Our Azamara journey begins, but we are still in Brazil

Russ Thomas Grieve, Cruise Director

ABOARD THE AZAMARA QUEST — Today Azamara Quest visits another historic and coastal town in Brazil: Parati.  Established in the mid 1600s, Parati is an Indian word for “river of fish” and the name eventually covered the entire region.  The area was home to the Guaianas Indians long before the arrival of the Portuguese.

The Gold Trail led from gold mines deep in the interior of the country to the port of Parati. Indigenous slave labor —  then African slave labor  —  carried the plundered gold to be shipped back to the Portuguese monarch’s vaults.

Architecture in the colonial town dates back to the 1700s. The UN has declared the Old Town a World Heritage site.

As long as the ship stays in coastal waters the casino and shops on board remain closed. All will open tomorrow.

Keeping busy, even without going into Parati or visiting the casino or shops, is the order of the day. There’s plenty to do on the ship.

I started the day with coffee in my cabin followed by a stint on an exercise bike and a stretch class in the gym, then off to Deck Five for a port talk, then to a group meeting with cruise director Russ Thomas Grieve for solo and single travelers.

Azamara typically does not carry children.  There are a few families aboard now because it is a Christmas cruise and it is fun watching them.

Behind the scenes

“Richard” Gusmann, Hotel Manager

Russ says planning entertainment on such a port-intensive itinerary – as most Azamara cruises are – is challenging and varied and its not unusual on some itineraries to host an evening entertainment show at 6 p.m., another at 8:15 and a third at 10.

Russ, a California native, has a background in television and film and toured with the hit show “Mamma Mia.”

With many passengers off the ship I opted to do a tub of laundry in the self-service launderette, and will soon do my daily stint in the pool.

I am still admiring the ease with which this ship runs.

Hotel Manager Ryszard Gusmann, a native of Poland, says he has been with Azamara “since day one,” (2007) and has worked on ships for 17 years, starting as an assistant waiter.

English country house with Christmas tree

He likes the work and is aware of the challenge of the unpredictable and the need to speedily evolve another plan.  For example on Tuesday, the night we sailed out of Rio de Janeiro, a container of provisions was late in arriving at the port. Gusmann and Captain Stig Nilsen made the necessary decisions to sail later and ensure all the necessities came aboard.

Downton Abbey goes to sea

Yesterday I spoke of my introduction to these ships. The former Renaissance ship, now Azamara Quest, still features the dark wood and comfy furniture of the English country house. And no, I have never actually seen an English country house personally, but I do watch PBS.

This ship offers that same wonderful warmth and a genuine sense of welcome.

Yep, I like the ship very much, but now the pool is calling.

December 20, 2012

Photos by Marcia Levin

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