Rob & Mike
Travel Story: South Africa On Azamara Cruises Ship, Quest
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
South Africa was always one of those destinations we wanted to visit but until recently had not had the chance to do so. South Africa is not the safest of destinations to visit these days but certainly seeing it via a cruise is a safer option versus staying in hotels in the major cities. We hadn't travelled with Azamara Cruises before so we were keen to see what their luxury offering was like compared to the other luxury brands we had sailed on before.
Day 1: Cape Town, South Africa - Embarkation
After our business class flight with South African Airways from Brisbane to Capetown via Perth and Johannesburg we were met by representatives of Azamara Cruises for our transfer to the ship. We had booked the airport transfer with Azamara through our travel agent and were expecting a coach pick up however we actually ended up with a private transfer to the ship in a luxury mini van which was a pleasant surprise. Our stateroom wasn't ready when we boarded so we headed to restaurant reservations and the day spa to make our bookings for the duration of the cruise (for some reason Azamara does not allow online pre-bookings like other cruise lines). A short time later our stateroom was ready so we went down to check it out, we were invited to bid for an upgrade prior to our cruise and were successful so we had a Club Continent Suite to enjoy for our cruise. Waiting in our room was a welcome bottle of champagne so we enjoyed a glass or two on our balcony before heading to dinner in the ships main dining room as the ship departed.
Day 2: Indian Ocean, South Africa - Sea Day
On our first sea day it was our wedding anniversary so we enjoyed breakfast on our balcony before heading to the day spa for our massage appointment, when we got back from the day spa we found a happy anniversary sign that had been hung up by the staff which was a nice touch. Following a relaxing day at sea with a good book we attended the French Chef's Table which we had booked when we boarded the ship. We were joined at the table by 12 other guests and had the head chef personally explain each tasting dish whilst the sommelier explained the paired wine that accompanied each dish. The food and wine were excellent and we met some lovely people at dinner as well, after dinner the staff brought out a special anniversary cake for all of us at the table to share which was a great way to finish off a day of anniversary celebrations. We would highly recommend the chefs table experience on Azamara to anyone who is sailing with Azamara.
Day 3: Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Pumba Private Game Reserve
Today we docked in Port Elizabeth where we boarded a coach for our ship organised tour of Pumba Game Reserve. We were greeted by the staff at the entrance gate with welcome drinks before climbing aboard a Land Rover with our driver/guide for our four wheel drive safari around the 65 square km park in search of Africa's Big 5. We were lucky enough to see three of the big five including lions, rhino's and elephants as well as giraffe, impala, zebra, wort hogs and wildebeest. After our 2.5hr safari we enjoyed a wonderful South African buffet lunch with South African wines and beer which was set up in the wilderness. After lunch we had a final short safari back to the entrance gate before our coach ride back to the ship. It was truly and incredible experience which we would recommend to anyone who is in the Port Elizabeth area of South Africa.
Day 4: Indian Ocean, South Africa - Sea Day
Today the ship continued to sail north east to our next port of Richards Bay, we enjoyed breakfast on our balcony and then went to the ships library to catch up on some reading. After a private lunch on our balcony we headed to the Living Room, the ships upper lounge where we participated in a South African Wine Tasting hosted by the ships head sommelier. In the evening we had dinner in Prime C the ships on board steak house. After dinner we headed to spirits bar for a nightcap before bed.
Day 5: Richards Bay, South Africa - Phinda Private Game Reserve Overnight Experience Day 1
Today we arrived in Richards Bay where we boarded a small coach for our 1.5hr transfer to Phinda Private Game Reserve for an overnight experience which was organised by the ship. Upon arrival at Mountain Lodge the staff provided us welcome drinks and a buffet lunch before showing us to the amazing suites we were staying in for the night. We spent the afternoon relaxing in our own private plunge pool and trying the local beer before meeting our guide/ranger for our sunset safari. We boarded the Land Cruiser and headed out in search of the big 5 in the enormous 170 square kilometre park. We saw 4 of the big 5 including a mother rhino and her calf, elephants, a pride of lions and water buffalo's, on top of that we also saw giraffes drinking, impalas, many birds and a mother cheetah and her cubs. After the sun had set we were taken to a section of the park where a dinner under the stars had been set up for us. We enjoyed lots of local foods and wine in this beautiful setting before being transported back to our accommodation, armed rangers had to escort us all to our suites as the animals roam freely around the suites especially at night. It was an incredible day and night that we will never forget.
Day 6: Durban, South Africa - Phinda Private Game Reserve Overnight Experience Day 2
Today we had a 5am wake up call for coffee and pastries before climbing back in to the Land Cruiser with our guide/ranger for a sunrise safari. Our guide focused on trying to find a leopard as it was the only animal in the Big 5 we hadn't seen, it was wonderful flying through the park in our open top 4wd in the early morning coolness. In our search for a leopard we saw hippos, rhinos, zebra, elephants, water deer, crocodiles and wort hogs. Unfortunately despite the rangers best efforts in tracking leopard prints the trace went cold so we headed back to the lodge for a champagne breakfast before our 5hr coach ride to meet the ship which had sailed to Durban during the night. It was an incredible once in a lifetime experience and we would highly recommend Phinda Game Reserve to anyone looking to do an overnight safari experience in South Africa.
Day 7: East London, South Africa - Inkwinkwezi Private Game Reserve
Today the ship docked at East London where we boarded a coach for the short trip to Inkwinkwezi Private Game Reserve where we saw impala, water buffalo and a pride of white lions feeding on a carcass, unfortunately the weather turned bad with driving torrential rain so half way through our safari was cancelled due to bad weather and we headed back to the ship. It's not all bad though, South Africa is in the grip of a devastating drought so the rain is welcome and Azamara gave us all a 50% refund on the tour due to the cancellation.
Day 8: Indian Ocean, South Africa - Sea Day
Today we awoke at sea as the ship continued sailing south west back to Cape Town, we enjoyed a relaxing day at sea followed by dinner at Aqualina the ships on board Italian restaurant. We had a great view from our table over the back of the ship and the food was the best we have eaten on the ship with lots of lobster and seafood.
Day 9: Cape Town, South Africa - Stellenbosch Food Tour
Today our ship docked in Cape Town for the last time where we boarded a coach for our ship organised tour of Stellenbosch in South Africa's Cape Winelands region for a foodies on foot tour. Stellenbosch is a beautiful university town surrounded by stunning towering mountains and vineyards with lots of dutch style architecture. On arrival we met our guides from Bites & Sites Food Tours and they took us on a walking tour of the town stopping at a butchers to try biltong (South African wet jerky) and droe wors (kudu dried sausage). We then stopped at Backs a restaurant that features cheese, wines and meats all grown on the same farm where we participated in a cheese and wine tasting. We then visited Stellenbosch's smallest bar, De Stomme Jonge, to try local craft beer and then to The Blue Crane & The Butterfly cafe for a tapas style lunch featuring local produce. After some free time to explore this beautiful town on foot it was time to board our coach to travel the 1hr trip back to the ship. We would highly recommend a visit to Stellenbosch for anyone visiting Cape Town.
Day 10: Cape Town, South Africa - Paarl Valley Wine Tasting Tour
On our second day in Cape Town we boarded our coach for our ship organised tour to Paarl Valley again in the Cape Winelands region for more wine tasting. Our first stop was Nederburg Wines one of South Africa's oldest wineries where we had a comprehensive tasting followed by some free time to explore the beautiful town of Franschhoek. We were then taken for lunch and another wine tasting at Haute Cabriere wines. It was a great day out and worth the visit, the Cape Winelands region is a beautiful part of Cape Town.
Day 11: Cape Town, South Africa - Disembarkation, City Tour & Flight Home
Today we left the ship for the last time with our luggage and boarded a coach for our last ship organised tour of Cape Town followed by a transfer to the airport. First we visited the Castle of Good Hope which is the oldest building in Cape Town where we witnessed the key ceremony, then followed by a walk down parliament street and through the company gardens. After our visit we then headed to the top of signal hill to see the view over the city and of Table Mountain with the clouds rolling over the top. Cape Town is a lovely city to see however its not the sort of place where you go walking after dark or by yourself so you should always be aware wherever you go in the city and where possible travel in groups. After our tour we were transported to the airport for our flight home with South African Airways which you can read more about in our review coming soon. So that ends this travel story, we loved our cruise of South Africa with Azamara Cruises, it is an experience we will never forget. We hope this travel story has inspired you to venture to South Africa for a safari yourself in the near future. If you have any questions about the trip feel free to comment on the blog, Until next time!
Want More Information?
If you would like more information about Azamara Cruises destinations, staterooms, dining options and fares you can visit their website www.azamara.com
For more information about South African Airways services you can visit their website www.flysaa.com
For more information about Bites & Sights Food Tours Stellenbosch you can visit their website www.bitesandsites.co.za
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About The Author
Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.