Transatlantic Cruising, Oh The Places You’ll Go

What is a Transatlantic cruise really like? Read and find out more

We completed a sixteen day transatlantic cruise on Azamara Quest. A transatlantic cruise is a great way to get from one place to another with less flying. Our cruise began in Barcelona, Spain a city perfect for people who enjoy walking, eating, art and history. Before we left for the cruise we took day trip to Monserrat which was organized by another passenger on the Azamara Quest. Monserrat Spain is a gorgeous mountain monastery. And home to the Black Madonna. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a concert by the Monserrat Boys Choir while we were there.

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Morning view of the fog surrounding the Monserrat mountains

We enjoyed a couple of sea days prior to our first stop in Gibraltar. The thing to know about sea days is that you begin to look forward to them. Azamara offers so many activities for passengers. There is a casino with slot machines and table games like three card poker, blackjack and roulette. Blackjack tournaments are usually held on sea days as well as watercolor art lessons, craft classes, needlepoint, bridge, mahjong, lectures, trivia and that’s just the beginning of the activities. If you prefer to enjoy the pool, the library, the gym, spa, and the many other public spaces the options are many. Not to mention all of the dining and drinking options from casual buffet, burgers by the pool or coffee bar to sit down meals with linen tablecloths.

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Steak and eggs breakfast on the balcony

The reality of Transatlantic cruising is that the journey is what its all about.  Sea days are something that passengers typically love.  You can be as busy or as lazy as you want.

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Poker tournament with my friend Jen

Our first stop was Gibraltar.  When we arrived at the island fortress we were lucky enough to have a beautiful clear morning.  We did a ship’s tour to the top of the island and visited the monkeys, actually they are called Barbary Macaque  and are the only wild monkeys in Europe.  We learned about Gibraltar’s importance during WWII. We visited the Great Siege Tunnels and the light filled caves.

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Rock of Gibraltar
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The Barbary Macquae, although you can get up close remember they are wild animals
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The light filled caves in Gibraltar

We also visited Madeira, a green gorgeous island that’s part of Portugal.  We rode the taboggan down the hilly streets, tasted the sweet delicious Madeira wine and took a Jeep tour to see more of the island.  We stayed late in Madeira and were able to get a real taste of the island.

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The iconic toboggan ride in Madeira
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The rich fields in the island
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The tasting room for the sweet Madeira wine

Our last stop on the cruise was three days in Bermuda. Due to recent hurricanes the itinerary was changed to include Bermuda.  I absolutely loved Bermuda and the people we met.  Our first day we met the a man and his son who offered us a ride to a golf store for some golf balls my husband had been looking for.  He and his son saw that we were searching for a particular store that had closed.  They offered to drive us to the store and gave us a tour of downtown Hamilton and some recommendations for dinner. We joked that we were giving him a five star rating on Uber.  The great part of traveling is meeting wonderful people and hearing about their lives.

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Selfie with new friends Chris and his son who so graciously showed us around Hamilton

We took tours of Bermuda on bus, boat and bike.  The island is gorgeous and is definitely a place we will visit again.

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Landing for our bike tour in Bermuda
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A lone blue umbrella on the beach
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Greg the bike rider and GoPro editor

While in Hamilton Azamara hosted the White Night, complete with grilled lobster, music and dancing with new friends on the boat.

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White Night with the girls

If you have the time and the desire to meet new people, visit new places and experience different cultures I highly recommend trying a Transatlantic cruise.  Go for the people and enjoy the journey.

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Dinner in Prime C with friends

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Must Do Miami

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South Beach is bit like Las Vegas. Both have lots of alcohol-fueled partying with young men and women celebrating their youth while destroying their livers, live music and the obligatory minute millionaires driving their rent by the hour Lamborghini for everyone to notice.  But South Beach is so much more than what you first notice. Take a longer look and you see and appreciate the diverse culture reflected in the eclectic food and music. There is a deep pride and respect for the past, instead of tearing down buildings, the Art Deco buildings are restored and the past is celebrated.

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We chose to stay in a boutique hotel on Collins Avenue, right in the middle of South Beach. The Kimpton Beachcomber Hotel, a small three story boutique hotel. What is a boutique hotel you may ask? Most often they are small and have unique amenities. The lobby was unique and eclectic with live edge wood sculptures, bookcases, sofas and comfy chairs and lots of interesting art. This is not a homogenized hotel! As we are checking in we are offered wine at the complimentary happy hour. The hotel personnel are both friendly and genuinely helpful. The room is small yet beautiful. The beach is located behind the hotel pool area. The back area includes a bar, towel service and a variety of yard games, rocking chairs and sculptures of cows. I did say this place was eclectic.
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The Kimpton offers seats on the beautiful sandy beach, as well as bar service. The bites and drinks were not exorbitantly priced, and who doesn’t enjoy a picnic lunch in the sand? There are several miles of beautifully manicured walking and biking paths just before the beach. We took advantage of the hotel’s free bike rentals and rode up and down the paths early one morning.
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In South Beach you must try the diverse food offered. We were given the recommendation by a waitress to try a Peruvian restaurant called CHALAN ON THE BEACH. The uber fresh seafood was lightly seasoned and plentiful. We shared a sea bass ceviche which was nothing short of spectacular. The patrons were mostly locals ordering house specialities. We also enjoyed a seafood dish with rice, seasoned with Peruvian spices that seemed to sweeten the fish and rice.

When in South Beach trying some authentic Cuban food is mandatory. We visited HAVANA 1957 and ordered the daily specials of Cuban meatballs and rice. The dish was also served with soft, sweet plantain slices. The prices were very reasonable, except for the mojitos. At $15 and up they seemed pricy for lunch. No worries, we came back a couple of hours later and enjoyed delicious half priced mojitos at the bar inside
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We also had chicken, lamb and steak kabobs as well as incredibly delicious deeply roasted Brussels sprouts at CLEO a Middle Eastern place. The bar was ornate and the restaurant was a cool respite from the Miami afternoon heat.

On our final night in Miami our hotel had a pig roast (but from the looks of the poor fellow I think he was deep fried). For only eight dollars we each enjoyed pork tacos, homemade tortillas, rice and beans. The beer was local and cold and soon the Latin band was playing music and everyone was dancing to the beat as the ocean breeze blew.
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Jackie Gleason had a show many years ago that I watched as a child. He used to say how beautiful Miami Beach was as he began each show with the words “How sweet it is!”