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24 Hong Kong to Asia Azamara Quest Cruise Reviews

Embarkation at the rather small Harbors City Terminal in Hongkong was very efficient. (We stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel annex to the pier and the hotel's porters were kind enough to wheel our luggage all the way to the cruise ... Read More
Embarkation at the rather small Harbors City Terminal in Hongkong was very efficient. (We stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel annex to the pier and the hotel's porters were kind enough to wheel our luggage all the way to the cruise terminal luggage drop-off point.) The ship looks like it needs a new coat of paint. Our cabin was in acceptable order and condition. The bad before the good ... Dining, both at the Windows Café and Discoveries Restaurant was a disappointment. The quality of the food cannot compared to what we got on our previous Azamara cruise. (We dined with an Australian gentleman who was in the meat industry. He also commented that the quality of the food, especially the meats serves was not as good as before … and he had been on 4 Azamara cruises previously.) Service standards, while friendly, have dropped considerably. It takes a long time from being seated till you get any service. Unlike before you have to attract the attention of the few service staff to get your plates removed and wine topped-up. Overall, there seem to be less service staff. The staff were generally helpful and friendly although senior officers interacted much less than when we were on Azamara Journey. The good … or perhaps the excellent ... The thing that met and perhaps exceeded expectations was the entertainment … especially the three production shows. I mentioned to Ernest Marchain, our cruise director, that if I were to come back to cruise again on Azamara, it would be because of the entertainment and activities. Daily activities were conducted by the performers. That gave us a chance to meet and interact with a bunch of lovely and talented people. The White Night party was Amazing but the Azamazing evening was "underwhelming". The shore excursions were, as with most cruise lines, mediocre and overpriced. The lectures and enhancement programs (art classes) were good. But charging a fee for the Apple iPhone classes was strange to say the least. (I was on a Holland America cruise from San Francisco to Tokyo this summer and the 10+ Microsoft Computer classes were all free. Conclusion People we met, including travel professionals, many who have been on Azamara multiple times also commented that the standards have dropped. Some commented that the standards have dropped because the company is being run by "cost cutting" accountants. Would I cruise on Azamara again? Probably yes … because of the smallness of the ship, the type of passengers (no screaming kids) and I like the fact that there are overnight stays. Also because the ship is small, the ports we dock at are so much closer to town. I hope Azamara will improve on the service and quality of the food. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise based on the itinerary as well as our good impressions of the Azamara brand from previous cruises. Clearly Azamara is no longer equal to it's number one competitor Oceania. Although the itinerary was excellent and ... Read More
We chose this cruise based on the itinerary as well as our good impressions of the Azamara brand from previous cruises. Clearly Azamara is no longer equal to it's number one competitor Oceania. Although the itinerary was excellent and we greatly enjoyed each and every port immensely, the direction Azamara executives are taking is not to our liking. The embarkation process was smooth and efficient. The staff professional and the ship beautiful. We prefer the small to mid size ships and have sailed on R Class ships many times. Quest is well maintained and is a joy to sail on. We only did one Azamara excursion as all our other tours were booked privately consisting of 8 to 10 fellow passengers arranged on our roll call here at Cruisecritic. All of our tours were excellent and informative.So based solely on the cities we visited the cruise was exceptional.The Far East is a special place to visit. Our cabin was just fine. Clean and comfortable. The ship is outstanding. Our disapproval of several issues made this lees than a wonderful cruise. Firstly, Azamara has chosen to discontinue providing casinos on their ships which came as a surprise to us as this differs from our previous cruises with Azamara. The casino space has been replaced with a lounge that was never very busy. Had the entertainment in the several lounges or in the Cabaret lounge been up to par this might not have bothered us as much as it did but in general the entertainment was deplorable. Dining was not as good as it was on previous Azamara cruises with overdone meats and uninspired selections at Discoveries restaurant. Prime steakhouse served perfectly tender steaks and the dinner there was a real treat. Aqualina, the Italian specialty restaurant was just fair. The pool area is comfortable and always busy during the day but since head office has decided that pleasant soft background music is no longer necessary at the pool and only twice on our cruise did they have a live band preform there, we felt the area was missing something. As on previous Azamara cruises soft piped in hits from the 70's and 80's worked beautifully. Oh and I should mention that the line does provide in cabin movies at $11.99 per movie which for the price we pay for the cruise seems to be a money grab. We have loved cruising with Azamara in the past but it is no longer the Azamara we remembered. In all probability we will choose another line to sail with in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose Azamara as we wanted to try a smaller ship experience. Small it most definitely was with a bathroom you could hardly turn around in. I can’t begin to imagine how a large person would manage. The swimming pool was the size ... Read More
We chose Azamara as we wanted to try a smaller ship experience. Small it most definitely was with a bathroom you could hardly turn around in. I can’t begin to imagine how a large person would manage. The swimming pool was the size of a bathtub so if you enjoy a proper holiday swim forget it! The passengers were from all parts of the world & it was interesting to meet a huge cross section of people. The food was mostly of a very good standard & particularly so in Prime C one of the two speciality restaurants. We didn’t try Aqualina. The tours were not very well organised by local operators & consideringthe amount of people with all differing levels of mobility no consideration was taken into account to cater for this. On the whole we still had an enjoyable cruise but most probably wouldn’t do this type again. We much prefer Celebrity with a mid sized ship & better facilities to prevent boredom on sea days. One more thing the entertainment was abysmal with amateur productions in the Cabaret lounge. The pianist in the Den was loud & although a reasonable pianist should not have attempted to sing along as his voice wasn’t that great. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We were on the same cruise as the previous review and agree completely. But we continued on to Taiwan and the Philippines. One morning they cancelled the White Nite because of impending weather. However, we went on a "3 Beach" ... Read More
We were on the same cruise as the previous review and agree completely. But we continued on to Taiwan and the Philippines. One morning they cancelled the White Nite because of impending weather. However, we went on a "3 Beach" excursion. It lasted all day - the first beach was almost TWO hours from the ship on a wooden boat with very hard wooden seats. About 45 minutes at this beach and maybe 30 minutes at 2 others. But, we spent the last hour speeding in the dark on this boat with no running lights. We were at risk. I know that they will say that they only sell us the ticket...but where's their due diligence! BTW this was our first experience with Azamara. Our last??? Never say never. But in terms of food, entertainment, decor, service there's better out there. The one white night we experienced was lots of fun. Enough said. Cabin is fine but the ship in general is rather plain. Food's very good, not great. Chef's Table is excellent. Entertainment was average for a small ship. The band that played in the Living Room has a small playlist. Service was non-existent in the Spa pool area. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was our 3rd & certainly NOT the last cruise with Azamara, as we enjoy the small ship environment. We were concerned about getting to the Ocean Terminal because of the protest in Hong Kong, but fortunately that did not ... Read More
This was our 3rd & certainly NOT the last cruise with Azamara, as we enjoy the small ship environment. We were concerned about getting to the Ocean Terminal because of the protest in Hong Kong, but fortunately that did not materialize. As such, we were able to take the Airport Express MTR from the airport to the Kowloon MTR station, where we caught a free shuttle bus to the Marco Polo Hotel, which is within walking distance to the Ocean Terminal Mall. We couldn’t believe that this was so very easy to do, fast & more economical that taking a cab or airport shuttle bus to the said hotel. The embarkation & disembarkation went smoothly, although, it was initially confusing to get to the embarkation area on your own, as we shopped & meandered our way through the Ocean Terminal Mall to get to the cruise terminal. However, that was OK, as we arrived in Hong Kong more than a few hours before check-in. This is a subjective review of veranda cabin 6063, for 2 adults, each with one 26 inch suitcase. The cabin is located approximately 3 cabins away from the 6th floor elevator & stairs. It is one floor above the entrance to the Discoveries Dining Room, the Mosaic Cafe & of course, the shops. We found this cabin to be roomy enough for the two of us & have more than adequate space for the contents in our suitcases. The empty suitcases slide easily under the bed. There are more than sufficient electrical outlets in the cabin. There are 2 US & European plug-ins on the wall by the desk. Outlets are also in the bathroom where a night light is plugged in & plug-ins behind the 2 small night tables on either sides of the bed. In addition, there is an USB plug-in at the base of a wall light fixture, also on either side of the bed. The cabin has your standard mini safe, fridge, flat screen TV, desk & chair, along with a 2 person sofa. There is an umbrella & hair dryer in the cabin for your use. The bathroom is OK, but the “shower” can be challenging at times. The balcony was generous in size with 1 small dining table & 2 chairs. Great for eating in if you wish. In general, our cabin was kept very clean (kudos to our cabin steward), very comfortable & in a quiet area. We found the food in the Windows Cafe, Discoveries Dining Room & the Patio to be consistent & very good. The burgers in the Patio were cooked to perfection, very tasty & juicy, with great fries too! The service was quick & friendly at these eateries & was 2nd to none. I am not into the Broadway type shows, but the ones that I did attend were OK. I was a regular user of the gym & found it more than adequate. Hint: Use the showers in the gym, you’ll have a lot more room than in your cabin. We went on 2 ship’s full day excursions in Keelung & Manila, which we enjoyed, but not surprisingly, there were on the expensive side. Could & should have joined in the other passengers from the CC forum. In Kaohsiung & Manila, we had free shuttles from the ship to shopping malls. That was nice, but I think it would have been better if the ship had made arrangements for the shuttles to take us to areas with market(s) where the locals frequent. We don’t really wants to go to these big city malls, when we can do so at home. I use to stereotype that certain goods in Asia are cheaper than in North America, but not anymore! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I don't like to write a bad review as I am lucky enough in this world to be able to cruise and find new and exciting places. I had heard a lot of good things about Azamara, were my expectations too high? No. Am I the brands ... Read More
I don't like to write a bad review as I am lucky enough in this world to be able to cruise and find new and exciting places. I had heard a lot of good things about Azamara, were my expectations too high? No. Am I the brands clientèle? Yes. What would have made this cruise better? Lots. Why did this cruise not work for me? It did rain for the first 5 days but that is not the fault of the cruise. I feel it lacked on all accounts. Food was my biggest problem if you can't make eggs properly then its a problem. Coffee was another problem it was not made with fresh milk, if you want fresh milk you must order 2 months in advance. The food in the dinning room only 2 nights out of 10 we said that was a nice dinner. The hash browns like cardboard. To be honest there was too much to criticise so lets say way below expectations. The crew were friendly but no one stood out. The announcements by cruise director though friendly too long and too much. Entertainment ok seemed dated from the guitarist to piano guy no show stoppers. I guess I was just expecting more bang for my dollar. I can't say i will cruise with Azamara again as I can't see the value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We just returned from a cruise on the Quest to Viet Nam and were very disappointed. This was our 4th cruise with Azamara and we booked a suite. The room and the staff were excellent and the ship was clean and well maintained. That is where ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise on the Quest to Viet Nam and were very disappointed. This was our 4th cruise with Azamara and we booked a suite. The room and the staff were excellent and the ship was clean and well maintained. That is where the good ends and the disappointing begins. The food was way below what we experienced on previous Azamara cruises. The quality and variety were below par to say the least. There were obvious cutbacks in the selections offered and the quality of what was offered was substandard. The choices in the Main Dining room were greatly reduced and we were forced to eat in the Specialty Dining room all but 2 nights. In the Specialty Dining room the food was still not what we experienced on past cruises with Lobster that was DRY and Tough! Steak that was of lower quality than in the past and reduced selections on the menu. It was a good thing that we had a suite so we were able to eat in the Specialty Dining room as often as we would like as the Main Dining room rarely had anything I would eat. The menu was reduced to a choice of 3 main courses, one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. If you expect to keep your customers coming back, something must be done to reverse these cutbacks. As for us our next cruise is booked on Oceania where the food is far better than what we just experienced. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My husband and have traveled on the Azamara cruise ships twice before in 2013 and 2014. We love the itineraries and the size of the ship 600 passengers is usually the max. There are many advantages to the small size as the ship can go up ... Read More
My husband and have traveled on the Azamara cruise ships twice before in 2013 and 2014. We love the itineraries and the size of the ship 600 passengers is usually the max. There are many advantages to the small size as the ship can go up rivers and dock at many ports that the mega liners are unable to do. What surprised me was the downgrade in the food quality. The food, which previously was excellent in the Discoveries Restaurant was very bad. The choices very poor and the food was tasteless. Many fellow cruisers also voiced the opinion that the only really good food to be had was at the specialty restaurant Prime C. We did ear there twice and enjoyed it. They used to serve these delicious small cupcakes in the Mosaic Cafe and they were not to be found-the pastries I ate there were stale. The crew were not as friendly as I remember in the past. I heard that for many crew members it was their last trip before a much needed vacation so maybe they were tired. It was also very difficult to change money at the deck four desk and only small bills were available. Wrong information was given by staff members also. I do like the options of dining at whatever time I wish but I do not like being served inferior food. It was very evident that the line was saving money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This is our 4th cruise with Azamara from Rio to Buenos Aires, a Transatlantic from Malaga to Rio, California coast, and this one mostly Vietnam and Thailand. All were outstanding. Our second trip, my wife was greeted by name as we first ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise with Azamara from Rio to Buenos Aires, a Transatlantic from Malaga to Rio, California coast, and this one mostly Vietnam and Thailand. All were outstanding. Our second trip, my wife was greeted by name as we first approached the gangway--A year after our first trip. That speaks wonders of the staff. "Welcome home Miss Dorothy" That cemented our love for small ships and Azamara. The ports were wonderful, especially Halong Bay, Saigon, and Bangkok. We did not take many shore excursions because of reasons listed below. Azamazing evening was far better than any expectations. The food was fine--actually the premium restuarants were not much better. And the full beverage and no tipping policies were far better than other lines that nickel and dollar you to death. Irksome notes: I have noticed not so subtle hidden price hikes in the last few years. Last year, we got a ship board credit and 70 minutes each of internet time. This year, no credit (even though we booked on board on our last voyage--California coast) and the internet time was reduced to 30 minutes each--hardly time to log on at the speed of the ships connection! Also, the internet package advertised in our room was not honored because the policy had changed even though the advertising hadn't! Our first two cruises included a cabin upgrade and $1000 air credit on Choice Air. Our recent cruises included one OR the other. The 50% discount on shore packages booked on line before the sailing that previously existed has been dropped to full price bookings. This meant on this trip, I booked mostly private tours on Tours by Locals, Viatour, etc. They proved to be far cheaper than the Azamara tours with better, more personalized service. And last, do NOT serve pretend lobster and call it LOBSTER! Call it "warm water lobster", "langoustine", "carribean lobster", etc. but it is NOT Homarus Americanus--only a poor imitation of "Maine lobster". I know the product is available as frozen lobster tails from Canada or U.S. I have had it on Norwegian lines, Holland America, etc. I talked to the chef about it and he is well aware of the difference. He says it is a corporate decision. O.K. corporate--decide! Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The GOOD Service - at every level of interface with the crew responsible for making the guests comfortable and welcome did an outstanding job. From the welcoming crew, to the housekeeping staff, to the bartenders, to the food service ... Read More
The GOOD Service - at every level of interface with the crew responsible for making the guests comfortable and welcome did an outstanding job. From the welcoming crew, to the housekeeping staff, to the bartenders, to the food service staff and the captain's staff, everyone was engaging and helpful. Lots of smiles and upbeat conversations for the entire time we were on-board. Required Safety Muster - Kudos to Azamara for having a sane approach to the required safety training. While too many cruise lines force you to don the life jackets and squeeze on to decks like kindergarten children lining up for class and made to stand unbearable amounts of time to wait for every nit-wit to be checked off and doubled checked by roll call, Azamara conducts the training seated in the main dining room where you can actually hear the instructions over proper PA systems without people snorting down your neck and pushing. Disembarkation at various ports - the tender and docked processes were well orchestrated and performed in a very timely way. There was never a wait and never the stuffing of people into stairwells awaiting the door to open as has been the case on many other cruises we have taken. First time we have not felt like cattle or sheep being prodded to get on and off the ship. Self Service Laundry Room - three full size washers and dryers with standard operating times along with two ironing boards are available between set hours made this ship better equipped than any other ship (except Crystal). Too often, other cruise lines have underpowered or undersized washers and dryers and the cycle times for wash or dry exceed 1 hour each. These units cranked out clothes in less than 30 minutes and allowed for lots of guests to get their laundry done. There were the usual loud buffoons on board who huffed and puffed because they could not leisurely stroll in one afternoon and have an empty washer and dryer dedicated to their immediate need to process a load that consisted of two items for their formal attire for the same evening. The Buffet - Normally used for breakfast and dinner, took place in the Windows Café with comfortable inside and outside seating. The variety of choices were large and changed daily. There was a lightning fast cook at the made-to-order egg station who got the orders perfectly. The dinner buffet was a different country or culinary theme every night and provided a great relief from the buffet boredom that so often happens on cruises. Aqualina specialty restaurant - gourmet Italian food served with perfect attention to detail by an attentive staff. Wine parings across multiple courses were well done. Do not miss this. Lunch Buffet, Dim Sum - a special event was held on one sea day and it was a great dim sum buffet with many Asian cuisine choices beside the delicious dim sum. It was a do not miss event. Public areas are well distributed around the decks with plenty of nooks and crannies available for alone time with a book or for quiet conversation with others. The room was impeccably maintained day and night by the housekeeping staff who faithfully provided the soft drinks and water in the quantities we requested, daily. The Bartenders were knowledgeable and skilled at all the bars. The Pool grill was the best place to eat on sea days with the officer crew frequently wearing the aprons and serving a special theme buffet. Bravo to the captain and the crew. The gym was well equipped and the steam room was a great place to work off the aches from all the walking during the many days of excursions. Entertainment - poolside live music and small public area music were all that we encountered and enjoyed. We stayed away from the nightly entertainment except for the Azamazing Night. It was a spectacular event where a city park in Saigon was converted into a stage and seating area for the whole ship to be provided food and musical/dance entertainment performed by talented Vietnamese. Again Bravo to Azamara. The BADs Embarkation - many of the guests were told by their TA's that the starting time for boarding would not happen before 3 pm. It turned out that boarding started at 11:30 am and a buffet lunch was available. RCCL central operations information people need to get the story straight for the Azamara operations. Misleading guests as to the boarding time by over 3 hours is unacceptable and caused many people inconveniences such as extra cost for storing their luggage rather than turning it over to the ship. The fact that the ship would process all 600+ guest's Vietnam Visas was never made public or part of any advisory prior to departure. The on-board fee of $50 pp was never published as a cost of this cruise. Once again RCCL central operations needs to get the right information published in a timely manner. This type of surprise is unacceptable. Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle meeting - the crew chose a location on the ship to host the party for the 50 people registered. The location was being used by other crew members at the same time and they were chasing people away from the meeting. By the time the captain and his staff arrived to get the situation straight, only 12 people attended the meeting. The only place announcing the event was the daily handout sheet (Pursuits) and most people were scrambling to get their luggage and unpacked rather than reading about a meeting that took place 2 hours after the "3 pm" check in. The staff on-board was advised that the Meet & Mingle would have been more successful if it was done the next day which was a sea day. Poor planning and even poorer execution diluted the Meet & Mingle event. The Main Dining Room - We had breakfast for the first morning at sea. We watched in shock as our orders were delivered to two other couples, both of whom arrived 10-15 minutes after we were seated. Overall, our meals finally came after 30 minutes. Didn't think two omelets should take that long. Total service failure. That same evening we chose to have dinner at the Main Dining Room and prime rib was on the menu. When ordered rare, medium to well was delivered to the table. The meat was COLD and tough to cut. The cut contained gristle and was flavorless. 3/4 of the meal was left uneaten as we left. Total service failure. After two straight failures we gave up on the main dining room for the next 14 days. Prime C - We ate there two times and of the four dishes served three of them involved cuts of beef. The Filet Mignon was incorrectly cooked and was very tough to cut. The Rib Eye was more like the sole of a shoe with gristle running throughout the cut rather than fat. The NY strip steak was incorrectly cooked but it didn't matter as it was tough and flavorless. Someone needs to investigate the purchasing and preparation of beef on-board this ship. It is just plain atrocious, especially when compared to the term of Prime C - the label they choose. Respiratory Illness on-board - over 60% of the guests were experiencing some kind of cold and cough condition after the third day on board. Many guests were discussing their visits to the ship's doctor. More than halfway through the cruise, there were cases of guests leaving the ship for hospitals and some did not resume their cruise. At our final port, we did notice cleaning equipment being used in each cabin to disinfect the surfaces. Our medical bills were over $500 for examination and treatment of sinusitis, post cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
"Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. APR. Emergency Deck 1". A nervous voice echoed through Azamara Quest shortly before 8:00 pm on Friday March 30. We were just finishing our appetizers at Windows Cafe on Deck 9. Initially we paid no heed, ... Read More
"Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. APR. Emergency Deck 1". A nervous voice echoed through Azamara Quest shortly before 8:00 pm on Friday March 30. We were just finishing our appetizers at Windows Cafe on Deck 9. Initially we paid no heed, until we saw thin wisps of white smoke wafting from the galley door. We assumed it was a kitchen fire, but the smoke quickly billowed into a dark cloud and began filling the room. So we, along with other passengers, began our exit. As we crossed the threshold from Windows Cafe to the Pool Deck, the ship shuddered and went completely dark for a brief few seconds until the generator kicked in and emergency power came on. It was surreal seeing those little green track lights guiding our way along the corridors and into the stairwell. People were calm, but fair to say, concerned. We headed outside onto Deck 5 to be near the lifeboats, just in case. When we arrived, I glanced over the railings to the calm ocean below. Quest was dead in the water. But let's start at the beginning ... BACKGROUND When Azamara released its 2012 itineraries, we immediately spotted this 17-night Asia voyage as a winner. After all, it had Borneo orangutans, Komodo dragons, gorgeous Bali and other exotic islands of Indonesia in a single trip! Soon after we booked, it was announced that this cruise would be a President's Voyage, with special events, cocktail parties and surprise gifts. Could it get any better? We booked early and, in a departure from our typical practice of using our preferred travel agent, we booked directly with Azamara. Contrary to the image often portrayed of shoreside staff, we dealt with excellent customer service agents who were knowledgeable and responsive. Later we added Choice Air to our booking and were able to select excellent flights on legacy carriers at a price less than we could purchase directly with the airlines. We were thrilled with the exceptional service provided by our savvy Choice Air reservation agent. And in yet another departure, we booked a pre-cruise hotel stay at The Langham Hong Kong through Azamara. We paid ever so slightly more than if we had booked direct, but we also got breakfasts and all transfers. No regrets. EMBARKATION On cruise day, we were transferred to Ocean Terminal at 11:00 am and after pier-side processing, were aboard Quest by 11:30 am. We were welcomed with sparkling rosE and lots of smiles. The mood was light and festive and it was obvious that Quest is a happy ship. We settled into Mosiac Cafe for a snack before checking into our stateroom about 2:00 pm. We had a 7th floor veranda, slightly forward of mid-ships. We are part of the minority who actually prefer forward rooms, finding them convenient and comfortable. This was our 3rd time on an R class ship in a similar room, so no surprises. We were even prepared for the dinky bathroom! Our room was bright and clean, the closets were well stocked with wooden hangers, our mattress and linens were in excellent condition and the air conditioner worked perfectly. We didn't care for the Rose amenities in the bathroom, finding them lacking in packaging and quality. Not a biggie. The only real disappointment was the hair dryer, which was a throw-back to the '70s with its clunky weight, long skinny nozzle and poor air-flow. Our luggage arrived in short order and we were unpacked and all settled before our scheduled muster drill at 4:00 pm. It proceeded smoothly with passengers assembling at their assigned stations, either in the Cabaret Lounge or Discoveries Restaurant. Muster drill was uneventful until Captain Leif Karlsson announced at the end that we were heading into a monsoon. Rough seas, heavy rain and high winds were in the forecast for the next 48 hours. He cautioned us to take any seasick remedies now. For those who were unprepared, he advised them to visit the Medical Office for some pills. I liked this guy already. No pussy-footing around, no sugar-coating, no spinning. Just the facts - monsoon ahead, be prepared. His straight-forward and open manner would prove invaluable in the days to come. CC MEET AND MINGLE Azamara truly values the CC community. They hosted a party on the 1st full day of the cruise that was attended by about 40+ members of CC. Some folks who planned to attend didn't make it as they were reportedly ill from the miserable sea conditions. The monsoon had arrived! There was also a very impressive showing of key personnel on Quest. Captain Karlsson, Hotel Director Philip, Cruise Director Russ, F&B Manager Ryzsard, Guest Relations Manager Juliana, Le Club Voyage Hostess Nathalia as well as Miami-based VP, Hotel Operations, Bert Von Middendorp were all there. They expressed gratitude for the many positive comments written about Azamara on CC, but also noted that they pay attention to negative posts to see how they can do better. Ya gotta love a cruise line that listens to its customers. DINING We eagerly anticipated our meals on Quest, thanks in large measure to the recent positive reports here on CC. We were not disappointed. Executive Chef Fabio clearly loves his job and his cooks love working with him. Their passion and dedication shows up in their food. We ate most breakfasts in Windows Cafe. It had the usual offerings of fruit, yoghurt, breads and rolls, smoked fish, eggs, bacon, hash browns as well as made to order omelets, waffles and pancakes. There were a variety of fresh juices and a smoothies bar that featured a daily energizer concoction. My only gripe was the limited fruit selection, which was typically melons and pineapple. There were no fresh berries, only defrosted strawberries and blueberries. But to their credit, I was thrilled to see fresh mangoes appear after our port call in Manila. Keep it up Azamara! We ate most lunches at Windows Cafe where there was a selection of salads, deli, soup, hot and cold entrees, a carving station and pizza. Everything was tasty and at the proper temperature. There were interesting cheeses and ample dessert choices with baked goods, custards and ice cream. The nearby Pool Grill had superb burgers as well as various panini and kebabs. We only ate dinner in Discoveries Restaurant twice and it was excellent both times. Menus were interesting with great choices for appetizers, soups, salads and mains. Items were well executed with distinct flavors and textures. Food presentation was creative and artful. Complimentary wines were quite acceptable and poured freely. Our other dinners were at themed buffets in Windows Cafe or at poolside BBQs. All were equally good. In between meals, we often went to Mosiac Cafe for specialty coffees with sweet or savory treats. It was here that you had a very good chance to see Captain Karlsson or his officers mingling with passengers. It was our favorite spot on the ship. We had reservations at both specialty restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C, but didn't make it to either before the cruise was cancelled. We had also reserved for the Connoisseur Dinner to be held later in the cruise. We'll always wonder what goodies we missed. ENRICHMENT Azamara has chosen to differentiate itself as destination specialists, so it's a reasonable expectation that they would have an excellent line-up of expert lecturers. Lisa Didier was the only destination lecturer for the areas we visited. She delivered several presentations on local cultures, history and crafts of Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia. Her content knowledge was excellent, her visual aids were interesting and she did a good job of condensing the highlights. But her presentation style was very off-putting. She was loud, brash and overly familiar. It was as if she was addressing a bunch of unruly college kids who didn't want to listen as opposed to a seasoned audience who actively chose to attend. Harvey Mann was an engaging fellow whose specialty was paleontology and archaeology of Africa. He delivered a couple of sessions on the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Not exactly on topic for our destination, but interesting nonetheless. Fred Saxon was the go-to guy for the inside scoop about Hollywood. He presented a couple of sessions about famous film stars but we didn't attend. Word was that he was very entertaining. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES Quest had an interesting line-up of entertainers and we got a sneak peek at many of them during the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. There were vocalists, pianists and a multi-instrumentalist, as well as an Azamara production cast. This was a talented and energetic group of singers and dancers who were to stage several theme shows. CD Russ seemed very proud to have them as part of the entertainment team and promised exciting performances. Unfortunately, we only got to see the cast once and they were indeed excellent. We enjoyed going to Mosiac Cafe after dinner to hear the Cabaret Entertainer. It was always a fun time. There was live music throughout the ship in several venues, as well as late night action in the Looking Glass with a resident DJ. There were the usual shipboard activities, including trivia, arts & crafts, ping pong, bridge and golf putting. There was a cooking demo with Executive Chef Fabio, afternoon tea and wine-tasting sessions. There was also a full range of complimentary fitness classes and wellness seminars. PRESIDENT'S EVENT This cruise was a President's Voyage, although Larry Pimentel was unable to be aboard for personal reasons. Miami-based VP, Hotel Operations Bert Von Middendorp and Destination Specialist, Emilio Freeman, were there as Azamara representatives. All the special events and parties that were planned for the President's Voyage were still scheduled to occur. The 1st event was a shoreside cocktail party at Fort Santiago in Manila. Following an on-deck BBQ featuring a terrific selection of Filipino and Asian specialties, we were driven to the grounds of this old fort and greeted by local dancers and street performers. An open-air theatre had been set up with lantern-lit trees, performance stage, guest seating and various food and drink tents. Roving bartenders made sure our glasses were always full, while waiters tried to tempt us with Filipino street food. It was a real shame that most of us had eaten such a bountiful BBQ on the ship and we really couldn't partake of the local offerings. We were invited to explore the historic fort at our leisure and then return for a special performance of song and dance by volunteer tourism staff. They were fantastic! This was followed by some thank-you speeches by Azamara officers and presentations by the Philippine Tourism Board. It was obvious that the tourism staff were very happy to have Quest make this maiden call on Manila. The evening ended with a superb fireworks display over Fort Santiago. Truly magical. There was another special event planned for our overnight stay in Bali. It was to be a Balinese Deck Party and Marketplace Celebration. I'm sure it would have been equally well done. Another tangible benefit of this being a President's Voyage was an offer of double savings on any future cruise booked on-board. We fully intended to purchase an open passage certificate for a future cruise but, in all the commotion, we missed our opportunity. SHORE EXCURSIONS We are independent travelers who usually arrange our own tours, but Azamara was very competitive in this part of the world. We pre-booked shore excursions in every port and benefited from the advance 50% discount. When we arrived in our stateroom, there was an envelope with all our shorex tickets. Some tour times had changed since we booked on-line, but everything else was in order. With the cruise being canceled so early in the voyage, we only got to take an excursion in Philippines. We selected Flavors and Treasures of Manila, which was a general overview of principal sites, followed by a culinary demo and lunch at a well-known Manila restaurant. It was OK but nothing special. It was typical of what you'd expect on any cruise line, albeit with a slightly smaller group size. Azamara generously offered a complimentary excursion to all passengers during our unexpected stay in Sandakan, Malaysia. We had previously booked Primates of Borneo and were very happy that we'd get the opportunity to see these rare creatures. Traveling in small groups with an expert guide, we visited an orangutan sanctuary and were rewarded with a sighting of a mother orangutan with an infant. We also visited a rehab centre for proboscis monkeys that are endemic to Borneo. Overall a great excursion. It's difficult to pass judgment on Azamara on the basis of such a limited sample of their Land Discoveries. We enjoyed them but I must say that tour choices in each port were fairly limited and quite predictable. I think Azamara can develop many more unique excursions that give passengers a more personal and up-market experience. They need to differentiate their offerings and move them to a different level if they truly want to be recognized as destination specialists. MUSTER - NOT A DRILL Now back to "Bravo. Bravo. Bravo" ... After smoke began filling Windows Cafe on Deck 9, we made our way down the dimly-lit staircase to Deck 5. I noticed that the doors leading to corridors on Deck 7 and Deck 8 were closed, presumably a safety precaution. There was no panic and people moved silently and quickly. When we arrived outside on Deck 5, other passengers had already gathered. Everybody wondered what was happening. At about 8:20 pm, Captain Karlsson made an announcement that there was a fire in the engine room. It was under control but there was still considerable smoke that crews were battling. He said we were in no danger, but asked us to report to our muster stations as a precaution. He also announced that he would soon be sounding the general emergency alarm. I really appreciated his announcement. By giving us advance warning, he reduced the fear and anxiety that may have occurred had we heard the 7-short and 1-long blast of the ship's horn without any context. We quickly made our way to Muster Station A located in Cabaret Lounge forward. Crew were stationed at the entrance and took roll call of passengers as we entered. Most passengers had been in public rooms when the emergency call went out, so few had life-vests and there was no opportunity to go to our staterooms and retrieve them. While we were in muster, stewards went door-to-door to each passenger room and collected life-vests. I saw an enormous pile of them outside on Deck 5, but I'm not sure if these came from the staterooms or were the extras that are always available. We were in muster for almost 3 hours, during which time Captain Karlsson made announcements about every 30-40 minutes, giving us updates on the status of the fire and efforts to contain it. Sometimes he had no news to report but made an announcement anyway. This was very much appreciated and helped instill confidence that we were in good hands. Our time in muster was as comfortable as it could be, thanks to hard working crew and well behaved passengers. Staff and crew circulated through the room, offering water and soft drinks. They guided passengers to public toilets, until they became unusable. They answered questions and offered assurances. They were upbeat and well prepared. Their training showed and it helped passengers remain calm. At about 11:15 pm, Captain Karlsson announced that things were sufficiently under control that he was stepping down measures and we could return to our staterooms. Crew organized our exit in an orderly fashion and guided us to our floors using glow sticks and flashlights. Our room was pitch dark, so we propped open the door to avail of emergency corridor lighting until we could retrieve our own flashlight. Of course, it was still in the suitcase under the bed! Captain Karlsson made a final announcement at about 11:45 pm, noting that things were under control and it was safe for us to sleep. Yet again, he said just what we needed to hear. But before we went to bed, I gathered clothes and put them nearby, just in case we had to evacuate quickly. We slept with our balcony door open but the night air was very still and the room was very hot. We were awakened at 6:45 am the next day by lights and sounds from our TV. Power was back! At 8:00 am, Captain Karlsson confirmed that crews had restored power to engine #1 which gave basic essentials, but still no propulsion, no A/C, no hot water and no food preparation facilities. ADRIFT AT SEA Quest was adrift in the Sulu Sea off the coast of Philippines for much of Saturday, March 31 while crew worked to restore propulsion to the engines. Captain Karlsson made numerous announcements, be it to update us on progress, to thank us for our continued patience or to tell us not to be alarmed by the military plane that was circling overhead, who were there for our protection. Who knew that these waters weren't friendly? Once propulsion was restored about 7:30 pm, we began to make our way to the nearest port in Sandakan, Malaysia. We traveled at 3-6 knots per hour for the next 24+ hours, under the watchful eye of the Philippines Coast Guard. We received a letter from Captain Karlsson advising that damage caused by the fire meant that the rest of our voyage would be cancelled. Azamara offered a generous compensation package to all passengers, including a full refund, a future cruise certificate for the value of the cancelled cruise as well as various options for continuing our vacations in Asia. Meanwhile, life on-board was an adventure. There was no hot water and no food preparation facilities, so meals were basic. Breakfast was fruits, cereal, breads and yoghurt while lunches were sandwiches and salads. Dinners were poolside BBQs of chicken, pork and seafood with cold salads. Meals were served on paper plates or aluminum pie tins with plastic utensils. Wine was poured freely into paper cups. It reminded me of camp or college, only with better wine! During the days, most passengers sought relief from the unrelenting heat by staying on outside decks or in breezeways on the ship. Some also slept outside overnight since the staterooms were so hot. Most shipboard activities were curtailed or cancelled. The team on Quest were brilliant through all this. To a person, they demonstrated service, compassion, and good humor. They were fun, cheerful and ever so helpful. We were in this together and we all made the best of it. We couldn't have asked to be stranded with a finer bunch. DISEMBARKATION Quest arrived into Sandakan Malaysia, escorted by tugs, about 9:30 pm on Sunday, April 1 and passengers began disembarkation about 11:30 pm. There were many officers and staff at the gangway to bid us farewell as we exited. I will never forget passing that line and saying good-bye to those who stepped up and delivered when we needed them most. We were accommodated in the best available local hotels for 2 nights and then flown by charter to Brunei and onward to Singapore, which was to be the final destination of our ill-fated cruise. When we arrived at the airport in Sandakan, we were surprised to see President Larry Pimentel, who had traveled to Borneo to meet all the displaced passengers. He boarded our bus, and in a voice tinged with emotion, expressed his regrets at our canceled voyage. Now that's customer commitment! FINAL THOUGHTS We didn't get to see Komodo dragons or the Borobodur temple or the beaches of Bali. Hopefully there will be another time. But we had an equally valuable experience. We got the rare opportunity to witness first-hand how Azamara handled an emergency at sea. It was a case study in how to do things right. We are so very grateful to Captain Karlsson, his officers, staff and crew for everything they did, individually and collectively, to keep us safe and as comfortable as possible. We are also thankful to President Larry Pimentel and the corporate team at Azamara/RCCL, who stepped up to address passenger needs in a timely fashion. We have full confidence in Azamara and look forward to sailing with them again. Wherever it may be, I'm sure we'll love where they take us! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We had high expectations of Azamara and for the most part, we still do. This was a much anticipated trip for us as we had been looking forward to seeing a part of the world that we would otherwise not likely see. We had also heard much ... Read More
We had high expectations of Azamara and for the most part, we still do. This was a much anticipated trip for us as we had been looking forward to seeing a part of the world that we would otherwise not likely see. We had also heard much about the President's cruise. It took effort to get so much vacation time and to travel so far from Canada. In the end, this ill-fated 17 day voyage would turn out to be an ordeal that lasted 5 days. At embarkation, we were met with a note with disappointing news - that the president would not be on board due to family illness, but that the planned activities would proceed... except that one of the ports had been rained out. True to fashion, Azamara had arranged an alternative port with similar activities. Bravo. The captain warmly welcomed us onboard and the sail out of Hong Kong was magnificent. However, he warned of rough seas for the next 24 hours. He did not exaggerate. The ship did have medication on board for those who needed it (almost everyone). We were soon to experience MONSOON MONDAY with winds over 40 knots, no rain. Barf bags were put out in all elevators and at every turn on the stairs. There were two notable wave events on TERRIBLE TUESDAY -- the first at 4 am where everyone on board woke up to a loud bang. The seas were still rough and we thought nothing more of it. The second came around 4 pm. Seas were still very rough and doors to the outside were locked. This was fortunate as we were hit by an enormous wave tilting the ship at least 45 degrees -- our bed slid all the way across the room and back. We later learned that both large waves likely washed over the top of the ship! The seas finally calmed after 24 hours -- in time for supper Tuesday evening. We arrived in Manila WEDNESDAY - WHEW. Along with the usual excursions, we were treated to a great party that evening at Fort Santiago -- we got to sample local food and entertainment. We heard that Azamara threw a big picnic party for their crew as many had family in the area. We also got to experience some of Manila's infamous TRAFFIC on THURSDAY. We left Manila Thurssday afternoon in calm seas but heavy rain -- unusually wet for the dry season. Day 5 started off as the first real day of rest and relaxation. Skies were clear and seas were calm. All that came to an end just after 8 pm. We were in the main dining room when we heard a scared-sounding voice announce "bravo bravo bravo" level 1 (I think). The captain was also in the dining room at the time and he took off at a run. Our server admitted that the bravo code meant we were now into FIRE FRIDAY. The power went off a few minutes later. Some urged that we return to our rooms to get our life jackets but we were already in our Muster Station and so stayed put... though none of us could eat. We could smell smoke and then see it thickening near the entrance to the dining room. We evacuated to an alternate Muster Station -- all the while holding up water-soaked napkins over our face. We were eventually given life jackets (though Muster Station A never handed out life jackets) and a head count was done. Throughout all this, the captain came on with announcements to keep us updated. The passengers were remarkably calm through all of this. The scariest point for me was when we heard that they were starting a second staging area to control the situation. Fortunately, this did not mean that the fire was out of control and we never heard the order to abandon ship. Without power, we learned that the toilets stopped flushing and so started overflowing in the areas around the muster stations. We were finally allowed to go back to our rooms around midnight - some could sleep, most did not. SATURDAY at SEA -- drifting without a breeze, oblivious to potential pirate threats in the Sulu Sea. It was HOT without the air conditioning. The crew were amazing -- they had cleaned up all the litter left out after the muster station and were walking up the stairs carrying food to the ninth floor for breakfast... anything that did not need cooking. The captain informed us that of the 4 engines, one was seriously damaged in the fire. They were able to bring one engine up to power the toilets and were working on the other two. We also found out that 5 crew members had been hurt, one seriously. The second engine came up that evening (allowing propulsion though still not AC) and we celebrated with a BBQ dinner followed by dance party -- the crew were trying! Many passengers and crew slept under the stars as it was truly too hot to sleep down below. SALVATION SUNDAY (April fool's day) was yet another very hot day, but we were on the move and that generate a breeze. The pool was a saving grace for cooling off. The spa was closed -- no big loss as the waters of the Thalassatherapy pool were heated to temperatures more appropriate for making soup than to be therapeutic. The Philippine Coast Guard and Navy had joined us some time the night before -- no signs of the dreaded pirates. With only 1 engine for propulsion, we were limping at 6 knots heading for Sandakan. We arrived in port around 10 pm -- the ordeal would soon be over. The crew was amazing. Kudos for making the best of a terrible situation -- keeping the ship tidy, getting food and drinks going, starting on repairs. The passengers should also be commended -- they were able to stay calm, in large part because they had great confidence in Azamara to handle the situation. In times of crisis, the other important thing is communications -- clear, concise, unambiguous. Although the captain was great during the night of the fire, more regular updates could have been given on Saturday and Sunday, even if it was to say that not much had changed. We were given a letter detailing our travel options once we arrived in Sandakan, as well as details of our compensation. Unfortunately, this letter had to be handed back to indicate our choices. The writing style of the letter (paragraph form) led to some confusion. The very generous compensation as detailed in list form that appears on this website is much clearer and less ambiguous (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1611795). The guest relations crew responsible for moving us from ship to hotels in Sandakan had a huge job with limited time in terrible working conditions (aka very HOT). Having said that, they should not have made time line announcements they could not keep (ie put your new luggage tags on by 7:30). They should have made annuncements saying that the tags are delayed, please hang on until 10 pm - stay in cooler places rather than wait in the very hot rooms. For our group of 5, they were unable to keep our group together even though they kept asking for that kind of information -- ie are you traveling with any others. After getting us into hotels in Sandakan, the next administrative hurdle was to get us on flights to Singapore. Once again, they failed to keep our group together, adding to the stress level of the group. Although I got my letter on Monday night saying that I was to get on the 6:30 am shuttle to leave for the airport, others in my group did not get their letter until 6:00 am on Tuesday, which only gave 30 minutes to get ready to leave. Stress! We know that a crisis team flew in from Miami. Ironically, the one that we met at the airport did not seem all that great at working in a crisis/stressful situation as they were easily flustered -- telling one of my party that he was not listed to fly out with the rest of us when he was on the list. In the end, our group managed to stay together and we were able to salvage the remainder of our vacation time. The experience in Singapore has been very positive. We were put up at the Fairmont hotel with a very generous $150/person/day per diem to the end of the cruise Apr 12 (9 nights). The hotel was great and we got to see Singapore in quite some depth -- we strongly recommend a trip to the zoo, as well as trying out all the amazing local dishes. We will hopefully be back to explore Indonesia with Azamara -- our original reason for going on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
My husband and have just returned from a wonderful, hastily organised 14th night cruise on the fabulous Azamara Quest, which sailed from Hong Kong to Singapore via Vietnam and Thailand. As veterans of a number of cruises, it has been our ... Read More
My husband and have just returned from a wonderful, hastily organised 14th night cruise on the fabulous Azamara Quest, which sailed from Hong Kong to Singapore via Vietnam and Thailand. As veterans of a number of cruises, it has been our best cruising experience to date. From the beginning of our experience with Azamara, we were amazed at the difference in this cruise to others we have experienced. Whilst the ship appears to be a smaller replica of others that we have sailed on previously we felt that we had never been "short changed" on all the things that matter to us. With a smaller number of guests onboard and very attentive officers and staff it meant that even by the first morning at sea we had new found friends amongst the cruisers. Staff remember our names and what particular coffee we liked! We felt that the staff we encountered were genuinely happy and this feeling remained though out the entire cruise. This cruise being hastily organised only 2 week prior to departure saw us seek an upgrade (at a minimal cost) on embarkation. Guest relations happily showed us our options and the necessary arrangements were made to upgrade without any problems. After a short discussion on our first day at sea, our previous cruising history with Celebrity was taken into account and we received many benefits of being prior Celebrity guests. The food was the best we have found on any cruise ship and was consistently excellent, so much so, we never ventured to Prime C or Aqualina. We were content with the atmosphere, service; food and company in Discoveries so that was were we spent much of our time. We enjoyed the entire dining experience, our seating requests were continually met and we feel that the staff was most professional and good natured in service delivery. The included free boutique wines with lunch and dinner were consistently good. Our cabin was comfortable and was in an excellent position on the ship. It never seemed too far to get to anything. Whilst the weather in the first week was questionable, the Captain was accurate in his weather reporting and kept us informed often. The Captain and Senior Officers were highly visible around the ship and would happily stop to chat or answer any questions guests might have. Entertainment was varied; we tend not to pick our cruises because of the entertainment so any type presented was okay for us. Mostly we enjoyed these experiences. Land tours were organised and executed very efficiently and included free water of leaving the ship, juices, towels (and even hot rum!) on the return to the ship. We enjoyed all the land tours we took and appreciated the 50% sale on land tours (this is something that no other cruise line has ever offered). Departures for shore excursions were done very efficiently (and entertainingly), coffee and pastries were available in the theatre while getting ready for tours or just being late for breakfast! There were the usual nice touches....free water on leaving for a tour, juices and towels to refresh on return. Always on our return we received a warm warm welcome from all the staff from the Security Team, Kitchen staff, Guest Relations (even cabin attendants that weren't on our deck). We were constantly amazed at how many staff knew our names. (and no we hadn't complained about anything, but were just Mr and Mrs Smith!) Azamara, you have our number 1 vote for getting it right. We shall return and encourage our cruising friends to do so as well. Captain Leith, you should be, without a doubt, extremely proud of your ship and the service your team delivers. How they manage to tick all the boxes is of a mystery to us. For our Azamara Quest Cruising experience you are as close to having the ultimate cruising experience as you could get. Would we recommend Azamara to anyone else? Absolutely. Would we cruise with them again? In a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We have just returned from a wonderful experience on the Fabulous Azamara Quest, sailing out of Hong Kong to Singapore with stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. It was our best cruising experience ever. If we have any complaints about ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful experience on the Fabulous Azamara Quest, sailing out of Hong Kong to Singapore with stops in Viet Nam and Thailand. It was our best cruising experience ever. If we have any complaints about Azamara, it is that it is disappointing that they only have 2 ships. We would love to cruise with them more often but they don't always have a ship going where we want to go when we want to go there.....so a message to Mr. Pimenthal would be to try to get some more ships to make your cruisers happy. From the beginning of our experience with Azamara, we were amazed at the difference in this cruise to others we have experienced. The staff was happy (and not just faking it-the warmth and family feeling we felt when we arrived was evident throughout the trip). Little touches, like the security folks meeting you on your return to the ship with a warm smile and a "welcome home". Our cabin was lovely and well appointed. Any requests were happily and efficiently accomodated. The food was the best we have found on any cruise ship and was consistently excellent. The sushi chef on the lunch buffet had a wonderful selection of marvellous sushi. Most days this was lunch for my husband and myself. The free boutique wines with lunch and dinner were consistently good. We tried both Aqualina and Prime C specialty restaurants and loved Prime C. Both Aldwin and Milena were absolute stars. We enjoyed all the land tours we took and appreciated the 50% sale on land tours (something that no other cruise line has ever offered). Everything was done very efficiently, and there were nice touches....free water on leaving for a tour, juices and towels to refresh on return......coffee and pastries in the theatre while getting ready for tours. The tour operators were all well selected and although some accents were more difficult to understand than others, we found them all to be excellent. On some of our previous cruises, we found ourselves to be either shilled to on a regular basis (buy this, get your photos here, art sale there) but the lack of this on Azamara was wonderful. Even our previous favourite Princess cruises, could take a leaf out of Azamara's books and not charge for the bottled water at the start of a cruise and have free laundry services.....these were especially appreciated and a very classy and nice touch. One untoward issue did arise on our trip and it could have been a major turn off but the way Azamara handled it just turned it into a talking point for us.....at 4:40 am one morning, the fire alarm went off in our room. We were naturally disoriented at the alarm and weren't sure what was going on. Later, we were told that a computer malfunction had caused a problem with the a/c in a small number of rooms and the humidity in the room built up causing the ceiling fire alarms to sound.....it was quickly sorted out and we returned to sleep. But how they handled it afterwards told the tale. Phone calls from senior staff apologizing and reassuring us that the problem had been handled. A bottle of champagne in the room. Follow up calls to make sure we were not at all preturbed by the problem. As my husband told a senior staffer when he called to talk to us about it, these things do happen but it was the way Azamara handled it that turned it from being a bad experience into a more positive experience for us. The mix of guests of all nationalities on this particular cruise was delightful to my husband and myself. We love meeting people from all over the world. And the jerk ratio was remarkably low. On our last cruise, there were far too many loud, rude and delusionally self important people. Didn't run into any real duds on this cruise-just friendly and fun people who were approachable and open to new experiences. Just the best mix of folks we have traveled with IMHO. Azamara gets it right. They are as close to having an all inclusive cruising experience. Our final bill on our cruise was a mere fraction of what we have paid on any of our previous cruises and that was a delightful surprise. Would we recommend Azamara to anyone else? Absolutely. Would we cruise with them again? In a hearbeat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We cruised on the Quest from March 29 for 14 nights, travelling from Hong Kong via Vietnam, Thailand to Singapore. This was our first Quest cruise but we have cruised several times before on Celebrity and RCI, making us Discoverer members ... Read More
We cruised on the Quest from March 29 for 14 nights, travelling from Hong Kong via Vietnam, Thailand to Singapore. This was our first Quest cruise but we have cruised several times before on Celebrity and RCI, making us Discoverer members in LCV. This cruise was booked since the day it went on sale in April 2009!We flew BA club class into HK - smooth, efficient as always and then caught the rail link into Kowloon (HK$70pp). If you keep your train ticket you are entitled to use the complimentary hotel shuttle service (take the lift up one floor and you will see the desks) We weren't actually going to a hotel but had calculated that the Marco Polo hotel was right at Ocean Terminal so we caught the #K2 bus. The trip took around 20 mins and dropped us at the door. Check in is strange in HK as it is in a shopping centre, so you walk past several children's designer shops (baby Dior and junior Burberry...etc), then you have to take your luggage outside to the luggage drop off area which is at the far end of the terminal. I felt that someone should have been on hand to take your bags from you. Then upstairs to check in, which was a smooth process. We arrived around 5.30p so we were the only ones there. On board the ship we were greeted by the Hotel Director, Ryszard, and a drink. As we arrived late our room was already ready. We had a quick tour of the ship to locate our bearings, and our suitcases arrived shortly afterwards. Washed and refreshed we headed to the Windows Cafes for a quick snack. I have to say now that on all our previous cruises (around 20 I think) we would never be seen dead eating in the buffet area in the evening - we nickname it the 'smash & grab' on the larger ships and buffets usually have the atmosphere of a motorway service station; but the ambiance and selection on Azamara gave it a totally different feel and I think we ate there around 5 times in the evening! They had a good selection and DH was particularly taken with the stirfry station that was there every day. We also loved the ability to sit outside. Jeremy the barman was very attentive (and cute!) and always kept our glasses filled! After our first taste of the daily free flow wine we had an appointment at the Felix bar at the top of the Peninsula Hotel. The ship was so centrally docked, right between Ocean Terminal and the Star Ferry terminal that this meant the Pen and the shops of Nathan Road were a very short walk away.The next day we caught the Star Ferry over to HK island and then the #6 bus to Stanley market. If you take the #6 it goes a scenic route and you get to see the beautiful countryside, and beaches that HK has to offer. It is not just a landscape of skyscrapers. After some retail therapy in Stanley, lunch and a beer we caught the #6X bus (this goes a quicker route via the tunnel) back to the ferry and the ship. Sailaway was at 8pm which is when the nightly light show takes place: it was fantastic to be in the middle of Victoria Harbour with the buildings 'flashing' all around us. And then it got rough! Some of the worst seas I have ever experienced, so feeling a little fragile, I retired to bed.The next day we found we had missed the muster which was held at 5p on the first day, and the catch up muster! We also found we had been offered a bridge tour, a galley tour and an engine room tour....as the weather was terrible it was good to have these options! We did all 3. There was also the first of two Cruise Critic meetings. Azamara seems to take Cruise Critic feedback and comments very seriously and all the senior officers were there for the meeting. On the last day they had a follow up meeting to get feedback of the cruise experience too.That night we had the CC dinner in Prime C. There was a very active roll call for this cruise and I think we had over 70 signed up. Our room was a SV aft balcony. It was a fair size, with ample storage with 2 ½ wardrobes, and plenty of drawer space. The balcony was larger than those along the side of the ship, but only had 2 chairs and a table. No loungers. Because the balcony is metal when you sat down it meant you could only just see over the edge. We would book this room again though. The bathroom was small, as we were to expect, but I felt that this was in need of upgrading. It had a shower curtain that liked to cling to you, I'm sure they could change this to the sliding doors like they have on s-class ships. The sink unit also looked dated. The toiletries were Elemis in 100ml size bottles. They had Aromazing shampoo, Sharp shower and bath gel, Provitamin conditioner and Vitamin rich body lotion. The bath towels were a good size, the bath robes were Frette. There were slippers in the wardrobe. There was one of those tube hairdryers on the bathroom wall (again looking very dated) and a proper plug in hairdryer in the dresser drawer. There were 4 plug sockets-2 European and 2 USA. Previous reports have said the mattresses need replacing. I certainly had no problems sleeping every night. Perhaps this was due to the wine...There were bedtime treats every night - in no particular order we had chocolate covered strawberries, mini chocolate brownies, pink mini macaroons, truffles and rice crispy crunchies. The daily newspaper (the 4-page version) was delivered nightly along with the Pursuits sheet for the next day.Despite reading Cruise Critic and devouring the information were were a few things I did not know about.......you can have canapEs in your room every afternoon if you wish - there is a little card to request this in the back of the blue folder; in addition to the usual room service menu there is also a selection of Asian food in the blue folder in the room; if you don't like the daily wine selection you can always ask for one of the wines from a previous day; you can see all the dining room menus for the cruise via the TV in the room if you click on General Info; there are approx 43 pay per view movies and these start from $9.98 per movie; and there is a free steamroom in the ladies washroom in the spa area.The complimentary wine was actually very good. I was told they load 6,000 bottles for each 14night cruise! They do not appear to be served in a strict rotation order but are selected to go with the menu of the day. The first day we had a Chilean Riesling which was a bit sweet for my liking; we then had Pinot Grigio and Chianti, Bulletin Shiraz from Australia, and SA Stellenzicht Sauv Blanc which was my favourite; Gerard Bertrand Chardonnay and Cab Sauv from France; NZ Kono Sauv Blanc; Australian Footprint Shiraz and Chardonnay...there were a few others which I did not catch. Having the complimentary wine certainly helped our on board account to be the lowest it has ever been! We did not order a single bottle from the wine list. There were 4 bottles of wine each day from the wine list offered at a reduced price - around $17 up. There were also daily cocktail specials for $5 (non alcoholic for $4), they had 2 half price beers every day for around $2.50, and they also did a beer in a bucket deal where you buy 4 and get one free. I never thought I would say this about a cruise but their drinks prices were very very reasonable! Of course there is no service charge added either. I wish other lines would follow suit. There was also a drinks package but to be honest I cannot think of a reason why you would want to buy this IMO.The demographic on board was around 370 USA/Canadian; 130 UK and 66 Australian. The LCV presentation for those who had cruised the most went to a Romanian couple on their 11th Azamara cruise. There were just 4 children on board and I would say that DW and I were certainly in the youngest group on the ship! There was also a film crew on board from The Travel Channel in the UK. The presenter was Cheryl Baker (Bucks Fizz) and one night was the 30th anniversary of their Eurovision win so Cheryl did the dance for us (without the skirt bit!) USA readers probably won't understand this reference!Food is subjective but I would say the food was very good. We dined in the Windows buffet every breakfast and lunch we were on board. The smoothies and waffles were very good. We never went to the main dining room for breakfast or lunch so cannot comment. We also didn't go to the formal teas in the afternoon. We had a lovely brunch one day. We dined twice in each of the speciality restaurants. Service was spotty when we had the large CC group dine in Prime C but was fine when just the 2 of us. Aqualina was superb both times we went there. I would recommend booking as soon as you board as on several occasions we were told they could only seat us at 9p which was far too late for us. The Windows buffet also had a different selection each evening...from Russian to Mexican to Greek. This made for a variety to the choice. Entertainment - I'm afraid that we rarely go to the shows or the lectures or the quizzes....there just isn't time! We went to just one show with an Australian impressionist and singer named Grant Galea and he was very good. However, the outstanding entertainer of the ship award must go to Jim Badger in the Mosaic lounge. He plays the piano and sings, and we all sing along. He also has a wicked tongue and has fun abusing members of the audience. We tried to catch his act every night.The launderette opposite #7076 was the social hub of the ship. Always busy and full of people chatting! The washers and dryers were good but the irons and ironing boards needed replacing as they sometimes scorched the material.Before I describe the ports I do want to mention a few little niggles that I found. I have already mentioned the bathroom in our cabin, but in each public washroom when you locked the door there was no indication that the cubicle was occupied so you always had someone trying the handle when you were 'busy'; one bed sheet had a stain on it like bleach that was clearly visible when the bed was made; when we ordered canapEs in our room they did not come with napkins; the swimming pool really is in need of retiling; and the laminated sign you put out to request the steward services your room looks a bit cheap. Little things like this could detract from a 5* cruise experience and I'm sure could be easily rectified.Le Club Voyage benefits - as Discover members we had plenty of social events. There was a senior officers party, a champagne brunch, 2 cocktail hours; we also had 237 minutes each of complimentary internet; and 2 vouchers for complimentary laundry. The laundry voucher said it was just for a wash but all items came back ironed.There were 2 shops on board-these were opened by the Captain so I think they were new franchises. However the selection in the jewellery shop was not that great. All cruises I have ever been on sell Tags or Gucci watches, and whilst I'm not expecting Rolex or IWC there was nothing better than a Fossil or a Guess. The clothes shop had some nice items included ACC logoware. There was also a 'jeweller in residence' who had some fabulous gold and silver items. There was no sale of duty free alcohol or cigarettes Now onto the ports.... we chose this itinerary specifically for the ports - Vietnam was one of the few SE Asian countries we had not visited. We docked first in Danang - a rather unattractive industrial area. We did the ships tour - Hoi An on your own - this cost around £28pp. We were first taken to a marble carving factory where we spent far too long but then we finally got to Hoi An. We had several hours in which to wander the streets of this very pretty little town. Retail opportunities were everywhere and I got lots of sets of lacquer wear drinks mats, bowls, a photo album, silk scarves, watercolour paintings. Hoi An is also known for many tailor shops and several people got items made in a day. The ship ran a complimentary shuttle to Danang.Next was HCMC (Saigon). The sail up the river was not as exciting as I had read. We had a group booked through Zoom. This man is infectious in his enthusiasm and we had all been sent many reports on Vietnamese customs, cusine and history to read before we arrived. Zoom was waiting on the pier for us. We visited the Post Office, Reunification Palace, a Chinese market and temple; then we had coffee at the top of the famous Rex hotel, we had lunch at Pho 2000 which is where President Clinton ate when he visted; then we visited a lacquer ware factory (another purchase), the war museum and the Ben Thanh market. Visas were handled by the ship and cost $40pp. We had a small landing card which we had to keep on us at all times. Traffic was chaotic with motor cycles everywhere. As we were docked overnight Zoom had recommended that we went out for dinner at the Royal Court restaurant in the Rex hotel. They served local cusine and had dancers and musicians. We had his driver, and the evening cost $40pp total including transport, meal, drinks and tip for a group of 15 of us. I'm confident that all of us would happily recommend Zoom - his real name is Tri Dung Nguyen dungzoom@gmail.com. The ship ran a complimentary shuttle from the port to the Rex hotel. In Bangkok we had a tour booked with Tong from www.tourwithtong.com. She was amazing! We were docked right in town at Klong Toey. The ship ran a complimentary shuttle from the port to the Central World Plaza shopping centre on Ploenchit which is just by the Siam skytrain station. Depending on traffic this could take anything from 30 mins to 1 ½ hrs. On the first day we docked around 11am and Tong took us straight to the Grand Palace. This was shutting at 1p due to it being a public holiday and the royal family were visiting. We also saw the huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho. After a fantastic lunch we had a river and canal tour and then visited the flower market. The official name for Bangkok is actually the longest capital city name in the world and she had us all singing a song to remember it on the journey home.....altogether now...." Krung Thep Manakhon Bovorn Ratanskosin Magin thara Ayutthaya Mahadilokpop Noparat ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchanivetmahasathan Avatartsathit Sakkathattiya Visnukarmrasit".....On the second day we had a 7am start and Tong took us straight to the train market. This is an amazing experience where the locals sell their wares along the train track. Then the 3 minute whistle goes and they clear their goods, pull back their awnings and let the train go through....they do this 8 times a day. Then we went to the floating market which was amazing. Make sure you go in a boat where they paddle you instead of in one with an engine so you can see how peaceful the pace is. After a quick visit to a wood carving factory we were on the way to a fishing village when the van broke down! Tong quickly flagged down a passing open backed bus (rather like a Turkish dolmus) and we all climbed in! This is where most tour guides would have abandoned the day and taken us back to the ship, but not Tong! We arrived in the fishing village in the bus and although we don't speak Thai we knew that everyone was saying "what are you doing in that"?. We set off in another boat to see the oyster beds, and then we had bought bags and bags of bananas to feed the wild monkeys. And there were a lot of wild monkeys along the banks and swimming along side us, and one even climbed onto the side of the boat! Lunch followed and this was held in a fishing platform built on stilts high above the water. A ladder up to the platform was not for the feint hearted but lunch was superb. The van had been repaired and was waiting for us on our return. Back at the ship we freshened up and then caught the shuttle into town. We headed straight for Jim Thompson's shop which sells the most beautiful silk products in Thailand. After this we walked down Patpong which is famous for fake copies of designer products (and other things....) but I felt that the copies were not as good as those on sale at the floating market (and were not as cheap ). We caught a cab back to the port and this only cost 100THB including the tip - that is around $3. The ship actually left at 2 the following day but we took advantage of the sunshine and the empty pool and sunbeds and did not go ashore again.Next was Koh Samui. The island had been hit by severe flooding the week before so it was touch and go as to whether we would visit there. But as with everything Thai they had got the island cleared and up and running again. This was our only tender port and the experience was smooth and efficient. There were several cab drivers offering tours at the port but we had arranged to meet friends who were coincidentally holidaying on the island at the same time. Cab fares are fixed and it only cost 600THB (around $20) for the 45min ride to their hotel .Finally we pulled into Singapore. We had an overnight here before we had to disembark. Singapore is spotlessly clean and very westernised. Starbucks on every corner. We met with friends for dinner and again for lunch the next day. Disembarking was a smooth process with most senior officers on hand to say good bye as you left the ship. Overall conclusion is that this is a very good cruise line- the officers were evident daily, the crew were always helpful and smiling, not having to pay tips is a bonus, the included water and sodas make everything easy, there was no continual hard sell, no announcements except for the daily address by the Captain. I had even been slightly worried about the standard of dress code on board but everyone seemed to scrub up well in the evenings. Apart from the few niggles which can be easily ironed out I'm sure this line will go from strength to strength and carve a niche market for itself. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
These are the highlights of our recent cruise (January 2011) in Asia with Azamara Quest. My wife and I are experienced cruisers, but this is the first time we have sailed on a smaller vessel, and I suspect that our experiences reflect ... Read More
These are the highlights of our recent cruise (January 2011) in Asia with Azamara Quest. My wife and I are experienced cruisers, but this is the first time we have sailed on a smaller vessel, and I suspect that our experiences reflect this, at least to a certain degree. Embarkation: We met the ship in Hong Kong. Seeing as we arrived at 9:30PM local time, we just took a car to the shopping mall where the pier is located. Three minutes after arriving at the pier we were checking in at Guest Relations, and three minutes later were in our cabin. Ordered room service, which was very prompt and very good. Note - because of the visa paperwork in the countries this tour visits, Azamara retains your passport until the last sea day. This didn't bother us, as this used to be a common practice in Europe, but it might make some travelers uncomfortable. You needn't be - it's painless, and you don't need your passport for anything until you are actually set to leave the ship for good. Cabin: Our stateroom, 7044 was had a balcony and, while quite small was comfortable. Located on deck 7, the location was perfect - two floors down to dining, two floor up to Windows cafe. (Note: Avoid Cabin 7076 and threafbouts - it's right across from the self-service laundry!) The bathroom is absolutely tiny, and requires a certain amount of agility in order to not whack youself against things while using it. The shower is absolutely miniscule - I'm 5'8, 165 lbs and found I could just turn around in it. Takes some getting used to, but it's fine. The rest of the cabin - desk, sofa, table and bed are standars and very comfortable. The in-room TV is a waste of space, since programming is abysmal - Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and a 'movie' channel which shows movies that even the straight-to-DVD people spurmed. Unlike all the other cruises we've been on, there are no movies showed on the ship itself. Closet space is adequate, particularly since Azamara has no formal nights. You needn't pack suits or long dresses, etc., freeing up a lot of closet space. Dining: As in most cruises, there are several options: The main dining room (Discoveries), cafeteria (Windows), and 2 speciality ($30 per peson extra) restaurants, Cc and Aqualina. We didn't try Cc, which is a steakhouse experience, although we heard it qas quite good. Aqualina was fine, the dEcor underwhelming and the service a little pretentious. The food was also good, but probably not worth the additional $30. Discoveries main dining room was very good. It has open seating, which we liked a lot. After a couple of tries we found a waiter we really liked and arranged to sit at one of his tables for the rest of the cruise. The wait staff in general was quite stiff, overly formal without much friendliness (one of the reasons we stayed with one we liked). The food choices were overall quite good and in a couple of instances exceptional. The house wine, free with lunch and dinner was fine with us, although we're certainly not wine experts. Windows cafe was, in a word, bad. In general the choices were limited, insipid, unappealing and unattractive. We took to having breakfast through Room Service which worked out much better except on shore excursion days. Lunch offerings at Windows were odd combinations of things that often seemed to have appeared the night before at dinner, and many dishes (even those where you would never expect it) were highly seasoned with hot spices. Everything always seemed to look better than it tasted. The wait staff is totally disorganized and it can take forever to get your beverage served. There are no trays, and waiters don't help passengers who are struggling with a couple of plates when the ship is moving. In fact the only efficiency from the wait staff we saw was in removing used plates - guard your plate with your life if you're close to finishing because if not, a waiter will swoop down out of nowhere and whisk it away before you know what's happening. Must be some kind of management fixation. Ships personnel: We found the personnel in Guest Services to be the friendliest and most efficient of any cruise line we've used. Our cabin staff were totally unobtrusive, efficient and always had the room made up when requested. Waiters (as previously mentioned) are somewhat aloof but generally efficient. Ships officers, to the small degree we had contact with them seemed very eager to make a good impression for Azamara. Shore Excursions: Azamara shone in this department. I can say without hesitation that the ships tours offered by Azamara, at least on this cruise were by far and away the best of those offered by any line we've cruised on, including HAL, Celebrity, Princess and Cunard, both in terms of cost and in terms of completeness. We saw and did virtually everything that there was to see and do in the ports of call (with the exception of Singapore where, due to a scheduling error/unavailability of berth we only arrived at 5:00 PM with our flight out the next day at 8:00 AM. We can't say enough about the shore excursions Azamara put together. Hopefully, this will give those of you considering this trip a little taste of Quest. We're confident you will have a wonderful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Our background is over 20 cruises on a wide variety of lines including NCL, Royal Caribbean, Costa, Celebrity, Commodore, Windstar, Sea Dream and Regent. We cruised with Azamara a total of 5 weeks previous to this trip, all on the ... Read More
Our background is over 20 cruises on a wide variety of lines including NCL, Royal Caribbean, Costa, Celebrity, Commodore, Windstar, Sea Dream and Regent. We cruised with Azamara a total of 5 weeks previous to this trip, all on the sister ship the Journey. With our wide variety of lines and price levels, we feel can be very objective in our review. Our trip started with 3 pre days in Hong Kong at the Harbour Grand Kowloon. The hotel is a 5 star a bit out of the way but perfect for getting adjusted to the dreaded major time change. We boarded the Quest at the Ocean Terminal which is a combo shopping mall and cruise terminal. A bit unusual going thru the mall to check in. Our embarkation proceedure was not up to what we experienced with Azamara previously. I blame it on the shoreside staff that were inept at best. Azamara staff had to frequently help them with the most basic check in proceedure. The whole check in took way too long, even in the Le Club Voyage line which was shorter than the regular check in line. Once onboard, a glass of champagne in hand, lots of smiling welcoming faces made us feel right at home again. We even ran into quite a few crewmembers we remembered from the Journey. We checked our carry-ons and off to lunch at Windows Cafe. Windows was very busy, hard to find a place to sit. The lunch was un inspiring, a lot of cafeteria type dishes. I had the carved beef, tough and without flavor. About 1 pm or so the announcement we were all waiting for, "Staterooms are ready" We ventured to deck 7 and found our carry ons waiting for us, our 3 big bags arrived a short bit later. We were starting to unpack when our cabin steward Caitano knocked on the door to introduce himself. We were so fortunate to have him and his assistant for the 2 weeks. Caitano was by far the best steward we have had on any cruise. He figured out our routine in a day, kept my buckets of beer iced for me, and re stocked the minibar daily with our requests. Caitano was a prime example of the entire crew. Azamara has done a fine job in staffing their ships. It would be hard to find a cruiseline that has equal staff. From the senior officers to the young cleaning crews in the public restrooms, all were more than excellent. We are Explorer members of Le Club Voyage and really appreciated the perks that came with this. We had 2 x 150 minute internet packages, 2 bags of laundry, a free mini massage, coctail parties, happy hours and a bottle of champage in our stateroom. I have to mention a couple names of staff that made our 2 weeks enjoyable. Julie in the casino bar, Ernesto the bar waiter who it seemed was everywhere and of course Hotel Director Phillip Hebert. All that has been said about him is true and then some. What a class act he is. We were honored to dine with him, his wife and a group of 8 other passengers. We thought this would be a "stuffy" affair, but what a great time all of us had at dinner. We used ships shore excursions a couple times and were very satisfied with them. One thing Azamara does that you just don't see on other lines is they bring onboard local tourism staff to recommend things to people that do not use the organized ships excursions. We also used the ships free shuttle busses that took us to the "heart" of the cities we visited. Evenings were an improvement over our previous trips on Azamara, Entertainment was far better, the DJ in the looking glass "spun" some great tunes and even though we donated to the casino the staff was a lot of fun. Unfortuantely we had issues with the food on this trip. I realize food critics abound, all we like is fresh food with good taste and preparation. First Windows cafe, while breakfast was good, the coffee and crowds were not. This sailing was sold out and the numbers of people trying to eat in windows seemed way more than thier capacity. Lunches in Windows were crowded, but even worse was the food. Much of the hot food looked like warmed over cafeteriea food and tasted much the same. We did have a good porkloin at the carvery one day but that was about it. I found myself eating egg salad sandwiche at the bar since tables were at a premium. Windows in the evening while less crowded, food was not great, no sushi on a number of nights, the pasta was typically mushy and overcooked and no shrimp for the stir fry's. Where oh where did the shrimp go?? (I think the budget does not allow this any longer). Discoveries dining was pretty hit and miss as well. We typically had good appetizers and soups, but most main entrees were either dried out or tasteless, sometimes both. We did find the NY strip steak was pretty good and the T-bone was decent as well. The fish dishes were poorly prepared and had strong "fishy" taste. We dined in Aqualina 2 times, both were good,(you can't beat the fois grais). The meat quality in Prime C seemed lower that we remembered, the filet was tough and stringy and the veal chop pretty tasteless. Its too bad about our dining experiences because overall we really enjoy Azamara. With upcoming drydocks for both the Journey and Quest, mabye its time to reduce their capacity slighty? I really think a full ship stresses the food service department. I also think RCI has cut their food budget. It only shows to those who have sailed Azamara previously. Bottom line, Azamara has so much going for them but with the higher prices they now demand they now have even higher expectations to live up to. We certainly will be back, hoping they can maintain their service levels and work on bringing the food back to whay we have come to expect from them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Upon my return home I had received an email from a writer at Conde Nast magazine asking for my opinion on Azamara cruises for a story she was writing in the Cruise edition this summer. Her timing was impeccable since I had just returned ... Read More
Upon my return home I had received an email from a writer at Conde Nast magazine asking for my opinion on Azamara cruises for a story she was writing in the Cruise edition this summer. Her timing was impeccable since I had just returned from my Southeast Asia adventure. I have been so busy, that I have not had time to write my review but I am going to attach the response I sent to Conde Nast - killing two birds with ONE stone ....how convenient! :-) I travelled with a group of friends that I met through Cruise Critic. 4 I had met on previous cruises and 4 just before this cruise on the boards. They are from all over the world. I think that you will find that all of us really loved our experience on board. Just to provide some details on me - I am a very experienced traveler. This was my 80th cruise. I used to be in the travel business for 15 years in many capacities. I planned and escorted the first commercial tour group from North America to China in 1976 for Thomas Cook and all subsequent trips for 2 years. I was also Director of Quality Control for a large Canadian tour operator so I am very realistic in my expectations when I travel. I usually travel solo. I understand that things don't always go perfectly and I do not harp on minutiae. I don't wear white gloves, but I expect a certain level of cleanliness. If there is an issue that needs fixing, I report it - I understand that how well a company handles "issues" clearly shows their mettle. I appreciate how they respond and once the issue is fixed, it is forgotten. I am a very positive, upbeat person and I so love my vacation adventures that I refuse to spend a moment of them being miserable. No point in that, right? On this trip I took and "around the world" air ticket in first class and it was phenomenal! I had a blast everywhere....tried all the lounges and drank pretty much most of their champagne... :-) hic! I also stayed at Hullett House in Hong Kong...a converted police station by the Star Ferry ...so cool!!! So now you know who I am - I will provide the answers to your questions below: 1. The food. How were the selection and dining areas? If they were outstanding, what made it so? If they were mediocre, why? [CM] Discoveries: The food was very good. I was particularly impressed with the fact that on the first night(which was an in port night in Hong Kong), the main dining room served a truly excellent meal to all 9 of us. Service was excellent, food was hot and very fresh. Very generous portions. We also arrived late and had no issues whatsoever. Great selection .... lots of vegetarian selections too. One complaint - the pasta was not good all three times I tried it. The first time - they tried twice to make it right and fell short. I tried a couple of dishes as an appetizer but they were never good. I did comment on it. I avoided them after that - plenty of other great things to try. Breads were good. Food was on the salty side - it surprises me to say that because I used to be a salt monster but I have been cutting out salt over the past few months. I think I am just a little overly sensitive now. I am not a dessert person but the few I tried were fabulous. Breakfast in Windows was great. Omelet's were well done and had plenty of choices. I usually eat oatmeal and there were fresh berries and cinnamon and dried fruit along with flax seed to bulk it up. It was great. There was a nice variety of other items and a lovely area that served a selection of several smoked fishes....very nice. The waffles and pancakes and French toast station was great and quick. Fresh juice was no being served from the juicer - I think it was diluted with frozen...it was good but not what I had last time. They did make fresh smoothies on request. The service in Windows was good .... Captain ate there quite often but the staff did not carry your plates to your table like they have done on Celebrity and in the past on Azamara .... I don't really mind dragging my own food around though! The tables were full outside all the time. It was a little more crowded since the ship was full. Breakfast in Discoveries was terrific...ate there only once but it was fine. Lots of choice. I had eggs Benedict (big treat) and the first order was overcooked. I sent it back and they got it perfect on the second try! Nice service. I am not fancy breakfast kind of gal. Breakfast in my cabin: I had a suite so I could order from the menu in the dining room. My butler always prepared my table with a formal setting on my balcony - very decadent. The food was always hot and very generous portions. Lunch - When it was a sea day we ate at the pool. Always. The grill was fine - great French fries (unfortunately). The burgers were apparently overdone but I don't eat beef so I had the turkey or veggie ones. They were great. Chicken wings were wonderful! I also had the salad inside at Windows...chicken, tuna, salmon, egg without the breads were fine. Lot's of fresh veggies. The ice cream was always a big hit but I don't eat it so I don't know for sure. My friends ate it everyday. High Tea...heard it was lovely. The Brits had some complaints but - well - you know! ;-) LOL Specialty Restaurants. I loved them both - I could eat there every night but my friends were not in suites so I only ate twice in Prime C and once in Aqualina. The Hotel Director, Philip Herbert (amazing, truly amazing manager) had hosted a party there for me and my friends on the last night which was my birthday! I had the lamb chops both times and the mushroom soup and the lava cake!!! YUM YUM YUM Aqualina had great service but not as good as Prime C. Food fabulous too....seafood platter and lobster tail dinner for me....Crème Brule for dessert! Love the addition of free wines with dinner and lunch. Great perk. Kept the bar bill down for sure!! 2. What was your cabin like? Upon seeing, what was your reaction? [CM] I had the Club Continent Suite but I had it before on the Journey. Very spacious for myself. Tons of closet space. I love the bathroom in the suite. I have had much larger cabins on other cruise lines. This ship has smaller ones but I still love them. Large tv. Could have used an iPod connection. Bedding great. Amenities in bathroom terrific. Balcony is fine but extremely small in comparison to other ships. The regular balcony staterooms are very small. The bathrooms are miniscule. The furnishings are fine, getting a little dated. The bathroom was not spic and span but I did not complain about it so I shouldn't say anything bad. There was mould in the tiles. I am sure if I did say anything it would have been taken care of but I was FAR too busy enjoying my cruise to remember to say anything. 3. How was the crew/service? Did you have a specific issue that they fixed for you? [CM] The staff and crew are the best of the best in my opinion. Nobody beats Azamara for their service. I had no real issues. I asked for priority tenders for my little group and was always accommodated TOTALLY! Always had an escort. Amazing. One night one of the couples ate in Prime C and it was not up to snuff. They did not want to say anything as they are shy. I mentioned it to Philip and they invited them back for a "re-do" --- ALL the members of the table!!! IMMEDIATELY Such is the way they operate. Don't have to ask twice. The guys loved to play shuffleboard and darts, the dart board was broken and when we were next in port VOILA - there was a new dart board. 4. The itinerary. Did you enjoy the destinations on the trip? Was it a good combination of sea days and ports? [CM] I took this itinerary because of the combination. Staying overnight in many ports was fabulous. We needed the sea days and they were fun too. 5. What was the design of the ship like? Was it hard to get around? Was it modern-looking? [CM] Beautiful small lovely ship. Not modern but timeless. So easy to get around. I never got lost. Everything was great. Windows in the dining rooms. Casual elegance. Ship needs a dry-dock though. Saw her sister ship - the Nautica - and she looked more "spruced up". Needs a good full coat of white paint. 6. Were there many activities/facilities? If it was available, did you/your family make use of the children's club? [CM] NO KIDS! :-) Ship is not meant for them. We played shuffleboard ....that's it. Pool adequate. Thalassotherapy pool was disappointing. Nothing special like the Galaxy's! There were many lectures and we took part in NONE of them. My friends that did go said they were great. Some concerts were excellent. I used the gym a lot and took all the classes. They were really good. 7. Did you take part in any shore excursions? How were they? [CM] Always plan my own excursions and sign folks up on Cruise Critic. We had a group in every port of between 8 and 25. We had a blast as we did what we wanted and were not herded around like cattle! The people that went on the ships tours seemed happy. 8. Overall, what was your impression of the cruise line? Strongest/weakest points? [CM] They are so strong on customer focus. Everyone on board is attentive and they aim to exceed expectations. It's hard not to have a wonderful time when there is that kind of attention to detail. It feels like they want you there. Like you are family. Corporate is really good to their people and it shows. Everyone is respectful and kind. Happy too. Always willing to go the extra mile to ensure your pleasure. Customer service is the most important aspect of any organization. I have been customer facing for most of my career and I have experienced great successes by providing exceptional service that delights customers. Azamara does that. Yeah, the pasta sucked but, like, who cares? My needs were more than met. Someone brought me all my meals, someone made my bed, someone paid me attention and brought me drinks while I lazed around like a beached whale. My bill at the end of a 2 week cruise was $180.... :-) and I was treated like a Queen. Reality sucks. I WANT BACK ON AZAMARA!!! Now, where's my crown and my suitcase? LOL ;-) PS - SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO PHILIP HERBERT - WORLD'S BEST HOTEL DIRECTOR, RUSS AND HIS STAFF OF CRUISE DIRECTORS - WAY TOO MUCH FUN WAS HAD BY ALL, STEPHANIA - RESTAURANT MANAGER FORMER SOMMELIER - YOU ROCK! NIKOLAI (AKA...ALEC BALDWIN)- DINING ROOM LEADER EXTRODINAIRE - THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP IN ARRANGING THE BEST DINNER PARTIES AND FOR MAKING US LAUGH! EYUD AND HIS EXCELLENCE IN SAILAWAY PARTY DECORATIONS AND BIRTHDAY ARRANGEMENTS! AND TO LALANI IN THE DINING ROOM ....YOUR SERVICE AND SWEETNESS AND THE BIRTHDAY SERENADE WAS SO PERFECT .... MMMMWWWAAAHHH! EVERYONE WHO MADE THIS TRIP SO MEMORABLE. AS YOU READ THIS - PLEASE REMEMBER THAT LIFE EXPERIENCES ARE WHAT YOU MAKE THEM. SPENDING TIME LOOKING FOR NEGATIVES ALMOST ASSUREDLY GUARANTEES THAT YOU WILL FIND THEM. LOOK FOR JOY INSTEAD!!! HAPPY SAILINGS.....ALWAYS!!!! :-) Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We boarded our cruise in Hong Kong after a wonderful 3 night stay at the MetroPark Hotel, Kowloon. We visited Victoria Peak, rode the famous Star Ferry and dined at the floating Jumbo Restaurant among many other interesting adventures. I ... Read More
We boarded our cruise in Hong Kong after a wonderful 3 night stay at the MetroPark Hotel, Kowloon. We visited Victoria Peak, rode the famous Star Ferry and dined at the floating Jumbo Restaurant among many other interesting adventures. I had not been in Hong Kong since 1968 and like everywhere it had changed significantly. However, it is still a beautiful and interesting city. We arrived at the pier about 11:30 am and boarded after about a 30 minutes wait in line. We were greeted with smiles, champagne and directions to the lunch buffet. Rooms would not be ready until 1:30. After lunch our room was ready and we left the dinning room to explore our new home for the next two weeks. We had a balcony room that was not the largest we have experienced but certainly adequate for the two of us. The bathroom was small but functional. First let me comment on the service. The entire staff was the most friendly and accommodating of any ship we have been own. All requests were met immediately and with a smile. We had more officers stop and have lengthy conversations with us than all our other cruises combined. Shoes were even shined on request. We loved the free water, soft drinks, and fruit restocked daily. We felt all the dinning options were a step above our previous cruises with the NCL Jewel being the worst and probably Princess or RCL being best. However, Carnival, for the money, is quite good. We enjoyed the two speciality restaurants ($15 per person)that were a bargain at that price. The Cowboy rib eye (bone-in) at Prime C was superb. The Aqualina had great Foie Gras as an appetizer. This dish alone would cost more than the $15 surcharge. The lobster and Sea Bass were also enjoyed as entrees. Make your reservations when you first get on ship to ensure your preferences for time and date. We thought lunch at Windows offered a good variety and was tasty. My wife loves to try foods different than those we normally eat at home and she was never disappointed. Service was generally prompt and cheerful. However,the service when Windows first opened was somewhat slow at lunch and dinner. Breakfast could also be a little slow at peak times. We learned to postpone our dinner visit until about 30 minutes after they opened. We enjoyed dinning outside for lunch on most days with a rail table. The main dinning room menu was generally interesting. However, after two weeks it started looking the same. I have this problem on all long cruises. The food was very good. Service was attentive and the wine flowed freely. Wine being included for lunch and dinner is a nice touch that seemed to be greatly enjoyed by most. Room service was good and promptly delivered. Being able to order a full breakfast was appreciated. The Vietnamese entertainment that was brought on ship for the evening deck buffet while in Saigon was wonderful. They were truly talented. Several members of the crew "fell in love" with the local beauties that put on the show! We regretted missing the performance of the Thai entertainers in Bangkok because we were getting our custon suits refitted! This was a dissapointment, and another story. This was truly a wonderful cruise and we will be sailing Azamara in the near future. Now back to the real world. Yes, dear. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
The Quest is a beautifully maintained ship with many luxurious notes and finishes. It's quite easy to learn your way around given the compact size. However, it was the constant contact with the ship's officers and the incredible ... Read More
The Quest is a beautifully maintained ship with many luxurious notes and finishes. It's quite easy to learn your way around given the compact size. However, it was the constant contact with the ship's officers and the incredible stateroom service that made this cruise stand out...along with the ability to get into smaller ports with very difficult navigational challenges that preclude larger ships with less adventuresome bridge crews. The passengers on this journey included a majority of non-US residents, with a heavy representation from the UK and Australia. We also met folks from Russia, Greece, and Chile. The Cruise Critic social was a nice mid-morning coffee/champagne social with the ship's officers and department heads (including Captain Smith) on the first sea day. We were in a forward facing Royal Suite (being rebranded as Club Ocean Suites in April 2010), with a double-sized verandah where we could look up and say hi to the crew on the starboard wing bridge. As Royal Suite guests we received many extras, including 1L complimentary bottles of Absolut and Dewar's with mixers, and a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rough Champagne on sailing. Our suite was extremly spacious with enough closet space for the ridiculous 6 suitcases we brought along. The marble baths were ample-sized (the master has a whirlpool tub), and equipped with an array of Elemis bath products. Our Head Butler was responsible for all room service, including breakfast and afternoon tea or savories, and handled all restuarant reservations and other special requests. Our Butler saw to the overall housekeeping and handled garment pressing and shoe shines, and offered to pack and/or unpack our bags. Finally, a stateroom attendant saw to cleaning the baths and refreshing towels, etc. Many in-stateroom special services (such as romantic turn down) are offered upon request, some for a small fee. A huge surprise was that our Head Butler decorated our suite with hand-cut hearts and balloons while we were at dinner on our 16th anniversary, and two days later, put roses on our pillows at turn-down for Valentine's day. Wow! Aqualina and Prime C were both excellent specialty venues. The lobster duo (prepared one of four ways, plus a pot pie) in Aqualina is superb. The Cellar Master, Stephanie, held several wine tastings during the cruise for a small fee, and capped off the cruise with a fantastic 8 course wine dinner. If you're into wine appreciation, these are not to be missed. Captain Smith is a young, 38 year old from Isle of Man. His daily noon briefings were a highlight of the cruise. As suite guests, we got a small group tour of the bridge, led by Officer Cadet Carlos. It was a very detailed briefing, with the opportunity to step out on the wing bridge while making 17 kts. A real treat! Also, as suite guests, we were invited to a special dinner in the drawing room with the ship's senior officers. This was a very elegant dinner prepared by the executive chef, with each course designed to highlight an aspect of the journey. Of course, Cellar Master Stephanie was there to match wines to each course, and our own Head Butler was lead server. What a treat! At dinner we asked Hotel Director Winkler if it would be possible to take a galley tour or engine control room tour - the next day we received private invitations for these remarkable behind the scenes opportunities. I'd also like to highlight the bar staff...we quickly got to know these fun, service-oriented folks and they made us feel like the only guests on the ship. Pool Bartender Wayan, and the staff including Maria, Jimson, Ernesto, and Angkana were particular stand-outs! We did have one complaint during the cruise regarding some ad lib humor between CD John Howell and cabaret performer Jim Badger that went awry. Our concerns, as one of about 6 same-sex couples on board, had to do with some fairly stereotypical and offensive "banter" that caused us to walk out of the show. In response to our concerns, CD Howell sat down with us over drinks and more than made amends, taking our feedback to heart. Again, this was in keeping with the exemplary response we received to the slightest request from the crew. Overall, we found Azamara to be an exhilarating experience given the luxury, the ability of the ship to get into smaller ports, and the high level of customer service. We will look for future itineraries from Azamara. The crew hinted that 2011 will hold more 7-10 day journies and more small, lesser visited ports. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We are experienced cruisers and have sailed on this ship twice before in the last year. Our previous experiences have been almost entirely favorable but not this time. The check in and embarkation were ok although the location of the ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers and have sailed on this ship twice before in the last year. Our previous experiences have been almost entirely favorable but not this time. The check in and embarkation were ok although the location of the berth in Hong Kong at Kennedy Town left much to be desired. The Cruise line did, however, lay on free shuttle buses into Central. The whole cruise experience was spoiled in many ways by a severe outbreak of Novovirus which lasted the whole cruise with many passenger and crew afflicted. This had an effect on the standard of service since those of the crew who were not sick or quarantined were often diverted to disinfecting duties. There was a lack of communication from the ship's management to the passengers resulting in lots of rumors going about. I got the impression that the food in the main dining room was not as good as it had been on our previous cruises. The food in the buffet at breakfast was fine and in Aqualina very good. The prices of the drinks are far too high ($12+18% for a glass of red wine) The bars were never busy because of this. I am not sure that this ship is entirely suitable for cruising in this area in the winter. For the last few days as we got further North our cabin would not heat up sufficiently and the sliding door to our balcony blew off its bottom runner in a gale. We also experienced a very erratic supply of hot water to our cabin, sometimes cold or lukewarm, sometimes scalding. We reported this to our butler on several occasions but nothing was done to rectify the matter. Disembarkation at Tienjin was a total shambles. There seemed to be a lack of communication between the ship and the local authorities regarding the illness on board. The result was that we were not let off until 11.00 am instead of 8.30. The luggage was dumped at random in a car park with no attempt to sort it by the color and number of the tags. This resulted in a very confused situation with 700 passengers milling about looking for their bags. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
An amazing two week cruise with a truly memorable itinerary and an excellent ship with some exceptional crew members. Embarkation: The quickest and smoothest we've experienced. It took 15 minutes from arriving at the Quayside to ... Read More
An amazing two week cruise with a truly memorable itinerary and an excellent ship with some exceptional crew members. Embarkation: The quickest and smoothest we've experienced. It took 15 minutes from arriving at the Quayside to being in our cabin and our luggage arrived 10 minutes later. Cabin: We had opted for a Sky Suite. The room was a good size but storage space was a little limited. The balcony was nice but not good for sunbathing as it was partially covered. My husband claimed the beds weren't as comfortable as Celebrity - but I didn't notice! Butler Service: The Head Butler was very low profile - particularly on embarkation day - I think he wanted to avoid having to help with unpacking and any queries. He eventually appeared at 7pm and then was unable to get us any of the times that we wanted in the speciality restaurants. He had a very 'can't do attitude' which was disappointing. Room Service: We always eat breakfast in our room and only once was our order delivered correctly. It often came very late, with many items missing and on 3 occasions our eggs were practically raw. When I raised this with the Head Butler he just shrugged his shoulders and said I should speak to room service... On the flip side, the in-room dining menu was much improved and we particularly enjoyed the new Asian dishes that were available. Senior Staff/Officers: The senior crew members were outstanding and had great visibility and presence around the ship. Of particular note were: Heike the Hotel Director and the fantastic Captain Carl Smith who was charming and highly respected by his crew. Lastly I must mention Edwin,the Chief Housekeeper - through his kindness and exceptional levels of service he made our cruise all the more memorable and enjoyable. He is a huge asset to Azamara. Restaurants: We thoroughly enjoyed all of our experiences in the restaurants - particularly Aqualina and Prime C (we eventually managed to sort our bookings out!!) Excursions: We were surprisingly pleased with the ship's excursions and found them to be of a high level of quality. The absolute highlight was our trip to Angkor Wat - simply amazing and very efficiently organized by Azamara Irritations: The complete lack of any free sunbeds if you didn't get up to hog/reserve one at 7am. In the end we just gave up and I sacrificed my sun tan! Itinerary: Absolutely fantastic - we loved all of the ports of call. Highlights were: the sailaway from Hong Kong harbor, Hanoi, Halong Bay, the Grand Palace in Bangkok and of course Angkor Wat. The Ship: It took a few days to get used to being on a smaller ship than we are accustomed to but ultimately we loved it. We liked the decor and public rooms and appreciated the fact that with fewer passengers, there is less 'herding'. Entertainment: We hardly ever go to the shows so I can't really comment. We did however enjoy the port lectures given by Jonathan with assistance from his wife Tracey. The Captain's Club events and benefits (we are elite) were minimal but enjoyable. Disembarkation: Very smooth - no complaints. We liked the fact that we could stay in our cabin until we were called (rather than loitering in a lounge). Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
OVERVIEW: Over the past decade my written ship reviews have become more positive and I had to ponder the cause before completing the present review. I mean if anything with age I have become more discerning, more likely to know what is ... Read More
OVERVIEW: Over the past decade my written ship reviews have become more positive and I had to ponder the cause before completing the present review. I mean if anything with age I have become more discerning, more likely to know what is good or bad about services or products. And therein lies the answer, I am, in short, more discerning about myself, knowing my own needs and preferences and this has allowed me to do a much better job of matching myself to the appropriate ship or cruise line. So as you read this review, you must ask yourself questions about yourself to determine if my remarks are relevant for you. Furthermore, the primary purpose of my cruise determines what items are most important. If I am booking a cruise mostly to do sightseeing, as was the case here, then I know I want a small ship experience with a port intensive itinerary. Cruises with different purposes, such as a crossing or spa/leisure vacation might yield a different choice of ship or cruise line. With respect to my recent trip to Southeast Asia, which was heavily oriented to for sightseeing, Azamara Quest was the perfect ship for a sightseeing intensive journey and furthermore it was, bar none, the best value for the money among any of the other luxury and upper end deluxe lines cruising Southeast Asia this year. THE PERFECT SHIP FOR EXPLORING THE WORLD: Azamara's Quest's itinerary was port intensive and the cruise line worked hard and succeeded in most ports to arrange to dock at a convenient in town location, made possible by its small size (700 passengers). Also disembarking and embarking during the trip without long lines or ever the use of tenders that larger ships often require made the journey hassle free. And after a busy day of sightseeing, it was always wonderful to return to smiling officers (some senior officer seemed always be on hand upon returning). Once again on board there was: • Excellent service provided in every venue that was both efficient and personal • Fine contemporary western cuisine or Asian food for westerners, which balanced the more exotic cuisine we sample on shore • Flexible open seating which so well accommodated ever changing ending times of our private shore excursions. • In depth relevant enrichment lectures about the places we will be visiting. Azamara provided an excellent program of lectures. • And on those precious few sea days between touring, the ship was both wonderfully relaxing and quiet yet succeeded in providing many scheduled activities to fill one's time. In sum total, Azamara performed admirably well and it would be hard to imagine another line that does it as well as Azamara, providing an upscale atmosphere with deluxe service (details below) at such a very reasonable price. SERVICE: The most important thing to me, above all else, on a cruise of any type, is service and that service needs to be genuine, attentive, flexible, friendly and personal. I found all of the Quest officers and crew as well as the hotel management personnel and staff, from the Captain Smith to the most junior deckhand, and from Hotel Director to cleaning staff to be extraordinarily attentive, kind, helpful, friendly and flexible, meaning willing to bend over backward in order to please. My Butler (Emmanuel) and Cabin Steward (Abdul, who should be promoted to a butler immediately) did an extraordinary job, every special request (mostly at the start of the cruise) was fulfilled with a smile, and my cabin was always spotless, with fresh towels, flowers, and fresh fruit supplied in abundance. Somehow between the hours of 8 am and noon and again from 5 to 9 they always seemed to be at hand, even if it were just to open my stateroom door because I was carrying a book or a beverage or to ask if I needed anything for the cabin. Even on the occasion I was running late for a dinner engagement and would leave my day clothes on the bed, I always returned to find them folded and sitting on the sofa. The Hotel Director (Henke), Guest Relations Manager, Deniece Seow, and the Maitre d' in each dining room took extraordinary care of not only me, but people traveling in my tour group and others each with their own special story. In fact other passengers confided in me that they were receiving VIP service for reasons they failed to fathom and some even wondered if they were being confused for someone important. Now when a cruise line can provide that level of service and friendliness onboard, they are "working magic", a level that is hard to achieve and certainly was not as present on my first cruise on Azamara in October 2007. If pressed and you asked me "come on, there must be some fault somewhere with service, I would have to say that the only fault I could find is that at peak times, the buffet restaurant on the pool deck was a bit understaffed when it came to clearing tables. DINING: Beyond service, I expect that dining on a cruise be a consistent positive experience which is significantly above average from ones general day to day life. I don't ever anticipate it to be haute gourmet, for true gourmet cooking is hard to prepare for a crowd that is larger than 75 people. But I do expect the dining service to be of good quality, varied, somewhat creative and with good attentive service. Azamara in this respect more than met my expectations. Also, because I never like dining rooms or restaurants that seat more than 100-125 at a time, I am not a big fan of the main dining room on any ship and I try to maneuver away from that choice when possible. On this cruise I succeeded and only ate two dinners in Discoveries (the main dining room on Quest). While the food was fine, the menu tried to be too many things for too many people. The unwieldy and overly fussy preparations made it almost impossible for the kitchen to be well-paced allowing for entrEes to arrive simultaneously about 5-10 minutes after the starter courses were over. The larger the table the more unwieldy it became. When I sat at a table for 2 we dined in 90 minutes. That is quite acceptable. When I dined at a table of 8 where almost everyone chose a different appetizer and different entrEe dinner took 2hr and 45 min and I skipped coffee after dessert. The main dining room does however have something to very much recommend its use. On sea days it is open for lunch, and the menu is very creative yet simple, innovative without being weird with choices being adequate but not unwieldy. The service was excellent and the room far quieter and cooler than at night. In fact, I found it absolutely delightful to avoid the crowd and cafeteria like atmosphere up on the pool deck for lunch on sea days, and grab a friend or a good book and dine below. I really only have one true complaint about the main dining room and it has nothing to do with either the food or the service but rather I have a big issue with the Discovery dining room chairs. The chairs have long outlived their useful life and the support in 70-80% of the seat cushions have failed and one literally sinks into a hole at the table. For me it meant feeling uncomfortable after sitting more than an hour but for people shorter than me (I am 5'11") it made for an uncomfortable dining experience from the first appetizer onward. There is no excuse for such deferred maintenance on an otherwise immaculate ship. The two specialty restaurants (which I dined in frequently as my group of 6-8 took turns making reservations with their 2 reservation allowance) were both wonderful although I ended up favoring Prime C just a tad more and this was a surprise to me because I am not a big steak eater. But the menu was wonderfully varied so choices were many and redundancy rare. The service in both specialty venues was 5 stars. In fact the last time I had such good service in a dining room at sea was the last time I traveled in Grill Class aboard the QE2 on the first segments of her 2004 world cruise. The buffet venue on the pool deck was great both for breakfast and lunch, with a great deal of variety, nicely presented and lunch offerings were constantly changed. And sometimes for dinner, after a long day of touring, eating casually and simply out on the open deck in the warm winter air of Southeast Asia was a great alternative which I took advantage of for 3 or 4 times. I also used room service for two breakfasts and one dinner. The service was very prompt and the quality above average. THE SHIP AND ITS STATEROOMS: Quest is very logically laid out and easy to navigate. Yet there are enough venues and public rooms to meet one's fellow passengers or to squirrel away with a good book. Prime C, Aqualina and the main dining room are very attractive as is the reception area as are the ships and I would say that the informal dining venue on Deck 9 (pool deck) while well maintained needs to be freshened as the wall treatments and carpets are looking somewhat tired. The lounges, cabaret, spa, shop area, pool deck and reception areas are all very attractive and beautifully maintained. All public rooms are crisp, attractive and well lit without being too brightly lit. They are comfortable and well furnished like a University or Country Club, they are conservative not showy, somewhat old world and that's fine as I came to see the sites on land not be overwhelmed by innovative at sea architecture. If there is to be any complaint, I would say I have some issues with the staterooms. Yes the bathrooms are small, it's been said many times before, but they are attractive and manageable. And a Veranda cabin is an average but adequate size. The bedding is wonderful and there are new drapes and new furniture on the balcony. The towels are plush and the room temperature is easily customizable to one's preference. But to me it looks like the cabins were not fully refurbished when the ship was acquired and this made for tired looking carpets, an unattractive sofa, bed lamp shades that were cracking and long overdue for replacement and a lack of good reading light either in bed or at the desk. I don't consider providing glaring high hat down lighting from the ceiling an adequate alternative. Also the bed lamps were fixed to the nightstands and so they sat smack in the middle of the table making impossible to put a book or anything bigger than a water glass next to one's bed. Some small changes could however make the cabins quite wonderful rather than nice and bland and I have shared those ideas with. I have detailed those suggested changes in a letter to Azamara Management. BUT DESPITE THIS CRITICISM, the "bones" of the ship are very good, and she is a pleasure to sail on. SHORE EXCURSIONS: As I mentioned I pretty much had my own small group and made all our arrangements privately. However I took one tour with the ship on our second day in Hong Kong and found it to be as advertised and satisfactory. I just don't like herding in groups larger than 10 and ideally no more than 8. I will add that I asked both members of our small group how they found the ship tours as well as a great many other passengers who I chatted with (it is a very friendly atmosphere), and I heard comments range from OK to wonderful and I did not hear any negative complaints or rants so Azamara must be doing a good job. ON & OFF: Both embarkation and disembarkation are handled better than ANY ship of I have sailed on. It is so smooth and so fast that I hardly remember these events at all. PRE & POST: I booked directly all pre and post cruise arrangements, including my air so these had nothing to do with Azamara. But I will say that my air arrangements on Singapore Air were done with miles and were extremely easy to both use the miles and book flights in First Class. I transferred points from my American Express Account into their Kris Flyer awards program. Then I went on line and book my flights and by doing so without assistance received substantial discounts on the miles required. Getting upgraded into First Class was so easy compared to American carriers where you are not at one of their elite levels. The flights were outstanding. It's the first time in my life when I went to wash-up and change into sweat pants to sleep that the cabin attendant said "those won't be necessary" and while I looked on incredulously she handed me a pair of Givenchy pajamas to wear (and keep!). In Hong Kong and Singapore I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel and the rooms were large, luxurious and beautifully furnished and the service impeccable. In Hong Kong I must add that the concierge desk was fabulous in arranging for some of my requests, such as a place to buy eyeglasses on New Year's Day. Three pair only set me back $220 US and the glasses were ready in four hours! In Singapore, I did not have occasion to need the service of the concierge but I will tell you that at $185 a night, it was a bargain given the level of services and amenities. The Hong Kong Intercontinental was almost 3 times the price. THE FINAL WORD, "VALUE"—IT IS IN THIS AREA THAT I GIVE AZAMARA THE HIGHEST MARKS. Yes there are more luxurious ships with bigger cabins, fancier furnishings and more haute cuisine, BUT to get to that level one needs to pay 2 to 3 times as much on a per diem basis. In short an Azamara cruise is not only a great value for the money it is a great cruise experience!! It's the best line on which to luxe it up without spending a fortune. I suppose the only place I would take issue as to value is that I think standard cocktails at $11 or $12 dollars plus 18% gratuity a shade over priced as is the cost of Internet service is high. On the other hand when you save 30-60% on the overall booking compared to any ultra-premium or deluxe line quibbling over the price of a cocktail a bit petty. WOULD I CRUISE AGAIN ON AZAMARA? The answer is definitely yes and I hope to do so before the year is out. Azamara was an excellent value that fully served to support my primary purpose of the current trip, to be exposed to as much as possible in SE Asia in a 2 week visit. I intend to book again when I am ready to explore Greece, Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean in depth [I have no comments about the ship's entertainment as I never went (and quite frankly rarely do because as a resident of Manhattan I attend theater, opera and ballet performances 6-8 times a month so I don't want to do that when traveling). Nor do I comment the casino, (because I never gamble unless you count bridge) nor children activities (I am not a child so I have no firsthand knowledge and always wonder how other adults do) nor the spa (every ship has bicycles and treadmills and masseurs and I can't rate "standard equipment" which are all indistinguishably the same but for quantity).] Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Just a few reflections on our recent cruise on Azamara Quest from HK to Singapore. Having previously cruised with somewhat larger Celebrity and other ships, we were agreeably surprised by the wide range of facilities and services available ... Read More
Just a few reflections on our recent cruise on Azamara Quest from HK to Singapore. Having previously cruised with somewhat larger Celebrity and other ships, we were agreeably surprised by the wide range of facilities and services available on the Quest. Rather than comment on every aspect of the cruise, I will list just some of the major features that either impressed (most) or disappointed (few) us. * Food...in a word, "magnificent", with the range of dishes available in The Discoveries Dining Room varied and of a high quality, slightly better (if that was possible) in Prime C and Aqualina, and consistently varied and tasty in the Windows and Breeza buffets. Service by waiters and Assistant Maitre-D's at all venues was consistently courteous and helpful; we found the 'dine-when-you-like' approach to dining very convenient, although it must be said that we have found dining at set times and locations, which is common on some other ships, enables passengers to establish stronger (and in many cases lasting) friendships than is encouraged by open dining. * Staterooms (ours was Category 1A with balcony)...maintained in immaculate condition by our Butler and Stateroom Attendant, who kept us supplied with a regular supply of fresh fruit and daily news sheets, and helped with other things such as Specialty Restaurant bookings; the size of our stateroom was about what we had expected, and similar to that we had found on other ships, although one had to be something of a contortionist to maneuver around the bathroom without experiencing some minor physical indignities. * Entertainment...having read some of the negative comments posted by correspondents from other cruises, we were very impressed with the overall quality of the entertainment...the pianist who appeared early in the cruise was superb, as was the pianist who performed towards the end; vocalist Helen Jane was very good, although some of her numbers were not of the style that we particularly enjoy; the English comedian who performed on two occasions was generally good, with a more subtle approach than is often the case with some of the entertainers employed on cruise ships; the young singers were energetic and talented, although some of their music was not exactly of the genre that we would normally listen to; Jim Badger in the Mosaic Cafe was an entertaining pianist, singer and raconteur; the harpist was very easy to listen to, although we found the guitarist who appeared at various venues around the ship rather uninspiring; the Cruise Director was very energetic, and a fairly good singer, although his approach when making public announcements and introductions to guest entertainers seemed unnecessarily 'forced;' enrichment lectures relating to the history and culture of the countries visited were excellent, and much appreciated by all who attended. * Crew and staff...we found the entire crew and staff, from Captain Carl Smith down, to be unfailingly polite, approachable and helpful, with much greater contact between these people and passengers than we had experienced on other cruise ships. * Shipboard activities...we made use of a surprisingly good range of books in the Drawing Room library, the daily supply of Sudoko and other puzzles, the well-equipped gymnasium and an e-connections facility that provided a reasonably fast internet service (were we just lucky this time, as the speed on every previous cruise we had taken ranged from abysmal to hopeless). * Shore excursions...we took only excursions that had been arranged through Azamara, and found them to be generally good, with tour guides who were well-informed and spoke very good English; for us, the visits in HK, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok,Sihanoukville and Singapore were enjoyable, although the 12-14 hour visit from Halong Bay to Hanoi was very tiring and one that we would not repeat again; the sail-out through Halong Bay after the Hanoi trip was scenically magnificent, as was the special 'Symphony of Lights' sailout from Victoria Harbour in HK arranged by Captain Carl. In summary, we found this cruise to be most enjoyable, with the overall attitude of staff, quality of food and personal service, and ease of embarkation and disembarkation to be slightly superior to that we had experienced on larger ships. We would have no hesitation in cruising again with Azamara, providing the itinerary and cost were to our liking. Nevernever Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Azamara Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.5 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.1
Family N/A 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 3.5 4.2
Rates N/A 4.3

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