Being huge Celebrity fans, our expectations for this our first Azamara cruise were extremely high having read wonderful reviews on this site, and at no time were we disappointed.
We usually cruise once a year and having already had a wonderful Celebrity 2 week cruise in the Caribbean, were delighted to find this cruise at a very good price.
Azamara arranged our BA flights and a night pre-cruise at the Athens Hilton Hotel which was very comfortable with a lovely pool. We were greeted at every stage and the transfers were quick and easy. Check-in was perfect and we were on board with the first of several glasses of champagne in no time.
Lunch was waiting for us with the famous free flowing wine and after an explore of the ship our rooms were ready. We took the risk of opting for a stateroom behind a lifeboat-our reasoning being that I do not like internal cabins, the available oceanview cabins were on decks 3 and 4, too low in my opinion and balcony rooms were an extra £1000 which I could not justify. We were very pleased. Although smaller than other rooms, it was plenty big enough for the 2 of us, especially for 1 week, and only seemed to be missing a sofa-which we only tend to use as a place to leave clothes etc! We had the advantage of natural light, were on deck 6 and had just enough view to see land or sea! Ours was the boat used as a tender but we barely heard it being lowered and then had the extra advantage of a view!
Sun loungers around the pool were far better spaced than on other ships we have been on and were very comfortable being wooden with a thick cushion. The pool area was peaceful with no music playing and of course almost no children.
The main dining room was very relaxed and friendly with no formal nights, everyone dressed smartly and comfortably, no fixed dining times, the option of sharing a table or eating alone, free flowing wine, fantastic service, and of course most importantly, wonderful food beautifully presented. We actually found the menus to be very similar to Celebrity. We ate with some lovely people and, being a smaller ship, met with them frequently around the ship.
The destinations were varied and interesting and we loved going to places that the larger ships cannot. Unfortunately due to storm force winds we were not able to stop at Mykonos and continued on to our next destination, Kusadasi. The ship managed the stormy seas amazingly well, being smaller I thought maybe it would be more uncomfortable but this was not the case.
Entertainment was understated- a harpist, guitarist, pianist and a few singers, fine for the size and style of the ship. One night was Greek White night-a BBQ served by officers with some dancers, the organisation this took was huge!
We loved the concept of included wines, soft drinks, speciality teas and coffees and tips. Apart from my husband discovering non-alcoholic frozen Pina Coladas, for which he was charged an extremely reasonable $4, we had no bar bill, being used to Celebrity prices this was a huge advantage.
We did come across a few serial complainers, unfortunately English, but managed to avoid them!
The senior officers were always around to chat and make sure everything was perfect. Our first time on this size of ship and first time on Azamara will surely not be our last. The friendliness, quality, cleanliness and overall experience was truly wonderful.