Steve and I were recently on the Azzurra on a charter planning cruise. Our client met us in Athens and first impressions were “wow” – exceeded all expectations.
The Azzurra is one very sleek, sexy yacht at 330 feet, carrying 100 passengers with 77 crew. In our first port of call, someone on the dock approached me and asked “who owns that private yacht”. Definitely a show stopper. She is beautifully designed on the inside – modern elegant furnishings – subtle shades of greys with bright color accents. The crew are all well experienced and the service is both friendly and impeccable. Culinary is top notch and meets all expectations of a yacht of this caliber – presentation is beautiful. The Chef is truly a master.
There is one main restaurant, La Cucina, that can hold the entire ship in the inside section, plus there is an outdoor section as well for those wonderful al fresco dinners that are so popular in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. From simply done but the best I have had in a long time, pasta done in all sorts of ways. Fish that is the freshest and beef that is of excellent quality. A different menu each night that is sure to please anyone’s pallet, and of course you have an “always available” section as well. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On the Pool Deck there is the Aqua Pool Cafe that serves coffee and continental breakfasts, and simple lunches with sandwiches/hamburgers/salads. This pool area has a very attractive infinity pool with large lounge beds and lounge chairs around for those that want to soak up the sun, plus a few tables and chairs for those that want to eat. A very comfortable outdoor area.
Go up one floor and to the front of the yacht and you will find the Sun Deck where there is a large jacuzzi, big lounge beds and tables and chairs for sitting. A fully equipped bar. Great area for sun bathing and relaxing with a view to die for.
Lounges – there are two. The Amici lounge with a fully stocked bar, which is right by the reception area and next to the dining room. This lounge accommodates the entire ship. This is where everyone meets for pre-dinner cocktails, and for evening entertainment after dinner. A great gathering spot. Here you also do your check in when you embark – sip a glass of champagne and sit in a comfy chair while you check in at Reception, and then do a quick individual meeting with Security to go over the Safety Drill. All done with a personal individual touch. This is also where you meet for shore excursions. There is a large built in screen for presentations, with clear line of sight from all seating, so makes for a great set up for your business meetings. The other lounge is the Observation Lounge which is a nice smaller area at the front of the ship with floor to ceiling windows that have a 180 degree view to a deck area where the ship brings on local entertainment to perform, or you could arrange something yourself if you charter the vessel. Guests can be both inside the Observation Lounge or outside on the deck as there is plenty of room and a bank of seating around the edge. One night the ship brought on a dance group from Sicily to perform and it was well attended. This lounge typically has coffee and teas but a satellite bar can be brought up for events on the deck. Good for those smaller break out meetings.
There is a very nice gym – equipped with 2 treadmills, 2 rowing machines and a Unica Multigym machine. The Spa has two Treatment rooms where world renowned ESPA products are used in a variety of treatments. Hair and nail salon. Infrared Sauna. Adequate for a ship of this size.
There is a small boutique that sells a limited amount of upscale jewelry and logo items.
Toys – there are plenty of marina toys on this ship. The marina platform is itself quite large. When at anchor the toys come out for guest’s enjoyment. This is one of the big attractions of a ship of this size – you can come into small quaint harbors, drop anchor, and have all the fun of paddleboarding, kayaking, floating mats, snorkel, diving below the surface on SEABOB, or try your hand on the aqua glide trampoline.
When in port – try out of the several GoCyle electric bikes. Great way to see the small towns that you visit.
Entertainment is geared towards the make up of the guest list, and can of course be customized towards what you need on your charter. Typically it will include one local entertainment that will be brought onboard during a cruise – we had a great Sicilian dance troope that came onboard in Catania. Mixology classes, cooking with the Executive Chef one afternoon, just to name a few. There is a disco set up which can either be out on deck by the pool, or in the Amici Lounge. The ship has a guitarist that plays at lunch time and in the evenings. The opportunities for networking are endless.
The staterooms are contemporary in style. They all come with the finest Egyptian linens, complimentary bathrobes and slippers, complimentary water restocked every day, water bottles and voice boxes/whispers to take with you on excursion, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Large flat screen TV’s which display the daily program for you with all activities for the day. All beds can be set up either as one king or two good size twins. The standard balcony suites which is the bulk of the cabins, all have small terraces to enjoy morning coffee, but I think most people would choose to take a few steps and go to either the pool deck or the sky deck which are never crowded, and relax on a nice big lounge chair, or go to the Observation Lounge where there is a coffee station and beautiful panoramic view. Then you have 8 suites – two of each category, all which have varying sizes of large balconies/terraces, and they all come with complimentary mini bar, coffee and tea making facilities and room service during meal times. All well-appointed and comfortable.
Shore excursions are well curated and are mostly all included. You have the EmeraldDiscovery excursions which give you an overall outlay of the port of call you are at. EmeraldPlus which gives you the opportunity to delve more into the local flavor of the area. EmeraldActive which are tours with a slightly faster pace. For those that want to go even deeper into the culture and history of the area, you have the DiscoverMore excursions which are at an additional cost. All tours are well researched and well appointed. Or if you wish, you can just go ashore and wander independently.
Emerald offers so much that is all inclusive. From airport/ship/airport transfers, breakfast/lunch/dinner daily, complimentary wine/beer/soft drinks with lunch and dinner, state of the art coffee machines and tea stations, complimentary water restocked daily, most all excursions, wifi, electric bicycles and marina toys, and all gratuities. If you want you can upgrade to include an open bar.
This ship is the perfect charter size for any discerning client that wants upscale quality at a reasonable rate. Call us for more information.
Written by Diana Bloss
April 4th 2023