Azamara Quest Cruise Review by poohbahh: great trip; lousy excursions
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great trip; lousy excursions
just finished reading a review by Neil, who was apparently on the same cruise, and took some of the same tours. I concur entirely with his comments on Dubai and KL, both ports new to us---no reason to return to either unless it's the only way to get somewhere else; in Dubai, the only thing of real interest, unless you like treeless compounds or are heavy into architecture and/or spending money just to say you did, is the old spice and gold souks; KL didn't even have that.
couldn't get enough of the ship, however, and would gladly stayed on for it's trip to Hong Kong even though we have been to most of the ports. The Quest was incredible, small, compact yet spacious---even eight days at sea, which I had anticipated would be daunting, was instead delightful and restful; things to do for people who wanted, or, for those like me, one could sit and watch the ocean go by; then of course, there was also the excitement of pirates. Dining on board was a wonderful experience, wherever More we dined--including the buffets, which I usually avoid. Loved the specialty restaurants, and also two special wine dinners; our cabin, a balcony on the 8th deck was spacious and well appointed; our butler while more than adequate for our needs, was actually the low point on service which everywhere else was superb. Public rooms also were comfortable and spacious; somewhere between visions of the Titanic and Agatha Christie; not once on the entire cruise did I feel crowded, unable to find a (favorite) chair, have to wait in lines (oh, I take that back...there was Indian immigration, not the fault of the ship).
Overall, I would rate this a five+---except for the shore excursions. even when planning them, they seemed expensive for what they offered. nevertheless, both my husband and I were pressed and didn't do the research we usually do before traveling, so we just "signed up". as it was we opted out of certain things---like a three day tour to the Taj--which was priced as much as the entire cruise. when we got on board, we discovered that others had planned private tours at around 1/4 the cost. similarly, the flight to Luxor was prohibitively expensive; apparently others thought so too, since it was ultimately cancelled. which leads me to Alexandria: apparently Neil took the same tour we did--or one very similar; but we were obviously on different buses; whereas he seemed to enjoy his tour, ours dragged us to one after another "beautiful" locations--the "beautiful" public park--a few shrubs strewn with garbage, the "beautiful" beach---more garbage; the local mosque, which was gorgeous--except for the garbage, buildings to which we could not gain entrance, then to a mediocre at best "Italian" restaurant---where one of our own tour members smoked a cigar throughout. Ignoring the cigar (if one can), I didn't travel to Egypt to eat Italian. The one highpoint was the Roman amphitheater, relatively recently uncovered and still more or less pristine; it won't be for long if, despite signs everywhere, tourists are not only allowed, but encouraged by the guides, to trample all over it. The highlight of the tour, however, was purportedly exhibits from the underwater excavations of the palace of Cleopatra; this is why we opted for the tour. Don't know where they were but except for a few enlarged photos at the amphitheater, which I thought were the prelude to what we would see, or unless I missed them in the discussion which I couldn't hear during our museum tour (crowded with competing groups), unlikely--I can still read---there was nothing. This was not at all as described. This was $130.00/person; we should have stayed on board.
A number of people on this tour complained; apparently we all got the same negative response. When we talked to the tour directors about these problems, they were totally unresponsive.
In KL, after a tour of the local government buildings, a few of historical interest, and a 1/2 hour in Chinatown, we were literally dropped off for three hours at the twin Towers; again, we couldn't get up in them (apparently access is by reservation only), and were limited to the first several floors---another large shopping mall with upscale international stores. We did, on our own, find a good Malay lunch, but, again, I didn't go all the way to KL to find another Armani and Gucci. $68.00/person---not including lunch.
To give them their due, we had wonderful tours to the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, a large part due to a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide (the Market Tour next day with another guide somehow got "redirected" by some members of the tour who wanted to "buy souvenirs"; it was all we could do to hang on to Crawford Market); a nice Harbor Tour in Cochin, and a fun trishaw ride in Penang.
So...word to the wise: do take the ship; we will again. but plan your own shore excursions. Less
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