We've travelled Holland America, Celebrity, Ocean Village and now Azmara.
What was good (i.e. better than HAL/Celebrity):
> It's a small boat so staff tend to be more friendly and get to know you and what you normally request
> Complaints are taken very seriously and staff will always try and resolve any issues you have.
> You'll get to know other guests
> Most ports you're docked right in the City and no shuttle was needed.
> Shuttles are free where needed.
> Wine with Lunch/dinner is included, as are soft drinks at all times
What was bad:
> pre/post cruise package and check in at the port. We had to queue for almost 2 hours to check in for the cruise, in a hot terminal building. Local guides on transfers were a waste of space. They have very limited info and will just get you from A to B. Post cruise we arrived at the hotel at 11:00, and could not check into 2pm and it took us an hour to work out where our luggage had been taken. The local guide just abandonded us!
> The ship was full when we travelled and it was difficult to get a table in the buffet restaurant for breakfast or lunch. There's not enough seating for all passengers if the boat is full. It did not help that there were some cases of 'gastrointestinal illness' so the buffet food was served by staff for the entire cruise, you could not serve yourself.
> At dinner there was often a wait for a table for 2, there's no booking system in the main restaurant.
> Food was cold or luke warm a few times, but once we complained, there was no problem.
> One of the free shuttles we took was full of staff and we had to wait till it was so full. It was really uncomfortable for the 30 minute journey back to the boat and you could barely move.
> No drinks to welcome you back on board. Previous reviewers mentioned this was done, but on our cruise due to the 'gastrointestinal illness' it was not done.
Things to bear in mind if you're considering Azmara for the first time:
> The clientele is older
> There are no kids clubs
> There's not much for those that like a very active holiday, and shore excursions are at a very slow pace
> The cabins are very small unless you have a suite. We had a standard verandah cabin, and are used to a 'UK' super king size bed. We had to convert to twin beds and even then the singles were small for us.
> Itineraries include ports other bigger lines cannot get into, but then you're restricted to using ship excursions. Standard cruise excursion companies don't go there.
Would we travel Azmara again - Yes if the price was right, bearing in mind your tips, local shuttles and wine with meals/soft drinks are included. We'd rather however have a suite on HAL or Celebrity if the costs were equivalent, just for the cabin space, big bed and suite perks!