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.

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.

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.

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.

Rock of Gibraltar
The Barbary Macquae, although you can get up close remember they are wild animals
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.

The iconic toboggan ride in Madeira
The rich fields in the island
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.

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.

Landing for our bike tour in Bermuda
A lone blue umbrella on the beach
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.

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.

Dinner in Prime C with friends

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Sometimes it Rains, Sometimes it Pours

Remaining optimistic in spite of lots of unexpected changes

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I love a rainy day.  We live in the desert, and when desert storms begin there is a sweet odor of desert plants like creosote bushes that fill the air.  Following a desert rain plants bloom, washes turn to little streams and long silent desert color begin to blossom almost immediately.  So of course I love rain.  There is no raining on my parade.

We are getting ready for our first transatlantic cruise on Azamara Club Cruises. We’ve been looking forward to this cruise for a while because it was going to give us an opportunity to visit places we’ve never been and revisit some places we really loved. We will even be reconnecting with friends we made on a previous journey.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m an optimist.  But lately I’ve had to try harder to not be worried. Originally, the cruise itinerary planned to visit the islands of Saint Maarten and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Due to the devastation caused by two hurricanes the islands have been removed from the ship’s itinerary.  I am sad for the people on the islands living in very difficult circumstances with broken infrastructure and still dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.  We loved visiting the magnificent beaches of Saint Maarten and delighted in exploring old town San Juan. I can only hope that the islands recover quickly and pray for the lovely people we met on our last trip.

The spectacular beach on Saint Maarten
A colorful street scene in old San Juan Puerto Rico

I don’t lose any sleep thinking about terrorists.  Being vigilant, aware of my surroundings and hopeful is basically all anyone can do.  I will not stay home, I will not be dissuaded from travel.  I love meeting new people and exploring new cultures.

Our transatlantic journey leaves from Barcelona and has stops at Madeira, Portugal, Gibraltar and Bermuda.  We visited Barcelona last year and fell in love with the gothic city.  The food and wine were fabulous.  It is such a walkable city with so many more treasure waiting for us to discover.  Unfortunately, Barcelona has been the victim of terrorist activity recently.    Currently half a million protesters are in the streets of Barcelona marching for a separate state of Catalonia, apart from Spain.  Hopefully the protests remain peaceful.   I am certain this cruise is not cursed.  The trip will be a wonderful experience.  However, I did read that there is concern about a tsunami hitting Madeira.  I will continue to be optimistic.