We just returned from our 11 night cruise aboard the Azamara Quest visiting Italy, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. Although we have done over 30 cruises (including 10 on Royal Caribbean and 3 on Celebrity), it was our first cruise with Azamara. We believe that Azamara offers an excellent product for a very reasonable price. We loved the trip so much, we have already booked another cruise with Azamara for November.
Food and Drinks
Specialty Restaurants- The ship offers a steak specialty restaurant (Prime C) and a seafood specialty restaurant (Aqualina). We ate in both restaurants twice, thoroughly enjoying our meals. In Prime C, we enjoyed such dishes as filet mignon, lamb chops, chocolate funde and mini donuts. At Aqualina, we loved the baked brie, chilled seafood platter (shrimp, lobster, crab, claims and mussels), lobster (prepared three different ways), soufflEs and the cheese cart. We especially liked the fact that since the restaurants share the same kitchen, you can order off the menu of either restaurant regardless of which one you are actually eating in. We heard that the restaurants will be revising their menus in August and are looking forward to trying out the new menus in November.
Main Dinning Room- We choose to dine with others on most nights and therefore did not have to wait to get a table. On the few occasions we dined as a couple, there was a 5 to 10 minute wait. We found the food in the main dinning room to be very good, and that there was always something for everyone. Some our of favorites included: Indian vegetable samosa with coriander chutney, daily shrimp cocktail, beef short rib, prime rib, deboned Cornish hen, surf and turf, whole split lobster, scallops in a creamy white wine sauce, escargots and baked brie with pinot-poached pear and hot plum jam.
Buffet- The buffet offers a large selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day at lunch was a carving station. We really enjoyed both the prime rib and the flat iron steak. At night, there was often a theme buffet in addition to the regular offerings of sushi, pasta, salad, etc. We loved the Asian night and the Indian buffet. We also loved the make your own falafel bar they had one evening. My husband took full advantage of the daily gelato bar, which each day offered six new flavors to choose from.
Wine, Soda, Water, Juice and Coffee- We loved that these extras were included in the cost of our trip. At lunch and dinner, complementary wine is served and is poured generously. We also enjoyed our pre-dinner routine of a glass of wine on the back of the boat listening to live music, talking with friends, watching the sun set and snacking on the daily themed food. Complimentary bottled water is available each day and is available to take as you exit the ship, which is great for sightseeing. Complimentary fresh squeezed orange juice is available all day long as is soda. Many specialty coffees are also included and can be ordered at a meal or in the specialty coffee shop. I truly believe that it is these extras that make this line so special. You don't feel like you are being nickled and dimed every five minutes. In fact, not once was I bothered at anytime about whether I wanted to buy a drink. If you need something you can simply ask but there is no pressure to purchase anything.
Every crew member from the caption down clearly loves working for Azamara and wants you to have a great time. We loved the entire shore excursion team, who made meeting for shore excursions into a true comedy routine. We were also impressed that on almost every shore excursion someone from the shore excursion team went along to make sure that everything went smoothly. The captain was very personal and went out of his way to keep the guests informed about ports of call, changes to our itinerary and to make sure that we were all having a great time. Officers were often waiting as you left the ship and when you returned, happy to welcome you home.
Ports of Call and Shore Excursions
We choose this trip because it spent three days in Croatia and a day in Montenegro. We loved our time in these ports, especially Montenegro and would highly recommend this cruise itinerary. The bay of Kotor (in Montenegro) is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. Azamara had offered a deal that shore excursions booked by the end of March were 50% off. We took advantage of this promotion and booked a shore excursion in every port. While our days were long, we truly felt that we got to see and do a ton on our vacation. It was also nice that we never had more than 30 people on any tour and often much less. The discounted excursions was just another way in which we felt that Azamara truly gave us a top notch vacation at a very fair price. I would love to see them continue this type of promotion in the future.
One area that we felt that the ship could improve was the entertainment, specifically the shows at night. With that being said, we understand that on a small ship, you are simply not going to get the Broadway quality shows you get on the mega ships. Part of the problem is that the ship only has a small theater and that they simply do not have the ability to put on large productions. It should be noted as well that on many nights the nightclub (which was really just a converted lounge) was very quiet with only a handful of people. Of course, this has to do with the passengers and not Azamara. Also, since we were in port late on many nights (which is a great thing), many people may not have been back on the ship or may have simply been tired. We enjoyed Karaoke night.
We truly enjoyed the fact that there were people on this cruise from all over the world. We made friends from South Africa, Argentina, Scotland, Australia, Connecticut, Texas, etc. While the average passenger was older, there were a number of kids on the boat as well as passengers in their 30's, 40's and 50's. My husband and I are in our 30's. To us, age is not important as long as you love to travel and are on the boat to have a great time. Board the ship with such an attitude, and regardless of your age, you will make many friends and have a blast.
Overall, Azamara has found a great niche market between those wanting more than what the main stream cruise lines are offering but looking to pay less than the luxury cruise lines. Moreover, they offer interesting itineraries with ports of call that big cruise ships simply cannot get to. You'll love where they take you (which is their motto), and what you get for your money. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?