Travelers with easy access to Miami and San Diego and a desire to explore unique destinations in relaxed, luxurious style will delight in Azamara Cruises’ 2010-11 winter offerings on Azamara Journey. The 694-guest ship, which features Azamara butler service in every stateroom, complimentary specialty dining, a laid-back, no-formal-nights elegance, and a variety of available in-depth shore excursions, will sail a variety of first-time-ever Sea of Cortez voyages as well as its popular Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises, between November 2010 and April 2011. The cruises in Azamara Journey’s 2010-11 winter season features visits to 23 ports in 13 different countries during her 2010-11 winter season; Azamara opened these cruises for sale today.
Not only are Miami and San Diego easily accessible drive-market ports for travelers living within easy reach, they are also attractive tourist destinations for out-of-town visitors.
Azamara Journey’s 2010-11 Caribbean season will begin earlier than it will at the end of 2009, making the crossing from Europe on November 15, 2010. Upon arriving in Miami, Azamara Journey will sail several 12-night Caribbean itineraries roundtrip out of Miami, visiting ports such as St. John and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Marigot, Saint Martin; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Pointe A Pitre, Guadeloupe; Gustavia, St. Barts; and Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; Castries, St. Lucia; and Roseau, Dominica. The ship will also offer 12-night Caribbean voyages between February and April of 2011.
Numerous available shore excursions make the Azamara Caribbean experience especially memorable. During “Historical Plantation Ruins of St. John,” guests have the opportunity to experience the unspoiled natural beauty of the Virgin Islands National Park through an exclusive historical and cultural island tour conducted by a leading local expert in Virgin Islands history. “Caribbean Scenic Rail and Brimstone Hill” in St. Kitts give guests the chance to experience a unique rail/highway excursion that circles the entire island and visits the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” at Brimstone Hill Fortress.
Azamara will offer two 16-night Panama Canal voyages, sailing from Miami to San Diego on December 23, 2010 and from San Diego to Miami on January 30, 2011, include stops at numerous culture-rich central American destinations rife with tropical foliage and other breathtaking scenery. These include Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; and Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Throughout these cruises, optional shore excursions such as “Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary and Mangrove Boat Tour” in Puntarenas can enhance the in-port experience. During this excursion, guests visit the bird sanctuary and learn about scarlet macaws, one of the most endangered species in the American tropics.
The Panama Canal sailings will bookend two “Sea of Cortez” cruises roundtrip out of San Diego, marking the first time that Azamara Cruises or its sister lines Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have sailed such itineraries. Taking place on January 8 and 19, the two 11-night voyages will visit five ports new to Azamara: Mazatlán, Topolobampo, Loreto, Guaymas and La Paz, Mexico, in addition to the previously visited Cabo San Lucas.
The new ports offer travelers the opportunity to experience lesser-known areas in Mexico. Topolobampo, a beachfront town overlooking one of the largest bays in the Americas, is close to the Copper Canyon, Farrallon Island and Mayo tribe villages. Loreto, located on the northern tip of the Baja California Sur state, was the first Spanish settlement in the California peninsula, and is located near the Sierra la Gigante Bahia de Loreto Marine Park, the Our Lady of Loreto Mission and several beaches. La Paz, Baja California Sur’s capital, features several natural and historical attractions such as beaches, churches, museums, whale watching, fishing and water sports. La Paz is close to Los Islotes in the Pichilinque Bay, where guests can see the area’s large sea lion population. Mazatlán, located among Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountain range along the Golden Coast, has been a major seaport since the 800s, and today, is a popular tourist destination for locals and international visitors alike. Guaymas, one of the oldest and largest seaports on Mexico’s Pacific coast, was founded in 1701 by Jesuit missionaries. Cruise tourism is new to Guaymas, as its first cruise ship visit occurred in 2008; this untouched gem is an ideal complement to Azamara’s exotic-destination-focused itineraries.
Shore excursions available in the new ports include “Copper Canyon by Train” in Topolobampo, during which guests will enjoy a rugged, full-day adventure that includes an early-morning motorcoach ride and a privately chartered train ride through the Sierra Madres on the Chihuahua Pacifico railway before arrival at the Copper Canyon, which is accessible only by train. Winding through tunnels and bridges, guests will be transported from sea level to 7,200 feet before enjoying lunch, stunning vistas and a leisurely journey back to the ship. In La Paz, “Snorkeling with the Sea Lions” offers a taste of the region’s popular eco-tourism offerings. The Sea of Cortez is home to marine creatures including sea lions, whales, dolphins, Cortez angel fish and parrot fish, and this excursion offers multiple photo opportunities. The highlight of the excursion is a boat ride to the Los Islotes sea lion colony, and the snorkeling and swimming with sea lions that follow.