52 Hong Kong Luxury Cruise Reviews

So I chose EXCELLENT over VERY GOOD because it was in between. Here are a few of the highlights. Silver Shadow - Second time on the ship. We did Alaska in May. Yes, SS is a bit tired, but still ranked #14 in the world. Veranda ... Read More
So I chose EXCELLENT over VERY GOOD because it was in between. Here are a few of the highlights. Silver Shadow - Second time on the ship. We did Alaska in May. Yes, SS is a bit tired, but still ranked #14 in the world. Veranda cabins are spacious and have....verandas. Went to dry dock for two weeks when we got off at Singapore. Personally, I love the ship. Loyalty Program - My #1 beef with Silversea. You want me to give you $20,000 a year in advance for a 5% discount? What? I'm from Las Vegas where loyalty is REWARDED. 20% discount would have my interest, but there are far too many alternatives in the cruise industry to pay a year in advance for 5%. And what about my casino play? And $5,000 in shore excursions? No reward for that either. And the fact I have multiple cruises with you. I like Silversea, however I'll be shopping the next couple of trips to other providers. Shore Excursions - Silversea needs a system so customers can rate the shore excursions. All we have is the promo material provided by Silversea. And they need to be more selective with their Tour Guides. We had a couple that was supposed to be our Tour Guide one night. Instead of splitting up in the two vans, the rode together and left us on a busy street corner in Ho Chi Minh. Thanks. F&B - Read all the comments. I would agree. It's hit and miss. Liked "Restaurant" on level four for lunch, Le Champagne is consistent ($40 upcharge), La Terazza is just OK. Desserts were below par. Waited close to an hour for food at The Grill. Smoking and Drinking - Smoking is reserved for The Humidor and a couple specific areas on the boat, yet we saw people smoking on the deck of La Terazza. I smoke cigars, so no issues from me, but several customers were complaining. Drinking is fine if people don't turn it into a Carnival drunken cruise fight. We had a bad experience out by the pool. Some folks brought a radio and were blasting it as they got hammered on Tequila. And I do mean hammered. Silversea is lucky they did not fall on the pool deck and crack their heads. Boo! Kids - I have no issues with kids being on the boat, however they need to act appropriately and abide by the dress code. Several teenagers boarded at one of the ports. Guessing they were related to the crew. First they are running up and down the halls. I get it...they are happy to be here. Then they show up at the show later in beachwear. Heard several guests mumbling about it. Drunk Guests, Part 2 - Remember the fools above that got liquored and were disruptive at the pool? They showed up the next day for an early tour looking three shades of green. Ain't alcohol grand? Did I mention they were 15 minutes late, so 40 of us got to sit in the heat and humidity waiting for them. If guest are late...LEAVE THEM. Then they bailed on the tour halfway through and took a taxi back to the ship. For 12 days, every time I saw them, they were drinking. Hey, try the Carnival next time. Shore Excursions, Part 2 - Had one other issue with the tours. We took the Perfume River tour in Vietnam and it was non-stop soliciting. At the first rest stop and for the entire river cruise. It's one thing to have a merchandise table, it's something completely different to have a floating swap meet with people in your face the whole time trying to sell you t-shirts. Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore - We truly enjoyed the trip. Vietnam and Thailand are outstanding. Specifically, Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok. I'm posting this on TripAdvisor and CruiseCritic and sending it to the executives at Silversea as well. Not complaining or judging, just to help them enhance their service levels. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - we wanted to see Vietnam and Thailand. The cruise starting in Hong Kong and ending in Singapore was a bonus. If you are looking for a cruise with lots to do onboard or for families with small ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - we wanted to see Vietnam and Thailand. The cruise starting in Hong Kong and ending in Singapore was a bonus. If you are looking for a cruise with lots to do onboard or for families with small children - this may not be the ship for you. It's a quiet and classy ship with outstanding service, but not a lot of the activities the mega-ships have. As I said - we chose the cruise for cities it was going to And the ability to get closer to the main cities than larger ships was a big difference. As as example - larger ships are a few hours from Bangkok, where the Journey was maybe a half hour from the city (more with traffic) The entertainment (and cruise director) were first rate - I did not expect a ship with just over 600 passengers to have the quality of shows that they provided. The main dining room was better than any other main dining room we've been on (though Aqua Class on Celebrity may be a bit better), and many passengers chose to go to the dinner buffets - where a different country's food was offered each evening. The specialty restaurants were fine, with good service, but I'm not sure they are better than the main dining room. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We originally only planned one cruise this year, and chose Azamara for an August cruise from Venice, through Croatia and the Amalfi coast to Rome, because of it's wonderful itinerary. We had never heard of Azamara before that, and ... Read More
We originally only planned one cruise this year, and chose Azamara for an August cruise from Venice, through Croatia and the Amalfi coast to Rome, because of it's wonderful itinerary. We had never heard of Azamara before that, and loved the cruise and everything about it -- ship, room, food, service, ports, etc. One month later, my husband got an email from Azamara highlighting this Asian cruise and said "We have to go. It's the cruise of a lifetime!" I originally thought he was crazy since we already did our "big" vacation in August, but eventually, he talked me into it, and boy am I glad he did! Our August cruise was 7 ports in 7 days, and while wonderful, was tiring not to have time to rest before the next port. This cruise was 13 days, but it had 4 days at sea in between, and more overnight stops, so the pace was easier. We started in Hong Kong (loved it. It also reminded us a lot of NYC, where we live, but it had the best fried rice and bar-b-que pork we ever had.) Day 2 was at sea, which was great. Then we had 2 nights at Halong Bay -- the most beautiful bay area we've ever seen. On day 1 we did the ship's tour to Hanoi (it was a 12 hour tour, with 3+1/2 hours each way and 5 hours in Hanoi itself). We're glad we did it, but wouldn't go through it again -- too much travelling back and forth. On day 2, we did a ship's tour of Halong Bay. Magnificent! I skipped the cave, because it was 200 steps (too much for me), but my husband went and took great pictures. If you're physiclaly able, you should visit the cave. Day 5 - We got a private tour guide to visit Da Nang and Hoi An. Her name was Xuan Tu, and she was amazing. Her contact info is xuantu2111dn@gmail.com and I would highly recommend her. She was adorable and had a very bubbly personality, and was an excellent guide. She took us to a special tea room in Hoi An, run by people who could not speak, and it was an amazing experience. She found other unusual places to take us, like a Vietnamese sandwich place that Anthony Bourdain raved about. It was fantastic! Day 6 was at sea. Day 7 was Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by the locals), and again we hired a private guide. Her name was Diem Kieu (charming_tourism@yahoo.com), and we got her through Bao Loc (privatevietnamtourguide@yahoo.com.vn). We opted to do the Meking Delta boat tour, rather than the Saigon city tour, but Diem Kieu managed to show us both places. She was excellent. Very warm, and friendly and kind, with a true love of her city and her people. Day 8 was at sea again -- a welcome day of relaxation! Days 9, 10, 11 we docked at Bangkok: Day 9 - we did the Azamara free "Azamazing Evening" - a free ship's tour, where we went to the ancient city at night, which was spectactularly lit up, saw a private show of Thai dancers and boxers, and then had a candle-lit ceremony where we lit candles and set them off on the water to "float away" our negative thoughts/experiences. The evening was truly amazing. Day 10 - we did a private tour of Bangkok with "Chob@thaitourguide.com" and chose Ms. Joy from their huge array of tour guides, based on past reviews. We chose well. Ms. Joy was a joy to work with, going above and beyond, when we asked if she could find us something for bug bites, and helping my husband print and scan and email something he needed to do for a client. And she bought us a souvenir "longtail boat", to remember our boat trip with her. Ms. Joy's contact info is enjoy_tick.tock@hotmail.com With Joy's help, we visited the Grand Palace and grounds -- with each building/setting more beautiful than the next, and the flower garden. Day 11 - we did another tour with Ms. Joy and saw the Railroad market, which I would highly recommend. This market existed for a long time. Then the railroad came and insisted that the train needed to go where the market was, and the market people refused to move. So the railroad built the tracks in the middle of the market. So 4x/day when the train comes through, the people get a warning signal, and must move the produce, etc. off the tracks, wait for the train to leave, and put it back. It was amazing to see. In the afternoon, we saw the floating market, which was really neat. Day 12 - was 1/2 day at Ko Samui, Thailand. We just walked around the port a bit and had a relaxing time. Day 13 was at sea -- a welcome, relaxing day (except for having to pack to leave the boat the next day. Day 14 we arrived at Singapore, and left the ship with 1/2 day ship's tour of Singapore, which I would highly recommend. In Singapore, we would recommend the Orchid Gardens in the Botanical Gardens, and the Zoo. We did the "Night Safari" at the zoo, which shows the nocturnal animals all lit up, and included the Asian buffet, which was excellent. So we chose this cruise, again because of the itinerary, but also because we already knew we loved the ship and the crew and everything else about Azamara. They are a first class company! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I read an article in Conde Nast magazine by an editor who had taken this tour in March 2015; she recommended it highly, so I decided to try it. I had never been to any of the countries/ports on the itinerary: Philippines, Borneo, Brunei, ... Read More
I read an article in Conde Nast magazine by an editor who had taken this tour in March 2015; she recommended it highly, so I decided to try it. I had never been to any of the countries/ports on the itinerary: Philippines, Borneo, Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia. Included in my Seabourn package was private transfer from the airport in Hong Kong to the Eaton Hotel for a breakfast buffet and a room in which to freshen up before being taken to the ship. My flight arrived too early in the morning for me to be taken directly to the ship. Embarkation was quick and efficient. Once on board, I was able to have a full lunch in the Colonnade. I had breakfast and lunch daily in the Colonnade, and dinner every evening in the Restaurant. I'm a solo traveler and received a daily invitation to have dinner at a table hosted by a Seabourn staff member or entertainer. I always accepted and thoroughly enjoyed dining with the Staff Captain one evening and Melissa Manchester another evening. All my meals were very good to excellent. Thomas Keller selections were on the menu every other night, but I am not a fan of his concoctions. The staff were very accommodating and friendly. Captain Hamish Elliot and Staff Captain Sigurd Darbakk were always present and approachable. My 5 shore excursions: 1) The Charms of Old Manila 2) Puerto Princessa Highlights, Philippines, which included a visit to the Iwahig Penal Colony. It is called a prison without walls because the inmates often live with their families, do farming to earn a living, and make hand carvings for tourists to buy. Also included was a visit to the Palawan Special Battalion World War II Memorial Museum, with well preserved profiles and artifacts of the USA, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia. 3) Highlights of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The guide, Arthur, was excellent and spoke and understood English very well. 4) Kuching City Highlights, Sarawak, Malaysia. Kuching means cat, I love cats, and so took lots of pictures of the huge white cat statue, symbol of the city. The guide, Margaret, was excellent and spoke and understood English very well. 5) Brunei Highlights, which was a disappointment because we either drove by or only peered through gates to see some of the sights. We did go into the Royal Regalia Museum, but we had to leave our cameras, all bags and purses, no matter how small, in big bins before being allowed to enter. We also had to remove our shoes, but what was hilarious was the availability of slippers from all sorts of hotel and cruise ships! Disembarkation was excellent. My package included a private transfer to the Conrad Centennial Hotel in Singapore, staying overnight because my flight to the USA was the next morning. Breakfast was included as well as private transfer to Singapore Airport, a 15 minute ride. From start to finish, this trip was smooth and problem free. I've been on the Odyssey and the Quest and preferred the Quest. This was my first Sojourn cruise and now I think it's better than the Quest. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We booked a Hong Kong to Cape Town cruise and WOW, what can I say... From the very start of our holiday being picked up from our front door by the Emirates chauffeur car service, to them dropping us back at our front door 33 days later, ... Read More
We booked a Hong Kong to Cape Town cruise and WOW, what can I say... From the very start of our holiday being picked up from our front door by the Emirates chauffeur car service, to them dropping us back at our front door 33 days later, everything was simply first class and stress free. Fantastic flights with Emirates (as always), great central hotels and an excellent cabin aboard the Cunard Queen Victoria. We have cruised for over 40 years aboard the various cruise lines but this ship truly stands out from the rest. We have done all the world cruise stages aboard P&O ships as well as sailing aboard the old QE2 and the Queen Mary. But The Victoria can only be described as truly superb. The food was excellent, The gala dinners, entertainment and the cabin fabulous. We will most certainly be sailing aboard her again in the near future. We did a 5 night stay in Hong Kong prior to boarding the ship and a 1 night stay in Cape Town before flying back to Manchester. Thank you Emirates, Cunard Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Oceania is our favourite cruise line, having completed 11 cruises. We have sailed on all their ships except the newest Sarina. Compared to some other cruise lines we have sailed with, Oceania is absolutely the best, and the crew on all ... Read More
Oceania is our favourite cruise line, having completed 11 cruises. We have sailed on all their ships except the newest Sarina. Compared to some other cruise lines we have sailed with, Oceania is absolutely the best, and the crew on all ships are the friendliest. This cruise was a highlight of South East Asia countries, ending in Athens Greece. We listen to some people complain about price, however we have compared prices to some other companies and they all are about equal when free air and some other perks are compared. Most however do not compare to the food onboard Oceania ship's. We used most of the ship excursions on this cruise, because of the area we were visiting. They were of a very high quality, with excellent guides and clean transportation. We have found the cabin cleaning staff excellent. The cabins are cleaned twice daily, and towels changed. The entertainment is very minimal, however a 45 minute show each evening is sufficient for us, especially after a busy day ashore on excursions. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
M y wife and I have been cruising for twenty five years so I guess that qualifies us as experienced. We arranged with Oceania for a pre cruise stay in Hong Kong and a post cruise stay in Bangkok. We were cruising on the Nautica one of ... Read More
M y wife and I have been cruising for twenty five years so I guess that qualifies us as experienced. We arranged with Oceania for a pre cruise stay in Hong Kong and a post cruise stay in Bangkok. We were cruising on the Nautica one of Oceania's older (but restored) ships. I could write pages of information about this cruise but I am not really inclined to do that. In total, the ship was fantastic. The cabin was spacious, the service great and the crew exceptional. The perfection of the crew was only surpassed by the quality and selection of the food. It ranged from good to fabulous. Port excursions were variable depending where you were . They were quite expensive and not all that great for the money however, the choices were varied in each port and the selections good. The ship maintened a friendly and extremely welcoming atmosphere. Oceania took care of you from the moment you showed until the last second of disembarkation They left no stone unturned to try to insure your comfort, safety and good time. Have already booked a future cruise with Oceania and that says it all. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This is a review about the newer ships, not the old, and specifically a magical 30 days cruise we took from Hong Kong to Mumbai late last winter. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise, and nearly 30 cruises overall on Silversea, Crystal, ... Read More
This is a review about the newer ships, not the old, and specifically a magical 30 days cruise we took from Hong Kong to Mumbai late last winter. This was our 6th Seabourn cruise, and nearly 30 cruises overall on Silversea, Crystal, Oceania, Cunard, HA, Celebrity and Regent. The three, soon to be five, Seabourn ships continue to be the best at sea today. Yes they are not the very intimate size of the old, now sold ships, but at 450 they are still small and just right, and the crew gets to know you by name after a few days just like in the old ships. The crew people are the best there can be, and particularly if you have sailed Seabourn before, you return as part of the family. Old faces of crew members circulated around the fleet quickly remember you and make one very welcome. Always a smile and kind word on Seabourn. Never a scowl we have experienced on other ships. Seabourn hires only the best, and we simply do not know how they manage to do this on every cruise we have ever taken with them. The food and service in the main dining venue called The Restaurant remains the best on any luxury line, easily beating the old standard bearer Silversea, Oceania and on a par if not better than Crystal, which is nearly triple the passenger size. The food and presentation in The Restaurant is really the equivalent of any Michelin starred restaurant we have dined in around the world. Of course the 24/7 caviar makes Seabourn stand out uniquely among the top tier because no one else serves it any longer. Add to that the unlimited champagne, wines, and cocktails available at all restaurants and bars, and open swimming deck. The welcome addition of chef Thomas Keller as a partner will make it more varied and even better. Some prefer the buffet dining room the Colonade, which is good for breakfast for us, and the outdoor grill, excellent for a burger and other fine treats at lunch, but we prefer whenever we can to dine in the Main Restaurant. The alternative fine dining choice Restaurant 2 is not to our liking. And we are pleased to learn that soon it will get a major motif, menu and directional makeover in the hands of consultant Thomas Keller. The basic staterooms called suites are just lovely, mostly all with spacious verandas, and at 365 SF, with large walk in closet, much more than adequate. The baths all have double sinks and separate showers. Nicely furnished and comfortable staterooms and well maintained by the excellent service staff. Air conditioning works perfectly. Lovely linens and toiletries. The public areas of the ship are very large, inviting and attractive, and the bars are magnets for people looking for new friends, just as it was on the old, smaller ships where intimacy prevailed. There is now no smoking permitted in the staterooms, and only at a few designated areas around the ship. This is a vast improvement from the old days and bravo Seabourn for finally coming into the 21st Century. The ship sails extremely well even in rough and semi rough weather. In our thirty days of cruising Asian waters, we only had one day I would consider rough, and this quickly passed with the normal ginger and crackers the restaurant managers gave me. The doctors on board were very capable and are there for harder cases, such as when my wife became ill. they did a great job treating her back to good health. The Captain and Cruise Director, and the entire crew, do a very nice job. They are very friendly and always have the time to stop and speak to the passengers. Dining with them on the rare occasions at their tables is a real treat. The Executive Chef is very apparent, and the Dining Room Managers and Assistants always so helpful for special requests. The ports of call in Asia were for the most part very interesting. The excursions the ship offers are just about what one would expect on any cruiseline and subject to all the normal criticism of being too expensive and not always so interesting, particularly in ports that themselves are not so interesting. We learn to work with, and around this issue. The ships's excursion people are very helpful. The pervasive and very apparent people poverty throughout much of the Asian emerging and third world countries visited is also something passengers have to learn to deal with, along with all the glitter of the pagodas and temples. Embarkation and the reverse are a breeze. Getting off in Mumbai with luggage, however, is a real challenge, considering the very outdated port facilities there that Seabourn has to deal with. Maybe this will improve in the India of the future. The average age of the passengers is, I would say late sixties and seventies, with some older. The passengers are upper end people, many retirees, and very interesting to talk to and associate with. Many Aussies and Brits. The entertainment is very good for this size cruise ship, and the band of performers young, very likable, talented and fun to hang around with in the bars in the evenings. The few production shows were very entertaining. Excellent comedian Jeff Stephenson. Excellent pianists. The outstanding Ukrainian dance team is incomparable among all the nearly 30 cruises we have taken and dance teams we have seen, and deserve to be star billed one day on Broadway or in London. All in all, the cruise on Seabourn was a real joy. And my wife and I look forward to our future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The ship is majestic in every way - it is like stepping back 100 years with all the modern trimmings! The staterooms have ample room and are maintained immaculately by the stewards - you fell that nothing is a problem to them and pamper ... Read More
The ship is majestic in every way - it is like stepping back 100 years with all the modern trimmings! The staterooms have ample room and are maintained immaculately by the stewards - you fell that nothing is a problem to them and pamper you incredibly (you could say the same for all of the crew). The set and buffet meal are available throughout the day / night and quality is excellent. You can be kept busy every day from early morning to late (or early next morning!) attending the lectures, getting involved in exercise (the gym is excellent) or walking around the ship (deck 7) and taking in fresh sea air, shopping at the ships shops (great variety and not overly expensive), visiting the ships library, attending the cabaret evenings which are top-class entertainment, visiting the NiteClub til the early morning! - the list goes on but there is something for everyone. Visiting Bitung in Sulawesi was a first for the ship and crew and shore excursions were interesting and exciting to say the least! The Sail Away from ports visited is exhilarating and sailing into Sydney Harbour was a buzz. We will be back :-) Read Less
Sail Date February 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
Our third Azamara in the last 13 months and we are on again in April An older ship with the right number of passengers around 600, we live in the far east and flying is reduced to a minimum The food and choice of resterants is very good, ... Read More
Our third Azamara in the last 13 months and we are on again in April An older ship with the right number of passengers around 600, we live in the far east and flying is reduced to a minimum The food and choice of resterants is very good, my wife drinks one or two cocktails a day and myself a little more, we very much appreciate the drinks inclusive deal, and choose not to pay more for the deluxe spirits, Cutty Sark, Gordons Gin and Smirinoff, are all included Any special food requests are always met, the beef and pork is some of the very best The real winner on this ship is the friendliness of the staff, and they can not do enough phylisophy, and it is like going to ones own private yacht being greeted by the staff we know We had a suite on the last cruise maybe overindulging ourselves, and next time an Ocean view at a substantially lower price for the almost same overal experience We all have a small complaint and mine is Leclub find it difficult to get my membership level correct despite emails prior to the voyage, it is always remedied on board, but would be nice to start correct Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making ... Read More
We had been on the Quest in 2012 and thought nothing would be able to beat that experience, but we were wrong. The Journey also provided us a wonderful cruising experience and the crew from the Captain down should be commended for making everyone feel so at home and comfortable on the ship. We flew into Hong Kong via Singapore from Adelaide, Australia arriving late at night and took the wonderful airport train to Kowloon station,then a taxi to our hotel Novotel HK Nathan Road. We had an Executive Club room, the most compact club room we have ever been in with a very difficult to use lighting system. Breakfast next day was excellent in the dining room downstairs. We spent the morning before boarding visiting the HK History Museum a very interesting and spacious musem and a lovely walk from our hotel. We took a Taxi to Ocean Terminal a 5 minute ride and boarded at 1pm and because we were in a Club Continent Suite had priority boarding so were onboard in about 15 minutes. There was a long line for non suites, but lots of checkin in staff to handle this. We were in 8047 starboard side and our Butler, Crooxie, and Room Attendants, Kadek and Esmail looked after our cabin and us wonderfully well throughout our cruise. Our suite came with 2 bottles of house Champagne from the Captain and the Hotel Manager and 4 bottles of included liquor, which we exchanged for 3 bottles of Bombay Sapphire and one of dark Rum, which we found difficult to get through with all the wonderful included cocktails now on offer. We also had a fruit basket and fresh canapes from cheese plates to prawn plates and various other lovely treats throughout our trip each day. We could also have afternoon tea in our suite which was tea/coffee with scones, jam and cream and various cakes and biscuits, but believe me we didnt partake of this too often as it was just too much food. The suite had new carpet and curtains and was well maintained and the bathroom although it had a shower curtain was not clingy as we had a bath as well, which helped with that problem. Life boat drill was at 5.30pm after boarding and we had dinner the first night at Windows Cafe with some of the others from our Roll Call who we were doing private tours with. It was Seafood night and there was a huge array of seafood including bbqd prawns, scallops, and squid and then of course the Light and Sound show and sailaway up on deck made a fitting and lovely end to our day. Next day, a sea day, we had our CC Roll Call get together at 10.30 am provided by Azamara and there was a large number of us,around 50 and we were given tea/coffee and cake/biscuits and welcomed by Captain Johannes Tysse and Cruise Director, Eric de Grey, Hotel Director, Heike Berdos and Future Cruise Director and CC Host Dina Stuehler, (who is about to go to the Quest full time). Eric asked everyone to introduce themselves by name and CC roll name and give information about where we were from and how many times we had been on Azamara we then met up with our fellow private tour members and chatted to several others, before heading to the pool deck where the menu special was a grilled chicken club sandwich which we enjoyed with the best fries at sea and a Pina Colada and Tropical Lemonade, all delicious. You leave your order and they will find you whereever you sit. We then went and booked another cruise with Dina to get the onboard cruise credit and had a look at the World Owners Suite aft, which they were giving to whoever won bingo that afternoon. A rest and then smoked salmon, prawns and other canapes with a G and T and Rum and Coke on our balcony before dinner, which we enjoyed in Prime C. The show that night was the Azamara Singers and Dancers performing numbers from various movies and was excellent. Next day was our overnighter in Halong Bay. We had organised a private boat with 12 other CC members and were picked up by our guide Zoom from Vietnam Package Tours at 8am. This was a wonderful way of seeing Halong Bay, even though it was overcast and misty all day. We disembarked at Surprise Cave (Hang Dau Go) walking up steep steps to access it and then walking through the huge cave complex beautifully lit. Walking back down to the junk we passed many local traders on their boats selling seafod, fish, fuit and vegetables and souvenirs, all very colourful. We then had a seafood lunch on board cooked prawns, stuffed crab, pippies, fish, and squid, breaded pork steamed cabbage and rice. All delicious. We visited Tip Top Island before heading back to the ship. US$89 pp paid by paypal in advance, very easy and good value. That night was Dinner under the Stars which was a real hit as there was an Asian buffet with noodles, fried rice, chicken legs, satay pork, spring rolls and lots more, including a stir fry station and bbq. The entertainment that night was also great. Amanda Poulsen singing Epics under the Stars (Memories, Ive got you under my Skin, Nesan Dorma and some other operatic favourites) Then we had a salute to Michael Buble with Alex Mac who had a great voice and was backed by the Azamara Orchestra and people were up dancing in no time. A great night was had by all. Hoi An was our next port of call. Hoi An is a 45 minute drive south of Danang port where we docked and for this instead of taking Azamaras Do It on Your Own at US$99 pp, we visited the Concierge and arranged a Minibus for 8 with driver for US$450 for 6 hours. Well worth the money and US$60 pp instead. Hoi An was a delightful town and well worth a visit. We were shown around the usual art factory and silk factory but they were all interesting. Then we had a guide from Hoi An take us around the main sights. This ended up at another factory which we declined to visit and spent the rest of our time exploring and then found a lovely local restaurant where we enjoyed the local beer and salad and satay. Discoveries for dinner that night was very enjoyable, with clam chowder and roast lamb cutlet. The show was Sioban Philips, who gave us a fabulous evening of song and comedy, a very funny night. The lecturers on board were both very interesting. Dick Farkas gave insights into all the countries we were visiting in the way of politics and culture and economics, his topics included Hue, Culturally and Geographically half way between HCMC and HANOI:Can Communism survive Entrepreneurs and Dr Chris Whelan whose talks were more economically oriented and extremely interesting. His topics included United Nations on Trial-Mission Impossible;The Euro and the Dollar-A Race for Supremacy. We thought the entertainment was fabulous on this cruise, a real step up from last years on Quest. Our other ports were Saigon where we cruised right up the river and shuttles were provided for our short trip into the town, dropping us off at the Rex Hotel, where we had a wander admiring all the Xmas decorations and then an enjoyable and tasty lunch. Bangkok was our next stop and my big birthday which we celebrated on shore at a beautiful Thai restaurant in the Sukothai Hotel. Fabulous and original Thai food with flavour and heat. The next day we had organised a private tour with a group of 6 others from CC with Bangkok Private Guides and we were taken on a guided walk of old Bangkok including the Golden Buddha, China Town, the flower and silk markets and then a fabulous long tail boat ride along the Chao Phraya river then into the network of Klongs (canals) where we fed Koi fish at a temple with bread provided by the monks and admired the water scenery along the way, returning to the Chao Phraya by a lock after dark. It was a wonderful 6 hour trip and our guide Ms Aom was outstanding. We were picked up next day and taken to the Maeklong Railway Market, a real sight for sore eyes and so interesting, then onto a coconut plantation to admire a beautiful old traditional teak house and try coconut milk and sweets. Then to the Damnern Saduak Flower Market. Ms Aom arranged two boats for the 8 of us so we had lots of room and other than the noise from the very noisy 2 stroke motors on the Long Tail boats, we were well paddled by two delightful "old" ladies, and once away from the main market area, we visited some of the smaller quieter canals, narrow enough for just one boat and where we could really appreciate this water life style and see how the locals lived. It was a wonderful experience. We would thoroughly recommend this tour company as Ms Aom could not do enough for us, buying us treats to eat, drinks, stopping for a light meal the first day as we werent back till late, and on leaving us giving us each a tiny brass elephant for good luck. We were blessed in meeting her as she bought Bangkok alive for us all. We then had a day at sea before arriving into Singapore at Harbour Front terminal. We thought the meals in all the restaurants were very impressive and Windows cafe was also good and although its small, it serves up a good choice of foods. We mostly ate dinner in Aqualina or Prime C as these are included in the fare of a Suite and we met some delightful others to dine with, so had some very sociable nights here. Discoveries Restaurant, the main dining room, was also excellent. We think Azamara deck night Buffets were fantastic. The included wines and cocktails more than met our needs, and we liked the fact you could ask for a previous days offering if you didnt like what was on offer that day. We would LOVE to see a Cava or Prosecco included onto the free list as thats something that is really missing, and everyone we spoke to said the same thing. Come on Azamara!! We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and had some wonderful experiences with new friends we met on board, and have two more booked for next year. We love the ambience and friendly casual feel of Azamara and think the crew and everyone on board do a remarkable job. Thank you to all the wonderful people we met and the crew who made this cruise for my 60th birthday very special.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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
This was our first cruise on Seabourn, and it did not disappoint. Even though the Pride is getting along in years, she is well maintained and very comfortable. Everything was as expected or better. The service is superb, food is top notch, ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Seabourn, and it did not disappoint. Even though the Pride is getting along in years, she is well maintained and very comfortable. Everything was as expected or better. The service is superb, food is top notch, and drinks are unlimited and excellent. Every staff member, from maintenance men to cabin stewardesses to barmen and restaurant staff were all just superb, going out of their way to be helpful. The quality of the shows put on by the staff is remarkably good. Occasionally they brought in an outsider or two (we had a concert pianist and a comedian) and they were both terrific. We had some traveling companions who grumbled a bit that there wasn't enough to do on board on sea days (we had 6 sea days), and I suppose there is some truth to that as the Pride is a small ship and there are no rock climbing walls or huge boutiques for shopping. But it certainly didn't bother us as we found plenty to do. Some people just need to have somnething to complain about. We would love to go on another Seabourn cruise and look forward to doing so. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
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
She is sleek, stylish and sophisticated; as you would expect of one of the newest vessels afloat, and clearly well worth the $300 million spent on her. However if you were looking for just one word to sum up Seabourn Sojourn it has got to ... Read More
She is sleek, stylish and sophisticated; as you would expect of one of the newest vessels afloat, and clearly well worth the $300 million spent on her. However if you were looking for just one word to sum up Seabourn Sojourn it has got to be "space". She has (so it seems) endless acres of space. If the measure of success with any customer is exceeding expectations then this is where Seabourn Sojourn exceeded ours. Never once did we feel crowded, never once did we have to "stand in line" to get on or off, to find a deck chair, to get a seat in either "The Restaurant" or "The Colonnade"; and if on occasions we had to wait to get a coffee at the fabulous "Seabourn Square" in the morning, it was never for more than a few minutes as "Jo and Ferry" worked their Barista magic for all who needed a morning (or afternoon) fix. Sojourn is 32500 Gross Tons, she carries (when full) 462 passengers and 338 crew, almost one to one. In comparison, and it's probably an unfair comparison as times (certainly over 45 years) change, the first ocean liner that I ever travelled on; P&O Iberia was 30000 Gross Tons and carried 1406 passengers and around 400 crew, that's more than a bit of a difference in both available space and crew to guest ratio. With four restaurants, the two mentioned above plus the Patio Grill (poolside) and the very stylish Restaurant 2 (reservations required but no extra charge) as well as six bars/lounges and an open bar policy there are plenty of options to both eat and drink exceedingly well. The cabins are spacious, light and airy; 197 (out of 225) have balconies and all have ocean views, they have walk in wardrobes, full sized baths and your fridge is well stocked with your personal beverage choices prior to embarkation. The cabin spaces are well utilised, the furnishings modern and stylish and the TV has a good range of channels and a very full list of movies, for those stopping in. The corridors are wide, the decks clean and neat, the pools areas well presented and the highlight; well our highlight anyway Seabourn Square is just sensational. Incorporating the guest services area (open plan style) in the centre and a more formal reception desk to one side the Square is a well stocked library, a great coffee shop, a quiet reading room, the computer centre, a centralised meeting place and a great spot to just sit (inside or out) and watch the world go by. It is unique in my ocean going experience. We travelled on Seabourn Sojourn from Hong Kong to Singapore, which was just one leg of her inaugural Round World voyage after being urged for a while by colleagues to experience the "Seabourn difference". I have to say that we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience from start to finish. The crew were exceptional and the level of service was very high, the passenger mix was interesting, dominated on this trip by Americans (about 50%); there were 61 Australians on board which is reflective of the increased Australian presence on all cruise lines. I particularly enjoyed the Vietnamese ports Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Cai Lan (Ha Long Bay); less so the Cambodian (Sihanoukville) and Thai (Laem Chabang) ports, but that's just a personal thing; the shore excursions that we went on were "OK" - they were well organised and not outrageously expensive but lacked something I thought. The information/enrichment lecture programme was first class with a special mention to Dr Jean Pierre Isbouts who both entertained and informed at every lecture and was the stand out performer. Are there things that I could criticise, yes; some parts of the ship I felt were very cold, there are only four laundrettes for 400+ guests (and laundry is expensive), the internet is slow - make that very slow and the choice of toiletries was (in my opinion) limited. I simply do not understand the slowness of the internet, on one of the most modern ships afloat the speed is almost third world, in fact speed and capacity ashore in Thailand left the ships services for dead. BUT, these truly are minor irritations and they did not detract from the overall experience, which was exceptional. I experienced and enjoyed the Seabourn difference; I consider Seabourn Sojourn to be a truly fine lady of the seas; and I will be back to sail on her (or one of her two sisters Seabourn Odyssey or Seabourn Quest) again, hopefully in the not too distant future. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
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
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
My parents did this trip along with me and my partner. We booked the 5-day Wonders of China pre-cruise tour via Silversea, so we flew to Beijing and spent 3 days there then a day in Xian and then on to Hong Kong, where we sailed ... Read More
My parents did this trip along with me and my partner. We booked the 5-day Wonders of China pre-cruise tour via Silversea, so we flew to Beijing and spent 3 days there then a day in Xian and then on to Hong Kong, where we sailed round-trip. The pre-tour was amazing. Silversea put us up in good hotels and the guides hired cared for us well. Embarkation: We transferred from the Intercontinental Hotel in Hong Kong to the ship, where we boarded, registered, and were eating lunch on the pool deck, all in about 12 minutes. In this regard, very much like what we have encountered on Regent. Suite: We opted for the Vista Suite, and it was lovely. It felt very similar to the balcony suites on Regent (esp. Navigator) minus the balcony. We often are up on deck, so we didn't miss the balcony at all. Beds were extraordinarily comfortable, and the linens were great. Suite attendant and butler were wonderful and provided excellent service. Public Rooms: We liked the Shadow quite a bit, and at times it seemed we were on Regent's Navigator because they are very similar in size. We did miss the Coffee Connection area that Regent's Mariner has. But there were the usual lounges, bars, computer room, library, etc. The carpets are worn, but the ship is going into dry dock in the Spring of 2011 and these will be swapped out. Overall, the ship remains elegant. Service: This is where Silversea actually trumped Regent. Service on Regent is never awful, but in 2 cruises we have done it hasn't been great either. On the Shadow, people all over the ship called us by name by the first evening. They remembered the drinks we liked, where we like to sit, etc. I never once saw a scowl on unhappy face on the crew members. The service was simply extraordinary. I don't think I have ever had service like this on any cruise I have taken. Food: Of course, very subjective, but meals were quite good. We wish they had more dining venues/options, but the size of the ship limits that. The main dining room was great. We did Dinner Under the Stars one night and it was good. We also tried out La Terrazza, the Italian restaurant one night and it was good. Service, again, was remarkable. Smoking: I know a lot of people who sail Regent who refuse to try Silversea because of the smoking. Well, I smoke, and I never smoke in my cabin. And I have to say Regent actually had more places to smoke on their ships. Ironic. The smokers congregated in the set places, but this didn't seem to be a bother to the nonsmokers. In fact, I have gotten more awful looks from nonsmokers on Regent. So, I would say if the smoking this scares you away from Silversea, you are missing out. Excursions: We did the Acrobat Show and Dinner in Shanghai. The other ports we did on our own. The acrobat show was quite good. The dinner, not so good. Alas. But we certainly weren't hungry. General: We loved this cruise because we got to see Beijing, Xian, Hong Kong (all prior to sailing) and Okinawa, Shanghai, and Keelung and Kaioshung in Taiwan. We found the passengers to be a bit more standoffish on Silversea in comparison to Regent, but it didn't bother us. I had quite a number of passengers who, even after 4 days on board, believe me to be a member of the crew (thanks to my age and my dark skin). One woman actually demanded I get her a new napkin! I politely told her to ask someone who worked on the ship!! Another passenger asked me how at my age I could afford such a trip. I was somewhat stunned. I have sailed Regent twice and never had such things happen to me. That said, the fellow passengers did not ruin my trip. I will definitely sail Silversea again. I do think my favorite ship is Regent's Seven Seas Mariner. It is just enough bigger to offer more public spaces. And it has real Bingo for money and not just for stupid points! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I've cruised with several different companies along with Cunard once before on the QE2 which is now sadly in dry dock in Dubai.This cruise was the inaugural world cruise which I only did part of it due to the fact I went with my ... Read More
I've cruised with several different companies along with Cunard once before on the QE2 which is now sadly in dry dock in Dubai.This cruise was the inaugural world cruise which I only did part of it due to the fact I went with my daughter and she was only able to get a month off work..........the Queen Elizabeth liner is wonderful and the decor very grand ............we chose the late sitting for dinner as it gave us more time for the "sail aways" which were always very nice,and gave us plenty of time to get ready for dinner.........I do have to say I wasn't very impressed with the theatre entertainment,which by now I would hope has been improved by now.........we met a lot of very nice couples which I am still in contact with..........one joy on the ship was the fact that you were able to get a sun lounger at anytime without it being covered by the crack of dawn by a towel,which I have had to put up with on other ships,there was plenty of space also without being crammed together like sardines.The whole cruise was just fabulous and visited many destinations that I wouldn't have visited had they'd been done independently......the staff were wonderful and nothing was too much trouble.......there is a world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth coming up in Jan 2015.which I would love to go on,but being a solo traveller would not be able to afford the single supplement which is almost the same fare again.This is my first review so I'm hopeing I've put it in the right forum,as not sure where to put in request for anyone fancying the world cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
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
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
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

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