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, nestled in the northeast corner of the Adriatic Sea against the backdrop of a limestone plateau
- GijÃ³n, located on the Catabrian Sea on Spainâ€™s Costa Verde, halfway between eastern and western Asturias
- Liverpool, Englandâ€™s centuries-old port made just as famous by its one-time musical residents, The Beatles, as by the landmarks designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The line hopes to give its guests a richer Europe experience by offering a total of 53 overnight stays in 13 ports across 33 of its 39 sailings. Fourteen sailings include more than one overnight stay. Overnight stays will be offered in Florence (Livorno), Sorrento, and Venice, Italy; St. Petersburg, Russia; Barcelona, Spain; Stockholm, Sweden; Istanbul, Turkey; Edinburgh (Leith), Scotland; and London (Greenwich), England. Additionally, the line will stay overnight in four European ports for the first time in 2010; these include Bordeaux, France; Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; and Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Late-night stays departing at 10 pm or later will be offered in 21 ports: Dubrovnik, Croatia; Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt; and St. Tropez, France; Volos, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, Greece; Dublin, Ireland; Ashdod and Haifa, Israel; Ravenna and Trieste, Italy; Valetta, Malta; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Kotor, Montenegro; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Lisbon, Portugal; GijÃ³n, Spain; and Bodrum and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey.
In 2010, Azamara will once again offer several series of four back-to-back, unique 7-night cruises. These will be offered in the spring and the fall. Guests can sail seven nights on Azamara Journey, or combine several consecutive itineraries to create 14-, 21- or 28-night voyages. The first series will be offered April 25, May 2, May 9 and May 16; the second series on September 12, September 19, September 26 and October 23. Ports of call that will be visited during the series of sailings include Barcelona, Spain; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Portofino, Sorrento and Venice, Italy; Taormina, Sicily; Athens, Corfu, Katakolon, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, and Nauplion, Greece; Dubrovnik, Korcula, Split and Zadar, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Bastia, Corsica; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Bodrum, Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul, Turkey; Koper, Slovenia; and St. Tropez, France. The May 2 voyage features an overnight stay in Venice; the May 16 voyage features an overnight stay in Barcelona. In the fall, each voyage in the series includes at least one overnight stay. The September 12 voyage includes an overnight in Monte Carlo, the September 19 cruise includes overnights in both Sorrento and Venice, and the September 26 and October 3 sailings include an overnight in Istanbul.
The line also has made a point of adding more 10- and 12-night sailings during its 2010 Europe season, appealing to travelers who seek an extended getaway that fits within a two-week timeframe. The shorter itineraries include 12-night â€œHoly Landâ€ voyages sailing from Athens to Rome; 12-night â€œEastern Mediterraneanâ€ voyages from Rome to Athens; 12-night â€œBlack Seaâ€ cruise from Athens to Istanbul, and 10-night â€œGreek Isles and Turkeyâ€ voyages sailing from Istanbul to Athens. The 2010 season will once again feature a 12-night Norwegian Fjords cruise; this voyage received some of the lineâ€™s guestsâ€™ highest ratings in 2008.
Azamaraâ€™s Europe sailings will be based out of six turnaround ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Athens, Greece; Rome and Venice, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and, for the first time, Istanbul, Turkey.
One of the simplest ways for travelers to make the most of their Azamara Europe vacation is to combine their cruise with a fully escorted land-based tour package; this combined journey is known as a cruisetour. Azamara features four different cruisetours in Europe in 2010:
- A 5-night pre-cruise tour of Florence and Rome, available in tandem with various seven-, 12- and 14-night voyages departing from Rome. Highlights include a half-day walking tour of Florence; an in-depth visit to the Tuscany and Chianti regions, featuring a tour of the quaint walled city of San Gimignano and Castello Verazzano, where an authentic Italian wine tasting awaits; a first-class train transfer to Rome; a half-day walking tour of the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona and the Colosseum; and a tour of the Vatican City.
- A 3-night pre-cruise tour of Athens and Delphi, available in combination with numerous seven-, ten-, 12- and 14-night sailings departing from Athens. Highlights include a half-day tour of Athensâ€™ famed sites, including Hadrianâ€™s Arch, the temple of Olympian Zeus and the Theater of Dionysssos, as well as a visit to the interior of the Acropolis; a motorcoach ride via Theves,l Levadia and Arachova to Delphi, the ancient Sanctuary of Apollo; a visit to the seaside village of Itea; and a crossing of the Gulf of Corinth with travel along the scenic Peloponnese peninsula.
- An 8-night pre-cruise tour of Eastern Europe, available in combination with various 12- and 14-night voyages departing from Copenhagen. Highlights include a tour of Budapestâ€™s landmarks, including Gellert Hill, Fishermanâ€™s Bastion, Mathias Church, and Heroâ€™s Square; a deluxe motorcoach ride to Vienna; a tour of Viennaâ€™s Schoebrunn Palace, including its extraordinary gardens; travel to Prague, where guests will visit Rosenburg Castle to experience a falconry show; a visit to Prague Castle and the sights of St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, Old Town Square and Tyn Church; travel to Berlin, including a stop in Dresden; a half-day tour of Berlin, featuring visits to the Reichstag, Charlottenburg Palace, Victory Column and Checkpoint Charlie; and travel to Gedser, Denmark.
- A 4-night Cappadocia and Istanbul pre-cruise voyage available in tandem with four different cruises departing from Istanbul. Highlights include a stay in Ankara; a half-day tour of Ankara, including visits to the Augustus Temple and the Mausoleum of Ataturk; travel to Cappadocia with signtseeing opportunities at Zelve, Pasabag Valleys and the Gorome Religious Center; a full-day journey to the Kaymakli underground city and the picturesque villages of Uchissar, Ortahisar and Cavusin; and a stay in Istanbul featuring a tour of the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace and the opportunity to shop at the Grand Bazaar.
All cruisetours are fully escorted and include hotel accommodations, in-tour transportation and baggage transfers, as well as some meals. All four cruisetours include ample time for independent sightseeing, shopping and dining.
During their cruise, guests can further enhance their experience by selecting from a variety of fascinating shore excursions available in the ports that the line visits. Highlights include the following:
- St. Petersburg, Russiaâ€™s â€œMoscow and the Mysterious Kremlinâ€ excursion, where guests can see the highlights of the Russian capital in one day, and â€œHermitage Splendour â€“ Exclusive Eveningâ€ excursion, where guests enjoy an evening tour of the Hermitage Museum and a gala ballet performance.
- Sorrento, Italyâ€™s â€œPompeii and Capriâ€ excursion, which gives guests the opportunity to explore the famous island of Capri before visiting the ruins of Pompeii. Venice, Italyâ€™s â€œDogeâ€™s Palace, St. Markâ€™s Cathedral and Glassworkâ€ excursion, where guests will explore these renowned sites during a walking tour and observe a demonstration of artisans creating beautiful pieces of glass.
- Ashdod, Israelâ€™s â€œJerusalem and Bethlehemâ€ excursion, which allows cruisers to experience some of the most sacred sites in the Holy Land, including the Western Wall, Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Church of the Nativity. Alexandria, Egyptâ€™s â€œThe Pyramids and The River Nileâ€ excursion, where cruise guests will experience a voyage on the River Nile and the mysteries of the pyramids and the Sphinx.
Azamara plans to continue its â€œAlpha/Omegaâ€ shore excursion package program and will announce details of the 2010 Europe packages later this year. Travel enthusiasts are encouraged to visit www.azamaracruises.com, call 1-877-999-9553, or contact their travel agent for more information.