My wife and I have recently returned to the UK after a 14 days cruise around Central America with Azamara Quest. We first started cruising in 1999 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was an excellent cruise and we expected all other cruises to be similar. Sadly over the last 15 years, standards have fallen. So to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary we wanted something special, something luxurious.
We have certainly found it on board Azamara Quest. Within 5 minutes of getting off our shuttle bus in Costa Rica we were onboard ship in the Cabaret lounge drinking champagne while we sorted out our cruise passes and paperwork. 10 minutes later, we were in our stateroom. Having previously queued for up 2 hours to get on board on day one with other cruise companies, this was our first introduction to luxury cruising. Our verandah stateroom was the height of luxury. The most comfortable bed and pillows I have ever slept on anywhere in the world. Add to that luxury bathrobes, slippers, fruit and flowers every day and a mini bar, we were truly spoilt.
The itinerary was brilliant allowing a smaller ship (nearly 700 guests) to get into smaller ports and we only had to tender once in 14 days. The Land Discovery tours were well organised and two in particular stood out. Zip lining in El Salvador, then whale watching in Cabo San Lucas. Memorable trips with great video and photos to look back on in our old age.
What separates Azamara Quest from the rest? Well all ships are steel, but the heart of the ship is the staff. From day one nothing was too much trouble. One couple told me they had left their passports in the overnight hotel stop in San Jose. Azamara sent a crew member in a taxi to fetch the 2 passports - a 2 hour round trip!
Being a smaller ship we had the best of all worlds. It had all the amenities of a 5 star ship but none of the queues or lines in bigger ships for dining, or getting on or off the ship etc. The pool and sunbathing area was fitted out with fantastic sun loungers, small tables and huge towels. The staff were not obtrusive, but were aware when you raised a hand that you wanted drinks etc and nothing was too much trouble. Before dinner if you went to one of the bars they would remember what drinks you liked and if we said "little ice" they repeated it days later back to us.
The dining experience was a joy! Open seating is something we are not used too. But picking the time we wanted to eat worked out great. Late dinner after long tours, and early dinner on days at sea. The quality of the food was even better than back in 1999.
This was the friendliest cruise we have ever had in 15 years. We made so many new friends, and even met a couple who live 10 miles from us - we had to go half way round the world to bump into them!
After a day touring, to get back to your cabin, shower and drink cocktails on the verandah while the sun was setting was something else.
Could it get any better? Well yes it could and did. We spoilt ourselves with two visits to the Spa. Also, I said the food was tremendous. Well we went to Aqualina one of the two specialty restaurants on deck 10. This took fine dining to another level (no pun intended). Over the next two and a half hours my wife and I had a six course extravaganza including crab claws, escargot, lobster thermidor, and the best soufflé ever, especially when they poured Gran Marnier into it. To complete our evening they brought out a delightful cake and sang happy anniversary to us. We had no room left so they brought it to our cabin with coffee the next day at a time we had agreed.
I could write three times as much extolling the virtues of this cruise, this beautiful ship and the best crew we have ever come across. My wife and I loved it so much we hope to cruise with Azamara again in May with the highlight being both the Quest and her sister ship Journey, berthing alongside each other in Monaco for the Grand Prix.
Congratulations Azamara. You have set the bar so high we will not want to cruise with anyone else again.
David from Bristol, UK