I'm not a professional in the cruising world or a "world cruiser". I was in a standard veranda cabin and as far as Azamara was concerned they didn't know of me and I wasn't doing private meetings with officers or being escorted by Azamara staffers.
My prior cruising experiences include a short Miami weekend Royal Caribbean cruise and a 10 night Celebrity Millennium Caribbean. So this time I wanted something different and hopefully a little more upscale. I almost went with Seabourn but canceled because of one of their policies that I didn't care for. Since I have experience with Royal Caribbean I decided to go with Azamara.
OK here comes the review and I will make this brief:
Without repeating everyone else, the smaller ship approach definitely has it's advantages. You'll get to know your regular crew members and they will get to know you. This really is a noteworthy advantage over larger ships. I doubt I'll ever go back to larger type ships again.
Azamara definitely makes an effort to have minimal announcements and does not do the nickle and diming that most the mainstream lines and Celebrity does as well. A breath of fresh air.
Dining was good overall. With some caveats: The main dining area, Discoveries, offered the traditional four course venue. But each night we found the main course delivery to our table to be very slow. My son and I ate together at a table for two that was always available with their free style approach. But we'd wait 15-20 minutes for the main entree to be served each night we dined there. We'd find ourselves waiting and waiting and waiting to the point where we'd want to get going. It was definitely a very noticeable interruption towards the flow of the courses. Despite that the menu choices and food quality was superb.
Specialty dining: We only tried Prime C. I found the overall experience to be lesser to Celebrity's. The setting and atmosphere was average. The steaks we ordered were good as most steaks tend to be but nothing special. Not on the Morton's or Ruth Chris level. Overall I actually liked dining in Discoveries better than Prime C.
One point I want to make about the "free flowing wines" at lunch and dinner. This is a bit of a misnomer. There are wines available at no extra charge but the waiters and the menus still parlay the cost options. The freebies are kind of off to the side and the choices are still limited. If you want a good Cabernet Savigonon for dinner you wont find one on the freebie list most the time. You'll be paying. My point is I wouldn't equate Azamara's lunch and dinner wine policy to a equal alternative over all inclusive type ships during lunch and dinner. Don't get me wrong, free is always a good thing. But it's not the huge selling point that Azamara is trying to make it look like.
Entertainment: Was good. The Azamara ships have limited areas to conduct shows but they did a great job and had a good variety of talent over the course of the cruise. There were excellent singers, a great comedian, and the cruise director also did a great job. But if frequent entertainment is vital to you while cruising you might want to consider another line.
Service as most have said was excellent. Without question Azamara's level of service was a highpoint of the cruise. If service is important to you you will not be disappointed.
Cabins are what everyone else says. Small bathroom/shower but good storage options. The bed(s) were not anything I'd describe as upper scale. But they did the job.
Cruisemates tend to be a 45+ crowd with a handful of exceptions.
Overall I was very pleased with my first Azamara cruise and would recommend it to anyone. the smaller ship advantage and superlative service made my cruise to be a very good and rewarding experience.