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Cruise Ship Information

MV Azores is a Portuguese cruise ship operated by Portuscale Cruises.

Until 2012, the ship was operated by Classic International Cruises, as the Athena. In 2013, it was transferred to Portuscale Cruises and renamed Azores. She was ordered in 1944, and launched 9 September 1946, as the Stockholm by Götaverken in Gothenburg for the Swedish America Line (SAL). Since her career with SAL she has sailed under the names Völkerfreundschaft, Volker, Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima and Caribe, before beginning service as the Athena.

As Stockholm she was best known for colliding with the Andrea Doria in 1956, resulting in the sinking of the latter ship.

Atmosphere on board

Originally built as a trans-Atlantic ship in 1948 named Stockholm, Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Azores has been stripped bare and re-constructed. After a $150 million restoration project, the ship will start sailing from Bristol in 2015 to the Caribbean.

Replacing Discovery as CMV's second UK-based vessel, the 550-passenger Azores will be in the same fleet as Marco Polo and Magellan.

The adults-only ship is in an Art Deco style. The cabins are minimalist in design, with the décor being predominantly white. Eighty-five per cent of its 277 cabins have an ocean view.

Onboard facilities include a sauna and steam room, hairdressers, a health and beauty centre and a treatment room for facials and massages. Other onboard features include guest speakers and arts and crafts events.

Family with Kids/Teens

There are separate children's and teens' clubs on Costa Victoria, but the rooms are small and sparse, a bit disappointing for kids who are used to the facilities provided on big, American ships. Costa can also be a problem for British kids, unless they happen to be good at languages. However, parents like Costa because the under-18's cruise for free if they share rooms with two adults.

The Squok Club, open daily on sea and port days (for children, ages 3 to 12), is split into two age groups: Mini Club for ages 3 to 6 and Maxi Club for ages 7 to 12. Both offer activities from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. with breaks for lunch and dinner. Parents can leave the children in the club for free if they want to go on an excursion.

The teen club is for 13- to –17-year-olds and has limited activities through the day -- a basketball tournament one day, T-shirt-painting on another -- but comes alive with discos and parties late at night.

Past Passenger Programs

The eight decks consist of seven traditional wooden decks and a sports deck with a wrap-around jogging track and wellness centre with heated indoor pool. All the public rooms are on Deck 6, and they include: the Azores Lounge, a 485-capacity space where all the main shows take place; the Captain’s Club, which is in the middle of the ship with corridors running either side, one of which (on the starboard side has a smoking area). There is live music here every night, and it makes a nice spot for a pre- or after-dinner drink. Outside here is a four terminal Internet area (the ship also has Wi-fi throughout the ship charged at €7 per hour). There is also a Library and a Games Room and a small boutique selling branded products. Right at the back of the ship you'll find the intimate Hanse Bar, which has a lot more seating on the Sun Terrace; and a poolside bar. On Deck 7 there is a meeting room, which doubles as a fitness class room.

Fitness And Spa

Fitness and spa options include one outdoor and one heated, indoor swimming pool, a wellness centre with a salon, two massage studios, sauna, and two whirlpools, and a sports deck. In addition to the jogging track the sports deck has a volleyball court, half tennis court, mini golf range, big board chess and yoga area, a fitness centre and a medical centre.

Food & Dining

The Waldorf Restaurant has an open sitting for breakfast and lunch and two fixed dinner sittings -- at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Tables are mainly for four or more. The food is superb: We had a chicken masala starter, that I yearned could be turned into a main; followed by a creamy potato and leek soup. The Norwegian poached salmon was slightly dry for my palate, but very tasty and the Tiramisu was outstanding.

The Club Bistro (Opening times: early breakfast: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m; Breakfast 7:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.; Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Afternoon tea: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Dinner 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) is a superb self-service buffet, that looks more like an alternative dining room. It's buffet service, but there are food stations at all times, with egg dishes made to order in the morning and a main whipped up for lunch. Most nights there will be a theme. There are two additional specialty restaurants either side of the Waldorf, both with 22 covers and no charge, you just have to book in advance. The Romantic offers a variety of dishes such as asparagus starters and roast lamb or monkfish for mains; Toscana serves Italian fare such as pasta.

Entertainment

On board Azores, enjoy a wide range of very comfortable lounges and stylish leisure facilities to make your voyage a truly relaxing and enjoyable experience with outstanding service from the attentive crew.

From the moment you step on board, the choice is yours to join any of the many activities on offer or simply enjoy the luxury of being able to do absolutely nothing. The ship’s daily programme will be delivered to your cabin each evening, outlining the events of the following day. Maybe join the fitness team on the Sun Deck for a jog or a walk, yoga or an early game of deck chess. Later in the day, perhaps listen to a speaker or learn a new skill from one of our arts and crafts specialists. And, on those sunny tropical days, relax by the pool with a good book and perhaps a refreshing cocktail. And when the sun goes down in the evening, pre-dinner drinks are served on the Sun Terrace with the view of the ocean and the Captains Club where your favourite drink is ready for you.

Nothing whets the appetite like sea air and a leisurely dinner with mouth-watering food and good company is without doubt one of the highlights of the day. After dinner, the highly acclaimed entertainment team invite you to join them in the Azores Lounge where they will display their talents in a colourful big show, and late night cabarets will ensure that your evenings keep going with a swing. Alternatively, enjoy music from our resident pianist or a game of cards with new found friends. And when you decide to call it a night, your comfortable stateroom is just a short stroll away.

Tipping

All gratuities on Azores cruises are included in the fare. On Discovery and Marco Polo: £5 per passenger night is automatically charged to your shipboard account (£4ppn for cruises over 16 nights).

Fellow Passengers

Passengers looking to mark a special occasion, or to treatthemselves to a little more luxury, can choose the added comforts and benefits of a deluxe cabin, junior suite, balcony suite or the Owner’s Presidential Suite. Each of these upgraded cabins comes with several additional benefits designed to enhance the enjoyment of your holiday, and which will make a cruise on board Azores an all-the-more-memorable experience.

Our recommendation

We stayed here for a few nights and were very impressed with the level of cleanliness! The size of the room/bed/bathroom was excellent. Felt very at home. As we are from New Zealand our Spanish is very poor but the staff were so helpful. Especially Gus, he went out of is way and spent a lot of time organizing a flight for us. We also found the best taco stand around the corner.

This place is excellent value for money!! We will definitely be back next time we are in Tijuana.