Jerusalem is a vibrant living city full of history and grandeur. Ephesus is a city full of history, but frozen in time. These are just two of the ports of call on my recent Azamara cruise to the Mediterranean in May. And, I have to say, one of the best destinations on this cruise was the ship itself. The Azamara Quest is beautiful, the perfect size and if the ports hadnâ€™t been so interesting, I could have been happy never getting off. We began our journey with a greeting by our Virtuoso onsite, Travex. Onsites are Virtuoso member companies who specialize in customized local touring and exclusive service arrangements. They whisked us through passport control while everyone else waited in long lines – a much appreciated pleasure after the long flight.
The ship sailed from Haifa, Israel to Ashdod, Israel and we enjoyed an overnight in port from where I visited Jerusalem, then Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Having an overnight in port meant I could really go in depth in each area. In addition to overnights in port, Azamara also schedules many very late departures so most other nights we were in port until midnight. No rushing for the ship.
This mid-size ship of 700 passengers has the coziest spaces and plenty of opportunity to be quiet. One evening, my traveling companions and I enjoyed our crackers, cheese and wine overlooking Santorini on deck 5 all alone. Well, staff did come along and asked if they could get us anything else. Nice! The dining room is small enough that everyone has a view though the view of the beautifully arranged food would have been enough. It was all delicious as was the complimentary wine.
The Greek Isles of Rhodes, Santorini, Kos and Mykonos meant lots of great touring. Another favorite spot of mine was the island of Ancient Delos near Mykonos. Originally the main commercial port in all the Aegean and worship site of Apollo and Artemis, it is now littered with ruins and inhabited only by archaeologists and tourists. An amazing place to wander where you can hear echoâ€™s from the 7th century BC.
My friends and I look forward to another opportunity to sail on the Azamara Quest. I would follow her anywhere.
Karen Kilyk is a vacation travel advisor and accredited space agent with Covington Travel. Her knowledge of the great destinations of the world is vast and her enthusiasm for sharing it is contagious! If you would like to plan an Azamara Club Cruise, a Holy Land tour or other vacation, please contact Karen at KarenK@covtrav.com.