We have just returned from a wonderful experience on the Fabulous Azamara Quest, sailing out of Hong Kong to Singapore with stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. It was our best cruising experience ever. If we have any complaints about Azamara, it is that it is disappointing that they only have 2 ships. We would love to cruise with them more often but they don't always have a ship going where we want to go when we want to go there.....so a message to Mr. Pimenthal would be to try to get some more ships to make your cruisers happy.
From the beginning of our experience with Azamara, we were amazed at the difference in this cruise to others we have experienced. The staff was happy (and not just faking it-the warmth and family feeling we felt when we arrived was evident throughout the trip). Little touches, like the security folks meeting you on your return to the ship with a warm smile and a "welcome home". Our cabin was lovely and well appointed. Any requests were happily and efficiently accomodated. The food was the best we have found on any cruise ship and was consistently excellent. The sushi chef on the lunch buffet had a wonderful selection of marvellous sushi. Most days this was lunch for my husband and myself. The free boutique wines with lunch and dinner were consistently good. We tried both Aqualina and Prime C specialty restaurants and loved Prime C. Both Aldwin and Milena were absolute stars.
We enjoyed all the land tours we took and appreciated the 50% sale on land tours (something that no other cruise line has ever offered). Everything was done very efficiently, and there were nice touches....free water on leaving for a tour, juices and towels to refresh on return......coffee and pastries in the theatre while getting ready for tours. The tour operators were all well selected and although some accents were more difficult to understand than others, we found them all to be excellent.
On some of our previous cruises, we found ourselves to be either shilled to on a regular basis (buy this, get your photos here, art sale there) but the lack of this on Azamara was wonderful. Even our previous favourite Princess cruises, could take a leaf out of Azamara's books and not charge for the bottled water at the start of a cruise and have free laundry services.....these were especially appreciated and a very classy and nice touch.
One untoward issue did arise on our trip and it could have been a major turn off but the way Azamara handled it just turned it into a talking point for us.....at 4:40 am one morning, the fire alarm went off in our room. We were naturally disoriented at the alarm and weren't sure what was going on. Later, we were told that a computer malfunction had caused a problem with the a/c in a small number of rooms and the humidity in the room built up causing the ceiling fire alarms to sound.....it was quickly sorted out and we returned to sleep. But how they handled it afterwards told the tale. Phone calls from senior staff apologizing and reassuring us that the problem had been handled. A bottle of champagne in the room. Follow up calls to make sure we were not at all preturbed by the problem. As my husband told a senior staffer when he called to talk to us about it, these things do happen but it was the way Azamara handled it that turned it from being a bad experience into a more positive experience for us.
The mix of guests of all nationalities on this particular cruise was delightful to my husband and myself. We love meeting people from all over the world. And the jerk ratio was remarkably low. On our last cruise, there were far too many loud, rude and delusionally self important people. Didn't run into any real duds on this cruise-just friendly and fun people who were approachable and open to new experiences. Just the best mix of folks we have traveled with IMHO.
Azamara gets it right. They are as close to having an all inclusive cruising experience. Our final bill on our cruise was a mere fraction of what we have paid on any of our previous cruises and that was a delightful surprise. Would we recommend Azamara to anyone else? Absolutely. Would we cruise with them again? In a hearbeat.