After a frustrating time with the shore-side of Azamara, including being locked out of my reservation for close to a month and being wrongly told I could not get the benefits of my loyalty status because I didn’t pay enough for my cruise, I looked forward to having an “Amazing” on board experience.
My comparisons are mostly based on our experience with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, whom we exclusively sail with.
I had a lovely cruise. Great ports, good weather, lots of fun excursions and wonderful fellow sailors. I had never been on a “luxury” cruise before and was expecting an upscale atmosphere. I did not expect bingo and art auctions. Here is my review.
Boarding was fine but not as good as the boarding we generally have on Royal Caribbean where we are Diamond level in their Loyalty Club. We came on Azamara Quest as Discoverer (high tier) level due to our Elite level on Celebrity. Celebrity also offers priority boarding to its higher levels. Azamara did not, but it was not a problem as the lines were short. Boarding was delayed for half an hour. After we boarded, and were handed our flute of bubbly, we sat in a lounge area for over an hour then went to lunch. I quickly learned to skip the wine at lunch. They pour often and freely.
The stateroom was extremely small. I’ve had larger ones on river cruises. Storage was limited, but we managed to get our stuff stowed. The shower is the smallest I have ever seen. We have a 23 foot motorhome and the shower in the motorhome is significantly larger than the one in the Quest. I am small and have never been bothered by shower curtain cling, but the shower on Quest was so small that I now understand what others have posted about shower curtains.
The cabin attendant told us that the phone number for him on the wall did not work so we should call housekeeping. There was no number for housekeeping. We had to go to guest relations if we needed to contact the steward. The phone had no directions on it. I had to take out the big loose leaf book to learn how to use it. There is an alarm clock on one of the two tiniest of night stands. It took a few days for me to find the directions which were on a card almost behind the TV. The TV never worked to check our account and others said the same.
The night stands were about a foot lower than the bed and had lamps attached to them which took up more space leaving very little area for your personal stuff. I like pin up lamps better as they free up the night stand area. We had an outside cabin and I made good use of the window sill for extra storage.
The beds were comfortable but their method of making them is weird. If you want to cover yourself above your midriff, you have to scoot down in the bed as the sheets and blankets will not reach your shoulders. This was shared by other guests, so I don’t believe it was just our cabin.
There is a small desk with two US style outlets. We had multi-plugs with us to charge up the gear. There was a hair dryer in the desk shelf on the right and another attached to the wall in the bathroom.
There is one small medicine cabinet in the bath and a three-tiered shelf as well as the shelf under the sink. The water pressure in the sink was very high and splashed all over. The pressure in the shower was not as high. I would have liked it to be reversed.
The soaps, lotions etc. were of great quality. I especially liked the shampoo. The towels were soft and large, but were n the other side of the shower. You had to remember to put one on the shelf under the sink before going into the shower. There are two small towel rods for hand towels and no place to hang the bath towels if you want to "save a wave".
There were two thick terry robes in the closet, one pair of slippers and a large umbrella in the closet. There was also a small pair of binoculars.
Our safe was broken so they replaced it. The AC did not work the first night and they fixed it the next day.
There was a bottle of champaign in the stateroom and we asked for a bucket of ice to chill it. There was a plate of fresh fruit on the little table. I am not certain if it was replaced. We did eat an orange two times and they were replaced.
The food was good, not great, with the exception of prime rib, which was awesome. Desserts were not very good. Most of them were based on pastry cream which had a slightly artificial taste and a whipped texture. I had asked the diningroom manager if they would be serving strawberry Palova on the cruise. I’d had it on non-luxury lines. They made a special one for me. I told them it was wonderful, but I was more impressed that they took the effort to make it, than I was with the Pavlova, which was not very good at all. Their meringues tended to be too loose and undercooked.
I am a big fan of hot dogs. My favorite lunch on a Celebrity ship is a hot dog at the pool grill. Azamara’s hot dogs at the Pool Grill were in a steam tray, not hot off the grill as are both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. The grill was right there, why couldn’t I get a freshly grilled hot dog? The ones on the steam table were not hot and had been sitting in liquid.
Desserts were comparable to Celebrity. I don’t care for Celebrity’s either, but Celebrity can definitely make a better creme brule. Azamara’s creme brule was in a dish that was way too shallow and had the consistency of the Junket rennet custard we had as kids when we were sick. The gelato was never cold enough. I did like the “ice cream soup”, however.
I decided to have the lobster tail one night in the main dining room. I was served a piece of rubber. I changed my main course, not opting to have another bad one. The prime rib and the lamb chops, however, were excellent. Portions are small and I would prefer more vegetables. The vegetables on the side of the main dishes were scant and decorative. I think the food was 60% presentation and 40% taste.
The freshly made pancakes and waffles at the breakfast buffet were very good. Breakfast pastries were not so good.
We had dinner one night at Aqualina, one of the two cover-charge restaurants. The food was very good, but not great. The lobster bisque and the Grand Marnier souffle were excellent.
I was impressed that a waiter in the buffet area would take an order for a custom made omelet or egg dish and return it to you without your ever standing in a line. Most mornings, there was quite a long wait until a member of the wait staff noticed us. When they did, service was good.
The service in the dining room was snail-paced. Many of the wait staff were not proficient in English and breakfast orders were often misunderstood. Lunch and dinner were better as they had the dishes on their order pads, still we saw too many instances of missed orders and delivery of the wrong food for a “luxury” line.
We do My Time Dining and Select Dining on Royal and Celebrity. After the first night the dining room captain knows us and our cabin number by sight. We had to give our cabin number to the dining room captain every single night we ate in the main dining room. Since dining is open seating, I don't understand having to give my cabin number every night.
The quest is lovely. The ship was very clean. There is an abundance of dark wood and beveled glass. The furnishings and decor exude an ambiance of wealth and comfort.
Bar service was excellent and the included beverages were very good. If you did not care for a wine at dinner they found another to your taste.
On the pool deck, there were plenty of lounge chairs and large, soft beach towels. There were many, many chair hogs, especially in the small areas that were shaded. There should have been more shaded areas for those who can’t be in the sun.
The gym is thimble-sized and I felt my claustrophobia in there so I didn’t use it. You have to do 12 loops around the walking track to get in a mile.
Tendering was excellent. The crew was very attentive and careful. There was a minimum of engine noise when the ship was sailing and we did not experience a bit of vibration on the entire cruise.
There was a steam room in the locker room and I used it. It was lovely and it was free.
Being a small ship, there is a dearth of public bathrooms, but that is expected. The elevators were rarely crowded and worked quickly and efficiently. Probably the best elevator experience I’ve had in all of our cruises.
Wifi worked well. It was ship-slow, but not frustratingly. I was in an outside cabin on deck 4, port side, which was near the guest relations deck so I had a strong signal. Others reported that they did not have a good signal.
The public areas are beautiful and clean. The furniture is comfortable, though a bit large for smaller people.
There seems to be a culture of interaction with passengers. Some people love this. I was more interested in a nice cruise with interesting ports of call than I was in fist-bumping the captain. He seemed to be everywhere but on the bridge. Quite the social butterfly. We wondered if there was a real seaman on the bridge and this friendly fellow was hired for entertainment purposes.
The cruise director, Russ, was fabulous. A very talented fellow. He made the guests feel welcome and included.
The activities director, Alex, was also very talented and his efforts to entertain the guests were appreciated.
The trivia games, bingo, etc. were led by entertainment staff as there was no activity staff other than Alex.
There were speakers and a watercolor class, but I did not participate so I can’t comment.
There was a fellow who played guitar and sang on the pool deck for about 45 minutes every afternoon. He played and sang the same songs every day.
The piano player was excellent as was the other guitar player who played in the lounge.
The shows were mostly done by the singers and dancers, talented young people. They were enjoyable. The costumes were attractive and the choreography was pleasant, though not very imaginative, and the dancers gave their all.
There was a British woman who did covers of female singers who put on a nice show and later in the cruise, a very talented man who did a lot of Motown. He was excellent and they brought him back for the pool deck dance.
I wondered how they would stage the shows in a lounge area as there is no theater on the Quest, but everything ran smoothly and was easy to see from all areas of the venue.
We are big fans of trivia and attended most of the games as well as the progressive trivia on sea days. They hand out a checkerboard printed paper and you are asked to get the signature of the activity leader at each event, two signatures if you win. I thought this was too juvenile. I did not have a signature paper and I did not take home an Azamara pen. I am not at all upset as I already have a whole bunch of trivia prizes and I enjoyed playing.
The Azamazing evening was in Cabo and was great. We were tendered and then bused to the venue, a lovely hotel by the sea. I commend Azamara for their handling the logistic of this event. It was flawless. We saw a wonderful show with dancers performing pre-Hispanic dances from the indigenous culture. It was followed by fabulous fire works. A great evening and truly Amazing.
We took advantage of the 25% discount for booking excursions before January 3, 2014 and did several with the ship. All but one were fine. The one that was not was due to a guide with a poor command of English whom we could not understand. Luckily, the museums we went to had signs in English.
We also did several private excursions and they were great.
We were given “green #2" tags and we debarked at 7:30 AM. The buses were right on the pier. We had to identify our luggage and give them the large hand luggage which we watched being put under the bus. Our flight was to leave at 1:36 PM and we were at the airport way too early, but the debarkation process was clean and fast. Kudos again to Azamara.
All in all we had a very nice cruise. We met some interesting people from all over the world. We got to see ports that were fascinating and take excursions to some pretty wonderful places. We had plenty to eat and enjoyed the entertainment.
Will I come back to Azamara? If I get an excellent deal like I got on this cruise and the ports of call were of interest to me, I would. If Celebrity or Royal Caribbean had the same ports, I’d sail with them before considering Azamara. It’s not that I like bigger ships, I prefer smaller ones and we sail on the smaller Royal and Celebrity ships, but I have had better experiences and service on Royal and Celebrity.