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A boutique cruise line has been on our radar for a while but prices to be honest have put us off. Until we found this one, an absolute bargain and a no brainer.

The deal included a two night stay in Barcelona before the cruise and a one night stay in Las Palmas after the cruise as well as the cruise being fully all-inclusive and including onboard credit.

We booked through a travel agent who we met and became good friends with on our Australian cruise last year. His name is Joe Biggs and of course I fully recommend him for all your travel/holiday needs.

His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/JoeBiggsPHA and please tell him Andy recommended him!

𝗝𝗼𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗴𝗴𝘀 | 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗛𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗔𝗱𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗼𝗿 – 01138730195 | 07850347195

Joe Biggs | Personal Holiday Advisor & Jet2holidays Agent (joebiggspha.com)

Email: hello@joebiggspha.com

ABTA 🌐 P7577 | ATOL 🔐 5534 | Est. 2007

Itinerary

Day 3 – Sail from Barcelona

Day 1 to 3 – Flight to and stay in Barcelona

Day 4 – Valencia

Day 5 – Cartagena (Spain not Columbia)

Day 6 – Malaga

Day 7 – Gibraltar

Day 8 – At Sea

Day 9 – Lanzarote

Day 10 to 11 – Las Palmas

Day 11 Flight to UK

Flights, Transfers and Pre-Cruise Stay

For the first time ever, we were on the first flight of the day to leave from Heathrow. The big advantage of the early flight was that the airport was very quiet and not many shops were open for Lisa to spend our hard-earned money!

Azamara Pursuit alongside in Cartagena
Azamara Pursuit alongside in Cartagena

A relatively short flight saw us arrive in Barcelona El Prat Airport mid-morning and pick up the pre-booked transfer to our hotel.

First and only issue of the holiday; no sign of the transfer. Annoying as we had actually landed 40 minutes early, so we were able to find out where to meet the transfer driver and relax and wait. The pick-up time came and went and after half an hour we decided it wasn’t coming so we found one of the plentiful taxis to take us to the hotel. Now this is where booking everything through a travel agent pays dividends. A quick call to Joe (details above, hint, hint) and he advised to just get a receipt, email it to him and we would be refunded, exactly what subsequently happened. So, a potential dampener on the very first morning of our holiday was dealt with quickly and with no fuss.

Our hotel was the Barcelona Universal that was clean, tidy and functional and a great base for the couple of days we had in the city. We couldn’t check in until 2pm but they had good luggage facilities to store the cases until the room was ready. Our room was large, it was well fitted out and the facilities were good. We felt the breakfast was overpriced for what it was but we only ate once in the hotel.

Hotel Barcelona Universal - Entrance
Hotel Barcelona Universal – Entrance

I won’t wax too lyrical about Barcelona. There is plenty to see and do here in two days, but I would strongly advise to ‘Go Native’ and find one of the countless Tapas bars to dine at; we thought they were great. Another site that we really enjoyed was ‘La Boqueria’, a wonderful world-famous food market and very much worth a visit.

La Boqueria, Barcelona
La Boqueria, Barcelona

If you intend to visit Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece ‘Sagrada Família’, be wary that you can only purchase entrance tickets online through an app and there were so many people there the app would not download onto my phone. We therefore only saw it from outside but it is a sight to behold.

We thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona and would and have recommended it to family and friends.

Boarding Day

Yet again, we had a pre-booked transfer, which thankfully arrived this time, that took us the relatively short distance to the Port. We luckily had our wits about us as there was another Azamara vessel berthed near the port entrance, several guests fell foul of this and were dropped off there rather than at the Azamara Pursuit.

Once the check-in formalities had been completed, we were seated in a ‘holding area’ for about 1 ¾ hours but this seemed to go quickly after chatting away to other guests and having complementary water/soft drinks we were in the second group to board.

Once over the gangway, we were ushered to ‘Cabaret’ the ships theatre for the safety brief, with our first fizz of the week handed to us to enjoy while we sat through the video and briefing.

Cabaret Lounge
Cabaret Lounge

That was it; we were onboard and it was time to find our cabin, unpack (a necessary chore we always get out of the way as soon as we get to the cabin) and off to find a snack and a drink.

Ship

One thing I always do prior to cruising is visit the Cruise Line’s website and have a read through the features and areas of the ship as well as checking out YouTube for any Vlogs of the ship.

Azamara Pursuit has a stated capacity of 710 guests so its size is proportionate to this capacity. We were blown away with how well laid out and how well looked after it is. Nowhere was very far away and it is the first cruise where we can honestly say we visited every public area on the ship, very difficult to accomplish on the larger ships we are used to.

Stateroom

We had an Ocean View stateroom for this cruise. We had always had a Balcony stateroom on previous cruises but as this was only a week long cruise and we were in port every day bar one there was no real need for a Balcony and the extra money saved went on upgrading the drinks package!

Azamara Pursuit Ocean View Stateroom
Azamara Pursuit Ocean View Stateroom

Our stateroom was 4010 and it was absolutely fine for our needs. We thought there was plenty of room for storage, the bed was extremely comfortable and I particularly loved the pillows. The only negative was the size of the bathroom, and particularly the shower. It was workable but it wasn’t much fun sticking to the shower curtain every time I showered but it was what it was.

Our cabin steward was fine but unusually didn’t seem to go out of his way and we barely saw him throughout the cruise. This is not criticism of him, it is just on our previous cruises the cabin stewards had made real efforts to please and serve us, no issues though.

Public Spaces

Although it was a smaller ship, it never felt cramped and there was hardly ever a queue for anything or a wait for service. We were always able to find somewhere to sit, again not always the case on the bigger ships at peak times.

The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room

Décor throughout the public spaces was high class and as mentioned earlier well looked after.

Ornate Stairways
Ornate Stairways

Food

The absolute highlight of the time onboard was the food. Whether it from ‘Discoveries Restaurant’, the main dining room, or from ‘Windows Café’ the standard of the food and choice was superb.

Discoveries Restaurant
Discoveries Restaurant

My guilty pleasure was ‘The Patio’ pool grill which served some of the best burgers I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few!

We only tried one of the two speciality restaurants. There is ‘Prime C’, a steakhouse where I had the best Porterhouse ever with a fantastic ambience. The other was ‘Aqualina’, for Italian inspired cuisine. As I say, we didn’t try ‘Aqualina’ but others told us how wonderful it was.

The end result for every meal onboard Azamara Pursuit
The end result for every meal onboard Azamara Pursuit

Bars

Several around the ship both above and below deck. All of them were good and they were made into an experience by the talented bar staff, all of them knowledgeable and educational if you needed their help.

Discoveries Bar
Discoveries Bar

We boarded with the ‘Always Included’ package prepaid but did upgrade to their ‘Ultimate Package’ as we like to make our cruises special and enjoy an elevated choice. Of note was the included Greg Norman Shiraz that was just great with more than several glasses of it passing my lips!

Entertainment

This was an area of contention for some guests. We went on this cruise with eyes open to the entertainment team being small and we were not expecting Broadway/West End extravaganzas. Some people expected more, we didn’t.

We felt what they did, they did well and there was a variety of evening shows in the ‘Cabaret’ as well as daytime activities to keep you busy, if you wanted to.

We didn’t go off the ship for the much vaunted ‘Azamazing Evening’, we did however have a local ‘troupe’ called ‘The House of Flames’ come onboard and perform in the Cabaret Lounge. Lisa and I really enjoyed it’s mix of flamenco, music, comedy and acrobats/man spinning around in a big ring!

The 'House of Flames' Ensemble (and me!)
The ‘House of Flames’ Ensemble (and me!)

‘The Den’ provided another good area for entertainment and we thoroughly enjoyed the pianist/singer Alexa, she was so good.

The house band were good; many a good night (some late, some even later!) was had in ‘The Living Room’ listening to them or partaking (badly) in karaoke or dancing to the disco.

Finally, the White Night! A gala evening held around the swimming pool where tables and guests are adorned in white and the ships staff cook up a feast. A wonderful night, great food, great entertainment but a little bit warmer would have been appreciated. True to Azamara, they thought of this and blankets were available if needed.

White Night
White Night

Staff

One of the standouts of this cruise was the staff. Captain Antonio who seemed to be everywhere, all of the time and was great fun. Emily and Nicholas (Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director) were excellent at what they did and worked extremely hard for us all as were the rest of the entertainment team. Already mentioned were the brilliant bar staff and we can’t forget the attentive restaurant staff from all the restaurants, the standard was so high.

Alfred in the ‘Mosaic Café’ was my morning lifesaver with my double shot espresso and mint tea for Lisa. I used the phrase ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ on more than one occasion to him!

The crew appeared genuinely happy and contented and the ship came over as a happy ship which is not always the case.

Ports / Excursions

I am not going to go into detail for the individual ports, there are plenty of outlets available to research prior to visiting and so many different types of excursions available in each port. I found the literature available onboard was sufficient to give us ideas of where to visit.

We didn’t take any pre-booked excursions on this cruise. We rather chose to just get off in the port and wander around following our noses. Where transfers were needed, Azamara laid on free coaches to take guests to the centre of the city.

Our takeaway from the ports we visited was how neat, tidy and new so many of the areas we visited were, mixed with historic buildings.

Malaga and Valencia were particularly enjoyed by us and we loved the ‘Britishness’ of Gibraltar, a port I visited many times back in my days in the Royal Navy. Lisa couldn’t avoid visiting Marks and Spencer!

Summary

This was a bit of a step into the unknown for us trying a boutique cruise for the first time, however we returned home smitten.

We didn’t miss out on anything because of the size of the ship, in fact everything just seemed more available (sunbeds always available, whatever the time of day or weather).

It seemed much more personal and we found it easier to strike up friendships, some of whom we have stayed in touch with since returning home.

The ship seemed genuinely cared for and looked after with a hard working crew, day and night.

We are very much looking forward to our next Azamara cruise, we hope its sometime soon!

Front Page – My Cruise Blog

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1 Comment

Simon Clark · 5 January 2024 at 10:28

Love Azamara and this brought back a lot of memories for me, good blog post, thank you

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