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Old December 4th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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Default Azamara Club Cruises - LATEST UPDATE - DEC 2010

Hello Paul Motter and Cruisemates,

I’m pleased to provide you with some information on how “Azamara is shaping up.” But first, I like to introduce myself. My name is Bill Leiber and I am honored to have been chosen as Azamara Club Cruises first Chief Blogging Officer. Larry Pimentel, CEO & President and Edie Bornstein, VP Sales & Marketing decided to add my position to their marketing line-up. My mission is to replace cyberspace misinformation and personal opinions with factual information about Azamara Club Cruises’ operating philosophy that hopefully will increase your certainty of a totally satisfying vacation experience as you search the web to reduce your perceived risk of making the wisest vacation decision.

The Azamara brand has been evolving at an accelerated rate and its product deliverables have dramatically changed. First in 2007 as “Azamara Cruises,” a subsidiary of Celebrity Cruises and then in 2009 it began its transformation into “Azamara Club Cruises,” a free-standing entity of Royal Caribbean Cruises led by Larry Pimentel. Each product iteration, however, leaves a historically inaccurate residue on the message boards of past reviews and opinions creating “false starting points” when deciding whether or not to vacation with Azamara.

In April 2010, Azamara Club Cruises introduced more inclusive onboard amenities (gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff; boutique house wines at lunch and dinner; bottled water, sodas, specialty coffees and teas and more). We are a destination-immersive cruise line with more overnights and late-nights for up-market travelers who not only want to see the places and cultures they visit, but to live them. Our two intimate, 694-guest ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, with a combination of 347 suites and staterooms, offer a boutique European hotel ambience with extraordinary service, fine cuisine and wines from around the world, and wellness and vigor programs, all while sailing to a host of destinations larger ships can’t reach. Our guest satisfaction scores have been steadily increasing and this past fall our scores were unprecedented - if 300 is perfection – they’ve been hitting 287 to 294.

Capturing your feedback will be critical as Larry Pimentel guides Azamara forward. For the record, I am an authorized and compensated representative of Azamara Club Cruises. Before I retired from the travel industry in 2005 I had spent 30 years in senior sales and marketing positions in the cruise industry with NCL, Premier Cruise Lines, Seabourn and Silversea. In fact, I was a member of Larry’s executive team at Seabourn Cruise Line while he served as President. I experienced first-hand his operating principle that the journey to brand excellence is never ended – it is evolutionary.

Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer
Azamara Club Cruises
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Old December 4th, 2010, 06:15 PM
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Welcome Bill; and congrats on scoring a choice job.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Hi Bill,

I think it is a great idea for Azamara to have someone in your position. As a luxury travel agent (one of the top agents for Seabourn worldwide) I fully understand what you are saying and what the problems are.

With very limited marketing and that little bit of marketing becoming irrelevant shortly after it has been released has, as you stated, Azamara created confusion in the marketplace.

I would love to see you show a head-to-head comparison between Oceania and Azamara (as you do effectively operate the same ships). It is hard for most cruisers to understand the differences otherwise and, to be honest, Oceania has a history of providing much better marketing.

I know the industry generally frowns upon such comparisons, but Regent Seven Seas (Oceania's sister company also owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings) provides full presentations on comparing its value versus Holland America, Princess and Celebrity. (They are not necessarily terribly accurate, but they are nonetheless head-to-head comparisons.)

Thanks!
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Old December 6th, 2010, 07:46 PM
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Hi bill

Just a short to say that we welcome your information here. We can't let you. "Advertise" rates, etc, but your advice and other input is welcome.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Hi bill

Just a short to say that we welcome your information here. We can't let you. "Advertise" rates, etc, but your advice and other input is welcome.
Hello Paul,
Thanks for your welcome to Cruisemasters and to your family of followers. I understand your concern and policy about not advertising or soliciting business and assure you that it’s not my role. Instead, it is to monitor the comments and to respond to those with misinformation so that Azamara prospects don’t create false conclusions in their mind. Further, I’ll be aggregating guest feedback so that we can benchmark across the various areas in our guest service delivery. A key Azamara operating principle is to be candid and transparent about how we operate. We do not want to hide behind fake names like we’ve seen other cruise lines do which I’m sure you realize happens every day. Each post will include my name and point out that I am a compensated employee of Azamara Club Cruises. Cruisemates and other message boards are a critical link in our future product development and design and will play a very important long-term role in bridging the gap between what Azamara thinks its guests want and what they are really saying about their needs and wants.

Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old December 7th, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Hey Bill...

Is there any truth to the rumor that Seabourn may be dropping the "Seabourn Yacht Club"

And of they do - with Azamara drop the "Azamara CLUB Cruises?"
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Old December 10th, 2010, 03:20 AM
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Hey Bill...

Is there any truth to the rumor that Seabourn may be dropping the "Seabourn Yacht Club"

And of they do - with Azamara drop the "Azamara CLUB Cruises?"
Hi Paul –

With respect to Seabourn, I really don’t have the inside scoop, but I’ve heard the rumor too. I worked with Larry Pimentel at Seabourn throughout the ‘90s when it’s 3 ships were all the same size – 10,000 tons and 102 suites. The new ships are three times their size and in my opinion their capacity is in conflict with the notion of being on a “yacht” and could complicate their marketing message.

It makes no difference to Azamara Club Cruises what Seabourn finally decides to do with “yacht club.” Azamara is an “up-market” brand with moderately sized ships. We deliberately added “Club” to our name to convey that our onboard atmosphere and lifestyle is “club-like” and that the caring and catering attitude of our officers, staff and crew provides each guest with the feeling of “belonging” to the experience and “looking forward” to renewing those friendships each time they return. Therefore, keeping “Club” in our name is critical to our brand positioning.

Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:39 AM
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There is actually a thread in the Seabourn forum about Seabourn dropping "The Yachts of...".

From my standpoint I think both are distinctions without a difference for the vast majority of people. Most Seabourn reps and agents have always referred to Seabourn as "Seabourn". SeaDream Yacht Club is referred to as "SeaDream" and I don't recall many actually grabbing onto the yacht or club aspects. (Though the ships are clearly yacht-sized...actually being worked on the same yacht yards some of the superyachts I am involved with used.)

Similarly, I do not see many folks referring to Azamara Club as anything other than Azamara .Maybe that will change, but let's face it: Most people will shorten or abbreviate out of convenience.

For me it is what happens onboard the ship that will give a line its cache. I haven't yet experienced Azamara Club to see what the "club" experience is or how it is delivered.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 02:05 PM
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I am finally going to try Azamara this January. Looking forward to it.

I agree with Eric that the name has very little impact on what people think of the product.

I know Larry insisted on changing the name and Fain said "Well, if you think we really need to, then OK - so if I know Carnival Corp they are probably thinking about changing Seabourn just to shake up Larry.

These cruise line executives, such a bunch of jokers, oy!
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Old December 10th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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Let's not forget Radisson Seven Seas became Regent Seven Seas because it felt the reference to Radisson was below the standards of the cruise line. The funny thing is many people liked the line better when it was called Radisson.

Just another example of how the name means less to most than the cruise experience.

But then again, how many people do buy something because of the brand name? Usually though the branding has been established.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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I was one of those people who did not know Radisson was considered a "lessor" hotel chain. I thought they were fairly luxurious - but I dont sell travel.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 04:03 PM
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I am a TA first. We cruised on Nov. 3/10 Azamara Journey and I can tell you it is one of the best, if not the best, cruise we have had. The food was excellent, the service outstanding, and so nice not to be nickled and dimed to death.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 02:57 PM
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I have to agree - I sailed the Journey in 2009 and cannot wait to go back!

I think I have found my 'perfect' for me cruise line.

Annie
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:44 AM
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I am enjoying the Azamara cruise I am on right now. Last night's dinner was excellent. They have good itnernetand good cabin TV, and as soon as we hit Mazatlan we begin a "destination immersive" experience.

I am looking forward to maybe seeiing some whales on this trip.
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Old January 22nd, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Default Insider view of ship communications ?

Bill,

We enjoy cruising and are looking forward to booking Azamara.

One of the things that really hit home on our 01/02/11 cruise on a mass market line was the "nickel and diming" or the $10/25/100 add ons which is closer to the truth! I'm glad to see Azamara's approach to things

But on to the question. Is there any technical reason that communication on board ship by internet is so poor and so expensive ? I'm in the group of semi-retired and I have the time and money to travel but NEED to be in touch.
I know I have different needs from many but today most folks like to stay in touch, like to send photos, like to talk to their family and friends. The use of internet , whether for communication or entertainment is universal amongst all age groups isn't it ?

I can agree with $100/week up charge but expect the ability to use my computer as I see fit whether Skype calls or some entertainment. I'm no techie but if this can be provided by the airlines at 40,000 feet and travelling at 500 mph surely it can provided on a ship ?

Appreciate an update from the cruise line's perspective ?


Further, I’ll be aggregating guest feedback so that we can benchmark across the various areas in our guest service delivery. A key Azamara operating principle is to be candid and transparent about how we operate

Cruisemates and other message boards are a critical link in our future product development and design and will play a very important long-term role in bridging the gap between what Azamara thinks its guests want and what they are really saying about their needs and wants.

Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)[/QUOTE]
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 03:07 PM
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Hello Bill and others using this site !

I am booked on Journey this May 1st. I enjoy booking things myself on line using the cruise lines' website. I have been told by Azamara representatives that the "My Azamara" part of the website does not work properly and I therefore had to book via telephone and can not access my bill. I'm wondering why this issue isn't resolved? Also, can you tell me when all the shore excursions will be loaded. There are some, but certainly not all.....I hope.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by uavshadow View Post
Bill,

We enjoy cruising and are looking forward to booking Azamara.

One of the things that really hit home on our 01/02/11 cruise on a mass market line was the "nickel and diming" or the $10/25/100 add ons which is closer to the truth! I'm glad to see Azamara's approach to things

But on to the question. Is there any technical reason that communication on board ship by internet is so poor and so expensive ? I'm in the group of semi-retired and I have the time and money to travel but NEED to be in touch.
I know I have different needs from many but today most folks like to stay in touch, like to send photos, like to talk to their family and friends. The use of internet , whether for communication or entertainment is universal amongst all age groups isn't it ?

I can agree with $100/week up charge but expect the ability to use my computer as I see fit whether Skype calls or some entertainment. I'm no techie but if this can be provided by the airlines at 40,000 feet and travelling at 500 mph surely it can provided on a ship ?

Appreciate an update from the cruise line's perspective ?


Further, I’ll be aggregating guest feedback so that we can benchmark across the various areas in our guest service delivery. A key Azamara operating principle is to be candid and transparent about how we operate

Cruisemates and other message boards are a critical link in our future product development and design and will play a very important long-term role in bridging the gap between what Azamara thinks its guests want and what they are really saying about their needs and wants.

Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
[/QUOTE]
Hello uavshadow,

We thank you for the good news that you’re planning to vacation with Azamara Club Cruises in the future.

I learned from ship operations that our connection speed is 512 MBS and that it drives telephone, guest internet and business internet. They have checked the possibility to secure more bandwidth, but the cost is prohibitive especially with its impact on the access rates that we would be required to charge. They have compared our internet access rates with the competition, and found them to be slightly below the competition. Unfortunately, they believe it will take a while before internet connection via satellite becomes as fast as cable access ashore.

Here is the current information about our internet charges while onboard:
Internet Charges from stateroom and elsewhere
Internet access on Azamara ships is available in eConnections 24 hours a day, from the day of departure until 6:00 a.m. on debarkation day. Wireless internet access is available around the ship including staterooms and suites. To take advantage of this service you must have a wireless network card. Apple’s default browser, Safari, must be Version 3.0 or higher to ensure compatibility with the onboard wireless network. Internet minutes can be purchased in increments, based on the number of minutes you plan to use.

Internet access is available in eConnections at the following rates:
Package Name Price per Package Number of Minutes
Occasional $29.95 49 Minutes
Standard $49.95 90 Minutes
Social $79.95 150 Minutes
Power $99.95 237 Minutes
Internet Access with no package: $0.65 cents a minute
Note: all prices are subject to change without notice.

I hope this information is helpful and we look forward to welcoming you aboard in the near future.

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(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old January 24th, 2011, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Nanci40 View Post
Hello Bill and others using this site !

I am booked on Journey this May 1st. I enjoy booking things myself on line using the cruise lines' website. I have been told by Azamara representatives that the "My Azamara" part of the website does not work properly and I therefore had to book via telephone and can not access my bill. I'm wondering why this issue isn't resolved? Also, can you tell me when all the shore excursions will be loaded. There are some, but certainly not all.....I hope.
Dear Nanci40 -

I know that our site leaves much to be desired with respect to making its structure more intuitive and to ensuring the accuracy of the posted information. You may encounter some errors caused by the fact that our site’s structure is still connected to Celebrity’s platform. One of our top priorities for this year is to complete our structural redesign pending the approval for the additional investment.

So for the next three or four months we will be operating with our current structure; however, that does not mean that our content should be outdated or incorrect. Our marketing group is conducting an ongoing audit of our content - we have direct access to modify, delete and new content and to correct any misinformation that you might bring to our attention in the future. Our goal is to ensure that our site is accurate so that you’re confident when you use it.

I’ll get back to you with updated information when our 2011 shore excursions will be loaded into the system and specifically your May 1st Journey voyage. Thank you for your patience as I await that information.


Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old January 24th, 2011, 07:58 PM
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Hello Nanci40 –

I’ve learned that with very few exceptions our shore excursions, which we call “Land Discoveries,” have been entered into our system for the 2011 Europe season. Usually they are offered in the system until about four months prior to the voyages to ensure the accuracy of the detailed information which we’ve found to be the most reliable closer to the actual date of operation. You’ll find that the May 1, 2011 Journey itinerary is there.

1. AzamaraClubCruises.com > Shore Excursions > Download a Brochure (2nd box from the top on the right hand side of the page) > Add ship and sail date, and you will get a pdf with all tours for that sailing.
2. Alternatively, you can go to the same area to the box called "book a shore excursion". You need a booking # for this section, so that you can register to view all excursions.

Also, there was a technical error affecting the “My Azamara” on the website related to guests who have a hyphen in name when registering (which affects less than 1% of our users). This glitch should be solved early this week. We are moving forward with a new website which should be functional by April 15th.

Thank you for your patience and Happy Sailing in May!


Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old January 24th, 2011, 08:48 PM
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Cool Bill

i just tried doing what you said and I get a message that says No Brochure Content. This is for the 4/4/11 Journey cruise. We can not get in.
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Old January 26th, 2011, 01:49 AM
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i just tried doing what you said and I get a message that says No Brochure Content. This is for the 4/4/11 Journey cruise. We can not get in.
Hi Sulross,

I reported your problem to our website manager and now the system is working. I just tested it. There is also another way to obtain the shore excursions for you April 4th Journey’s Transatlantic voyage.
Go to AzamaraClubCruises.com > Shore Excursions > Advanced search (bottom of the page) > A menu of search fields appears. I recommend to add only ship name, departure date and destination (Transatlantic) in the search fields, and all tours will come up. You can then select the tours you want to book. At that time you will be required to use your booking number.

I’m sorry for this inconvenience.

Best wishes for a wonderful voyage.


Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)
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Old January 26th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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As I've said before in this thread, I'm taking the May 1st cruise out of Athens on the Journey. I'm fairly disappointed in the variety of shore excursions. Bill has checked and evidently what is currently there to choose from is all there will be. There are zero excursions in Athens and many of the choices for our 2 days in Sorrento involve Pompeii which I have seen. I haven't sailed on a ship of this size before. Is the smaller number of passengers the reason for the smaller number of excursion choices?
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Old January 26th, 2011, 10:12 AM
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I was told by an Azamara Rep that seaching in this fashion (Azamara club cruises > shore excursions > advanced search) brings up all excursions from last year and that they left them loaded so that one could see what is usually offered. The ones that would be actually offered on my cruise are found by going under "manage my reservation". Also, when using your method of Shore excursions and download brochure, there are just as few to choose from as when looking under "manage my reservation". In fact, they forgot to include day 2 in Sorrento.

Last edited by Nanci40; January 26th, 2011 at 10:27 AM.
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Old January 26th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Cool Thanks Bill

I finally got to make my excursion reservation. Whatever they worked on allows one to proceed. However, the price listed for my reservation is $54.00 per person. I was charged $54.00 per person. I thought I was to pay 1/2 price. Not sure if this excursion does not get a discount, will get it later or if there is still a glitch. I did get to make it though. Thanks again.
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Old January 26th, 2011, 10:38 AM
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Sulross -lucky you - Sorrento. I love that part of Italy, my favourite town is Ravello with Positano a close second.

One of the best excursions is the diy taking the local bus from Sorrento bus station along the Amalfi coast - love it. I get off at Positano.

Annie
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Old January 26th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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You can use the Hop on Hop off bus in Athens. No problem with that. We didn't use any ships excursions on our cruise last November. We did everything private.

We didn't do any excursions in a couple of places but as far as Sorrento be careful what you book. If you are going to be staying in that area fine, but if you are going over to Naples the highway is cut off due to work being done on a tunnel/underpass. It makes the trip a lot longer. We ended up going back to Sorrento by train from Naples. (They call it a train - we call it a subway car.) It was OK. Took about an hour. That was the only time I wasn't happy with our driver. He took us everywhere we wanted to go but didn't tell us he was only returning us as far as the train station. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see Naples again.
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Next up - Celebrity Reflection, Nov. 22 (learning to sail solo) followed by Independence of the Seas Nov. 30.


Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22 (done)




44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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Old January 26th, 2011, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanci40 View Post
As I've said before in this thread, I'm taking the May 1st cruise out of Athens on the Journey. I'm fairly disappointed in the variety of shore excursions. Bill has checked and evidently what is currently there to choose from is all there will be. There are zero excursions in Athens and many of the choices for our 2 days in Sorrento involve Pompeii which I have seen. I haven't sailed on a ship of this size before. Is the smaller number of passengers the reason for the smaller number of excursion choices?
Why not look for a tour with a private guide in the ports that you want to see more
we usually DIY
Find a Roll Call for your cruise maybe other have tours to share & a better price
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Old February 9th, 2011, 01:04 AM
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Thanks for the info.
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Old April 29th, 2011, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by anniegb View Post
Sulross -lucky you - Sorrento. I love that part of Italy, my favourite town is Ravello with Positano a close second.

One of the best excursions is the diy taking the local bus from Sorrento bus station along the Amalfi coast - love it. I get off at Positano.

Annie
Annie, thanks for the advice about the local bus from Sorrento, we are outside Athens now for a couple of days prior to boarding Journey on May 1st, we will visiting Sorrento for two days on Journey.
We have been told that there may be industrial action on embarkation day in Pireaus Athens so are hoping we will not be affected.
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