Azamura Club Cruises sell themselves as a Luxury Club Cruising option offering an interesting and slightly different itinerary, excellent food, luxury accommodation and a tip top crew offering a discreet and friendly service.
Azamura get 2.5 out of 5 for this and 5 stars for selling an expectation!.
Itinerary - The Black Sea itinerary is very worthwhile, the low points being the two V's Varna and Volos, but Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta make up for those, as does the overnight in Istanbul - a superb starting point. Do try to get to the opera house in Odessa for a performance, the atmosphere and ambience is not to be missed.
Excellent food - Sorry, not even 3 star overall and therefore very disappointing. Why, well they certainly try, but they concentrate more on quantity than quality. The food presentation is unimaginative, bordering on poor, the crockery very plain, and the whole dining experience lacks finesse.
We dined in all the restaurant choices: Aqualina was by far the best - a lighter, more stylish option with better quality food and much better in presentation. Prime C, as the name suggests, concentrates on prime cuts of meat, and although the meat was good, it was unimaginative in preparation and there was far too much on the plate and therefore off putting. The daily buffet, we used for lunch and it was okay, limited in choice, with very little daily variation. We also had two on-shore evening buffets by the pool and they were okay, but I have to say limited. Breakfast in the stateroom on the verandah was a very good daily experience, all delivered on time and accurately, with high quality personal service.
We did comment on the quality of food at the cruise critic reception and we were given very special treatment - treated like royalty actually for a couple of days and we could have taken this further, but who needs to be a moaning Minnie on holiday!
Luxury accommodation - Well the towels, bathrobes and bedlinen are excellent. The stateroom furniture is tired, but adequate and the artwork around the ship is very basic. Some nice touches, at the pool - iced towels and cooling cucumber and the sun beds are very comfortable - although need re-varnishing.
The ship is in need of refurbishment and I believe this is programmed. Perhaps they should have done this before selling as a luxury club cruise though?
Service Levels - on board are without exception 5 star. All the crew are well trained and offer a friendly service. The Captain was the most approachable we have ever experienced and made a real and genuine effort to make sure his crew and guests were happy. Little touches like his personal farewell as we left the ship, and his invitation to the bridge and to join the staff captain for dinner were very special and we cannot fault the service at all.
Top Likes: Including high quality house wine at lunch and dinner. Fantastic Itinerary. Friendly and well trained crew. Excellent dis/embarkation and port organisation.
Top Dislikes: Quality of food, tired ship, overpriced for current service levels
Would we travel with Azamura again: Not until they deliver on their aspirations, or unless the price reflects the real service levels currently on offer