We boarded in Civitavecchia in mid afternoon and this went very smoothly, as by this time most passengers had already embarked. Our stateroom, which we knew would be fairly small, with a very compact bathroom in need of updating, was by this time ready for us. Our stateroom attendant Ikadek and his assistant Bengie looked after us very well throughout the cruise and replenished water, fruit and toiletries as and when necessary.
Captain Carl Smith was very personable and approachable and we enjoyed his informative commentary from the bridge prior to leaving each port. It was a great pleasure to find that the Hotel Director, Ryszard Gusman and the Cruise Director, Tony Markey were on board, both of whom we had previously met on Azamara Journey. The senior officers and indeed all the crew were very friendly. The second week of our cruise, which commenced in Barcelona, was the President's Voyage and we were pleased to meet the CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, Mr Larry Pimentel and his wife Sandi and to participate in some of the additional events arranged during that week.
The recent Azamara Club Cruises changes which include pre-paid gratuities, good quality wines with both lunch and dinner, complimentary bottled water and self-service laundry give Azamara a definite competitive edge over their nearest rivals.
We took breakfast in the Terrace Cafe, where there was a wide choice of both hot and cold dishes. The freshly squeezed orange juice was excellent, however it was a pity that the berries were frozen rather than fresh. Whilst it was good to see Marmite and Vegemite included on the buffet, it would have been better if the jars had been replaced by individual servings. We also took lunch in the Terrace Cafe, and were mostly fortunate to be able to eat outside when the weather and availability of seating permitted. As there was only one sea day during the two weeks, afternoon tea was mainly in the Terrace Cafe where there was a good choice of sandwiches and cakes; but the water in the urn for making tea needed to be much hotter. For dinner, we especially liked the Aqualina speciality restaurant although we heard that some fellow passengers did have difficulty in making reservations for both the Prime C and Aqualina restaurants. The service in the main dining room was, on occasions, somewhat slow. For a more casual evening meal we found that Breeza (Terrace Cafe) was a good alternative venue.
We were very impressed by the effort that went into setting up and providing the two excellent evening deck buffets in Sorrento during the first week, and Monte Carlo the following week.
Le Club Voyage benefits have been enhanced and are much appreciated.
Although we were not expecting the glitzy Hollywood style shows put on by the larger ships, the evening entertainment was one the weaker points, despite there being some good individual performances.
In summary this was an enjoyable and very good cruise on this mid size ship. The officers and crew worked very hard and did their best to ensure that the highest levels of service were provided at all times. We look forward to sailing with Azamara Club Cruises again in the near future.