What a disappointment
We just got back from our first and most likely last Azamara cruise – a 15-night NYE in Rio voyage. We traveled in a Club Continent Suite. My experience on Azamara was so disappointing, that I’m compelled to ... Read More
What a disappointment
We just got back from our first and most likely last Azamara cruise – a 15-night NYE in Rio voyage. We traveled in a Club Continent Suite. My experience on Azamara was so disappointing, that I’m compelled to write this review. This is my first review on cruisecritic, though I’ve read hundreds of reviews to help with the dozen or so cruises we’ve been on in the past few years on Celebrity, Oceania, and Viking.
I’m going to take each main experience area in turn, starting with the positive.
Overall experience was smooth for the most part. Though we were surprised there wasn’t a line dedicated for Suite guests, as is the case with other cruise lines we’ve traveled on.
We were fortunate enough to be able to travel in a Club Continent Suite. The room itself is roomy, with over 300 sq feet. The décor is modern and inviting. Lots of closet space. The bathroom and walk-in shower were great. Lots of room and storage. The veranda was as long as the room, but fairly narrow. Just enough width for the 2-seater table and a little leg room once you’ve sat on the individual seater situated on the veranda.
This was one of the most disappointing of the elements.
We ate at the buffet for most breakfasts and lunches. The food served were the basics ( egg station, cheese and charcuterie station, one carving option, sandwiches etc..). No imagination, no creativity, and for the first few days, very little was seasoned.
For dinner, we ate the specialty restaurants since we had that as a benefit for being in a Suite. The menu never changed, and after the first few dinners, there was little left on the menu that we wanted to try. What we ate was fine. But nothing to write home about. And, somewhat meager and plain for a specialty restaurant compared to what we ate on Oceania, Viking, and even Celebrity.
This was another major downer. Tony Markey, the Cruise Director, and his wife were the headliners for several of the shows. Overshadowing, in our opinion, the four very talented “Signature Singers” who only got to perform 4 or 5 of the 15 nights. The same for the Vegas performer, Tony Arias, who was relegated to only performing 2 out of his 10-night stay on the boat. So odd. So much talent on the boat, and yet we were relegated to Tony, his wife and a string trio that sang the same 10 songs 2x a day for 15 days.
The other odd experience was NYE night itself. It seems they combined the “White Party” and NYE celebration, instead of two sperate parties on two separate nights. The party itself was very well organized, and finally some good, higher quality food. However, the moment the clock struck midnight the party ended. No Auld lang syen. Nothing. Everyone looked around wondering if, in fact, the party was over at precisely midnight. Especially since the cruise was billed as an NYE celebratory cruise!
Suite Value for Money
We paid a handsome sum to travel in a Club Continent Suite. The room itself was lovely. However, apart from the ability to eat at the two specialty restaurants, that for all intents and purposes served up basic food, there were few other standout benefits. In fact, even with a Suite stay and an upgraded Premium drinks package, we were still only served the very basic brand of bottled water given free to every passenger, plus no additional or premium wine selections beyond what every other guest gets. We found that incredible that even the combo of a Suite plus Premium drinks package couldn’t get us a glass of Evian water or a better choice of wine beyond the sub $10 bottles they were serving.
The other Suite benefit that seems interesting on paper, but not in reality, was a Tea service provided each day at around 3 pm. The trouble with this benefit is that they were basically serving the same mini sandwiches and scones found at the café, and only provided a cup of tea.
We found the higher the ranking, the less friendly or approachable they were. This not only included Tony and his assistant Cruise Director Lee, who had a hard time pronounces many of the ports we visited and proudly stated on one of the awkwardly embarrassing mornings shows that he’d prefer to spend time at the “London Zoo” than visit the wildlife found in the South Atlantic, but the other senior staff that many times just looked stern and not very friendly.
On the opposite spectrum were our incredible Butler, Padem, and the other attendants on the 8th floor. As well as the staff in all the restaurants and cafés, particularly Vadym who managed to remember our names after only just a few days. True gem.
We were sent a questionnaire about 4 days into the cruise to provide any feedback that could be addressed during the cruise. We shared detailed feedback regarding several areas where there was an opportunity for improvement. The first was the Entertainment. A few hours later, Tony, to his credit, called my husband to let him know that he wasn’t monopolizing the entertainment, the exact word my husband used in the feedback form and that we’d see improved entertainment. This never happened.
We also lamented the fact that even though the Sanctum, in the Spa, was billed as 16 years old plus only environment, on every day we visited there were a few pre-teens in attendance. They were also in the adults only gym, and sauna/steam room. And you could even find infants on the dance floor post 10 pm at night. We realize this was a holiday cruise, but there was no regard to what is stated policy.
We were so disappointed with the cruise and all the various elements that when we got to our final port, Punta del Este, we were so depressed at the thought of spending the last two nights on the boat that we decided to give up our Suite and leave the boat early so we could at least explore a town that seemed very interesting. This forced us to spend additional money on a hotel room for two nights and a flight from Punta back to Buenos Aires, where the cruise originated and where we had already paid for a flight back home. Despite the additional expense, we were happy to have thoroughly enjoyed the last two night of our vacation, and off the Pursuit. Read Less