Our cruise began 6 Oct. from Barcelona, sailed to seven ports - Palma de Mallorca, Bonifacio, Rome (Civitavecchia), Elba (Portoferraio), Livorno (Pisa, Florence), Nice, and back to Barcelona on 16 Oct.
THE SHIP - This was our second Azamara cruise, both on the Quest. We like the relative intimacy of a mid size ship (684 maximum). Our Veranda cabin was comfortable and well laid out. The deck seven location was ideal, situated just below the Windows Cafe (buffet) and pool grill on Deck 9, and the Discovery dining room and various activity areas on deck 5. Guest relations were on deck 4.
THE SERVICE - Flawless and friendly. Not a single complaint. The concierge went out of his way to refund an excursion cancelled past the normal refund time because of my wife's illness. Obviously, all crew have been instructed to be friendly and polite. The wait-staff performed admirably as well.
THE FOOD - There are two main restaurants on the Quest: the Windows cafe (buffet) and the Discovery restaurant (waiter service with fairly extensive menu. There are also two specialty restaurants that charge $27.50 per person, and a pool fast food grill that served excellent hamburgers, onion rings, and a variety of other fast-food delights. We did not attend either specialty restaurant. Azamara serves a free red and white wine with lunch and dinner. The wines were decent, but not in any way memorable.
Here I have some minor complaints. I had a tough strip steak and some dry short ribs in the Discovery. My wife had some Grouper she termed greasy. However, the appetizers and the soups were imaginative and generally excellent.
The buffet did especially well with salads and freshly cooked dishes (roast beef, pork loin, and some excellent roast lamb). They served an excellent seafood risotto one evening, and their freshly cooked pasta was also good.
However, as with most buffets, the stuff that sat around in steam tables was less good, but better than average.
ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT: My wife saw dance presentation which she found ok. Other than that, we attended none of the evening shows. The ship is relatively small, and the variety of activities was limited compared to those on a mega-ship, but we found enough to do during sea days.
EXCURSIONS: I took a ten-hour excursion to Rome, which included the Colosseum, Vatican City, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, all venues in Vatican City were packed. Our guide did yeo-woman work in getting us through various venues , but the experience was not pleasant.
My wife and I took a walking market tour in Barcelona which was all right, but we could just as well done this on our own.
Azamara has a half-price excursion policy if the excursions are booked on-line.
OVERALL: We found the cruise enjoyable. We like Azamara and will probably cruise with them again. However, I have been informed by some of the passengers that Azamara is planning to "upgrade" approaching the luxury status (including liquor, for example), and raising its prices. I hope not.