Some tenets of Asian culture hold the number eight in high regard as being a number of incredibly good fortune, and guests experiencing Azamara Cruise' inaugural Asia season can enjoy the number eight and make their Asia adventure even more memorable at the same time. The line is offering eight-day pre- and post-cruise cruisetours in China during its sailings from January through March of 2009.
The pre-cruise package begins in Beijing and ends in Hong Kong; guests board Azamara Quest on the last day of the package. The post-cruise package begins in Hong Kong and ends in Beijing; after disembarking Azamara Quest, guests will be met by their cruisetour tour director at the pier. Both packages feature multiple opportunities for travelers to engage firsthand with some of China's most breathtaking sights, scenes and tastes.
Some of the most widely known spots that guests on Azamara Cruise' pre- and post-cruise tours will visit include the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall at Mutianyue, and Victoria Peak. All of these visits – as well as all planned activities in the tours – are fully escorted and guided by knowledgeable escorts who will share a great deal of information about each place.
Throughout the eight-day tours, guests will overnight in multiple cities, including Beijin, Xian, Guilin and Hong Kong. Some meals are included, most notably a traditional Peking duck dinner in Beijing, a Chinese dumpling dinner followed by dumpling-making and noodle-throwing demonstrations in Xian, and lunch during a scenic cruise along the River Li in Guilin.
The tours also include visits to museums such as the famed Terracotta Warriors Museum, the Bronze Chariots Museum, Yangling Museum, and Shaanxi Provincial Museum. There, guests will have the opportunity to learn about important historical and cultural milestones in China, while browsing unforgettable collections of artifacts. Guests will also experience several temples, including the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Great Mosque of Xian, and Hong Kong's Man Mo Temple.
All cruisetours include baggage transfers as well as air and ground transportation.
Coupled with Azamara's Asia cruises themselves, these cruisetours elevate guests' experience of Asian culture. Rich with overnight stays, the Southeast and Northeast Asia cruise itineraries range from 14 to 18 nights on the 694-guest Azamara Quest. Azamara Quest will sail 14-night Northeast Asia cruises open-jaw between Hong Kong and Beijing (Tianjin), China, on February 14, February 28 and March 14, 2009. Ports of call during these sailings include an overnight stay in Shanghai, China; Pusan, South Korea; Hiroshima, Japan; an overnight stay in Kyoto (Osaka), Japan; Seoul (Incheon), Korea; and Dalian, China. The final Asia voyage will depart on April 7, 2009 from Singapore back to Athens (Lavrion), Greece. Ports will be the same, in reverse order, as those during the Athens-to-Singapore sailing at the start of the season.
Guests wishing to make the most of their time in Asia may want to take advantage of Azamara's pre-packaged shore excursions, available during the cruise portion of the cruisetour. The packages offer guests savings of up to 5% over the retail value of the tours in each package. The three remaining Northeast Asia sailings during the current season will offer the excursion packages. Sample excursions included in each package during these itineraries include:
In the Alpha Collection, a visit to Shanghai, China, called “Shanghai Famous Acrobats.” This evening activity includes an acrobatic performance that follows a tradition that has been unbroken since 200 BC.
In the Omega Collection, a multi-day overland tour of Hiroshima, Japan, called “Bullet Train Overland Tour.” On the January 31 and February 28 sailings, this tour goes from Hiroshima to Osaka, and on the February 14 and March 14 sailings, it goes in the reverse direction. The tour features time in Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan for 1,100 years. Kyoto has over 1,200 Buddhist temples and more than 400 Shinto shrines, most of which are completely intact. In Kyoto, this tour features visits to several temples and the Nijo Castle. In Hiroshima, the tour includes visits to Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb dome. The centerpiece of this tour is a ride between Hiroshima and Osaka on the famous “Shinkansen,” or bullet train, which makes the trip in approximately 105 minutes.
Shore excursion 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.