First of all, let me say my wife and I are experienced cruisers. I think that is important to know, because first time cruisers either 'hate it or love it' and the reviews tend to show that. We have just returned from a 3 month stay in Florida, from where we sailed on, Grand Princess, Emerald Princess, Celebrity Constellation and finally Azamara Quest. The last named was advertised and packaged as a step up in quality (and price) from Celebrity, of which it is an off-shoot. Before travel, we read some reviews, which were not very complimentary. Armed with the knowledge that some people will complain and find fault with just about anything, we looked forward to the final cruise before returning home. Below is our experience and thoughts of the Azamara Quest, but first a word about gratuity. The very word gratuity suggests a GRATEFUL tip given VOLUNTARILY dependant on service received. If you have no choice, to who or how much, it then becomes a service charge, not gratuity. All drinks came with added gratuity, which is the way of all cruise lines. But on Azamara, another 3% extra (18%) is added to prices that are a little higher than normally charged on other ships.
It was the most expensive, yet the worst in terms of entertainment and food, of our four winter cruises, everything done as cheaply as possible. The food in the main dining room, was a step down in quality from Celebrity, instead of being the expected step up. The entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge (no theatre) was made up of solo recitals, a trombone player (twice) a classical pianist, a classical singer, a classical violinist, one night a screen showing 2 hours live of the American Academy Awards(and a comedian who was o.k.) In every case the one artist did the whole show, no variety. On every Caribbean cruise I have been on previously, there has been a steel band playing on deck, especially at parties and sailaways. On the Azamara Quest a trio consisting of keyboard, drummer and a girl singer\guitarist who could not play or sing. The same trio played most nights in the only other music lounge, The Looking Glass, which was cold and lacking in atmosphere, due to the fact that there was nobody in the place. In the present format, Azamara will not survive. They may have a high ratio of reservations at the moment, due to people trying out a new concept, but most people I spoke to onboard, will not be re-booking.