Azamara Quest Inaugural Review
We were two of the lucky people chosen by Azamara to go on their inaugural cruise to no-where on 10/22-10/24. We have no idea what criteria were used to select passengers, we were just happy to be included. ... Read More
Azamara Quest Inaugural Review
We were two of the lucky people chosen by Azamara to go on their inaugural cruise to no-where on 10/22-10/24. We have no idea what criteria were used to select passengers, we were just happy to be included.
We met several employees and executives of Azamara and Celebrity as they were also on the ship. There was nothing special asked of us during the trip. All passengers were given a single piece of paper with a list of public rooms and half a dozen cabin room numbers. During the trip we were asked to view each area and give a one word description of our impression of the room. We also filled out a standard cruise evaluation that everybody fills out on every cruise.
Upon our return from the trip we received an e-mail from one of the Azamara/Celebrity executives that we met. The e-mail was from the Director of Customer Insights & Relationship Marketing. He thanked us for sailing on the Quest and asked us to "post an open and honest review of your Quest experience on the Cruise Critic website." We made many comments both pro and con on our cruise evaluation and we were planning on writing a review, so we are happy to honor this request. So, here goes - the good, the bad and the ugly.
We can't comment on certain things as it was not a totally traditional cruise experience. We carried our own luggage on board so we can't tell you how quickly our luggage would have been delivered. We were assigned a stateroom with a veranda. The room was functional. To be perfectly honest, we usually stay in suites, so to us the room was small, but it did have everything you need. It had a loveseat with a small table in front of it. It also had a small desk. Storage seemed adequate and the bathroom was efficient. We liked the room; our only thought was about a large mirror mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed. It was very large and we were not sure that the first thing you want to see in the morning is your own face staring back at you as you sit up in bed. We also found that no matter how low we turned the air on in the room, it never got cool enough. So even on the lowest setting the room seemed too warm. The other rooms we saw were similar. The suites were very nice, but were, for the most part at the very front of the ship and with the ship being a smaller one we could not help but wonder if there would be a lot of motion from the waves. The suites were bright and decorated traditionally. There was lots of space but the rooms are smaller than the corresponding type of room on a millennium class ship. Overall, people will be very happy in any of the suites. The verandas were generous in size and had some phenomenal views.
The ship itself was beautiful. We can't say enough about the pool area. The lounge chairs were very heavy and made of wood. The cushions were thick and so comfortable. There was lots of room between each chair. There were approximately 175-200 chairs around the pool. We did comment that we thought that there was no way people would be moving these chairs all over the pool deck. The pool grill area was very nice too, the tables and chairs were incredibly comfortable. The entire pool area was great. The pool itself was a salt water one and was a good size. Our only complaint about the pool is actually a safety one. There is an ankle or so deep area as you first enter the pool before you go down the ladder into the pool. This area has no handrail and several people were commenting that it was very slippery to get from the pool deck to the ladder to enter the pool. There were two whirlpools as well. There were good size, but they did not seem to be very powerful, and again there are no handrails to assist getting in and out of the whirlpool. The overall look of the entire area was great and one of the nicest we have ever seen on a ship.
Many of the public rooms can best be described as having old-world charm. From the iron handrails to the dark wood in the dining room and in Prime C (one of the specialty restaurants), the ship was very attractive and traditional. Aqualina, the other specialty restaurant, had a more bright and airy look and feel. It too was very beautiful. The fitness center and spa seemed well appointed and quite spacious. In general, the ship is smaller; therefore each of the public rooms is smaller too. The showroom is called Cabaret and is about the size of the Crystal Room on a millennium class ship. The casino is smaller too and has about half a dozen tables and we counted 54 slot machines.
This was the very first sailing so there were bound to be some glitches with a whole new crew working together for the first time. Amazingly, things were pretty smooth. We had lunch at the buffet upon our arrival on the ship. The food was ready and waiting. They were serving chicken, potatoes, lasagna, various salads, lots of desserts and ice cream as well. We liked the lasagna but found some of the food was not very hot and there was some confusion as to whether the food was being served or if you were suppose to help yourself. Most of these things will probably work themselves out over time. In general we preferred the pool grill for lunch. It had the usual hamburgers and hotdogs, fries and onion rings. The food was great but there was a bit of a wait as they were trying to cook only as people wanted food. But, as usual the grill food was great. There were also serving tacos and nachos there as well. There was even a portable buffet that had lettuce and some salads as well. In the same area there was a soft ice cream machine that had lots of toppings available as well. Please be aware though that the pepper shakers on the ship have large e holes and the pepper flows really fast. You have been warned so be prepared.
For breakfast we also ate at the buffet. The breakfast was good. There was an omelet station that always had a long line, but the omelet was worth the wait. They were excellent. We also enjoyed the blintzes and the pancakes.
The first night we had dinner in the dining room. We have never really used anytime dining so we went to dinner and sat with just the two of us. We did try to get reservations at one of the specialty restaurants that night but there was only a waiting list you could get on. There were no reservations available. Dinner was excellent. There was a very good variety and the waiter was very nice and friendly, yet professional. The dining room is on one level and is quite attractive. We did not notice it being very loud; in fact the dining room was not all that full. Service was good, although we did have quite a delay between the salad and the entrEe.
The second night we had the good fortune to be invited to the Prime C specialty restaurant. We were selected along with several other Captains Club members to dine together in the restaurant that is a steakhouse. We ate with two other couples. The meal was wonderful with lots of cuts of meat available. There are other dishes available as well. The meal was great; it is served at a very leisurely pace. Dessert had several interesting options including chocolate fondue, molten lava cake, and warm donuts served with chocolate sauce. They were very generous in size and definitely delicious. We are glad that the people we were seated with were very nice and conversation flowed freely, otherwise it would have been a long, awkward dinner. The restaurant itself is not that large. The ship is laid out with Prime C on one side and Aqualina on the other and a shared kitchen in the middle. There is a larger area as you first go in, but then tables are all set against the outer walls. There are not more than 20 tables in each of the specialty restaurants. Based on the three and a half hours we spent there, each table can really only be used once during a dinner service. Because of this, restaurant reservations will be very hard to get, so book early and don't be disappointed if you can't get in.
One thing we do want to make mention of and that is the speed of the response from the crew when a safety issue needed to be addressed. On the upper pool deck there is a set of stairs to being you to the actual pool deck. These stairs are outside and at the top there was a little step-up before you actually began descending the stairs. This little step-up was marked but people all seemed to be tripping on it. On the first (and only) day at sea, it was pointed out to Azamara staff and by the end of the day crew had fashioned a custom made little ramp to cover the step- up. Now that is addressing issues quickly.
Also, kudos to the Captain or to the person who decided that since we were going no-where specific we should go up the coast of Florida and watch the space shuttle Discovery blast off. It was the most incredible sight to see from the ocean as the shuttle passed right over the ship. It was breathtaking and a once in a lifetime experience to be sure. A very nice touch was a picture of the blast off waiting on our bed when we arrived back in our stateroom that evening. A gift from Azamara.
There were a few things that we found unusual or did not think made much sense. Azamara advertises butlers for all rooms. Because we usually travel in suites, we do know what services a butler traditionally provides or at least offers to provide. We did not find their butlers to be butlers. In this case, we found that they were merely stateroom attendants who had been given a glorified title. A title does not a butler make. Perhaps with more time and an opportunity to acclimate to the ship and their responsibilities the butlers will be able to provide services that Azamara guests have come to expect as they had on Celebrity ships.
Lastly, we were surprised that Azamara did not take advantage of the "captive" guests that they had in Captains Club members. We did have the Captains Club party while on board. There were about 25 people at the party and several executives made the rounds and introduced themselves to each of us. It was very nice to meet them, but we thought that they would take the opportunity to say something to the whole room. There was no welcome, no introduction to the line, not even a mini-commercial. It was a nice little party, but in this room you have people who cruise quite a bit, people who are in the demographic you are trying to market to, people who you have invited for a free two-day cruise and you don't take the opportunity to pick their brains. We would have welcomed the opportunity to have a small focus group offer opinions on Azamara, Celebrity and the Captains Club as a whole. We got a free cruise, and we certainly would not have resented giving an hour or so of our time to become part of the process that might improve the Captains Club for us all. We all have ideas and things that we would like to see and while ideas and suggestions might or might not be taken, we would have been happy to give those opinions and were frankly surprised that they were not solicited.
Overall, it was a wonderful, although quick trip. Azamara is a fine cruiseline with a lot of potential. The intimate setting is going to be refreshing for many cruisers and the ports that the smaller ships can go to will be a great draw. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and can honestly and openly say, nice job, and we will be watching the itineraries for an opportunity to travel with Azamara again. Read Less