10 Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Luxury Cruise Reviews

Let me begin by saying this was to be my dream vacation. My last vacation was 5 years ago. I work incredibly hard and when I finally chose to take the time I sought out Windstar.  I explained my needs and my concerns. I was a solo ... Read More
Let me begin by saying this was to be my dream vacation. My last vacation was 5 years ago. I work incredibly hard and when I finally chose to take the time I sought out Windstar.  I explained my needs and my concerns. I was a solo traveler and wanted a luxury experience. I explained that bedding and the sleeping arrangements were very important to me. I sleep with a CPAP and require a minimum of a double size bed as I sleep in the center. With proper electrical hookup bedside. I needed a fully equipped gym with cardio equipment so I can run the morning otherwise I get anxious. A well appointed spa.  I was assured that the motor boat class of Windstar had all of this and more. A luxury cruise in every sense of the word filled with pampering amenities. The Windstar Star Breeze boasted of beautifully appointed accommodations, exceptional public areas, 2 luxury dining rooms, full spa and gym facilities.  Upon boarding I quickly surveyed the situation and my heart sank.  My stateroom 226  The bedside plug was damaged. I was unable to get power to the CPAP machine. The adapters would not work it took 3 trips by maintenance until they found a workable solution.  The bed is 2 singles pressed against each other. Something I was specifically was assured was not the case!  The bathroom mirror vanity was cracked and held together with silver tape.  The white Marble was stained completely yellow around the toilet from years of urine on porous stone.  The DVD player did not work. I went to the spa to book services. I was delighted to see acupuncture. Was told that was not a service provided on this ship. Why was it on the menu of services then? I booked 3 massage sessions regardless.  I took a tour of the spa. I recoiled upon opening the steam room door due to the smell of mold that was overwhelming, it was small and musty.  I went to the gym and was shocked to discover outdated equipment. An old rower, a basic exercise bike and 2 treadmills. The ceiling is maybe 6’5 the treadmill is a step up making it impossible to be used without hitting my head. I am 6’.  I went to the buffet. Again dismayed, the food was basic and below anything I was accustomed to. I inquired about the buffet because that was another issue I had and was assured by the booking agent that there were full service restaurants available all day. I assumed that the cafeteria buffet was only because we had not set sail yet.  We left the port and set sail. I asked about internet and that it was imperative that I was able to get basic work done with my home office and was assured that it would work throughout he ship. Upon signing up the reception informed me that it was unlikely to work in my stateroom. That was what came to pass not only did it not work in my stateroom it never worked at all as well as the computers in the library! One computer was out of service. Every passenger I spoke with complained about it.  The library filled with books left behind by other passengers. A selection of DVD’s from the 90’s  There was no real bon voyage celebration - some flag thing with no fanfare or pomp. No champagne toast, no little waving flags nothing.  The lounge singers provided bad renditions of popular songs.  If it weren’t all so sad it would have been funny. It was all like a late night basic cable skit.  I went to dinner in the below deck restaurant. It was all mediocre. The ambiance, the service and food.  I went to bed distraught. The seam in the middle of the bed, the hard pillows, the scratchy sheets. I tried to hold back tears. I was a grown man. Day 1 at sea. More bad lounge singing, a lecture about a detox treatment for sale. I went for my massage in an intensely claustrophobic treatment room. I asked about the overhead florescent tube lights. He informed me that there is no way to shut them off. Florescent lighting trigger my migraines he explained that he puts this eye mask on. I don’t want anything on my face especially something like a beanbag that isnt clean and used by others. The massage was amateur at best.  I went to dinner at Candella - the converted buffet. That stayed exactly the same other then then it being night. Not a candle electric or otherwise, not a flower, not twinkling light. A blank room. The steel buffet set up remained. A night cafeteria with a new name. A lipstick on a pig. This was supposed to be the special steak house?  I went to sleep with stomach pain, sad and frustrated. I prayed that in the morning the excursion would be a bright spot.  I woke up early with mild pain and cramping, nauseous and a little weak. I went to the ships doctor seeking pepto bismol. I wanted to make sure that i wouldn’t be queasy on the off board excursion. He immediately started to question my systems, I explained to the best of my ability the situation. He said in order to continue I would need to pay I think $150. He chose to ignore my request for Pepto and let me know if he were to examine me and he suspected that I might have a bacterial or viral digestive illness that he would immediately quarantine me. Not upon clinical diagnosis but suspicion. That lab results would be sent out and until their return minimum 3 days and an all clear I could be locked in my room. This was a perceived threat. His insistence that I undergo an invasive examination and that results would need to be sent to the CDC for confirmation and clearance a 4 day minimum.  At one point as I attempted to leave his office he stepped in front of me blocking my exit. I told him to move or call security. He moved out of my way. The threat of possibly being locked in the cabin with no open window induced such a state of panic that went into a state of fight or flight. I left the ship immediately. I took a 4 hour taxi from the port of call back to Edinburgh. Any one of the above reason have justifiable cause to leave. I am utterly and totally disgusted. I had to reroute my flights and incur an enormous amount of financial loss. My dream trip ruined.  That aspect of the ships protocol is highly disturbing. After sharing all of this the President of Windstar - John Delaney refused any kind of refund, credit or apology. Nothing. What a disgusting lack of customer service. If considering a cruise look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This cruise was selected to celebrate our anniversary and to get out of the extreme summer heat of Florida! Azamara only offered the one sailing for this itinerary, or we'd have selected another time to go since it was PEAK tourist ... Read More
This cruise was selected to celebrate our anniversary and to get out of the extreme summer heat of Florida! Azamara only offered the one sailing for this itinerary, or we'd have selected another time to go since it was PEAK tourist season in all the ports of call. That made the trip stressful at times dealing with the thousands of visitors and hundreds of busses at tight venues, particularly in St Petersburg Russia. We utilized independent tours so I can't comment on the port excursions sponsored by Azamara. Regarding the ship itself, I submitted concerns about no extended weather forecast on the TV, pay-for-movies which were older than the ship (Dancing in the Rain!!!), the telephone, the short hours for the exercise room, absolutely horribly slow WIFI and a problem with dinner taking 2.5 hours in the main dining room causing us to miss the early entertainment. I was immediately contacted with either personal visits or calls from ship staff members resolving the issues that were possible. To other passengers' surprise they noticed the weather was now being featured along with the information from the bridge on channel 14 each morning! Kudos for such an easy issue being resolved! Dining room staff made great efforts to service us more efficiently allowing us time to enjoy the evenings' activities. The rest of my concerns couldn't be resolved on this sailing, but word was being sent up to corporate for consideration. Nice to know there is customer service out there when you ask for it! I did bring other issues to their attention via their survey, which I haven't heard back from yet. The 'new' chairs in the Cabaret Lounge were quite deep and no lumbar pillows were to be had anywhere. I observed many people bringing items with them to make their time more comfortable while watching the events held there. My husband and I moved to the bar stools for a better fit. The ship schedule called for a power outage at 1400 hours on the last day in port. The same exact time many passengers needed the WIFI to access their airline check-in and boarding pass printing. However, due to the power outage, the computers went down, and no one would go up to the Drawing Room and reboot the computers/printers until after 1700 hours! Of course that caused a major backlog/line and way too much last minute stress! (We aborted and turned our phones off Airplane Mode taking a hit for a call to check in, etc.) Regarding the food...even with some dietary restrictions I usually had no issue finding something on the menu or buffets that I could eat. But I did think that they always cooked too much bacon in the mornings as they'd chop it up and sneak it into dishes where it had no business belonging! I was totally expecting it on my ice cream one day! The final day continental breakfast left a whole lot out...like anything to eat after the initial rush ran through! We were into the Windows Café only 30 minutes after it opened and the trays were bare, coffee gone and juice machine sputtering. It took the two lone attendants quite a while to get anything else out, so we grabbed a protein bar from our suitcase and left the ship without much satisfaction there. The warmest day of the cruise the self-serve frozen yogurt machine was out of order, but fixed promptly for the next day. Regarding onboard entertainment...aside from missing the first 3 shows, we found a mix of excellent to mediocre talent aboard. Considering the size of the ship, I guess it was overall pretty good. The Russian Troupe that performed for White Night on the pool deck were outstanding. They were followed by the ship's own band and vocalists belting out hits that had the dance floor jammed! Great night of fun. But the highlight was in Gdansk Poland where the ship was welcomed in port by a marching band playing patriotic songs. That evening we had a surprise visit onboard by former Polish President Lech Walesa in Gdansk Poland. After listening to his comments (via an interpreter) about the Solidarity Movement, and pre-arranged Q&A, the passengers had individual photos taken with Mr. Walesa on stage. He was very insightful and amusing. Thank you AZAMARA! I didn't give this cruise a 5-star rating because I think there were way too many 'little' issues that should never have happened at this level of cruise cost. Hopefully the company will heed the passengers comments and make immediate changes. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We returned to Azamara after our first voyage last year on the Quest. We found that the two ships were almost similar although we preferred the artwork on the Quest better than the Journey. Else, everything was equal and the service ... Read More
We returned to Azamara after our first voyage last year on the Quest. We found that the two ships were almost similar although we preferred the artwork on the Quest better than the Journey. Else, everything was equal and the service continued to be excellent. We thought that the main dining room's menu had drastically improved over the past year and featured a more wide-ranging assortment of choices that were all interesting. The Chef's Table was again amazing. As with last year, despite being fish instead of meat lovers, Prime C was the better experience over Aqualina which again was disappointing (a highly salted chef's special redfish was hardly "special"). Not much else was different other than the White Night this year was spectacular with the local Russian dancers and musicians and the weather was perfect to be on deck. We were also very pleased by the variety and quality of food this White Night as last year suffered some from the "dried buffet" syndrome that often affects big events. Another huge positive was their ability to have Lech Walesa come on board for a talk and Q&A. We understand that they worked on this for some time and it was a special moment for the passengers to be able to hear this world leader and to get our picture taken with him. Well done! In terms of drawbacks, Azamara continues to price itself into a higher stratosphere for what it offers in terms of complimentary aspects of the cruise (as the house chardonnay was on sale at my local market for 7$ when I returned home vs. the $20-25 bottle on Seaborn/Silversea whose cruise prices Azamar is nearing) and we didn't even try the internet as talking with friends on board suggested that it hasn't progressed past the snail crawl stage that we had last year. Only positive was that they were cleaning out their wine cellar and offering deals on certain bottles but we all agreed that adding a few hundred dollars to the cruise cost to bring up the quality of the wine and house brand liquor would be easily tolerated (as the liquor/beer/and bottle wine packages didn't seem to be worth it for most of us). A couple of other small glitches were found they were very responsive to any feedback either in person or via the early cruise "how are we doing?" form which was followed-up on very efficiently. Overall it was a great cruise. Azamara again coordinated well with the Perry Golf group and we'll likely return to do another golf cruise in the future. We know that the company line is that since they are almost always consistently full they are OK but If they continue to price themselves into the Oceana/Seaborn/Silverseas price range they need to be aware of what the competition is offering. For the price some of the other lines are more customer friendly. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Title says it all. It is nowhere near as good as a Vikings Ocean Cruise. The ship is old has outdated decor (early Renaissance?) which is dark and dreary. The rugs are almost warn out. On the 7th floor starboard the hallway rug has a ... Read More
Title says it all. It is nowhere near as good as a Vikings Ocean Cruise. The ship is old has outdated decor (early Renaissance?) which is dark and dreary. The rugs are almost warn out. On the 7th floor starboard the hallway rug has a severe stain running the complete length of it which looks like there had been a sewage overflow on the cabin side of the rug. The intenet package was impossible to use, using Wi-Fi. I could seldom connect to the internet. When I did connect it would literally take many minutes to download material; uploading material was simply impossible. Internet support was very minimal and often unavailable. Had I paid the $239 for unlited service I would have been very angry. The food was good but not very good. The service was excellent though and very prompt. The same dishes were served almost every day with only a few different side dishes. We did eat in Windows,the buffet restaurant most of the time. The first time we ate in the Discovery restaurant it was so noisy that it was hard to have a conversation. We will not sail with Azamara again. That is sad because we had read so many positive reviews. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise because of the date, destination and my birthday. Our documentation stated the cruise left from Edinburg and the address on the ticket was for Edinburgh; however, when we gave our ticket and documentation to the cab ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the date, destination and my birthday. Our documentation stated the cruise left from Edinburg and the address on the ticket was for Edinburgh; however, when we gave our ticket and documentation to the cab driver, he took us to the port. When we arrived, we had to find a harbor master to locate ship-then we discovered we were to leave from Dundee. 75 miles away! We were lucky, our driver could take us and we arrived just in time to leave-$290.00 later!! We called the "emergency numbers 3 times-no one returned our phone calls-so don't bother calling them!! Our cabin lacked furniture by the bed and we had to charge phones, iPad and lay them on the floor with reading glasses and other nighttime things! First day, excursions were in chaos and we waited over an hour for the buses to arrive!! First day, we had booked an excursion to see a castle with falconry demonstration. Our guide decided we need to be back early 3 hours for lunch??) so she cut the trip short!! She treated us like we were small children and regaled us with stories of her teaching " dumb" royalty in a private school. The special exhibit for this trip was watching a high school band perform. Seriously!! A part of that trip-we were taken to a battleground with a nice Visitor's center-BUT! Our same guide did not let us go inside!! Instead she led us outside and lectured for 30 minutes! Guess she knew more than the historians!! When we returned, Windstar was contacted-which acted like all was our fault because we were ignorant and did not read our documentation! We are two doctors who travel a great deal and were insulted! We spent 4 days pre cruise in Edinburh-thank goodness-on our own or I do not know I'd we could have seen the city. Their excuse, we did not pay their transportation fee to port! And did not stay at their hotel. We stayed at a beautiful Trip Advisor boutique hotel which we loved!! We were less than impressed with Windstar-this was our second-had it been our first-it would have been our last!!after they have your $$, you are totally written off!! Trying to communicate with their staff before we left was a nightmare as well!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We've cruised on commercial pleasure vessels with cabin counts ranging from 17 to nearly a 1000. Azamara's 2 identical vessels (the Journey and the Quest) strike a very satisfying balance. The ships are large enough to have ... Read More
We've cruised on commercial pleasure vessels with cabin counts ranging from 17 to nearly a 1000. Azamara's 2 identical vessels (the Journey and the Quest) strike a very satisfying balance. The ships are large enough to have multiple dining options, cabaret entertainment venue, pool deck, full gym and spa, casino and shops. More importantly, they're small enough that they're usually able to dock in town in the center of things while larger ships have to use tenders and ferry their passengers in and out. They're also small enough that you regularly encounter the captain and ships officers who, surprisingly, make the effort to learn your names and participation energy. Customer loyalty to the Azamara brand is very high; we met one gentleman embarking on his 24th cruise aboard the Quest. The dining experience was top shelf. Soda, wine, well drinks and beers are included as part of the cruise. What does that mean? It means that you have the choice between a white or red wine at each meal. These house wines change daily and by venue. All in all, they were quite adequate and, occasionally, great. Alternately, you can grab any of 3 beers (Becks, Budweiser or Bud Lite) or order a cocktail. There are premium beers, wines and call drinks you can order for an extra (steep) charge. There is no alcohol available with room service orders unless you buy it separately. So the "all-inclusive" designation comes with quite a few caveats but it's still better than being nickeled and dimed over every little sip. For those willing and desiring to pay for better drinking options, there's plenty to chose from. Based on their Northern California wine selections from major producers, they charge about 2x what I'd pay in a retail setting back home (Northern California). Corkage fees are $10 per bottle and they have no restrictions on how much you can bring onboard. So it's theoretically possible to wheel your private collection aboard and catch up on your wine club. Bring your own corkscrew for use in your stateroom, theirs is pathetic if serviceable. Call me slow but it wasn't until this cruise that I realized you can probably anticipate the clientele by the cost of the cruise. Azamara is a bit upscale and, in direct association, has an older clientele. It pains me to realize that, though on the young side, I fit reasonably well into this line's demographic. Port stops looked a little like a jail break from a retirement community. There were younger couples and some teens onboard but my bet was that half of them were with their grandparents. 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 travelled on Silversea ships on 5 previous cruises, and they have been just marvelous. So we chose that company again to visit the Galapagos, departing Baltra for 7 days in the West Islands. We were expecting that the same ... Read More
We have travelled on Silversea ships on 5 previous cruises, and they have been just marvelous. So we chose that company again to visit the Galapagos, departing Baltra for 7 days in the West Islands. We were expecting that the same standards of excellence would apply to this Expedition ship, even if less luxe. And the marketing materials from the company confirmed the expectation. We were mislead. Unforgivably. THE GOOD: the locale and the excellent expedition leaders, filled with enthusiasm and knowledge, fluent in English, and all guiding for many years. The islands offer a variety of terrain and wildlife, and the hiking, snorkeling, and Zodiac tours are just SO GOOD. Even a little spelunking in a lava tube. Animals and birds with no fearful reaction to people are as approachable as legend has it. It's so amazing, and worthy of everyone's bucket list. THE BAD: The ship. It's an older one, perhaps 25 years, but in poor repair. For example, the air conditioning is inadequate; the dining room was stifling, the bathrooms were a common source of passenger grumbling, and the engineering staff seems incapable of making repairs quickly, or even at all. But it does have nice layout for the Veranda suites, - although they are small, they are more attractive and efficient than the Owner's Suite, with two big faults: the shower produces so much humidity that every mirror in the cabin mists up, - even though the bathrooms were allegedly renovated, and there is so little storage that passengers were cautioned not to hang clothes from the overhead sprinklers. Really! Although they replaced the beds, they didn't include the under bed suitcase storage standard on the larger ships. THE TRULY UGLY: the FOOD and the HOTEL MANAGEMENT. If I were to buy this company today, the Chef and the Hotel Manager would be looking for a new job tomorrow. The food varied from not bad to just inedible. Scrambled eggs that make hospital food look good, waiters that simply can't deliver a complete order at the same time. The cook hasn't even mastered the fried egg. Although the restaurants (there are only two) advertised as 'open seating with no reservations required' the 5th deck grill, which offers food you cook at your table on hot rock slabs, has only enough of these it would seem to enable them to set up half the tables. The alternative, the overheated dining room. But although it's easier to find a table outdoors for lunch, the pizza is the only very good and reliable choice. I had a hamburger, - represented as ground filet, that was late, overcooked (MR is not dark grey), and stringy. Not one of the six at our table finished theirs. You can walk into the bar, and find it, and all the others, closed, - or if open, you have to summon the waiter (they have not been trained to watch for and approach a new arrival) they are willing, but untrained and unresponsive. Breakfast was discontinued at 08:25, even though early expedition passengers were returning and looking for the breakfast they missed. This is in such stark contrast to all the other voyages, where food and drink is excellent in preparation, presentation and service, and all but available 24 hours a day, - somewhere. I don't think I met a satisfied passenger. Everyone was grumbling. We felt deceived by the misrepresentation of the cruise as 5 star luxe . The Silversea Line has done itself a huge disservice launching this expansion, which is certainly not ready for prime time, before they have renovated the ship and trained the staff to the standards their brand connotes. One of our fellow passengers, - a travel agent, is vowing that she will never again sell Sliversea, - and she had previously been a big supporter. I am disappointed in the ship and food, and somewhat angry at the misrepresentation, and although we were among the most frequent travelers recognized at their Venetian Society reception, we have made our last trip with Silversea. So I am sad too. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My wife and I and two other couples met in Edinburgh, where we spent three days getting over jet lag and enjoying this fun city (we highly recommend the food tour Eat Walk Edinburgh). The cruise terminal in Edinburgh was small with few ... Read More
My wife and I and two other couples met in Edinburgh, where we spent three days getting over jet lag and enjoying this fun city (we highly recommend the food tour Eat Walk Edinburgh). The cruise terminal in Edinburgh was small with few amenities, but the boarding process went smoothly enough. From the start, the Wind Surf staff were friendly and welcoming. Our cabin (one of the standard cabins, but upgraded to be on the 2nd level midship) was compact and efficient, with two porthole windows, and we found it quite comfortable. There is an elevator, but we used the stairs, which gave us a lot of exercise during the 11-day cruise. The public areas were nice, and we ate dinner a few times each in the upscale restaurant, in the main dining room, and (our favorite during good weather) on the poolside deck. We also spent several evenings in the main lounge where we enjoyed pop music (Cool Breeze band) and dancing. There was live entertainment also in a smaller bar area, but we did not go there. I enjoyed using the hot tub (there are two) and also the small pool several times. Few guests used the pool, which made it that much easier and less crowded for me. I also used the exercise room a couple of times, and it seemed to be pretty available. I did not try the spa. People seemed to enjoy the game room and my wife and I shopped in the ship store. Open deck space and lounge chairs were in short supply at times, but compared with some ships, there was adequate outdoor space to enjoy and walk around. One time in the Baltic Sea we swam off the ship's swimming area, and enjoyed that (but water temp was 62 degrees!). Throughout the cruise, staff were very nice and competent. An especially positive feature is the open door policy on the bridge and in most areas of the ship. We took a very interesting galley tour. The captain and hotel manger could not have been nicer or more open to conversation, and this set an open and friendly tone throughout. The food was very good in all restaurants onboard. Alcohol choices were good and prices comparable to restaurants at home. We chose to eat a few lunches on land, just to get a better feel for the areas we visited. We loved the choice of port stops - a good mix of cities and smaller towns. In every case the ship docked in a convenient location. The shore excursions offered by Windstar seemed to be over-priced, so we did not take any of them. Instead, we did a little advance planning and arranged tours and activities on our own, including a food tour in Copenhagen (excellent). We rented bikes in Skagen and arranged a guided walking tour in Warnemunde. We explored Oslo, Visby and Sandhamn on our own. We also purchased the two day hotel extension in Stockholm, and explored that on our own (from the Scandic Anglais Hotel, which was nice and had an excellent location). In Copenhagen and Stockholm we used the hop-on/off boats, and recommend them (but not the buses). Although the cruise was wonderful, my one suggestion for improvement is that the quality of handouts and information given prior to each port stop be more complete, more up to date, and more professional (such as using real maps, in English; and providing information about where to eat, shop, and get cash, as well as transportation tips). The port information lectures were not well done and seemed aimed at marketing the shore excursions (which is necessary, but not sufficient).   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I have just returned from a very brief trip on the Azamara Journey. The ship was visiting Leith as part of its current cruise and Azamara Club kindly allowed Margaret to invite a few of her clients to view the ship. A group of 12 arrived ... Read More
I have just returned from a very brief trip on the Azamara Journey. The ship was visiting Leith as part of its current cruise and Azamara Club kindly allowed Margaret to invite a few of her clients to view the ship. A group of 12 arrived at the port at 8.30am and, even though we were only staying for a few hours and were not going anywhere we had to go through security and hand in our passports. As we walked up the gang-plank we were individually welcomed by the crew on duty and this was to be the norm for the next 3 hours - everybody we met, from officers to cleaners all welcomed us with a friendly genuine smile. The ship describes itself as being " select country club" and that is the impression you get from first entering the bottom stair well - thick carpets, tasteful decoration and appropriate framed pictures on the walls. The first stop was the main atrium. Nothing bold and glitzy but all tastefully decorated with lots of real wood. Within this area is a desk occupied by a local consultant who gives cruisers advice of where to go and what to look out for whilst on shore - something I have never experienced on a cruise. We were then taken around the ship to view all the public areas. Without describing everything in detail let me summarise by saying it was everything it says on the website but more-so. A large number of 2 seat tables in the open-dining MDR, where complimentary wines are served with lunch and dinner, around the pool, real wooden sun-loungers with proper upholstery, a well appointed cabaret lounge and so much more. We were taken to see an example of each of the three classes of suite, all with butler service - (maybe the World Owners Suite next time!) and 2 classes of balcony stateroom, small but very elegant. It was then into the Looking Glass at the front of the ship for a drink and canapEs before enjoying a very early lunch in the Windows Cafe. . It was all over too quickly and by 12.30 we were escorted off the ship as it prepared to sail on the 1.30 tide . We are booked on the Journey in October and if everything is half as good as we experienced in this short visit we will be very well pleased. A full review of that cruise Read Less
Sail Date August 2010

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