In September 2011 we took our first cruise with Azamara on the Quest. We enjoyed it so much that we quickly booked this back-to-back cruise from Athens to the Greek Islands and to the Black Sea via Istanbul.
The big question in our minds was whether we would enjoy it as much. The simple answer is yes we did, and perhaps enjoyed it even more than the last one.
The itinerary was superb as it included islands that few other ships visit, such as Hydra, Paros and Patmos, three countries on the Black Sea, Bulgaria (Varna), Romania (Constanta)and Ukraine (Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta) and allowed us an overnight stay in Istanbul.
Our deal with Azamara also included flights and transfers and a pre-cruise overnight stay in Athens. The included hotel, The King George Palace, was excellent and had a fantastic location overlooking Parliament Square and with a view of the Acropolis. All transfers were handled very efficiently.
The Azamara on-board experience is very special. The ships are the right size for us. Compared to many other ships the cabins may be a bit smaller, the bathrooms tiny and the entertainment more low key - but these things are not very important to us.
What is important is the excellent food (in all venues) and the good quality wine included with lunch and dinner. In fact, Azamara is almost fully inclusive as "gratuities" (which on other lines is a poorly described euphemism for making up staff wages), water, soft drinks, coffees etc are included. The only major extras are alcoholic drinks outside mealtimes and trips, which are very reasonably priced any way.
The atmosphere on board is very relaxed and friendly. All the crew and staff are very friendly and go out of their way to ensure you have a great cruise. The captain sets the tone. Carl Smith is a superb captain and you often see him and other officers around the ship and they are always willing to chat and answer questions. The waiters and cabin attendants are, without fail, friendly and attentive. Service is excellent.
Fellow passengers are (with very few exceptions) friendly and engaging. One of the many delights of an Azamara cruise is sharing a table a dinner and making new friends from around the world.
The fact that there is a high percentage of repeat passengers on Azamara speaks for itself.
So, will we cruise on Azamara again? Most definitely - in fact we are already booked on the Journey in November 2012 and will be back on the Quest in January 2013 and are already looking forward to both.