A lot of what I am saying in this review has been said before but is worth repeating. This was our third cruise with Azamara with a fourth booked for 2010 which indicates how much we like Azamara.
The first successful ingredient is the size of the ship which allows passengers to meet others and make friends more easily.
The second is the wonderful people from Captain Georgios Theodorou to all the staff who go out of their way to ensure that your requests/complaints are met and always with a smile. Leisl, of the Captains club /future cruises with her lovely mischievous ways. Ryszard Gusmann who went the extra mile to source the wonderful beef served (so I can torment our local butcher!) and who is working hard to get the good coffee we all like! Hotel Director Heike Cramer with a lovely smile for all. Tony Markey Cruise Director who works so hard to entertain us. I hope he can persuade the powers that be that a little more classics would be appreciated. The pianist, harp player and the lovely Jazz band that greeted tired passenger returning to the ship from Egypt were all so appreciated.
Third is open seating that allows people to eat alone, if feeling tired or unsociable, or on larger tables where interesting people can be met. We met lots of lovely and interesting people.
Fourth is the wonderful food, both in the speciality restaurants and, if feeling casual after a tiring day, the Breeza where the buffet choice is exceptional. The breakfast has so much choice and can be enjoyed on the open deck. This we did on most days.
Fifth is the interesting itinerary. This was very port intensive (which we enjoy) and could be better balanced. We have suggested a sea day between Egypt and Israel to recover from the 10 hour day excursions.
Some irritations still remain and have been noted to staff.. We do not like the charges for the shuttle bus (which have doubled since May!) and when shore excursions are cancelled due to lack of support we feel the ship could do more. It is not unreasonable to have reserve arrangements available (say; for a smaller bus) or at least the ship could facilitate introductions for those passengers that were interested so that they could make alternative arrangements.
Finally we have advised and written before about perceived weaknesses and are very pleased to record that notice has been taken and many elements improved. The port and shore excursion information, that is very useful for independent travellers, and the very informative Port lecturer presented the details in a way that was easily understandable.
Keep smiling and listening Azamara . We look forward to meeting you again next year. .