My wife and I are in our 70's and have been cruising since 1972, when we took our first cruise on the "Loveboat" We generally pick our cruises based on the itinerary and although we cruised the Baltic Sea more than 25 years ago, we decided to visit that area of the world again. We booked back to back cruises, the first one from Stockholm to Copenhagen with stops in Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Warnemunde, Kiel and Travemunde in Germany and the second leg from Copenhagen to Dublin, Ireland with stops in Eidfjord, Norway, Lerwick, Scotland, Akureyri and Reyjavik, Iceland and Isle of Man. The boarding process was smooth; We were provided transportation from our hotel in Stockholm to the pier and were on board within 15 minutes of arrival. Lunch was served when we arrived and our suite was available at 2:00 o'clock. An hour later our luggage was delivered to our stateroom.
The Azamara ships were recently refurbished and for their age are in splendid condition. We booked a suite on deck 8 for this cruise because we find the standard staterooms a bit too small for our taste. This was our seventh cruise on Azamara for two reasons: Their "choice air" arrangements are very convenient for us. We have found their air much better than Regent Seven Seas for example. With Regent we had to get up at 5:00 AM to get to their flights, with Azamara our flights left late mornings and arrived early evenings. The second reason is that they make you feel like family; when we boarded, the first person we met onboard was one of the dancers in their shows, who remembered us by name from a previous cruise on the "Journey". That you don't find very often.
Our suite came provided with a butler and our butler, Mevin could not have been more helpful with making specialty dining room reservations (which are complimentary for suite guests) and serving us breakfast in our cabin. He also kept our champagne on ice at all times. Most mornings we had breakfast in the "windows café" which serves breakfast buffet style and has a terrific selection of everything you could possibly want for breakfast including eggs prepared to your liking. The main dining room, "Discoveries" is not as noisy as many ships we have sailed on and, again the service is very attentive and the food delicious. Our favorites, however, are "Aqualina" and "Prime C" their specialty restaurants. Unlike many other ships we sailed on, we never had a problem getting the reservation we requested. We dined in each of the specialty restaurants at least five times. The menus were varied enough to suit our tastes and the presentation and service were always top notch. The Cabaret lounge, while not as opulent as some ships, is intimate and the shows were very good. Their singers and dances, which include our cruise director, Russ were outstanding and we enjoyed many of their Broadway productions. They also brought in a concert pianist and several comedians and singers. Their productions are not as lavish as many other ships but we thought their entertainment was very good. Their orchestra was outstanding! The staff could not have been nicer and attentive. They truly make you feel like a family. That's why we love small ships. Debarkation was smooth; we did not have to get up at an ungodly hour. Had a leisurely breakfast and were off the ship by 9:30 AM for a bus transfer to our hotel in Dublin. We will definitely sail with Azamara again.