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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Chose this cruise for itinerary and Azamara name having cruised Azamara seven times before. The Pursuit celebrated its first Azamara anniversary and I’m not sure there will be a second because this ship does not measure up to the ... Read More
Chose this cruise for itinerary and Azamara name having cruised Azamara seven times before. The Pursuit celebrated its first Azamara anniversary and I’m not sure there will be a second because this ship does not measure up to the Journey or Quest in quality and service. Know for great dining selections, the Pursuits menue’s were lacking in quality — being over seasoned — and poorly prepared — over or under cooked. On this cruise, I chose the alternate menu over the daily menu several times because it lacked appeal. For the most part, the only vegetables presented were broccoli and cauliflower. Cabins in our area had a sewerage smell in the hallway. Tried to use a computer to print boarding passes in the “living” room but was unable to due to the room being used as a disco with low lighting. When asked to have lights turned on by the computers, a crew member said this request could not be done due to the way the lighting was connected in the room. Azamara’s multi-function rooms just don’t cut it. My suggestion: sacrifice a room or two and have specific card and computer rooms available 24x7. Housekeeping and other service associates were very helpful and efficient. Administrative staff was not as visable as on other Azamara cruises. Entertainment was typical cabaret style entertainment but would have enjoyed listening to the ships singers more than other entertainment. Overall, the Azamara Pursuit is a notch below its sister ships in quality and service. In June, we will be cruising on the Quest and if my review follows this review, we will be done with Azamara cruising and we are just two cruises away from our fiftieth cruise. Bottom line: when we pay for quality, we expect quality and up to now, Azamara met our requirements. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance getting our bags to the drop-off point. There was no place to drop our bags and we had to stand in line while others that used the porters were taken care of. Our bags were not delivered to our room--one was around the corner at another room and one was at the other end of the hall all by itself. Not a good start. The Pursuit is now only using the Azamara app to provide guest information unlike the TV that we have used on the other two ships. The daily Insights is still delivered everyday. The IT department assumes that all passengers are comfortable using apps and know how to use them. This is not true. There is limited info in the cabins about wi-fi and app usage. A user guide would have been appreciated. The only way to know how many wi-fi minutes have been used is to go to Guest Relations. The log-off app does not always work and minutes quickly are used. We generally liked the food but we ate mostly at The Patio. Half-way through the cruise oatmeal at breakfast in Windows was replaced with congee. Not a good choice. Frequently the food was cold as the warming plates being used did not keep the food hot. The service on The Patio is the best anywhere on the ship. We always got what we ordered and it was hot. We had lunch twice in Discovery and it was not good. The service is intolerably slow, the food selections are limited, and the food served was barely edible. Angelina's was wonderful but one pays for that. The veranda cabin is just like other Azamara ships. However, the fridge is now in a cabinet on the desk and that area gets very hot. There are also rough edges in the cabinet to skin knuckles on. Other cabinet doors are misaligned and easy to get caught on. As always, the room was well-taken care of by the room attendants. The guest lecturer for destinations was not helpful or informative. Silly asides for the first 10 minutes of the lecture are a waste of time. Some of the shore excursions were good and some disasters. One excursion had a major part eliminated because there was a typo in the description that no one had seen until half-way through the cruise. That typo had been there from the first posting of available shore excursions on the Azamara website and was booked because of the part that was dropped. It was great that there was an available excursion on the disembarkation day for those staying in Lisbon longer. The Guest Relations department continues to treat guests inappropriately. Telling me I am the only one on the ship that does not understand the problems with the app was not appreciated. Based on the line for the IT person and comments made by other passengers, I was not the only one. Many just didn't use the app. The officers were rarely seen unlike other Azamara ships. At the recognition breakfast for frequent Azamara guests, the captain and another officer stopped at our table for a minute. No more. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We've traveled throughout much of Europe and a little in South America, but two countries we had not been exposed to were Brazil and Portugal, so when this cruise was announced we jumped at the opportunity. It also helped that the ... Read More
We've traveled throughout much of Europe and a little in South America, but two countries we had not been exposed to were Brazil and Portugal, so when this cruise was announced we jumped at the opportunity. It also helped that the cruise line was offering a double cabin upgrade (veranda for the price of an inside cabin), and the extras offered (gratuities and basic drink package) were not common on ocean crossing cruises. Even with all our travel, we are relative neophytes in the cruising game, having only taken a total of four over the years. The most recent cruises were on Celebrity, which we now use as our standard against which to judge others, and we were anxious to compare this "upscale" cruise line to those. We arrived in the departure city, Rio, a day early and took in the sights, and then the next morning taxied to the port. As the ship is small and only holds about 700 guests, the lines were short in the registration area, and it was only a matter of 15 minutes before we were boarding the ship. The wait to get into our cabins was also short, and luggage arrived quickly. A bit of good news we received once we were on the ship was we were able to use our Celebrity points to get some perks on Azamara (including a free hour of wifi time). Our cabin was small (category V3 on deck 7), but it had plenty of closet space and places to store the luggage. We met our cabin stewards, Dyna and Gouri, right after finding the cabin, and they carefully wrote down our requests for stocking the minibar and other requirements. For the rest of the cruise they tended to our needs perfectly and unobtrusively, always with a smile on their faces. At the muster drill we learned an interesting fact: Apparently Norovirus, the scurge of cruising, manifests itself within 24 hours of embarkation. So the cruise line doesn't allow guests to touch any of the serving utensils in the buffet for the first day. Not sure if other lines have adopted that practice but we didn't hear of any outbreaks during our cruise. For the remainder of the cruise we learned the ins and outs of Azamara cruising. The ratio of guests to crew is less than two to one, and there are always management staff around to ensure every operation runs smoothly. In the buffet they are constantly providing coffee refills, taking away plates, filling up your wine glass or other drinks. In the main dining room it's all open seating, meaning you meet new people each day. After the first couple of meals we were especially pleased with one of the servers, Doma (from India), and so from that point we requested to be seated in her area each night. She and her assistant, Wayan (from Indonesia) took great care of us, remembering our drink preferences and other details, and becoming great friends by the end of the cruise. Other dining options were the small cafe on the pool deck, where you could get hamburgers, salads, chicken wings, etc., as well as frozen yoghurt for dessert, and two specialty restaurants (which we didn't take advantage of). Both my wife and I felt the food quality was excellent, with plenty of choices at all times, and there were always two types of red and white wine each day, which we enjoyed. There were also special occasions, such as buffets outside on the pool deck. One of those was their "White Night" where everyone is encouraged to wear white. Food was plentiful (including zillions of BBQ lobster tails), and live entertainment and dancing lasted late into the night. Since the weather was quite chilly and windy that night, they provided blankets to everyone. Another special offered was the Chocolate Fantasy, with every chocolate concoction you could ask for including two fountains. Entertainment ranged from magicians to singers to comedians, but our favorites were Four on the Floor, their resident singing group. A special event was the crew talent show, where various crew members showed off their singing and dancing skills. It was great fun seeing people we knew on the crew and finding out they had such great talent. For us other reasons Azamara stands out are (1) small ships and easy to get around, (2) free guest laundry with free detergent, (3) free shuttle buses to take guests from the ship to the city center in each port, (4) drink packages and prepaid gratuities even on ocean crossings, and (5) crew members that take pride in ensuring your happiness and satisfaction. Those and everything else about Azamara are the reasons we found we were in a great minority of only cruising once with the line. Nearly everyone we spoke with had cruised with Azamara 5, 10, 15 or 20 times. One couple had been on nearly 50 Azamara cruises! We definitely will cruise with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise as we wanted to combine a trip to visit family in Brazil with a trial of a transatlantic sailing as this was something new to us. We have sailed many times with Azamara and this was the second trip on the Pursuit. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wanted to combine a trip to visit family in Brazil with a trial of a transatlantic sailing as this was something new to us. We have sailed many times with Azamara and this was the second trip on the Pursuit. Embarkation was easy and as usual we were greeted on board by friendly faces and a glass of something sparkling. Our cabin was a veranda stateroom on deck 6, just above the Mosaic Cafe, so a great location as it was so convenient for the facilities on deck 5 and only three flights of stairs from the pool deck and buffet. We know the cabins are small on Azamara but ours was perfectly adequate for our needs and we were very looked after by our stewards.The ship was immaculate as we have come to expect from previous cruises. The service was impeccable throughout the cruise. We ate in all venues at some point and the food delicious as always. We love to have our evening meal outside behind the Windows cafe when the weather is warm. We had been a little concerned about how we would cope with so many sea days, but with warm weather and plenty of on-board activities we need not have worried. There were some very interesting guest lecturers, and the evening entertainment in the cabaret lounge was generally very good. The ports were not ones that were on our bucket list but travel broadens the mind! The poverty in Brazil and in Morocco is so sad to see. Cape Verde does not have a lot to offer but it was interesting to see the volcanic island of Sao Vicente despite the rickety bus provided for the tour. Apparently it only rains there one day per year, so there is very little plant or animal life. I chose an excursion to Rabat when we were docked in Casablanca which was the best excursion of the cruise as many interesting venues were fitted into the day meaning there was no time for visiting the usual obligatory shops! There were quite a few German people on this tour and it was nice that when the guide realised this he gave his narration in both English and German. The only downside was that there were about 30 people on the tour and no representative from Azamara accompanying us, making it difficult for the guide to keep track of us all! For the most part our sailing companions were great company which enhanced our enjoyment. The weather was excellent for nearly all of the time except the last day when it was quite windy, but the Captain did his best to avoid the worst of the high seas by 'hugging' the coast of Southern Portugal, so it wasn't as bad as we expected by any means. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience which was enhanced by the genuine welcoming and friendly attitude of the officers and crew. Yes, we would do the trip again although our personal preference would be to visit the Canary Islands rather than Morocco before docking in Lisbon. The disembarkation process was very quick and we were outside the port in plenty of time to meet our taxi. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not ... Read More
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not match the daily program. There is a lot of paper that could be saved...... The food never disappoints and the staff go out of there way to please you. We never meet so many like minded people up to the last day! The entertainment was solid and there are plenty of activities. The specialty restaurants are also top notch in food and service as well. The bar staff in the Den were brilliant. The crossing was great and the captain diverted the ship for us to see Fernando de Noronha island, 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. On our last leg from Casablanca to Lisbon, the captain did a brilliant job of steering the vessel so that we would feel the least amount of effects of storm heading towards us. He succeed brilliantly. A master class of navigation and meteorology! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our third trip on the Journey. We have not been on any other cruise ships , so cannot compare. Overall it was a good trip. We very much like the small ship experience, no kids ambiance, and the staff are all excellent , and ... Read More
This was our third trip on the Journey. We have not been on any other cruise ships , so cannot compare. Overall it was a good trip. We very much like the small ship experience, no kids ambiance, and the staff are all excellent , and seem to "know you personally". Other guests were predominantly "senior", but well traveled and easy to get into conversation with. The one point many other repeat guests agreed on was the apparently more lax dress code in the evenings. OK they still state "resort casual" ..and I don't want/expect suits/ jackets/ties, but now there are more Hawaiian shirts , polo shirts , and even some T shirts. This lowers the tone..."dressing for dinner" was less of a pleasure. It is a smallish pool area, which can get a little crowded, but the sundeck is always quiet and spacious. As others say , the excursions are way overpriced. At BVI I think they were charging $20 for a 5 minute beach transfer , and the local taxis wanted $5. Also , like everyone else, I want to moan about the drinks policy: I resent the hard sell on embarkation... you really do not need to purchase the package. The free daily wines are fine , and you can always request "yesterdays wine" , or "the Chardonnay" in you want to. The frustrating thing is : no "sparkling" wine available (only champagne at $18/glass!), and the crazy (only -some- are- free) cocktail rules : so you cannot have say a negroni, and the "free " list is hidden at the back of the winelist and consists of weird drinks with no ingredients listed.. The entertainment is a bit mixed: we had an awful unfunny "comedian" (Bruce Smirnoff) , and a harpist , who tried to tell lame stories...The ships little dance troupe however were excellent . It is an older ship : the bathrooms are tiny, and all the port side loos were blocked for almost a whole day..meaning the public loos were not a pretty sight... The food in my opinion is fine. We are vegetarians, and there were always one or two options on the menu. The Head chef tried to be helpful , and offered to make whatever we wanted , but the "off-menu" items were not that successful , so we relied on repeat ordering from known successes. There is a slight tendency to rely on pasta and curry as veg options though. A major plus for us is "free seating" policy : eat when you like , at table for 2 or with friends. There is a slight feel of cost trimming : odd items in the buffet "ran out", and the buffets were not as varied or "sumptuous" as I remember from our first trip a few years ago. Would we go again? probably yes , but ideally we would like to try a more “dressy” experience (but budget could be an issue!) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our third trip on the Journey. We have not been on any other cruise ships , so cannot compare. Overall it was a good trip. We very much like the small ship experience, no kids ambiance, and the staff are all excellent , and ... Read More
This was our third trip on the Journey. We have not been on any other cruise ships , so cannot compare. Overall it was a good trip. We very much like the small ship experience, no kids ambiance, and the staff are all excellent , and seem to "know you personally". Other guests were predominantly "senior", but well travelled and easy to get into conversation with. The one point many other repeat guests agreed on was the apparently more lax dress code in the evenings. OK they still state "resort casual" ..and I don't want/expect suits/ jackets/ties, but now there are more Hawaiian shirts , polo shirts , and even some T shirts. This lowers the tone..."dressing for dinner" was less of a pleasure. It is a smallish pool area, which can get a little crowded, but the sundeck is always quiet and spacious. As others say , the excursions are way overpriced. At BVI I think they were charging $20 for a 5 minute beach transfer , and the local taxis wanted $5. Also , like everyone else, I want to moan about the drinks policy: I resent the hard sell on embarkation... you really do not need to purchase the package. The free daily wines are fine , and you can always request "yesterdays wine" , or "the Chardonnay" in you want to. The frustrating thing is : no "sparkling" wine available (only champagne at $18/glass!), and the crazy (only -some- are- free) cocktail rules : so you cannot have say a negroni, and the "free " list is hidden at the back of the winelist and consists of weird drinks with no ingredients listed.. The entertainment is a bit mixed: we had an awful unfunny "comedian" (Bruce Smirnoff) , and a harpist , who tried to tell lame stories...The ships little dance troupe however were excellent . It is an older ship : the bathrooms are tiny, and all the port side loos were blocked for almost a whole day..meaning the public loos were not a pretty sight... The food in my opinion is fine. We are vegetarians, and there were always one or two options on the menu. The Head chef tried to be helpful , and offered to make whatever we wanted , but the "off-menu" items were not that successful , so we relied on repeat ordering from known successes. There is a slight tendency to rely on pasta and curry as veg options though. A major plus for us is "free seating" policy : eat when you like , at table for 2 or with friends. There is a slight feel of cost trimming : odd items in the buffet "ran out", and the buffets were not as varied or "sumptuous" as I remember from our first trip a few years ago. Would we go again? probably yes , but ideally we would like to try a more “dressy” experience (but budget could be an issue!) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
My husband and I just returned from the 12 Night Rio Carnival & Buenos Aires Voyage on the Azamara Journey and we can't stop raving about the trip. We are well-seasoned travelers who have taken more than a handful of cruises, but ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the 12 Night Rio Carnival & Buenos Aires Voyage on the Azamara Journey and we can't stop raving about the trip. We are well-seasoned travelers who have taken more than a handful of cruises, but this experience was really "la creme de la creme." We love cruising for the ease with which it allows you to see multiple destinations: you unpack your bags once, you see many amazing cities, and the time spent traveling between them is an opportunity to unwind in a hot tub, to lounge by a pool with a fruity cocktail, to play trivia, to sing karaoke, to eat abundantly, to visit the casino, or to do whatever the heck it is you like to do. However, on other cruises, the typical downsides are that your time spent in each port is usually limited to a fast-paced day trip, the food is usually B+ at best, and it is hard to feel truly relaxed when you are rushing around so much. Azamara has unlocked the code to facilitating a superb vacation. This trip had four full days at sea, so there was plenty of time to unwind and relax. We visited the astral spa twice for facials and massages, which we really enjoyed. We also paid extra to use the Thalassotherapy pool and private deck (it's free for those who book a suite), which we felt was a worthwhile expense for the VIP privacy benefits it provided. We had a blast in the casino and the entertainment on board was better than most. The fact that we spent two days and one night in both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro meant that we were able to truly experience both cities and their nightlife without feeling rushed. We especially enjoyed the AzAmazing evening in Buenos Aires where we toured a fantastic historic home and were treated to a spectacular tango show. Afterwards, we ventured out into town on our own and had one of the best meals of our lives at an authentic Parilla in town (Don Julio). Obviously, it goes without saying that Carnaval in Rio is a bucket-list activity, and Azamara did a great job of organizing everything (at an extra cost), while making sure everyone felt safe. I especially appreciated the little tea sandwiches which were waiting for us in our stateroom when we returned from the Sambadrome at 5 am. It made me feel like Azamara was my mom and always looking out! Overall, we enjoyed the Land Discoveries we booked. They were convenient and helpful to get a good lay of the land. The day we disembarked, we booked a tour of Rio, which allowed us to fill the day (before our 11 pm flight home) seeing all the major sights (Sugarloaf, all the beaches, Christ the Redeemer), while our luggage was safely stored on the bus, and included a complimentary trip to the airport. The food and service on board the Azamara Journey is superb (and we are really picky). On other cruise lines, the specialty restaurants are your best bet for a decent meal. This isn't necessarily true on the Journey. The food is great everywhere, so don't feel compelled to book them, however the service is extra great if you do. Likewise, we appreciated the all-inclusive aspect to the booze. The wines, cocktails and beers that came included were perfectly fine and made it easy to drink without worrying about the bar tab. Lastly, the fact that the ship is smaller afforded a sense of camaraderie among the passengers and we made dozens of new friends. Our only word of caution is that families traveling with children may be dismayed to find that the cruise did not expressly cater to young children. Honestly, we highly recommend this trip and plan to cruise with Azamara again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our first Azamara cruise and will not be our last. From the very first day until the last, the service was superb. The food was excellent in both the Discoveries Restaurant and the Window's Cafe. We particularly enjoyed ... Read More
This was our first Azamara cruise and will not be our last. From the very first day until the last, the service was superb. The food was excellent in both the Discoveries Restaurant and the Window's Cafe. We particularly enjoyed dinners in the Window's Cafe sitting at the stern of the ship, enjoying the sunset and breeze. The waiters and staff were super responsive and friendly. Noteworthy staff - Jennifer, Erwin, Joey, Lyric, Carlos, and of course the entire management team, and many more. The Captain was everywhere and Eric DeGray is, without a doubt, one of the most talented Cruise Director's I have ever encountered. He is to be commended for the excellent entertainment throughout the ship but particularly the evening productions. Azamara promises an Azamara Evening. I fully expected a visit to a touristy attraction where we would get some champagne and see Tango dancers but the Azamara went over and above! We were so impressed and entertained and really overwhelmed by the Azamara evening. We were taken to a famous archeological site, the El Zanjon de Granados, where we toured the historic tunnels only to arrive at an impressive dining area with a Tango production artistically describing the history of Tango through narrative and dance. The Journey was elegantly furnished, clean and lovely. Our cabin was not exceptional but a bit higher standard than other RC lines and the bedding and pillows are what made it seem a step above, as well as draperies and furniture. We had a nice balcony. Any complaints that I was aware of (we had very few) were addressed quickly and earnestly by staff. So impressive. There is a laundry room which is helpful on long cruises. Of course, best time to use it is very early and not "at sea" days. The Land Discoveries were excellent, well organized, and efficient. I felt safe and well prepared for all excursions. One great treat are the Cultural Presentations which are offered in advance of and for all ports visited. The speakers were informative and added humor and their own prior experience, and were available for the entire cruise which was really very nice. Lastly, we encountered some of the most delightful fellow passengers who were interesting and friendly. I can't wait to travel on Azamara again. It was truly one of our best vacations. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
I was on the Rio to Buenos Aires 9 day cruise that disembarked Dec 22. I'm a pretty experienced cruiser having been on over 70 cruises including now 2 on Azamara, 2 on Oceania, Seabourn, Crystal, as well as a range of other lower ... Read More
I was on the Rio to Buenos Aires 9 day cruise that disembarked Dec 22. I'm a pretty experienced cruiser having been on over 70 cruises including now 2 on Azamara, 2 on Oceania, Seabourn, Crystal, as well as a range of other lower price point lines over the past 25 years. I have been at sea for 100 days this year. In my opinion, service by all staff, crew and officers (with one exception by Guest Services) was excellent. In particular, all dining room/buffet staff were extraordinarily efficient, polished and friendly without being intrusive. Heike, the Hotel Mgr, was more hands on than any other 4 striper I have ever observed at sea. She does a great job with staff. Our cabin was a forward veranda, deck 6 - a standard sized veranda with flat screen and a minibar stocked with free beer, soft drinks and water. Bedding was comfortably sumptuous. Veranda chair and table quite comfortable as well. Pretty much what one would expect from a premium line. We opted out of room service afternoon tea or any other room service for that matter. The daily fruit plate and soft drinks were sufficient for our in cabin needs. The entertainment was just okay. The violinist virtuoso show and the and comedienne/magician show were entertaining, however I have typically seen considerably better production shows from the onboard dance and singing team on even mass market lines. The costumer especially needs practice or a bigger budget. The cruise director, Eric, participated more actively in the evening cabaret entertainment than the CD of any other cruise I've been on. He's okay as a singer and dancer, but could stand to cut back at his attempts at joke telling. I thought the various daily activities could have been presented earlier in the day. It seemed that many lectures, games, etc., were scheduled for late afternoon which created timing conflicts. I would also have also preferred more dancing before dinner. The orchestra was great, but rarely played for dancing pre-dinner (once I think). While the service was uniformly great throughout the ship, I can not say the same for the food. I have occasionally written about food/restaurants for a couple of small So Am publications. In anticipation of the platitudinous "tastes in food are so subjective" rejoinder, it's my observation that there are sufficiently well-defined limits to the subjectivity of food taste and quality that most people can generally agree that something is good, bad, or in-between, e.g. most would prefer a well prepared lobster to poorly prepared frozen fish sticks. We tried the French chef's table ($75 pp add-on) and I was disappointed. As is customary with haute cuisine, there were no condiments on the table (insulting the chef and all that). Unfortunately, my appetizers/soup would have benefitted from some spicing up. Please pass the non-existent pepper and olive oil for that tuna tartar. Lackadaisically, I chose not to bother asking our waiter to retrieve some. My bad. The main course of beef loin was, not surprisingly, as flavorless as it was tender. Change the cut or sauce it more elaborately. The sommelier droned on with esoteric comments on the wines to such length that one was tempted to start a food fight or do anything else that would get him to stop talking and start refilling glasses. I find it hard to believe any of the 12 diners were interested in how long before the must is separated from the pomace of each wine. I experienced the same disappointment in Aqualina ($25 pp add-on). The ravioli pasta encasing a lobster flavored filling (vaguely so flavored owing to the apparent paucity of lobster) was gooey/mushy almost to the point of inedibility. Were they reheating these things in a microwave? In order to constitute a decent portion, the two large shrimp scampi of my main course had to be plated along with 3 medium shelled shrimp, the kind served throughout the ship. What about just adding one or two more large prawns cooked as scampi? The pasta side (a requested substitute for rice) was dry and ordinary. I fared better in Prime C, but just barely. The lobster bisque was nothing like the rich creamy concoction I have had in other specialty restaurants on other lines. The one spaghetti noodle floating in the dish was as much a surprise to my waiter as me. He later informed me it was designed as the raft supporting the lone miniscule piece of lobster served atop the bisque. The veal tenderloin main was okay, but I would have preferred the option of a more flavorful veal chop. The accompanying baked potato was obviously reheated/nuked, but it still arrived insufficiently warm. Service was okay, but no better than the MDR. Speaking of the MDR, I ordered the Chef's Selection on the first night - pork scallopini with a crab sauce. It was not good. Nor was I impressed (favorably) with any of the subsequent meals in the MDR. Ditto for the buffet in Windows Café. I have to believe Azamara has cut back on food costs. Either that or it needs to reexamine its home office menus/preparation. The paradigm example of ineptitude were the corned beef finger sandwiches served after returning from the Azamazing evening - 2 inches of bread (not rye) surrounding a thin sliver of beef. They got the bread and the beef confused! The hamburgers served at the pool grill can stand to be upgraded and why was sweet pickle relish only available upon request? Unlike the hamburgers, the veggie burgers were prepared freshly each time and were very good. Lastly, what is with the all inclusive drink list? The house wines were fine, but I thought that the selection of mixed drinks that were not included made little sense. After all, other mixed drinks using identical or almost identical ingredients (no cost differential) were included. I could have a bloody mary, grasshopper, marguarita, or screwdriver free , but not a Negroni or cosmo? It struck me that there was little thought given to the composition of the all inclusive drink list. A minor distraction, but perhaps an indication of the frugality of the executive menu makers. p.s. When operating in So Am waters some thought should be given to keeping the dining venues open later in the evenings. People who live in Bs. As. seldom sit down to dinner before 9 pm - when the MDR and specialty restaurants were closing down. p.p.s Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the cruise. Food was disappointing only because I had higher expectations.     Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our first cruise with Azamara. Most of our cruises have been with Crystal and Celebrity. We are a couple in our late 30s and really enjoy a more subdued, upscale environment. I was a little worried having booked this cruise, as ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara. Most of our cruises have been with Crystal and Celebrity. We are a couple in our late 30s and really enjoy a more subdued, upscale environment. I was a little worried having booked this cruise, as the photos of the ship online make the decor look very dated and old-fashioned. I was also concerned about being on a much smaller ship than we are used to. However, I needn't have worried on either count as the ship was fabulous. As soon as we embarked, I saw how the "classic" decor of this ship really works and created a cozy, high-end environment. The ship, while older, has obviously been well-maintained and we saw very few areas that need updating (most notably, the hallways and soft-goods in the rooms should be updated). We found the ship very easy to navigate, quick to get from one area to the next and very comfortable. The Azamara service doesn't disappoint (except by the rude girls at Guest Relations), as staff members are readily available to assist with whatever your needs might be. We really appreciated never having to wait for a drink, as servers are constantly checking on guests. This is a BIG change from Celebrity, where it is next-to-impossible to get a drink server's attention. Crew were generally very friendly and available. The officers are very visible as well. Azamara holds one Azamazing Evening per cruise. Ours was in Rio de Janeiro. We were bussed to a location where we were offered cocktails and given a Samba show. It wasn't "amazing", but it was a fun night and we appreciated doing something that we wouldn't have seen on our own. The transport to the event was seamless. The return transport was a little less so, but wasn't bad. Food was uniformly good all around the ship; although the buffet could use a little more imagination and variety. We found most of our meals in the main dining room to be good to excellent. We also dined in Prime C and Aqualina, both of which offered fabulous service and excellent food. The main weak point were the gross sandwiches offered in the buffet for those of us returning from the Azamazing Evening. We stayed in a Club Continent Suite, which was a fantastic room - very large and had everything we could want. We were very happy to have so much storage space and not to have to climb over each other. The only drawback was the location being under the buffet (noisy), but that could have been prevented had we checked the deck plans. We will continue to cruise primarily with Celebrity, because we do enjoy the activities on the larger ships, but we really enjoyed Azamara and wouldn't hesitate to sail with them again (in fact, we have one booked for 2017!) Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Just returned from the January 5th Quest voyage Rio to Buenos Aires. The ship was great and almost everything was up to our expectations. Stayed in a Club Continent Suite in Cabin 8063. The extra space was worth it. Butler and housekeeping ... Read More
Just returned from the January 5th Quest voyage Rio to Buenos Aires. The ship was great and almost everything was up to our expectations. Stayed in a Club Continent Suite in Cabin 8063. The extra space was worth it. Butler and housekeeping staff met our every need.The new furniture on the balcony was comfortable but a little crowded with 3 chairs and the table. Our butler Rovin set the table whenever my wife had breakfast on the balcony.We never eat in the main ding room, eating every night in either Prime C or Acqualina. Almost every meal was great, stay away from the Rib eye if you really like steak. It was just not up to NY standards. On the other hand, the veal chop was outstanding. The staff in both places went out of their way to provide our every need. Special thanks to John in Aqualina and Mustafa and Sascho in Prime C.The Jacuzzi in the Spa was not working right and they did not have the parts to fix it (Looked like a simple pipe connection) most times the jets would not work. If you hand fit the broken pipe together it would work. Also there were many days the temperature was not warm.The only other complaint was that the dry cleaning machine was not working. However the staff went out of their way to do our clothes ashore in Punta Del Este.We pre-booked four shore excursions, one was excellent, one was good and two I would not do again.Parati- a schooner to a beach, plus two stops for snorkeling. We went to a deserted beach with no facilities for about an hour and then the two snorkeling stops. Boat ride was nice, but getting in and out of boat was not easy.Ilhabela- Beach and 4 x 4 to rainforest and waterfall. The beach was a nice beach with bar and full facilities. Should have stayed there the whole time. Rainforest and "waterfall" were not worth the effort. Very hot and humid walk on slippery trail with lots of mosquitoes. Water falls were not really waterfalls.Punta Del Este- Tour of museums and area with lunch at Navonna Farms, One of the best tours. Lunch was superb.Buenos Aires - Gaucho Tour with lunch. A good tour just a little longOverall, very happy with everything and would definitely do Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
This was our second cruise on Azamara Quest. We had booked the cruise well over 12 months in advance through an on line agency (which had handled our first Azamara cruise) We thought our first cruise on the Quest was the best we had ever ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Azamara Quest. We had booked the cruise well over 12 months in advance through an on line agency (which had handled our first Azamara cruise) We thought our first cruise on the Quest was the best we had ever had...the size of the ship, the service from cabin attendant to captain, the great food. This cruise almost equaled it...but the operative word is "almost." We flew into Rio a few days pre-cruise and stayed at the Mar Ipanema Hotel. We had planned to do the usual tourist things (Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, etc.) but the weather intervened. Heavy clouds and rain, rain, and more rain. We were fortunate to have a private guide who made adjustments and we ended up seeing more of Rio than we expected. The Botanical Garden was a long walk in the rain from our hotel, but well worth the trip. We met a friend (a native Carioca)one night at Porcao (a churrascaria) and ate so much meat that it actually put me off meat for the rest of the trip! Embarkation at Rio was a bit confused. Porters wanted money to take our bags (since we had only carry-ons, we politely declined), lines were long, and it was warm. However, once the check in was accomplished we quickly boarded the Quest, were met with warm greetings and cold sparkling wine, and headed for our cabin, a veranda on the 7th floor. Our cabin attendant, Trifon, introduced himself and, upon request, brought us extra hangers. He was wonderful throughout the cruise. Unobtrusive but efficient and always ready to respond to a request. The new beds are comfortable and the new patio furniture nice (although rather large for the size of the veranda, and no way to put up one's feet.) I had looked forward to seeing the "new" Quest post dry-dock. I hadn't liked the look, in photographs, of the new carpet in Mosaic and Discoveries, but when I saw it in person, I found it very attractive. Too bad the carpet in the rest of the ship clashed with it. On the other hand, I thought the new, dark blue, hull color was nice in photos. In reality, though, it shows every dent, scratch, and scrape and needs repainting already. I thought it made the ship look old. I found I much preferred the all white. We were delighted to see some staff from our last cruise and surprised that they remembered us. A special nod to Tayfun and John (who were our waiters in Discoveries last cruise but who now are waiters in Aquilina...they are the best!) and to Louise in Guest Relations. And, of course, it was great to see Russ Grieves again. He is a fantastic cruise director. But we met some new friends too...we had been a bit disappointed in Discoveries the first couple of nights. The wait staff was pleasant but we didn't get that special feeling from them. However, the nice woman at the desk (can't remember her name) suggested that we try Michael's station. He and his assistant Mischa were fantastic! We truly felt they exemplified Quest's standard of excellence. Another special person was Russ's assistant cruise director, Helen. What a delightful lady and so much fun. On our first cruise, Capt Carl Smith was the master. We were disappointed that he was not on board but looked forward to meeting Capt. Stig. He is a very nice gentleman, but not as visible around the ship as Capt. Carl. We missed Capt. Carl's noon-day comments and stories. Perhaps it will take Capt Stig some time to shed his RCI persona and become a true Azamara captain. Our cruise critic meet and mingle was, unfortunately, set at 6:30 pm on sailaway. So many could not attend because of dining commitments and wanting to be part of the sailaway from Rio. Staff officers did attend and Russ said some kind words, but it seemed a very rushed affair. Fortunately, one of our group took it upon herself to organize us for the White Night deck party and so a lot of us were able to sit together and get to know each other better. Now a few thoughts on a few topics: Food: Very good in Discoveries. A nice selection each night and everything was well prepared. A bit disappointed in desserts, though. Not terribly interesting most nights and a couple were not very good. Nice wines, although the Rose is not offered...you have to know to ask for it. Coffee, as nasty as last time, but now we knew to ask for it to be brought from Mosaic, and Mischa and Michael were very happy to do so. (I even ran into Mischa later one night getting coffee and dessert from Mosaic to bring to the dining room for some other passengers who had figured it out too!) Mosaic...wonderful coffees and edibles. Aquilina was superb! Amazing goat cheese appetizer, delicious seafood, and the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert to die for! Windows always had a good selection and the sushi was fresh and made for a nice little snack. Ports and Shore excursions: Parati was hot, hot, hot. We took a ship excursion which was advertised as swim and snorkle. We spent one hour at a beach for swimming...pleasant but awkward to get off the schooner, which had anchored off shore. Snorkeling at the next stop was not very good...too much sediment in the water to see much and the equipment provided was less than good. A third stop for swimming (again off the side of the schooner) which we didn't do and then back to the Quest. After lunch on board we tendered back to Parati to walk around town on our own. But the cobblestones and the heat defeated us (and there's not much to see) so we headed back to Quest and the swimming pool on board. Ilhabela was gorgeous. We had not booked an excursion so just walked around the pretty town and did some shopping before heading back to the Quest. Some friends took the Rainforest Hike excursion and were disappointed...slippery, difficult hike in the heat, lots of mosquitoes, and almost non-existent wildlife. Two days at sea were delightful...did nothing but sit in the shade around the pool and read and watch the ocean and nap. Perfect! Punta Del Este was our next stop and the one we enjoyed the most. We arrived in early afternoon for an overnight stay. A short tender ride to the harbor and a very walkable city. We spent all afternoon wandering around and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. That night was the White Night party. We ate in the dining room not on deck because there was lobster on the menu (can't pass that up!) but we had dessert (crepes Suzette) on deck...very good. The band played, we danced, the wine flowed, and everyone had an amazing time. The next day we took a ship excursion to the Ralli Museum, the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, and to Narbona Farm for lunch. A really good excursion. The museums were interesting and the lunch at the Farm exceptional. Montevideo was our next stop and we had a private walking tour of Ciudad Vieja. Interesting place but the old city is in disrepair. However, our guide was good and it was a pleasant couple of hours. Finally we arrived in Buenos Aires. The first day we had a private excursion..a 7 hour walking tour of the city (with lunch along the way) It was hot and a very long walk, but an excellent guide made the city come alive. The second day we took a ship excursion...a BBQ lunch and gaucho show. Very disappointing. The ranch was pretty enough, but the dancing exhibition went on too long, the food was (in my opinion) pretty bad and took forever for service, and the gaucho show consisted of just one activity which I found not terribly interesting. Debarkation on the third morning was very very easy...we had a flight to Iguazu (independently arranged) and we just walked off the ship when we were ready to go. Iguazu was amazing...it alone was worth the long trip to South America, and we were able to arrange flights and accomodations on our own for half the price Azamara was charging. Summary: We enjoyed being on the Quest again. No other cruise line can rival it for service and the warmth of the crew. The small size makes getting around so easy (it was helpful that the ship was only 3/4 full) Will we be back on Quest again? At this point I would have to say, sadly "no." We checked prices for a cruise to the Black Sea in 2014...more than $5000 per person for a veranda. Celebrity offers almost the same itinerary (this year) with overnights and longer stays than Azamara for under $3000 for a veranda. Even buying a wine package on Celebrity, the cost is still significantly less. I don't think the Azamazing evening or the cheap liquors makes the Azamara cruise appealing. So unless prices moderate, I can't see the value. I'll miss my friends on Quest and perhaps I've been spoiled forever for other cruise lines, but only time will tell. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We booked this cruise last May when we were on the Middle East cruise. We were really happy to see the ship was still decorated for the Christmas holidays. Beautifully decorated. We also were very impressed with the new carpets, paint ... Read More
We booked this cruise last May when we were on the Middle East cruise. We were really happy to see the ship was still decorated for the Christmas holidays. Beautifully decorated. We also were very impressed with the new carpets, paint colors and paintings. It made for a calm relaxing feel while walking around the ship on sea days. This cruise seemed to be a cruise (" Ask and you shall receive"). We heard this statement so many times among other passengers. We also asked for an upgrade and was pleasantly surprised to be able to get a cabin upgrade. This will go down as one of our favorite cruises. The staff was great. They treated the Cruise Critic members on board with so much attention and accepted our request to reserve a couple tables at the White Night Affair which was really appreciated.The meals were all fantastic, ask for a certain cereal for breakfast and every morning it was handed to us. I just wish the delicious energy drink we drank every morning could be delivered at our home. Our flight reservations went off without a hitch, waiting in the Tango Hotel for most of the day gave us an opportunity to shop more (giggle giggle).It also gave us a chance to visit with our new friends longer and visit more places in Buenos Aires.We had booked private tours in a couple ports and was really impressed with the service and guides. My only complaint. Hated the high walled tub in our cabin, it was really hard to get in and out of. But so many employees remembered us as we did them, to many to mention but they are all great. Thanks Azamara for a wonderful cruise. P.S. Don't like the color of the Hull. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
This is a review of the Azamara Quest 9 day Christmas cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires. A little background -- This was our first Azamara Club Cruise and we booked an inside category 12 cabin. We have been on 10+ cruises ... Read More
This is a review of the Azamara Quest 9 day Christmas cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires. A little background -- This was our first Azamara Club Cruise and we booked an inside category 12 cabin. We have been on 10+ cruises across various larger ships/companies all in the Caribbean. We have previously cruised with Celebrity. We are from the US and in our 40's. This Quest sailing only had 400 guests (capacity is ~600) so keep that in mind with my feedback. The average sailing demographic was 65-80 years old. The majority of passengers were from the US followed by Canadians, UK and then South Americans. We had a great time and I would choose Azamara again if the itinerary and price was right. For my review I will try to offer some information that will help a first time Azamara cruiser make their decision. Here are some of the differences we found with the Quest and the larger/mainstream cruises. I list them as differences and not pros or cons. Depending on your interest some may be pros and some cons. I offer this to help others determine if Azamara is right for them. 1. The lines at the tender stops to return to the ship were non-existent. The Quest passengers were able to board as soon as the tender was there. Not much waiting. This difference became apparent at a few stops where Quest and larger ships shared the tender dock. The larger ships had a much longer queue. 2. The ship is very quiet and not a "party" atmosphere. For example, there is no live music at the pool. There is no "sail away" celebration when departing a port. On the larger ships there is a band near the pool, drinks flowing and a party atmosphere upon departure from a port. 3. Unless you are ordering an alcoholic drink, you never need to take out your card and charge your room. You definitely do not feel "nickeled and dimed." Keep in mind you paid for it in the overall fare. 4. At all venues, there are no cocktail servers constantly circling to "sell" you drinks. This is true at the pool and where the shows happen. On the other hand, when at the pool or headed to a show, I had to get my own drink because there are rarely servers. 5. As the ship is small, some of the rooms share multiple purposes. For example, the Looking Glass Lounge on the 10 deck forward has a great view of where the ship is headed. It also doubles as the game room. So at a set evening time they turn off the lights in the game room corner to create a more night club atmosphere rendering the game tables unusable. A few nights, my husband and I (and a few others) were playing games and they turned down the lights because it was time to transition to evening. There was no one in the Looking Glass lounge but there were people playing games. When asked to turn up the lights in the game room corner, we were told it is not possible as that is the way the lights are programed. Larger ships typically have dedicated game room space. 6. Not much interest in Bingo. One of the Bingo games was actually cancelled due to lack of interest. This is much different that my experience on the larger ships. 7. We had a snorkeling excursion cancelled due to lack of sign up. As this was a Brazilian BEACH cruise I was surprised. Unfortunately we were not informed until the night before so we couldn't make independent arrangements. They did offer us the pre-booking 50% off shore excursions discount on other available Azamara shore excursions but none were beach/swimming related. 8. The buffet is not open 24 hours. This is ok it just caught me off guard. (Yes, I know the service hours are listed in the daily program.) At our first stop we headed to the beach and returned around 3pm expecting to get a late lunch. The buffet closed at 2pm. We were able to grab a burger at the pool grill. 9. The Quest is a smaller ship and is very easy to get around. I frequently would forget something and need to return to our cabin. It is easy and quick to get around the ship. On some of the very large ships you basically need to plan like you are going out for the night as it may take a long time to get back to your cabin. 10. Food -- I enjoyed the food. We ate most of our meals in the Main Dining Room and the Windows buffet. I enjoyed sushi every day for lunch at the buffet. (This is a BIG difference from the larger ships.) The complementary wine at lunch and dinner was appreciated. We did eat at the specialty restaurant Prime C one night with friends and enjoyed it. The cover charge is $25 per person unless this dining room is included in your fare. 11. Entertainment -- The entertainment was what I expected. There was 1 comedian, a duet music group, piano man, guitar player, and "broadway" type performers. Russ the cruise director was very friendly and accessible. He has an awesome singing voice and he clearly goes out of his way to provide an enjoyable time for the guests. My general conclusions: 1. My enjoyed our Azamara Quest South American Christmas cruise very much. We are glad we made this choice. 2. I did not experience the "service" that everyone raves about. Then again, I didn't have many requests. It was fine to me but nothing stood out. 3. I did feel a big difference in the smaller passenger load. Moving 400 people around a ship is easy. On the larger ships they have to move 2,000 -- 3,000 people around the ship. The difference in people volume was, to me, the BIGGEST difference with Azamara. You did not need to arrive at your activity location early due to a high volume of people. 4. If you require a lot of service, don't like lines, or have mobility issues, Azamara is a good choice for you. I watched the staff have the time and patience to provide extra help to some of the passengers who had some mobility issues. 5. I would sail with Azamara again based on an appealing itinerary and cost effectiveness. For example, due to the Azamara higher price point, I would not go with Azamara to the mainstream ports that many of the ships go to. I would choose Azamara if they sail to unique ports and/or the smaller ports that the larger ships cannot stop. I hope you find this review helpful! 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2012
This was our second Azamara Cruise and first time on Journey, the identical twin of the Quest. In fact, we had the same exact cabin (7005 - Club Ocean Suite) as we did on the Quest, and imagine our surprise to have the same Butler, Alwyn! ... Read More
This was our second Azamara Cruise and first time on Journey, the identical twin of the Quest. In fact, we had the same exact cabin (7005 - Club Ocean Suite) as we did on the Quest, and imagine our surprise to have the same Butler, Alwyn! There were many familiar faces on board from the Quest, so we felt at home right away. The Journey is well-maintained and our suite was just as we remembered on the Quest. Tons of closet space, plenty of outlets, and the wonderful huge forward facing veranda. The highlight of staying in a top-category suite on the Journey for us was certainly the "Best of the Best" dinner. Held once per voyage, this formal dinner is set in the Drawing Room with background music provided by the excellent harpist, Jacqueline Dolan. Guests are welcomed with a flute of champagne. Candles, white linens, long table set with fine china - this is right out of the days of classic steamships and is a special perk only for guests in the four Club Ocean Suites on the front of the ship, and the six Club World Owner's Suites located aft. Dinner was hosted by Johannes Tysse (Master of the Vessel), Magnus Davidson (Staff Captain), Nikolaos Baltsavias (Chief Engineer), and Heike Berdos (Hotel Director). Couples are seated together at formal place settings complete with name cards, and the officers are interspersed, making for easy conversation. Interestingly, there were 8 couples in attendance, suggesting that 2 suites may be empty or those guests opted for less formal dining. (There are about 480 total passengers on board.) Service is a classic "Ballet of Service" provided by the ship's white-gloved butlers who were keen to show off their training. Executive Chef Fabio D'Agosta prepared the meal, and wine pairings were orchestrated by Angelbert Macalinao, the Sommelier. After a toast by the Ship's Master, the culinary magic began. Last night's first course was called "Royal Dome" and consisted of jumbo shrimp on salmon, avocado, and crab tartare with chives and smoked mousseline this was paired with a Bollini Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy. The second course was decadent. Seared foie gras on honey walnut raisin bread with hazelnut roasted figs and black current syrup. The bright acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Bois in Geyserville, California was the perfect foil for the richness of the foie. To cleanse the palate, chef offered a delightful lemon and basil sorbet, which delighted in both taste and aroma. The main course was a choice of parmesan crusted Chilean sea bass with saffron risotto, sun-dried tomato pesto, and basil infused oil matched with a Pouilly-Fuisse from Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France or a "contemporary Tournedos Rossini" of veal tenderloin, Madeira jus, truffle oil, and yes, more foie gras - paired with a dark and luscious Merryvale, Starmont, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California. Dinner conversation revolved mainly around the world travels of guests and officers - Heike shared her tip for the best Tango show in Buenos Aries. (This morning we found she had slipped a brochure under our door!) To top things off, Chef Fabio created a "surprise" for dessert - and indeed it was a bit of culinary sleight of hand. I'll keep it a surprise for the next guest! After dinner, a bit of Warre's 2003 LBV porto was offered, along with coffee and tea. Ladies were offered lovely long-stemmed red roses as we said our thank-yous and good-nights to the officers. Dinner ran from 7 pm to just about 20 minutes til 10 pm, so we missed the start of the show. Others have commented before about the friendliness of the crew, the intimacy of the ship (without feeling crowded), and other highlights. Suffice it say, my take is that anyone who loves food and wine will very much love the "suite life" on an Azamara Club Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This is the second review of our back to back cruise, we thought it was appropriate to do two reviews as they were two different cruises and we will focus particularly on the differences. As back to back cruisers, our view of ... Read More
This is the second review of our back to back cruise, we thought it was appropriate to do two reviews as they were two different cruises and we will focus particularly on the differences. As back to back cruisers, our view of embarkation was a little different. Azamara handle back to back extremely well, we had been invited to early evening drinks a couple of days previously when our new room keys were given to us, all we had to do was go to the gangway, punch out the old cards and punch in the new cards on change over day. We did go into the terminal and could see that Azamara had asked for their land agents to put a lot of people on the ground to help guests, the issue was the English language skills of some, however the majority of guests we spoke to had had a fairly smooth embarkation. We had the opportunity to see how the ship is stripped down on changeover day -- it is very impressive, every part of the ship seemed to be getting scrubbed, polished and cleaned. Dining Our dining experiences on this second cruise broadly reflected what had happened on the first trip. However, we spent much less time in the speciality restaurants. As there were only 320 guests on board the restaurants were opening on alternative nights. Our first visit to Aqualina was not their best, however our final evening there it had returned to the standard we know and love. The reaction to our feedback from the Hotel Director and Restaurant manager was absolutely first class and demonstrated beyond doubt this is a line that cares about customer service. We did not get a chance to visit Prime C but spent the rest of our evenings dining in Discoveries where the food was absolutely excellent and on the evidence of this cruise, there is only a cigar paper now between the quality of food and service between the regular and speciality restaurants. Lunch time buffets are also excellent, this trip the choices were scaled back a little, again because of the reduced number of guests, but it was never an issue, in fact in some ways it was easier to make our choices this time! Two evening buffets were planned but the weather gods had other ideas. On both occasions, the buffet still happened, on the first there was no outdoor dining and on the second there was some tables set up for dining outdoors but no entertainment, which was a shame because in the end the forecast rain did not come though it really threatened to and had been around earlier in the day. We went to the second buffet and it was absolutely superb, gorgeous steaks, escargot, fish, you name it, it was there . One night, I casually asked if my much loved cinnamon icecream would be on the menu as it had not yet appeared on either cruise -- it was only a casual question whilst applauding a new found love, the apple honey icecream -- next evening as my desert was being served a lovely portion of cinnamon ice cream was brought to me -- really nice touch. Entertainment It is quite challenging for many people to get visas for Brazil -- and it is even more difficult for the entertainers who are on the move and cannot give their passports away for any length of time. Therefore, we had the same entertainers on as our previous cruise, Eliot Finkel ( pianist), Bob Trunell (magician) and Bruce Parker (singer). Each of these performers do two nights and as we had not seen both their shows on trip one it worked really well and we enjoyed all the shows. We also had to see Eric de Gray's show again and his input to the Broadway show -- amazing. Staff and Service What more can I say other than this is an excellent well run team. We had switched to Captain Johannes this cruise and he is exactly as a Captain should be -- he gives leadership to his team and encourages them to go the extra mile for the guest. What is also clear is that every member of staff we came across loved working for him. Heike as hotel director is so much in control of the hotel operations and has such high standards and yet is always looking for new ways to raise the bar even higher. Pravin, Hilda and Andrei continued to keep our room in tip top shape, when I read elsewhere about butlers not giving service, all I can say is they have not been trained by the same people or have the same mindset as Pravin. Excursions We booked on several shore excursions for this trip taking advantage of the 50% off offer. Parati was a repeat visit for us and this time we did a trip to beaches organised through the ship. The beaches were lovely and the guide was very enthusiastic, adding in an additional stop and hike to a further beach. Just be aware of this in South America, all our shore excursions overran by at least an hour, no issue the ship leaving without us, most were morning trips anyway, but it did impact on our afternoon plans each day. It would be as well to build in some flex to any plans you make just in case. Ilhabella is a lovely little port, there is not a lot to do there and whilst the locals are clearly making efforts to cater for the tourists, the infrastructure is limited. We did hear of some guests who had set off on a taxi and then had trouble getting back from the beach and another couple who got on a bus only to find the return was not until the next day. Both were mighty relieved we had a 2300 sailaway! Our excursion was a cruise to a nearby beach where you then had to transfer to pontoons to get ashore, be careful if you choose this trip and have more limited mobility as it was not clear such a complex move was required. Trip was pleasant, mother nature did not however give her best display that day Punta del Este -- another repeat for us and one we chose to do on our own. We walked around and found the beach visited more my locals than tourists (Playa El Emir) about 15 minutes gentle stroll from the ship. Enjoyed a very pleasant time sitting here before making our way back to the ship stopping off to view the sealions en route. Montevideo -- our original choice of excursion to a winery was cancelled due to lack of participation which was disappointing so we opted instead for a morning city tour. This was actually very good and we had a few interesting photostops en route (more than were advertised in the excursion guide). We had planned to wander back to town in the afternoon (no idea why actually but it is close and there was a free shuttle running) however, when we returned from the trip the mercury was already well over 90 so we went for a lazy afternoon by the pool (actually is went over 100 that day so we were glad we did not try too much more) Buenos Aires -- we were here two nights and as we had already done city tours prior to our first cruise we were able to go further afield on this trip. Both shore excursions were ones I think would have been tricky to try on our own. We did hear a lot of guests had problems with the local taxis with drivers not using meters, deliberately getting lost on the way back to the port and generally pulling out all the scams from the book. Speaking to a friend who lives in BA this, unfortunately, is par for the course there these days. We actually ran into a scam on disembarkation (more on the other aspects of that later) -- we were pushing our trolley towards the taxi rank as our driver was waiting near there, no issue until we passed the end of the line of taxi drivers, one of them ran up and yanked our trolley from us and said 50 pesos ($9) pointing to the trolley. Other drivers surrounded us and the issue was they were trying to charge us for using the trolley as we were not taking a taxi from them. Our private driver saw what was happening, came over, used a few well chosen words, and the "scammers" all just walked away shrugging their shoulders trying to look innocent (not!). So you know, there are NO charges for using trolleys at Buenos Aires port. Estancia -- This trip to Santa Susanah estancia was really good value, included (though not advertised) was a short ride on the horses, as well as the usual display of horsemanship by the gauchos, some entertainment and an absolutely excellent buffet/barbecue. All I would say is do not plan to eat much on the evening you do this trip, which is a pleasant one hour drive out of BA. Tigre Delta is a fascinating area about 45 minutes from BA, think Venice but no pavements. The one hour cruise around was very pleasant on a lovely modern boat with a good commentary from our guide. The only issue with this trip was the bus driver got very lost on the way home (the guide tried to pretend they did not but we could here the conversations at the front of the coach!). We were so late back there were no lunch options available, even though the Shore Excursions rep who was on the trip with us assured us there would be and she would phone ahead. When we got back on board, it was clear she had not --minor black mark there but the excellent Martina (Chief housekeeper) looked after us so well on our return when she heard what had happened. Disembarkation We arranged for disembarkation in the last group to go off as our driver was not coming until 0915. Again, all the arrangements by Azamara were excellent and as we were on bus shuttles within the port area, each bus was effectively a colour tag group. Standing waving off every bus was Heike, Liesl (Guest Relations Manager), Fred (F and B Manager) and Eric de Gray. Everyone on our bus commented how lovely, we do not want to go home and there were some teary eyes --that says it all Thank you Azamara, we will be back! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This review was long in coming since I have been massively busy and unable to find the time to do a thorough job in reviewing the ship. The beginning of the trip was to say the least, hideous! This was possible because my ... Read More
This review was long in coming since I have been massively busy and unable to find the time to do a thorough job in reviewing the ship. The beginning of the trip was to say the least, hideous! This was possible because my expectations were so high having cruised with Azamara twice before and was blown away by both embarkation procedures. Sadly, the Port in Rio was a disaster for all who happened to be embarking that day. 6 ships were in port. We arrived late to avoid the crowds and see just a little more of Rio - too long at the Hippie Market I think!! I will not go into minutiae but will say that it was out of the control of the Azamara team for the most part, however, there was no Azamara team presence when we arrived but the ever lovely Leisl came just as we boarded the bus from hell. LOL Suffice it to say it is my understanding that things have improved and the same hoary situation was diffused before we got to Buenos Aires. As usual, Azamara's recovery from the issue was very good. Enough said. The embarkation debacle ended, I was glad to be welcomed home with the usual champagne - even though the lifeboat drill was in progress. Luggage and drink in hand (I travel with ONLY a carry-on) - I made my way to my lovely cabin and proceeded to unpack and calm down. 4 bottles of Johnnie Walker Black sitting on my counter beckoned to me ---- "Come, sit, take a load off and feel the warmth of the evening South American sun!!" I did as I was told. :-) My Butler peeks in to check on me - don't you JUST LOVE IT! MY Butler :-) Yes I share him with a few others but it doesn't feel like there is anyone but me in his life. A sentiment I NEVER felt with either of my TWO ex-husbands. Which is why I love to spoil myself in CC Suite!! LOL I make arrangements with him for sailaway parties every evening - and inform him that a few folks will be coming down after lifeboat drill that evening! He is unfazed and within moments I have bar set-up, wine, champagne and lovely canapes set up. He is a dream come true. I am a Princess and I am able to simply enjoy meeting all my new Cruise Critic friends. The embarkation fiasco is forgotten. I made arrangements to have dinner with my friends in Aqualina that night. Picture perfect. It always blows me away on the first night that everything is completely as it should be when cruising with Azamara! Usually the first night you can expect a few hiccups....I expect them, but none come. The mark of excellence. The adventure begins...... Each port was lovely. Different than my past few cruises in Europe and Asia. More laid back. A leisurely breakfast on the balcony each morning and a meeting in the lobby for tender to each port. There was never a wait for the tenders. No long lines. No need for my priority status. I planned the excursions on Cruise Critic and we had fabulous adventures each day. Small intimate groups - freestyle tours -- less than half the cost of the cruise line excursions. The weather was not co-operative in Buzios but we boarded the Trolley (turned into a small van because of the weather) and toured the lovely island and saw some amazing things in the fog and mist. Different. The cachaca factory was a "heartwarming" experience...LOL After that we all had a very good time regardless of anything!!! :-) Paraty and the Gold Trail hike was magnificent. Tiring. I was too worn out to EVEN SHOP!!!! Dinner in my room for the first time EVER --- each course served separately on the balcony, each course as good as it was in the dining room...hot, delicious. Love the roast lamb on Azamara. Punta del Este a standout - lovely island - did the self walk that you get a brochure for on the pier. Fabulous. Must go to the Gottex bathing suit factory - $300 suits for $100 and 2 floors packed full of the Israeli treasures. Fireworks display at midnight fantastic. Ship stayed in port to see it. Amazing!!! A little breezy and a hot drink outside would have been most welcome. Oh well. Next time perhaps. Montevideo is a treat.....did a walking tour with a British expat. She was great. Don't miss the market by the pier for lunch - MEAT MEAT AND MORE MEAT! Traditional bbq! YUMMMMMM The entertainment is so-so. Not a big draw for me. Love the late dinners with friends. We became a little rowdy a few times. Nothing we had to walk the plank over though!!! ;-) Shops are nicely stocked - small but interesting selection. Highlights were Christmas Day Brunch in the MDR. Lovely music, great choice of food. Christmas carolling. Hannukah parties every night with all the traditional food. I don't discriminate....I enjoy taking advantage of any celebration offered. I am all inclusive Atheist - I believe in anything that is FUN and celebrates life! No blessing refused....equal opportunity enjoyer. Now for the good stuff! The food. Great in all venues for sure. I ate mostly in the Specialty dining rooms. Loved the Aqualina menu. The seafood platter and the lobster is to die for. Every night favourite dessert - Souffle...but the waiters always insisted that we try one of everything. We did not refuse. Every desire we verbalized was met without question. Two tails and a steak - no problem. I do not eat red meat but will treat myself to lamb on occasion. Yummy - No food was ever sent back, no food not to taste. I have, however, cut way back on my salt intake and I found some things a little salty. Not a huge issue. The soups were a standout. In Aqualina they are all unbelievably good. I wanted to make a meal of all soup and bread one night!!! The food onboard is very consistent. It is good across all venues. This sailing was the best of my three. Deck parties were exceptionally good. The Pool Grill was an issue at the beginning. It is always a long proposition there. At first, they tried to expedite the service by putting on a waiter and an assistant, however there was a large South American family that made them an offer they couldn't refuse (so to speak) - needless to say, no one else in the area got any service. It was very interesting how this ended up being handled. I blogged about it when I was on board. We did complain because the service level was so abysmal. For US, that is!! It took over an hour for me to get a turkey burger .... Heike had asked me about the embarkation and the pool bar and she actually was able to review the video tapes from security to verify my story. The next day the process was cleaned up, service was changed and a team went to work making sure that everyone had wonderful poolside service. Another save for Azamara. Mark of excellence. In an overview, the attention to detail and the overall graciousness of the staff and crew make Azamara a unique experience. You feel welcomed and honoured by the sincerity of all the employees. It feels like coming home to good friends. The ambiance of the ship is truly exceptional. You want to relax, enjoy, smile and be yourself when you are on board. No judgement, no worries - you feel like you belong there. I do anyway!!! Thanks you to all on board....Lisle, Heike, OMG - everyone!!!! I have just booked for June 2013 - a Baltic journey on the Quest and I plan on taking along a few friends.....I will make a few new ones on CC and I will take them from past CC friends. What a joy - how truly blessed are we all to be able to enjoy such adventures with folks from all over the world. Azamara is conducive to such joyous celebrations of life. As much as I adore my children and grandkids (especially the grandkids)- the inheritance is being drained.....you will have to fend for yourselves. My next adventure is taking my grandson to Disneyland in June. After that - MAYBE SEE YOU ON THE QUEST IN JUNE 2013?????? :-) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Azamara Journey today after a 12 day cruise and 2 day precruise package. We embarked on the cruise on Dec 11. We started in Santos (Sao Paulo port) and ended in Buenos Aires. We had a ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Azamara Journey today after a 12 day cruise and 2 day precruise package. We embarked on the cruise on Dec 11. We started in Santos (Sao Paulo port) and ended in Buenos Aires. We had a fabulous time. I sometimes wondered if I was on the same ship mentioned in some other reviews. For back ground I am 59 years old and my husband is 61. We have sailed 9 times on Princess, once on Celebrity, once on Carnival and once on Renaissance (now out of business). We are both still working. We have sailed on the very same ship when it was the R6 (Renaissance) and a similar ship with Princess (Tahitian Princess). The average age on guests appeared to be around 60 and there were less than a dozen children aboard. There are very few children's activities. We arrived 2 days early booking our own air and transfers to the hotel (we prefer to do this as we have had several bad experiences with cruise air on other lines in the past. We booked the 2 day pre cruise package at the Hyatt which was beautiful and very well priced (far below booking on our own). It included wonderful breakfasts and ships transfers. The only problem was the transfers to the ship were very poorly handled by the company contracting with Azamara. The liaison did not speak English or Spanish and really was not even sure what ship we were boarding. Azamara needs to have one of their own staff members supervising at the hotel. The ship is beautiful. It is a small intimate ship and unlike the larger floating hotels. They have done a fabulous job restoring and upgrading. The rooms are small but well laid out and we had a private balcony were we had breakfast many mornings (excellent). The bedding is new and very comfortable. We slept very well. The Elemis amenities were very high quality. There were flowers and fruit in our room upon arrival and replenished as the ship went on. The flat screen TV was lovely but I would like more programming/channels. There was on CNN sports, CNN (for ships?) TNT and TMC. There was also the ability to do pay per view films. The only negative is that I would also like shower/bath gel. It is mainly a non smoking ship and we never smell smoke anywhere. The pool is small with 2 jacuzzis tubs but never crowded. The lounge chairs are wood with very comfy pads. My biggest beef is that the jacuzzis closed at 8:00 PM. There is another Jacuzzi (thallastherapy spa?) at the front of the shipthat was open until 10 with more deck chairs, but the ship charged an additional $100 per person to use this during the cruise. I never saw anyone using it and I think this is rather tacky. On a premium line charge a few dollars more and include these things. The gym is very nice and well equipped. It was well used but not crowded. The Steiner spa treatments are good but expensive (the same as all other cruise ships). The crew was (with a few exceptions) helpful and very friendly and approachable. The Captain is British, young and interacted easily with the guests. They are constantly striving to make this a premium line and are receptive to comments and make changes very quickly. The cabin steward (butler?) and his assistant did a great job. I never ordered tea or canapEs in my room so I do not know the quality. The guest relations staff was extremely helpful. The dining is open seating, which we prefer. We never, ever waited more than 5 minutes for a table. Sometimes we ate alone and sometimes with new friends. When we cam in with 8-10 people it took a few minutes, when we were alone we were seated immediately. Some waiters were faster than others, if you found one you like you could ask to be seated at one of their tables. I liked the food, my husband not as much. The ingredients are all high quality. An attempt is made to make the food more "Nouvelle Cuisine" style. The food was somewhat bland, but considering the demographics of the passengers I can understand. The food is not over salted. The plates are unusually shaped and often glass 3 part "tasting dishes" were used. The desserts were excellent.. The salads a bit unimaginative. The food in the specialty restaurants is different but no better than the regular dining room. The buffet breakfast was very always very good. The lunch buffet was good but the ice cream bar was wonderful. I never ate at the pool side grill. Tea in Michaels was elegant and the snacks in Cova Cafe were very nice. Breakfast room service was great. I ordered room service pizza one night and that was terrible (good service awful microwave pizza). The wine and drinks were a little pricey. The ships excursions were a mixed bag. Some were very good, some were ok and some were bad. This is no different than our experience on other cruise lines. They were not cheap but this is the same on all ships we have been on. We particularly enjoyed the Tango show tour in Buenos Aires, the Jewish Heritage tour in Montevideo. The Blumenau tour was not very good. We did not take the 2 day Iguaza Falls tour ($1400 per person) and thought this should be offered as a pre or post cruise tour rather than spending 2 nights in Itajai while 38 people took the tour. The entertainment was nice but weak (Princess does a better job of the same size chip). The dancers and singers and band were very good We found Celebrity's entertainment to be weaker than other lines also. Embarkation and disembarkation were easy and quick. However people who flew in the same day had trouble getting their transfers at the airport and it was a 2 and ½ hour drive in traffic. The ship took a day room at a local quality hotel for use by guests while waiting for their planes. Overall we had a great time and will most likely book another cruise with Azamara. We like the smaller, upscale ships with open seating. We find the atmosphere friendlier. We do not miss formal nights and midnight buffets. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
INTRODUCTIONI have cruised a total of 55 times on almost all lines save acouple of the ultra luxury ones. In 2007 the wife and I sailed on a 15day Oceania Insignia crossing. Later in 2007 RCL Ltd launched theAzamara line by acquiring and ... Read More
INTRODUCTIONI have cruised a total of 55 times on almost all lines save acouple of the ultra luxury ones. In 2007 the wife and I sailed on a 15day Oceania Insignia crossing. Later in 2007 RCL Ltd launched theAzamara line by acquiring and refitting two "R" class ships ostensiblyto compete with the three virtually identical ships currently operatedby Oceania. There has been enormous interest, particularly on the partof Oceania aficionados, in how the Azamara experience shapes usagainst Oceania. Having now sailed both I was able to draw somecomparisons.EMBARKATIONWife and I hopped on an overnight bus in Rio de Janeiro where wereside for the 6 hour ride to the embarkation port of Santos. Giventhe normally heavy traffic it can sometimes take more than 2 hoursjust to travel the 60 miles by bus from Sao Paulo's Guarulhos airportto the pier in Santos. We figured we could save time and hassle if wetook the bus to Santos directly and avoided airport check in, taxisand transfers, etc.At the Santos bus terminal we hailed a cab for the 15 minuteride to the pier. As we arrived at 7:00 a.m we opted to drop off ourluggage and continue in the taxi for a tour of the area, principallythe neighboring beach town of Guaruja. In contrast to Santos, Guarujais a charming, upscale resort popular with well to do Paulistas. Nexttime we arrive way early for a Santos embarkation we will spend timeon the beaches of nearby Guaruja. You may want to consider that too.After the usual hassle with the cab driver over the agreed fareit was back to the ship's terminal where we had to wait almost 2 hoursto board despite having been promised by Azamara reps that boardingwould start an hour sooner. Though I am normally impatient I havelived in Brazil long enough to know that getting things done here canoften take longer than anticipated, especially since this was thefirst time Azamara was embarking in Santos. We browsed the fewterminal shops until the embarkation desk opened. We were among thefirst to check in so there were no lines. William, manager of thePrime C specialty restaurant, had set up a separate desk where all paxwere required to make a dining room reservation for the first night, awell meaning effort to avoid an unmanageable crunch at any of thedining venues on night one. In point of fact, perhaps because we tendto dine after 8:30, we never had to wait more than a minute or two tobe seated in Discoveries, the main dining room, or either of thespecialty restaurants. That the ship was sailing with less than 500pax, (70% capacity) no doubt also facilitated seating.CABIN AND BUTLERWe made our way to our aft SSV cabin without benefit ofchampagne cocktail or assistance, neither of which matter to us thoughit might to some. This was our first time in an aft veranda which wechose because of the oversized balcony, its only distinguishingfeature. We weren't much concerned with excessive movement while atsea because on this itinerary the Journey would be hugging the shoreand sailing up river in Buenos Aires. After several hefty markdownsfrom the original price at which I booked, the cabin finally wound upcosting us $3240 which I consider a real bargain; however, I don'tthink the extra size of the SSV balcony justifies a significant pricepremium primarily because both adjoining verandas are completelypartitioned by metal walls which together with the prominent overhangtends to create a boxed-in sensation. The regular verandas on my deckappeared sufficiently spacious to comfortably accommodate a diningtable and two chairs for those who want to dine on their veranda.Shortly after freshening up we toured the ship. As expected thelayout is virtually identical to the Oceania Insignia and similarlywell appointed. We returned to our cabin to find our bags had arrived.While we were unpacking our butler, Natasha, neatly attired in atuxedo like uniform, entered to welcome us and explain her function.This was our first butlered cabin so I was eager to hear thedescription of her duties. Aside from shining shoes, makingreservations in the specialty restaurants and delivering afternoonsavories to the cabin, I could not distinguish her duties from thoseof the typical cabin steward. We are ordinarily low maintenancepassengers so any services supplementing the usual cabin stewardservices are superfluous for us. As it turned out I assigned Natashaseveral extra chores which she cheerfully undertook with only the mostfleeting of quizzical glances at me. Natasha (and her assistant)performed all routine and not so routine tasks well and always with anengaging sense of humor.The cabin itself held no surprises. The bed, e.g., firm paddedmattress, high thread count sheets, and feathered/down pillows wereall first rate and super comfy just like those on the Insignia. Thebathroom shower was a bit small and the water pressure a bit low, butneither to the point of inconvenience. The robes and towels wereplush. We appreciated the binoculars, umbrella and especially the handheld hairdryer in the vanity desk. The table and chairs on the verandawere more comfortable than expected. There was one significantproblem, a malfunctioning air conditioning unit. The wall thermostatdid not properly regulate the temperature and, worse yet, the ceilingunit occasionally made a loud noise that lasted several minutes. Idelegated oversight of the repair to Natasha. After the ElectricalDept failed to fix it in a couple of tries, at my urging I think shefinally invoked the aid of the Chief Engineer. Anyway, it got repairedafter a few days.SERVICEThe outstanding feature of the on board experience was thewonderful attitude of all staff and crew. While they may not havealways hit the mark, every single person I encountered sincerelyendeavored to please as much as possible. This excellent attitudefacilitated acceptance of the occasional shortcomings in food, tableor room service, guest relations service, etc. The eagerness to pleaseand to improve so permeates the ship that one can easily foresee theoverall Azamara cruise experience getting even better in thenear future.In fact, many managers were new arrivals. I was informed that theHotel Mgr had boarded less than a week before we sailed. He was anextremely affable and apparently very capable guy. The home officeExec Chef, Tomas Symanski, was also newly aboard to revise the menuswhich are, in deed, in need of revision particularly in the specialtyrestaurants. I think the Cruise Director, Andrea Oliveti, was alsorecently transferred from the Azamara Quest. They and the F&B andDining Room Mgrs were all very intent on upgrading the food andservice. All of these senior officers hosted a group of CCers at whichmany issues were discussed and considered. I think the opinion of themajority of those present was that our expectations were beingexceeded, perhaps because expectations had been tempered by widespreadnegative criticism at the inception of the company's operations.DININGUnlike Oceania, Azamara charged a $20 and $25 cover for extravisits to specialty restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C respectively(penthouse occupants got two freebies, all others got one). Azamarahas announced that this surcharge is soon to be eliminated and eachpax will be entitled to one additional specialty restaurant meal.With the exception of the Windows Cafe buffet on deck 9 (wow,what a breakfast!) I did not think the food was as good as what I hadexperienced on Oceania's Insignia, but certain dishes at each of thedining venues were very good, a few excellent. The roasted sea basswhich I ordered in Discoveries on the first night was up there withthe best fish dishes I have ever tasted and had me thinking the foodwas going to rival that of the Insignia, a notion which got dispelledas time wore on. In Aqualina a seafood bouillabaisse was to die for.On the negative side the lobster newburg was the only lobster dish oneither specialty restaurant menu (actually it's only on Aqualina's,but as they share the same kitchen you can order off either menu). Itwas tasty, but I would have preferred to have had a choice of asimpler lobster preparation. Large scallops were delicious onenight, but on another in a different venue their delicate flavor wastotally obscured when presented on a bed of bacon. The duck breast inDiscoveries was as bad as the stuffed quails were good.Having lived in Buenos Aires for a couple of years and writtenan article on steakhouses for the local English language daily Iconsider myself something of a steak connoisseur. I did not think thesteaks were of sufficiently high quality in Prime C though I didn'ttry the so-called Kobe beef available for an $8 surcharge. Roast primerib was not on the menu and should be in a good steakhouse.Desserts were generally uninspiring throughout except at theWindows buffet where early in the cruise I came across a fantastic,dark chocolate mousse which, alas, I was never to see again. I'm surethe kitchen would have accommodated a request for more, but my wifereminded me of my promise not to overindulge in desserts so I left itto chance and as fate would have it I never saw that mousse again.Next time I am requesting it.I expect the Exec Chef will be working to achieve greaterculinary excellence throughout the ship. Hopefully, the company canpurchase better steaks and add more lobster to the menus in thespecialty restaurants. Timing in the kitchens and table service needsto be ratcheted up as well.  I had fabulous service 3 of the 4 timeswe dined in the specialty restaurants as well as most nights inDiscoveries, but suffered mediocre service once in each place.By way of example how hard the company is trying to please theywere quite generous in offering "comps.". For instance, when inresponse to a query by our waiter in Prime C, we mentioned our mildcriticism of a steak, William, the manager, soon appeared and compedus for a return visit. Another time when our Discoveries waiterneglected to advise us in advance of the $25 corkage fee, a publicizedfee that I knew existed, the exuberant Dining Room Manager, Chaika,came over at the end of the meal and removed the charge on the groundswe were not expressly advised in advance - I didn't have the heart toundermine his generosity by mentioning I knew about the fee. Finally,as a gesture of thanks for a small favor wife and I did, providingsome info on Rio, we were comped at Aqualina by the F&B Mgr. It'sdifficult not to enjoy yourself when those kinds of thingscontinuously occur.For breakfast we ordered light, continental style breakfasts viaroom service all but one day. In my experience room service is theweakest link in the food service chain on board, but the Journey roomservice crew did way better than most. They always arrived with almosteverything at the appointed time. Once late in the cruise they optedto come at 7:00 am instead of our customary 8:30 when I neglected tojot down the time we wanted our breakfast served. I assume the blamefor that although 7:00 was a bit curious in light of our known custom.Okay, I'm nitpicking.The weather forced us up to the deck 9 breakfast buffet once andI was amazed at the selection of nicely prepared items available, notthe least of which was a juice bar from which you could order almostany fruit/veggie concoction imaginable. Given that sumptuous breakfastbuffet I'm glad I avoided temptation by opting for the continentalbreakfast on our veranda.For lunch we either ate at the deck 9 buffet which was absolutelyfirst rate or indulged in a hamburger with fries or salad at thepoolside grill. I didn't like the franks, but the burgers were prettygood even though well done is mandatory. Cheese, bacon and sauteed mushroomscan compensate for the lack of rareness. I would also have preferrednot to have had to cope with those tiny plastic bags of ketchup,relish, mustard, etc. My dexterity isn't what it used to be and it'sdarn annoying trying to tear open a whole bunch of those bags to squeeze outtheir minuscule contents. I neglected to write that on my comment card.Maybe someone who agrees with me can do so in the near future. I wasdisappointed with the pizza, but I'm always disappointed with pizza atsea having grown up in New Jersey and NYC's little Italy. I think ithas to do with the lack of crispiness in the pre-baked dough and theblandness of the tomato "gravy."  Lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch andcoffee were always available from dispensers located in the buffet andnear the poolside grill.ENTERTAINMENT AND SHIPBOARD ACTIVITIESThe Journey's showroom/ theater is, like the other R ships,without a raised stage. Consequently, it's more intimate than thetypical large ship showroom and well suited to the cabaret showsperformed by the Journey cast of five singers and dancers. Theypresented three very entertaining shows during the 12 night cruise. Iwas impressed with the quality of the talent although I thought theshows' production values (staging, lighting and costumes) could havebeen better. I didn't catch much of the other showroom entertainmentthough my Brazilian wife told me the young group of Brazilian dancersthat performed when we were ported in Itajai were very good. Theorchestra was one of the better ones I have heard on ships although Iwould have liked more pre-dinner dance opportunities. The talentedband that played poolside made a lot of music for a trio.Andrea Oliveti was a capable, good natured cruise director. Hisequally good natured staff conducted numerous activities throughouteach day maintaining a cheerful enthusiasm even whenattendance was less than SRO. I was taken back when only 4 peopleshowed up for a mid-morning trivia session. Boy, what a bunch of couchpotatoes. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of enrichmentlecture. Wife and I even briefly manned an orientation desk to providetips on Rio a day before we ported there.The library (aka Michael's Club) had an honor system checkout andwas open all hours. I would have liked to have seen a better stockedlibrary - I could not find a single travel book. I believe tea wasserved there in the afternoon ( I never ventured to events featuringmore food). There is a piano in the room and I understand it was usedduring tea. In any event I wonder why tea service and the piano cannot be relocated to the large forward Looking Glass lounge (like it ison the Insignia) so that the library can be maintained as an oasis ofquiet.In addition to the piano player, there was a guitar playerperforming in the evenings near the casino entrance on deck 5 as wellas a harpist who performed near the Cova Cafe on deck 5 (a spot wherespecialty coffees and drinks were available for a charge). I confess Idid not catch their acts except in passing, but the guitarist wasBrazilian and sounded pretty accomplished. Each of the musicians hadtheir own small group of devotees.The internet connection aboard ship was so notoriously slow thatthe computer room was hardly ever occupied except for the occasionalfree class offered by the host. Pay TV programming was available inthe cabin. I am not a fan of pay TV movie programming, but if it helpsto hold down the base cruise price I guess I can suffer through thealternative non-pay movie programming that existed. A few almost firstrun movies and selected classics were rebroadcast several times everycouple of days and, of course, there was ESPN and the annoyinglyrepetitious CNN. The TV had an interactive service enabling one to reviewhis shipboard account, purchase excursions and check restaurantreservations, etc.The gym in the spa contained more than an adequate number ofelliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes in addition to abrand new assortment of cable machines and free weights for usbodybuilder types. I never had to wait to use a piece of equipment andI worked out 1.5 times per day. There were spinning classes andperhaps other classes, but I' m not a "class" guy so I wasn't fullyaware of schedules or cost, if any. Wife and I got haircuts,manicures, pedicures, etc. before leaving on the cruise and did notuse the spa so I can not opine on the quality of those and the otherservices offered. There was a room designated for acupuncture whichmight be of interest to some.The casino was appropriately (Insignia-sized) small. It containeda bunch of slots, a roulette and a couple of blackjack tables and alarge, hi-tech, automated Texas hold'em poker table that will soon bereplaced in view of its failure to attract players.PORTS AND EXCURSIONS The itinerary for this cruise consisted of Buenos Aires, Itajai,Paraty, Rio de Janeiro and the return to Santos. The ship departedSantos on Thursday, Nov 29 and made its first port of Buenos Aires onSunday, Dec 2. We sailed away from BA the same night. That was ascheduling error. Compounding that we also arrived in Rio de Janeiroon the following Sunday and departed Rio on Monday afternoon. Both BAand Rio are world class cities and arriving on a Sunday when so manyof the things to see and do are closed is unwise. Conversely, afterleaving Buenos Aires we overnighted in the small southern Braziliantown of Itajai apparently so that the ship could run an overnightexcursion to the falls of Iguazu for a small (30) group willing to payabout $1400 pp. This type of scheduling should be avoided on futureruns in these waters.I have not gone on a ship excursion for many years preferring tofend for myself. In Itajai, we paired up with another couple from theship and hired a taxi to take us to the German colonial town ofBlumenau located about an hour from port. Itajai has some prettybeaches close to the pier, but it rained the next day so we cancelledour outing to the beach. The Journey tendered passengers ashore inParaty, a picturesque colonial town located 140 miles from Rio. Tiedup at the pier where the passengers alighted were dozens of schoonerships of various capacity. For R$20 ($12) one could purchase a 5 hourschooner trip that included time for swimming and snorkeling among thenumerous islands that dot the Brazilian coast. Be sure to leave acouple of hours for shopping along the town's cobblestone streets.Paraty is an artsy, craftsy place.CONCLUSIONIn view of the spectacular effort by all staff and crew toplease, this cruise was delightful even if some things were notabsolutely perfect. The minor inconsistencies in service are sure tobe eliminated given the obvious concern by all senior officers toachieve excellence. It is hoped that the on board presenceof the line's Executive Chef portends a revision of the menus and animprovement in the quality of the food offerings particularly in thespecialty restaurants. When that happens the Journey will offer anoverall cruising experience very comparable to that which we enjoyedon the Oceania Insignia. Let's face it, because of a weak US dollar,the relative high cost of land travel throughout the world makescruising on a ship like the Journey a darn good value.   Read Less
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