From the first moment I stepped onboard the Azamara Pursuit, I was home. A boutique cruise, the ship’s understated elegance is unmistakably welcoming, as is the crew.
The Azamara Pursuit caters to fewer than 700 passengers, yet our worry that there might not be enough to do on this smaller ship melted away as we absorbed ourselves into daily life.
Best of all, Azamara’s desire to provide immersive shore experiences translates to longer port times than any cruise we had taken in the past.
We love cruising …
The newest of three ships in the Azamara fleet, we sailed during the inaugural season of the Azamara Pursuit over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Subtle festive signs were interweaved throughout the Azamara cruise ship. We were enticed to try Azamara by a great deal on the cruise.
Azamara Shore Excursions
Azamara’s strength goes beyond her ability to visit ports that are too small for many larger ships. Their excursion program focuses on individuality and cultural immersion. It starts on-board with destination expert lectures that concentrate on daily life as much as on key sites.
Add to that longer shore time in each port, local guides, and shore excursion groups not to exceed 25 passengers, and the result is an intimate cultural experience in a fascinating community.
A nearly perfect name for this shore excursion, the AzAmazing evening distinguishes the Azamara group from its competitors. This complimentary evening of culture and fun went way beyond our expectations.
On our Azamara Pursuit cruise, we were taken to a magnificent historic theatre in Montevideo Uruguay where we were enchanted by a lively carnival-style show from Museo de Carnaval.
After the stage performance, we followed rhythmic drummers outdoors, where our evening continued under the stars while we donned masks (provided) and enjoyed drinks and fireworks.
Our South America Ports on the Azamara Pursuit
The addition of the Pursuit to the Azamara fleet allowed expansion to more destinations. While South America was relatively new on the Azamara itinerary, the staff seemed knowledgeable. If you are a frequent cruiser on other lines, be sure to notice how long we were at each port.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Argentina’s vibrant capital city.
- Our port of embarkation.
- There are so many things to see and do in Buenos Aires.
2. Montevideo Uruguay
- We were captivated by the European charm of Uruguay’s capital city, the destination of the AzAmazing event for this cruise.
- Port time: Two days, with an overnight stay.
- Discover a variety of things to do in Montevideo.
3. Santos, Brazil (coastal city for São Paulo)
- Here, we sampled some of the world’s best coffee and wondered about the stability of the leaning buildings along the coastline.
- Port time: 12 hours.
- Check out the coffee museum and leaning buildings for yourself.
4. Paraty, Brazil
- We fell in love with this Portuguese colonial village during a walking tour of the historic old town.
- Port time: 10 hours.
- Learn more about this charming self-cleaning pedestrian-only coastal village.
5. Buzios, Brazil
- An open-air trolley took us to over 20 beaches before we walked the streets of this former fishing village.
- Port time: 10 hours.
- Discover the best beaches in Buzios here.
6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Standing at the base of Christ the Redeemer, we enjoyed the panorama of the city. The impressive sweeping view was only one of several high points in Rio de Janeiro.
- Port time: 2 days and 2 nights including New Year’s Eve fireworks over Copacabana Beach.
- Discover Rio, one of the most intense cities I have visited.
7. Itajai, Brazil (an added port due to bad weather ahead)
- The captain added this port to the itinerary due to poor weather ahead at Punta del Este. It’s a walkable town with delicious seafood and a nice beach.
- Port time: 10 hours.
- More coming soon.
8. Punta del Este, Uruguay (rescheduled to one day to avoid the weather)
- Its white sand beaches make this town hugely popular amongst Argentinean holidaymakers. We enjoyed a walking tour.
- Scheduled for 1.5 days with an overnight, we lost a day due to bad weather. In the end, we had 9 hours in port.
- Things to Do in Punta del Este Uruguay Cruise Port.
9. Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Returning to one of my favourite cities was a thrill.
- Port Time: 2 days, with an overnight stay and disembarkation.
Follow more of our South American itinerary or see our South America travel safety tips.
Life Onboard the Azamara Pursuit
Update: We sailed on the Azamara Pursuit before my food allergy diagnosis. More recently, we sailed on the Azamara Quest and it was an epic failure with five of fifteen days serving foods to me that contain my common allergies: gluten, lactose or onion.
Like all cruises we have been on, food is a central feature. However, the Azamara’s all-inclusive style means wine flows freely at dinner, specialty coffee is always available (at no extra cost), and we could even have frozen drinks out at the pool or spirits in the evening. The impeccable food presentation was matched by a combination of flavours reflecting the theme of the evening’s Azamara menu.
Other dining options include a grill, afternoon tea, specialty restaurants, and a coffee shop where you could find me every sea day afternoon.
The Chef’s Table dinner (extra charge) was an impressive masterpiece. Like the Chef’s Table we enjoyed on a prior Royal Caribbean cruise, it was by far the best meal on the ship. We also enjoyed a meal at each of the speciality restaurants onboard.
Azamara dress code
Cruise clothing, like street styles, ranges from overstated to underdressed. Azamara encourages a “friendly yet sophisticated onboard environment.” Therefore, the general daily dress is “resort casual”. The only “rule” I saw was no bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, bathing suits, shorts, or jeans allowed in the dining room or specialty restaurants. However, there is no formal night on an Azamara Club Cruise.
This makes packing light for the cruise even easier. My cruise wardrobe is simple, flexible, and takes up very little space. You can download a free copy of our packing light checklist in the tips box below.
Azamara white night
A signature feature of the Azamara Club Cruises is a white night, with a candlelit poolside dinner. Passengers are normally encouraged to wear white, but on our New Year’s Eve cruise, they named it “black and white night.”
Azamara Pursuit spaces
The pool was a perfect way to cool off on a hot South American summer day or evening. In addition to traditional lounge chairs, there were random, relaxing options not usually seen at shipboard pools.
There are also plenty of quiet spaces onboard. The Living Room and Drawing Room are my two favourites. These and other spaces on the ship are also used for daily trivia games, art and dance lessons, enrichment lectures, exercise classes, social meetups, and weekly religious services. And, late at night, the Living Room converts into a disco.
Our cabin on the Azamara Pursuit
The cabins are tastefully decorated in a modern minimalist fashion. While I think our Club Verandah stateroom might be smaller than other ships, it did an excellent job utilizing the space, providing plenty of storage, a decent-sized shower, a usable desk area, and an easy to access and relatively private deck with a table and two chairs. Once we turned the couch to face the sea, we felt like we had more space.
More Onboard the Azamara Pursuit
The smaller ship meant we never had to walk far for anything. Like other boutique cruise ships, it offered unique opportunities, yet many of the general tips for cruising still applied.
- Nightly entertainment in the cabaret lounge rotated from dedicated Azamara performers to guest entertainers including a hilarious comedian, beautiful dancers, and a Las Vegas singer.
- Our cruise package included Azamara wifi for two devices.
Pro Tip: It works for two devices at a time. So as long as you log out of one, you can log into another using the same password. The downside is that the internet is a bit slower than what we have seen on some of the other ships.
- The gym is a quick reminder that this a modern cruise ship, featuring the newest of everything.
- Massage, facials, hair, and nails are amongst the standard services offered by the Azamara Spa.
Pro Tip: We found the spa prices to be very high, even for a cruise ship. However, there were near-daily specials. Rather than scheduling in advance, twice I read a daily flyer, rang up, and had a fabulously relaxing treatment for nearly half price.
- And if all this isn’t enough, there is a chocolate night.
Get Cruise Deals
We often get the best prices when we can travel last minute, or when we purchase through companies like Cruise Direct. Remember, cruise companies don’t like to sail with empty cabins.
⇒ Check for last-minute cruise deals on Azamara and other lines
Save on your trip and cruise with these resources
These are our go-to companies when we cruise. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Cruise: We find great deals at Cruise Direct.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Hotels: we use Booking.com (hotels at our end ports) or VRBO (self-contained).
- Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
- Set up private guides at the ports: Looking to maximize our limited time at a port, we often hire private guides from Tours by Locals.
- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
Don’t miss our best cruise tips.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Disclaimer: We have a professional relationship with Royal Caribbean International, the parent company to Azamara at the time we sailed. Azamara is currently owned by Sycamore Partners. The opinions expressed here are strictly our own.
Wow! A South America cruise experience is always a brilliant idea! I am from Brazil and every time I am in Santos, I keep seeing cruise lines coming and going and I wonder if it is worth it to join someday. Glad to know you sampled some coffee at the Coffee Museum too. It is one of my favourite places in Santos.
wow moment its a great place for vacation in cruise awesome i have never visited to cruise trip but after read here i love to go there thanks for sharing shortly i will be there on cruise
It really is a great idea doing South America the cruise way. Lovely shots and descriptions, as always!
I never actually considered doing a cruise through South America – but now after reading your post I think it might be the ideal way to see the continent for the first time. Especially as I don’t speak Spanish! Thanks for sharing your review!
Looks like a wonderful cruise! We’ve been considering cruising with Azamara, but hadn’t thought about sailing with them in South America. We’re certainly considering that now! Thanks so much for sharing. And that photo of Rio on New Year’s Eve – WOW! 🙂
Rhonda, the Azamara Pursuit looks like a lovely cruise ship, and it appears that you had a full itinerary. Believe it or not, I haven’t been on a cruise since I traveled with my parents when I was a teenager, and those ships were huge. If I ever take another cruise, I would choose a boutique cruise ship like the Azamara Pursuit.
Hi Rhonda – looks to be positively amazing … what a great way to spend Christmas and New Year. The food look delicious – but views a-splendid … fun – cheers Hilary
A nice collection of colorful, joyful images, beautiful ship.
Absolutely luxurious! Only in my dreams for sure! Thanks for sharing though!
Kelly Anne Rothaermel
Looks wonderful! What a trip! Thanks for sharing!
It looks wildly luxurious!
What a fun ship looked like an amazing experience I enjoyed the tour Rhonda 🙂
Have a cruisetastic week ➡
Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World
What an experience. I’m not really a cruise person, but the itinerary looks just amazing. And the view of the fireworks from the water? Yes please!
This sounds significantly nicer than the cruises I’ve looked into on Carnival or Norweigan. I’ve never booked one because I’m concerned I won’t like the atmosphere, but this sounds more like my style! I like how they encourage their guests to get immersed in the culture of the destinations and I like how the groups are limited to 25 people. Glad I came across this post because I have never heard of it!
What an amazing looking cruise! So many exciting ports and things to do! I’m going to have to have a closer look at that cruise line.
Omg what an amazing opportunity!!! I just love cruises. One of my favorite ways to travel that’s for sure!
That’s quite a grand staircase and doorway!
i’d love to go on a cruise, but still a little worried about boats. maybe one day
I love cruising, but I have never tried Azamara. Looks very nice.
Lydia C. Lee
I’m still not sure I could do a cruise but that lounge with the piano looks nice and empty (and appealing)
Phoebe | Lou Messugo
I’m seriously impressed with this itinerary, I’d LOVE to go on this cruise. Especially with only 700 people. The only cruise I’ve ever taken was on a monster ship of 3000 and I struggled rather with the crowds.
That is one amazing cruise ship! The draw for me would be the ability to see those ports that aren’t on the usual cruise ship route. I’d love to visit Uruguay, for example. What a privilege to see so many ports of call!
I’m happy to hear of a pleasant review of a smaller cruise ship as we are looking into traveling on a smaller ship next year. Glad to hear that you felt so at home and that there was still plenty to do. Looks like a fantastic itinerary – I’d love to travel it someday.
Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays
New Year Fireworks On Rio beach! Wow, just wow
Wow the cruise experience looks lavishing. I have heard horror stories but from the photos and your thoughts, fabulous. So many great amenities and entertainment!
I have yet to go on a cruise… but hope to some day! My friends keep telling me it’s amazing! I do think it’s a great way to see the world. thanks for sharing ; )
I love cruises, we did one a few years ago with Carnival. This one looks incredible
Nice reading about your experience in the cruise. You and your family surely had lots of fun. I would love to travel in it.
Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields
This looks fabulous. I love the idea that random guests can play the piano. We once heard a young man play a beautiful grand at Frankfurt Airport. It was mesmerising and drew quite a crowd. He was followed by an equally talented young woman. Both were, like us, just travellers passing through. It was quite magical.
The cruise sounds amazing! Would love to go to South America and combined with a cruise and more time in ports should be perfect!
I love the views of the ports. we are planning to go to South America. This cruise looks perfect.
What an amazing vacation! My family will love this ship, especially that Amazing evening.
My dream is to go on a cruise. They always look like so much fun and this one is absolutely gorgeous! What an experience!
I’ve been on a few cruises, but always with the same line. Your post convinced me that cruises can definitely be a heightened experience of luxury and elegance, just the kind of thing I would like from a vacation every now and then.
I love how the excursions focused on cultural immersion. That is the best way to get to know a country, in my opinion! The cruise ship itself looks gorgeous too.
I haven’t heard of a boutique cruise before. It definitely looks extra special though. I love the white event on the deck, so classy. And that indoor stairwell looks just like the Titanic, right?
Great review! I’ll be boarding in 5 day in Rio for the 17 night crossing to Lisbon.
Wow!! What a fun cruise! AND all the places you were able to visit and all the food you tried!! I’m jealous, but I’m glad you had an AZAmazing time! 🙂
I love cruise ship and would love to go on one.Lovely trip you had there.
This cruise looks amazing! I would be right there sitting with you at the coffee shop! The port locations were all really awesome too, all the places I would want to go. I think I would go for that chocolate buffet alone! 🙂
What an awesome cruise experience! I would love to take a South American cruise; I don’t even think I’d have to leave the ship; it looks amazing!
WOW! New Year’s Eve in Brazil is off the charts! What a celebration; I would love to those fireworks in person!
Cruises are so much fun! I love it with all my heart! I definitely wouldn’t mind hop on this cruise now. Plus South Africa is in my bucket list for ages.
This looks like such a fun cruise! I love all of the culture! Thanks for the tip about the last minute deals.
What an amazing experience! I’ve been on cruises before, but this looks like cruising taken to a whole new level. Everything looks so relaxing and luxurious.
I’m glad this was more than you dreamed. Being pleasantly surprised is always a good thing.
Great shots of your adventure.
Have a fabulous day and weekend, Rhonda. ♥
I’ve never been in a cruise ship before, this must have been an amazing experience. Would love to go on a cruise vacation.
That does look like a wonderful cruise. My favorite part, just looking at your pictures, has to be the chocolate bar.
L. Diane Wolfe
I bet it cost twice a normal cruise, but it looks like it was well worth it. That first night alone is wonderful Plus free wine!
Amazing ship for being a small ship. Beautifully decorated, the coffee shop would be my spot every day. While you were on the water, was it smooth or were there times when you were bouncing on the water? Rhonda, I just loved this blog about your ship. This ship that I’m on, the Celebrity Reflection is a type of ship that you would love. This will be the third time in a row to be on the Reflection. Both times we only had 2 children. It’s a ship for people like me. Thank you for writing about your cruise ship. I’m interested about cruising and the ships. Well done my friend. See ya.
WOW this cruise ship is Amazing. I would love to go on a trip like this.
Holy wow! That sounds like an amazing trip! I love cruising and I’ve always wanted to see this area. I think this would be perfect for me.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Now that is cruising in style.
I’d have no problem with their dining rules. I don’t want to see that stuff while I’m eating.
At least ten hours every stop really gives you time to explore.
Great review on this cruise and I love the pool and the AzAmazing evening, very happy vibe! I was on a cruise almost 10 years ago and after reading this post, I feel like its time to go for another cruise.
Ryan K Biddulph
That would be my idea cruise Rhonda. Not done one yet because I need a more intimate, seamless experience. if the ship gets crowded it spoils the experience for me. Ditto for excursions. Sensational review.