The Dif­fer­ence Down Un­der

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Cover -

Any jour­ney that re­quires trav­el­ing halfway around the world de­mands some sort of en­tice­ment. A cruise aboard Aza­mara Club Cruises is as en­tic­ing as it gets. Add a com­pelling itin­er­ary in Aus­tralia com­bined with a mi­lieu of su­perb ameni­ties, and it’s clear why the word lux­ury res­onates so clearly through­out this voy­age.

THE AZA­MARA WAY She is dressed from bow to stern in snazzy con­tem­po­rary styling. In­side dé­cor is nos­tal­gi­cally dig­ni­fied, void of il­lu­sions or gim­micks. What you see is what you get and what you get is 592 feet of dis­tinct per­fec­tion. Reimag­ined and com­pletely re­fur­bished with fresh, con­tem­po­rary dé­cor in 2016,

Aza­mara Jour­ney in­te­grates cruise tra­di­tion with in­no­va­tive de­sign to achieve an aura of class. Sail­ing on a ship like this em­bod­ies the strictest def­i­ni­tion of el­e­gance.

State­rooms and suites are in­fused with state-of-the art-tech­nol­ogy, as­tound­ing com­fort, and an in-vogue vibe of re­fined taste. Pub­lic ar­eas cre­ate a sen­ti­ment of med­i­ta­tive com­fort due in part to the easy-on-the-eye palette of col­ors.

It’s easy to ex­pound on the ship’s in­ti­mate 690-guest ca­pac­ity and boast about its clas­sic de­sign, but the de facto heart and soul of Aza­mara’s cruise phi­los­o­phy is its Des­ti­na­tion Im­mer­sion mantra.

Of­ten while vis­it­ing once-in-a-life­time des­ti­na­tions, an early sail­ing time be­comes your neme­sis. But with Aza­mara, port times are some of the long­est in the in­dus­try, a wel­come de­par­ture from the 9 to 5 — or even shorter — norm. Port calls are of­ten sched­uled late into the evening and some in­clude overnights, giv­ing plenty of time to truly im­merse in the cul­ture.

To fur­ther com­ple­ment the com­mit­ment to ex­ten­sive des­ti­na­tion en­gage­ment, the cruise line has im­ple­mented a Cruise Global, Con­nect Lo­cal con­cept for its in­no­va­tive shore ex­cur­sion pro­gram. The well-thought-out col­lec­tion tran­scends su­per­fi­cial sight­see­ing with more em­pha­sis on the peo­ple, their life­styles, and the syn­er­gies of the des­ti­na­tions.

On board, the ex­plicit Des­ti­na­tion Im­mer­sion ini­tia­tive is fur­ther re­vealed in din­ner menus. As one would ex­pect, the gas­tro­nomic senses are stoked with out­stand­ing culi­nary pre­sen­ta­tions through­out the var­i­ous venues, but Aza­mara ups the ante by in­te­grat­ing re­gion­ally themed cui­sine into din­ing choices. Each evening, a spe­cific menu en­trée is pre­pared to re­flect global tra­di­tions and fla­vors.

The grace­ful Dis­cov­er­ies Res­tau­rant is the main din­ing room, un­der­scored by ex­ten­sive menu se­lec­tions for all meals. The ca­sual Win­dows Café serves in­ter­na­tion­ally themed buf­fet din­ners in­spired by the re­gion the ship is sail­ing, as well as lunch and break­fast op­tions that change daily. The pool­side Pa­tio dis­plays a full lunch menu and in the evenings of­fers al fresco din­ing un­der the stars. Other on­board op­tions in­clude a daz­zling jazz brunch, a Ger­man pool­side BBQ, an In­done­sian feast, or a sim­ple burger and fries.

In tes­ti­mony to the ubiq­ui­tous spe­cialty din­ing trend, The Prime C Steak­house caters to car­niv­o­rous crav­ings and Aqualina pro­vides a fix for Ital­ian food lovers. The ex­clu­sive Chef’s Ta­ble places em­pha­sis on top-drawer wine pair­ing cou­pled with a mul­ti­course culi­nary show­case, guar­an­teed to sat­isfy any con­nois­seur’s palate.

To com­ple­ment its com­mit­ment to des­ti­na­tion en­gage­ment, Aza­mara im­ple­mented a Cruise Global, Con­nect Lo­cal con­cept for its shore ex­cur­sion pro­gram.


Aza­mara Jour­ney rarely suc­cumbs to repet­i­tive itin­er­ar­ies, of­fer­ing in­stead to delve into global di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. While the ship rolls out a warm wel­come in ports around the world, our jour­ney would sail from vi­brant Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The iconic Syd­ney Opera House stands sen­try along­side the im­pos­ing Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge, bid­ding a fond farewell as the ship de­parts for a coastal col­lec­tion of Aus­tralian and In­done­sian ports. Each stop along the way ren­ders rare op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­nect and en­gage with the Down Un­der ex­pe­ri­ence.

For starters, what could be more au­then­ti­cally Aus­tralian than in­ter­act­ing with kan­ga­roos or cud­dling a koala at a sanc­tu­ary out­side of Bris­bane? Es­tab­lished in 1927, the Lone Pine Koala Sanc­tu­ary goes well above and be­yond a tra­di­tional zoo at­mos­phere. Guests can ac­tu­ally stroll among dozens of free-range ’roos and even hand feed them.

More than 130 koalas are a tes­ta­ment to the far-reach­ing ef­forts in pro­vid­ing th­ese cuties with pro­tec­tion from en­vi­ron­men­tal en­croach­ments. They pro­vide non­stop en­ter­tain­ment as they cling to the fresh eu­ca­lyp­tus branches pro­vided daily to meet their di­etary needs. Vis­i­tors can also spot tra­di­tional Aus­tralian wildlife such as Tas­ma­nian devils, wom­bats, duck-billed platy­pus, and feath­ered friends in­clud­ing the kook­aburra.

In Cairns, we made our way to the vil­lage of Ku­randa, an au­then­tic Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity. The his­toric Ku­randa Scenic Rail­way trav­els through the dense rain­for­est, scal­ing the moun­tain­side over 37 bridges and 15 tun­nels. The re­turn to the port by way of the Skyride gon­dola trans­ports guests on a 4.5-mile thrill ride high above the rain­for­est canopy.

You may be chal­lenged to pro­nounce the Sun­shine Coast’s re­sort port of Mooloolaba, but no ef­fort is re­quired to laze away the day on its golden-sand beaches with the Aus­tralian motto of “no wor­ries” bounc­ing around as an un­der­state­ment. Stroll the beach­front board­walk and take your pick of out­door cafés, juice bars, and bou­tiques. At­trac­tions in­clude the SEA LIFE aquar­ium, which boasts amaz­ing en­coun­ters with a va­ri­ety of ma­rine life.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the beauty of the Great Bar­rier Reef is on many travel bucket lists, and a va­ri­ety of op­tions can make it a re­al­ity. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and there are ways for every­one to ex­plore this won­der of the world. Snorkel­ers and divers can ex­plore the reef up close, while in­quis­i­tive land­lub­bers can also share in the ex­pe­ri­ence from an­chored plat­forms di­rectly over the co­ral par­adise. Th­ese float­ing pon­toons serve as man­made ad­ven­ture is­lands that prom­ise ed­u­ca­tional pre­sen­ta­tions and su­perb un­der­wa­ter view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The spice of Bali is com­ple­mented by ex­cur­sions that probe the cul­tural roots of In­done­sia, whether in­ter­ests lead you to tem­ples or beaches, ele­phant safaris or ar­ti­san craft gal­leries. Ex­cur­sions to art cen­ters ex­pose the in­tri­cate crafts­man­ship of the Ba­li­nese, as con­ver­sa­tions with artists re­veal sto­ries and his­tory passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.

For some­thing truly ex­otic, visit the Ele­phant Sa­fari Park, where you’ll en­gage with th­ese mild-man­nered crea­tures as they im­merse them­selves in the lake and other ar­eas of this res­cue sanc­tu­ary. Fea­tured demon­stra­tions are in­dica­tive of their fa­vorite in­cli­na­tions of paint­ing and pos­ing for pho­tos.

As if lav­ish life on board and stim­u­lat­ing ports aren’t enough, the line’s AzA­maz­ing Evenings pro­gram takes in­volve­ment to an­other level. Dur­ing cruises of seven or more days, guests are treated to an ex­clu­sive, com­pli­men­tary on­shore event, ex­em­pli­fy­ing the com­mit­ment to cul­tural en­gage­ment with the des­ti­na­tion.

For ex­am­ple, our itin­er­ary in­cluded trans­fers to the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion & Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre for a pri­vate per­for­mance fea­tur­ing world-fa­mous jazz trum­peter James Mor­ri­son and his band. Fac­tor in canapés and drinks served by white-gloved waiters be­fore the con­cert and in­dulge in this hall­mark con­cept.

Sin­ga­pore is the fi­nal port for good­byes and ap­pro­pri­ately serves as one of the most con­ve­nient gate­ways for a re­turn flight back to re­al­ity. Be­ing jet­ti­soned off to a des­ti­na­tion 12,000 miles away in­sin­u­ates some­thing ex­tra spe­cial, and Aza­mara Club Cruises cer­tainly makes good on that prom­ise.

Sail­ing past the Syd­ney Opera House and en­gag­ing with abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties are quin­tes­sen­tial Down Un­der ex­pe­ri­ences.

State­rooms and suites are in­fused with state-of-the art-tech­nol­ogy and stylish sur­round­ings; the stun­ning atrium is a re­laxed, lux­u­ri­ous gath­er­ing space.

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