In addition to making it easy for guests to experience all the amenities of a deluxe cruise vacation by offering extraordinary service onboard while sailing to unique destinations, Azamara Cruises also offers its guests the convenience of pre-packaged shore excursions on select sailings in Europe and Asia. The packages aim to give guests an easy way to capture the essence of a destination, and offer guests a 5% savings over Azamara’s retail value of the tours in each package. As both 694-guest Azamara ships make their way to Europe for the 2009 season, Azamara has opened its 2009 Europe shore excursion packages for sale, including a new two-day port package option.

Nineteen sailings throughout Azamara’s slate of 2009 Baltic, Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises will offer excursion packages. Each of these sailings offers two variations on the packages: an “Omega Collection” and an “Alpha Collection.” The “Omega Collection” is designed for a more experienced traveler who has been to the destination before or is looking for a more specialized excursion experience. The “Alpha Collection” is ideal for first-time visitors to the destination or for those who seek a variety of highlights in the destination. The packages do not include a tour in every port, which gives guests the option to purchase other, individual tours in those locations.

Azamara’s 2009 Europe shore excursion packages give guests the opportunity to enjoy a carefully planned immersive experience in the regions that they will visit. For example, Azamara Journey’s October 11, October 25 and November 8 sailings each offer a “History and Culture of the Eastern Mediterranean” Omega Collection package that includes overland tours in Egypt and Israel. In Cairo, guests will visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Mighty Sphinx and an overnight hotel stay. In Israel, guests will visit Galilee, Jerusalem and Bethlehem and stay overnight in a hotel in Jerusalem. This collection also includes an up-close look at Italy’s excavations of Pompeii, lunch overlooking the Gulf of Naples, and a drive along the scenic Amalfi Coast.

Azamara Quest’s July 12 and August 23 sailings offer a “Highlights of the Black Sea” Alpha Collection package. During the tours in this line-up, guests will see the best the Gulf of Naples has to offer by exploring the famous island of Capri and visiting the ruins of Pompeii on a guided walking tour when the ship visits Sorrento, Italy. In Ephesus, Turkey, guests will visit the House of the Virgin Mary, where the Virgin Mary is reputed to have spent the last years of her life, as well as the ancient city of Ephesus, known for its magnificent excavations. In Yalta, Ukraine, the tour package includes visits to Livadia Palace, site of the 1945 Yalta Convention, and Alupka Castle.

This year, Azamara has introduced a new option: multiple-day tour packages available on select sailings in certain cities where the ship is overnighting in port. Azamara aims to offer guests a way to experience the highlights in these cities without any duplication of venues visited. The packages are available in Sorrento, Ravenna and Rome, Italy; London (Greenwhich), England; Stockholm, Sweden; Edinburgh (Leith), Scotland, Alexandria/Port Said, Egypt; and St. Petersburg, Russia (two- and three-day packages available).

The two-day package offered in Edinburgh takes guests into the hub of the world’s woolen industry as well as on a tour of Dalmeny House, a Tudor Gothic house and the family home of the Earls of Rosebury. The tours are scheduled in a way that also allows guests to experience the world-famous Military Tattoo performance in the evening.

In St. Petersburg, two- and three-day packages are available. A two-day package, which actually spans three days, gives guests the flexibility to take packaged tours on days one and three, and purchase additional components such as “Moscow and the Mysterious Kremlin” tour or private car/van tours on day two. In the three-day St. Petersburg package, tours are included on all three days.

Packages are available for purchase online, and must be purchased before four days prior to the date of sailing. Tours within the package cannot be exchanged or cancelled by the guest. If Azamara Cruises cancels a tour, the guest will receive a refund for the full retail value of the tour.

Should guests prefer to create their own shore excursion line-up instead of taking advantage of the packages, they can select from a wide variety of captivating options that Azamara offers in the region. Examples of individual tours, which can be booked online before four days prior to the date of sailing or booked onboard during the cruise, include a Ferrari experience in Civitavecchia, Italy, where guests can put their driving skills to the test; a flight from Akureyri, Iceland, that takes guests to the green oasis of Grimley Island in the northern Atlantic Ocean; or a tour of the ancient town of Pag with a cheese tasting in Zadar, Croatia, to name a few.