Just a few reflections on our recent cruise on Azamara Quest from HK to Singapore. Having previously cruised with somewhat larger Celebrity and other ships, we were agreeably surprised by the wide range of facilities and services available on the Quest. Rather than comment on every aspect of the cruise, I will list just some of the major features that either impressed (most) or disappointed (few) us. * Food...in a word, "magnificent", with the range of dishes available in The Discoveries Dining Room varied and of a high quality, slightly better (if that was possible) in Prime C and Aqualina, and consistently varied and tasty in the Windows and Breeza buffets. Service by waiters and Assistant Maitre-D's at all venues was consistently courteous and helpful; we found the 'dine-when-you-like' approach to dining very convenient, although it must be said that we have found dining at set times and locations, which is common on some other ships, enables passengers to establish stronger (and in many cases lasting) friendships than is encouraged by open dining.
* Staterooms (ours was Category 1A with balcony)...maintained in immaculate condition by our Butler and Stateroom Attendant, who kept us supplied with a regular supply of fresh fruit and daily news sheets, and helped with other things such as Specialty Restaurant bookings; the size of our stateroom was about what we had expected, and similar to that we had found on other ships, although one had to be something of a contortionist to maneuver around the bathroom without experiencing some minor physical indignities.
* Entertainment...having read some of the negative comments posted by correspondents from other cruises, we were very impressed with the overall quality of the entertainment...the pianist who appeared early in the cruise was superb, as was the pianist who performed towards the end; vocalist Helen Jane was very good, although some of her numbers were not of the style that we particularly enjoy; the English comedian who performed on two occasions was generally good, with a more subtle approach than is often the case with some of the entertainers employed on cruise ships; the young singers were energetic and talented, although some of their music was not exactly of the genre that we would normally listen to; Jim Badger in the Mosaic Cafe was an entertaining pianist, singer and raconteur; the harpist was very easy to listen to, although we found the guitarist who appeared at various venues around the ship rather uninspiring; the Cruise Director was very energetic, and a fairly good singer, although his approach when making public announcements and introductions to guest entertainers seemed unnecessarily 'forced;' enrichment lectures relating to the history and culture of the countries visited were excellent, and much appreciated by all who attended.
* Crew and staff...we found the entire crew and staff, from Captain Carl Smith down, to be unfailingly polite, approachable and helpful, with much greater contact between these people and passengers than we had experienced on other cruise ships.
* Shipboard activities...we made use of a surprisingly good range of books in the Drawing Room library, the daily supply of Sudoko and other puzzles, the well-equipped gymnasium and an e-connections facility that provided a reasonably fast internet service (were we just lucky this time, as the speed on every previous cruise we had taken ranged from abysmal to hopeless).
* Shore excursions...we took only excursions that had been arranged through Azamara, and found them to be generally good, with tour guides who were well-informed and spoke very good English; for us, the visits in HK, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok,Sihanoukville and Singapore were enjoyable, although the 12-14 hour visit from Halong Bay to Hanoi was very tiring and one that we would not repeat again; the sail-out through Halong Bay after the Hanoi trip was scenically magnificent, as was the special 'Symphony of Lights' sailout from Victoria Harbour in HK arranged by Captain Carl.
In summary, we found this cruise to be most enjoyable, with the overall attitude of staff, quality of food and personal service, and ease of embarkation and disembarkation to be slightly superior to that we had experienced on larger ships. We would have no hesitation in cruising again with Azamara, providing the itinerary and cost were to our liking.