Late August 2019, UNIGLOBE Travel Designer's third annual President's Cruise set sail exploring the Mediterranean. President Elizabeth Blount McCormick picks her favorite itineraries from Azamara Club Cruises and joins our clients in on wonderful adventures. This year the group experienced a European Wine and Cuisine voyage aboard the Azamara Journey. Upon her return home, we asked her for some highlights and reflections on President's Cruise 2019.
What ports did you end up seeing?
London, St. Malo (France), Belle Ill (France), Bordeaux (France), Bilbao (Spain), Gijon (Spain) and Lisbon (Portugal).
What did you do in each city?
- London: We all hung out and had dinner with Jacqueline’s friend from graduate school.
- St. Malo: Our group scheduled an excursion called "St. Malo and Crepes"
- Belle Ill: We walked around the city and ate the most delicious beignets I have ever had in my life! Just thinking about them again makes my mouth water.
- Bordeaux Day 1: A special part of our itinerary was that we were able to experience Bordeaux for two days. On the first day we casually walked around, had a nice lunch, and went to a wine tasting. We purchased about 10 bottles!
- Bordeaux Day 2: Our second day we went to Marguax where we visited a winery (Chateau Pierre-Lichine) and had a nice lunch at a local restaurant. We didn’t have enough wine so we did another wine tasting at Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux!
- Bilbao: Here we went on a tour called "Bilbao and Tapas" where we toured the city and sampled Tapas from 4 different restaurants. We enjoy activities that allow us to submerge ourselves in the culture while we sample the food as well. Afterwards we visited the Guggenheim. Visiting this museum was a life changing experience!
- Gijon: We ventured into Gijon and we shopped and enjoyed the town.
- Lisbon: We took an Uber downtown and found one of the best restaurants in Lisbon, called Sacramento. After our stomachs were full, we walked around Lisbon and shopped around. We ended up having a dinner at an American burger place, near our hotel.
Which port had your favorite meal?
My favorite meal was either the Chef’s Table California Dinner on board or the restaurant Sacramento in Lisbon.
Which port was your favorite overall?
I liked every port! It's difficult to choose. I would love to go back to Bordeaux, Bilbao, and Lisbon. When visiting Bilbao I want to better explore Basque Country and enjoy the wine and food in this region of the world.
Would you have preferred to just coordinate a land trip to those cities and skip the cruise?
Nope! I believe cruising is the best way to see the world.
Did anything surprise you about this trip?
I realized that there so many more wonderful places I need to see in the Mediterranean.
What did you like most about President's Cruise 2019?
The people I cruised with and the ease and attitude of the whole group. There was no drama - we just enjoyed each other's company traveling together.
What is something you dislike about cruising?
I love cruising and getting a taste of a bunch of different places. But I know it’s a con for some travelers to have a limited amount of time in each destination. Fortunately, with Azamara Cruises you have longer times per port so you can really make the most out of it.
Did you do a pre/post night?
Yes. We stayed an extra night in both London and Lisbon. I recommend pre/post nights to all of our clients too. It's a great way to explore an additional city and takes the stress out of getting to the ship on time from the airport. Plus, it let's you get acclimated to the time change a bit.
What would you recommend to someone else doing a similar itinerary?
I recommend reading up on the ports of call to determine what you want to get out of the experience the most, do not over schedule yourself, and be sure to step outside of your comfort zone!
Interested in joining in 2020? Learn more about President's Cruise 2020 here!