My wife and I were looking for something special to do for our 40th Anniversary. We cruise annually to the Caribbean but wanted something more special - so we looked at a European Cruise. We originally were looking on either celebrity, ... Read More
My wife and I were looking for something special to do for our 40th Anniversary. We cruise annually to the Caribbean but wanted something more special - so we looked at a European Cruise. We originally were looking on either celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean or Holland America but because we had a very limited window when we could travel, we expanded the search and found this cruise. We were first attracted by the itinerary but then became intrigued with the idea of cruising on a small ship. In addition, because this was a Tuesday - Tuesday cruise, we decided to spend the previous Thursday thru Monday in Paris, fly to Athens monday night, pick up the cruise Tuesday and after the cruise was over, stayed in Athens for 3 more days.
The initial cost of the cruise was higher than we are used to paying but after factoring in all that is included, beverages, gratuities etc - it wasn't quite so bad.
Embarkation - We had a taxi take us to the port the afternoon of the cruise and was on the ship with a drink in hand in about 15-20 minutes. Smoothest embarkation ever.
Because this was our first small ship, we decided to explore the ship before our cabin was ready. Truthfully, it felt more like a boutique hotel than a cruise ship. Just 4 elevators on board - 2 fore and 2 aft but never had to wait!
Our cabin was nice. The bed and pillows were the best we have had at sea. Unfortunately, the bathroom was the worst - that said we did not let it ruin our trip.
I said the little things all add up and they truly do. On larger ships, when you eat at a buffet, you get your food, take it to your table and then go back for water, tea or juice. Not here! Here you get your food, go to your table and a server comes around and asks you what you would like to drink. Soft drinks, wine, rail drinks - all included. Maybe even better yet, the soft drinks are served in real glasses - not the plastic kiddie cups on other ships.
The food on the ship was excellent, although we only ate in the main dining room once. The first night was a seafood buffet which was excellent. Alaskan crab legs on the buffet - not only that, the shells were already sliced open so all you had to do was take the meat out. Again a little thing that felt special.
Overall the food at the breakfast buffet was very good. The variety was more than enough that i could not imagine anyone not finding something they would enjoy.
We were in a different port every day so most days we ate lunch off the ship. A couple of days we came back and ate at The Patio. Again, the little things - you actually place your order with someone at the counter and go to your seat. They then bring you the food and drink when the food is ready. They also served dinner here as well and one night had grilled filet mignon on the menu.
We ate twice in Prime C and once in Aqualina. Prime C was a good meal both times. Although you better like meat because if someone in the party doesn't, there is very little to choose from. Aqualina was a very good meal as well. Overall I believe the meals in the specialty restaurants were well worth the money. We bought a package which was $70 per person for 3 meals. Not unreasonable at all. Service at both was excellent.
The one night we ate dinner in the main dining room, the service and food were both very good. However, one of the reasons we decided to eat 3 times in the specialty restaurants was that we didn't feel there was a great selection or variety in the main dining room.
The White Night party was so much fun. The food was excellent and it was fun to see the two charcoal kettle grills being loaded up over and over again with good sized lobster tails! The band played and between the great music, great food and a beautiful evening - it was a fantastic event!
The Az-amazing evening was in Crete and at first we were a little concerned as the entertainment was a pianist. My wife and I love music as much as the next person but we are not big on classical music and incorrectly assumed that was what he was going to play. WRONG! First, let me say getting to and from the venue could not have been smoother. They had to have at least 15 or 16 full sized motor coaches but all was well organized with no issues or confusion. The venue was gorgeous. Outdoors and on the water. They passed wine and champagne as well as plenty of hors d'oeuvres. THe pianist played a variety of tunes and the dancers toward the end were very entertaining as well. It was fun watching the artist Corrine Fallone work her magic and paint a piece during the concert. I wish we could have purchased it but someone else got it before we could decide. The fireworks at the end capped off a perfect evening.
Excursions - normally we only use private excursions when we cruise as we do not like large group tours. Azamara told me they limit their tours to no more than 20 - 25 people. We decided that we would use Azamara tours everywhere except for Santorini. The Azamara tours, like everything else - were top notch, well organized and extremely informative. I am very happy we took them and would not hesitate to do so again. In Santorini, we went with a private driver because none of the ship's excursions covered all we wanted to do. Besides it was our anniversary and we figured we would splurge a bit.
Overall, I believe I have been spoiled by all of the little things I mentioned and many more that i haven't. My wife and I have a 10 night Caribbean cruise in January with Holland America and an Alaska Cruise with Princess in July - I am definitely looking forward to them but I will very much miss all of the little things that Azamara does to make your time with them feel special.
We HIGHLY recommend you consider Azamara if you are looking for that something special the big ships can't and don't give you. I know when we plan our cruise(s) for 2019, we will look to see what Azamara has first! Read Less