By Joseph, Training Supervisor.

Excitement was mounting as this holiday was full of firsts for me! My first ever Cruise & Stay, my first Azamara cruise and my first solo cruise! 

I’ve done quite a bit of solo travel now and I’ve always been fine with it, but something about cruising solo made me nervous. Would I talk to people? How would the experience compare? Would I feel lonely? So many thoughts went through my head at the beginning of this trip. 

My Cruise & Stay Holiday in Istanbul

I was flying out to Istanbul and booked a one-night stay in the city, before embarking on Azamara Onward for an eight-night Greek Isles cruise. 

I arrived in Istanbul and my transfer arrived within 10 minutes, which amazed me as my flight was delayed! The transfer company sent me clear instructions, and all ran smoothly despite the delay. After my transfer, I checked into the hotel at Galataport. I had wanted to stay in the older part of Istanbul but the beauty of Galataport was that the cruise would dock right next to my hotel.

The following morning, I woke up and all I had to do was walk across the street into the port area. I did miss out on some of Istanbul, but I’d gathered that I would be back to see more of the city, and go to the hot air balloons at Cappadocia! 

Setting Sail with Azamara

Boarding Azamara Onward was a super speedy process, lasting no more than 15 minutes from start to finish. It felt like I was on the ship in a blink of an eye.

Stepping onboard an Azamara ship for the first time was so refreshing. The small ship with a country club vibe was very different to any other cruise ship I’ve been on – it felt so cosy and inviting. 

I was told by a colleague there were several things I should do on the first day. Firstly, I went to arrange my speciality dining reservations. Next, I upgraded my drinks package, something that’s not a necessity on Azamara as they include drinks, but the ultimate package had my favourite wine, so I couldn’t resist. 

With everything arranged within 15 minutes of being on board, I decided it was time for lunch. The Patio came highly recommended – it is Azamara’s poolside grill that’s a sit-down restaurant. The food was fantastic, and they would rotate a special each day based on the location in which we were docked.

I spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool under the Turkish sun!

When it was time to sail, we had a stunning sunset over Istanbul, and the sail down the Bosphorus was brilliant. 

We spent the following day at sea, doing all the things you would expect. That night I was in Prime C, the speciality steak restaurant onboard – and the food was seriously incredible! Everything was cooked to perfection, and the service was just as impressive.

An absolute benefit of the small ship is the itinerary. You visit small ports, and the size of the ship makes it possible to dock extremely close by, if not right in the centre.

Some ports of call stood out to me during my solo cruise with Azamara. I had a full day learning about the history of Thessaloniki and then we had our AzAmazing evening. This was a very special event as the whole ship was involved. We were scheduled to depart the ship and head to Aristotle University for an evening with an orchestra; coaches waited for us right outside the ship, and welcome drinks greeted us, followed by an introduction to the evening by our Cruise Director.

The next stand-out port was Mykonos. It was so beautiful to see first-hand with its blue skies and seas, whitewashed buildings and streets. It was the perfect backdrop for White Night, another staple of an Azamara cruise. Each passenger dresses in something white and takes part in a deck party, which was such a highlight of the cruise for me. The senior officers are all doing a BBQ on deck, where a band is playing music and drinks were flowing – it was such a fun night. The party carried on until it was time to depart Mykonos, when White Night moved inside the ship.

Throughout the cruise, I was always taken aback by the crew. They remembered my name, my drinks preferences, the dining table I liked and my routine. It was a very thoughtful level of service, and nothing was too much trouble … if they could do something for you, they would! 

Looking Back on My First Solo Cruise with Azamara

At the start of the blog, I mentioned it was my first solo cruise, and I’m confident to say it will not be my last. I made friends at the port on the first day who I didn’t say goodbye to until I reached Birmingham Airport. Everyone was super friendly and with this ship being on the smaller side, there was a real sense of community. On White Night, I sat with a group of people I’d met along the way. It never really felt like I was left out or excluded from some things just because I was on my own! 

This was also my first Cruise & Stay holiday. I’d never flown to a destination and then embarked on a cruise – what I thought was going to be a stressful experience turned out to be so easy.

Finally, this was my first cruise on Azamara, and again, it won’t be my last. The crew, food, drink and entertainment were all top-notch and I look forward to booking my next adventure.

Share this on: