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4 Alesund to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

We chose Azamara for the small ship and also for the best itinerary immersion into the ports of call. Imagine docking right in the center of Bordeaux... closer to the center then the river cruises!! It was quite the experience to get off ... Read More
We chose Azamara for the small ship and also for the best itinerary immersion into the ports of call. Imagine docking right in the center of Bordeaux... closer to the center then the river cruises!! It was quite the experience to get off the ship and walk right up to the Place de la Bourse. The majority of our stops took us to the heart of the cities, otherwise we had a plethora of shuttles taking us right to the center like in Bilbao, dropping us off a couple of streets down from the Guggenheim museum. I was impressed by the quality of service and service excellence from all the crew members. We could interact easily and daily with the Captain and all the officers. The hotel director even ensured I was fine when I felt seasick. Giving me kind advice and finding a quiet table nearest to the center of the ship one evening. He took personal care to ensure we enjoyed ourselves regardless of the waves (the Atlantic can churn a lot, as a first time cruiser, it was though to start with, but sea bands and drugs helped). Our safety was of utmost importance and when a port of call had to be changed because Pasais' port was closed, the process was seamless. The entire crew was ultra busy making all the changes and adjustments in the background, but no one looked stressed or nonplussed about it. Very impressive. I'm not sure if the crew ever says no to anyone. We were spoiled. It was great. The food is plentiful and there is something for everyone from meat lovers to health nuts, to vegan to gluten free. Everything is fresh and there is a made to order station in every outlet. There is food everywhere on the boat, so you can never go hungry. The complimentary alcohol is acceptable (although beer selection is ordinary, they could do much better). We never felt we had to upgrade to any of the wine packages. People we talked too felt the same way too. The staterooms are on the small side (we had a V2) and the bathroom microscopic. Only one person can be in there at the same time. After a couple of days, we got used to it and it did not bother us. The bed... oh so comfortable!!!!! The mattress is firm while the sheets ultra soft. A huge fluffy comforter on top keeps you nice and cozy. Each room is individually temperature controlled, so you can have it the way you like. The embarkation and disembarkation are wonderful giving the small number of guests on board. Even the one tender we took we didn't wait at all. There was always a shuttle running is the other ports where it was needed and we never waited. VIP service all the way. I loved how the crew welcomed us home after the day. It really felt like home and for us, who generally prefer independent travels, we found ourselves looking forward to being back on board. You can also feel the pride the crew has for their ship. Many are long time employees and the company seems to take good care of them, which is very important for us. Happy crew will take care of their customers. The overall experience was very positive and I can't wait to go back in March for a part of their World Journey. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Previously sailed on Azamara, in spite of last year's 'refurbishment' (all very surface) the ship is dated, cabins small, shower tiny, wait staff brusque, food just okay, not a luxury or sub-luxury experience. This ship is ... Read More
Previously sailed on Azamara, in spite of last year's 'refurbishment' (all very surface) the ship is dated, cabins small, shower tiny, wait staff brusque, food just okay, not a luxury or sub-luxury experience. This ship is truly not worth the cost, Viking Ocean and Oceana are light years better in every way. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are better for much less money. Cruise Director was awful, insulted an entire audience in Bilbao, Spain by stating that their language is Catalan, he is ignorant and was barely coherent that night, can't describe what a jerk he made of himself and what a terrible representative he was of Azamara. On-board entertainment was from hunger. Itinerary had to change due to sea conditions, stuck in Bayonne, France for three days, Azamara did nothing to smooth this over, in essence set up shuttle from the industrial berth where the ship was anchored to center of town and gave us train schedules to get to the ports we could not access by sea (Biarritz and St. Jean du Lux). Azamara handled this situation with less class than one would expect from Carnival. Food was mediocre, paying for specialty restaurants on this price level is a crime. Included wines for the most part were undrinkable. I don't like writing negative reviews but anything positive would not be truthful. Don't waste your money on Azamra. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We wanted to revisit some old haunts and then stay on in Portugal when we disembarked. The weather caused problems from the first port - Guernsey - where the tender was battered by the waves and getting back on board was hair raising. ... Read More
We wanted to revisit some old haunts and then stay on in Portugal when we disembarked. The weather caused problems from the first port - Guernsey - where the tender was battered by the waves and getting back on board was hair raising. Bordeaux was great - good location. Easy for public transport and walking. We took the tram to the end of the line to a small French town and even went through vineyards. St Jean de Luz was impossible to use the tender and so we went to Bayonne. The town was fine although the dock was industrial and the mountain of sulpher beyond the balcony was bright yellow and different. We took a taxi to St Jean and a 2 Euro bus trip back! As we could not get into the next port we stayed in Bayonne. Bilbao was lovely and the Azamazing evening a real treat. Oporto - arrival was delayed by fog but once it lifted we had no problems. We took the shuttle into town and the vintage tram back to near the ship and then a taxi. Lisbon was lovely but busy but as we stayed on for a few days it got busier as 3 or 4 huge ships a day docked. We love Azamara but would appreciate a few more changes in Prime C and Aqualina. Having had 4 or 5 cruises with the present menu a change would be great. We love the friendly service. The passengers seem to be more likely to be travelling in large groups and the passengers don't seem to mix as much as groups tend to spend time together. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our 8th cruise with Azamara (both Journey and Quest) dating back to May, 2008 so we are familiar with the ships, many of the crew/staff members and generally know what to expect. Any comments/criticisms are not a reflection on ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise with Azamara (both Journey and Quest) dating back to May, 2008 so we are familiar with the ships, many of the crew/staff members and generally know what to expect. Any comments/criticisms are not a reflection on the many friends who work on the ships that we have been able to get to know and enjoy. They are the sole reason, if any, to consider continuing with Azamara; not the destinations (other cruise lines go to the same places), not the smaller size of the ships (many other cruise lines have similar-sized ships) and certainly not the featured shore excursions which have given us many regrets about our last couple cruises. Any trip can have unexpected problems but it is how they are dealt with (or not) that affects how you feel when you walk away. After our disappointing Australia/New Zealand cruise on the Quest, in 2015-2016, the only reason we booked this Journey cruise was because they offered a chance to see the last day of the British Open golf tournament. Our disappointment in that overall experience and lack of response from cruise staff to complaints (they acknowledged that they had received many complaints from other participants) made us feel like it was a wasted cruise. The event was very expensive and, based on ticket price, Azamara appears to have made a large profit. We arrived after play had started for the day, but even worse, we had to leave early just when Spieth and Kuchar were on the 14th hole and the exciting finish began. We were told "be at the bus on time or we will leave you". Had we been facing a ship departure deadline, it might have been easier to understand but they brought us back two hours before the ship sailed. The shore excursion staff was sympathetic and uncertain why we had to leave before the end of the golf tournament and assured us they would look into the matter and respond in a couple days. That turned into a couple more days and then a week and then they told us on the last day that they couldn't resolve anything (or at east explain why we were forced to leave early) with their Miami office and that we should contact them directly once we returned home. Our overall experience with Azamara shore excursions has been that they are overpriced and often fraught with logistical problems and our Open experience was no different. That department's ineptness continues to be the weak link in the whole Azamara experience. Now, for the rest of the story, the upgrades from the refitting in 2016 improved the cabin we stayed in - more efficient use of floor space, lighter colors for the walls and carpets and more efficient bathroom space. The USB outlet by the bed helps for recharging phones, etc., but there is still no electrical outlet on the bed side. If you need one for a CPAP, etc., remember to bring an extension cord to reach the only outlet on the end of the desk. Access to the balcony is a bit challenging since you have to go around/between the two chairs and a table. Don't lean on the table because it spins (a la lazy Susan) and will flip you. Our biggest complaint was the noise (reason for average rating). We don't hear anything from adjoining rooms but the cleanup staff on deck 9 has a habit of starting early in the morning (often before 6:00 am) and the noise of dragging chairs and tables, deck hoses, etc., carries right into the rooms on deck 8. One thing that did not improve with the refit is the artwork all around the ship. Everyone has different tastes in art but my impression of art is a lot different than that on Azamara and I would prefer something more in line with a sailing/cruising atmosphere. We heard many complaints about the food but found it about average. The menu for the dining room has been changed so that the items available every day are listed along with the daily choices - gives the appearance of more choices but only that. The soups are my favorite and they are all still good. Prime C remains very good but, although the menu has changed again for Aqualina, it is still not what it used to be in the beginning when it had mostly a seafood selection. Both specialty restaurants could use more variety - change menu items mid-cruise for those that want to dine there more often. We used to meet more returning Azamara guests than we do lately - guess they aren't returning. When we first discovered Azamara, we thought it was the only company we would need forever and they encouraged loyalty in returning guests through the Club Voyage but our overall impression is that now they are catering more to newcomers and a collection of special interest groups. It seems like everywhere you go on the ship there are areas closed off for one "Private Function" or another - hardly an "Azamara family" feeling. Not to forget the staff and crew. There are still some really exceptional individuals and they make you feel welcome in every way possible. We look forward to seeing them again each time we cruise. We have noticed, however, that maybe half the staff you pass on the ship acknowledge your presence and say "good morning", etc. The same goes for ship's officers even when they make eye contact and know you are there. We didn't used to be able to go anywhere without everyone offering cheerful greetings. This seems like a small thing but we're not sure what to make of the culture change. Entertainment on the ship remains excellent - particularly for a ship of this size. The Riverdance performance for Azamazing evening event was one of the best ever. The reason for the average rating for embarkation was because of all the computer glitches that hindered passenger boarding. Seems those should be ironed out before people start showing up. Disembarkation went smoothly. This is the first cruise where we have not felt like re-booking another one before we left the ship. Instead of growing together more as "Azamara family members", we sense less of that family atmosphere to draw us back. We have one more trip booked from over a year ago to use up free days and to hope for smoother sailing and then . . . . . Read Less
Sail Date July 2017

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