THE CRUISE OF A LIFETIME We are select members with Celebrity Cruise lines, and Azamara Cruises is their new approach to cruising from a more mature aspect. We sailed aboard the Azamara Quest's 12 night Western Caribbean including Panama, Costa Rica and Columbia. Azamara Quest and Journey are smaller ships with around 700 passengers, cater to a 50' and up,experienced, yet, laid back travelers. We met everyone from artists to doctors to stock brokers.
Our voyage did not originate in Miami as planned. Captain Apostolos Bouzakis had reported seas of 20-25 feet heading for Miami with Tropical Storm Noel, so he was rather astute in caring for our comfort, and turned his ship towards Tampa. Even though most of us had to board a bus in Miami from the port for the ride to Tampa, in the end it was well worth it for we had smooth sailing leaving the Gulf side of Florida. Captain Apostolos Bouzakis made a smart decision. Our boarding once reaching Tampa was over the top!!!
The welcome check-in took just a few minutes, and we walked up the covered gangplank where we were greeted by photograghers and port staff, making sure we were all ok after the bus ride. We were immediately greeting by the hotel director and other staff officials. My husband, Al, and I were handed a nice glass of cold champagne and asked for our stateroom number. Immediately a cabin attendant took our bags and led us to our rooms (that was a first in my cruising career)! I didn't want to go, because my mouth was wide open, looking at the beautiful woodwork, and wrought iron fillagre on the banisters. The carpets spotless, the artwork gorgeous! Maybe it was the interior of the Titanic??? Beautiful!
THE ROOMS We had a balcony room mid ship. At first the room appeared small, and we didn't think everything would fit, but drawers and cubby holes kept popping up and before you knew it we unloaded 6 suitcases and still had room under the shelf in the bathroom. Put your empty suitcases under the bed. We brought some wine with us too, so we had extra to drink if we needed it. OUr cabin #7063 has a butler,(Vazio was wonderful)& cabin attendant. Also free shoe shines which Al loved. The beds are fabulous! You will love them, they are all brand new and so cushy! The robes are soft and cuddly, and always the butler leaves a small treat in the evening for you.
We toured the ship, about 1/2 the size of the Century, met our Events Coordinator & Captains Club coordinator:Melanie Mowat. She is helping us plan our WEDDING on board the ship. We had 28 cruise critics planning on attending our renewal:We were the grand prize winners of Celebrity's Newlywed not so Newlywed game. Our prize included a vow renewal package which was TO DIE FOR!!!Huge bakery heart shaped cake, champagne, Andreas, cruise director, had the most beautiful vows I have ever heard in my life, even the captain came to watch. The kleenex box was passed around freely! We were the first couple for the ship since becoming Azamara Quest.All the cruise critics came, and Melanie put it all together. Everything was perfect. Thank you Melanie!!She was on Galaxy last year 12/06 T.A.
PORTS WE VISITED Georgetown,Grand Cayman: Tiny port town.Had lunch at Breezes,good conch chowder and fried calamari, and the MOJITOS were to die for! You only needed one! Guy Harvey, the artist was at his shop, and I got his autograph upstairs. Too rough for snorkeling. Cabs are readily available to take you on a number of fun trips if you haven't booked a shore excursion. Beautiful aqua water. Santa Marta, Columbia: Too primitive a town for my taste. The van driver took us on a 5 hour tour, but it really wasn't set up for visitors. Visited Simon Boliver's retreat. The best part was the Folklorico Show on the port tarmack, as our ship docked. Not not well kept. Cartagena, Columbia: Awesome,can't say enough, and wish we wouldn't have stayed for 2 days at this port. Beautifully painted buildings with flowers and ferns, tropical hidden 5 star hotels, Emerals? They were everywhere! We took a taxi city tour with another couple for &80.00. We were gone all day. Our driver stayed with us as we shopped, and we felt safe. Very friendly people, taxi driver explained history of city. Colon,Panama: Booked the Gamboa Aerial Tram, drove through 1/2 of Panama Canal, saw toucans, butterfly's and east and west ship crossing at the same time, a rare sight!
Limon, Costa Rica: Did the Zip-lining through the tree tops! Best excitement since Tower of Terror! Loved it! Lush landscape! Bought local crafts close to ship. San Andre's Island, Columbia. Took a cab downtown and bought our EMERALD at half the price in Cartagena!! Playa del Carmen: Good shopping, great tequila shops, nice resort area north of time. Food on Board: Excellent, more today's cooking. Chef's gave gourmet cooking demonstrations, we had food and wine pairings,excellent service, a chardonnay blending. Cellar Master very knowledgeable. Sat next to the captain for dinner one night! He spoke perfect English. So refreshing to be able to communicate with him and all the staff in English!! All Pax received 1 free speciality dining credit. We enjoyed the open dining arrangement. Please don't wear shorts to dinner. I missed the elegance of dressing for dinner, which many said they missed, but liked the open seating to go when you wanted. Enrichment series: Fabulous lectures. Cruise Director: Andrea Olivieri is so smart. We had a geometry lecture and an astronomy lecture followed by 2 evening star gazing classes. Lazer light pointed at the stars. Captains Club events included chardonnay Blending, Casino, captains cocktail Party and Senior Officer's cocktail Party. I took a peak at the galley and the bridge, but they don't give tours normally. All and all we came home relaxed and raving about going again on the Azamara fleet. Thanks especially to Captain Apstolos Bouzakis, Melanie Mowat:Event Coordinator, Andrea Olivieri:Cruise Director, George (head waiter),and Vazio our Butler in #7063. It was a dream trip I will never forget.