This was our first small ship cruise and will not be our last. We selected this cruise because the itinerary appealed to us. We were most interested in visiting the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and Petra/Wadi Rum in Jordan. Dubai was a bonus. The food was good, the service was excellent, the ship was clean and comfortable. The smaller ship provided easy access to all amenities. Shopping was bare boned compared to the larger ships but provided the basic necessities. Public areas were good except perhaps the theater could have had tiered seating to provide better views. Other benefits of the smaller ship were readily available deck chairs and quick, smooth and easy departures on land tours. We were impressed when we were always greeted by senior ship officers when we returned from land tours.
State rooms were consistent with other cruises except there were lots of hangers for a change. The mini bar should have been stocked with drinks that were included in the price rather than pay for drinks. The balcony was okay but often not usable due to blackouts for the transit through pirate alley. The additional armed security brought on for the passage though pirate alley did give us a warm and comfortable feeling. What could they improve: The spa treatments that were included in our membership level were a real disappointment. I must admit, they seemed rather petty in this regard. The future cruise officer was aloof and didn't appear interested in our business so we didn't book a future cruise on board. Our biggest disappointment was the cancellation of the stop in Egypt. We really wanted to get the Valley of the Kings. Some passengers openly speculated that Azamera knew long in advance that they were not going to Egypt but kept to them selves until after the cancellation date. Perhaps this is true because we would have cancelled.
What did they do right: everything else.
The Norovirus was a pain in the butt, however the crew made every effort to minimize the spread. After all, we just came from India.
In conclusion, this was probably the best cruise we have yet enjoyed and we would like to travel Azamara again. Great staff, relatively good food, okay land tours and interesting people.
Book your own tour. This one included a visit to "At the Top" at which the line-ups were so long the balance of the tour had to be truncated to make up the time. The tour guide's English was not up to reasonable standards. The ship should have docked at Dubai rather than Fujairah to reduce the bus travel time. A complete waste of money given that it was an expensive tour.
The ship docked in Eilat but this wasn't on the drop down list of ports. We had to bus to Jerusalem. A four hour trip one way on a substandard bus. The seats were tiny and way too close together. It truly made for a very long and uncomfortable day. The tour group was too large and the guide, who was very good, spent too much time trying to keep track of us, especially in the very crowded Old City. It was interesting but I would not do it again. It would have been nice if they had offered aircraft flights for the run to Jerusalem.