Azamara Mediterranean Cruise Review 2010
This was our first cruise on Azamara, we had cruised on Cunard, Princess and Oceania previously.
This was a 12 day cruise visiting 10 ports with 2 sea days.
Azamara had put together the package for us including flights and transfers. The arrangements worked very well. The only downside being the long layovers in Paris CDG on the way out and on our return. The transfer to the ship went smoothly and we were greeted by senior staff on boarding and with a welcome alcoholic or fruit juice drink. We were escorted to our cabin which was ready for us.
The cabin a 1C Verandah was good on deck 7 aft, we had fresh flowers, a fruit basket which we discovered was changed/replenished daily, soft drinks in the fridge and two bottles 500ml of water again all replenished as soon as we had used them. There was sufficient wardrobe and hanging space for our clothes (I am not a light packer) and the bathroom though small was adequate for our needs. Lots of good Elemis products which were replenished during the cruise.
Felicidad, our main stateroom attendant (she told us she wasn't a butler) came to introduce herself and explain the key components of the stateroom and the service offered. She and her assistant kept our stateroom spotlessly clean and were unobtrusive.
Having been on Oceania's Nautica we were familiar with the layout of the ship as Azamara is another of the now defunct R ships.
We ate dinner mostly in the Discoveries Restaurant and the food we found to be on the whole very good. The first night the main course wasn't very hot and on the second night we were served the wrong main meal but after that it was excellent. We are both allergic to shellfish of which there were plenty but avoided by us but the choices of meat dishes were varied and the fish and vegetarian options looked good. There were always classics such as caesar salad, steak, salmon on offer as well as the daily changing menu.
My husband enjoyed the now included wine with his meals. The wines varied from european to new world.
After the first morning where we ate breakfast in Discoveries, we chose to eat that meal in Windows, the choices on offer were very good and the captain was to be seen joining fellow guests there for his breakfast.
We also ate lunch in Windows and again the choices on offer were good, from a daily roast, casseroles, pizza etc but I have to confess the pastries tempted me as did the ice cream.
We enjoyed dinner one night in the Prime C but didn't eat in Aqualina as lots of sea food.
We had room service one morning which was excellent, we were telephoned to say breakfast was on its way and then then telephoned again to ask if we were satisfied.
There were special buffets on deck which looked to be lovely and some were served by the senior staff.
My husband enjoyed a hamburger from the Pool Grill one day at lunch. We are not sun worshippers so did not use the deck area and the shaded area was always fully occupied.
We loved Mosaic, the staff ( Ivanna & Wayan) and coffee there were excellent, why can't the main dining room coffee be of the same quality? After the first experience of MDR coffee we always went to Mosaic for our coffee fix. Wayan always remembered we liked lattes with amaretto flavouring and we loved the biscotti. We usually had a hot chocolate on our way up to bed and one night the show had finished after Mosaic had closed and as we passed Mosaic on our way to our stateroom Wayan was cleaning the machines. He stopped us and said you haven't had your chocolate and insisted on making them for us, unfortunately he then got a queue of people wanting drinks. But this level of customer service exemplifies what we found throughout the ship.
We enjoyed the music in Mosaic. The shows in the Cabaret Lounge were mixed but mostly enjoyable, I think some people forget this is not a big ship. The CD Russ Thomas Grieve was excellent and worked so hard.
I have to say this was the cleanest ship we have ever been on.
Let me talk about the Quest's biggest plus factor... Captain Carl Smith, his senior officers and the crew. The atmosphere on ship was something we have never experienced before, you felt as though you were part of a large family. The Captain and his senior staff were so visible, they would stop for a chat, asked whether and how they could improve service and followed up on comments put on the initial feedback questionnaires issued a few days into the voyage. Captain Carl's daily updates were informative and funny. The staff were pleasant and helpful and they smiled a lot.
We had met most of the senior staff at the CC Meet & Mingle which was well hosted with lovely nibbles. Captain Carl told us he would try to make the cruise a memorable one. On QM2 CC M&M we got peanuts and crisps and no staff attended.
We also enjoyed a bridge tour with other guests, we found it very informative probably more because we had some American pilots in our group who asked interesting questions.
Senior staff were also there to say have a good time as you went ashore and to welcome you back.
We took a few ship shore excursions but did our own thing at ports we had visited before. Bottles of water were freely available for when you were going ashore, slightly smaller than the ones in our stateroom so easier to carry. Where they were available Azamara put on free shuttles or there were port shuttles payable locally.
Venice- We boarded on day 1 and on the 2nd day took the Azamara shuttle to Piazza Roma and walked to some of our favourite places. It is a lovely city, one of our favourites and we love the little off the beaten track places. The sail out up the Grand Canal passed St Mark's was magical. We hit a gail force 10 that night though.
Zadar- What a lovely little port, the ship docked right in the centre. We just disembarked and wandered around the town, looking at the architecture, roman ruins, the sea organ. The town is very compact and it has a nice promenade. A lovely day. The ship had a little trouble leaving the dock as the wind kept blowing the boat back into the dock but we eventually made it out.
Dubrovnik- The ship docked a little outside the town. We had booked the walking the wall tour which we enjoyed and our guide was very informative but it was very hot so at the end of the tour we told our guide we would make our own way back and in the free time we explored a little around the main street then took the ship's shuttle back to the Quest. Dubrovnik is very doable on your own but we took the tour as we had never been before. If we went again we would do our own thing.
Kotor- The ship docked in the heart of town and again we did our own thing. A pretty little town but a lot of buildings were undergoing renovation, there were lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The captain and some of the hardier passengers walked to the castle at the top of the surrounding hill. We just looked for shade. The streets in both Dubrovnik and Kotor were polished stone (marble?) so not easy on the feet. In both places you felt very safe.
One of Captain Carl's extras occurred as we passed Stromboli on our way to Sorrento. He stopped the ship so we could watch Stromboli erupting lava, which it very kindly did about 4 times, he turned the ship so everyone got so see this if they wished.
Sorrento- We tendered in but we did our own thing as its a place we have stayed in several times. There was a port shuttle available.
Rome (Civitavecchia) - We had been to Rome several times so opted for the Olive Oil and Scenic Drive tour. This was not a particularly interesting tour, we did stop at a hill town but this was a limited stay and we had a stop at an olive oil farm where we sampled oils, breads, ham etc. This was a very pretty spot and our hosts were very pleasant but on he whole not something we would choose again.
Florence (La Spezia)- This is a much nicer port than Livorno where we have docked before for Florence. We tendered in and joined our tour Taste of Liguria, we visited Lerici and Portovenere both lovely places. There was a good street market in Lerici, both clothes and food. Portovenere was beautiful and we would like to go back there.
Monaco- Initially guests were tendered in as another ship was in our berth but the ship docked after 1.00pm. It was very hot again. We waited until the ship docked and wandered ashore, on this visit we took the little red train round around the town, nice and shady with all the key points highlighted. There were some beautiful boats docked in the harbour. We kept thinking financial crisis, no evidence here. The ship didn't sail until evening so we had Monte Carlo at night.
St Tropez- We tendered again. We walked passed all the artists and cafes into the old town and up to the citadel where we had lovely views of the surrounding areas. Its lovely once you escape from the harbour area. Again some beautiful boats were docked in the harbour. We were here 2 nights so on the second day we pottered about on board, packed our cases as we would be disembarking in Barcelona.
Barcelona- Disembarkation was very good. You good wait anywhere on ship, we waited in Mosaic where you could have a coffee whilst you waited. Ryszard(Richard) the Hotel Director was at the disembarkation point with a list of who went off when ensuring all went well and he together with the Rudi, Food and Beverages Manager and Russ the CD said goodbye to everyone as they disembarked. We had upgraded our airport transfer to a city tour and transfer. Our guide took us to see the key city sights by coach and we had a short walking tour. A nice end to a perfect cruise.
We can't wait to rejoin Quest in the Far east in January.