This was our 36th cruise and definately one of our best! First experience with Azamara, and it greatly exceeded our expectations!
Boarding in Singapore took all of five minutes, and disembarkation in Hong Kong was just as easy, with a great experience in between.
We have sailed on all the Oceania R ships, and Quest is virtually identical. There is a large bar at the stern and the casino is much expanded...thats about it for differences. In fact, on my bridge tour, the first officer said that even the coffee maker on the bridge is in the same spot on all the ships.That said, the ship itself while spotlessly clean and well maintained, looks a bit frumpy and dowdy. I believe it will have some updating at its dry dock towards the end of this year. However, the overall experience was so positive, that after the first day one no longer noticed. The "software" trumped the "hardware".
What made the "software" experience so good? Three things...the Service, Food and Entertainment.
We found the level of Service to be consistently outstanding, from officers to the most junior staff. It was not subservient, but modern, intelligent, self-confident service. It was obvious this was a "happy" ship, and this was reflected in the atmosphere on board. Not sure how Azamara has achieved this so consistently, but it really sets them apart from all their competition.
Food IMO was superior to Oceania. We particularly loved the evening buffets (cuisine of a different country each night) which we often enjoyed outdoors on the patio overlooking the wake. The selection and preparation in the MDR was very good, as were PrimeC and Aquilina. Highlight was the White party, with a wonderful selection (including local exotic tropical fruits) set up around the pool. Mention should also be made of the Officers Picnic, and the Brunch on the last sea day. Afternoon tea also very good.
We found the Entertainment to be very well geared to the demographic of the passengers, with some first rate singers and entertainers. The only let down was the enrichment lecturer for Asia...think boring absent minded professor. Cruise Director Russ was excellent. The entertainment was significantly better than we have experienced on Oceania.
The ports were fascinating...Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Min/Saigon, Danang/Hoi An, Ha Long Bay/Hanoi, Hong Kong. You can read a detailed review of the ports at www.thepreismans.com. We found their comprehensive review of their cruise last year very helpful as we planned our cruise.
Our experiences were overwhelmingly positive. But two watch outs..in BangKok, we had dinner at the
Scirocco on the 65th floor of the Dome Tower. Dramatic setting, but lousy food, rude service and a total rip off! Imagine spending all that money, and then being told you are not allowed to take pictures!!!! Go for the view, have a drink, and go elsewhere to eat...you will save yourself hundreds of dollars and a lot of aggrivation. The other negative experience was the drive to and from Ha Long Bay port to Hanoi. It is 100 miles at a 25mph speed limit on a narrow,single lane potholed road with wild drivers heading directly at ypu as they overtake. Not for the feint of heart. Unfortunately there is no other way to get to Hanoi. We had a private car..next time I would feel safer in a large tour bus.
Net..an amazing trip on an amazing ship. Highly recommend this experience.