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6 Azamara Los Angeles Cruise Reviews

In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try ... Read More
In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try harder to exceed your expectations. We took this cruise because it was my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday and Tahiti has been on her bucket list since she was a child. We’ve been looking for a good itinerary to visit Tahiti and this cruise through Hawaii fit the bill. ----- Ship Review ----- Embarkation. Standard and quick. The only delay was waiting for a wheelchair for my mother-in-law to board the ship. We waited over 20 minutes and another couple tried to walk in after waiting 30 minutes. It really took much longer than it should have and was not a good first impression of ship services. As we were boarding the ship about 1230 the announcement was made that the cabins were available, so that allowed us to drop luggage in our cabin and go to lunch. There was a table at the entrance to the buffet to buy multi-night packages and make reservations at Prime C or Aqualina. Service. Not quite as impressive as our last cruise on Azamara 12 years ago, it was a bit of a mixed bag this time. Some waiters seemed particularly eager to serve. Others were less enthusiastic. We were surprised by the lack of a “can do” attitude from room service and also surprised (as in woken up from a deep sleep) when they showed up 30 minutes early for breakfast (EVERY TIME). All room service waiters just dropped the trays on our table and ran. No attempt was ever made to set the table or inventory the food. Perhaps they were just extremely busy, but it was a shocking lack of service compared with the apparent standard for this ship. Our room steward was adequate, but not impressive. (As we were packing at the end of the cruise and checking to make sure we didn’t leave anything, we found an old pair of somebody else’s underwear behind the nightstand.) Clientele. 80% have cruised Azamara before. 200 of the almost 686 passengers were continuing on the next leg (apparently a record). Over 90 Cruise Critic members aboard. Azamara prides itself on listening to customer feedback and that breeds high loyalty. The length of this cruise was not well suited for those still working, so the crowd was quite senior. I think we only saw two children onboard. Captain. It is clear that Azamara is hiring captains for their personalities and technical expertise. Most have been with Azamara for years. He went out of his way to be involved with guests and anything important happening on the ship. The two most outstanding captains we’ve ever experienced were both masters of the Azamara Journey. Cruise Director. We started with Eric and he was fantastic—in a league of his own. His show was spectacular and filled the theater to maximum capacity. He’s a hard act to follow, but he left mid-cruise for vacation. Danny took over and while he did a fine job, the cruise just wasn’t quite the same after that. Hotel Director. Heike was very involved, especially with serving during special events. I enjoyed her presentation during a sea day. While I believe she is doing a good job, her enthusiasm isn’t filtering down like it should. The service doesn’t quite have the sparkle I thought it would. Entertainment. The show lounge is quite small, so that limits the entertainment options. However, it was very good for small ship entertainment fare—guest singers, comedians, small production cast, etc. The tango show was outstanding. Food. This is the category where Azamara really excelled this cruise. They said their food budget was higher than anything else in the RCCL fleet and it shows. We were very impressed with the overall food quality. The main dining room has local and chef specials every night that adds variety to the otherwise standard rotation of menu items. We have critiqued many ships for not having local specialties. Azamara is the only line we’ve sailed that has been responsive to that customer request. Our four experiences at the specialty restaurants were excellent, but we had friends who were less impressed with their steaks in Prime C. I have mixed feelings about charging a premium to eat in the restaurants and then providing a bill with a place to add a tip at the end of the meal. Seems like a mixed message to the guests. Here’s a tip I learned the hard way. They will give you a wine list with bottles you can buy for an extra cost, but all the house wines are also available for free if you ask. I still love the panini and smoothie bars at the buffet! The Windows evening buffet changes themes every night which provides a lot of variety. They frequently have specialty buffets with crew officers serving and they were outstanding. The Polynesian dinner buffet and German lunch buffet were especially well done. They also had a late night chocolate buffet in the midship lounge area that was quite impressive and very well attended! Dress code. Every night was “country club casual.” Wear what you would wear to a nice restaurant and you’ll be fine. My wife actually saw the dress code being enforced on a few occasions, which makes it nicer for everybody. You might want to dress up slightly for the specialty restaurants—many people do. Internet. Like most ship-based internet, it was slow and expensive. I usually burned up more than 10 minutes every time I wanted to sync just two email accounts. Unlimited package pricing was outrageous. I had some free minutes because of our status and used cell phone connectivity while at the ports in Hawaii. Here’s another tip. The price of the unlimited package is per day, so wait until the last possible day to sign up. Expend all your free minutes first. With 50% off (due to our status), I got the unlimited package for only $69 for the last 9 days of the cruise. Photographic services. Available, but not in your face—except at the premium restaurants, where they really want to “capture that special moment” for you. I bought a USB with the destination photos and a video of the AzAmazing evening. The photos were not that professional and they never had a chance to produce the White Night video. Ship Décor. We love the classic R-class styling. We’ve been on many R-class ships by now, so this feels like home. It could really use some updating and time in dry dock that it will get this fall. Fitness Center. Pretty good for a small ship. Gift Shop selection. Why does everybody think a ship is the place to buy jewelry? I don’t get it. I’d rather have a much better selection of branded merchandise that can only be purchased aboard to remember my cruise. Special Events. This review would not be complete if I didn’t take time to mention some of the special events that set Azamara above their competition. We saw something like an AzAmazing Evening with Regent, but the 40’s themed night at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum was much better executed than anything we’ve seen before. Azamara’s signature deck party “white nights” was in Bora Bora. Unfortunately, we missed all but the show because we had reservations in Prime C. The Polynesian cultural show was fantastic and it was a wonderful event until the skies opened up and soaked almost everybody. Crossing the equator celebration was fun and well done. All inclusive? I need to spend a few lines to discuss this issue because it is a source of great confusion among guests. “No tipping?” What were people doing tipping their waiters at dinner last night? Sometimes drinks are included, but the beer at the German buffet was an extra charge. How much? Don’t know. Didn’t see a price posted or on the ticket I signed. There are two levels of wine packages and two levels of spirits packages, but some of both are included, particularly at some events. There is a priced menu of drinks at the shows. Two thirds through the cruise I was told by a friend that there is a back page of the menu that has all the complementary drinks listed. It’s a fairly comprehensive list—I just wish I had known about it sooner. Thank goodness all sodas and sparkling water are included. Well, to be more precise, Costco brand and Mexican sparkling water were included. Perrier and Pellegrino are both extra. While we enjoy wine with dinner, we are not big drinkers. When I heard Azamara made a change to their “all-inclusive” policy to include tips and wine with dinner, I liked the concept. It appeared to match our needs to have wine included with dinner (even if it is a limited selection), while charging for other alcohol, but the implementation seems very schizophrenic. How do you keep track of what is or is not included? Critiques. We got an early cruise feedback form for us to identify any issues we saw so they could be fixed immediately, instead of waiting for the end-of-cruise feedback. About midway through the cruise we filled out the form to identify service issues in the observation lounge. We got a phone call and personal visit about the issues we observed and they were fixed the very next day. Azamara is trying to be resource conscious, so they send a link to an online critique rating form instead of giving you the traditional paper survey. Head’s up. That link expires in one week! When we finally got time to sit down and do the survey after we got home, the link had already expired by a few days. That’s unfortunate because we really wanted to recognize a couple of waiters that were going above and beyond. I completely understand what they are trying to do by keeping everything electronic. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to provide our feedback. In summary, we enjoyed this cruise. We always enjoy the ambiance of R-Class ships. Based on our previous experience with Azamara, we had very high expectations. I think the cruise leadership was doing everything they could to meet those expectations and were very responsive to guest input. However, not everyone on the crew was as enthusiastic about their job so we were not as AzAmazed as we expected we would be. ----- Port Calls ----- Azamara prides itself on being port intensive, but that wasn’t exactly true for this cruise because it was more about repositioning toward Australia. We spent 11 of our 18 days at sea crossing the Pacific. I’m not going to try to review the individual ports or offerings. I’ll try to keep my comments more generic. Azamara has two critical things I look for from high end cruise lines during port calls--shuttle busses to downtown areas of interest and local experts onboard in port who provide maps and ideas about what to see if you want to explore on your own. Sometimes you don’t want to spend a fortune on shore excursions to see a port. I like having the low cost option and flexibility to come and go as you please. I also like to see water, juice, and cold towel stations on the dock (tender or port). We may have missed them, but those services were available at some, but not all, port calls. Some of the shore excursions were expensive and others were just outrageous! Arrangements for private vehicles at over a thousand dollars for a few hours just seems absurd to me. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out ... Read More
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out of LA, high winds and high seas, but on the whole Journey handled it well, even if sleeping was somewhat like dozing off on a roller coaster. The staff are really friendly, officers stop and chat, waiters go the extra mile and stewards keep the cabins ship shape. Staterooms are on the small size compared to other ships we have been on, especially the shower/WC. Bedding is excellent. There is no theatre so evening entertainment is in the cabaret lounge and therefore very much “up close”. Band was great, singers and dancers - excellent, cruise director and assistant, both of whom performed solo evenings were first class. (Eric left is in Hawaii leaving Danny and Emily to run the show). The guest speaker, Dr. Jay was fantastic, so interesting and making his subjects so accessible. The weather in Hawaii was not kind to us, a lot of rain. A number of sea days were also wet so one had to make the most of the interior spaces which despite this never seemed very crowded. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our third trip through the Panama Canal and we enjoyed it as much as our first two. We had been to many of the ports on this itinerary before, so we picked this cruise for the ship - we love the R Class ships. We sailed many ... Read More
This was our third trip through the Panama Canal and we enjoyed it as much as our first two. We had been to many of the ports on this itinerary before, so we picked this cruise for the ship - we love the R Class ships. We sailed many times on Renaissance - it was our favorite line. We have followed the dispersal of the 8 R Class ships after the line filed for bankruptcy (Oceania has 4, Azamara has 2, Princess has 1 and Fathom has 1, going to Cuba) We are both in our 60s and love sea days. We don't pick cruises for the entertainment or even the ports at this point. We never do the ship's land excursions. This was our first Azamara cruise but it won't be our last. We loved everything about this trip (except for the long lines at embarkation in LA). We tend to keep to ourselves and liked the number of tables for two available in most venues (in Main Dining Room they were extremely close to one another). The ship was extensively updated about 30 days prior to our cruise and the smell of new carpet and paint had faded. The public rooms and staterooms have new carpet and furniture. Overall the the ship is in great shape and the crew was fantastic - friendly and helpful. We originally booked a standard veranda cabin on deck 7 but changed to 7116 - an aft facing veranda with a larger balcony. We loved the view of the ships wake and had breakfast several times on our balcony. The food always arrived hot and to order. Room service even calls a few minutes before delivery - a nice touch. The cabin is small but adequate. The bed was firm and comfortable. The bathroom is tiny, with room for only one person at a time but we have experienced that before with no problems. This cabin's balcony does occasionally have particles of soot land on the table or deck depending on the wind. We also had one night of rough seas with some motion, but overall, no noticeable vibration when underway. TV reception was spotty - thank goodness! But announcements over the ship's PA do not play over the TV, so you have to open your door to hear them. The good thing is there are VERY few announcements and in only one language. Gratuities are included in the fare. Cabin attendants were very efficient and considerate but never introduced themselves. The service in the bars and around the pool was fine - not pushy- but a bit laid back in the Living Room on deck 10. We usually had to chase down a server to get a drink. We splurged a few time and upgraded our liquor choice but we were generally pleased with the included beverages. We did not spend time lying in the sun by the pool, so we cannot comment on the chair saving issues. We did enjoy walking the track on 10 and gym was very well equipped. The Library (now known as the Drawing Room) is a quiet and peaceful place to read and has quite a few books. We ate most of our meals at the buffet (Windows) even dinner where they feature a different country's cuisine each night. The grill on the pool deck has nice lunches. At night it is transformed in a sit down dining venue called the The Patio. We only ate there once but it was a very lovely setting. We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room a few times and found the food and service fine. We really enjoyed the Jazz Brunch on our last sea day headed for Miami. We did a package on the specialty restaurants - 3 nights for $20 per person each venue. We made the reservations as soon as we got on board and there was a short wait but not bad at all. The highlights were the chateaubriand in the Prime C and the lemon soufflé in the Aqualina. My wife enjoyed the bridge on the sea days and I enjoyed the lectures, especially the film critic from Canada, Rich Staehling. Azamara has a strict no smoking policy. Smoking is only permitted on the forward starboard section of the pool deck. We are non smokers and we were never bothered by the smell. Well done, Azamara! Our fellow passengers were about half Americans and the other half the rest of the world. The Azamazing Experience was held in Cabo San Lucas. We did not attend and from what we heard, the experience was not great. They tendered 600 people to buses and drove them into the desert for the show and then had to bring them all back. The last did not arrive back until after midnight. In contrast the White Night was held in Cartagena and it was huge success. The food was wonderful with lots of freshly grilled meats. They even did a wonderful Bananas Foster for dessert. We enjoyed the Columbian dancers and lots of passengers danced under the stars to the band. A really fun evening!! So to sum it up - a great trip on a great ship! We loved the all-inclusive more than we thought we would. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This cruise combined the best...departing from our home port (no airports!) and being once again on the Quest. Embarkation was easy...hardly any wait time before we received our seapass card and were welcomed on board by staff handing out ... Read More
This cruise combined the best...departing from our home port (no airports!) and being once again on the Quest. Embarkation was easy...hardly any wait time before we received our seapass card and were welcomed on board by staff handing out glasses of bubbly. Since we arrived a bit early, we headed straight to Windows for lunch. Unfortunately, lots of people had the same idea and they ran out of tables! We were prepared to eat on the loungers by the pool, but the ever efficient staff realized the problem and began bring out more tables and chairs, so we were quite happy. Our first (included) glass of wine with lunch made it perfect. By 1:30 the announcement was made that cabins were available, so we headed to Deck 7. We like this deck, sandwiched between two cabin floors and thus very quiet. Our veranda cabin was in good condition. Yes, it's small and the bathroom very very tiny, but there is plenty of well organized storage space and the beds are very comfy. We immediately met our attendants, Alvin and Osvy...they were excellent and Osvy especially always had a smile and a pleasant comment or two whenever he saw us. Before we knew it, we were called for muster drill (very easy) and then we got ready for the Meet and Mingle and dinner. There were lots of Cruise Critic members on this cruise and unfortunately, we had to leave the meeting early to meet our dinner companions. I really don't like having the Meet and Mingle on sailaway day....it's just too inconvenient, IMO. We took this cruise not for the sightseeing but to relax...and right off the bat we had two sea days! Perfect. When we arrived at Mazatlan (our first port) we were ready to go. We took a ship excursion...Concordia and Copola. It was quite good and we enjoyed a nice lunch in Concordia. The highlight was visiting a local artist in Copola (of course we had to buy something...very unique and we saw nothing like it in any other port.) La Paz was disappointing...on our ship excursion we just drove past the malecon (would have liked to walk along) and spent most of our time in the natural history museum and in a small weaving shop (didn't buy a thing) and then drove through what appeared to be the seediest part of town. Not an excursion I'd recommend. Next Topolobampo. Many of those on board took the very very long trip out to Copper Canyon. We didn't. Instead we went on a small boat to the mangroves and met the resident dolphin Pechocho...a wild dolphin who lives in a solitary state in the mangroves but who over the years has become quite tame and loves to swim up to the small boats for a belly and fin scratch. Then to a sandy beach where a tent with refreshments was set up for us. A very nice excursion. Next port Guaymas where we went ashore and walked the tiny town by ourselves. Not much to see but the townspeople had set up a little market and entertainment along the waterfront and we had fun watching and browsing the merchandise. The next stop, our favorite by far, was Loreto. We overnighted there (more on that later) and the first day went on an excursion to Coronados Island. On the way, our small panga (which held three couples and the operator) diverted to see hundreds of dolphins just a few feet from our boat. Then, just a few yards away an enormous Blue Whale surfaced. Wow! Absolutely awe inspiring and a bit scary, given the difference in size between the whale and our tiny boat! After that we went to the island itself and had a nature walk and snack and those brave souls (the water was still pretty cold at this time of year) who wanted to snorkeled. I waded into the water by some rocks and looked down and saw plenty of fish! The water was crystalline. We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. On the second day in Loreto we met some friends who have retired there and they showed us around town and we ate at a local restaurant. Loreto is a delightful place and one I'd love to visit again. Our last port was Cabo San Lucas. Very pretty but very very commercialized and street vendors stop you every few feet hawking souvenirs and excursions. After the hustle and bustle of Cabo, we were glad to have two more sea days on the way home to Los Angeles. Disembarkation was just as easy as embarkation, but not as much fun! Now a few things about the Quest. The new captain, Jose, is incredible. So personable and seemed to be everywhere at once! His noon time comments were fun and he even rescued one of the passengers on a snorkeling excursion. We heard that the water was cold and there was a strong current and the gentleman was having some difficulty swimming back to the boat...so Capt. Jose, who had gone on the excursion, swam over and helped the passenger back. We very much hope to cruise with this captain again...he was the best! All the rest of the staff were wonderful, as usual. Russ was his usual exuberant self and Phillip, the hotel director, as always friendly and helpful. Max Difaz, the pianist, was in great form and we enjoyed getting to know him a little better on this cruise. We were very lucky to find the perfect waiters in Discoveries on our first night and we made sure we ate with them every night after that (except for the White Night and one night in Aqualina)...kudos to Robert and Newman...charming, fun, and very attentive. On our night in Aqualina (the food was every bit as good as we remembered) we asked to be seated in John's station...we had met him on our first Quest cruise and he is terrific. My only "complaint" was that he kept bring us extra food...he wanted us to try everything...we were completely over stuffed by the time the dinner was finished. Food across the venues, Discoveries, Windows, the Pool Grill, and Aqualina (we didn't eat in Prime C this time) was very very good. The chef has a wonderful way with fish and I had the "healthy choice" almost every evening. My husband loves pasta and these too were excellent. Usually at the pool grill, we'll eat burgers, but this cruise I decided to try the blackened fish Panini....sooooo good. We had a couple of special nights on this cruise. Super Bowl Sunday was celebrated in the Cabaret. Staff had decorated with team color balloons (Seattle on one side and Denver on the other)...there were themed ice and watermelon carvings, and so much food. Sliders, hot dogs, bbq ribs, chicken fingers, side salads, and a huge bowl of popcorn. Russ was making ice cream sundaes too! We ate so much we didn't need to go to dinner that night. (And did I mention drinks? Beer, wine, cocktails, etc.) The only downside was that we were getting ESPN feed and so we didn't see the commercials...also, the satellite went out right at half time so we didn't get to see most of the halftime show! The second special night was the White Night which was held on our overnight in Loreto. Local dancers came on board and performed...there was an excellent pool side bbq (Phillip was making crepes suzette...soooo yummy)...lots of cocktails and wine...and then dancing! Lots of fun. The third special night was the Azamazing evening held in Cabo. Unfortunately, not so amazing. The original venue (Wirikuta Gardens) was changed at the last minute which was disappointing. The logistics of getting us all off the ship and to the venue was handled efficiently but felt like a cattle drive! The show itself was, IMO, very mediocre and cheesy. However the fireworks at the end were spectacular. Food consisted of sweets and cookies which, while nice, weren't the "local delicacies" promised. A few vendors had set up tables to one side but a quick look and we were done...the prices were astronomical compared to what we'd seen in town. As soon as the show was over, we were herded back to the ship. Azamara really needs to reconsider the entire Azamazing Evening promotion. In some ports and with some entertainment it could be lovely but some ports just don't lend themselves to this and it's especially disappointing when it is hyped so much and then doesn't live up to folks' expectations. Now to on board entertainment. I have to say this cruise was the worst of the ones we've done on Azamara. The quality of singers and dancers was not as good as on past cruises. We had a violin duo one night and after listening for a few minutes, I walked out. There was a pianist/magician (strange combo) who was just okay...Max was much better! They did bring on a comedian our last night on board who was very funny...the best show. But that was it for entertainment. Disappointing. On the other hand, there were two enrichment lecturers who were outstanding. One, Jay Christofferson, was a professor in marine biology. He gave four lectures which were absolutely terrific. Another lecturer was a cultural anthropologist...we made it to one of his lectures and it was very well done. Now, a note about the new "more inclusive" policy on beverages. We had been quite happy on past cruises with the included wine at lunch and dinner. But we did take advantage of the new policy and had cocktails out by the pool and before dinner. Very enjoyable. The wines were uniformly good and our waiters were quick to find a special favorite we'd had the previous night and bring it out to us again. On this cruise we used the jogging track every morning and it was nice to be up early and walking. Nice touch having orange and grapefruit ice water available (and towels too) A couple of mornings, though, we were diverted by whales spouting and breeching...easy to see from Deck 10. I also went for a spa treatment (they were running specials all the time) and had a very relaxing massage and facial. A bit of a sales pitch for the products but not too bad and the spa itself was very nice and Chloe, the therapist, excellent. In summary, another wonderful cruise on Azamara. Can't wait to be back on board again.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and ... Read More
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and greatly enjoyed, pre-all inclusive). We love the small ship format, we were specifically interested in this particular itinerary (which included Mexico's Copper Canyon)...and, as Celebrity loyalists, we wanted to see what our status would bring us on Azamara. The Canyon was the big draw for us in the beginning. We have done the Mexican Riviera to death, but this itinerary offered the lovely small ports of the Sea of Cortez - and the Copper Canyon. Party-hearty survivors of Puerto Vallarta need not have signed up for this cruise. Embarkation in San Pedro was a breeze. The Azamara Quest was the only ship in port that day. We had forgotten the convenience of a smaller ship; the check-in lines were minimal, to say the least. Our key cards identified us as "Discoverer" - top-of-the-line status on this line, but that was to change (more below). One of the first crew members to greet us on the way up the gangway was Jose, the Captain. This would not be our first encounter with him. We were greeted on the main deck with sparkling wine and cranberry juice, and a bit of a wait - the cabins were not quite ready. Fortunately we were given a running commentary about the room status and after a while, coupled with more trips to the champagne tray, the stampede began to the rooms. For us, the National Affairs Suite turned out to be Cabin 6030, one of the last available rooms. It was off the forward elevators and stairs. It is one of the tender cabins, meaning the size of the cabin has been compressed to accommodate the ship's tenders in their davits, and views are obstructed. The bright side of our room was that it overlooked the smaller crew launch boat and we actually had a decent view out the window. The other side of the room? Thunk. Thunk. Slam. This room is directly above the doorway leading out to the boat deck on level 5. When the doors shut on a calm day, a "thunk" is definitely noticeable. When they shut on a sea day and the winds are up, the "slam" is much more pronounced. The noise was especially pronounced upon entering and leaving port as guests go to the rails, and when the crew puts out the deck chair cushions and towels at sunrise and collects them at sunset. We tried not to notice the noise after a while. It is a very narrow room; just enough space for the bed, closets, and a desk and cabinet. The only chair in the room is a stool, which made our decision to skip room service a lot easier. In the room was a missive welcoming us as Discoverer members in Le Club Voyage, containing special events planned "exclusively" for us as top-tier members (thank you, Celebrity). The perks included the LCV cocktail party, a champagne brunch hosted by staff, and - 235 free Internet minutes per guest. Whee! There was also a coupon good for a free bag of laundry. We usually tour a vessel prior to the boat drill. With the Quest, we saw everything in 20 minutes. I was always intrigued by the old Renaissance Cruises ships. This ship, and its sister the Journey, aren't getting any younger. They do have a dated look to them. But they are kept in very good condition. Dining: we ate in all venues. The Discoveries dining room is LOUD. If I could change the font to make "LOUD" bigger, I would. It is especially noisy toward the center. The least noisy part of the restaurant was near the entrance, where the hostess did her very best to maintain her cool against some terribly snobby customers: "we've been waiting for *two* minutes!" "what do you mean, we can't get our *regular* table?!" People, you're on VACATION - take a chill pill! Or enjoy a free martini from the nearby Discoveries Lounge bar. About those free martinis: Azamara is sort of semi-inclusive in offering a selection of free wines with lunch and dinner, and free beer and cocktails from the bars. As long as you're happy with Bud and Becks instead of Corona and a well vodka instead of Ciroc or Grey Goose, you'll do perfectly fine on Azamara. The bar menus detail what costs what...and what doesn't cost anything. We passed on the "specialty" alcohol packages that ranged between $16-19 bucks daily. The food in Discoveries was much better than anticipated - a varied selection every night, prepared well. The bread and desserts were the only weak parts. I thought the complimentary wines were mostly so-so - but I couldn't argue about the price, right? We ate in Aqualina, the Mediterranean specialty restaurant and in Prime C, the specialty steakhouse, once during our cruise. Aqualina was an exceptional dining experience for the $25 per person fee. I really liked my osso bucco. The Missus enjoyed the seafood platter. The experience in Prime C was a bit more mixed. The seafood appetizer was excellent, as was the filet. I should have ordered the NY strip a bit rarer than my usual "medium". The service in C felt slightly off. The pool grill offered a wide variety of specialties, more than most poolside eateries on other ships. The coffee bar on board, Mosaic Cafe, features the not-so-fee-friendly Nespresso system. But you could go up to the counter and order your standard non-Nespresso coffee drink, and the friendly staff will whip them up in a flash for you. One of our favorite gathering places on the Quest. A number of specialty pool buffets were set up during the cruise. One of them was hosted by the ship's officers, who dished out the chow - including an entire roast pig. The Missus asked the officer in charge of the pig, "how did you keep this pig below decks?" The officer replied, "he had his own little house downstairs, and his own little garden. He was pretty happy - until this morning..." Azamara officers are not without a droll sense of humor. In fact, we liked how the crew interacted with the passengers, from the captain on down. Captain Jose issued, almost without fail, his "Voice from the Bridge" - a noontime soliloquy that usually ran between 8-10 minutes, detailing everything from the location of sister ship Journey, the distance to his home in Portugal, and literally everything in between - spoken with an extremely straight face. There was rarely a time when we didn't see him at some event on board the Quest, and even on shore. He brought a certain humanity to his job. We enjoyed how the singers, dancers and musicians engaged with passengers at events, especially the "White Night" event. Tours: We only took a couple of ship tours. But one was the Copper Canyon, and that would be enough for any cruise. The CC canyon was *long* - one of the longest ship's tours I've taken in my life. Off the boat and on the bus at 5 AM. Nearly two hours to the train. Six hours by train to the lookout and hotel for lunch. Six hours back on the train, during which time darkness fell and there was nothing to look at. Another hour and a half on the bus. We spent a little under two hours on site, some of which was taken up by lunch and a folk show by the local Indians, and the rest of that time spent wandering around the lookout trying not to fall over the canyon's edge while being besieged by Indian souvenir vendors. Were we to do this again, we'd spend the night at the canyon and make it a two-day trip. A single day just killed us. That night, we returned to the port where a huge party was in full swing. The people of Topolobampo put on a big fiesta right on the dock, with a live band and a dance floor. We learned that the crew joined the mix and encouraged passengers to come on down and support the town's efforts. We received a similar welcome the next day in Guaymas, where there was almost non-stop entertainment at dockside and young volunteers wore t-shirts saying, "may I help you?" The "Azamazing Evening" in Cabo was a little underwhelming. The show felt really hokey, though the fireworks at the end were awesome. I would imagine the "Evenings" in Europe probably have more material to work with to make them more interesting. But I give Azamara props for getting a great proportion of the guests off the ship onto the tenders and buses and bringing them back in one piece. The SWAG we received - little handicrafts and tequila miniatures - was a really neat treat. Overall: The Quest: an aging ship without the bells and whistles of more modern ships. A curse, but perhaps also a blessing. There are cruises where we mostly don't need a lot of visual / aural stimulation. Public passageways could be a little tight, especially when bad weather drove everyone indoors from the pool deck. The area around the photo kiosk and shops is often cramped due to the presence of sale tables, which restricted passenger flow. The crew: very engaging, for the most part. I experienced no special Azamara "moments" with them but thought many of them made a solid effort to ensure we felt at home on board. The facilities: only one small swimming pool. The Quest offers a thalassotherapy pool as part of its spa services, but we passed on purchasing a day pass. On Celebrity, that pool is free to all to use. The Quest's spa pool is no more than a glorified hot tub in size. The Cabaret Lounge is the ship's multi-purpose facility for shows, lectures, bingo - and the special Super Bowl party held during this cruise. As a Niners fan, I had no dog in this particular fight...but that didn't stop me from doing drive-by munching on the party's food tables. As a theater venue, the sight lines are really poor, especially in the back. The Casino wasn't exactly packed during this cruise. The usual slots and blackjack junkies. C-Prime was reminiscent of your upscale American steak house - lots of black/white photos of American pop culture. Aqualina had a vaguely European feel to it. The shows: We didn't think much of the special guests brought on board as nightly entertainment. A couple of the musical shows were really done well. I had not seen the "Voices" show on any other ship and thought this was the best of the cruise. Cruise Director: Russ Grieve is the Best. Cruise. Director. Ever. He sings! He dances! He makes great waffles (during his stint at a LCV officers brunch)! Extremely outgoing. Most cruise directors are rather standoffish but Russ really made an effort to reach out to the guests and made them feel welcome. FItness center: collection of treadmills, ellipticals, strength machines and free weights. It is relatively small compared to larger ships and you might have to wait for a treadmill during some sea day mornings. A full range of exercise classes is offered. Quite a few people use the jogging/walking track above the pool deck. 13 laps on that track equals a nautical mile. Children's facilities: none that I could see. No children's programs were listed in the daily newsletter and there weren't any kids on this cruise. The itinerary: A Mexican cruise, but not the usual Rivera Shuffle (Cabo-Vallarta-Mazatlan). We saw a lot of the lovely little port towns along the Sea of Cortez. Been to most of them before, but liked them all. The tours: Other than Copper Canyon and a Sierra Madre trip out of Mazatlan, we really weren't interested in seeing anything. We were happy to bum around the port towns, especially Loreto and Guaymas. A pity Cruise Critic doesn't list these ports on its drop-down menu. I would be happy to write about them. Le Club Voyage: a number of events for past passengers, including a brunch in Aqualina and the usual LCV passengers event in the Lounge. The Aqualina brunch was nice. The passengers event was nothing special - except when the LCV representative tried to explain the "new" expanded status levels. Discoverer was the top level. She explained this would be surpassed by two new "super" levels - but was at a loss to explain whether, at those new levels, your treatment would be anything different or better than Discoverer. The changes were apparently so new that even the LCV rep was still trying to figure it all out. Would we sail on Azamara again? Perhaps. The itineraries are really interesting and we like the small ship experience. But Azamara's bread-and-butter is its European and Mediterranean cruises - a little far to travel, for us. Azamara won't tear us away from Celebrity and Crystal. It does, however, give us another cruising option. This was one of the nicer cruising experiences I've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
When we first heard about Azamara, it was on Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. We have booked passage on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Holland America, so we know the general drill and what to expect. ... Read More
When we first heard about Azamara, it was on Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. We have booked passage on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Holland America, so we know the general drill and what to expect. The lure of a more upscale line was just what we were looking for, but were disappointed that we just did not find it in Azamara. We had an ocean view cabin right near Guest Relations on Deck 4, which was a great location and a tremendous value. We purchased the optional spa deck package for $175 + 18% service charge and found that to be a much better way to go than booking a balcony stateroom. The balconies are very small relative to other lines, and in my opinion, not worth the money. Here is What Worked in Favor of Azamara' "Luxury" Spin: Zippered tote bag, binoculars and umbrella in our stateroom were a wonderful touch: especially for a Panama Canal cruise. The tote bag was ours to keep. The bathrobes and towels are a higher quality than other ships. I am a steak girl, and thought I would favor the specialty steak house (Prime C) over the more seafood oriented Aqualina, but I really enjoyed the ambiance in Aqualina more. Also, you can order food from one specialty restaurant (I preferred Prime C's fondue for dessert) and enjoy it with your friends in Aqualina. The Windows Cafe is fantastic for breakfast and Dinner, too! Huge assortment of breakfast food including made to order omelettes, waffles, pancakes, smoothie shakes etc. Also an impressive offering of herring, salmon, bacon, sausage as well as breads and pastries. For dinner, the cafe rotated its made to order offerings: including stir-fry (my personal favorite), pasta, and international themes such as Indian and Greek. We really enjoyed being able to swim and throw on a cover-up and have dinner on the back deck at night. We never waited for a table in the Discoveries restaurant, and you could go to the restaurant any time, with a number of people or just the two of you. The veal was an excellent choice. Loved the coffee: it was strong and fresh! The Captain kept us informed of a delayed arrival time in Aruba caused by rough seas when we entered the Caribbean from the Pacific Ocean. He also explained that, because there were guests that had flights from Miami the morning we disembarked, we could not extend our stay in Aruba. The Guest Relations Desk handled special requests really well. The shows were well-done. The Twisted TV is not to be missed. We found the caliber of the dancers to be better than on other lines. Magician and comedian were also enjoyable: Eric's "how-it's-done" regarding card tricks was my favorite shipboard activity The Cruise Director said it best: "You either like me, or you don't." We really enjoyed her. She is also a talented performer. Her show at the Cabaret is not to be missed. Contrary to other postings, I found that the absence of hovering by bar staff at the pool to be enjoyable. If you patronize them enough, they will find you. LOVED the limited smoking area. LOVED having only 2 little girls on board: though the parents are typically more of an annoyance than the children... The virtual bowling and duck hunting tournaments ala the Wii were great fun. The crew was a little more mature and ALWAYS very polite and helpful Here is what fell short of Azamara's "Luxury" Marketing Spin: 18% Service charge tacked on to Spa Deck was not warranted: Guests often left towels on chairs, and no one attended to it like the main pool area. Adding a service charge implies that there will be a level of service provided. Would have enjoyed a broader variety of excursions: ports offering mainly 6 - 9 hour "best of" bus rides should be offset with more exotic offerings (such as the Swim with the Dolphins in Acapulco. In general, the shore excursion desk staff had limited knowledge of ports and activities. The maps for each port were not to scale and lacked a basic "you are here" moniker. The shops were very limited, as many small ships are, but to not be able to offer postcards from each of the ports of call was disappointing. The enrichment lecturer was dreadful. Dry and monotonous, with a poorly designed PPT presentation. They only thing he enriched for me, was a nap... The "Butler" was really just a cabin steward in a nicer outfit. In listing these likes and dislikes, the cruise really was more enjoyable than disappointing. Azamara, by hyping itself as a "luxury" line, subsequently sets the bar higher, raising the stakes for criticism. Overall, we prefer the smaller ships to the larger mass-market vessels. Bottom line: we would book passage on them again if we found another great deal. P.S. Marty, stop lurking and post one of your own! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
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