Azamara Pursuit, the hotly anticipated ship from Azamara Club Cruises, was christened in Southampton in August – here Becky Wiggins gives her verdict.
Fom the moment you step on board Azamara Pursuit, the atmosphere is one of laid back boutique chic, with thickly carpeted public areas in a sophisticated palette of rich cream and muted earth tones, delicate trellised staircases with brass handrails and eye-catching works of art.
Especially curated by Michael Loveland, the art collection brings together classic and contemporary art from unknown artists worldwide. The most striking piece is The Beacon of Hope, created by Andy Scott: a contemporary replica of the original sculpture that stands in the heart of Belfast, and a subtle tribute to the Belfast shipyards where the majority of the building work was carried out on Azamara Pursuit.
The statue, holding ‘The Ring of Thanksgiving’, represents an endless wish for hope, peace and harmony, and takes pride of place at the top of the staircase at the very centre of the ship in the Mosaic Café.
The Café offers squishy sofas and cosy corners to relax with an artisan coffee and a delicious pastry, and the newly-created Den is a calming space with a relaxed piano bar feel and more comfortable seating areas, as well as the Spirits bar. Dining options include main dining restaurant Discoveries, which boasts an excellent wine list; and the bright, airy Windows Café, which offers stylish, buffet-style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner with plenty of outside seating. Poolside grill The Patio offers casual lunches poolside and transforms into an elegant al fresco spot for dining under the stars at night.
Speciality dining on board includes contemporary Italian-themed Aquilina, serving classic, authentic-tasting dishes such as risotto alla Milanese served with delicious, garlic grilled shrimp; and sautéed beef tenderloin with shrimp and pancetta. Don’t leave without trying the Soufflé al Limoncello with white chocolate.
Prime C offers a creative steak and seafood menu with an excellent selection of steaks and sides, interesting salads and classics like lobster bisque. The delicate mini cinnamon-sugar dougnuts are the stuff of legend, served with dipping sauces and not for sharing, no matter what the menu might suggest. The décor is warm and sophisticated, with modern textures and spectacular views to enjoy. The chefs will often take inspiration from the local markets in port, so there’s the opportunity to have an authentic local dish made just for you. The wine lists in the speciality dining restaurants offer a good mix of European and New World, with knowledgeable sommeliers adding to the fine dining feel.
The elegant ship boasts a total of 351 staterooms, and they’re all suitably high end, with soft, comfortable bedlinens, rich textures and all the small touches that you would expect from a boutique hotel, with fresh flowers, fluffy bathrobes, eco-friendly luxury toiletries, 24-hour room service and those all-important turn down treats.
For extra indulgence, Pursuit has two dazzling new club spa suites, with rain shower and glass-enclosed bathtub looking out over the ocean.
The suites give access to the rarefied atmosphere of the white marble Sanctum Spa, offering signature facial and body treatments, a state of the art gym, and the gorgeous Sanctum terrace, with an inviting bubbling salt water plunge pool complete with a view of the sea.
White Nights on Azamara Pursuit
Azamara Club Cruises won Best for Cultural Immersion at the British Cruise Awards 2018 and on every voyage of seven nights or more, guests can enjoy an ‘AzAmazing Evening’, a complimentary showcase of the culture, cuisine and character of a destination. In Cherbourg, we were treated to our very own exclusive French market, complete with delicious fresh bread and pastries, flowers, French wine and of course cheese, followed by a performance of traditional French singing and culminating with a raucous Can Can.
Another Azamara Club Cruises’ tradition is the iconic White Night party, where the decks are transformed into a wonderful white wonderland of linen-clad tables, and guests are encouraged to wear all-white evening wear, creating an elegant ambience. The magical evenings feature a delicious outdoor buffet with sumptuous desserts, local performers and entertainment, with dancing on deck and endless Champagne.
Entertainment on board is varied and slickly presented, with everything from opera nights to Broadway shows. The Cabaret Lounge Bar showcases ‘54 Below At Sea’, transforming into the legendary New York City cabaret club, complete with impressive signature cocktails.
The Living Room offers a laid-back space by day, but by night guests can dance the night away to DJ sets and live music, all with panoramic views from the front of the ship.
In the spirit of destination immersion, the onboard enrichment programme offers a selection of talks by onboard experts, wine tastings and culinary demonstrations, often themed to the ship’s ports of call.
Azamara Pursuit will visit a host of new destinations, travelling from Europe to South America (both the east and west coasts), offering more days in port than ever before, with tempting itineraries like South African cruises including five days inland on safari, country intensive cruises including 10-day round trips from Cape Town, and more partnerships with land-based companies such as Belmond and Rocky Mountaineer.
Azamara Pursuit joins sister ship Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey as the third ship in the fleet.
In 2020, all three of the ships in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet will unite to sail together from Slovenia to Venice. It is bound to be, as Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, describes it, “one hell of a family reunion.”
A seven-night cruise from Monte-Carlo departing 20 April 2019 on Azamara Pursuit starts from £1,155pp. Ports of call include Santa Margherita; Portovenere and Livorno. Price includes full board meals and entertainment on board. To book, visit azamaraclubcruises.co.uk