What attracted me to try Azamara was due to amazingly high positive reviews on CC and the itinerary with lengthy stays in ports. In addition, rising cost on all inclusive package being offered by some of our favorite all inclusive lines. Our preference is a smaller ships and Azamara suited us fine. She is an older ship, but very well maintained, never saw rust spots visible on-board.
The interior was classic in style, some have complained that it was like being on Cunard, but i rather liked it.The crew did a fine job servicing the needs of passengers on-board, in fact they are up to par with any one of luxury ships we've been on. In our cabin category 4 half bottles of liquor were
provisioned(scotch, gin, vodka and rum), mini bar with water soft drinks, resupplied daily complimentary. Wines served with lunch and dinner complimentary, specialty restaurants complimentary for N1 category throughout the cruise, but very reasonable at $15 pp for others. Wine corkage fee of $10, if you bring your favorite wines, most reasonable of any I've encountered.
Cabin was good size at around 300 square feet which includes the balcony, but I missed the divider of some type between sitting area and plenty of storage under the bed and closets. Nice size bathroom, tub surface needed rubber mat of some type to prevent slipping. I do have one negative regarding cabin location; N1/N2 consider to be premium category all on deck 8, but it is right under pool deck on 9, lots of traffic and it was constant. In some cases if was so loud, like bomb going off. On our last day in Lisbon, they started cleaning the pool deck at 0530 am. I realize they needed to prepare for pm
departure on a same day, but no consideration for people still on-board.
Contacted Guest relation, but to no avail! I am certain my complaint is fairly common and if not problem with hearing? In room dinning menu was limited, except during dinning room hours, you are able to order from their menu. Our dinning experience in Aqulina with Ohana serving us was a simple delight, Prime C with Marco and Alex as well, absolutely no complaint. If you decide to dine in the Main dinning room, the service can be bit slow due to volume of people, but it improved on our second visit. We Love their no smoking policy,
even in the casino which is rare, there is only one designated area on deck 9, not popular with Europeans. The entertainment was fine couple of enjoyable entertainers on-board, but no Broadway style stage show which was just fine with us. Quality of food in the main dinning room was acceptable, buffet for lunch and breakfast was excellent in selection. We took one shore excursion with the ship, which was the bus tour to Florence, simply because train ride to the city was little more involved and we wanted to maximize our time there. The ship's excursions are pricey as usual, but convenient, we arranged our own excursions with local tour agency for the rest. Just as an example, ship's transfer to Marriott in Lisbon was $56 for two, taxi fare from cruise terminal was 10 euro.
I think I covered most issues on our cruise? Oh, I forgot to mention Butler service, fresh flowers in cabin and fresh fruits, very nice touch. Overall, I was very impressed with our experience and the cruise line certainly have their focus on right areas. I believe cruise lines are focusing more on smaller ships with less petty charges for customers and casual style cruising. The days of endless formal nights are numbered, that is not to say there are some of us who sees cruising as fashion show and display their wears. But most of us just wish to relax and enjoy, but they do need to enforce dress code for those of us who follow them without fail. No jeans or shorts and tennis shoes for dinner, if not do away with dress code completely, if its not enforced. I will definitely cruise again on Azamara, a very good value for the price!
This city is not to be missed, most amazing in history. It seemed too difficult to use the train service, even though we had plenty of time in port. But to maximize time in visiting this beautiful city, I recommend prearranged transportation or guide for visit. All points of interests are centrally located within easy walking distance, so self-guided tour is doable with good reference guide. We had a audio devise to hear the guide, it is beneficial with large crowd to contend with. Loved the city! Be alert with pickpockets and petty crime in crowded places!
Monte Carlo is a beautiful city! Especially in the evening, when the port and the city is all lit up! Very hilly, so people with difficulty walking should make special arrangement. We visited the Palace, Aquarium, garden walk along the coastal area and if you are interested in seeing photo gallery of recent wedding ceremony of Prince Albert, it is located on the second level of the Aquarium. They have a mini train which departs in front of Aquarium for brief tour of the city. No recession in this small principality or graffiti anywhere which is very common all over
Italy and Spain in the most historical areas. It is truly a shame that they don't control it! Unable to dock due to severe wind condition! Wonderful city to visit, this is my third time here, it never seems to run out of things and places to see. Hop on Hop off bus is a bargain, it covers several route, so do an over-all sight seeing first and go back and visit sights of your interest. Sagrada Familia, famous Gaudi's unfinished cathedral, Las Ramblas, La Boqueria Market(keep your purse close), Gothic district and many more. We took a trip up to Montserrat Monastery, steep clime up the mountain, but Basillica was beautiful, but it is too bad it has become, so commercialized. It is worth the trip, view is incredible from the top. Spent a whole day with our independent tour guide who purchased our tickets to Alhambra in advance. The Palace and its gardens are worth visiting, like many other places in Europe, the Moorish influence is everywhere. What they left behind is a evidence of opulent life style while rest of Europe was in its "Dark Ages". Take a good walking shoes and those with problem walking should not consider this sight, perhaps the gardens is doable. A short visit, all of 4 hours, I did not take any tours here, some went up the rock, visited some caves and frolicked with monkeys. But I went into to town square and had some great British beer.
We arrived in Caditz late in the evening and ship was in port for nearly 24 hours. Many on-board headed to Sevilla, another 1 1/2 hour drive, but it was worth the trip. We used an independent tour operator which we used for Granada and they were great, walking tour for couple hours and we spent rest of our day on our own. There is so much history in this region, your mind simply can not absorb it all, some reading in advance really helps! This city is associated with Explores such as Columbus, Magellan and many more. It was unusually warm, this was mid October, I can't imagine visiting here in the summer!
Our final port was Lisbon, another overnight port. We began our afternoon by boarding "Hop on Hop off" tour bus to get a overview of the city which is a good way to get your bearing, same ticket allows you to use the street cars which operates throughout the city. It is not a comfortable ride, but charming.
We also took a side trip on our own to Sintra, Cascais and Estoril, beautiful Castle of Pena in Sintra is a must.