We arrived at the port in Piraeus, Athens and the check-in was pretty smooth. Although Azamara Cruises offer open seating policy we were requested to decide on when we wanted to dine the first evening. We took the latest option at 9 pm.
STATE ROOM Boarding was also pretty efficient and soon we arrived at our state room 7112 in the category of Sunset Veranda's. The room was as expected in terms of size but the dEcor didn't witness of any recent refurbishments in terms of style. Very old-fashioned and slightly boring - like a mid-state Radisson on a good day. The bathroom is extremely small and the shower stall is even smaller. I think less than ten per cent of the guests on board on this occasion would actually be able to fit into those stalls. I have never seen them smaller.
On the day of boarding we experienced a massive flooding of our veranda. We called Guest Relations and they sent somebody up to clean the veranda. The following day it happened again and when we enquired at Guest Relations whether we could expect this every day of our cruise they apologized and promised that it would never happen again. Guess what happened the following day...
During the entire cruise the sound and the pictures on most TV channels were not synchronized and CNN was broadcasted with a least an hour's delay.
Most amenities were only replenished on request including shampoo, cotton buds, laundry bag. Also the minibar was only restocked on request and there were only two water glasses available although the minibar offered wines.
The daily housekeeping was kept at a minimum. Only obvious surfaces were cleaned and dusted.
The butlers have no idea of what real butlers do or at least ours didn't. We were never offered assistance with anything. As a final gesture during our disembarkation (we left the ship two days early) our luggage was left for us to carry ourselves. When asked if this was intentional, we received a plain 'Yes!'.
ROOM SERVICE The standard of the Azamara room service is probably the worst experience of them all. Of all the orders we placed (more than twenty) we NEVER had a correct delivery. Either we had the wrong items delivered (tea instead of coffee etc) or obvious cruets were missing (no salt and pepper for steak and fries). On one occasion they managed to deliver the same breakfast item wrong three times in a row, before we decided to go ashore and get our breakfast here.
DISCOVERIES RESTAURANT This is the main restaurant and offers and open seating policy except for the first evening (see above). As mentioned we had booked a table for 9 pm on the first evening and still we were kept waiting for over thirty minutes for our table and the service turned out to be appalling. No bread was offered, we ordered Evian water and later the waiter poured house (chlorine) water in the same glasses, one main course was served wrong three times. However, after the first two or three nights one of the maitre d's came to our table and apologized for the poor performance and after this evening it only got better and better. We were assigned our 'own' waiter and we ended up really enjoying our dinners in Discoveries Restaurant thanks to Jasbir and the management team of the restaurant.
AQUALINE RESTAURANT This is one of the ship's specialty restaurants and you are requested to tip the waiters additionally (on top of the USD 12.50 you pay per person per day already) so our expectations were high and the service level was good and adequate. However, the selection of wines was rather limited and chosen wines turned out to be unavailable followed by the comment from the sommelier, "It's too expensive for the Americans so we took it off the selection months ago" although it was still on the presented wine list.
WINDOWS CAFÈ This is one of their casual dining options and we visited only for breakfast and lunch. This is a buffet restaurant only and as the main restaurant, Discoveries Restaurant is closed most lunches and the two specialty restaurants only are open on evenings there are no a la carte option on board. In general the food is good but poor planning of the flow of people through the buffet area with many bottle necks as a result. Introducing trays would ease this as most guests go to and from the buffet several times to 'collect' their meal.
POOL & POOL GRILL There is also casual dining in the pool area with no table service at all. Not even drinks waiters are available, so you must go and order your food by the counter and again collect it yourself when it is ready.
E-connections This is the Azamara internet room and although the facilities are rather good, the internet connection is way too slow. On one occasion it took me sixteen minutes to log on, open and printing one mail - a total cost of more than USD 11.
In general I must say that I am very disappointed of the standard of this cruise, our first with Azamara Cruises. Their biggest mistake is trying to be something they are not. Even on this website they are listed as one of the Luxury Cruise Companies. Anybody who has travelled with true luxury liners like Silversea or even Oceania will easily recognize that Azamara is not even close. However, if you look closer at the background and experience of senior staff you probably have a major part of the answer. As an example, how can you have a Hotel Director with absolutely no experience from the luxury cruise or hotel industry? How can she possibly know anything about what we as guests expect?
Another thing that surprised me was the total lack of selling skills amongst the waiters. Not once did anybody try to sell us anything. Our spend on beverages could easily have been considerably higher, if somebody had tried to sell us a glass of champagne before dinner, an avec with the coffee, a drinks by the pool etc.
Will I travel with Azamara Cruises again? Definitely not and it is a real shame because the itinerary during this cruise was one of the best I have ever experienced but it simply cannot compensate for the sheer lack of performance and attention to detail exercised throughout the ship.
Closet too small for a two-week cruise, bathroom and shower stall way too small, limited view from the veranda.