Our party consisted of two couples, both well travelled and sensible about our expectations of what to expect on a holiday be it a cruise or land based package. We chose Azamara because of good previous experience of the brand on the Quest and the itinerary which was new to both of us couples.
We expect pleasant manners and enjoy travelling with like minded people. We treat all staff with respect and believe that mutual courtesy and good manners is the best way of achieving a good experience.
We are prepared to pay a premium to enjoy our holidays with fine dining, good companions and little bit of luxury. Creating a friendly atmosphere is certainly something the line does well. The standards we encountered were almost always most acceptable. We most certainly would consider Azamara along with other lines in the future.
The positives on the Journey were many and varied. These included the excellent and personable fitness instructors. The leisurely and delicious breakfasts, the good humour of many of the staff, the cleanliness of the cabin and the ease of embarkation.
The Good: Cabin Staff were all invariably friendly and professional. The few requests made to our stateroom attendants were handled quickly and smoothly. We are I hope fairly undemanding and just expect a clean hygienic cabin with ice and a restock of drinks. Top marks for the stateroom personnel.
The Good: Coffee in the Mosaic Bar with various nibbles available was tempting and a great place to chill. Top marks for the coffee, the waitress service was a little slow.
The Good: Windows and the Outside deck areas was always inviting and well managed in terms of service and food quality and variety. On the occasions we dined at Windows after excursion we were well looked after and enjoyed the experience. The general management of the Buffet facility was the among best I have enjoyed. Top marks for Windows, the food quality at times matched the MDR.
The Good: Discoveries Dining, overall this was a good experience the attentiveness of the waiters was just about correct, not overly effusive. The sommeliere was a patient and charming professional and extremely congenial. The variety and quality of the dishes was well up to a good standard and occassionally excellent. Top marks for the MDR.
Could be Improved: The slow service problem in MDR's on the Ocean's cruise ships also afflicts Azamara. The wait times were not as painful as I have experienced on larger ships and when we mentioned it politely the next evening we were treated very royally. I am sure that Azamara are very aware of this and I was impressed by their response. So Top Marks for at least listening.
The Good: Room service was v. v. Good and a credit to Azazamara is the variety of goodies of offer. It was so good our friends rarely made it to breakfast on Deck 9! Top marks to Azamara.
Could be Improved: Lunch in Discoveries was very slow at times and was more noticeable because of the comparatively few cruisers choosing this option.
The Great: Azamara spring a few surprises on her cargo of fun-lovers. From the moment the Captain described himself as our designated driver for ten days I expected a man with a bit of personality. I was not disappointed. When only half of the MDR could enjoy a particularly beautiful sunset, he turned the ship through 360 degrees so all could enjoy the moment. Throughout the Captain made himself known to all. Of all the my voyages this Captain has struck the right balance between professional seamanship and an genuine appreciation that his passengers were a real part of the ship and he wanted to help their enjoyment as much as possible. I would sail with this Captain anytime at all.
Azamara also arranged that James Bond was on board on this cruise in the shape of Roger Moore, now that was a surprise!
More Good: The Barbecue, Azamara desserts are truly yummy delicious. Guest Relations were thoughtful and very helpful resolving a problem for our companions. I loved the spectacular views of Scandinavia from the usually deserted Looking Glass lounge. The Guest speaker Col Vargas was very approachable and insightful.
The Good: The 'Team' performed a Holywood tribute routine which was most enjoyable and also acted as an introduction to the team as individuals performing as solo artists later in the cruise. This team were competent singers and dancers in all of their performances.
The Good and Not So Good: A solo theatre performance by a young singer in the team won over her audience. Her program was an interesting and innovative combination of numbers from musicals and light opera. She beguiled the audience with her coquettish acting of her operatic roles. The audience responded warmly to her and no-one was leaving throughout her performance. By her finale, her version of Time to Say Goodbye the audience were completely in her spell. There was generous applause from the audience. As she made her way to the back of the theatre the applause grew for a fine performance. This applause and appreciation was curtailed by the Cruise Director stealing the moment by interrupting on the Mic to say well done but unfortunately the young singer did not have a cd on sale but he did. This lack of generosity spoilt the performance. That said the CD was very energetic and covered a lot of ground, but for me his stage performances were a little OTT and dated. But of course there are always alternatives if a show is not to your taste.
The Good: Guest acts were all very acceptable and worth watching, particularly the Magician. After all you are on a 700 hundred passenger ship- what do you expect Elton John.. well a very competent pianist was doing a fair impression of him and Billy Joel in the Mosaic most evenings. Carla and Ray worked hard and have a pleasant unpretentious stage persona.
The Good: Another saving grace was the Harpist who is in danger of unwittingly becoming a cruise ship eccentric (in a nice way) but is very likeable and accommodating. Her hosting of the aperitif lounge is a delight and our party so much looked forward to her company before enjoying our evening.
The Good: Disembarkation was smooth and trouble free, and well organised by Azamara.
Summary: There are so many positives about the ship, I will probably travel again with AZ in the future as there are many many more pluses than negatives. Did I say Probably travel.....Definitely I will travel with Azamara again!! Perhaps in fairness I should point out that lovely as Norway undoubtedly is; it ain't Monte Carlo, Nice, St Trop etc. So maybe more cruise evenings are spent watching/scrutinizing evening on-board shows. And I have previously cruised with the line and found the entertainment to be very good.
I really enjoy Azamara and truly recommend the line to anyone looking for a great cruise experience with fine food and good companions, led by a Captain with a bit of style, just like most of his passengers.