Sail Date: December 2018
Wanted to see Jakarta, Bali & especially Komodo Island! Fabulous - then found the south-west of Australia was fascinating too!! Our cruise was the first ship allowed to dock overnight in Geraldton, West Australia - the Council and ... Read More
Wanted to see Jakarta, Bali & especially Komodo Island! Fabulous - then found the south-west of Australia was fascinating too!! Our cruise was the first ship allowed to dock overnight in Geraldton, West Australia - the Council and Tourism people put on an amazing evening of food, wine, local animals to have pics taken with, a didgeridoo player, a local artist, info about pearl farming and jewellery making - we had the BEST time!!! Also loved the art classes on board - we are studying watercolour painting and the Welsh artist, Chris Tatam was so informative, his classes grew bigger each time - people got there early and left later as they all enjoyed it so much!!! Please bring them back more often!!! Some people were upset that stops in Broome and Exmouth were cancelled, but Busselton & Bunbury were very interesting and made up for it! Stopping at Geraldton meant we could take the tour out to Kalbarri National Park - wonderful!!!!! Shore Excursions seem quite expensive, compared to what the locals can offer, but of course no-one wants to get back to the ship late and have it go without them!!!! Entertainment only average - magician & music shows not professionally done at all. Crossing the Equator entertainment with Captain Jose was a highlight!!!!!! Coffee wasw a highlight - great piccolos even out of the machine. Mosaic Cafe staff fabulous with their barista and waiting skills!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
This is our second trip on this ship...the Quest. We had been taking 1-2 Regent trips per year through 2013 and then have taken a few SilverSea (SS) expedition trips, almost all with LCT, so this line was rather new to us. We upgraded to a ... Read More
This is our second trip on this ship...the Quest. We had been taking 1-2 Regent trips per year through 2013 and then have taken a few SilverSea (SS) expedition trips, almost all with LCT, so this line was rather new to us. We upgraded to a lovely 3 room suite with a huge balcony, huge bathroom and separate bedroom and living room. While my Regent info is dated and I’ve only done expedition trips on SS, my comparison may not be accurate. What I like about Azamara Quest: you get directed to your cab in immediately upon boarding and the luggage is prompt; service levels are very high—superb— uniformly; the specialty restaurants, included for suite guests, are excellent; the cruise tour desk goes above and beyond and is efficient. Ship staff are warm, friendly and responsive. From the stewards to hotel captain, there is an overwhelming pride and focus on details. The Azamazing evening experience in Bali was superb. Azamara general dining in Jewish terms is “meh.” Activities onboard so-so. Lectures not too thrilling. Entertainment has been good; in fact, they are going/coming from Regent. So, about the same quality. The cruise director and performers are very talented and lovely. Service levels are superb. One thing I really like about Azamara is their attention to mid cruise evaluations and making immediate corrections. The hotel director promptly communicates to staff and things are corrected and good performers are told. For example, I don’t drink. We have a bar setup in the room that is free and no one will use. However, I couldn’t have Perrier or Evian as a replacement without taking a beverage package. I also couldn’t have these upgraded waters with meals and was charged for them. After the evaluations and my constructive comments, The staff ensured I got the water free of charge everywhere I went. Evian was sent to my room as well. I also like the ability to accrue free nights. This is so much better than just pressing, laundry and wi-fi. Just from 2 trips, we accrued 6 free nights, a handsome savings. Wi-fi is discounted to 150 for the cruise, we have free pressing and a free laundry bag every 7 days with a suite. Discounts also range from 4-10% onboard discounts on future sailings depending on the number of nights sailed. Add in shipboard credit promotions and it’s an excellent value. All this is enough to have us return. Rooms: Azamara can be very cheap if you go for an inside cabin. Regular cabins with a window or veranda aren’t bad but the bathrooms are teeny. The Continental Club rooms are a good deal. They are a decent size, have a tub with shower, a private spa deck and hot tubs, a veranda and include all specialty restaurants. We stayed in one of these rooms the first trip and were very happy. We upgraded to a Club Oceanview Suite this time, due to a good deal, which is at the front of the ship. It had a nice size living room with a dining table, a full bedroom (king bed) separated from the living area by a door, a powder room with a toilet and a large bathroom with a large soaking tub and a large, separate shower. These corner rooms have a wall of floor to ceiling sliding doors to a very large balcony with two lounge chairs and a table with 4 chairs as well as a large window. It’s light and airy with good storage. Negatives? The rail is solid so it’s hard to see the ocean lying down and there is no outside light. This is the front, so it does rock and roll and you hear the anchor. There are three higher categories of rooms. One is at the back and is a bit bigger with a bigger balcony. Folks were happy with these suites. Another consists of w spa suites. The living space itself is the same as a basic Regent room but it has a HUGE bathroom with a large jacuzzi with floor to ceiling glass windows. The room is contemporary and luxurious but it has a very small balcony. This is the perfect room for colder climates, where you wouldn’t really use a balcony but want a light airy space. It is on the top floor, next door to the spa and very private. It would be my room of choice if I were going alone. There are also owner’s suites mid ship on the sides but I didn’t see these rooms. A perk of having a suite is having a butler,but I am really not a fan of having them. Another perk is expedited embarkation, debarkation, front rows at the Azamazing evening and a fabulous VIP dinner with the staff. You also accrue points for free nights faster, get a discount on internet, free specialty dining, free pressing and a bag of free laundry each week. Doug and I loved the extras and extra room. Food: Breakfasts were fine. It was available in the cafe or in the room. Lunch was okay. I really liked the brunches and felt they were excellent. There is also a cafe with the ability to pick up snacks anytime. There are two specialty dining venues. One is a steakhouse and one is Italian. service and food are as good as it gets. The menu in each is large and there are specials each night. There are chef’s tables at 90 pp (Asian, French or Italian). We did the French one and had a great time. There are also special theme dinners at 25pp but we didn’t try one. I hear they are excellent. The White Nights evening was great, but we missed it this year. Tours: pretty bad. I don’t know whether it was the ports or the tour operator but I wasn’t impressed. Azamara does not make you feel like cattle. Tours are limited to 25 max and they pass on discounts if they go higher. The ports were far away from fun things to do overall and too much time was spent coming and going to the sites. Food offered on the tours were of a very high quality. Azamara also offers private tours. These were awful. I’d never take one again. It seemed that Azamara tried to fill up time even if there was nothing to see. I heard stories of one hour at a statue. We did have several good tours and I’ll go into them in my port reviews, but they required long treks in a bus. That’s what we tried to avoid with the private tours...the long bathroom breaks and uncomfortable buses. With Azamara’s Private Journeys we got poorly planned tours with a driver and no real guide. I found the coordinator Sandra Carola Fernandez Gonzalez lacklustre and she never followed through in following up on our poorly planned Bunbury tour. I expect expertise and there was none. Ports: Jakarta was our first port stop. I think I’d rather end my life early then to ever be a citizen in either Jakarta, Semarang or Surabaya. Indonesia's lack of tax authority enforcement leads to the Government having little money for serious developments. In fact, they have only 27 million registered taxpayers when there should be around 120 million people if everyone eligible complied to the tax law. This is due to the severe lack of funding and manpower in their tax office, leading to many citizens having a completely lax attitude towards tax evasion as they probably wouldn’t get caught anyway. It’s port capacity is very poor. This leads to Indonesians having to spend much more if they want to export goods to foreign markets due to a lack of supply of container transportation. It is much more lucrative to base operations in Singapore which has ready made cheap transport for exports. As a result, Singapore has an export level of around USD23 Billion, which dwarfs Indonesia at USD12 Billion, despite having a small fraction of Indonesia's population. As a result, Indonesians find it more profitable to base and list their business in Singapore due to its infrastructure availability and ease of doing business. Indonesia's financial industry is underdeveloped and undersocialized. The lack of availability in financial instruments which could generate higher returns to investors and lack of financial literacy among the Indonesian population is costing Indonesia. As a result, Indonesians react to this by choosing to launder and park their money abroad (mainly Singapore), where they can invest in different types of financial instruments provided by investment banks. I was not prepared for the degree of poverty or filth in Indonesia. Jakarta was our first stop. Slums were the norm. Families were sleeping in doorways. Trash was everywhere. Our tour guide was excellent and did his best to educate us on the city. Jakarta, is the home to 10 million people and is not only the seat of the national government and the provincial government, but it is also Indonesia’s political center. It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping against it, and 13 rivers running through it. So it shouldn't be a surprise that flooding is frequent in Jakarta and, according to experts, it is getting worse. But it's not just about freak floods, this massive city is literally disappearing into the ground. The dramatic rate at which Jakarta is sinking is partly down to the excessive extraction of groundwater for use as drinking water, for bathing and other everyday purposes by city dwellers. Piped water isn't reliable or available in most areas so people have no choice but to resort to pumping water from the aquifers deep underground. But, when groundwater is pumped out, the land above it sinks as if it is sitting on a deflating balloon - and this leads to land subsidence. Our guide says that his in laws use rain water, but that is only available during certain seasons. Most have to purchase water and store it in large tanks held on the roofs. He shared that experts confirm that water management authorities can only meet 40% of Jakarta's demand for water. Day 2 in Indonesia was more uplifting in Semarang. Flooding issues were highly visible with inner city roadways in an awful state but the highway system was rather good. Outside of the city, there were gated communities with large homes against a backdrop of volcanoes. The countryside jungle was lush and beautiful and roadside food stands and shops were rather abundant. It was a Sunday and families seemed to be out and enjoying life together. We were on our way to Borobudur, which is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Central Java, Indonesia. It is the world's largest Buddhist temple. It was hot. Very hot. The temple was impressive and very well maintained. I believe it was discovered in the 1200s and later made a UNESCO heritage site. Our lunch was excellent....vegetables were fresh and flavorful, the chicken satay and beef dish were the best I have ever had. We drove through countrysides of coffee plantations and rice plantations with folks hard at work in the fields. Most folks had smiles on their faces and it was a long, 9 hour day well spent! Day 3 was Surabaya. This was our day of enduring 97 degree humid weather, traveling hours by bus and then getting 12000 steps on our fitbits to see nothing. Surabaya is headed by a Muslim woman whose key focus is cleaning up filth and adding greenery. It was clean by comparison to Jakarta but definitely not pretty. We drove through middle class and wealthy areas to end up at our destination....a mangrove river tour. We were supposed to learn about mangrove restoration and benefits. The rubbish in the swampy river was disgusting and the cruise was disorganized and lacked organization, the walk was dull and uninteresting and ‘learning how to plant mangroves’ consisted of giving us a small 2 foot tree to put in a hole. I’m all for helping out a struggling community but I gotta would have preferred to stay on our lovely ship. We all should have been reimbursed for this tour. It was dreadful. Indonesia part 2: 2 days in Bali and 1 half day in Komodo. Day 1 (December 11) We had some choices over our 2 days there. I knew I wanted the Monkey Forest tour and that was day 2. The Azamazing evening was day 1 and I didn’t want too exhausting a day as there would be 2 tours that day and we’d have to get ready and were the first group out. I seem to overbook us and piss Doug off. After the disgusting mangrove tour, I was hoping for something better. Our choices were: a beach resort (Doug is not a beach guy but this is what we should have done), A culture tour, a shopping tour (not with Doug), a temple tour ( doing that with the monkeys), Ubud on your own, Ubud Ridges, Villages and valleys. We chose the latter thinking we’d see Ubud. It was supposed to be a journey with incredible views of the volcano, stunning rivers, discover village life. It was none of these things. I never saw a volcano. It was a long walk through a trail behind resort communities. Boring. We did have an outstanding lunch with gorgeous views, though. Our Azamazing evening was an evening of Balinese folklore at the Taman Budaya Art Center.A dance troupe entertained us under the stars.the performances showcased story telling dance characterized by intricate footwork, eyes and finger movements. Balinese dance is an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people and is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive. Bali dancers learn the craft as children and even in the womb they are played Balinese music. They are taught to dance with their hands before they can walk. Official training as a Bali dancer starts as young as 7. In Balinese dance the movement is closely associated with the rhythms produced by a musical ensemble specific to Java and Bali. Multiple levels of articulations in the face, eyes, hands, arms, hips, and feet are coordinated to reflect layers of percussive sounds. Wow! I never knew hands could move like that. It was absolutely breathtaking. I almost cancelled the next day’s tour...Monkey Forests and temple due to the poor tours we’d been having but I like monkeys. We began at the Tenah Lot Temple, famed for its location atop a craggy outcrop set amid crashing waves. The coastal temple Pura Tanah Lot is located in the southern part of Bali. To many people, Tanah Lot epitomizes the romantic island of Bali. Tanah Lot means Land in The Sea, a perfectly fit name for its unique offshore settings. The silhouette of Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most popular iconic features of Bali. The history of Tanah Lot temple was believed to date back to the 16th century. For the Balinese, Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most important and venerated sea temples. However, it has all the authenticity of a stage set – even the tower of rock that the temple sits upon is an artful reconstruction (the entire structure was crumbling) and more than one-third of the rock is artificial. We then continued to the Monkey Forest at the Alas Kedaton Sacred Sanctuary where long tailed macaques thrive in a natural habitat. Alas Kedaton is a popular monkey forest sanctuary - a sacred one at that. The sanctuary is made up of many acres of land purely inhabited by big bats and monkeys. The forest sanctuary is located at Kukuh village in Tabanan and made for a fun hour. The crab-eating macaque is the major breed of monkey found in this sanctuary, and Bali in general, as these primates are native to Southeast Asia. A baby bat decided to jump on my back and go for a ride. Eek! Last, we ventured over to Pura Taman Ayum, an 18th century temple complex. Tama Ayun is an aesthetically pleasing temple and is located in a mystical park sheltered by trees and ponds and is a temple built to honor various historical deities and gods. The temple has a rift in form of canals and can only be accessed through a bridge that leads you to a wide spaced grassy courtyard, which leads to another courtyard that houses multiple shrines, and ponds filled with lots of lotus blossoms. The best part of the tour was our guide who immersed us in Balinese culture both past and present. Lunch was again excellent. It was a varied, pretty and enlightening day. It was the best trip of the cruise. December 13 was our final day in Indonesia. I’d travelled thousands of miles to see a Komodo dragon in the wild. It was one of my reasons for taking this cruise. Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site that was set aside to conserve the Komodo dragon and their natural habitat. The world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon is arguably Indonesia’s best-conserved large animal. Protected under Indonesian law, the population is relatively stable, with around 2,500 animals in the park. Entrance fees for foreigners were recently increased sharply plus an extra fee for a guide – in a bid to raise more revenue. Currently, the biggest threat to the dragons is the poaching of deer which is their prey, and the rise of human populations. The species shares the park with nearly 4,000 people, many of whom supplement their incomes by selling curios and snacks to tourists. The dragon dominates the food chain and underpins the local economy. We were surround by small and aggressive children peddling small trinkets as we made our way to venture deep into Komodo National Park where we went to search the dry forest for a glimpse of the prehistoric Komodo dragon. They exist nowhere else in the world and are of great interest to scientists studying the theory of evolution. After about 25 minutes of following guides into the park in 100 degree heat, we were told we might not even see them, as they are wild animals. Finally, right near the trance where we walked in 25 minutes earlier, we see our first cluster of dragons. The park staff are armed with sticks – which doesn’t seem like enough in case of a Komodo dragon attack. With their fearsome reputation in mind, I stay well back. At first sight, they do appear “lifeless” – like large seals wearing crocodile skin. When they move, they crawl on their bellies and then suddenly rear up sphinx-like, sticking out their forked tongues and making a distinctive hissing sound. There are five of the dragons in the group. They are grouped around each other, occasionally standing up, walking a few steps and hissing. The guides stand near us with massive sticks, which they will use to beat the dragons back in the event that they come near us. One guide, told me I reminded him of his mother and led me to them for upfront and personal close ups. I hoped he liked his mother. The Komodo can consume very large prey such as water buffalo, deer, carrion, pigs and even humans. It has a unique way of killing by biting its prey - especially when it is a large water buffalo, - surrounding it in a group then wait patiently until the poison in its saliva has slowly killed its victim.  After which it completely shreds apart and devoured with bones and all.  If the prey escapes, it will usually die within 24 hours due to poisoning of the blood that comes from the venomous and bacteria ridden saliva. Surprisingly, we were not rushed and were allowed quite a bit of time with them. Folks, who visited before, noticed that there were decidedly fewer Komodos than they have seen previously. Hot, but worth the experience. The only difference I would have liked—I would gladly have paid the guide for a shorter visit, with no trekking in the humid heat. Three days at sea (12/14-16) and then Western Australia.(12/17-12/22) The seas became rough. Returning to our cabin on 12/15, water was pouring under the glass sliding doors. The movement wasn’t bad. The position of our bed allowed for rocking side to side instead of head to toe (which our room was doing). It was rather pleasant. It was the crashing of the waves—the bang, bang, bang against the hull that ruined our sleep. We found out that a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck around 1,000 km north-northwest of Perth on 12/15. It was much too rough to enjoy pools, hot tubs or our large balcony during our sea days. The draw of this cruise for many was to visit Broome and Exmouth. Broome is a beach resort town in western Australia’s Kimberley region. Along its Indian Ocean coastline, the white sands of Cable Beach offer a dramatic backdrop for sunset camel rides. At Gantheaume Point nearby, dinosaur tracks are revealed in the beach’s red rocks during low tide. An ideal beach resort that was cancelled. Ugh. Exmouth is a small resort town on Western Australia’s North West Cape. It’s a gateway to nearby Ningaloo Marine Park with its coral reefs, colourful fish and migratory whale sharks. Nearly surrounding Exmouth, Cape Range National Park has kangaroos, sheer cliffs and red, rocky gorges. On the Cape's northwest coast, Jurabi Coastal Reserve's tidal rock pools, beaches and seasonal nesting grounds for marine turtles. This was cancelled too. Ugh. So, 2 nights in Geraldton (12/16-17) replaced these two ports. Geraldton is a major west coast seaport and a logistics center for regional mining, fishing, wheat and sheep. It was a far cry from an iconic beach resort with incredible wildlife and snorkelling. The downtown is struggling to keep alive and shops have a hard time surviving. According to some Australian friends, they had a great day of shopping. The Mid West region of Western Australia is strategically located on an iconic coastline between Perth and the growing economies of the State’s north. There are a host of different economic opportunities - all of which the region intends to capitalise on. Traditionally an agricultural region, the Mid West is now attracting unprecedented investment interest from a range of other industry sectors. The mining industry has quickly become the main economic driver of the region. Strong international demand for commodities and high commodity prices have already underpinned significant mining investment and many more projects are planned for future years. Most folks are positive about the economic stability of Geraldton long term, and attest to Geraldton being one of the best places in the country to live if you're looking for a great balance of lifestyle, affordability, and beauty. There are enough jobs if you have the right skill set or are willing to undertake training or education. There are few better places in terms of beaches and a wonderful outdoor lifestyle. And you don't need to be a multi millionaire to live near the beach, like you would in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.  But the last decade plus of unquestioned positivity has lead to lots of members of the public being left holding investments that are now worth far less than they paid and many people owe far more on their homes than what they could reasonably be expected to sell them for today.  Rewind to 2006. Property prices around WA were booming, in large part due to the insatiable demand for WA's iron ore from China. Meanwhile, the City of Geraldton was hiking rates like they were in the rate raising olympics. Property, all of a sudden, didn't seem like such a great investment.  Nationally syndicated writers, economists and property "gurus" boldly kept predicting Geraldton was the next "boom town", and that it was a "gateway" to the North West and to the Mid West. Fast forward to 2018. Geraldton was budgeting for the future based on an assumption that Geraldton was going to spike in population within a foreseeable timeline. There was no explanation about how those official sources made their predictions, but the exact opposite happened. Geraldton's population declined in the following few years.  I digress from our day to give you a handle on the fact we were docked in a port far from touristy things to do. So, we signed up to visit an animal rescue facility nearby and to visit the old town of Geraldton. It wasn’t an exciting day but it was very pleasant. The weather was lovely, the guide good, the animals fun and I had the best scones ever. While we overnighted there, we didn’t arrive until a bit after noon. First stop was The Greenough Wildlife Park which was not the best park for animal interaction, but it was a good learning facility as it was designed as a temporary home for rescued animals, rehabilitation and release. It was small and the animals were all caged. The owner was a former cop and had a warm and engaging personality. We were able to get up close and personal with parrots, crocodiles, dingos, red and grey kangaroos and reptiles. She is the person you call if you find a python or a highly venomous snake around your house. Our guide was Greenough wildlife guru Michelle Jones who was an interesting lady. Recently, she spent two weeks helping scientists conduct important crocodile research at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in far north Queensland. Ms Jones worked alongside the Australia Zoo’s crocodile team, including Irwin’s widow Terri and children Bindi and Robert. The Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park manager was tasked with helping catch and restrain the giant reptiles so the scientists could safely do their work. Michelle said the research was being used to better understand crocodiles’ habits and, in turn, teach people how to live safely alongside the awe-inspiring beasts. She said she had plans to work with a scientist who was conducting groundbreaking research into social interactions between crocodiles. “We attach satellite and acoustic transmitters to large saltwater crocodiles to track their movements in the river systems up there. The satellite tags allow us to pinpoint where the crocodile lives, and its dive time, which we’ve worked out can be up to 12 hours. The crocodile is processed and back in the water within about 25 minutes; that’s how quick the researchers and the scientists are up there. When the wet season comes, they head up the river systems to certain pockets, and then returning after the season is over to live in rivers where, sadly, a lot of people go swimming. It’s totally uncharted territory. It’s never been looked at before.It will be looking at whether they know their offspring and if they are socially interacting each year through recognition of pheromones.” She also had 2 dingos. The dingo is a type of dog that is native to Australia. Its taxonomic status is debated. Australia is home to so many of these animals that they are generally considered pests. A famous “dingo fence” has been erected to protect grazing lands for the continent's herds of sheep. It is likely that more dingoes live in Australia today than when Europeans first arrived. Though dingoes are numerous, their pure genetic strain is gradually being compromised. They can and do interbreed with domestic dogs to produce hybrid animals. Studies suggest that more than a third of southeastern Australia's dingoes are hybrids.  We were able to pat and meet the dogs. Their fur was coarse and bristly but they acted like normal pet dogs, wanting a kiss or a scratch. I had the unfortunate accident of stepping into a hole a dingo had dug and was plagued by constant knee pain for the rest of our trip. I think it’s finally on the mend. The kangaroos are a hoot. The red kangaroo is large with droopy eyes, a relaxed attitude and a “hey, dude” disposition. The grey kangaroo is a bit more skittish. I had the opportunity to cradle a baby grey one. From there, we went to the Greenough Historical village. There were numerous out buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Quite honestly, we have more interesting places in the US. We were treated to warm scones, clotted cream and jam with tea and these scones made the stop worth our time. Upon returning to the port, the Geraldton port had decide to throw us a welcome party, with local foods, drinks, port information, animals, mining info. It was well done and very enjoyable. Day 2 in Geraldton was an all day private tour to the pink salt lake and the Kalbarri National Park, one of Western Australia's most popular places to visit. It was striking but paled compared to our Grand Canyon. In all honesty, I think the time to visit is when the wildflowers are out, July to September. At that time, You can see the park ablaze with the colours of spring, with over 1,100 varieties of wildflowers are found there. It was a long day for a day trip. You drive through acre upon acre of wheat fields...think Nebraska. You get to your destination, quickly see the sites and have to turn around. I think it’s a place you want to spend a couple of days, taking hikes and enjoying outdoor activities. You can go bushwalking, gorge hiking or canoeing and take a journey back 400 million years, when the tidal flats of an ancient sea formed the striking red sandstone and the mighty Murchison River carved out deep gorges on its way to the ocean. We took a more relaxed experience and drove out to the park's many lookouts for some must-snap vistas, including the famous Nature's Window, The Loop, Z Bend, Hawks Head and Ross Graham, Red Bluff and Pot Alley. What spoiled the outdoor activities a bit was the heat and the swarms of bushflies. These flies look like our flies but are much smaller and swarm around you. They were everywhere we went in Australia. You really needed to wear netting which we didn’t have. The pink lakes: Australia is home to the bizarre pink coloured lakes. They look good enough to drink but are the saltiest bodies of water on earth. Analysis of the water has shown about 10 species of algae and bacteria, which are all predominantly pink. Despite bacteria being the reason for the strawberry milk color, the lake is totally safe to swim in. In fact, the lake's high salt content likely makes the water so dense that you'd float incredibly easily, the way you would in the Dead Sea. It was incredible to look at but mines and factories dotted its shores making it hard to enjoy. The echidna: Driving along we found an echidna in the road and we stopped to rescue it. See pics. So what is an echidna? It has spines like a porcupine, a beak like a bird, a pouch like a kangaroo, and lays eggs like a reptile. Also known as spiny anteaters, they're small, solitary mammals native to Australia. They're usually between 12 and 17 inches long and weigh between 4 and 10 pounds. Their spines are actually modified hairs. Echidnas' bodies (with the exception of their undersides, faces, and legs) are covered with 2-inch long spines. Fur between the spines provides insulation. Echidnas live slow and long. Echidnas have the lowest body temperature of any mammal, 89__°F. Their body temperatures are not controlled in the same way as that of other mammals, and can fluctuate by up 6–8°C over the course of the day. Their long life spans — up to 50 years in captivity, with anecdotal reports of wild animals reaching 45 years — are due to their low body temperature and slow metabolism. Male echidnas have a bizarre, four-headed penis. You might wonder how you mate with a four-headed penis. During sex, two of the heads shut down while the other two grow bigger to fit into the female's two-branched reproductive tract. Males alternate the heads they use between matings. Echidnas form mating trains. A strange process marks the start of echidna breeding season. Males line up nose to tail behind a single female, forming a train of up to a dozen individuals. Trains can last more than a month, with males dropping out and rejoining. When the female is finally ready to mate, the males dig a trench in the ground around her. The males compete for mating honors by pushing each other out of the trench. The last one remaining gets to mate with the female. Strange creatures! Food: We stopped for lunch where we could sample emu, kangaroo, crocodile. The crocodile tasted like, yes, “Chicken.” The others like over cooked shoe leather. I guess it tasted awful because it was too cute to eat? Bunbury and Busselton, Australia.. (December 19 and 20th) These two ports are really close to one another and about an hour from the wine area—Margaret River. I booked a private tour through Azamara Private Journeys for Dec 19 and wanted to see it all. Unfortunately, the white night was being held on 12/19 and Azamara’ should home office wouldn’t change the date to 12/20 since we were told the guide was out of Bunbury. It turned out he was between Bunbury and Busselton. We were picked up at 12:30 and the driver said he was taking us to Busselton. I asked why as we were going there the next day. We were to get an historical walking tour of both towns but he wasn’t informed of that. He did his best with a quick driving tour and then took us on our scheduled plane ride which was foolishly set up as Busselton to Busselton. It was pleasant. Then, he took us to the Margaret River to visit a winery and for dinner. Almost everything was closed by the time we finished one winery and we missed out on the chocolate and cheese factories. Then, we were taken to dinner at a holiday hotel. Since there was a function in the dining room, we were seated in the lobby, amid screaming kids, drunks and dogs. The dinner was about the equivalent of a poor man’s Pizza Hut. We had to get our own food, which was inedible. Moral of story: Do not ever sign up for Azamara’s Private Journeys. We were toured out and just did Busselton on our own. It’s a nice little beach town with cute shops, a great kids’ playground and a long jetty with a natural aquarium at the end. The jetty is said to be the longest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere and is the second longest wooden jetty (pier) in the world. The jetty construction commenced in 1853 and the first section was opened in 1865. The jetty was extended numerous times until the 1960s, ultimately reaching a length of 1841 m. The last commercial vessel called at the jetty in 1971 and the jetty was closed the following year. It passed into the control of Busselton Shire and has been gradually restored and improved since. view the event. The aquarium was opened on 13 December 2003 descending 8 metres below sea level where one can view the corals and fish life through eleven viewing windows. It was interesting but no WOW. If you are in the area, I suggest spending your time in the lovely Margaret River area, playing tourist, sampling wine and cheese and chocolates, enjoying the scenery and watching out for kangaroos dotting the fields. If you want to save money and enjoy the ship, you can safely wander both Bunbury and Busselton. Don’t waste your money on tours. Final day: Perth My husband thought I was crazy signing us up for a 12 hour tour for our final day, especially given the quality of the tours. Each of these experiences could be enjoyed as day trips from Perth unto themselves. It’s foolish to combine them all in one day unless that’s all you have. Our guide was excellent and was an encyclopedia of information. It could have been a great day if it had been timed better. Our day started out with the Caversham Wildlife Park. We should have spent a few hours here but only had 40 minutes. At Caversham Wildlife Park there are a variety of daily attractions that you can come and see and get involved with which include: Meet the Wombat and Friends, Feed the Kangaroos and Meet the Koalas, feed the Kangaroos. It was a fine stop and a shame to have had so little time there. Each of these destinations is 90 minutes from Perth. Our next stop was the lobster processing factory which offers the complete lobster experience from lobster pot to cooking pot! The Lobster Shack provides a close up encounter with the most valued single species fishery in Australia; the Western Rock Lobster. We were able to see how the lobsters are processed in the factory and packaged up to be sent LIVE to destinations all over the world. However, Azamara cheaped out and served us fish and chips while other table was diving into lobster dinners . We gladly would have paid an up charge. Everyone was quite angry. I suggest that this stop could be a day unto itself. As a day tour, you can go out on a lobster boat and go lobstering and then indulge on a lobster dinner. Or, you can just visit the processing plant, have lunch and then go to the Pinnacles. The Pinnacles is pretty far, so I’d either combine visiting it with The Lobster Shack or the white dunes. It takes about an hour, more or less, to visit. Within the park is the ancient Pinnacles Desert, which is an area with thousands of limestone formations called pinnacles. Standing tall in the shifting sand dunes lies thousands of large limestone pillars that were originally believed to be a lost city. The first records of identification date back to the 1650s. Following this, there are no known records of the Pinnacles until 1820 by Philip Parker King. With very little discovery, the Department of Lands and Surveys included the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park (created in 1956) in the 1960s, and it was through this inclusion that the desert became a popular destination. The Pinnacles Desert has been home to Aboriginal tribes for many years – with artifacts found dating back 6,000 years. Many theories have been proposed about the formation of the Pinnacles. One of the theories is that they formed as a result of kastification, characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves that weathers rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions. Another theory states that the pinnacles were formed through the preservation of tree casts buried in coastal aeolianties. A third theory states that the Pinnacles were created by plants. It is beautiful and well worth a visit. We then went to Lancelin for some dune buggying and sand surfing. We never really got to do either. When you visit the legendary Lancelin sand dunes you could squint and imagine you’re in a post apocalyptic dystopian world with David Lynch writing the script. It’s trippy. The sand is white like icing sugar rather than Sahara desert golden, and some dunes are as big as three story buildings. We headed off on a dune buggy bus. Up a dune; down a dune. Wavering at the top of a dune, our driver tried to stop but couldn’t reverse, so down we went into a sand crevasse. We all left the vehicle so the driver could dig us out. Uh uh. We were stuck in the middle of the desert with no one around, the sun growing dim on the horizon. Stuck. We had no choice but to climb the dunes and walk back to our awaiting bus. No sand boarding time for us. This was our misadventure. The tour escort called the ship as we were so late all dining would be closed. We were met by the hotel director at the bus doors and told ‘not to worry’ as the restaurants were kept open for us. What an end to our tour experience Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This was my fourth cruise with Azamara and the third on the Quest. I love Azamara because the ships are small, no children allowed and we are treated like one of the family. There is little music played on deck - thank goodness. Staff ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise with Azamara and the third on the Quest. I love Azamara because the ships are small, no children allowed and we are treated like one of the family. There is little music played on deck - thank goodness. Staff quickly get to know you and you get a welcome when you return. Boarding is well organised and painless. We had to wait a long time for our luggage to arrive and we started sailaway before we finally got ours. First night was busy as always and we all followed the usual hygiene rules of being served rather than self service for 24 hours. The strict rules about sanitizing work and we have never been unwell on this ship. Although there are over 600 passengers on board it is possible to find peace and quiet for much of the time and I have a number of photographs that make it look like a solo trip! The pool area was good as always, the pool clean. For some reason on our last sea day they decided to do maintenance and were pressure washing the decks at 10.30 in the morning when people were wanting to sit on the sunbeds. After complaints from a number of passengers they replaced everything and left. The Azamazing evening was brilliant. There were no delays getting to the venue and seating was comfortable and well laid out. As always there were those who felt they had to stand up in front of other people to get the best photographs and this selfish act is very irritating. It would be helpful if the host were to ask people to remain seated to take photos. White Night was lovely and we were lucky with the weather as there had been some storms around. We chose to sit up on Deck 10 as we have always found that once again people will go and stand across the front of the stage area totally blocking the view for anyone sitting down. We did speak to the cruise director about this and he admitted it was a problem but did not say anything on the night. In the past there has been a display of somekind but this time there was only dancing and singing from the guests and crew. We eat in Windows because we like the self service. As a vegetarian I would like to see more choice in the main course. Most nights there are vegetables, rice and potatoes but something a little more interesting would be good. One night there was a pasty and I asked what was in it. The person behind the counter had no idea and had to go and ask. On a couple of occassions they were rather grumpy and there was an atmosphere. Something we have not experienced before. The waiter service in Windows was on the whole very poor. In the past it had always been pretty good. However there appeared to be a number of new staff who were clueless. On two occasions we were actually ignored when signalled that we would like some water. They have a habit of looking at you and turning away. Several times we had to wait for a good ten minutes before anyone asked if we wanted water or wine. Likewise with coffee in the mornings. At times there were no waiters to be seen, others a huddle of them down by the coffee machine. They have a habit of walking around but not doing and definitely not seeing. The manager spent most of his time staring at his computer and when he did wander round did not appear to do anything. This is so different to what it used to be like and very disappointing. Waiters in the Living Room and Caberet and Mosaic were good as were the ones on pool deck. We were on deck 8 in a balcony room. It was clean and comfortable. Our two stewards were attentive and cheerful. We had a problem with the aircon switch not working and this was promptly repaired with two very smiley guys. the excursions were good, small groups in very good coaches with knowledgeable guides all of whom had a sense of humour. Disembarking each time was well organised and quick. In Koh Samui the sea was turbulent and the authorities could not use their tenders but Capt Jose was not phased and the ships tenders were lowered and expertly crewed and we were taken safely ashore. It was a great cruise as always and my only real criticism is the staff in Windows. They are the one thing that stood out in the whole of the trip. I have booked to go to Alaska next June on the Quest and do so hope that by then some serious staff training will have taken place. Read Less
BBMacLaird, CBO - Azamara Club Cruises has responded
Thank you Josi56 for your cruise review. We appreciate that you took the time to write it. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard on our maiden season in Alaska!
Sail Date: November 2018
Guest administration is not Azamara's strong point. The dates and locations for the Azamazing evening were a moving feast right up to departure and the email on this that came from Azamara were unintelligible. This made booking our own ... Read More
Guest administration is not Azamara's strong point. The dates and locations for the Azamazing evening were a moving feast right up to departure and the email on this that came from Azamara were unintelligible. This made booking our own evening tours a bit stressful. We got mixed messages on Visas in the various things we were sent (you are responsible for your own Visas! All Visas will taken care of for you! -- the latter turned out to be true.) Embarkation in Singapore was easy and quick. The buffet lunch was getting a bit old by the time we got there just before 3pm but we were grateful for something to eat (I think we were the last time slot to board). As advised, we booked our 3 specialty dining nights as soon as we boarded (why is there no pre-booking system?), only to subsequently find that we'd booked for the same night (first night) as the (previously unadvertised) seafood buffet which we would have liked to attend. My keycard didn't work in the cabin door (they are apparently such elderly technology that holding them proximate to any small magnet renders them useless) and we queued for nearly 40 minutes to have it fixed at guest relations. When we got to the front of the queue the French officer said very dismissively 'I don't do cards!' and made us requeue in another line for one of the female staff. Many, many people had card failures, not all related to magnets. One poor lady who had arrived after a long delayed flight was in tears. It wasn't a great start to our cruising dreams. Dinner in both specialty restaurants was fabulous, outstanding service and food, worth every extra cent we paid. Our first dinner in the main dining room was pretty ordinary (even inedible) and we didn't go back until nearly the last night - one lesson we learned across the cruise is that while Australian prawns are delicious, prawns and 'shrimp' from elsewhere can be much less so. Steak options are a much better bet. The Windows buffet was terrific for breakfast (super omelettes and a great range to choose from) and lunch and generally very good for dinner (except British buffet night, which was ghastly, and left a lingering smell of too-old frying oil and fish in the restaurant for the next 24 hours). The poolside burgers and nachos place was really good for lunch. We loved the ambiance of the Sunset Bar and spent a lot of time there, but it seemed to be a dead service zone. We shrugged and got our own breakfast tea and juice, and went to the bar for our own drinks with dinner. The waiters were constantly in the corner talking to one another and looking at the computer (why?), rarely offering drinks at any time. This was not a cheap cruise and we did feel a bit annoyed about this on occasion. The Opera group were really talented, we enjoyed their shows immensely. The cabaret shows were not our thing but others seemed to enjoy it. The lecturer was very interesting although sometimes she was sometimes scheduled in odd timeslots (like lunch). The jazz band was very good. Sea days on the Quest were particularly enjoyable, the pool lounges are really comfortable and plentiful and the drinks service unstinting. Most days the wine selection was enjoyable but there was one day in the rotation when both whites and both reds were just not very palatable. Some waiters would send down for a bottle from the day before (which you are entitled to ask for) but some would just shrug. Koh Samui was not a great port, the most enjoyable thing about it was the tender ride on and off - the organisation of which was hopeless for those without ship tours booked. No queue, or sequential numbers, they just picked people at random to give stickers to intermittently and them sent them to a tender, which meant that some people who just arrived immediately got tenders and others had to wait 40-50 minutes. Bangkok was interesting although the dreadful traffic means going to see anything will involve longer in the getting there and back than the seeing of the attraction. Ho Chi Minh was fantastic, we plan to return. Our room steward and his assistant were flawless -- helpful, courteous, competent. The cabin was small but functional and comfortable, the verandah very pleasant. The deal breaker for me was the shower curtain. The weather was (as to be expected) very hot and humid, necessitating being grabbed and wrapped by the very unpleasant clammy plastic curtain in the tiny shower space at least twice a day. It started to feel like some sort of punishment zone. Debarking was very smooth, we had plenty of time to get to our flight. The Quest has a loyal customer base, we met several couples who had done >15 cruises on the ship. Tl;DR Although we did have a lovely holiday and have some wonderful memories, we won't choose Azamara again until we can afford a suite with no shower curtain. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We took this cruise to experience the Middle East in style. Felt like we were splurging a bit since I had just retired and went on a more expensive brand. Expected more than we got. All the people on the ship were nice, but it did not ... Read More
We took this cruise to experience the Middle East in style. Felt like we were splurging a bit since I had just retired and went on a more expensive brand. Expected more than we got. All the people on the ship were nice, but it did not live up to expectations. The shower was so small, worse than a Carnival ship. The room was standard sized for a cruise, as was the balcony. We had booked a suite originally and then backed out due to the flights costs. Wish I had stayed with it. The food was mediocre and did not have the variety that we expected. We went for the destinations, and they were amazing. Also, since the ship is so small, the entertainment was weak. The cruise director's staff was also the entertainment. A bit strange! I would take them again, knowing all this, as they go to destinations others do not. Just know what you are getting into. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Have enjoyed some great cruises with Celebrity many times, including one to the Galapagos, and one not so good with Oceania, but happily discovered Azamara a couple of years ago and this was our third sailing with them. Pleased to say the ... Read More
Have enjoyed some great cruises with Celebrity many times, including one to the Galapagos, and one not so good with Oceania, but happily discovered Azamara a couple of years ago and this was our third sailing with them. Pleased to say the cruise did not disappoint in any way. Azamara Officers and Staff are very personable and welcoming, the Master of the Vessel (Jose) is a real star/treasure and we enjoyed his input tremendously. The itinerary was great and, by utilising the ship’s own tours, we’ve now put more pins on our world map having been able to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Petra, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, plus two ports in the country of Oman. The cruise ended in Dubai and we flew home the following day, and delighted to report that Dubai had the cleanest airport we’d ever seen. Well done, Dubai! Suffice to say Egypt itself was none too clean and, one tip, you need to pack some hand sanitising wipes should you decide to do a tour. After what we saw floating in a tributary, we’ll never book a river cruise on the Nile - Ever! Azamara’s AzAmazing evening was held in Israel (Ashdod) and was well worth going to despite having been on the very tiring trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem that same day. Also had a great time at the White Night Party, which displayed a wonderful variety of food, with excellent entertainment provided by the ship’s band,’Smooth Sensations’. The secret is to get seated in advance of the start time, oh heck, have I now given it away??? And, as for the Chocolate Buffet? So very gorgeous- and artistic! What’s not to like? Message to the Quest: See you again next Feb! Read Less
BBMacLaird, CBO - Azamara Club Cruises has responded
Thank you for the 5-start review Durmandurman! So glad you have found Azamara and will be back on the Quest next February. We'll be waiting for you!
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
I had been looking to do a cruise for the past 5 years and finally decided on Azamara Quest for the 18 day Greece-Dubai tour. I had compared and looked at many cruise lines and was intrigued by the ports of call as I had been in Athens 20 ... Read More
I had been looking to do a cruise for the past 5 years and finally decided on Azamara Quest for the 18 day Greece-Dubai tour. I had compared and looked at many cruise lines and was intrigued by the ports of call as I had been in Athens 20 years earlier on a backpacking journey using Eurail. I did not want to do this again and really loved the idea of being able to unpack and be on a floating hotel seeing locations I had never been before. I am inexperienced in luxury travel. But to my standards, Azamara went above and beyond with their ability to make me feel like I was a welcome guest on board. Many staff learned my name and would always call me Miss Debbie. It was sweet as I had left my significant other at home for 3 weeks while I experienced the joys of traveling solo. The welcome at boarding was great and I began enjoying the service right away. I was supposed to be in an interior room. Somehow the tv had been broken the previous voyage, so they upgraded me to an exterior stateroom on the 4th level with a great big square window. I felt quite special and all was right in my universe. Due to the area we would be sailing through, there was to be a 4 day watch for pirates in the gulf of aden area. i requested to be moved back to an interior room as none of my newly found friends in the smoking section had one. I would therefore become Safe Haven if worse came to worse. The room was a wheelchair accessible up the hall from my upgraded room. It was spacious with a huge bathroom compared to the previous room. So once pirate watch was over I stayed in my lovely coccoon where I could sleep when I wanted:) This also meant I got to keep Raymon and Julius who were my stateroom attendants for the entire 18 days. The job they did was Fantastic! The restaurants were great with Discoveries being the best of them all. I did two nights of Prime C and two nights of Aqualina. One night was with two new friends I had met and we dined in Aqualina which was different because I was trying to be as solo as much as I could be. I would say that Prime C was more suited for my solo preferences just do to the layout and decor. Paulo was my waiter there both times and he was the best! Windows was really good for buffet style and The Patio made great burgers. My absolute favourite was The Living Room with their baby sandwiches for lunch and dessert selections too. I do believe that you could just serve those sandwiches to everyone on the ship and that could be your lunch menu. The entertainment on the ship was excellent. 54 Below rocked.The guest performers Big Red Meghan Murphy and Jimmy Morehead really did an amazing performances. Smooth Sensations were always a stand up band that would entertain always. The reason I liked this ship, there was something to always do if you so chose. The best entertainment was the ship's talent show. The memories will last a lifetime. Azamazing Evening was spectacular in Israel. It was so great to see such talent and showcasing of their food and culture and youth. I would say it would be a great reason to try this cruise even if it is only once. But I think it will be more when you find out how many guests are repeat customers. The shore excursions I did were the Dead Sea Experience in Jordan and Luxor Valley of the Kings in Egypt. There were many more that were available, but I was on more of a shoestring budget. I went and enjoyed the ports in Cyprus, Israel, Oman and Dubai. The tour guides were alright but were prone to repeating themselves too much. The road to Luxor was grueling with almost 2 hours of speed bumps. But they say that travel isn't always easy. The 5 star resort at the Dead Sea did not have enough loungers, but we made the most of our rocky beach. I loved the drive through the Jordanian countryside with the changing scenery. Captain Jose was fantastic and Thomas was very personable. Had a great Officers dinner with Christophe who was the 1st officer and gave me great insight on the job he has to do. Also did a tour of the ship which was very eye opening at the work that goes into everything that Azamara does. Overall the experience was exceptional. The only con I had was dealing with guest relations regarding a ship credit that was due to me because I had upgraded to the essentials. This gave me Wi-Fi, Premium Beverage upgrade and a $300 excursion credit which failed to be added to my account. The inability and unprofessional customer service of the person I dealt with was making me second guess dealing with this cruise line.(Literally took her business cards from off the counter as I was speaking lol) I would highly suggest that as an international cruise line should have 24/7 access to the accounting department in Miami to resolve issues that occur on weekend hours because I am a very forgiving person compared to many others out there who are not. Read Less
BBMacLaird, CBO - Azamara Club Cruises has responded
Thank you for the lovely 5-star cruise review, SeeDebGo! So glad you enjoyed your first cruise with us. We look forward to welcoming you 'home' again soon! Bonnie
Sail Date: October 2018
Our friends had cruised on Azamara previously and had already booked this cruise. We have cruised before on large ships and didn’t really like the experience. So we weren’t really interested in cruising again until we checked ... Read More
Our friends had cruised on Azamara previously and had already booked this cruise. We have cruised before on large ships and didn’t really like the experience. So we weren’t really interested in cruising again until we checked out the itinerary which included Petra, Jordan and Athens, and that our friends raved about the cruise line. The ship, cabin, facilities and crew: Ship was nice and had everything we needed. Pool area was very nice with chaise lounges (used “at sea” days). Restaurants were clean; staff attentive although some staff stood out, but no complaints except for shore excursion staff (discuss later). The cabin (deck 4) was dated and not as clean as I would have liked. The cabin is small but manageable. We brought extra hangers for our clothes which helped. Bed was very comfortable and sheets were luxurious. The cabin has a TV with limited number of channels including news (if interested). Cabin was quiet. We didn’t hear the neighbors very often only when leaving occasionally. The ship has complementary laundry facility including detergent but it’s often busy and at least one washer and dryer was not operational. Suggest using early or when in port if possible otherwise you’ll have to wait. The staff takes ship’s cleanliness seriously to prevent illness from spreading. As far as I know the ship didn’t have any gastrointestinal illnesses (thankfully!). We ate at all but the Italian restaurant. The food, presentation, and serving staff were excellent. We did eat at the Prime C (upgrade $30 pp),which was good but I don’t think it was any better than the Discoveries dining room which is included in cost. No better base wine selection either (disappointing). Which leads me to the beverages ... base alcohol choices included in cost was disappointing especially the wine selection. Some (and I am being nice) were literally undrinkable in my opinion but others in party seemed ok with the choices (I don’t think I’m a wine snob as we typically drink California wines about the $10- $20 price range). These wines were worse than some box wine I’ve had! Many came from So Africa (the worst), Portugal, Spain, Italy; occasionally New Zealand, S America and California. We considered buying the upgraded wine package but with no opportunity to taste and unfamiliar with the wineries it didn’t seem worth it. I drank the wine when I could but generally opting for Newcastle beer and lemon drop martini! Azamara needs a much better sommelier. Entertainment was better than I expected. I typically don’t like ship entertainment and definitely didn’t attend all but the ones I did attend were enjoyable and quality. Tim Seals pianist was exceptional. There was a magician too which I thought would be hokey but he was very good. The cruise ship’s band Smooth Sensations were also very good. They had another singer “Big Red” who was also good. Excursions: since we were traveling with seasoned Azamara travelers they generally don’t use the cruise line’s excursions instead opting to book private tours for just our group (7 to 10 people). But we did book four cruise excursions (extra cost). One was to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Several buses carrying about 20-25 people were used. While traveling to destination the tour guide spoke about the area and customs (and q&a) and discussed history of the site at destination. He was knowledgeable. The tour included a buffet lunch at a hotel which was good but I thought took too long because we felt rushed at the site. It was a long day about 14 hours. Other excursions (salalah, muscat, and Dubai) were enjoyable and local guides were knowledgeable. We are not fans of coach buses or touring with that many people - always seem to be waiting for someone. We had prebooked our ship excursions before boarding the ship, which I recommend. In conversation with other travelers, we were surprised how many travelers who did not. Some missed out on excursions because they were booked and Azamara wasn’t able to get more buses/guides. So book ship’s excursions ahead. Ship’s shore excursion staff: we noticed one of our booked tours that we paid more than the ship’s published price. Not much; $10 pp. we asked the ship’s staff and was told he would check with his manager and get back to us. A few days passed and we still hadn’t been contacted nor did we receive a refund. We contacted staff again but this time different person. He immediately refunded the difference. So the first guy forgot I guess? Suez Canal and Security: thought I would cover this because we hadn’t been to Middle East and wasn’t sure what to expect culturally and with safety. We never felt unsafe or threatened in any ports or cities. Our guides were local and were very patient with answering our group’s questions about culture, history, food, laws etc. I did some research on appropriate dress especially for women so I was prepared to dress more conservatively in Muslim countries (Jordan, Egypt, Oman) which was usually just covered shoulders and capris unless visiting a Mosque or religious site (head covered, pants/skirt full length, long sleeved tops). Jordan, Oman and Dubai are extremely safe. Guides insisted they have very little crime. they were clean and graffiti free. Egypt was dirty and very rural. If you have seen the movie Captain Phillips you know that Somalia has pirates. Don’t worry the ship is prepared for the unlikely incident. So during this section of the cruise near the gulf of Aden the Ship takes precautions (lookouts posted, fire hoses ready, dims lights at night). I also read that cruise ships aren’t usually targeted because the ship are faster and can create wakes that can sink a small boat). We didn’t see any pirates. AzAmazing and White Night: unfortunately because of a long private tour in Israel that returned late we were unable to attend the AzAmazing night. However other travelers told us it was great. We did attend the Ehite Night which was enjoyable and plenty of food. Cons: started to rain lightly and with some tables out in open that was an issue. Thankfully it didn’t last long! Tables are first come first grab. We had a group of 10. Even though we got there early we were still challenged to find a suitable table. I think seating should be assigned/reserved especially for larger groups. Also the food is buffet and was chaotic with everyone getting up at same time; some pushed/ shoved! They should number the tables and call just a few tables up at a time. A bit too unorganized in my opinion. Fitness and other activities: many travelers walk the upper deck above pool. There is a well equipped fitness center which we used a couple of times. They have spa services which we did not use. The ship holds discussions on locations, history, and art by professors in the field - not exciting but informative. Other activities are also available such as arts and crafts, casino, bingo but we didn’t do any of those. There’s a library and business center with internet and board games. We did not purchase internet so never used that service. We used our mobile phones service (T mobile international plan) in ports. Worked well for us and was much less expensive ($15 per month per device for text and data). Overall we had a great time. Most travelers were friendly and wanted to chat. Many were from Australia, Britain, NZ, and US. Most travelers were in their 70’s; we are about 10+ years younger. Only one or two kids under five. A couple of travelers in their late 20’s who appeared to be traveling with family. Mostly couples, single older women and some LBGTQ. They do offer mixers for singles and LBGTQ. Apparently if you book a cabin you can somehow place your name to be considered for upgrade at lower cost, but you need to do this in the website. Our travel agent didn’t tell us and our group forgot to mention it. About a month before embarking they were all notified of cabin upgrades for a discounted cost. We contacted our travel agent who said she would do what she could but we were never contacted. They all got veranda cabins on deck 7; we were stuck in steerage. Lol. They got better cabins for about the same price we paid. So be sure to sign up for the upgrade! We would travel again on Azamara. Read Less
BBMacLaird, CBO - Azamara Club Cruises has responded
Hi TanaB, thank you for the cruise review. We are glad you'll sail with us again in the future. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard. Bonnie
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first cruise on Azamara since we mostly sail on Celebrity and Princess. We love the smaller ship and the fact that there weren't many children on board (I only saw one). We wanted to go more upscale and chose this cruise for ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Azamara since we mostly sail on Celebrity and Princess. We love the smaller ship and the fact that there weren't many children on board (I only saw one). We wanted to go more upscale and chose this cruise for the itinerary (Venice-Croatia-Montenegro-Slovenia-Venice). I'd say this cruise was very good but not amazing. Here are my pros and cons: Pros - Windows Buffet - loved the fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast and the full salad bar at lunch and dinners. My favorites were the carved roasted turkey which was so tender and delicious, lentils, salad bar, smoked salmon and mackerel for breakfast, and their Indian dishes (which unfortunately were too few). - Discoveries Restaurant was very nice with freshly prepared cuisine (we liked this better than their specialty restaurants which charged a fee). - Service at all restaurants was good though some servers were much better than others. - The ship was usually able to dock at ports or very close to it with a short tender. - Embarkation/disembarkation at ports ran very smoothly with little or no waiting time. - Love how they provide guests with bottled water 24/7. - Having an overnight in Venice was brilliant. - Azamazing evening in Slovenia was magical. - White Nights dinner was great despite the stormy weather. Cons - Most of the main entrees seemed to be dry and overcooked. - Asian cuisine wasn't very good. - Prime C was a letdown - the steak was meh and their onion soup was dismal. - The restaurant aft windows in Prime C were dirty. - Our shower was so small - a few turns and you'd bump into the wall. Plus the shower curtain would keep touching you all the time. The bottom walls of the shower looked like they've been peeled and fixed but it looks cheap and worn. Although we were expecting more, we enjoyed the smaller size of this ship and will cruise again if the itinerary is right for us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
Azamara Quest offers a great, small ship experience, with individual, unique events that add to the enrichment of the immersive experience. Great service, great food and wonderful ports of call, combined with a desire to correct any issues ... Read More
Azamara Quest offers a great, small ship experience, with individual, unique events that add to the enrichment of the immersive experience. Great service, great food and wonderful ports of call, combined with a desire to correct any issues whilst onboard, make Azamara one of the best to cruise with. Venice, Kotor, Ravenna, Hvar, Dubrovnik and Koper, were all ports worthy of a visit, and with the Azamazing Evening in Koper, made the cruise memorable. PerpetuumJazille were a wonderful a Capella group and the highlight of the cruise entertainment. The stateroom we booked was an outside and was all we could have expected. Smallish but sufficient, the bathroom contains just enough space to meet its intended functions. Bars and restaurants provide quality offerings with speedy service and a great “can do” approach. Two tender ports posed no problems as the service was slick and uneventful. Being docked in Venice overnight offer a reprieve from the high cost associated with eating and drinking in the overpriced areas whilst still offering the chance to see all the sights that Venice is known for. A walking and gondola tour by Viator proved to be a “must do” event. However, our EasyJet flight was cancelled 21 hours before we were scheduled to return home and our travel agent managed to get us a flight to get us back to LHR instead of LGW but we had to spend 10 hours at the airport for this flight, with a promise of reimbursement of the taxi fare when we submitted a valid receipt to them. A sour note on which to end our best cruise so far... Read Less
Azamara Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.3
Dining 4.5 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.6
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.1
Family N/A 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 3.5 4.2
Rates N/A 4.3

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