We sailed from Miami Nov. 12, 2007 only the third public sailing as the Quest. She is a former Renaissance ship, with 3 sister ships sailing under the Princess line, 3 under Oceania line and the Azamara Journey. Embarkation was the best we had ever undertaken. The first day was at sea and we spent time (though it took very little) getting to know her layout (she is only 30,277 tons; cap. 694 passengers). She retains the luxury feel from the Renaissance days with lots of wood (mostly teak). Our cabin was daily refreshed with fresh fruit, live flowers (small vase), and afternoon canapes. Our butler strived to meet our small requests promptly & was rewarded by us in tips at the end. Although he was Asian, he spoke good English. Additional room amenities include for the oceanview room we had included Elemis bath products, one night complimentary specialty dining (since upgraded to 2 nights), complimentary use of binoculars, umbrellas, robes & slippers (to take home). We're still using ours.
Our first port was Grand Turk & the shore excursion we took was excellent the personal mini-boat & snorkel adventure. Our guide even took passenger photos (on their individual mini-boat in front of the Quest at the of the excursion). We then continued for 7 more consecutive days at the following ports: Samana, Dominican Republic; Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; St. John, USVI; Gustavia, St. Barts; Cabrits, Dominica; Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe; Virgin Gorda; BVI; followed by 2 days at sea before returning to Miami. In Samana, we enjoyed a "beach day" with private bar-b-que cookout & use of lounge chairs.
The Quest was the first cruise ship to dock to Mayaguez and we therefore received special treatment from the local people. They had already decorated for Christmas with numerous large light displays in the main square. The Quest tendered us in to St. John, USVI where we we embarked on a sailing & snorkeling expedition on the Calypso for snorkeling between Conga Cay & Lavonga Cay some of the best snorkeling we have done. We had been to St. John previously but took the Panoramic St. John tour to see Annaberg Sugar mill & numerous stops to view USVI & BVI nearby islands finishing up at Trunk Bay for a short swim. At St Barths, we were tendered in & were disappointed few shops were open as we arrived on Sun., 11/18. The Quest staff should have informed us that this would be the case. We believe that basically all our ports were the first visits to these Caribbean islands for Azamara (& Celebrity parent company), there were a lot of unknowns as far as excursions & the local customs were concerned as we saw the Quest's Captain tendering in to the ports which we found unusual). The port of Cabrits was the second port we had been to in Dominica & our shore excursion was excellently conducted by a local guide of the Syndicate Nature Trail & Indian River, the former being through the rainforest. We visited the Cousteau Reserve in Guadeloupe & the Rhum de Bologne Distillery. We were on a glass-bottom boat at the Reserve & were also able to snorkel. We walked around the town of Basse-Terre & found we were easily distinguished as Americans as this was the first visit by a cruise ship there also. The natives were quite helpful even though they spoke only French. We enjoyed our "Caribbean night" on board that night; however, we were a little disappointed that they do not have a buffet by the pool as larger ships do. It was mostly an outdoor dance party but the Captain's staff participated and a good time was had by all. We highly recommend the Bath & Spring Bay Exploration at Virgin Gorda which was 4.5 hours where we again saw many different views of the Virgin Islands (both U.S. & British).
There were multiple informative lectures on board, wine tasting events, cooking events conducted by the Head Chef, trivia games & the like. The ship caters to a senior group as I believe we only saw 2 or 3 families with young children. Everything is more "laid back" and relaxing. Even the tenders were boarded & disembarked easily with refreshments provided prior to reboarded the Quest along with cool towels for refreshing oneself. The cruise line can best be described as Luxury class between Celebrity's upscale class & that of for example Regent Seven Seas at very reasonable prices. Although the Butler is not a true one, but a glorified room steward, we still had above average service. Dining was excellent food; however, service was erratic we believe due to the fact that the kitchen had not timed its anticipated dinner orders yet as it was only the third sailing. Our best meal was at the specialty restaurant Prime C, the best meal we had ever had cruising. We did not sample the other specialty restaurant (Aqualina).
Overall, due to the small size of the ship, there were limited activities compared to larger ships. We did participate in dance lessons, played shuffleboard, & attended lectures. The small size and easygoing ambiance suit us fine & we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We are planning a trip next Jan. on the Journey & are booked in the same cabin. In short, we rate Azamara 5 stars & highly recommend it for those not bringing families who want to go to unusual ports and want excellent service, food and accommodations.