First time on smaller "boutique" ship after "floating high-rise". We booked a suite on top deck (8), which is about £500 each more than a balcony stateroom and was pleasantly spacious with a well-appointed bathroom and plenty of hanging space. However, having seen a balcony stateroom on Deck 7 I don't think we got full value from the suite/Butler/facilities - our fault!
Our co-cruisers were exactly what we had hoped for - mixed age group of regular travellers with whose company we enjoyed. Wine was complimentary and changed day-to-day, always of good quality. Purchased drinks included gratuity so no nasty shock of 15% being added onto bill.
The ship was immaculate throughout and the staff were all courteous and attentive. The first evening there was a "Cruise Critic" reception and the Hotel Director (Philip Herbert) seemed genuinely to want to know our opinions and how to improve the ship service, so all here was given to them whilst on-board. With the current concerns about false endorsements on Tripadvisor this is a good idea.
Very minor point:- being from U.K. we have a lunchtime salad as the meal so it would be nice to have cold plates available. (Our American friends seem to prefer a bowl?)
Excursions:- We pre-purchased and got a 2-for-1 deal. We chose this cruise because of the interesting destinations and their history/archaeology and thus chose a full-day Turkish Antiquities excursion - assuming we would have a longer visit to Ephesus, probably the most complete and important classical Greek site in Asia Minor! However, we were rushed round in one and a half hours and seemed to spend most of day travelling to far-flung 'minor' sites. If you want to see Ephesus properly do an 'Ephesus only' excursion!
'Destinations' lectures:- These should be informative and interesting and have been good value on previous cruises so we went to the first evening. He was the most boring and poorly-informed lecturer I have ever heard and should not be doing that job!
Spa:- My wife had a 'deep tissue' massage for 50 minutes at $104 and then there was 18% added "for our convenience". Being British I give tips for good service - not as a subsidy for pay.
Overall an excellent cruise which only just misses out on the 'perfection' score. We will certainly use Azamara again when the itinerary fits. (Unfortunately I fancy Alska next and they don't do that!)