We love days at sea and we love the smaller ship experience. It had been almost 10 years since we were last on Azamara Quest and we leapt at the opportunity to do another transatlantic on the ship. Azamara didn't disappoint. The ... Read More
We love days at sea and we love the smaller ship experience. It had been almost 10 years since we were last on Azamara Quest and we leapt at the opportunity to do another transatlantic on the ship. Azamara didn't disappoint. The Quest is still beautiful and in good condition - clean and well-maintained. The staff to a person were all outstanding - cheerful, competent and eager to assist. The itinerary was a delight for us: a week at sea, a couple of ports (Ponta Delgado, Azores, Huelva, Spain, Gibraltar, UK, Tangier, Morocco), another day at sea and then an overnight in Barcelona. We were so fortunate with the weather the whole time: most days were partly sunny with temperatures in the mid-60s during the day dropping the low 50s at night. The seas were mostly calm with only small swells. We did have a couple of days when the outside deck on the 5th level was closed due to wind and/or spray. The only really rainy day was in Ponta Delgado, Azores. Other than that the weather couldn't have been better.
Embarkation in Miami was well-managed and smooth - in just a few minutes we were onboard, greeted with a glass of champagne and soon thereafter, enjoying a delightful buffet lunch. Our cabins were ready around 1:30pm.
Breakfast on our veranda is one of our major pleasures and Azamara does not charge for 24 hour room service! A phone call announced the imminent arrival of our tray - replete with a table cloth for the veranda table! Fresh squeezed orange juice and eggs benedict! It is one of the luxuries of cruising that is vital to us. From our verandah we spied flying fish, dolphins and whales on this cruise.
Azamara does not charge for basic wines (and certain mixed drinks and liqueurs) at meals or bars, or coffees at their Mosaic Café. We enjoyed the wine selections and soon found our favorites. No, these aren't the higher end wines, but were well-chosen to please most palates. Mid-afternoon cappuccinos and cookies at the Mosaic were a real treat.
Entertainment on a smaller ship is somewhat limited, but this cruise provided interesting options. A guitarist and a pianist were the entertainers in the lounges. A small complaint here: we found the times they were playing frequently conflicted with dinner or the theater. We would have preferred it if they had played more frequently and at different hours - like mid-afternoon. In the theater, the ship's singers and dancers were excellent, providing several good shows. The evening entertainment also featured a magician (we're still trying to figure out how he did several illusions), a comedian, and a Celtic singer/musician; once we stopped at our first port we added an hypnotist. We enjoyed them all immensely! The enrichment lecturers could be heard in person or in replay on the TV. Although we are not TV watchers onboard ship, there were many movies available, as well as news channels. Other activities were plentiful: art lessons, bridge, mahjong, movies in the theater, bingo, trivia. We cruised over Easter and there was even an Easter egg hunt! There was a Chaplain onboard who provided Palm Sunday and Easter interdenominational services for both the passengers and (later in the evening) the crew.
Most days we made use of the Fitness Center which was fairly well equipped with exercise machines, weights, mats, etc. We did not participate in the various fitness related "classes" available, but did see the trainer at work with another passenger. We did not use the spa.
Food on the Quest was wonderful! We found the menus to be varied and interesting; the food was well prepared and beautifully presented. We had no desire to frequent the specialty restaurants - the main dining room was more than satisfactory. We found a team of waiter and his assistant whom we enjoyed and they soon learned our likes and took great care of us.
Our previous Azamara cruise had not yet instituted "white night" - a poolside barbecue and buffet, so this was new to us. This cruise's "white night" was while we were docked in Gibraltar and it was really special. The weather was perfect - sunny, light breeze, mid-70s. With the Rock of Gibraltar as backdrop, the band played, the singers sang and the chefs barbecued lobster tails and lamb chops. There were buffet stations stir-frying shrimp or chicken and vegetables or preparing tempura. One of the officers was making his "famous" crepes Suzette for dessert. The staff paraded in, each group holding their home country's flag to the applause of the passengers. And as the passengers danced to the ship's band, the ship silently cast off and sailed into the night. Magical!
The one area this cruise disappointed us on was the information it provided us prior to docking at each port. We actually had to use a "port explorer" from our 2008 Azamara cruise for our first port - Ponta Delgado, Azores, as nothing adequate was provided before we docked. We enjoyed all the ports, exploring most of them on our own. We did, however, book a ship's excursion in Tangier, Morocco, a port we had never before been to and were just a bit nervous about wandering around on our own. The guide was excellent, the itinerary was good, and the price was acceptable for what we got.
From the person painting the railings all the way up to the captain, every staff person with whom we interacted was cheerful, helpful, competent and personable. The Captain and his officers were often around the ship, chatting with passengers.
And yes, disembarkation, though sad, was smooth. A nice breakfast buffet was provided and, at our designated time, we walked off the ship to find our luggage. At the gangway, the Captain and his officers were there to bid us farewell - a really nice touch.
We hope to be back aboard Azamara soon! Read Less