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155 Azamara Senior Cruise Reviews

When our son announced he was getting married in Spain two years ago, we knew we wanted to add something from our "bucket list" to our second trip to Spain. We decided to add a "luxury" cruise to tick off Greece and ... Read More
When our son announced he was getting married in Spain two years ago, we knew we wanted to add something from our "bucket list" to our second trip to Spain. We decided to add a "luxury" cruise to tick off Greece and Turkey from our list. I think I read every single review about the Azamara Journey experience before I booked our cruise. I was nervous when reading that some previous cruisers thought quality on Azamara trips was deteriorating. But, the Azamara was the only cruise that fit our time-line with the wedding and I was holding my breath until we boarded! Thankfully, we did not find the negatives expressed by some! It was an AMAZING experience! As everyone says, the staff is superb! We felt pampered and we genuinely liked everyone on staff that we met. Because the cruise was after the wedding, as soon as we boarded I booked a mani/pedi it was heavenly! I also booked a massage for my husband... We ate in all the specialty restaurants at least once and the food was very good. We also booked the French Chef's Tasting Table. The food at this additional $$ event, was excellent! I can say that because my son's wedding reception was at a two star Michelin Restaurant in Ezcaray, Spain... which is why I want to say Kudos to Chef Monica and the Sommelier, David who both took the time to thoroughly describe the foods and wines served and answer any questions we had! The daily breakfast buffet's were good, I think better than most ... is the way to describe Azamara regular dining cruise food. During our cruise, the heat was almost unbearable, but always waiting at the dock or by the tender dock, after a hot day of touring, was a group of smiling Azamara staff waiting for us under a tent with cold water to drink and ice cold wash cloths to cool before we boarded again.... Did not see that with any other cruise line! I really enjoyed the AzAmazing evening in Ephesus, it was a picture perfect evening with excellent music. I mean picture perfect... I got some great shots! And, the White Party aboard the ship was a blast! Speaking of music and entertainment... for such a small ship it was EXCELLENT... Those kids put their heart and soul into their performances. You can tell they are there because they love to entertain! My favorite Land Discovery Tour was: Kusadasi Port Insider Access ~ Taste Of Turkish Country Life. I attended that while my husband visited the ruins. I so enjoyed a "Turkish" family showing us, first hand, the customs of their culture. I also was lucky to be on the tour with several Azamara Front Office folks so I was able to express a desire for more "family customs & culture" type tours... I really don't recommend Azamara for young "families"... or really the under 50 bunch. While there was excellent entertainment, it really is geared for the "older" set. I can't wait to book my next Azamara experience... I know that the ships are being refurbished so I'm sure I'll be giving it 10 Stars after my next voyage! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Azamara Quest Norway Cruise – July 18 to August 1, 2015. Why this cruise? I had been told by a friend that the Norway cruise was a good one. This particular trip started with the chance to see the last day of the Open at St. ... Read More
Azamara Quest Norway Cruise – July 18 to August 1, 2015. Why this cruise? I had been told by a friend that the Norway cruise was a good one. This particular trip started with the chance to see the last day of the Open at St. Andrews Old Course, an event to be seized with all haste. In addition, we have heard good things about Azamara, and we very much like the small Renaissance ships. The idea of being in the cool North while getting away from July in Phoenix also had its appeal. Cruise pre-planning Azamara uses the “no formal nights – ‘smart-casual’ attire” rule used by Oceania, but we had some weather concerns. The forecasts were for days in the 60’s and nights a few degrees lower. We had booked several tours, including an all day trip to the North Cape, so warmth and rain protection was important. I therefore packed no shorts, and Edith included a good selection of pants suitable for both evening wear and providing warmth. We think we did pretty well. I brought my favorite blue blazer and one tie in addition to my favorite Zuni bolo tie. I also brought my Aran Island wool fisherman’s sweater, and a marvelous cashmere sweater purchased many years ago in Inverness, a nice Scots town at the north end of Loch Ness. They know how to keep you warm in Ireland and Scotland. Embarkation We flew non-stop to Heathrow and then to Edinburgh, staying in a hotel there for one night. So we showed up at the pier in Leith (about a $30.00 cab ride) at 11:30. Check-in was fast for us because we had booked a Continental Suite and had a priority line, but it seemed to move smoothly for everybody. Once on board we had to wait until 1:30 to get into our cabin, but used the time to get books from the lovely Deck 10 library, (called “The Drawing Room” on Azamara ships); and to have lunch in the Waves Café (buffet). Our stateroom! We chose a Continental suite because our prior experiences on these ships showed us that the standard veranda cabin is rather small, and the Continental Suite on Azamara, or Penthouse Suite on Oceania provided enough room. When we walked into our stateroom, No. 8061, our reaction was – Wow! We soon found out why we had this response. It seems that Azamara is planning on upgrades of at least its Continental Suites, and ours was the prototype, the only one on this ship. The first impression was the “light”. Everything seemed white and bright, in contrast to the browns used in most cabins. The closets to the left as one entered were actually light brown, but the most striking feature was the “bureau-desk” arrangement stretching from the mini bar next to the closets to the veranda. The bureau portion was about six feet long, 18 inches high and about the same depth or slightly more. It was all white with some form of composition material on top. There were three deep drawers. About two-thirds of the way to the veranda, the desk portion started. It therefore was above the last drawer of the bureau portion so there was a covered, but open storage area. The desk was only about six inches deep until the final two feet or so. It had two wide, shallow desk drawers. It was also white, but the top had a glass surface. At the very end there were some light switches and electrical sockets at the front. There was a very modern desk lamp. There we a high backed desk chair, a small side chair, a round coffee table and a comfortable wing back chair against the back wall. The bed had a round small side table on one side and a larger square table on the other side. The bed had panels above as headboards, covered with a leather-like material with a raised pattern. More on this will follow. Every surface in this living area was white and the veranda went almost the entire width of the cabin, so the “light” effect was remarkable and delightful. The bathroom was completely redone. Instead of the tub/shower of the regular Continental Suite there was a very roomy six foot long stall shower with beautiful marble walls, a well-directed main shower head plus a hand held shower. We were told that there had been a design error in that the shower floor was virtually flush with the bathroom floor with no lip to prevent water getting out, but we found that with a floor mat there was no real problem. We thought this to be the best shower ever on a ship. The single sink was a large square porcelain “vessel” sitting on a darker composition table, with a shelf underneath. There was a handy magnifying mirror on the wall and three long shelves to the side which had all the room needed for toiletries. The walls were marble, and the floor some kind of composition looking like grey wood. The same grey floor was present in the entrance to the cabin up to the “living” area, where there was a nice carpet with an attractive abstract design. The veranda had three wicker arm chairs and a table high enough to serve as a dining table, although a Norwegian cruise does not invite al fresco dining, even if we were room service types. The lighting system was excellent, and relatively easy to master. For example, there was an overhead light which was perfect for reading in the large arm chair. At the bedside there was a general area light, which actually emitted a small glow at night; and small “bullet” lamps that could be focused easily on a book for reading in bed at night, something we both do. The thermostat was adjustable, but the cabin never was very warm, and Edith’s feet were cold until she got back to the 110º of Phoenix. As usual, we had no problem storing all our clothing and other belongings. We had a few conversations with senior staff concerning this stateroom, especially since we were asked to vacate it for a short period of time on Sunday afternoon, while still docked in Leith, so that the President and CEO of Azamara could lead a tour of our cabin for the benefit of some cruise tour providers! I was at the Open, so Edith was the subject of this request. Afterwards, when we were visited by the Hotel Director to thank us, we mentioned that we thought the cabin should have had a mirror over the desk for the benefit of Madame putting on her makeup. He agreed and said this would probably be corrected along with the shower issue. What we did not mention was the fact that the coffee table in the cabin was much too small for any true room service usage. Since we never use room service this did not occur to us at that time. This may not be easy to cure given the three chairs in that area. Oh well, not our problem. What became our problem. The fifth night out I was snoozing away when, at 2:30 A.M. I was awakened suddenly with something falling on my head with a crash! I struggled up with this object in my hands and managed to turn on the light. I discovered that a quarter panel of our “headboard” had fallen off the wall. Examination showed that this headboard was in four sections, each about three feet wide and two plus feet high, made of pressed wood about a ½ inch thick and cover on one side with a leather like material with some raised pattern portions. This was a substantial object which came down, and I was very fortunate not to have been hit with an edge, which would have been extremely damaging. There were four of these panels, and this was the upper panel. When we looked at the upper panel over Edith’s side of the bed, and touched it, it seemed loose. We thought we should take it down and it required very little effort to pull it off the wall. The panels clearly had been attached with glue only, and obviously not enough. Since this was at 2:30 A.M., and we were safe and unharmed, and could not expect or need any help, we went back to bed. We called Guest Relations first thing in the morning, and they obviously did not understand what happened, probably because our stateroom was unique, and they sent up a carpenter with a hand drill to “fix” it. He took one look and sent for higher staff. The chief housekeeper showed up and was properly appalled. It was quickly determined that no attempt to reinstall would be made, so we spent the rest of the trip with missing upper panels, not something that interfered with our use or enjoyment of the room. I do have a picture of it however. The Hotel Manager, Philip, showed up again with profound apologies and the assurances that the home office had been fully informed. Guest relations offered to provide a tour, but we had made our own private tour arrangements as usual, so this was of no value. Later I asked for and received additional computer usage minutes, but, as I noted when asking for them, this did not cost Azamara anything. We have been off the ship more than a week now, and still have had nothing in writing from Azamara by way of compensation for this near disaster. This is not good public relations, and a poor reflection on their stated desire to make everything a joy for their “guests”. The ship As we noted, we love these Renaissance ships. This was number 8, so the newest of all. Their design is, food aft – entertainment forward, very handy. From the top aft, on Deck 10 there are the two specialty restaurants and the Drawing Room. Forward is the Looking Glass Lounge providing a marvelous viewing room, with a dance floor and bar for activities. Deck 9 holds the Waves Buffet aft, the pool area and the Spa and Gym area, along with the computer room forward. Decks 8, 7 and 6 are all staterooms except for the complimentary self-service laundry on 7. Deck 5 has the main dining room with adjacent cocktail lounge aft. Proceeding forward there is the Mosaic Café; the two stores; the piano bar/lounge and the photo gallery; the Casino and the Cabaret, which is the main entertainment venue. Deck 4 has the Guest Relations area amidships, with the shore excursion desk, future cruise sales and concierge. There are also additional cabins and the medical center. Deck 3 has only access to the tenders or gangway as needed, although there is also gangway access on Deck 4 from the Guest Relations area. Altogether it is a compact and efficient design, although the passageway along the photo gallery could get crowded when the audience from the Cabaret shows exited. The shipboard New York Times was delivered to our cabin as a suite perk, and we had 235 free internet minutes. The Times and international editions were available around the ship. The internet service was slow of course, but always available. Some TV stations were out of range at time, and generally the room television offerings were not much to entice long viewing. There were movies shown every day. Dining aboard This is where Azamara Quest really shines. We have always felt that Crystal Cruises offers the best overall dining experience, and we still do. We also have greatly enjoyed Oceania’s Marina with its four imaginative and wonderful complimentary specialty restaurants. But if Crystal rates a 98, and Marina a 96, then Quest gets a 95. It may seem strange, but two very ordinary, homely menu items reflect this – potatoes and soups. Potatoes were served in the buffet for breakfast and lunch (and probably dinner also) and always were fresh and flavorful. I am of Irish ancestry and care about my potatoes. These were really something to look forward to. When they showed up on the dining room menus for diner, they were just as fine. The same can be said of the soups. There were always two at the lunch buffet and three, including one cold soup, in the dining room at night. They were always rich, flavorful and hot. We talked to the buffet maître’d about this and he described how they were made with a long cooking process from rich stock to extract all the possible flavors and rich variety of taste. This is how soup should be crafted. Edith, a vegetarian, was generally delighted with the offerings in this category, especially the wide choice available for lunch at the buffet. The only mild disappointment I felt was, oddly, with the filet mignon served with the “turf and surf” choice in the main dining room. It was comparatively tasteless compared to the lobster accompanying it, and the other entrees experienced on the balance of the trip. The breakfasts were up to the high level of the better cruises with a good selection of fruits for me and a number of hot items like mushrooms, beans, and potatoes which Edith loved. The coffee unfortunately was not that good, but we have seldom found good coffee in the buffets on any ship. The evening dinners at the Waves Buffet usually had an ethnic food theme; everything from Vietnamese to Middle Eastern to French to Tex-Mex. We went to this last, and found it very good, with a decent selection of offerings. The officers and crew It should first be noted that the passenger to crew ratio is 1.9 to 1. Anything below 2 is very good and shows a commitment to serving the passengers. This was apparent in the very quick room makeup and the generally excellent service in all the dining areas. In addition, the overwhelming majority of the crew was very friendly and helpful. The Hotel Manager, Philip, set the tone with his presence all over the ship, friendliness and generally pleasant attitude. The ship’s master, Captain Jose, also put in frequent appearances, and was very approachable and willing to enter into conversations. When I expressed one concern to the Cruise Director, Russ, he dealt with it quickly. The ship’s overall appearance was excellent, with cleaning and maintenance an obvious priority. Entertainment We would cast ourselves as a tough audience when it comes to shipboard entertain-ment, but we felt that Azamara did a pretty fair job, given the space limitations of the Cabaret Lounge. The usual “singers and dancers” were six in number, with two being only dancers, and the other four largely confined to singing. Their skill level was fairly high, and we enjoyed the fact that they kept the sound level to barely tolerable as contrasted to intolerable on some cruise lines. The choice of songs was decent. They performed four shows on a fourteen night cruise, which is a lot. We did walk out of one of the early shows, a male pianist who seemed to believe pianist skill was best demonstrated by pounding the instrument into complete submission. A female solo singer was good, as were a song and dance team. A second pianist doing mostly Broadway show tunes was quite good. We had a magician for two nights, and since I am a sucker for a magician, I enjoyed him thoroughly. The Azamazing Evening was Sunday night in the port of Leith before sailaway. I did not attend as I was tired from attending the Open at St. Andrews. But Edith and all we talked to who attended it were delighted with a tour of a castle providing lots to see, plenty of bagpipe music and spectacular fireworks. I should note that Russ, the cruise director, had been a stage production singer for many years, and he joined the regular singers and dancers for two of their shows, with very pleasing results. On board activities With one exception, this was quite dismal. The destination lecturer, Charles Richardson, was very good, with informative presentations about Norway and geology. We did feel that scheduling two of his talks at 9:00 in the morning was not a good idea, since it meant getting up very early for breakfast on a sea day when that would not normally be required. He did mention needing the Cabaret Lounge for rehearsals, but some forethought could have come up with better timing. The rest of the activities were a waste of time as far as we were concerned. They consisted of mainly of trivia games, bingo and pitches for the spa and art auction. Azamara need serious work in this facet of shipboard offerings. Ports of Call and shore excursions Bergen. We had arranged for a local tour beginning with a boat trip to another town with a museum. Unfortunately, we were a little late in docking and could see no transportation available to get us to our debarkation point by 8:50, so this was a loss. My ability to walk any distance is limited, so Edith went ashore herself and walked around the area near the ship. She reported it as a pleasant town. Flåm. The main attraction in this town is the railway journey into the mountains. The tour offered by the ship filled quickly, as did one other tour run by a local company, and I thought we might be out of luck. But the Norwegian Railway reserves some tickets and they are not available until 90 days prior to the use date. So I went on the railroad’s web site 90 days prior and purchased 2 tickets with no problem. The on-line cost per person was $81.50, while the Azamara price was $169.75 per person, more than twice as much. It was a very pleasant trip providing a great introduction to Norwegian mountain scenery. The grade is very steep, and you go up over 2400 feet in a comparatively short distance. After our return we visited the small museum attached to the souvenir store and were impressed by how much work and time went into the construction. Geiranger The reason for this destination is the very spectacular fjord, quite deep and comparatively narrow, with the Seven Sisters waterfall along the way. We had bought very reasonable tickets on a local tour in a boat that holds about 200 people. It provided frequent stops which gave us a great many fine photo opportunities in a 90 minute circuit. This was a tender port, with a number of other ships visiting, but the tender trips were fast and easy since the fjords are very calm. Svolvaer-Lofoten Islands – Troll Fjord This is a small town, but we had rented a car and with another couple drove about 50-60 miles south on this island which has a fjord on one side and the North Sea on the other. The car rental, with gas, cost about $120.00 for two couples, so we got to see a lot for very little, since the trip down and back took about 5 hours. There were a number of spots providing wonderful views, and at the south end there was a small harbor with a Norwegian Coast Guard cutter docked. We managed to find a spot with coffee and pastry, and generally enjoyed being on land all day and seeing real Norwegian living. After departing Svolvaer the Captain took us into the Troll Fjord, about 2 hours away. This is a very narrow passage, and while we were not quite able to touch the sides of the mountain as hinted by the Cruise Director, we were within a few feet. This was quite entertaining. When we reached the end of the fjord the Captain did a 360º turn, within the ships length, by using the bow thrusters and stern thrusters in opposite directions. Since Quest is only 593 feet long, it could do this but I doubt that many other cruise ships would be able to accomplish such a maneuver. In fact, while we saw a number of other ships in several ports, they all seemed less than 75,000 gross tons – none of your massive floating hotels. It is not the depth of the fjords that limits ships, they are all quite deep; it is the narrow quarters. Tromsø Tromsø is a good sized city of more than 70,000 people, partly on an island and partly on the mainland with a bridge connection. It has a number of attractive buildings. I stayed on board, but Edith walked through the town up a hill to a pleasant lake surrounded by nice homes. The weather was very mild, and she said that this was one town she would like to visit for a few days. It has an airport capable of handling jet flights to Bergen and Oslo. Honningsvåg This is the gateway to the North Cape, the northernmost mainland point in Europe at 70º10” North. Six of us rented a car and first proceeded to the Bird Safari located on the west side of the peninsula. This provided a 90 minute sea tour through neighboring islands, in a boat holding about 60 people, for the purpose of seeing the nesting places of a wide variety of sea birds, and photographing them. They included cormorants, gannets, puffins and Norwegian eagles which is about the size of the bald eagle, with grey markings, and the classic raptor flight. We also saw seals, but they were difficult to photograph against the rock backgrounds. The boat provided complete waterproof coveralls, which kept us totally warm and dry, although the weather was basically good. This was a good trip, which cost us $80.00 per person on line; but $264.75 on a ship’s tour. We then drove up to the North Cape itself, about another 30 miles. There is a 225 NOK ($28.00) per person entrance fee which lets you into a modern building with a cinema room featuring a 20 minute film about the Cape, a small Thai museum commemorating the 1907 visit of the King of Siam to the cape, a small chapel, a large souvenir store and a buffet restaurant featuring reindeer stew. There was an outside area leading up the Cape itself. It was extremely windy, with some rain, and we felt that the high fence was necessary, but we could see the neighboring capes and get a sense that we really were at the top of Europe. We then drove back to the ship. The cape area has no trees, and is quite barren, but we passed several reindeer herds, and were thrilled when one herd, stags, does and fawns decided to cross immediately in front of us while we stopped to let them by and had a good look at these very attractive creatures. The fawns are dark brown, which makes them highly visible, while the adults are a soft dun color. Our stop in Honningsvåg was from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M, and we would have had a midnight sun if it had not been cloudy, but it still was light out at midnight. Our car rental was $26.00 apiece, so the total day was $132.00 per person. The ship’s tour of the North Cape was $179.75. per person. This meant a total of $444.50 compared to our cost, and we had the freedom to take as much time as we wanted, and travel in a nice small van while saving over $300.00 apiece - $600.00 per couple! Altogether, we were delighted with this adventure. Olden This did not work out well. I had booked a tour of one of the few attractions at this stop, the Briksdalen Glacier, for a five hour van tour. I was a little concerned when I received no response to my request for an e-mail telling us where we would make contact. The firm I dealt with was called “Porttrips International” which still has a website. I had paid for 8 people by credit card, and received checks from the three couples joining us. When we walked off the ship, there was no Porttrips vehicle in sight in the very small dock area. We walked into the small town (about four stores) and back, and contact with the locals told us no one had heard of this company. We had little choice but to take either a local bus up to the glacier for a quick round trip tour, or take a small ”train” trolley with two small open cars around a local lake for 150 NOK, about $18.00. We chose this option which took about 80 minutes and was quite pleasant. The good news is that my credit card company has issued me a full credit, and my fellow passengers have all been reimbursed. Disembarkation The passengers taking a ship provided bus directly to the airport seemed to do quite well; while those of us taking taxis had a wait, mostly spent on board with trips outside to check the line for cabs. There were seven cruise ships docked in Copenhagen, but Azamara seemed to have the pier closest to town, which was nice. When we got our taxi the fare to our hotel in central Copenhagen, near the Tivoli Gardens and main railroad station, was less than $10.00. Reflections and Miscellaneous Norway is a pleasant, very scenic country, with a population that by and large speaks excellent English. While it has the fourth highest standard of living in the world, there is no great display of wealth and little of poverty. There is a lot of graffiti, which surprised Edith. We were surprised by the fact that homes were scattered all along the fjords, seemingly far from anything. While some remote farms were abandoned, most of these homes were served by roads with regular auto and truck traffic. All the homes appeared to be in excellent condition, and the neighborhoods well cared for. Everyone we spoke to or dealt with was very pleasant and helpful. If one can deal with the dark, cold winters, it is a fine country to live in. Our fellow passengers were mostly American, with the usual leavening of our northern neighbors from Canada, and a fair representation of New Zealanders and Australians. There were few Germans, perhaps because it is easier for them to cruise on ships based on the continent. And the English travel on Fred Olsen and P&O cruise lines. Most passengers were in the retired age bracket, but there were others and three or four teen-agers. Final words Was this a worthwhile trip? I felt so although Edith was perhaps not as enthusiastic. There were times when it was a bit boring, and the fjords have a lot of similarity. But I felt it was so unique and beautiful that a bit of repetition was acceptable. I would recommend this cruise, and Azamara has a lot to offer; a neat small ship, really excellent food, great service and friendliness. If the activities are weak, and the standard veranda cabins on the small side, these defects can be tolerated. So my overall rating would be 4+. Bon Voyage! 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Sail Date July 2015
We have been on over 15 10-14 day cruises on Celebrity and a few on Prncess- the big and mid size ships and enjoyed them immensely. When we met other cruisers on these cruises they as well as our travel agent raved about Azumara. When we ... Read More
We have been on over 15 10-14 day cruises on Celebrity and a few on Prncess- the big and mid size ships and enjoyed them immensely. When we met other cruisers on these cruises they as well as our travel agent raved about Azumara. When we found a back to back itinerary we liked 18 months ago we booked the Azamara cruises. Due to the number of cruises on Celebrity we were at a high tier in the Captains Club and our first cruise on the Journey took us to the next level. We flew to Athens a few days early so we would not have jet lag on the cruise. We took a taxi to the port and were greeted by an Azamara rep who got a porter to take our bags and escorted us to the check in area. I was surprised to see coffee and snacks available for people who were checking in. The check in process was quick and we boarded the ship and headed to the 9th fl. for a buffet lunch while waiting to get into our cabin. Ship information After putting our things in the cabin we decided to explore the ship before we had to go to the fire drill. We had heard the ship was small but did not realize how small. One can imagine the Celebrity Constellation common areas cut down by 3/4ths. It is easy to go from the dining areas to the common areas as well as to the pool deck. Even though there are two elevators for and aft we never had to wait long for one to go between decks, The entertainment was in the Caberet lounge which was small and intimate- chairs very unconfortable though. the dining room is nice and seems to be a smaller version of the one on the Constellation. We only had one meal here though. Cabin- we had a club suite which was on deck 8. Above us was the pool deck. The nights of events and after were very noisy early am pm as the crew was setting everything up. the cabin was spacious and the only issues we had which will be corrected during the retrofit is no shower and a small tv. Our butler and attendants were great. Dining-- We are used to the fixed seat dining and could adapt to the open seating system but the menu choices were horrible. As the CC reviewer noted 1 fish, 1 meat and 1 vegetarian entree and some exotic appitizers were the menu choices as well as a small regular menu. the Windows buffet offered some great themed meals so we either ate there or at the specialty restaurant. Since there is no formal night we asked our butler to let us know when the surf and turf would be on the dining room menu. that night we went to the dining room and seated quickly. The waiter came and we ordered the flilet and 1/2 lobster tail. \our food came and we were shocked how SMALL the portions were- the filet the size of a meatball and the 1/2 lobster tail was more like a crayfish. We ate and then went upstairs to have something else to eat as we were still hungry. Looking around the dining room that night we noticed all the waiters had sad/surly/inexpressive faces while walking around and serving- Is this a result of the open seating or the inclusive tip policy? The waitstaff on the Celebrity ships in dining rooms were always smiling and happy and we enjoyed having a fixed waiter and assistant who got to know us and our tastes. Since we ate so much in the two specialty dining rooms the staff got to know us and provided service with a smile. The menu was good and the food tasty. If these two restaurants were not on the ship I would have had to bring in food every day for dinner. The Windows cafe had the theme night dinners and the food was fine and easy to get a table. the only improvement could be to play music to match the theme and some centerpieces ie Spanish night- Spanish music and a Spanish flag on ea. table. Breakfast in the Windows cafe was good- menu geared towards the British passengers as half the ship's guests were British. [same for dining room- menu favored British food}. The brunch was really good and had a wide selection of food. We really enjoyed this meal. White night included a buffet on deck- average food. Activities- limited but enough to keep one occupied. The guest lecturer was very good and gave a lot of talks. Children's program- none - the staff had to rig one up to occupy the many children on the cruise. Service- all tips were included - all the marketing kept touting this fact as well as the waiters will wait on you to bring drinks and water and food ordered at the counter. We only ate once in the main dining room and I commented on service above so I will address the Windows cafe and the 2 specialty dining rooms. All the staff seems to come from the Phillipines and mostly male. Service was hit and miss depending on the maitre de and the waiter. We were in the Cafe and our area was empty and not a waiter in sight on night. I had to go to maitre de to get a waiter. Otther times we had to get up and order drinks at the bar or find a waiter at breakfast to get our coffee. The so called waiter service again is over emphasized as it is not consistent. I resented to prepaying the tips and high fare to get this poor service. Entertainment- Erik the cruise director and the 5 singers and dancers were great!! Bad part was that they did not perform every night. the piano player was very good and the magician terrible. the last nights show is not to be missed but I would night take the cruise to see this show as great as it was. The White night was the only night where there was music by the pool- no entertainment on the pool deck during the cruise. The guitar player was horrible- playing sad blues music during an event which is supposed to be uplifting. A CD would have bee an GReat improvment. The amazing night and white night were fine but again not worth the extra cost of the cruise. Small tv and very few free movies available as well as limited tv stations. Shore excursions- few offered and since we have been to most of the ports we did not go on any. Disembark- Since we were on a back to back we did not disembark but traded our sea pass cards for new ones. NOTE- B 2 B passengers do not need visas and we noted this on our survey form and still charged the visa fees. We had to make many visits and calls to guest relations to get the charges reversed. Very poor performance considering the few passengers and high staff to passenger ratio. Summary- Not worth the extra cost for the all inclusive feature- ie tips and drinks and water. I am used to getting my own coffee and water and food in the buffet on other cruises but resent having to do it on this ship as this is a perk included in the fare. Only a few waiters/waitresses seemed happy to serve and smiling when seen. Most had a sad/resigned/surly look all the time. The ones in the specialty dining were happier as I think they liked having the opportunity to get tips. The dining room menu as well as the food was nothing to write home about. If one wants small portions of British themed food one will enjoy the dining room. I have never seen so much wine poured so freely [no pun intended]- maybe the guests were so gassed they did not have room for food or could taste the food. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We thought this would be a lovely start to an 8 week trip to Europe and help us relax and unwind at the beginning. How wrong can you be. From start to finish this itinerary is full of wonderful ports, sometimes 2 in a day, so you ... Read More
We thought this would be a lovely start to an 8 week trip to Europe and help us relax and unwind at the beginning. How wrong can you be. From start to finish this itinerary is full of wonderful ports, sometimes 2 in a day, so you never get a chance to unwind and relax! This said we loved it but thought if it was spread over 9-10 days it would be much more enjoyable especially in the heat of summer. This was our second cruise on Journey and our third on Azamara but the first in the Med. We were exploring the beautiful Adriatic coast with ports of Zadar, Split, Hvar, Kotor and Dubrovnik with an overnight in Venice on the last night. All ports were fabulous and even though we had visited three before we enjoyed revisiting them. We were in a Club Continent Suite 8056 which is just aft of the aft elevators/stairs midships and on port side. We love the large balcony for breakfasts and drinks at night. We had several meals in the Speciality restaurants and they were all enjoyable and well presented and cooked as was the service. The Azamazing evening with Ana Rucner a wonderful cellist, held in the Mestrovic Gallery in Split, was fabulous. We didnt get to eat at the White Nights deck BBQ this cruise as it was scheduled on the same night as Lobster night in the MDR. Shame, as we usually get to experience both and enjoy both of them, so we were very disappointed with this change and poor planning. Another money saver we guessed. Wine served with meals was terrific in quality and variety and if one was not to our liking you can request the previous days or one we had preferred. Service was exceptional, except for room service breakfast which first morning came cold, so we resorted to cold breakfast after this and our butler was obviously new and untrained and was very disappointing after fabulous butlers we have had before. We thought the entertainment onboard was some of the best we have ever seen on an Azamara ship and Eric and the singers and dancers were outstanding. Also brilliant were Beverley Davison, a combination of violinist and comedienne, very funny, Max di Faz a wonderful singer and an english Magician/Comedian who was excellent. Overall, a wonderful cruise, but we will be giving other lines a try for awhile, as we think a comparism to this size of ship is necessary to gain a real overview. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks ... Read More
We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks is more than great. The longer stays on port were nice but in comparison with the private tours offered by local guides in ports Azamara offers a little more expensive. Publik room very comfortable and nice. Staff is super friendly. Staff is very courteous and ready to help at any time. Service is professional. Definitely see you again! Thank u to all! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first cruise with Azamara. We wanted the smaller ship experience and have to admit we liked it. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and a special price - double upgrade to a verandah cabin. The ship was nice, clean and ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara. We wanted the smaller ship experience and have to admit we liked it. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and a special price - double upgrade to a verandah cabin. The ship was nice, clean and fortunately well functioning. (We had heard stories of plumbing problems.) The staff was generally friendly and the food was good. The food and service were excellent in the specialty dining restaurants but you pay extra for that. The promo on this line is that the fare includes gratuities and complimentary alcoholic beverages. There is a catch. You are still overwhelmed with opportunites to tip more and the complimentary drinks includes only 3 selections of beer and they limit the wine to just one white and one red each day. You know they have the larger selection available - so why can't you get a Chardonnay when I don't like Reisling? With a smaller ship you have to expect less choices in some things but you know the wine is there - they are just going to limit you, so they can sell you another glass for $10 each. The upcharges and extra fees are obnoxious. I'll go to a real all inclusive resort next time. We do have to say the Azamara rep at the airport was fantastic. He handled a late luggage issue and sent us on to the ship, while he waited for our luggage on the next flight from Paris. Within 4 hours we had our bags in our stateroom - and that was a HUGE relief. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I was disappointed because I expected a better standard of cabin, food and entertainment. The cabin was shabby. The bed linen had seen better days and the valance was coming away from the mattress . There were stains on the carpet. The ... Read More
I was disappointed because I expected a better standard of cabin, food and entertainment. The cabin was shabby. The bed linen had seen better days and the valance was coming away from the mattress . There were stains on the carpet. The drawers were not easy to use and the furniture was scuffed. The food was mediocre - very dry chicken on two occasions . Fine dining however was very good. Entertainment. the singers and dancers were excellent and enthusiastic but were limited by the space they had. The band was very good and mainly used for backing music.They should have been used more for dancing. On the one night they did play on deck the event was well attended. Activities were sparse. Lectures on places to visit were good and the commentary going through the canal gave a lot of background information. The captain and crew were excellent and I cannot fault them in any way. THE SHIP NEEDS REFURBISHMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT AND FOOD STANDARDS IMPROVED. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We had previously cruised on Azamara (3 Journey, 1 Quest) when they were seeking their niche. Now, several years later, the cruises are shorter now and much more expensive. However the cruise was worth every penny. The crew was ... Read More
We had previously cruised on Azamara (3 Journey, 1 Quest) when they were seeking their niche. Now, several years later, the cruises are shorter now and much more expensive. However the cruise was worth every penny. The crew was outstanding, the food superb, and the overall management by Hotel Director Heike left nothing to be desired. Every effort was made to satisfy the passengers. We are long term Celebrity cruisers (about 20) and enjoyed this departure from the norm immensely. We look forward to another opportunity to travel on Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
BALI, BANGKOK, AND EAST ASIA CRUISE. ONBOARD AZAMARA QUEST. 31st JANURAY, 2015 TO 3rd FEBRUARY, 2015. First of all we flew from Manchester to Singapore for a two night break at the Grand Copthorne Hotel Singapore. This hotel was very ... Read More
BALI, BANGKOK, AND EAST ASIA CRUISE. ONBOARD AZAMARA QUEST. 31st JANURAY, 2015 TO 3rd FEBRUARY, 2015. First of all we flew from Manchester to Singapore for a two night break at the Grand Copthorne Hotel Singapore. This hotel was very convenient, we thought, for travel to all the tourist sights of Singapore. We visited the Gardens on the Bay and took a river cruise. The weather was a little on the wet side but this did not deter our overall enjoyment of Singapore. We boarded the Quest on 3rd February, 2015 and the embarkation was a breeze, from the moment we stepped out of the taxi to getting onto the ship was not more than 20 minutes, everything went like clockwork. We were shown to the buffet for lunch as our Balcony Stateroom was not ready till 2pm. As Azamara is mostly all inclusive of alcohol we were soon imbibing in some very nice red wine with lunch. Our next day was at sea on our way to Koh Samui so we spent a relaxing day onboard. Koh Samui. Here we took the tender to the port and then negotiated a taxi to take us to a beach, we had a wonderful few hours swimming and relaxing on the beach with plenty of beers to keep us cool. Our next port of call was Bangkok and we were to be moored here for 3 days. Azamara had a fleet of buses to ferry us back and to into the city. I am afraid that Bangkok was not for us what with the constant traffic jams, it took forever to get from the ship to the city. We did explore places like the Grand Palace and some of the many Shopping Malls. It was pleasant to go to the Shopping Malls as they were air conditioned and it meant we could get away from the constant heat. One evening Azamara put on their Azamazing evening, this meant quite a lengthy bus journey to a site, we had Balinese dancing and wrestling and the famous Bamboo Dance, it was finished off with a firework display. Unfortunately, for us, we felt that it was too long of a journey there and back, over 3 hours for the one hour show. Soon our time had come to depart Bangkok and we sailed down the river out to the open waters. Our next port of call was Samarang in Indonesia, our morning consisted of visiting a local market, you had to be there to believe it. The smells and the fact that they were selling raw chicken in 35 degrees of heat with no refridgeration was unbelievable. I don’t think they have heard of Health and Safety. We then left there and asked the taxi driver to take us to a beach and a hotel, the first one he took us to was again very dirty and lots and lots of litter, we said no and then he took us to another hotel which was lovely. We asked if we could possibly have a beer or two and the barman said as long as we purchased a beer then we could use all the facilities. We were the only ones around the pool and we had the pool all to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. The next day was at sea and this was the day we crossed the Equator, Azamara did the usual crossing the line which was very funny. Our next port of call was Celukan Bawang in Indonesia another fascinating place. Next onto Lombok here again we went to the beach for the day at the Novotel, this hotel was very nice and all the buildings were thatched and it really was like being in Bali Hi. All too soon we were on the last lap of our 18 night cruise and into the port of Bali. Details of the ship. We have sailed on Azamara Quest in the past and it was good to see one or two familiar faces in the crew. We felt that in some cases the food was not as good as we had on our previous cruise, mainly the buffet. Some of the food in the MDR was only served warm and there were quite a few complaints about this. After mentioning it to the Maitre’d it was soon put right. The bar staff around the ship could not be faulted they were soon around offering you drinks etc. The staterooms, I believe are being refurbished when she goes into dry dock in September of this year. They could do with a tweak here and there. We felt that the balcony furniture was far too big for the size of the Balcony. All in all a very enjoyable cruise, but we have now been to Indonesia and feel that once was enough. For us the temperatures were too overwhelming what with the humidity and all. Just to say we flew with Etihad Airlines both ways and could not fault the service and timings of the flights.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Flight on Turkish Airways was on time and we were served lunch with free drinks. Arrived at Ataturk Airport and all was well until we had to locate our transport. We were told to look for a person holding a card with our name on it. This ... Read More
Flight on Turkish Airways was on time and we were served lunch with free drinks. Arrived at Ataturk Airport and all was well until we had to locate our transport. We were told to look for a person holding a card with our name on it. This was, in reality, a piece of paper attached to fencing, along with 100s of others, as we entered the arrivals area. We then had to wait for nearly half an hour to be told to go, with others, to a minibus. The booking-in system at the ship was quick and efficient. Once on-board we went to the Windows Cafe for lunch whilst our luggage was delivered to our cabin (sorry Veranda Stateroom). Our Stateroom (6083) was roomy, with a lot of storage space, and had a flat screen TV. The bed was large and had the deepest mattress I’ve had on any ship. The bathroom was small and only had a shower (no bath) but this was perfectly acceptable. Bottled water was complimentary and replaced daily. We always ate breakfast and lunch in the Windows Cafe. There was a very large selection at breakfast with the exception of breakfast cereals which there was little choice. Lunch again had a large selection but very little variation in the menu. Even though it was it was supposed to be self-service we were served every day. Infection concerns were given as the reason. The one thing I could not understand was that there were no trays and getting a cold plate for salads was a constant problem. They want to serve salads in a bowl, cold meats/cheese on another plate. Then I wanted a roll and butter but I only have two hands! I had to find a table, put down what I had then go back for what I couldn't carry. Every night we ate in the Discoveries Restaurant. On entering we were asked what table size we required and escorted to a suitable table. This worked very well and we met many friendly people. Different wines were served each night but some were very much house wines. The food was good but not the high standard we expected of this level of ship. Again the menu was not as varied enough each night. One night many of us at the table had venison which looked and tasted like liver! All the staff on the ship were very friendly and attentive. Nothing was too much trouble. The singers and dancers performed to a high standard. However, they had to double up on quizzes etc. which can only be expected on a ship of this size. However, they were clearly not trained to do these additional functions. We did not take any ship organised tours as we thought that they were far too expensive but chose instead to just walk around the towns where we docked. We did not buy anything or had a drink in these ports as each only wanted their own currency and not the Dollars or Euros we bought with us. There were too many different currencies to keep changing small amounts. Nessebar was an old picturesque town with many old churches. However, they had people on the doors to levy a charge on all who wished to enter. I believe that this was only done when a ship was in port. All in all, a pleasant port of call. The same cannot be said for our next port, Constanta. This can best be described as either London or Coventry after the Second World War blitz! I'm surprised that any ship would want to visit here. Many houses, cafes and shops were either boarded up or just a shell. This was a tender port and we were met by local guides who handed out maps of the town. Not a lot of people around. However, the centre town square was a light relief with very attractive buildings surrounding it. After a day at sea we arrived at Batumi which was definitely the highlight of the whole cruise. We docked in the town and walked around this very attractive and clean city. There were many beautiful buildings some old and some very new. This was also the place where we were to experience the AzAmazing Evening. Most of the 700 passengers went to the Batumi State Musical Center for a show entitled “Legends of Dance”. It was so well organised and the show was of an exceptionally high standard. On our return to the ship we were met with many locals who had come down to the sea front just to see the ship. The ship had laid on a band to greet us and we were served drinks prior to us getting back on-board. The sail away was also impressive as the locals waived us away and many of the building had their own light shows. The last port was Trabzon. After a steep climb up from the harbour we entered a town which was very much like Istanbul in character. Many very busy streets and squares. It was too commercialised but there were no problems with being hassled by the local shops. The ship had advised us of the disembarking procedures a couple of days before. We had been scheduled to depart the ship at 7:45am which I queried as our flight was not until 12:55. It was changed to 8:45am without a problem. However, 9am was the very last disembarking time. It did give many passengers the feeling that, “The cruise is over, get off”! Many passengers were leaving on flight much later than ours. The coach, taking us to the airport, took ages to leave the port and made very slow progress through Istanbul. Once away from the city we made speedy progress to the airport. We had to have our entire luggage scanned on entry. This seemed a bit excessive. Otherwise check-in was speedy and efficient. The airport is vast. We left from gate 221. The flight home, on Turkish Airways, was on time and again a pleasant experience. Would we travel again with Azamara again? Probably not as their normal cruise pricing is way above what we would normally spend. Their food in the main restaurant also is not up to the standard of other cruises we have been on. However, it is a good ship with very friendly staff.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We are retired in Thailand, in the North Issan in fact, we generally do three or four cruises a year and have done four on Azamara in the last 15 months, we are Discovery members, our last posted review on Azamara was titled “Almost ... Read More
We are retired in Thailand, in the North Issan in fact, we generally do three or four cruises a year and have done four on Azamara in the last 15 months, we are Discovery members, our last posted review on Azamara was titled “Almost Excellence dated Jan 2014”, I have lost count of my cruises but well in excess of 40 We flew from Khon Kaen to Bangkok then to Singapore and overnighted at the Intercontinental Hotel a very wonderful property Embarkation was unusually slow maybe an hour and a half, and very tiring in the heat, this is in our experience unusual for Azamara, on check in our loyalty status was despite written promises from Miami, for the third time was incorrect, this was corrected on board. It was wonderful to be back on board , we knew 85%of the crew, and there are many old friends some who visit us in Thailand at home, probably the most friendly of any of the over 40 cruises I have been on The dining and food was almost up to previous standards, but we felt had dropped off a little maybe we had been spoilt by having Johnathan as F& B manager for our previous three cruises, I felt the dollar allocation on food had been cut a little, or the new F&B manager was over controlling costs,Johanthan used to say he often ran a little over budget but his primary concern was to do the very best job possible, rather commendable! We enjoy Windstar and Seabourne a lot and consider the quality of food on Azamara to be almost equal. Seabourne include a complimentary sparkling wine very much appreciated by the ladies, not so on Azamara, but generally the selection of complimentary drinks is OK Windows restaurant was stretched with the ship full, and many times through lack of space we transferred to the main restaurant deck 5 always a nice place to find good food and tranquility This was the first time we had sailed with the ship full We very much enjoyed the brunches especially the one for discovery members given upstairs in Prime C, We also very much enjoy the white evening barbeque on the pool deck this should be increased from the present once per cruise to once a week We did not use the two specialty food locations Aquilina and Prime C as when on our earlier cruise we had paid for a suite and they were included at no supplement we used them probably eight times , we only got off the previous cruise in January and felt the food did not justify the extra cost, generally the food in the main restaurant is very good We love mosaic café and its excellent double cappuccinos, there are generally very nice small snacks available there We felt the entertainment had improved substantially maybe due to Erics presence back on board The ports of call were a little disappointing even the Captain and Hotel manager commented they did not know why head office chose these ports;especially Indonesia and on all occasions despite Azamara’s claim, no free shuttles available, because of port disputes and the get out is covered in their small print. In Srilanka, Cochin and Bombay we did our own tours through Trip Adviser leads, and were very happy with them, all saving in excess of 65% each time comparing like with like, there is a risk here but we chose to take it, and remember if on a private tour the ship can leave without you if you fail to turn up on time In Indonesia instead of the free shuttle we were offer a bus at $39 to the city not very acceptable The Amazing Evening was at the Taj Malibar hotel in Cochin a lovely hotel in first class location on the water, the entertainment was very good but could have been run on the pool deck instead of herding every one to two showings and everyone feeling very rushed, it took away from the experience In Bombay we stayed at the Taj Vivante post cruise a lovely lovely hotel with the very best Indian food, its Thai restaurant was however only mediocre, coming from people who live in Thailand Our chosen stateroom this time was ocean view (we have travelled in suites and balconies on previous occasions) with small print obscured view and smaller sq ftge than normal ocean view, we were shocked and horrified when we saw no view except for life boat fully filling the window, we were very upset, it was the cabin number we had booked but we expected obscured view meant maybe we lost 20% of view not ALL of it. Later Heinke the superb hotel manager told us they normally only use these cabins for free upgrades, from inside cabins, she also said Miami were booking the ships so full it gave her little room to maneuver We were extremely distressed in fact so much so we considered getting off the ship, the front desk just stonewalled us when we complained and kept quoting ship full, the captain told us he had no authority to grant a refund and when I requested he call Miami then he said the office was shut, I replied I was sure he had a 24/7 number for Miami, he just smiled, we withdrew and went and wrote to the Captain and Hotel manager gave it to reception, got a receipt, and asked them both to immediately contact Miami. Heinke then appeared five minutes later, bless her, smiling as always and promised to do her best to help and fine that unavailable cabin, with a proper or 80%view. She was the first to say our expectations had not been met and she was very understanding in these circumstances; Just before sailing we were offered an upgrade subject to paying another $100 , I thought it might have been done on a no charge basis as a gesture of goodwill but we did not argue just paid Once ensconced in our new accommodation we were free to relax and enjoy, comparing ocean view to balcony and suite other than price difference there is not so much difference especially as we spend a lot of time out on deck and around, is suite worth the extra money, no I would say having travelled in both within four months The bathroom was tight but the same size as balcony accommodation, there were problems on the toilets, they said routine maintenance, but I doubt it, on the previous three cruises never routine maintenance and system shut downs, the ship is getting old and these vacuum systems take a lot of maintenance and servicing to keep them in top class condition All the operational hotel staff can without exception be classed as exceptional, The Hotel manager should probably be in overall charge of the ship,(including the Captain) she is seen working all the time moving from place to place in those very excuisite high heeled shoes, she has to be the very best. Eric on entertainment works very hard and produces the goods. The Captain is visibly seen around the ship a lot always smiling but would benefit from a course on handling upset customers and their expectations, he did take the ship off course so all could see the sunset and its green flash. The F&B manager has a tough job following Johnathan our host on the three previous cruises. Our previous butler from when we had a suite, has been promoted and was in overall charge of our cabin, a very nice capable and helpful man My strong impression is the ship and its officers will do anything reasonable to try and look after passengers, but managers in Miami, restrict the ability of the Hotel Manager and the Captain, i.e. they could not agree a refund for a very upset passenger there and then; any five star hotel will refund an unhappy customer immediately and hope maybe that customer returns at least to a different property Overall we rate Azamara quite highly, probably on the way down rather than way up; but our difficult experience on cabins has made us decide to book elsewhere for a while; probably Seabourne and Windstar, especially as they have taken over three of Seabournes ships, we had been planning to book three more Azamara cruises while onboard but changed our minds, due to the misdescription on the lack of view of our first state room and the stress to resolve it The cruise lines all work hard to get repeat customers, but they can destroy that loyalty very quickly and easily, I believe Heinke the hotel manager very much understands but her Captain needs a course or two on managing customers expectations Disembarkation, quick easy and oh so nice to be off the ship Alastair and Supaporn   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have cruised on several ships over the years, but after experiencing Azamara I'm afraid we are now jaded! Before we stepped onto the gang plank the Captain walked up to us and introduced himself, throughout the cruise he and Russ ... Read More
We have cruised on several ships over the years, but after experiencing Azamara I'm afraid we are now jaded! Before we stepped onto the gang plank the Captain walked up to us and introduced himself, throughout the cruise he and Russ the cruise director would engage you in conversation. After being on board only a couple days we all got a letter in our cabins asking if we had any suggestions as to how they could make our experience better. They wanted to know early on so we would get the benefits of those suggestions, as I said, class act. We have cruised on one of Quests sister ships before and deliberately choose this size ship because we prefer it to the larger ships, it's beautiful.the food, entertainment and port choices were great. We enjoyed the many new friends we made. This is a ship designed for seasoned travelers, I probably wouldn't take my grandchildren on this one. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and ... Read More
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and greatly enjoyed, pre-all inclusive). We love the small ship format, we were specifically interested in this particular itinerary (which included Mexico's Copper Canyon)...and, as Celebrity loyalists, we wanted to see what our status would bring us on Azamara. The Canyon was the big draw for us in the beginning. We have done the Mexican Riviera to death, but this itinerary offered the lovely small ports of the Sea of Cortez - and the Copper Canyon. Party-hearty survivors of Puerto Vallarta need not have signed up for this cruise. Embarkation in San Pedro was a breeze. The Azamara Quest was the only ship in port that day. We had forgotten the convenience of a smaller ship; the check-in lines were minimal, to say the least. Our key cards identified us as "Discoverer" - top-of-the-line status on this line, but that was to change (more below). One of the first crew members to greet us on the way up the gangway was Jose, the Captain. This would not be our first encounter with him. We were greeted on the main deck with sparkling wine and cranberry juice, and a bit of a wait - the cabins were not quite ready. Fortunately we were given a running commentary about the room status and after a while, coupled with more trips to the champagne tray, the stampede began to the rooms. For us, the National Affairs Suite turned out to be Cabin 6030, one of the last available rooms. It was off the forward elevators and stairs. It is one of the tender cabins, meaning the size of the cabin has been compressed to accommodate the ship's tenders in their davits, and views are obstructed. The bright side of our room was that it overlooked the smaller crew launch boat and we actually had a decent view out the window. The other side of the room? Thunk. Thunk. Slam. This room is directly above the doorway leading out to the boat deck on level 5. When the doors shut on a calm day, a "thunk" is definitely noticeable. When they shut on a sea day and the winds are up, the "slam" is much more pronounced. The noise was especially pronounced upon entering and leaving port as guests go to the rails, and when the crew puts out the deck chair cushions and towels at sunrise and collects them at sunset. We tried not to notice the noise after a while. It is a very narrow room; just enough space for the bed, closets, and a desk and cabinet. The only chair in the room is a stool, which made our decision to skip room service a lot easier. In the room was a missive welcoming us as Discoverer members in Le Club Voyage, containing special events planned "exclusively" for us as top-tier members (thank you, Celebrity). The perks included the LCV cocktail party, a champagne brunch hosted by staff, and - 235 free Internet minutes per guest. Whee! There was also a coupon good for a free bag of laundry. We usually tour a vessel prior to the boat drill. With the Quest, we saw everything in 20 minutes. I was always intrigued by the old Renaissance Cruises ships. This ship, and its sister the Journey, aren't getting any younger. They do have a dated look to them. But they are kept in very good condition. Dining: we ate in all venues. The Discoveries dining room is LOUD. If I could change the font to make "LOUD" bigger, I would. It is especially noisy toward the center. The least noisy part of the restaurant was near the entrance, where the hostess did her very best to maintain her cool against some terribly snobby customers: "we've been waiting for *two* minutes!" "what do you mean, we can't get our *regular* table?!" People, you're on VACATION - take a chill pill! Or enjoy a free martini from the nearby Discoveries Lounge bar. About those free martinis: Azamara is sort of semi-inclusive in offering a selection of free wines with lunch and dinner, and free beer and cocktails from the bars. As long as you're happy with Bud and Becks instead of Corona and a well vodka instead of Ciroc or Grey Goose, you'll do perfectly fine on Azamara. The bar menus detail what costs what...and what doesn't cost anything. We passed on the "specialty" alcohol packages that ranged between $16-19 bucks daily. The food in Discoveries was much better than anticipated - a varied selection every night, prepared well. The bread and desserts were the only weak parts. I thought the complimentary wines were mostly so-so - but I couldn't argue about the price, right? We ate in Aqualina, the Mediterranean specialty restaurant and in Prime C, the specialty steakhouse, once during our cruise. Aqualina was an exceptional dining experience for the $25 per person fee. I really liked my osso bucco. The Missus enjoyed the seafood platter. The experience in Prime C was a bit more mixed. The seafood appetizer was excellent, as was the filet. I should have ordered the NY strip a bit rarer than my usual "medium". The service in C felt slightly off. The pool grill offered a wide variety of specialties, more than most poolside eateries on other ships. The coffee bar on board, Mosaic Cafe, features the not-so-fee-friendly Nespresso system. But you could go up to the counter and order your standard non-Nespresso coffee drink, and the friendly staff will whip them up in a flash for you. One of our favorite gathering places on the Quest. A number of specialty pool buffets were set up during the cruise. One of them was hosted by the ship's officers, who dished out the chow - including an entire roast pig. The Missus asked the officer in charge of the pig, "how did you keep this pig below decks?" The officer replied, "he had his own little house downstairs, and his own little garden. He was pretty happy - until this morning..." Azamara officers are not without a droll sense of humor. In fact, we liked how the crew interacted with the passengers, from the captain on down. Captain Jose issued, almost without fail, his "Voice from the Bridge" - a noontime soliloquy that usually ran between 8-10 minutes, detailing everything from the location of sister ship Journey, the distance to his home in Portugal, and literally everything in between - spoken with an extremely straight face. There was rarely a time when we didn't see him at some event on board the Quest, and even on shore. He brought a certain humanity to his job. We enjoyed how the singers, dancers and musicians engaged with passengers at events, especially the "White Night" event. Tours: We only took a couple of ship tours. But one was the Copper Canyon, and that would be enough for any cruise. The CC canyon was *long* - one of the longest ship's tours I've taken in my life. Off the boat and on the bus at 5 AM. Nearly two hours to the train. Six hours by train to the lookout and hotel for lunch. Six hours back on the train, during which time darkness fell and there was nothing to look at. Another hour and a half on the bus. We spent a little under two hours on site, some of which was taken up by lunch and a folk show by the local Indians, and the rest of that time spent wandering around the lookout trying not to fall over the canyon's edge while being besieged by Indian souvenir vendors. Were we to do this again, we'd spend the night at the canyon and make it a two-day trip. A single day just killed us. That night, we returned to the port where a huge party was in full swing. The people of Topolobampo put on a big fiesta right on the dock, with a live band and a dance floor. We learned that the crew joined the mix and encouraged passengers to come on down and support the town's efforts. We received a similar welcome the next day in Guaymas, where there was almost non-stop entertainment at dockside and young volunteers wore t-shirts saying, "may I help you?" The "Azamazing Evening" in Cabo was a little underwhelming. The show felt really hokey, though the fireworks at the end were awesome. I would imagine the "Evenings" in Europe probably have more material to work with to make them more interesting. But I give Azamara props for getting a great proportion of the guests off the ship onto the tenders and buses and bringing them back in one piece. The SWAG we received - little handicrafts and tequila miniatures - was a really neat treat. Overall: The Quest: an aging ship without the bells and whistles of more modern ships. A curse, but perhaps also a blessing. There are cruises where we mostly don't need a lot of visual / aural stimulation. Public passageways could be a little tight, especially when bad weather drove everyone indoors from the pool deck. The area around the photo kiosk and shops is often cramped due to the presence of sale tables, which restricted passenger flow. The crew: very engaging, for the most part. I experienced no special Azamara "moments" with them but thought many of them made a solid effort to ensure we felt at home on board. The facilities: only one small swimming pool. The Quest offers a thalassotherapy pool as part of its spa services, but we passed on purchasing a day pass. On Celebrity, that pool is free to all to use. The Quest's spa pool is no more than a glorified hot tub in size. The Cabaret Lounge is the ship's multi-purpose facility for shows, lectures, bingo - and the special Super Bowl party held during this cruise. As a Niners fan, I had no dog in this particular fight...but that didn't stop me from doing drive-by munching on the party's food tables. As a theater venue, the sight lines are really poor, especially in the back. The Casino wasn't exactly packed during this cruise. The usual slots and blackjack junkies. C-Prime was reminiscent of your upscale American steak house - lots of black/white photos of American pop culture. Aqualina had a vaguely European feel to it. The shows: We didn't think much of the special guests brought on board as nightly entertainment. A couple of the musical shows were really done well. I had not seen the "Voices" show on any other ship and thought this was the best of the cruise. Cruise Director: Russ Grieve is the Best. Cruise. Director. Ever. He sings! He dances! He makes great waffles (during his stint at a LCV officers brunch)! Extremely outgoing. Most cruise directors are rather standoffish but Russ really made an effort to reach out to the guests and made them feel welcome. FItness center: collection of treadmills, ellipticals, strength machines and free weights. It is relatively small compared to larger ships and you might have to wait for a treadmill during some sea day mornings. A full range of exercise classes is offered. Quite a few people use the jogging/walking track above the pool deck. 13 laps on that track equals a nautical mile. Children's facilities: none that I could see. No children's programs were listed in the daily newsletter and there weren't any kids on this cruise. The itinerary: A Mexican cruise, but not the usual Rivera Shuffle (Cabo-Vallarta-Mazatlan). We saw a lot of the lovely little port towns along the Sea of Cortez. Been to most of them before, but liked them all. The tours: Other than Copper Canyon and a Sierra Madre trip out of Mazatlan, we really weren't interested in seeing anything. We were happy to bum around the port towns, especially Loreto and Guaymas. A pity Cruise Critic doesn't list these ports on its drop-down menu. I would be happy to write about them. Le Club Voyage: a number of events for past passengers, including a brunch in Aqualina and the usual LCV passengers event in the Lounge. The Aqualina brunch was nice. The passengers event was nothing special - except when the LCV representative tried to explain the "new" expanded status levels. Discoverer was the top level. She explained this would be surpassed by two new "super" levels - but was at a loss to explain whether, at those new levels, your treatment would be anything different or better than Discoverer. The changes were apparently so new that even the LCV rep was still trying to figure it all out. Would we sail on Azamara again? Perhaps. The itineraries are really interesting and we like the small ship experience. But Azamara's bread-and-butter is its European and Mediterranean cruises - a little far to travel, for us. Azamara won't tear us away from Celebrity and Crystal. It does, however, give us another cruising option. This was one of the nicer cruising experiences I've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
AZAMARA QUEST CRUISE 7TH TO 14TH SEPTEMBER, 2013. This would be our very first Azamara cruise after cruising with Seabourn and Oceania quite a few times. We flew to Rome and then on to Civitavecchia and stayed for one night at the San ... Read More
AZAMARA QUEST CRUISE 7TH TO 14TH SEPTEMBER, 2013. This would be our very first Azamara cruise after cruising with Seabourn and Oceania quite a few times. We flew to Rome and then on to Civitavecchia and stayed for one night at the San Georgio hotel in Civitavecchia. On the morning of embarkation we walked to the port from the hotel and then caught the shuttle bus to the ship. As we arrived porters were there to take our luggage and we were shown to the check in area. As we had cruised with Celebrity Cruises quite a few times the lady at the door said we would have preferential boarding. We were shown to the check in desk and we were checked in and ready to board the Quest in less than five minutes. This must have been the best check in and quickest we have ever had. A good sign and hoped that things would go this smoothly throughout the cruise. As we boarded there were the usual people trying to sell the Premium Drinks package and the Spa people there selling massages etc. We were offered a welcome drink of sparkling wine. We were then told that the buffet was open for lunch, cabins would be available about 1330 hours. We made our way to the buffet and here we found that they did not have the array of food you find on Oceania, we did realise that they would not have such an extensive buffet as Seabourn. One good thing was that they poured wine and it was very drinkable, also they were soon round asking if you required further top ups. Which was very nice? Soon the announcement was made and we went to our cabin number 8019 a standard balcony cabin. The cabin was very nice the bathroom a little small but then again we only used the cabin for changing and sleeping, we did not intend to spend a lot of time in there. On embarkation we filled out the raffle for the spa and were told that the draw would take place at 6pm, you had to be in it to win it. We did attend the draw, but again it was very long winded, but well worth it as my wife won one of the prizes. At six oclock we cast our lines and were soon on our way from the harbour of Civitavecchia. We went up on deck and the drink was flowing quite freely, apart from when we boarded we were never hassled about buying the premium drinks package, which some people on Cruise Critic said they would do. We felt that the range of drinks offered that there was no need to buy the Premium Package, the only thing that was not on the Complementary list was Brandy, and all other spirits were catered for. We felt that at least one Brandy should have been offered; we did put this on the comment form. We went down to dinner and asked for a table for two, we were shown directly into the Main Dining Room and given a very nice table for two by the window. The food I must say was very very good and one thing they got right was the temperature of the food. I mentioned this to the waiter and said that Azamara were to best cruise line, in our opinion, for getting food to you on a hot plate and the food was also hot. A very big thank you Azamara. For the rest of the cruise we had no trouble getting a table in the Main Dining room, and we asked for different tables, sometimes for 6, sometimes just for two. At every meal the food was very well presented and hot. Our itinerary was as follows Saturday 7th September. Civitavecchia Sunday 8th September. Portoferraio Elba Italy. Monday 9th September Propriano Corsica France Tuesday 10th September Olbia Sardinia Italy Wednesday 11th September Amalfi Italy (Azamazing Evening) Thursday 12th September Sorrento Italy (Should have been Capri) Friday 13th September Sorrento Italy Saturday 14th September. Civitavecchia Good Pointes about the cruise. Staff. Nothing too much trouble. (Special mention for Javier waiter in Main Dining Room) Food in Main Dining Room and Speciality Restaurants (Hot) Mosaics Cafe. Great Coffee and treats. Fellow Passengers (A very good mix of nationalities) Being awarded the Discoveries level and the freebees. Small Ship (694 passengers) Captain. Carl Smith Things in our Opinion could be improved upon. Buffet. Entertainment. Azamazing Evening. Of the three things that I have mentioned about improvement I would just say that the Buffet at breakfast they did not have any fresh berries, like Raspberries and Strawberries etc they were all tinned. Oceania and Seabourn do have these things fresh. If Azamara want to get into the higher end of cruising then we think that the buffet should be looked at. Not a lot of choice like other upmarket brands. Entertainment. We felt that the two lady singers let the side down, they seemed to us to shout not sing, many other passengers commented on this. Azamazing Evening. This was done whilst we were at anchor in Sorrento. It meant that they had to get virtually all the passengers off by tender and then bus them to the venue. We felt that it would have been better in a port where we were docked not tendered. There was a lot of waiting around because of the fact that we had to wait for buses etc and tenders. Also because of Sorrento the local police would only let three buses go at once, which also meant that we were sat on the coaches for some time. As we were the last coach to leave, when we arrived the food had all gone and the queue for drinks was exceptionally long. Also we had the most verbose courier you could imagine; she really did spoil the evening. She never shut up the whole time we were on the coach, and repeated herself over and over. As you can see there were far more plus points than minus ones. Overall though a very good cruise and top marks to Captain Carl Smith and it showed throughout the vessel that he had a very happy crew. Well done Azamara and hopefully we will be back.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My wife and I are in our 70's and have been cruising since 1972, when we took our first cruise on the "Loveboat" We generally pick our cruises based on the itinerary and although we cruised the Baltic Sea more than 25 years ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 70's and have been cruising since 1972, when we took our first cruise on the "Loveboat" We generally pick our cruises based on the itinerary and although we cruised the Baltic Sea more than 25 years ago, we decided to visit that area of the world again. We booked back to back cruises, the first one from Stockholm to Copenhagen with stops in Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Warnemunde, Kiel and Travemunde in Germany and the second leg from Copenhagen to Dublin, Ireland with stops in Eidfjord, Norway, Lerwick, Scotland, Akureyri and Reyjavik, Iceland and Isle of Man. The boarding process was smooth; We were provided transportation from our hotel in Stockholm to the pier and were on board within 15 minutes of arrival. Lunch was served when we arrived and our suite was available at 2:00 o'clock. An hour later our luggage was delivered to our stateroom. The Azamara ships were recently refurbished and for their age are in splendid condition. We booked a suite on deck 8 for this cruise because we find the standard staterooms a bit too small for our taste. This was our seventh cruise on Azamara for two reasons: Their "choice air" arrangements are very convenient for us. We have found their air much better than Regent Seven Seas for example. With Regent we had to get up at 5:00 AM to get to their flights, with Azamara our flights left late mornings and arrived early evenings. The second reason is that they make you feel like family; when we boarded, the first person we met onboard was one of the dancers in their shows, who remembered us by name from a previous cruise on the "Journey". That you don't find very often. Our suite came provided with a butler and our butler, Mevin could not have been more helpful with making specialty dining room reservations (which are complimentary for suite guests) and serving us breakfast in our cabin. He also kept our champagne on ice at all times. Most mornings we had breakfast in the "windows café" which serves breakfast buffet style and has a terrific selection of everything you could possibly want for breakfast including eggs prepared to your liking. The main dining room, "Discoveries" is not as noisy as many ships we have sailed on and, again the service is very attentive and the food delicious. Our favorites, however, are "Aqualina" and "Prime C" their specialty restaurants. Unlike many other ships we sailed on, we never had a problem getting the reservation we requested. We dined in each of the specialty restaurants at least five times. The menus were varied enough to suit our tastes and the presentation and service were always top notch. The Cabaret lounge, while not as opulent as some ships, is intimate and the shows were very good. Their singers and dances, which include our cruise director, Russ were outstanding and we enjoyed many of their Broadway productions. They also brought in a concert pianist and several comedians and singers. Their productions are not as lavish as many other ships but we thought their entertainment was very good. Their orchestra was outstanding! The staff could not have been nicer and attentive. They truly make you feel like a family. That's why we love small ships. Debarkation was smooth; we did not have to get up at an ungodly hour. Had a leisurely breakfast and were off the ship by 9:30 AM for a bus transfer to our hotel in Dublin. We will definitely sail with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We wanted to see what a luxury cruise line was and what would be different than the wonderful cruises we have had on Celebrity. Best I can say is that nothing was as great as the experience we have had on Celebrity and it seemed like the ... Read More
We wanted to see what a luxury cruise line was and what would be different than the wonderful cruises we have had on Celebrity. Best I can say is that nothing was as great as the experience we have had on Celebrity and it seemed like the ones who loved it were phobic against large ships and loved the smaller ports these lines go to. On that basis, Azamara is ok but not GREAT. The finesse of Celebrity where everyone seemed to anticipate your needs was missing. On several calls to guest relations, the phone was answered by "I'll call you right back!" and no return call was made. I made an inquiry about terms of my package and was told that "They cannot answer these questions" and offered no desire to find out. On any cruise I was always told, we will get an answer and advise! Azamara is the ONLY cruise lines to flatly reject our desire to extend our stay and no explanation was ever offered. The "package" was set in concrete and there are no variations! We always ask for extension to enjoy the new location. One part of a day is never enough to search out the richness of a city. Crew was exception with the best Captain we have ever had and the entertainment (cruise director staff) were of the highest caliber we have ever enjoyed. Hotel staff and restaurant staff had some bright spots like YAN-YAN the waitress. However that "finesse" was missing-like serving a warm glass of Chardonnay and then - to correct - was about to pour the chilled bottle into the warm contents!In our questionnaire, we said that we would not enter any restaurant that had dirty windows. The windows on this ship were so dirty that when the sun was on the window, you could not see beyond the crud that had accumulated! The excuse was that they could not do this on a transatlantic, but the windows were dirty LONG before we got on board! The worst issue we have is that the cruise line arranged our stay at the Melia Sevilla Hotel. Put us on buses to the hotel, then had NO ROOM to check into until 3 PM! The buses dropped us at the hotel about 9 AM! When we went in with our baggage, the hotel staff said that they were not permitted to help us and that the cruise staff would help! The cruise staff was ONE WOMAN and ONE MAN and there were three bus loads of passengers and the baggage! The woman deferred to the man about everything so we guessed she was a trainee, and the man KNEW NOTHING. He recited the instructions that we are to fill out the registration forms and then leave the bags in the lobby to be delivered to the rooms! The problem was that he had no way of identifying who owned what bags. When my wife asked about this, he looked blankly and them went to the hotel manager who (FOR THE FIRST TIME) told him we needed to put claim checks on the bags. The man gave us 4 of the 8 tags given to him! We were then told to vacate until 3 PM and "go to something!" and did not offer ANY assistance as to what we could do. The Hotel manager simply pointed us to Taxi stand on the other side of the street who all quoted us 10 Euros to the Cathedral! This is much higher that the reviews have shown us since this was only a few blocks away! The anger was very bad as the majority were older people that could not stand for too long, etc. It was like cattle cars dumping us on to the hotel and having no plans to care for any of us until 6 hours later!!! We have no desire to book Azamara again. We saw no value to the expense, no value to the loyalty issue that have us highest level due to the Celebrity status we have. I had the driest Fillet I have ever eaten. No a jucy, tender beef, but a dry beef that would never qualify as such here in Texas! Food was middle of the road. Complimentary wines were ok, but not above the $6-8 a bottle class of wines. In short, this is a small ship middle of the road cruise that I see no value in the higher cost to be justified! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
14 days from Singapore to Hong Kong was a delight. Azamara did a great thing by providing soft drinks and wine gratis. Our previous Azamara cruise I was still signing for each drink, a nuisance for me and the staff. The overall ... Read More
14 days from Singapore to Hong Kong was a delight. Azamara did a great thing by providing soft drinks and wine gratis. Our previous Azamara cruise I was still signing for each drink, a nuisance for me and the staff. The overall experience was up to their usual excellent standard. Food was quite good at the Windows buffet as well as the Discoveries (MDR). A few signs of cost cutting since our last trip, berries are frozen rather than fresh, and no more Prosciutto appetizer. Sushi was available all evening, a nice touch. Service outstanding as usual, entertainment was "cruise ship" song and dance, which we enjoyed. Sadly the British comedian's accent was difficult for my old ears to decipher, though the many Aussies and UK-ers had no trouble. Wish I knew what they were laughing at sometimes. There was one major disappointment though, the internet service. It's terribly expensive and frustratingly slow. Buying any amount of minutes incurred a 3 minute overhead to log on and another 3 minute overhead to log off. Their usual disclaimer is that satellite service is slow by nature. Perhaps, but when I peeked over the shoulder of the techy guy (in title only, he knew less than I about the technology) in the internet center, his laptop was surfing lightning fast. There's a good signal somewhere on the ship, just not for the passengers. I spent more for internet time than for liquor, and that's wrong for 2 reasons! The internet service was also down for hours at a time. We live in the age of Skype and streaming. Neither of these services were available or even possible. I read other ships with similar complaints. I'd like better internet service, if for no other reason than to supplement their satellite TV channel set. I doubt any cruise company will want to upset the present profit center that selling time provides. Next time I'll load more books on my Kindle. I continue to love Azamara's 2 ships and will travel with them again. Hopefully the technology will improve in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
Our cruise began 6 Oct. from Barcelona, sailed to seven ports - Palma de Mallorca, Bonifacio, Rome (Civitavecchia), Elba (Portoferraio), Livorno (Pisa, Florence), Nice, and back to Barcelona on 16 Oct. THE SHIP - This was our second ... Read More
Our cruise began 6 Oct. from Barcelona, sailed to seven ports - Palma de Mallorca, Bonifacio, Rome (Civitavecchia), Elba (Portoferraio), Livorno (Pisa, Florence), Nice, and back to Barcelona on 16 Oct. THE SHIP - This was our second Azamara cruise, both on the Quest. We like the relative intimacy of a mid size ship (684 maximum). Our Veranda cabin was comfortable and well laid out. The deck seven location was ideal, situated just below the Windows Cafe (buffet) and pool grill on Deck 9, and the Discovery dining room and various activity areas on deck 5. Guest relations were on deck 4. THE SERVICE - Flawless and friendly. Not a single complaint. The concierge went out of his way to refund an excursion cancelled past the normal refund time because of my wife's illness. Obviously, all crew have been instructed to be friendly and polite. The wait-staff performed admirably as well. THE FOOD - There are two main restaurants on the Quest: the Windows cafe (buffet) and the Discovery restaurant (waiter service with fairly extensive menu. There are also two specialty restaurants that charge $27.50 per person, and a pool fast food grill that served excellent hamburgers, onion rings, and a variety of other fast-food delights. We did not attend either specialty restaurant. Azamara serves a free red and white wine with lunch and dinner. The wines were decent, but not in any way memorable. Here I have some minor complaints. I had a tough strip steak and some dry short ribs in the Discovery. My wife had some Grouper she termed greasy. However, the appetizers and the soups were imaginative and generally excellent. The buffet did especially well with salads and freshly cooked dishes (roast beef, pork loin, and some excellent roast lamb). They served an excellent seafood risotto one evening, and their freshly cooked pasta was also good. However, as with most buffets, the stuff that sat around in steam tables was less good, but better than average. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT: My wife saw dance presentation which she found ok. Other than that, we attended none of the evening shows. The ship is relatively small, and the variety of activities was limited compared to those on a mega-ship, but we found enough to do during sea days. EXCURSIONS: I took a ten-hour excursion to Rome, which included the Colosseum, Vatican City, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, all venues in Vatican City were packed. Our guide did yeo-woman work in getting us through various venues , but the experience was not pleasant. My wife and I took a walking market tour in Barcelona which was all right, but we could just as well done this on our own. Azamara has a half-price excursion policy if the excursions are booked on-line. OVERALL: We found the cruise enjoyable. We like Azamara and will probably cruise with them again. However, I have been informed by some of the passengers that Azamara is planning to "upgrade" approaching the luxury status (including liquor, for example), and raising its prices. I hope not. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We are retired travelers in our 60s who have been seriously bitten by the cruise bug. We have been on 17 cruises over the past 10 years, on five cruise lines. We prefer Celebrity, where we have achieved Elite status. This is our second ... Read More
We are retired travelers in our 60s who have been seriously bitten by the cruise bug. We have been on 17 cruises over the past 10 years, on five cruise lines. We prefer Celebrity, where we have achieved Elite status. This is our second cruise on Azamara, the first having been last spring in the Caribbean. Both of these cruises were arranged by a travel agent who specializes in group cruises including airfare and pre-voyage hotel stays. We were very happy with our spring trip, and we eagerly signed on when this one was offered. We flew from Atlanta, changing planes in Paris. A note to the unwary: Charles de Gaulle Airport is not for the faint of heart or the slow of foot. The signage is easy enough to follow, but it takes forever to go from one concourse to another (it is not so much a terminal as an interminable). Be sure to allow plenty of time between planes and wear your sturdiest walking shoes. When we arrived in Athens, we were met by Azamara personnel and shepherded onto our bus for transfer to the Athens Hilton, where we had a very nice room with a balcony. After a nap, we booked an Athens-by-Night tour through the hotel. This included a photo stop at the lit-up Acropolis, a visit to a surprisingly interesting museum of ancient instruments, and dinner and a folkloric show at a taverna, nothing memorable but a way to see a little of the city in our limited time there. After a stupendous breakfast buffet (included), we were herded a bit roughly and rudely onto buses for transfer to the harbor in Piraeus. The weather had turned chilly with blustery winds, and we had to stand outside for some time while the buses got sorted out. The trip to the port took about an hour. Once we arrived, embarkation could not have gone more smoothly. One very great advantage of the smaller size of the Quest and the Journey is that there never seems to be a crowd anywhere or a long wait for anything. We were on board, champagne in hand, by 1 p.m., with only a few minutes to wait before our cabins were ready. We recognized a number of staff faces from our previous Azamara trip, and were greeted cordially. We had a deluxe veranda cabin midships on deck 7. While significantly smaller than the cabins on other cruise lines, the closet and storage space was cleverly designed and adequate for our needs. Because we did not need to bring formal attire, we were able to pack more compactly and had no problem stashing everything away. While the veranda is a bit of a luxury, we love being able to step outside and check the weather, and to sit and watch the ship enter and leave the harbors. There was fresh fruit on our table, replenished as needed, and the Azamara policy of providing all soft drinks, specialty coffees, and bottled water made it easy to have the mini-fridge stocked exactly as we wished. We love the dining policy on Azamara. Not only could we choose whether we wanted a sandwich, a buffet salad bar, or a sit-down meal, we could eat early if we chose or come back from a late excursion and still have a relaxed dinner. We could eat by ourselves or socialize with others as we wished. In addition to the buffet on deck 9 and the lovely Discoveries dining room on deck 5, there is a poolside grill during the day, two specialty restaurants, and the delightful Mosaic Cafe midships on deck 5 which serves tiny sandwiches, pastries, and cookies along with specialty coffees. Note also that the Mosaic staff will cheerfully pack a mini-quiche or two into a to-go cup with a lid, great for bringing along for snacking on a long shore excursion. The food is varied, plentiful, and fine. We didn't find many items that made us sit up and cheer, but we were always well satisfied. We did eat once in one of the specialty restaurants, Prime C, where we each had an excellent filet mignon, but surprisingly pedestrian soups, salads, and desserts. But we enjoyed many meals in the dining room and several interesting themed buffets (Asian, French, Greek, sea food, etc). Because this was a very port-intensive itinerary with only one sea day, we did not take part in most of the activities provided. These included destination talks and other enrichment lectures, as well as the usual trivia, bingo, etc. The cozy Cabaret theater is much smaller and more intimate than the larger ships' entertainment venues, so the evening shows were either individual performers or small-scale production numbers with five talented singer/dancers. We especially enjoyed the concert by Cruise Director Tony Markey, who is a wonderful performer as well as an excellent CD. There is also a variety of music available around the ship, including a vocal duo, a DJ, and a terrific pianist/singer/raconteur, Jim Badger, who performed nightly at the piano in the Mosaic Cafe. As has often been said, the best part of sailing on Azamara is the staff. From the dry wit and mischievous smile of Captain Johannes, who seemed to be everywhere all the time, to the nameless crew members scrubbing the banisters and carrying our breakfast trays, everyone we met on board seemed genuinely happy to be part of the Azamara team. We had only to hint at a need and it was instantly and cheerfully met. We did have one unpleasant encounter with a member of the restaurant staff. We both thought we recognized him as a server we had particularly liked on our previous trip. He told us that he was not that person, and added "Probably to you, everyone from my country looks the same." We were thoroughly taken aback, and we noticed that this man never made eye contact with us or came to our service for the rest of the voyage. With this exception, we received outstanding, gracious, and efficient service all the way around. This was a very port-intensive itinerary, starting with Kusadasi, Turkey and the lovely Greek island of Santorini. On our way to Ashdod for a two-day visit to Jerusalem, the captain informed us (at 11 pm!) that the port of Ashdod had been closed to cruise ships due to an exchange of rocket fire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. We were rerouted to Haifa for the entire three days of our stay in Israel. We had made private arrangements for Days 1 (in Jerusalem) and 3 (in Haifa). We were able to take these tours anyway, albeit with major changes due to the extra driving time involved, and most of the ship tours were also reorganized on different days. We had planned to return to Jerusalem on Day 2 to visit friends, but this was not possible, so we just explored Haifa on our own. The Captain and the staff deserve great appreciation for the calm and efficient way in which they handled the many logistical challenges required by this unexpected situation. They also managed very well when a number of passengers later developed some form of the dreaded gastro-intestinal virus. The Captain ordered no self-service in the buffet line and urged frequent hand-washing. The ship had been spotless to begin with, but cleaning efforts were stepped up even more. By the end of the cruise, the situation seemed to have improved greatly. After leaving Haifa, we visited Paphos, Cyprus (gorgeous); Antalya, Turkey (more gorgeous); Rhodes, Greece (super gorgeous), and the enchanting island of Kos, Greece (would you believe the prettiest of them all?). We made our own arrangements in Israel, and in Kos we took a local mini-train on our own. In the other ports, we relied on Shore Excursions provided by Azamara. We are not intrepid adventurers, preferring our excursions to be low-key and physically unchallenging introductions to ports that are new to us. We are not ones for zip lining, parasailing, river rafting, etc. Nonetheless, due to the terrain in these ancient cities, the vast majority of the excursions offered on this cruise were listed as strenuous, or as moderate with strong stipulations about walking difficulties. We generally chose half-day excursions and made our own accommodations as we went along, but we were pretty tired when we got back to the ship each day. In Kusadasi, we chose KD20, Highlights of Ephesus. This half-day tour started with a visit to the House of Virgin Mary, which we could have done without, especially with the complimentary fake earthenware jugs for us to fill with water from the spring as a souvenir. We then took a guided walking tour of the excavated ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. The terrain was indeed challenging, but we were able to walk mostly at our own pace. We then witnessed a fake pageant purporting to portray Cleopatra and members of her court including armed gladiators and dancing girls. (For both of these segments of the tour, guests were issued personal audio sets so that that tour guide could remain in contact with us all. Unfortunately, I am hearing impaired, and was unable to utilize the accompanying earphones.) The tour concluded with a carpet-making demonstration, where we were given refreshments and a relatively mild sales pitch. In Santorini, we took SO14, Village of Oia and Santorini Island Wine Tasting. After walking through a picturesque village, we were taken to a winery to try the local vintages and snack on cheese and bread. We ended in the lovely town of Fira, which is what most people think of when they hear "Greek Island." This was a 3.5 hour excursion listed as strenuous due to the steep terrain. However, we were given free time to explore Fira at our own pace, so we were able to manage. This is such a lovely place, it would have been a pity to miss it. In Cyprus, which was much more attractive than we had imagined, we took UP03, Paphos and Countryside. We started off at the House of Dionysus, where mosaics from 200 BC were on display. The building was very crowded and many tour guides were vying to out-shout one another, so we waited outside for a while. We then walked through the ruins of the ancient Tombs of the Kings and then drove to a small village to visit an old church. We ended at the spectacular Anassa Beach Hotel, a high-end resort we will probably never be able to afford to enter again, where we were treated to excellent coffee, indifferent pastries, and magnificent views. This was a 6 hour moderate tour with walking stipulations. We managed the walking but were tired for sure by the time we got back. Back in Turkey, we chose TH07, Panoramic Antalya. We started at an excellent archaeological museum, where far too many interesting exhibits were crammed into a brief visit. We then drove past Hadrian's Gate and to the Lower Duden Waterfall, which empties picturesquely into the Mediterranean. There were some shopping stalls here, but we were rushed back to the bus so that we could endure over an hour at a jewelry store where we were all but strong-armed into listening to a heavy sales presentation. So many people complained about this segment of the tour that the ship generously decided to refund a portion of the cost of the excursion. If this excursion is offered as listed, it is definitely NOT recommended. A taxi to the museum would be a much better bet. Finally, in scenic Rhodes we took RH11, Scenic Rhodes. We began with a guided walk through the Old Town followed by a panoramic drive through the more modern city, ending with a walking tour of the ancient city of Kamiros. This was a 5 hour, moderate tour with some rough walking. We did enjoy seeing this beautiful island. Paphos, Antalya, and Kos are not included in the ports listed below. We were sad to have to disembark, but the process went very smoothly. Because of the Norovirus situation, the ship was due to be completely fumigated, and all passengers were supposed to be off-board by 9 a.m. We had been reunited with our luggage, always a moment of relief, and were on our buses to the airport somewhat before that time. The trip to the airport took about an hour and was uneventful. Despite numerous attempts, we had been unable to print our boarding passes, so we waited in long lines to do so. That being eventually accomplished, we found the Athens airport quite accessible. We changed planes in Paris, which was a nightmare. Having learned from our earlier experience that we would have trouble making a tight connection there, we had asked for wheelchair assistance. Even though we are normally ambulatory, we knew we would need the extra speed. Three other couples also required assistance. Somehow, each pair was split up, and each group then waited for a special vehicle to get to the plane and then drive us to the terminal building. We then had to walk through the building and outside where we awaited a special van to transport us to the other concourse, where some of us were reunited with our spouses. With the heroic effort of several airport personnel, we somehow got through customs and all eight of us managed to get on the plane just as final boarding was called. If we never see Charles de Gaulle airport again, we will be quite thrilled. On the whole, this was a terrific cruise. We love the ship, the staff, the service, and even the weather cooperated. We can't wait to book our next Azamara adventure. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We joined the Azamara at Athens after a pre cruise night at the Hilton (expensive but high quality) and embarkation was quick and easy (small ship advantage!). We were asked to book a time for dinner and chose 6.30, only to find that the ... Read More
We joined the Azamara at Athens after a pre cruise night at the Hilton (expensive but high quality) and embarkation was quick and easy (small ship advantage!). We were asked to book a time for dinner and chose 6.30, only to find that the Cruise Critic get-together had been arranged for then. This was useful, although only about half of the members appeared. The senior staff present went out of their way to make us feel that comments would be welcomed, listened to and acted on. This was reinforced by a form in our cabin halfway through the cruise asking for suggestions and criticisms so they could have time to do something about them. We had booked a partially obstructed ocean view room which was as we expected, the only problem being that there was only one chair, so that in-room dining would have been difficult, but we prefer to use the dining facilities. We enjoyed the open seating dining in which we were asked each night if we wanted to join a table or dine at a table for two. We always chose the former as part of the cruise experience is to meet other people. At breakfast we found that the table for two was so close to others that those who wanted privacy would be disappointed, but I suppose they could just have used room service! We also particularly enjoyed the included wine with lunch and dinner. This was of good quality, and on the one occasion when we said it was not quite as good as the previous day, the waiter promptly came back with a bottle of the previous day's offering! The maitre d' was pressing us for comments and the only criticism I could offer was that when you turned down an offer for more wine or coffee, another waiter would ask you a minute later if you would like more wine or coffee! The food in the main dining room was of such quality that we only booked one meal in Aqualina. It was of excellent quality, though. In the buffet wine was served at your table and only once did the service fall below a high standard when the staff were under pressure because everyone seemed to arrive for lunch at the same time on a day in port. We had reserved two excursions with the half price offer for early bookers. There was a slight problem doing this online as the website removed the facility to do this, but after a fax from our travel agent, Azamara honoured this. Transport was always provided for those going independently. Entertainment onboard was not lavish, but of a high standard and good variety. As there was only one performance, we sometimes missed it due to a late dinner. Post cruise arrangements were excellent, including a private car transfer to the Airport after two days in Venice. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We sailed on the Quest from Venice on 24th September 2011. We had a package which included flights, transfers and a pre-cruise hotel stay. Our hotel, outside Venice, was conveniently located near a railway station and we were able ... Read More
We sailed on the Quest from Venice on 24th September 2011. We had a package which included flights, transfers and a pre-cruise hotel stay. Our hotel, outside Venice, was conveniently located near a railway station and we were able to get into Venice very easily. On the morning of the 24th September our transfer arrived promptly and we were welcomed aboard the Quest by 11:30am. We were greeted with sparkling wine and immediately felt at home. The welcome was very warm. We were able to deposit our hand luggage and head off to lunch. After lunch there was time to go back into Venice as the ship was docked at San Basilio, next to a vaporetto stop and close to Accademia. Cabins are not huge, but of an adequate size. The bathroom and shower are small, but we were aware of this and it was not an problem. The cabin was very well kept by Jesus (or Jess as he liked to be known). The bed was extremely comfortable and we had no trouble slipping into the Land of Nod each night (but maybe the included wine had a bearing as well). The ship itself is of a lovely size. Just right for us. The food on board in all restaurants was very good indeed. We dined once in Aqualina, which was excellent and well worth the $15 supplement. We did not try Prime C so cannot comment on that venue. The reason we did not try Prime C was simply that the food in the main dining room was so good and we enjoyed sharing tables and meeting other passengers, The included wine was very good indeed. Every day there was a different selection and it was very generously and freely poured. The staff on the Quest are delightful. They are friendly and very helpful and efficient. It was a real pleasure to meet them and chat with them. The itinerary was good. I won't comment on the ports but the cruise was made special by all the points above and a few extra touches. In Kotor, the captain and officers led an "expedition" up the steps to the fort at the top of the town. This was great fun. The captain also to us past the volcano Stromboli at 11pm one evening and stopped the ship for 20 minuites or so as we watched eruptions and lava flowing down the volcano into the sea. All too soon, the week was over and we had to leave the Quest with great reluctance. It was here that we encountered the only false note of our Azamara experience. Our included transfer deposited us at Rome airport 5 hours before our flight was due to leave. This, we felt, was excessive and I have raised the issue with Azamara. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the Azamara on-board experience and can't wait to get back on board. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Although I have cruised on at least eight other cruises, this was the first on a boutique(small ship) venue. We sailed on September 3rd from Istanbul to Athens. I was impressed by many facets, but for my tastes there were things that I ... Read More
Although I have cruised on at least eight other cruises, this was the first on a boutique(small ship) venue. We sailed on September 3rd from Istanbul to Athens. I was impressed by many facets, but for my tastes there were things that I missed. The most noticeable impression was the food and wine, which was just amazing. Choosing Prime C and Aqualina for a dinner was even more amazing. The best food I ever had at sea. The staff also was so delightful and pleasant. From the waiters to the cabin staff, everyone seemed to be enjoying their job. I don't overlook the amenities such as the bottles of water you took on you shore excursions. They were needed. The cabins were nice sized and for an outside stateroom,very pleasant. It was very easy to find your way on a small ship like this. As far as the itinerary, I felt that there were too many Greek Islands that didn't stand out(Kos and Aigina), and staying until 10-11 PM offered very little benefit to 95% of the passengers since shops and the casino couldn't open. By the time we left the ports, most people were in their cabins. Now this is no a complaint,but for my taste, the experience was too sedate. I don't like hairy chest contests, or videos in your face, but a little more and better entertainment would do wonders. The shows were boring and the keyboard playing in the lounge was awful. A comedian would have been nice. I guess that many seniors like this atmosphere so the cruise gave them what they wanted. My wife and I like to dance, and most nights the venue was dead. Certainly if you are younger than 45 you wouldn't like this cruise. By the way, we are in our 60's. So all in all it was an enjoyable time but maybe we would be looking for a little more from the venue, but not the mega ships with their rude passengers and screaming children. By the way, I would like to thank Azamara for providing buses to every one's hotel for a nominal charge, due to the taxi strike in Athens(that's another story). Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have cruised with Windstar and Seabourn both of which are excellent, but Azamara was better in so many ways.Embarkation was straight forward and we were made to feel special by all the staff. The decor onboard is beautiful and stylish, ... Read More
We have cruised with Windstar and Seabourn both of which are excellent, but Azamara was better in so many ways.Embarkation was straight forward and we were made to feel special by all the staff. The decor onboard is beautiful and stylish, everywhere clean and sparkling. Our balcony cabin was very comfortable, and the bathroom, although on the small side was more than adequate. There were 2 hairdriers, and perfectly powerful enough. I had taken my own based on another review and not needed. The beds are quite hard, but I always take a cheap lilo from Argos when I go on holiday and place it under the mattress protector and find this more than comfortable.The food is delectable - so much choice and beautifully presented. The wait staff are so willing and polite. All these features are were evident in our previous cruises but the whole atmosphere on Azamara and the lovely restaurants made this so special. Aqualina was amazing - Michelin standard and a breathtaking setting overlooking the sea.We didn't go on any excursions but used taxis and buses ourselves. If I can pass on any tips it would be to take an umbrella if visiting Ephasus in Turkey to shade the scorching sun. Also - if visiting Santorini, don't make the mistake of walking down the steps from the town to the port as we did. The stones are polished smooth and treacherous from the hooves of herds of donkeys hurtling up and down carrying tourists pushing walkers clinging to the walls. Much better to take the 4 euro cable car.We didn't watch any entertainment apart from the marvellous Turkish dancers that performed while we had a barbecue on deck.I can't recommend this cruise line highly enough and can't wait to going again next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first cruise on Azamara. Now we are spoiled! Yes, it is more expensive upfront, but what you get is unsurpassed. Tips, features wines, soda, specialty coffee and teas, snacks, ice cream, even fresh squeezed juices: all ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Azamara. Now we are spoiled! Yes, it is more expensive upfront, but what you get is unsurpassed. Tips, features wines, soda, specialty coffee and teas, snacks, ice cream, even fresh squeezed juices: all included. Even with only 640 passengers, there were 3 lecturers on board the ship: a naturalist, a geologist, and an expert in geo-political of Western Europe. The captain was everywhere with the passengers, but when he told us that he was stopping for some fresh fish as we entered the North Sea from Norway, we really didn't believe him -- until the ship stopped and a fisherman pulled up along side. While we had several sea days, we were so busy learning that we had no time for trivia. Even hearing the cruise director's experience fighting pirates was amazing and interesting. The physical condition of the ship, although older, was spotless and very well maintained inside and out. Seating in the cafe was adequate, even at the busiest times. The dining room was lovely and with true "any time dining" policy that worked well. Even embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and without stress. The entertainment that we liked the best was the incomparable Brooks Aehron on the piano. Whether with the band, with aCD accompanment, or as a soloist, the music was phenomenal. Added to the music were explanations of the composers, the pieces, and the times when the pieces were written. As much as we enjoyed the food in the dining room, we also enjoyed the food in the cafe (aka 'cafeteria'). Everything was well-prepared to our liking. Service was excellent and flexible. If we wanted to stay and chat with our tablemates, that was fine with the staff. If we were in a hurry, that also was not a problem. All featured wines were included in the price for the cruise. However, if the featured wine was not to your taste, the rest of the wines were very reasonably priced. At various times, we sat around the pools, even though they were a bit too cold to use in those latitudes. When we were given the towels, we did not need to leave a deposit on our sea pass to insure the return of the towels. Lap robes were also provided, as were robes and slippers in our cabins. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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