December 2013. We have just returned home from our 2nd Azamara Club Cruise. This time we were aboard the Quest, last fall we were on the Journey. The ships are virtually identical so we felt quite at home. Hospitality is the name of the game and Azamara does it very well. There have been a few changes to the Azamara line since we travelled in September 2012, the most notable being new carpets and upholstery and the number of beverages that are now included in your ticket price. We didn't buy a beverage card this time; it really was not necessary.
For this cruise we upgraded to a suite, and it was well worth it. Suite privileges included priority check in and departure, butler service (Xavier was dressed in tails at all times, and we were in the Caribbean!), a welcome bottle of wine, fresh fruit and flowers in the cabin, 4 bottles of assorted liquor in the cabin (we were able to swap the liquor out for 2 bottles of wine), afternoon hors d'oevres served on our veranda, complimentary seating in the two specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, and complimentary access to the Spa deck and pool.
Captain José, the daily "voice from the bridge", was informative and amusing. This was his first voyage as captain with Azamara, and he certainly echoed the Azamara standard of excellence. He was a wonderful host, friendly and sociable. We felt very welcome on board. We saw him everywhere!
There was a glitch in the power system on the ship one day, and it was handled very well. We were not among the guests without power in their cabins for a few hours, and I imagine they noticed the lack of air conditioning and toilet flushing, but we were fine. The "voice from the bridge" kept everyone well informed on the state of repairs. The main restaurant, Discoveries, was without power as well, so it was closed for dinner. To compensate, the pool deck was cleared of lounges, and Chef Fabio and his food and beverage team rallied to provide one of the best meals we had on the ship. One can only imagine what went on behind the scenes to provide this seamless conversion from dining room to pool deck buffet. Kudos to the crew for this one.
The only disappointment we had on this cruise was the 'Amazing Azamara Evening' that took place at the Fairview Great House on St. Kitts. The logistics of transporting several hundred people to the site in an acceptable amount of time proved to be beyond the capacity of the local bus and taxi service. As a result, the first guests had been at the site for long enough to get restless before the last group arrived, and the last to arrive did not have time to enjoy the venue before the entertainment began.
The itinerary for this cruise, the 12 Night West Indies Hideaway Voyage, was very good, with stops at St. John (US Virgin Islands), Marigot (Saint Martin), Roseau (Dominica), Basseterre (St. Kitts), Charlestown (Nevis), Gustavia (St. Barts), and Virgin Gorda (B.V.I.). There were many options for land discoveries, and we enjoyed a catamaran sail and snorkel expedition, although the wind and wave conditions prevented us from visiting the preferred snorkel site. The cruise started and ended with two days at sea, which we also enjoyed. Seminars on jewelry and wine tasting as well as tours of the ship were of special interest. We were as busy as we wanted to be and that made it a wonderful vacation. Maybe the next time we will try to find the putting green and take part in the trivia challenges.
The ship is great, the food was great, but the crew is exceptional, and will keep us coming back to Azamara. Vipin and his colleagues in the boutiques, Carlo, Mustafa, Boban, Aileen, and many others in the restaurants, Carlos, Constance, Jade and fellow spa employees, and of course Captain Jose, Cruise Director Tony, Activity manager SaraLou, Nathalia in Future Cruises, Wade, our excursion companion and all the others whose names I have forgotten, you all made us feel like we were more than travelers, but guests in your home.
We will be travelling on the Azamara Journey in February, and look forward to another wonderful experience.