Our cruise was the 12 night Chelsey Flower Show cruise from Amsterdam to Southampton. The cruise boarded in Amsterdam Netherlands (2 days) followed by stops in Flushing Netherlands (1 day), Antwerp Belgium (2 days), Bruges Belgium (1 day), Greenwich England (2 days), Rouen France (3 days) and then on to Southampton England to depart.
This was our first cruise with Azamara and from the day we booked, back in February, we found a lot to like about Azamara. Our cruise was booked through Travel of America but we did all of our own check-in and tour bookings through the Azamara web site. A quick call to Azamara Customer Service and we were instantly Le Club Voyage members and credited with our previous cruises on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Azamara's web site was very easy to use and check-in took only a few minutes. Pre-booking tours in each port also proved to be easy and extremely cost effective. The selection of tours to choose from was exceptional (something for every interest) and the descriptions unbelievable helpful in describing what you would see as well as how long and strenuous each tour would be (important to us since my wife can not walk very far). Finally, since we were booking early, all of our tours were half price, which resulted in a considerable savings (even though the full prices were quite reasonable).
Immediately after boarding the ship and throughout the cruise we found even more to like about Azamara. (Oh, where do I start?)
1. All tips were included! Yea! No trying to figure out how much to tip each time and scrounge up cash for envelopes at the end of the cruise.
2. The small size of the ship (less then 700 passengers, with only 550 on our cruise) made getting around so easy! And, no waiting forever for an elevator. I can't remember once having to wait more them a minute during the entire cruise! Not only that but the layout of the ship was almost identical to the larger Celebrity ships so we pretty much knew where everything was. The entertainment, lounge areas, cafe, gym/spa facilities and dining were also on a par equal to what we have experienced on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships.
3. Small ships can go where the big ones can't! Like right into Antwerp, up the Thames River to Greenwich and up the Seine River to Rouen. This meant no 4 hour bus rides to London or Paris, leaving only a few hours to see the cities.
4. Speaking of seeing the cities, all of our ports were a full day, with most being two days or more. This allowed plenty of time for either multiple tours or to see things on your own. We were never rushed in any port and since we had been to several of the cities before, in those cities we chose to spend one of the days walking around on our own. Once again, Azamara made this so easy. In each port there were free shuttle buses (tender service in Greenwich) into town leaving every 20-30 minutes!
5. No formal dress is required in the dining room, which for us resulted in one less suitcase (or more) to have to drag through the airports before and after the cruise. The ship also had a free laundry room on board and, while we didn't use it, plenty of other passengers did.
6. House wine in the dining areas and soda were free, as was bottled water to take with you on tours or while going ashore. Azamara also offered several "Pre-paid Drink" packages which provided a considerable savings over the per-drink price.
In summary, we are now huge fans of Azamara and will definitely book another cruise(s) with them. Their small ship benefits and many included amenities have now spoiled us. We also found the quality of the food, service and entertainment on board to be easily as good as, if not better, then the larger ships we have sailed on. We would (and have) recommended them to anyone looking to take a cruise.