Azamara Cruise, Greece/Turkey with Manya

cruise shipFor my first trip to Turkey and some of the Greek Islands, I was so lucky to experience a wonderful cruise from Athens, on September 20th, 2015 onboard the Azamara Club Journey. The Nine Night Turquoise voyage included 4 stops in Greece: Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes and Santorini and 4 stops in Turkey: Bodrum, Kas, Fethiye and Marmaris.

Azamara Journey is a small ship but not too small. With 686 passengers and 408 crew members you never feel crowded. The added advantage of a smaller ship is its ability to dock very close the piers for easy access to the cities visited.
The ambiance on board is casual/elegant and attracts well-travelled couples of all ages, mainly for the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA. The Journey is not a new ship, but regardless of her age, she still looks quite lovely. She and her sister the Quest are scheduled for a dry dock refurbishment some times in Early 2016.

My mid-ship oceanview stateroom 4023 on the starboard side had 2 single beds, a small bathroom, a desk and a lounge sofa. Although very small, it had a lots of storage space. My only regret is not being able to open the window for some fresh air. Bathrobes, slippers and bath products added to the comfort of my stateroom. In the spirit of water conservation, towels were replaced as needed. Each room and suite has a designated butler. Mine was Mr. Hussein who greeted me every day with a warm smile, and friendly chatter.

Horse

Azamara offers many dining options, from casual open dining to haute cuisine as well as room service, and includes unlimited access to wine, beer and premium spirits .The main restaurant Discovery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dress code is enforced only at dinner time, when jeans and flip flops are not allowed. The menu was slightly different each night, but consistent with the dessert choices, especially with the most addictive crème brulee.

Windows Café on Deck 9 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with different themed buffet each night. You can enjoy made to order breakfasts and a variety of healthy choices such as smoothies, freshly squeezed juices, while sitting on the outdoor deck. I loved having my café latte on the deck while planning the day activities with my travelling companion.

Lunch at the Pool Bar and Grill is great fun as well, and consist of burgers and fries, lamb brochettes and a variety of snacks and salads.

Haute Cuisine service are offered at Prime C and Aqualina restaurants located on deck 10.

White gloved fine dining is complimentary and unlimited for guests booked in a Suite. For anyone else, there is a cover charge of $25.00 per person. Reservations are recommended and subject to a cancellation charge. I thoroughly enjoyed my grilled to perfection tenderloin during my dinner at Prime C.

Santorini

A list of the day activities is delivered each morning to each stateroom. Most helpful in planning the day ahead, whether participating in the offered shore excursions or staying on board to take advantage of the many social and cultural activities, such as lectures, fitness programs, trivia, card games, fitness programs such as yoga..

Daily evening entertainment included cabaret style entertainment in the main theatre, live music in the casino, as well as in the bar. The Looking Glass bar offered daily dancing with DJ Marco spinning oldies tunes such as ABBA.

A White Evening and buffet was held in Marmaris. The pool area was draped in white, guests were asked to dress in white. Local belly dancers were brought in for a lively and beautiful spectacle.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Turquoise itinerary that took me to places I dreamed about, and that I would return to one day.

Mykonos the first port of call is part of the group of Islands called the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea. A popular destination for its historical past, windmills, but also for its cosmopolitan character and nightlife. Walking the narrow streets, one can admire the white cube-shaped houses with colourful doors, art galleries and souvenir shops. I bought a lovely dress, and linen pants on “sale” due end of season

Zorba the Greek

The 2nd port of Call was Patmos that we reached under cloudy and rainy skies. The main attraction is the Monastery of St John, which can be accessed by bus, or by a vertical one hour climb. I chose the latter and by the time I arrived at the top, I was soaking wet but happy to have walked the walk.

Bodrum suffered a terrible flash flood the day before we arrived. The streets were a mess of mud and water. It was heart breaking to witness the toll the storm took on the city. The shops were completely destroyed, their contents littered the narrow streets. So sad. After a quick visit to the castle, I was happy to be back on board.

One of my favourite stops in Turkey was Kas, pronounced “cash”, in the Antalya Province of Turkey. The busy harbour attracts yachts and sail boats from all over Europe, It’s a quaint Mediterranean village, with cobblestone streets, olive trees,orange and lemon groves, and ancient tombs carved high into the cliffs way above it.

View of Kas

The complimentary Azamazing Evening took place in Fethiye, Turkey, on Friday September 25th. The Balik Sisters, also known as the Opera Twins performed a repertoire of classical music at the Kale Park, one of the oldest known Lycian foundations, dating back to the 15th Century B.C. I must say, that I was impressed with the efficient handling of the 400 guests off the ship to the awaiting buses and return to the ship. The snacks and beverages however, were disappointing.

But the highlight of my trip had to be in Marmaris, Turkey. On a very hot and sunny day, what better than hiring a small boat to cruise the beautiful harbour and to take a refreshing dip the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. And that’s exactly what happened. For only 45 Euros, my colleague and I were treated to a private and wonderful 2 hour adventure at sea.

Athens

Sofitel Airport Hotel in Athens is very convenient for a late arrival before a cruise. Steps away from the airport, it can be accessed by simply crossing the road. Very convenient for arranging transfers to Piraeus.

On my last day in Athens, I stayed at the Appollon Divani Hotel, part of the Leading Hotels of the World, located in the Greek Riviera area of Athens and quite a distance from Piraeus, but closer to the airport for an early morning flight departure.

It is a beautiful hotel, with a private beach, Thalassotherapy pools and provides a complimentary shuttle to the centre of the city several times a day.

While in Greece, you must sample a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit and honey, very inexpensive and highly refreshing.

I had my best meal in Plaka, in a small taverna that served the most delicious moussaka, roasted potatoes and Greek salad, a welcome feast after trekking to the Parthenon on a very hot and humid day. In Turkey, I highly suggest Turkish Delight candies and the exquisite pine honey.