This was our second time on Azamara but it was the itinerary that attracted us to the Black Sea - although Azamara's standards sealed the deal. We particularly wanted to see the Crimea and an itinerary taking in Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta was too good to miss. An added bonus was that after returning through the Bosphorous we then called into Canakkale on the Dardanelles and were able to visit the battlefields of Gallipoli.
The cruise had started in Istanbul and calls at Varna (Bulgaria) and Constanta (Roumania) were tolerable. The cruise ended at Piraeus having had Santorini and Paros as Greek island calls - the only tendering on the cruise.
We used Azamara's tours for all the ports where we toured - Varna, Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta. The tour guide fro the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava was exceptionally good and the online early booking prices good value.
As for the ship - Captain Carl Smith kept us totally informed about every movement of the ship down to the number and type of mooring ropes! His concern over avoiding norovirus on the ship was commendable.
The service, food and friendliness on board was perhaps even better than on our last voyage in 2011. We tried the speciality restaurants on two occasions and they were better than ever - the main restaurant is excellent. Entertainment has improved with two set shows as well as several good 'imports'. Lectures were good we were told although we did not attend.
The ship is getting a modest make over towards year end although she shows little sign of wear. Yes the showers a small but that is a feature of the R class.
The history of the region is particularly interesting for Britons because of the Crimean War history but the call at Canakkale allowed Gallipoli battlefield tours of interest to the Australians and New Zealanders on board as well as Britons and Irish.
One little cameo at the New Zealand memorial at Gallipoli was the Last Post being played impeccably by the trumpeter from Azamara Quest's orchestra - an ex Kiwi soldier. You can find this moving event now on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evpBo6ZNVMA
A memorably good cruise