From Italian “slow food” and Slovenian salt to the French vineyards of Sauternes and Graves, Azamara Cruises’ slate of culinary-themed shore excursions offer travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the richness of Europe’s culture. Azamara also has begun offering packaged shore excursions on certain itineraries.
This summer and fall, the 694-passenger Azamara ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, are sailing the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, respectively, for the first time. Onboard, guests enjoy complimentary meals in the ships’ restaurants, including two specialty restaurants, as well as various wine-themed workshops and activities. On land, the offerings are no less tantalizing. Examples of Azamara Cruises’ food- and wine-related Europe shore excursions include:
· “Slow food” tours in Livorno, Civitavecchia, and Venice, Italy; designed for those who love tastes that have endured through the ages, and who appreciate traditional ways of preparing and savoring meals, these tours feature wine tastings, olive oil tastings, cooking demonstrations and serene countryside walks.
· A sampling of Koper, Slovenia’s wine, olives and salt during a tour that begins with a drive through the Slovenian Mediterranean coast to the salt plants that date back more than 700 years; there, guests see the salt houses, where raw salt is processed and packaged, and continue their journey to a farmhouse known for its olive-oil production and its depiction of Istrian farm life, as well as to a Slovenian wine cellar for a tasting.
· A “Vineyards of Sauternes and Graves” tour in the Bordeaux region of France, where guests travel through acres of vineyards before visiting the underground winery at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, known for its red wines; the region of Sauternes, where the world-renowned dessert wine is vented; and chateaux Y’Quem and Suduiraut, which offer outstanding tastes as well.
· An exclusive cooking workshop at Amsterdam, Holland’s Michelin-2-star Ron Blaauw restaurant, where guests have the opportunity to learn from a culinary master before enjoying a gastronomic four-course lunch paired with select wines.
· A “pasta party” at Country Relais due Laghi in Civitavecchia, featuring a visit to the medieval village of Anguillara by the lake of Bracciano before a trip to Tuscia, where local chefs demonstrate the traditional art of pasta-making three ways: with water and flour, with eggs, and with potatoes, before inviting guests to try their hand at it before enjoying a five-course gourmet meal.
· A celebration of the colors, tastes and smells of Turkey in Kusadasi, during which guests experience a visit to Sirince, known for its incredibly fragrant and flavorful apricots and peaches; a trip to the mountainous area of Kirazl Koy, where guests can visit the local primary school, nap beneath a tree, or stroll through the village sipping Turkish coffee; a freshly prepared special lunch of gozleme, keskek and manti; and even a chance to help the locals pick seasonal fruits.
Azamara also has introduced select shore excursion packages during its European season, that make it easy for guests to enjoy an in-depth, immersive experience in the region in which they are cruising. “Capitals of the Baltic,” for example, offered on some of Azamara’s Scandinavia/Russia sailings, includes a slate of excursions such as “Berlin’s Cultural Splendors,” “Porvoo, Hirvihaara Manor and Helsinki Highlights,” “The Best of St. Petersburg,” “Hermitage Splendor,” “Moscow and the Mysterious Kremlin,” “Historic Stockholm and Sigtuna,” and ‘Drottingholm Palace, Residence of the Swedish.” The packages, which guests can book before sailing, are offered on 18 different sailings. Booking these tours as a package individually costs guests less than it would to book all of them separately.
Azamara also offers guests the opportunity to extend their European vacation with a cruisetour, exploring destinations inland that are not accessible by ship. Azamara's cruisetours in Europe are offered pre-cruise; ranging from three to eight nights in length, they focus on the regions of Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe.