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Great news for those who love small luxury ship cruising is that Azamara Club Cruises, a brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, a global cruise holiday company that also owns Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, is coming to Australia for the first time in December 2015.

The boutique cruise brand, which is renowned for its elegant cruising style and destination focus, will debut in Australia and New Zealand when Azamara Quest arrives in Darwin on 28 December 2015.

Prior to arriving in Australia, Azamara Club Cruises will revitalise their two 686 passenger ships with an extensive makeover. Azamara Quest will be upgraded in September 2015 and Azamara Journey will complete her dry dock in January 2016, before she then commences her season down under in 2017. More good news is that Azamara Quest will return in 2018.

One of the main features that sets Azamara Club Cruises apart is their focus on destination immersion, where they offer longer stays in ports, more overnights and night touring.

Each Azamara Club voyage features Azamara Club’s exclusive, bespoke AzAmazing Evening events that are specially created, complimentary night tours offering passengers the chance to experience a destination’s authentic culture and character.

In Darwin, guests will be treated to an evening at Crocosaurus Cove where they will meet the world’s largest captive reptile collection, including nearly 200 saltwater crocodiles. The highlight of the night is the Cage of Death, where a handful of the ship’s officers drop into a protected tank with some of the largest giant crocodiles in captivity. The unique event continues with a ceremonial demonstration by representatives of the Larrakia people. As the ceremony winds down, guests can hold some of the smaller reptiles that make their home at this incredible adventure center.

In Cairns, guests will be offered a journey into Australia’s Aboriginal dreamtime for an unforgettable evening of entertainment, including authentic music, chanting and dance that culminates in a traditional fire making ceremony by the local Tjapukai people. Guests will be immersed in the spectacle of a corroboree depicting the thrill of the hunt and the ancient totems of the rainforest people.

In Newcastle, guests will enjoy an evening of entertainment by local Australian artist, Olivia Chindamo, at Fort Scratchley. This historic and majestic site, which guards the Hunter River Estuary, is undoubtedly Newcastle’s most spectacular vantage point.

Other exciting features are Azamara Club’s Insider Access, taking guests behind the scenes at heritage estates, family farms, local shops and art galleries. Guests enjoy conversations and shared stories with their hosts, gaining valuable insights and appreciation of local culture. Nights and Cool Places offer exclusive after dinner experiences in small, intimate groups, ranging from a harbour yacht experience to a private gallery tour with a famous local artist. The Cruise Global, Eat Local programme features carefully curated dining experiences around the globe, where guests are taken to places the locals frequent, from a traditional family trattoria to a dim sum feast.

While destinations are the highlight, guests on board Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest receive personal service and enjoy fine cuisine plus boutique wines from around the globe. Included in each cruise are beverages, gratuities, self-service laundry, English Butler service for suite guests and shuttle transportation to city centres in ports, where available.

I have had the pleasure of sailing of Azamara Journey and look forward to welcoming her to Australia.

Sandra Tiltman


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