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Sail Date: December 2014
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet ... Read More
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet access but would go to the stake supporting the on board experience. In summary for those who may not wish to read further. Good cruise not great. Tango evening in Buenos Aries very good. Ship entertainment good although English female magician was a cross between Jo Brand and Tommy Cooper but good in the end.. I think some allusions may have passed the USA /Canadian audience by. Eric is as Eric does and was good as usual. White night party better than usual but not surprising as it was New years Eve with fantastic fireworks display (20 minutes long) from prime position in front line off Copacabana beach. Food fair Morale on ship appeared to be poor with little leadership shown by Captain. Passenger mix good with no predominant group. I was surprised to see so many non-Christian people on board but maybe they want to escape Christmas as a festival although Christmas decorations were confined to 1 Christmas tree and fake snow on band area in cabaret lounge. We were led astray by bad group in casino lounge most nights so had good time. Now to review/comments Flew down from Newcastle and spent pleasant 3 hours in Exec lounge with a glass or 4 of Champagne before boarding flight to Buenos Aries. Good meal and lie flat bed made the journey faultless. We then emerged into chaos of arrivals at BA . Found rep eventually with one of the smallest arrivals signs I have seen for a long time. Simple transfer to hotel and met people on bus who we had sailed with previously. Hotel fine and had lazy day around pool. Tried to organise taxi for next morning and knowing state of Argentinean peso offered to pay in dollars. Evening concierge was quoting $35/40 plus tip for what appeared to be only a 10 minute journey on Google but was quite insistent we should book now through him. We had transfers booked through hotel so did not make decision. Next morning approached day concierge and was quoted $10 which we took. Advised rep so that bus was not waiting for us. We prefer taxi as it enables us to go when we want and no scrum re bus and baggage. We had a friend who lost hand baggage case which was placed in bus hold but was removed by a thief before bus set off. We always wait now until baggage doors are shut before one of us boards bus. Straight on board at 11.00 to be greeted by Heike and proceeded to make our Prime C reservations. Rather than do a blow by blow account I intend to split review into sep sections. I am fully aware that a lot of people may not like what I write and will say I am nitpicking but how many coincidences/ failures create a trend, All I would ask is read and consider if these were your experiences what would you think? Safety. At one port we were advised of a 30 minute tender journey so therefore a probable 1 Hour 20 turn round. Of the first tender boats the first had an engine failure on the water. Life happens BUT the second ran out of fuel and also had to be recovered with consequent chaos to tender times. Far more serious was if there had actually been an emergency we would have had only half the number of boats available. Totally unacceptable. Comfort. Aircon We commented on cabin air con and despite curtains closed all day and running on maximum cooling it was practically impossible to tell difference between corridors/outside and room. Complained for 4 days but no differences made. Accepted it in the end even though other parts of ship were kept cool. Toilets. Had blockages /overflows on at least 5 days in both toilets as well as elsewhere in public toilets in deck 9. I realise that these are probably client inflicted but not by us as we are scrupulous about items. I can tell you that one of the worst experiences is when (as you do) you get up in the dark to go to the toilet at 3am you most definitely wake up when you enter toilet and your feet get wet. Fortunately clean water but still a horrible moment. I do not consider that a pot plant in dressing area is equivalent to “fresh cut flowers in suite” but probably a Larry cutback. Morale on board Having sailed at least 10 times with Azamara we look forward to returning and seeing regular staff and had even brought Christmas presents for people like Heike, Alex and other favourite waiters etc. It appears that unlike previous times staff are now rotated between Journey and Quest and we therefore saw far fewer staff that we knew. Missing staff included Adel restaurant manager and Dale and Victor head barmen. It was alleged problems with visas was the reason for this but efficiency suffered because of lack of experienced staff. We also had new F & B manager as well as executive chef Iwan. Staff were certainly not as happy or smiling as on previous trips and officers were hardly ever seen on deck or as previous eating in the Windows Cafe. Food We are early risers 7.45 a.m. and were able to dine in Windows outside deck every morning. At no time did we see the fresh orange machine working and after a few days it had disappeared completely. On asking I was informed “Brazilian authorities do not like you to see it” Hey, I am on Azamaras finest not one of Mr Fyffe’s boats. Smoothies were as good as ever and made as you waited. I was not impressed when waiting for smoothie when Captain walked in, was served before me and did not even say “Good Morning, are you enjoying your cruise?” Maybe he thought the vote of thanks I gave at the Captains dinner in the library 2 days before was not fulsome enough. Rest of food fine with fresh eggs made as requested but there did not appear to be as many staff to carry food to your table if required or requested. I do npt expect for myself as able bodied. 2 days running they ran out of English muffins? It appeared they were on ration as on third day it was like Cpl Jones in Dads Army. If you asked for them they were produced from a cloth covered basket behind the counter!!!! It was great if you liked peach yogurt as this was the only flavoured offered. Surely somewhere in Argentina sells other flavours. Lunch Not great lunchers but soups were fine although the hot dishes could surely have looked better and maybe fresher if they only used half the hot area. Mainly ate freshly made sandwiches and it is the first time I have had an egg mayonnaise toastie as it was whipped into toaster before I could say thank you. Also has on 3 occasions the “room service burger “which according to folk lore is made from tail end of fillets from Prime C. In no way was it the same as on previous cruises. On cutting into it it simply split into pieces rather like mince. Not good. Burger bar at pool area Changes here in that now instead of burgers/hot dogs being prepared as required they are cooked en masse and placed in chafing dishes for self selection. Result is you get a Mcdonalds type bun instead of toasted bun fresh from grill also French fries are kept in same dishes resulting in cool fries. Answer: Cook less per fry and they will be fresh and hot. I would rather wait a minute than have cold/luke warm fries. No extra cost but customer satisfaction. Afternoon tea Had served in suite and I notice now only 5 prawns instead of 6 for 2 people (17 per cent saving) I think they could do away with bits on sticks as they are rarely fresh Whilst on subject the English tea bags are useless and I am NOT a strong teas drinker. Dinner Mainly ate in Prime C and again there is no doubt that the quality of steak has changed dramatically as well as general food standards. It was obvious that they do a good job with pre prepared items i.e. soups, salads, crab cakes and desserts but the fresh items like steaks were often poor. This may be my fault but initially ordered well done fillet steak (major mistake for Americans) but It was like shoe leather. Next time ordered medium which was indeed pink in middle but still completely dry with no juices. Had it sat too long under the lamps? Moved onto halibut which was great but unbelievably they ran out of later in the cruise. How can that happen? They know their passenger load and it must come frozen. Later on they also ran out of Dover sole and one night they ran out between ordering and service. I reordered their daily special of pork steak which was great and came hot and juicy so it is possible. Lamb was not much better and they had no mint sauce except that provided from a bottle which you shook like vinegar over your meal. Mint jelly was so fluorescent it should be in Doctor Who. They provide Marmite and Vegemite for us foreigners surely they could get some Colmans proper stuff? Captains dinner was completely unremarkable as I cannot even remember what we had apart from a Margarita Sorbet which had melted and had to be drunk from the glass. I remember being advised by Chef Iwan whose first Captains dinner this was that we would be served with “Lettuce emulsion “ also “potato spaghetti” . The descriptions were better than the reality as most hot courses were warm/cold. I did not spot the truffels although they were on the printed menu Drinks As previous cruisers we were aware that they normally carry 2 Rieslings which are our preferred choice. Usually a discreet request to restaurant manager would enable us to have this from day 1. This time was advised you could only have the 2 on offer. After 5 days one waiter was bold or stupid enough to comment that there was a Riesling on menu in Discoveries restaurant that night so they then provided the Chilean Riesling. It appeared that the German Diennhard one was no longer stocked although a far better quality. The following comments are from other passengers so cannot vouch for absolute veracity but no reason to doubt them. One couple had friends on previous cruise that raved about a particular daily wine and emailed them about it. They asked if they could have this wine but were advised that it was not possible as it was a free daily wine and not until it was on daily list. No problem they said “Can we pay for it?. Answer “We cannot sell it as it is an inclusive wine.” Also suite members get 4 half bottles of spirits but are not allowed to drink them other than in your room. I understand that Azamara may not want you to drink your own shop bought alcohol but it seems bizarre that if you are sitting in a bar with the provided bottles and using Azamara mixers. You would actually be saving them money as you would not be using their alcohol. Unless my memory is failing I thought that pool bar served draught beer but no longer and the “International selection of beers” is Becks, Bud and Heineken Surely with Inbev reach Azamara could take on board a limited amount of local bottled beer at each replenishment point and use as limited edition. Perhaps our final room service breakfast was a useful metaphor for Azamara on board service. Bacon good, potatoes good, muffin were no bigger than thumb/forefinger circle with an extra inch in circumference, poached eggs bigger than muffins and the weakest orange juice I have ever drunk. Final conclusions The peer of the realm with a party of 16 most certainly will not return and Francis a German lady we have met on 2 previous cruises who received the LCV award on ship for most cruises at 25 will not be returning either. Disembarkation the usual shambles with 3 ships at the same time and 1 hour to check in at Windsor atlantica hotel on Copacabana beach. We were finally dumped at airport 4 hours before departure time with checkout not due to open for another hour. We were all flying on same flight so why was it not possible to delay departure by at least 1 hour.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and ... Read More
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and were on board with a glass of bubbly and lunch waiting. Our balcony cabin was spacious enough and although we didn't use our balcony a lot it was lovely to have. The service on board was outstanding, Raymond and Hilda who looked after our room were fantastic and on my husband birthday they had gone in and put balloons and a Happy Birthday banner up, a nice touch. The food on board was very good, we ate in the Window cafe for breakfast and lunch and the discovery restaurant for dinner where we had excellent food and service. The entertainment that we went to was very enjoyable. There is nothing that I can fault about the cruise and I look forward to doing another one. Thank you Azamara Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Sailed a for the Christmas cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires and for the first time on Azamara. This was our first "upscale" cruise (or luxe-light as I've heard it called). We had a great time. Keep in mind this is before ... Read More
Sailed a for the Christmas cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires and for the first time on Azamara. This was our first "upscale" cruise (or luxe-light as I've heard it called). We had a great time. Keep in mind this is before this line went "all-inclusive." PRE-CRUISE: We checked into the Sheraton in the extreme western part of Leblon (Leblon is the very west part of Rio beach area) after an overnight flight. Had already met some people through our Roll Call who were staying in that hotel and met up with them and became good friends and spent a lot of time with them over the next 4 days having dinners and doing the activities. The hotel was good, reasonably priced, but a bit out of the way. Not bad if you are going to do guided tours as they pick you up (we did a 2 day private tour with Manu Picalat - highly recommended and book early as he's busy), but getting back into town on your own will require a taxi or a long walk (and I wouldn't do that walk at night though I personally didn't feel worried at all - but I have lived in very large cities most of my life). We did it a few times by foot, but it's a good 20 minute walk to the beginning of the action. Forget about driving yourself. It's certifiably insane! Overall, LOVED Rio and never felt all the danger people talk of. Very nice place and comes recommended. One tip is to see the Redeemer statue AS SOON AS IT OPENS. No crowds, and great views. I think that was about 7:30am. Also, they had a beach which was nice, but keep in mind it's not private as locals use it too. Not a problem, and never crowded, but the surf was pretty intense so I wouldn't go swimming unless you are a VERY good swimmer! Best part was leaving the sliding door to our balcony open and hearing the crashing surf every night as we drifted off to sleep. LOVED THAT! THE SHIP: Embarkation was super easy and fast (maybe 15 mins?). We REALLY loved the smaller format R-Class ships. We had about 520 people out of the possible 680-ish capacity on board so it was incredibly UN-crowded. This was very appreciated as the big ships drive us bonkers with the lines and crowds. Living in a crowded metro area, we like to get away from crowds. The ship didn't disappoint and we enjoyed the size. It was quite nicely appointed (it had just come out of dry dock and you could tell). Can't fault anything and was quite impressed at the level of detail and refinement. It was much like being in a 4 or 5 star NYC hotel. The public spaces were well laid out and never crowded. I didn't use the casino except to have a cocktail but on sea days or early port departures it got pretty busy in the evenings (it's also tiny so that's why I suspect it felt so busy). The lounges were very nice, and the MDR was fantastic and we appreciated the open seating. We ate many dinners with different friends we met or sometimes just the two of us. The fitness center was surprisingly good, as was the Library. We didn't use the spa. FOOD/DRINKS: VERY good. I wouldn't say the best I've ever had, but clearly they put a lot of effort into the food and it is more or less fired as you order which helps (take the galley tour - fun stuff and makes you feel good about where your food is coming from). Presentations were appealing and the variety was very good for a ship this size. We enjoyed each meal onboard. We ate at both speciality restaurants (twice at Prime C). Both were VERY VERY good. Very accommodating (when in Aqualina we wanted the lobster salad we had had from Prime C as it was really that good - no problem whatsoever). Also, the unlimited wine was free flowing with lunch and dinner and honestly, very good and varied... (and I mean this was truly a "please stop filling my glass after every 3 sips or I'm going to pass out" unlimited). The Lido buffets were really good and had a really great selection including sushi, several hot stations, etc. Left absolutely nothing to be desired! I will add that we had purchased the top-shelf beverage package which used to be $39.95 pp per day as we like our top shelf spirits and it was super convenient to be able to order whatever, whenever from wherever. For us this was worth it, however now that they have gone all-inclusive, this probably is a moot point. Also, the Mosaic coffee bar was tops - and included (even without the beverage package). Delish coffee-house drinks and nice littler finger sandwiches, etc. You won't go hungry or be disappointed, this I can promise. We used room service one morning and it was nice, but we get up early so we just headed to the lido for the most part... STAFF/SERVICE: Here's where I think you can REALLY see the difference between the mass-market ships an a more boutique line. Everyone who worked on that ship was engaged, friendly, and basically three steps ahead of any need/desire you had. I'd walk into the MDR bar before dinner, and of course our "pack of new friends" would be there and the amazing bartender (who I sadly cannot remember his name) would have the drinks poured and ready to go. Everyone was super engaging and would just chat, chat, chat with you. Some were quite busy (such as the cabin stewards) but they still made time to talk to you and make sure everything was just how you wanted it. We had brought on some spirits we bought in Rio before embarking and our steward saw this and made sure we had fresh glasses, mixers in the mini fridge, and ice at least 3 times per day. Nice touch! The CD was fun and engaged, and there were some fun activities. They also had a very good DJ for the Looking Glass lounge at night and he would go until pretty late, even though not many were there.... We ate it up being night owls. Honestly, can't say enough good things about the staff on this ship!!! CABINS: We were in the lowest class of Verandah room pretty mid ship on the 6th deck. It was fine, but not very large at around 170 sq ft. We expected this so we weren't disappointed per se, but you will want to maintain organization! The bathroom, on most any cruise ship, is insanely small, but it works. Plenty of storage. The entertainment system was fine with the typical... a few channels of TV, some movies, the bridge cam and room service ordering/folio review. What was pretty nice is each day they put the various menus for the restaurants on there so you could start your salivating early. :) The balcony was fine and as expected with two chairs and a table big enough to eat on. Also, it was quiet. No noise at all and we slept like babies on the very comfortable beds. One thing to note that we loved is announcements (which are rare anyways) are NOT piped into the rooms. Such a nice change. Several times we'd have to crack the door open to hear what the Captain was saying. Overall, my advice is don't overpack (and keep in mind they have free laundry facilities... more on that in a bit). ACTIVITIES: Each day we received our "Pursuits" guide, and it was pretty typical of your daily guide. Not a whole heck of a lot going on like a 3000 person ship, but again expected. Slots tournaments, enrichment lectures, some tours (do the tours of the bridge and the galley if you can) and the like. We really didn't participate as we had a fairly intensive port schedule and were quite worn out from many late nights in Rio. I will say it was perfectly acceptable for the size of the ship, however. EXCURSIONS: We used all ship sponsored excursions, though some ports we just struck out on our own. This is where your research will help you out. The prices were high, but not extreme, and for the most part we enjoyed each. Some were just "OK" but nothing was bad and everything went smoothly. PASSENGERS: Almost exclusively older, well traveled (mid 40's to ....?). A handful of maybe 10 kids with their parents. Very few 20 and 30 somethings. Most were from the US or Canada and a few from Brazil. Very well heeled group and there was little to know "drama" or anything of the kind. The ship goes to bed fairly early (11pm) and rises early (7am). We are a gay couple and never had any trouble fitting in, and in fact met 6 other gay couples on board... Everyone was very gracious and we made some great friends straight or gay! MISC STUFF: The free Laundry on deck 7 was great - EXCEPT it gets incredibly busy. The facility consists of three washers and three dryers. The detergent is automatically added to the machine (marine friendly) so you only need to bring dryer sheets if you are so inclined. There is also two ironing boards. My advice is do laundry on off hours like dinner or while in port. Embarkation day I made a bee-line to the facility even before really unpacking since we had already been in Rio for 4 days and we packed light (and changed 2x a day due to the heat/humidity). I lucked out. When I went back 40 mins later to move my clothes from the washer to the dryer, there was a line of about 7 people. And it mostly stayed that way for the duration of the cruise... Also, I'd like to suggest you set a reminder on your phone/watch so you know when the clothes are ready to be moved or removed, mostly as a courtesy to others... Trust me, when it gets busy people will do this for you and then you have wrinkles or wet clothes sitting on a dryer. Smoking (which I thankfully kicked) is allowed ONLY in one small section of the pool deck, but this should be a consideration if you smoke. Finally, if the weather is inclement (or in our case, our boat took on a bunch of weird non-biting mosquitos overnight one day in the middle of the ocean - which was promptly taken care of) the lido can be hard to find a seat in for breakfast. My advice here is head to the MDR. They have plenty of capacity and breakfast service is rather quick. OVERALL: YES I would said with Azamara again, in a heartbeat. I'm curious of the new all-inclusive offerings. I am still in the "exploring the lines" phase, so it will have to wait a few years as I have sailings on other luxe lines and a river cruise set up, but I think when the dust settles, you'll see me back on an Azamara ship! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
First time reviewer as we have just completed our 4th cruise, background is we have sailed with Celebrity in 2011 (Med) and got the cruise bug. We then did the Carribean with Holland America and Turkey and Greece with MSC Divina. We are ... Read More
First time reviewer as we have just completed our 4th cruise, background is we have sailed with Celebrity in 2011 (Med) and got the cruise bug. We then did the Carribean with Holland America and Turkey and Greece with MSC Divina. We are aged 35 and 39. We tried to book the full package through Azamara ie flights and cruise, the cruise departed on 27 Dec from Buenos Aires. Azamara wanted us to fly to London on Dec 24 from Scotland. Stay at the Airport on Xmas eve then spend Christmas day in the Airport as the flight was not until app 21.30. Arrive in Argentina on 26 and Azamara would give us a free night in a hotel. When we tried to change the flight to the 22nd as we did not want to spend Xmas eve and day at terminal 5 we were told this would not be possible. We got our own flights. We were really looking forward to the cruise as the ports were really good and the ship has a 5 star+ reputation. The ports were fantastic but the ship is not a 5 star. It may have been when it was new back in the late 90s. If you like visiting grannies and her furniture you may disagree with me. As we sailed on Nuiew Amsterdam when it was app 3 months old and MSC Divina was a week old maybe we have been spoilt on other ships. In relation to the usual subjects here is my opinion Embarkation was spot on, straight through no waiting. We also arrived at midday and got straight into our room. Staff were excellent although the DJ starts at 11pm and if there are less than 14 people he goes to bed. One night there was 14 but he still went to bed. Please note if you like a little music and enjoy a drink and a little fun this cruise ship is not for you. If you are aged 55+ dont like the big ships due to the walking, size and music and boutique type of hotels you will love this ship. We paid £2750 each for a Balcony room for 9 nights and felt there was not the same value for money with the cruise lines mentioned above. We paid app £1000 for MSC and this included all drinks and speciality coffees (1 week). You do get wine at dinner and lunch with Azamara and all wines were good quality. Also the tips for the staff on Azamara are included but we still tipped our cabin team and a couple of waiters. We paid for the drinks package which was 265 dollars each but my wife fell Ill on the first day and was confined to the room for 4 days. Azamara did allow us to cancel the package as drinking on your own on holiday is no fun. Azamara also gave my wife free internet in the room. Saying that 4 days is a long time. We never done any excursions with the ship as we had done most of them on other ships but as stated above the ports were excellent where you did not need a bus or taxi to get to. Uusally we would go to the entertainment every night but as my wife was ill for 4 days, 1 night was New Year and we ate late on a couple of occasions and missed the show. Out of the 2 nights we did go it was OK. Remember that most of the clientelle is 50+. The stateroom is the same size roughly of the other ships we have been on just a little older and more tired. I felt the food in the main resturant was good but my wife disagreed. We both felt in comparison to other ships buffet there was not as good a selection but this will be down to the ships size, buffet was never busy like the big ships. We would not cruise with Azamara again as we feel there are better ships with better value for money. Unlike the previous cruises the ship did not have the WOW factor that we thought we were paying the extra for. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to ... Read More
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to have snacks, drinks and Internet access. Club Europe full but meal on board perfectly acceptable. Met at Nice by Azamara rep (6 of us) and escorted to 50 seater coach. We had to wait approx 1 hour for delayed flight from Manchester. This did not please one passenger who after half an hour was demanding either A: Coach set off immediately B: A taxi be procured for him and his partner. We other 2 couples refused to be drawn into this discussion and on arrival of other passengers set of for Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo. Unfortunately this was the day of match between Real and Chelsea so traffic was horrendous and hotel was full of gravy trainers (UEFA delegates). Room was fantastic and overlooked F1 circuit hairpin. Adequate breakfast next day and then taxied to port. On arrival greeted by several staff we knew including Hotel director Heijke Berdos. On board by 12 00 and having dropped hand baggage for later delivery went to Windows cafe for lunch where met other old friends /crew members Adele / Alex and Jose. After lunch with complimentary wine and soft drinks went down to suite to meet butler? Suite was fine with bath as well as shower. Went to lifeboat muster drill to be advised that because of French (not Monegasque )dock workers and itinerary being set for 18 months the workers would not turn up at 5.00am to untie the ship with the result we had to leave early at midnight. Not great for one couple who had stayed in Monte Carlo for 2 days before hand and had planned a night out in Monte Carlo to arrive at ship at 2.00am. Imagine their surprise when they turned up to an empty dock. They were able to be reaccomadated and transferred to ship at St Tropez next day. This was totally NOT Azamaras fault and of course with such late notice they were unable to advise guests. In addition because of Lufthansa strike action some 37 other passengers also missed departure. Great advert for NOT making your own arrangements for arrival that day. Good night sleep and down for breakfast to Azamara specialities Freshly squeezed orange juice /cranberry juice /freshly made eggs of all varieties including poached as well as boiled as well as freshly made toast bagels muffins . Not bad to be sitting in open air watching the ships wake in the sun. Onto sundeck with Azamara signature proper wooden loungers with full thickly padded loungers with white slip covers and towels. Repeat as needed for 10 days. Food As suite guests we had complimentary dining in Aqualina and Prime C as standard and happy to report my favourites of Goats cheese souffle /French onion soup and Grand Marnier souffle are alive and well. If you ask they will serve almost any dish between the 2 restaurants and given 24 hours notice will prepare any dish of your request (subject to ingredient availability.) Probably no ostrich meat but we had a most beautiful salmon Wellington that the executive chef said had given him a new idea for possible menu changes The only let down for food was the windows cafe lunch offering which was very repetitive i.e. 1 hot carved meat/chicken with some spicing/fish in sauce and some other bits. They did have a good range of meat fish cheese to make fresh sandwiches or panini and if you were still desperate there was burger bar that did have good meat choices burgers hot dogs brochettes and speciality daily sausage i.e. German /Italian etc. On galley tour saw prep areas etc. and 24-hour room service is available together with in room dining if required. Drink All soft drinks free at all times 24 hours daily and wines 3 choices at lunch /dinner times free flowing (average 4 glasses at lunchtime.!!) All adequate quality including Roses and Rieslings for lighter drinking.. As suite guests we had 4 half bottles of spirits gin vodka whisky and rum as well as 2 bottles of champagne which took some drinking . Service This is amazing and a great advert for compulsory tipping as staff are guaranteed a decent wage and are desperate to return and indeed approx 80% of front facing staff return after their initial contract and some have been working for Azamara for 5 years You really feel humble when you realise these people are away from home for 6 months on 2 months off for 7 days a week yet they are still so friendly and remember your preferences re tea coffee etc. On Azamara you get a questionnaire after 3 days to see if there is ANYTHING wrong so that they can fix rather than have a complaint later. I simply commented on my card that for cruises with a fair percentage of Brits on board it might be nice to have Marmite sachets for guests at breakfast. Within 2 hours I had a call from Executive chef stating they would try to obtain some at next port of call Livorno. Imagine my surprise when at breakfast 2 days later waiter produced a jar for me. Azamara had gone to the trouble of obtaining some via port agent and had sought me out at breakfast. Embarrassing to say it was produced on a tray each breakfast for me. SERVICE SERVICE!!! Tendering Good with plenty of help on and off except Capri where Captain Johannes explained that they HAVE to use local tenders which are small craft seating about 20 on open boats. These are really quite unsatisfactory, as you have to step onto boat side then boat seat and finally deck. We are not old or infirm but we did not enjoy this at all. Captain explained that they had offered to pay for ferries but use their own lifeboats but this option is always refused by boatmen. Not sure why as I will quite happily be paid to do nothing or even go and earn some money elsewhere. We also had unfortunate experience at St Tropez where we tendered in on Azamara boats and were deciding whether to go to Port Grimaud but decided it looked too choppy for the small boats. We returned to tender back to ship. As soon as we had left harbour it was decided it was too dangerous to disembark until ship was swung to make a lee for safer disembarkation. We were therefore stuck on tender for an hour whilst ship was swung. Whilst not in danger it was very uncomfortable as life boat was pitching and rolling outside harbour walls. Captain explained that French weather forecast had been for 15 knot winds whereas in reality it became 30 knots and he considered it dangerous to continue until ship was moved. Excursions Did not do any Azamara as have been to ports already although if you book early you get 50% off pricing. Some American guests did 8 excursions and they must need a holiday to recover. Entertainment The cruise director Eric De Gray is fantastic as appearances in Hairspray /Elvis impersonator and in Abba in final show. Those who have seen it will agree it is amazing but do not want to spoil the surprise for others. He is always around and approachable yet so self deprecating although he says one of passengers favourite sayings is "you should do this Professionally" English comedian very good and his fiancee the singer also but pickpocket and Rat Pack impersonator less so and quite a few walked out of both shows. Guests A good mixture of nationalities Brits, Americans, Germans, Australians even including some Russians who wanted to gamble and eat in restaurants in bath robes. Thankfully refused admission by Addel restaurant manager. Disembarkation. Always the Achilles heel of any ship although if you have a later flight you can stay on board until 11.30 with early lunch. Unfortunately our flight did not qualify so we were dropped at airport approx 90 mins before desk opened. On check inn up to Exec lounge which does not compare with LHR with a few croissants and cold sandwiches. . A useful tip is if you book an open cruise you pay £150 deposit to get £400 off your next cruise and this is in addition to any TA discount as this is transferable once you have decided on cruise. You get best of both worlds. A loyalty discount as well as any best price you can get from travel agent. Overall a great holiday and we are looking forward to next one on 15 November Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Although we thought it might be a little late in the year for an Athens - Venice cruise, there were still plenty of tourist about but we escaped the hordes of summer and the weather was in fact good enough to sit on deck most days, at ... Read More
Although we thought it might be a little late in the year for an Athens - Venice cruise, there were still plenty of tourist about but we escaped the hordes of summer and the weather was in fact good enough to sit on deck most days, at least from about 10am - 3.30pm. The Quest cabin was perfectly comfortable with enough drawer and hanging space, made easier by quite a few hooks on the bathroom door and in the cabin. Suitcases are not taken away but there is a space in the cabin for them - we found they would fit under the bed which was useful when it came to packing to go home. The bathroom, however is tiny. It was however, very clean and although tiny, we managed to shower, was,etc etc. with no trouble. There was adequate shelving and a cupboard in the bathroom for everything we needed. The balcony was a little disappointing - bigger than Seabourn Spirit but smaller than Seabourn Odyssey (both considerably more expensive), with a small table and two chairs but no room for a sun lounger. Food is served in the self service buffet and in the restaurant at breakfast and dinner, but buffet only at lunch time. At other times there is also a deck cafe serving burgers etc. We found that for dinner the restaurant was rather better food and better service. For other meals the buffet was fine and had an outdoor area for eating which was lovely in November, although there were not too many people eating outside towards the end of the cruise (about mid-November). Perfectly drinkable wine was included with lunch and dinner and to our surprise was not limited to one or two glasses. However, drinks from the bar were quite expensive. The daily cocktail was about the most reasonable thing on offer at between $6 - $10 plus 18% of course. We didn't have a big bar bill! No smoking allowed on Balconies. Balconies very private. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were ... Read More
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were looking forward to 5*+ "Boutique Style " Cruising. Air Arrangements - KLM via Amsterdam - great service from KLM and would fly with them again. However, the non direct and timing of flights arranged by Azamara added unnecessary frustration and travelling time - on disembarkation we left the ship at 9 am with a flight time out of Athens of 16.55 and eventually arrived in Manchester at 9.30 local time - 14 1/2 hours after leaving the ship. Such travel arrangements would probably be a deal breaker in the future. Due to the late flight and as we did not want to participate in the Athens excursions available through Azamara we took the opportunity to book a room at the Airport Sofital at a cost of 96 Euros, checking out at 2.30pm. Comfortable room and facilities including a pool and nice lunch in the bar. Pre Cruise hotel stay - Antony Hotel - Venice - 10 minutes from the Airport and 10 minutes from the Port. Good location to get the the Port the following day. Friendly staff, comfortable lounge. Basic but clean room. Dinner expensive and the lamb chops inedible. Embarkation. Left hotel by coach 12 noon and arrived at the Port 10/15 minutes later. As we had been fortunate to have been upgraded to a suite we were able to take advantage of immediate priority check in. However, embarkation was chaotic with no order, reminiscent of a rugby scrum with no regard to health and safety. Embarkation was a little delayed as the Ship had been subject to a deep clean due to Norovirus being on board. Once on board we were directed to Windows Cafe for Lunch and our cabins became available around 2pm and luggage promptly delivered. Norovirus - a small number of cases were reported during our cruise but probably no more than one would expect to see in the general population. However, the situation was well managed with food served from the buffet rather than self service until about 2 days before disembarking. I personally preferred being served and once self service was reintroduced I felt that Windows Cafe became more chaotic. Due to the Norovirus no table menus were available in the bars or coffee shop. We had a daily update from the Captain with regard to the status of "GI" - it would have been preferable for the update not to have been received during dining hours! Cabin - Club Continent Suite - Deck 8 - spacious and clean with a bathroom with a bathtub. Lots of wardrobes and storage and a balcony. Whilst Butler service was available we are not particularly demanding people and did not take advantage of Suite delivered afternoon tea, evening savouries or suite dining other than for some breakfasts. I did enjoy the complimentary Brandy and Gin which we had exchanged from the normal Whisky and Vodka. Whilst we did enjoy the spaciousness of the Suite we probably would not book one over a Veranda Cabin due to the differential in cost. Food - all excellent albeit we did not eat in Discoveries, preferring the more relaxed atmosphere of Windows Cafe. We ate in Aqualina twice and Prime C once - food and service all excellent. Entertainment - limited day time entertainment other than a number of trivias and a limited number of craft sessions. Whilst Azamara Cruises are destination orientated it would have been nice to have seen more ship board activities. Evening entertainment was ok but not as good as other lines we have been on. Bar/Lounge Facilities - all excellent in an evening but again in the day time lacking with no inside active bar where you could just sit and relax until 5pm. Lunch and Dinner complimentary wine - excellent and free flowing. Beer package excellent value. We particularly enjoyed the "Looking Glass" Observatory bar with live music. Excursions - we didn't participate, preferring to do our own thing. Ports - all excellent and would have looked much better in kinder weather. Particularly enjoyed Venice, Dubrovnik and Corfu. Complimentary shuttle services when required. Spa/Gym - nice facilities with small outside area including heated pool specifically reserved for Suite Guests. Gratuities - Dining. Bar and Housekeeping - included in Cruise Fare. Spa Gratuities extra. Value for money - this trip - excellent. Regular pricing quoted on a trip for next year (Veranda Stateroom - Greek Islands - August) we feel expensive at almost '£3000 each for 11 nights and would not be prepared to pay. Overall Experience - Enjoyable trip with like-minded people. Mix of Nationalities - British, American, Canadian, Australian, Chinese. Excellent value for money. Excellent food and service. Nice relaxed feel to ship. 5*+ experience? Having considered our overall experience on a similar trip on Queen Victoria last year including direct flights we feel that Cunard have the edge. However, we have signed up for the "Open Package" giving future discounts and we will be back subject to itinerary and costing. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and ... Read More
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and moving around the ship is easy. You hardly feel there are 650 passengers on board and it is easy to mingle and meet people. We chose to dress up everynight, but dressy casual is sufficient. Loved the open dining policy - it really meant not having to look at a watch! The open wine served (although is limited to a glass) is rarely enforced, very nice wines. Food is amazing and often a hard choice on what to select! Or do as I did and eat 2 desserts every night - the velvety cappuccino is wonderful! We throughly enjoyed the Prime C restaurant. The open pool bar has great hamburgers and tacos and the coffee at the Italian cafe is divine, as well as the afternoon nibbles! The lovely THICK mattress poolside coupled with the warm pool made it hard to leave the pool everyday! HIGHLY recommend this cruise line. A nice size ship, without feeling lost. Facilites and food excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, ... Read More
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, hotels/apartments and rental cars. This year one of our trips were cancelled and suddenly we found our self with 2 weeks of spare time to use at "anything". By pure coincidence we stumbled upon a cruise with Azamara and within a few days everything was arranged thru a TA in Oslo. We were going on our first cruise. We read many reviews before we decided and in line with some recommendations we opted for the interior cabin. It's true what they said. We never spent much time there and the money saved could be used on the beverage package,- among other things. Next time we might go for a balcony, but for the first cruise it was quite OK to just do the interior cabin. We got a great reception embarking in Nice and the Meet and Mingle Party was held later the same evening. A fine opportunity to meet some fellow cruisers that you only had some contact with via cruise critic. First port of call was Saint-Tropez. We had plans for lunch at Plage L'Esquinade and had a great day in port. The Saint-Tropez Sailing Week was in progress and it was fantastic to watch all the yachts and large sail boats passing by the Journey as we were tendered close to the port. Sanary Sur Mer was next port and it was really a quaint little village with a beautiful port. The only negative side to it was that they practice siesta and basically that meant that almost all the shops were closed from 12-3p.m. If you don't have a port excursion in a place like Sanary Sur Mer is a bit too quiet. IMHO they should do a bit more when they get cruise ships,- I rather feel a bit stranded in a beautiful town when everything is closed. If they don't want tourists I can suggest many places that would be better options, Saintes Maries de la Mer for example. Barcelona was fantastic- so were the other ports, not going into details, but the excursions we had was very nicely performed by Azamara and their agents. Very professional and surprisingly efficient. We would recommend excursions if you find them interesting because Azamara really make an effort to give you a supreme product. On board the Azamara Journey everything was pure excellence. The crew, from the maintenance staff to the officers, really seemed to enjoy working for Azamara. That was the first thing that struck me,- these people actually enjoy what they are doing. The restaurants were very good. we dined in all of them and can say that all the options are well worth a visit. The main dining room, Discoveries, was a bit more noisy than the speciality restaurants, but nothing to be bothered with. The food was equally as good, and that is what's important. We found the on board entertainment to be very good. Some very nice performances by artists flown in for a few days only and some performances from the Azamara artists. They all were high level performers and could easily work in the West End or on Broadway. We had a fabulous time on the Azamara Journey and will definately go again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Many others have made comment on just about every aspect of this ship and crew that echo my sentiments so I really just want to reinforce those aspects which I feel set this ship apart from the several other cruises we have done with ... Read More
Many others have made comment on just about every aspect of this ship and crew that echo my sentiments so I really just want to reinforce those aspects which I feel set this ship apart from the several other cruises we have done with Princess, Cunard, RCL etc. The crew, without exception were genuinely friendly without being obtrusive and any request was met with a "can do" attitude and a real desire to help. The ship's officers, including the Captain, were always around interested in taking meals with the passengers and listening to points of view that no doubt assist them in determining passenger attitudes and what may need attention now in the future. I felt the standard of meals in all dining areas as well as the wonderful theme buffets put on from time to time were exceptional and certainly a notch up from what we have experienced on all previous cruises. If it is turkey on the carving board, it is a whole turkey and not just rolled turkey meat that one usually sees on most other ships. We felt the main dining room was so good and the meals varied that there was no real need to visit the fee paying ($15 per head cover charge)restaurants although we did go to Aqualina's for one meal and that was very good. Enjoyed the shows and the enrichment programs and were never bored for something to do on board as well as the variety of fellow passengers from so many countries added an extra dimension in many varied discussions about travel, life experiences etc. Love the easy boarding and disembarking procedures that run like clockwork and little or no waiting to get on and off the ship at any time during ports of call etc. The extras provided like free shuttle buses, free water, beach towels and of course the wine with meals, half price beers, great coffees, suntan lotions, mossie repellant, cold/hot towels at the dockside, and the list goes on, to make this one cruise where you feel you are getting value for money and not be "nickeled and dimed" every minute of the day. Having the gratuities paid as part of the overall fare must make for a happier ship and a further reason why this ship is better than most. No art auctions - what bliss. The New Year's Eve party aboard the ship in Ho Chi Minh City was a really great night and the ship and crew went out of their way to put on a bloody good show with food, drinks, entertainment and decorations that could not have been more appropriate for the night. Even the great firework show over the river ahead of the ship was fantastic. Overall we loved the "smaller ship" experience, the visit to ports being often more than one day, the itinerary was interesting and we would sail again with Azamara without hesitation. Read Less
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