We are retired in Thailand, in the North Issan in fact, we generally do three or four cruises a year and have done four on Azamara in the last 15 months, we are Discovery members, our last posted review on Azamara was titled “Almost Excellence dated Jan 2014”, I have lost count of my cruises but well in excess of 40
We flew from Khon Kaen to Bangkok then to Singapore and overnighted at the Intercontinental Hotel a very wonderful property
Embarkation was unusually slow maybe an hour and a half, and very tiring in the heat, this is in our experience unusual for Azamara, on check in our loyalty status was despite written promises from Miami, for the third time was incorrect, this was corrected on board.
It was wonderful to be back on board , we knew 85%of the crew, and there are many old friends some who visit us in Thailand at home, probably the most friendly of any of the over 40 cruises I have been on
The dining and food was almost up to More
previous standards, but we felt had dropped off a little maybe we had been spoilt by having Johnathan as F& B manager for our previous three cruises, I felt the dollar allocation on food had been cut a little, or the new F&B manager was over controlling costs,Johanthan used to say he often ran a little over budget but his primary concern was to do the very best job possible, rather commendable! We enjoy Windstar and Seabourne a lot and consider the quality of food on Azamara to be almost equal.
Seabourne include a complimentary sparkling wine very much appreciated by the ladies, not so on Azamara, but generally the selection of complimentary drinks is OK
Windows restaurant was stretched with the ship full, and many times through lack of space we transferred to the main restaurant deck 5 always a nice place to find good food and tranquility This was the first time we had sailed with the ship full
We very much enjoyed the brunches especially the one for discovery members given upstairs in Prime C, We also very much enjoy the white evening barbeque on the pool deck this should be increased from the present once per cruise to once a week
We did not use the two specialty food locations Aquilina and Prime C as when on our earlier cruise we had paid for a suite and they were included at no supplement we used them probably eight times , we only got off the previous cruise in January and felt the food did not justify the extra cost, generally the food in the main restaurant is very good
We love mosaic café and its excellent double cappuccinos, there are generally very nice small snacks available there
We felt the entertainment had improved substantially maybe due to Erics presence back on board
The ports of call were a little disappointing even the Captain and Hotel manager commented they did not know why head office chose these ports;especially Indonesia and on all occasions despite Azamara’s claim, no free shuttles available, because of port disputes and the get out is covered in their small print.
In Srilanka, Cochin and Bombay we did our own tours through Trip Adviser leads, and were very happy with them, all saving in excess of 65% each time comparing like with like, there is a risk here but we chose to take it, and remember if on a private tour the ship can leave without you if you fail to turn up on time
In Indonesia instead of the free shuttle we were offer a bus at $39 to the city not very acceptable
The Amazing Evening was at the Taj Malibar hotel in Cochin a lovely hotel in first class location on the water, the entertainment was very good but could have been run on the pool deck instead of herding every one to two showings and everyone feeling very rushed, it took away from the experience
In Bombay we stayed at the Taj Vivante post cruise a lovely lovely hotel with the very best Indian food, its Thai restaurant was however only mediocre, coming from people who live in Thailand
Our chosen stateroom this time was ocean view (we have travelled in suites and balconies on previous occasions) with small print obscured view and smaller sq ftge than normal ocean view, we were shocked and horrified when we saw no view except for life boat fully filling the window, we were very upset, it was the cabin number we had booked but we expected obscured view meant maybe we lost 20% of view not ALL of it. Later Heinke the superb hotel manager told us they normally only use these cabins for free upgrades, from inside cabins, she also said Miami were booking the ships so full it gave her little room to maneuver
We were extremely distressed in fact so much so we considered getting off the ship, the front desk just stonewalled us when we complained and kept quoting ship full, the captain told us he had no authority to grant a refund and when I requested he call Miami then he said the office was shut, I replied I was sure he had a 24/7 number for Miami, he just smiled, we withdrew and went and wrote to the Captain and Hotel manager gave it to reception, got a receipt, and asked them both to immediately contact Miami.
Heinke then appeared five minutes later, bless her, smiling as always and promised to do her best to help and fine that unavailable cabin, with a proper or 80%view. She was the first to say our expectations had not been met and she was very understanding in these circumstances; Just before sailing we were offered an upgrade subject to paying another $100 , I thought it might have been done on a no charge basis as a gesture of goodwill but we did not argue just paid
Once ensconced in our new accommodation we were free to relax and enjoy, comparing ocean view to balcony and suite other than price difference there is not so much difference especially as we spend a lot of time out on deck and around, is suite worth the extra money, no I would say having travelled in both within four months The bathroom was tight but the same size as balcony accommodation, there were problems on the toilets, they said routine maintenance, but I doubt it, on the previous three cruises never routine maintenance and system shut downs, the ship is getting old and these vacuum systems take a lot of maintenance and servicing to keep them in top class condition
All the operational hotel staff can without exception be classed as exceptional, The Hotel manager should probably be in overall charge of the ship,(including the Captain) she is seen working all the time moving from place to place in those very excuisite high heeled shoes, she has to be the very best.
Eric on entertainment works very hard and produces the goods.
The Captain is visibly seen around the ship a lot always smiling but would benefit from a course on handling upset customers and their expectations, he did take the ship off course so all could see the sunset and its green flash.
The F&B manager has a tough job following Johnathan our host on the three previous cruises.
Our previous butler from when we had a suite, has been promoted and was in overall charge of our cabin, a very nice capable and helpful man
My strong impression is the ship and its officers will do anything reasonable to try and look after passengers, but managers in Miami, restrict the ability of the Hotel Manager and the Captain, i.e. they could not agree a refund for a very upset passenger there and then; any five star hotel will refund an unhappy customer immediately and hope maybe that customer returns at least to a different property
Overall we rate Azamara quite highly, probably on the way down rather than way up; but our difficult experience on cabins has made us decide to book elsewhere for a while; probably Seabourne and Windstar, especially as they have taken over three of Seabournes ships, we had been planning to book three more Azamara cruises while onboard but changed our minds, due to the misdescription on the lack of view of our first state room and the stress to resolve it
The cruise lines all work hard to get repeat customers, but they can destroy that loyalty very quickly and easily, I believe Heinke the hotel manager very much understands but her Captain needs a course or two on managing customers expectations
Disembarkation, quick easy and oh so nice to be off the ship
Be very careful we started with this cabin it was awful, view was fully obscured with life boat filling the full window, then crew pearing nto cabin when doing routine maintenance, I understand it is normally only given as free upgrade from inside cabin