We selected Azamara based on the recommendation of our T/A. We have sailed HAL numerous times, and Princess cruises once.
The Azamara Journey was presented as a 'boutique' cruise line, similar to Oceana Cruise Lines.
Here's the down and dirty: Cruise ship was great; small and intimate. Very well maintained.
Ports were fabulous! Holy Lands were a once in a lifetime experience. A must see for everyone...
Staff was very courteous and gracious.
Food was generally excellent. The main restaurant as well as the two 'special' restaurants were VERY GOOD. We did not care for the food in the buffet area. Quality in the buffet area was generally lacking.
Coffee was uniformly AWFUL. Azamara really needs to pay attention to this detail.
Entertainment: Orchestra was very good. Very! Singers/Dancers..well, they did what they could. Some of them were rather long of tooth and appeared to be arthritic.. While the entertainment was not great, it was passable.
Cost: very competitive. We feel it was a very good value.
Shore excursions: Staff was very helpful. Prices were somewhat high IMHO.
Would we go again: Perhaps...maybe...probably..
DW and I do not think that Azamara is quite as good as Holland America. HAL's food is consistently superior, in the buffet section as well as their main restaurants. Staff on HAL were much more 'personable'. We noted that while the staff on Azamara was very good and courteous, they were not as warm or friendly as the HAL staff.