We booked our cruise/tour which included two nights in Rome. We were picked up at our hotel and driven to the port. Embarkation was very fast and our luggage nearly got to our cabin before we did.
At first glance the ship was on the smallish side. The public rooms were adequate but you must remember the Quest only has 694 passengers and this was a very small ship compared to the mega ships now sailing.
We had a Veranda cabin and it was very compact and everything seemed to fit into every nook and cranny of the cabin. The bathroom was very small and standard but was very functional. The very over sized towels were too large for the smallish bathroom and the tiny hooks on the door. Hooks were changed during the middle of the cruise to accommodate the large towels.
The Fitness Center was excellent and there were seldom anybody using the machines and the steam room in the morning was always empty. Staff were very pleasant and made you feel like a real guest.
The enrichment program was available but was not not well attended due to the below average quality of the speakers.
The food was above average in the main dining room and exception in Prime and Aqualina. Service in the main dining room was very, very slow. Each meal there took an average of two and one half hours to complete. Management needs to address the potential problem.
Entertainment was above average with Sue the cruise director being a ball of fire and getting things going. Eric, Brook, and Lindsay were very good performers and keep the older than average crowd entertained. The Five Azamara Singers and Dancers should be let off at the next port of call because they were very marginal. Hope they had other day jobs on this cruise!!! Jim the lounge piano player was very entertaining and a pleasure to watch.
Service was by far the best I've had on any cruise line. Staff called you by name after meeting you only once. They continue to amaze me with their positive attitudes and willingness to service. Maria the Bar Waitress worked at least five different venues and always had a smile on her face.
I would rate the shore excursions the weakest part of this cruise experience. All the tours were very expensive and the main focus was to take you to hard sell carpet shops and papyrus factories. The shore excursion team was lacking in communication skills. I went to a presentation by Juan and he was very difficult to understand and did not have the breath of knowledge of the ports of call. Through Cruise Critics we books most of tours at one half to one third the price and saw what we wanted with no hard sells. On other ports you can easily negotiate with the local Taxi Drivers to see all the local sites. In Fethiye we had a five hour tour which included most the major site plus a home visit to the Taxi Drivers home for Coffee and Fruit. The cost was $30 per couple!!! The Tourist Board person at each port provided by the Government was most helpful and provided great maps and local information.
The senior staff was very visible through out the cruise. Captain Leif was always on shore, in the dining areas, and very easy to talk with. Captains on other ships I've sailed on were just a figment of my imagination.
The Captain's Club Loyalty Program which was associated with Celebrity Cruise is not worth joining. As a member I got a coupon for $5.00 our my laundry. With this five dollars I could clean two pair of underwear. I also got a coupon for 10 minutes of free Internet if I bought a package. And packages for the Internet were NOT cheap. It would be best to do your Internet on shore because it is 2000% cheaper.
I read tonight where Azamra is beginning a new program where water, wine, and other drinks will be available free of charge on all future cruises. I know they are trying to break away from the Celebrity Brand/Stigma to create there own loyalty program.
Overall I would consider this one of the best cruise experiences I've every had. Great ship, above average food, great ports of call, and Exceptional Staff.