I recently returned from the 12/8 Azamara Quest trip and thought I would write a review. I am in my early 40s and my previous cruising experience consists of two previous "luxury" cruises. All rating are on a 1-10 scale, 10 being the best. I broke the review into categories if you only want to read a specific element. I apologize in advance for any typos.
Fairly smooth at the Port of Miami. Line was a bit longer than I would prefer, but it moved quickly and port agents were friendly and efficient. Once on ship, champagne was nice and lunch in the Windows Café was fine with wine at the Sunset Bar. Bags were promptly delivered to the room. Some upselling on the drink package and spa, but not overwhelming. 9/10
Originally, was in a window cabin on deck 5. On the second night, there was a water leak that saturated most of the carpet between the cabin door and the edge of the bed. I woke up in the night to use the bathroom, felt the water on my bare feet and thought we were sinking! Was quickly moved to a balcony cabin on deck 7, which was more than adequate. There was an issue with the SeaPass card that the front desk blamed on “Miami”, so I had to call to be let into my new cabin for most of the day. Annoying, but not a big deal. The cabins themselves are a bit smaller than I would have expected. The finishes are rather cheap looking, but clean and well maintained. The bedding was fair, but the linens were nice. Pillows were good and plentiful. TV service was fine, you can keep up with the USA and international news. A fee for the movies was silly, especially since most of the movies were not first-run. The bathrooms were TINY. I seriously would not want to take a shower in that room, let alone use the toilet, if I was anything over a few pounds overweight. The sticky shower curtain is also a hassle. The exhaust fan works well to keep the odors and humidity down. Shower water pressure was very good, except sometimes in the evening when it was peak time for pre-dinner bathing. The balcony was wonderful, EXCEPT for the ridiculously oversized table. The table should be 1/2 to 2/3 the size. It was extremely hard to maneuver around the table to get to a chair. I should have just has the table removed if that was possible. 8/10
Breakfast was fine in both the Window Café and Discoveries (main dining room). I wish Discoveries would have has some more creativity with their breakfast menu, but everything was well cooked and to order. Windows Café has whatever you can imagine for breakfast. The smoothie bar was a huge plus for me. Coffee was always hot and fresh. The only issue at breakfast was hat sometimes a seat was hard to find at a table. The Windows Café really needs more two person tables as often times it was apparently that table for 4 or more did not want any guests after they spread their books, handbags, etc. across the table to suggest visitors were not welcome.
Lunch was also fine in the Windows Café and Discoveries. Discoveries has some excellent lunch dishes, and I wish I would have eaten lunch there more often.
For dinner, the option of having the casual evening buffet is an excellent idea. I would usually graze at the buffet after they opened and had a pre-dinner appetizer and glass of wine. Since most of the Windows Café evening buffets are themed around a certain ethnicity (i.e. Indian or Turkish), it would seem to make sense to have the appropriate cultural staff to serve the buffet stations and to explain the food, culture, etc. Perhaps the scheduling is too difficult. The authenticity of the cultural buffets left a little bit to be desired, but the food was good nonetheless.
Discoveries dinner was excellent and was a highlight of the trip. Some of the 2 person tables were a bit close, and reconfiguration of the dining room might be in order. If you sat side by side at 2 person tables, you may as well have been at a 4 person table because it was not possible to not overhear the conversation. I actually prefer fixed dining times, but the open seating was easily accommodated. I missed the Crystal 8 person tables where you could meet other people. It was hard to sit with others unless you all showed up at the same time. The selection of food was extensive, and literally everything was cooked nearly perfectly. There were very minor service issues that were promptly corrected. I usually had a complicated order (like 1/2 portion of this or that, etc.), and it was accommodated with no questions. The portion sizes were perfect for me, except for the chocolate bomb thing, it was HUGE! I believe the main dining room far outshines Crystal Cruises for quality and innovation, as well as preparation and presentation.
Prime C as very good. One night was far better than the other. The beef is the way to go here. The second night I ordered the rack of lamb, and lamb chops were served. The lamb had to be sent back as it was beyond well done. The first night I was at a table for 6, and we only had one waiter. It was hard for one waiter to keep up with 6 people, but he did a great job considering the circumstances. I was surprised there was no bus boy type person to fill the water, etc. I would go at least once, but stick to the beef. All the appetizers, salads and desserts were excellent, although not much better, if at all better, than Discoveries. Prime C also has a great bar to check out even if you are not eating there. Both Prime C and Aqualina are gorgeous venues and the experience is worth the charge.
Aqualina was also very good. Same issue with the service though. Food was very good, but again, not much better if at all better, than Discoveries. I would go at least once for the ambiance.
I only had coffees and an occasionally sandwich in the Mosaic Café. The service was impeccable and the sandwiches were tasty.
Room service was good, but the menu was rather limited. I did like how you ordered from the TV, it was nice and easy did not do in-suite dining.
Overall, I would give Window’s Café 8.5/10, Discoveries 9.5/10, Prime C 9/10, Aqualina 8/10, Mosaic 9.5/10 and Room Service 8/10.
Pool and other Ship Common Areas.
Pool and hot tubs were great. Pool could have been a bit warmer, but hot tubs were perfect. Plenty of chairs, in fact too many because it was sometimes hard to maneuver between deck chairs. I did not see many deck chair hogs, as there was always an open chair available. The poolside drink service was very good. The grill was fine, I liked how you ordered food and they brought it to your table. The selection was good. The gym was fine, although some of the equipment needed better maintenance. The gym/spa locker room was ok, but there should have been lockers provided for non-spa uses. Steam room and locker room showers were great. If I was a bigger person, and I did not have a suite, I would shower exclusively in the gym. I did not use the spa, but the spa staff seemed snooty to me. The fitness trainer was nice and helpful. I did not use the specialty hot tub adjacent to the gym. Library inventory was somewhat lame, but it was a great space. Ship artwork was very interesting. Overall 9/10.
Charleston was great, but it was too cold and honestly 3 days was a bit long. Too bad we missed Savannah. The private islands were fine, and because we were usually the only ship in port, they were nearly empty. The food provided at the Royal Caribbean private venues was decent outdoor BBQ type food, and the free drinks were a plus. Azamara was not clear at Cayo Levantado whether the food and drink were included, but it was not big deal as drinks were only a few dollars, and I did not eat there. The tender service and the security to get on/off the ship were quick. I did not use any ship excursions, but I heard from others that it was hit or miss. No rating.
Entertainment / Activities.
For a small ship, they did a good job. It seemed like a male dancer was missing after the first few days as the shows were unbalanced. Singing and dancing was top notch. Cruise Director’s show was good. The show with the video screens was excellent. The British comedian was good. Pianist was good, but not really my cup of tea. The ping pong tournament should have been held earlier so players would know who played ping pong throughout the cruise. The location of the ping pong table was a bit annoying if you were trying to relax at that end of the pool deck. The art auction seemed to be enjoyed by some passenger. There was no pressure to buy anything other than flyers in the Pursuits bulletin. There seemed to be a lot of jewelry and other items on tables in the hallways. I did not like that. There was also an overabundance of photography, but no pressure at all to buy any. Casino never seemed very busy. I heard good things about the trivia. Iron Chef competition was fun. Overall 7.5/10.
The evening on the Yorktown was very good. Transportation to the Yorktown and back was well organized. The food provided was good, but really passed appetizers and drinks would have been adequate. Drink service was fine, although the wine was not very good. The choice of the African-American tribal group was a bit odd, seemed out of place on a military vessel. I could not really hear anyone at the microphone, so I did not understand why the group performed. A tribute to veterans would have been nice as I saw many veterans on-board the Quest. Overall 8/10.
The demographic on this cruises was apparently skewed towards a slightly older crowd, with a number of Canadians and Europeans. Everyone was very friendly and there were no issues with fellow passengers. There was not much of a nightlife on this ship, although the DJ tried to get things going in the Looking Glass at night. This is definitely not a ship for children, and many of the passengers I spoke with agreed that they like Azamara because of the lack of children. That being said, if a child is well behaved and the parents do not expect a children’s program, I would not see a problem. There were two service dogs on the ship and were well behaved, although one night one of the service dogs was gnawing on a rib eye on the carpet in Prime C. I guess you can stay the Quest staff is most accommodating to all of their guests. No rating.
I thought I would buy an upgraded drink package, but realized since no upgraded wines were included, it was not worth it for me. I am very disappointed no sparkling wines were available on either the base or any upgraded package. I can only drink so much in a day, and between the inclusive liquors and wines, I was more than happy. The wines are adequate for a casual wine drinker that is not a wine snob, but more upscale wine drinkers might be disappointed with the inclusive selections that are mostly $10-$15 wines that are commonly available. There was no problem requesting a previously served wine. Overall 9/10.
Overall very good. The officers are very friendly and heavily interact with the crew. Generally, most of the staff are friendly, although a few were cold and basically did their job without a smile. My cabin steward was amazing and did a most excellent job. Most of the bartenders were very good and they knew their drinks. I did see a few issues with people ordering drinks that were not included, and sometimes a premium drink got poured down the sink when the person realized they had to pay for it. Cruise director was very good. Maintenance staff is unobtrusive, and I honestly do not know when they clean the common areas as I rarely saw anyone. Front desk staff seemed frustrated with “Miami” and the computer system. Overall 9/10.
This was a bit of a mess. They wanted us out of the rooms by 8 AM, but then everyone congregated on deck 5 near the gangway. There was a delay in leaving, and the updates from the staff were far and few between. Some people said the message were not broadcast throughout the ship either. It was not a big deal to me as I was not in a rush (i.e. no plane to catch), but others were a bit stressed about early flights. Customs was fine and relatively quick. Those customs officers always put a chill down my spine for whatever reason. Overall 4/10.
Azamara has a very nice product, and closely rivals, if not exceeds, the other luxury line in some areas. Azamara’s full fare pricing is quite high, and I am not sure full fare is worth it. I would definitely take another Azamara cruise with a good itinerary and with a special pricing offer. Overall 9/10.
Cheers! John R.