18 day South American cruise just completed, so here are some thoughts.
If Azamara seeks to be the "upscale version" for the Celebrity Line it falls short. Overall, This is NO Regent, but you do get a lot of cruise time for the buck.
Embarkation: Easy, but our luggage did not get to cabin by sail time.
Layout: Heaving the heavy doors on the pool deck to get anywhere must be hard for older folks...why not have sensors open the doors?? The layout of the ship seemed counterproductive. Butler service: In name only. Call them cabin stewards and stop pretending.
Stateroom: Adequate, with smallish bathroom and no tub, just shower. Furnishings looked like a garage sale purchase.
Captain: Exceptional communications and treated us to Fjord and glacier cruising when he couldn't get into one of the ports.
Cruise direction Andrea Olivieri was a delight...and added a stargazing session
Food: Unimaginative. Portions are large but seafood was mushy (where were the great mussels and fish that we saw at the ports of call??) and meat came rare even when requested well done. Desserts were flavorless. They definitely need a pastry chef.
Waiters seemed to hurry us along, snatching plates even when we were not finished. Some were terrible or untrained, others seemed to respond much better. It was actually more relaxing to dine in the buffet area.
Wine by glass: Come on guys, change the selection depending on the night. Very limited. One sommelier seemed clueless, the other knowledgeable.
Specialty dining: 2 "special" restaurants with one visit each included in price. Sounds nice but the meals were not any better than the regular dining room. Big deal, ho hum Drinks: Costly, and having to present your room card for a drink at the pool area or in the lounge was annoying.
Entertainment: The trio was great, but the orchestra (esp brass) could use some...er, tuning. Harpist was nice touch and pleasant. Comics and featured acts were so-so.
Aside from the extra effort by the cruise director, the enrichment talks were abysmal.
Excursions...Don't waste your time on Montevideo city tour. Stick to the penguins and scenic tours elsewhere. Azamara tours are costly, but the alternative taxi and do it yourself tours take you into uncharted waters (ie play it safe, take the tour bus and accept the extra costs)..
Computers: Get there in the early morning to log on. I think they need to use a different satellite. The IT guy tries hard and was helpful, but the broadband was, ah, narrow.
Store: $7 for 4 Pepto tablets? Get real.
Activities: Bridge tables set up next to the Nintendo Wii arcade. Not conducive to play.
Casino: Lotsa slots. Could use some more blackjack tables in place of the video poker table that no one used.
Overall, there is a lot of potential, but would benefit from some changes in the layout, the kitchen and ongoing training of the waitstaff.