This will have been our 10th cruise, but our first with Azamara. I am aware that all reviews are personal experiences, so this is what we found; and others are welcome comment or have differing experiences. We booked through an 'on line company' who were more interested in the money than the aftercare service, but in the end it all worked out Ok.
We arrived for two nights at the Copthorne Waterefront hotel in Singapore before the cruise. We flew Emirates economy, which was fine from Manchester ( both our flights were very good with this airline, and well organised ). The Copthorne was pleasant and the staff good, so no problems. Transportation to the ship was a joke, as the local carrier ( WANG transport) were poorly organised and did not provide a decent bus for the luggage and passengers. However we got to the terminal and the boarding process was easy and professional. We were soon on the ship and most passengers went straight to the Windows buffet !!!. Crowded yes, but it was boarding day, and our 'staterooms' were not quite ready.
After a short wait we got to the cabin; and ours on deck 6 (6037) did have a restricted view which we knew about when we booked. However it is quite blocked with one of the boats; so if you book it be aware.
This was not a concern for us, as we only sleep and get changed in the cabin, and we found it large enough, very clean and suited our needs. Our cabin steward was very efficient and unobtrusive, and the bed ( a double) very comfortable. Reports say that the cabins are very small, but we had no issues.
The shower and bathroom were fine, robe space more than adequate, and water always hot. A nice turn down service in the evening with chocs and fruit every day !. Very clean, with s super standard of housekeeping. Well done.
We ordered room service once for breakfast, and again this was great, food good and on time.
We both liked this ship. it seems much less frenetic and hurried than any of the others we have cruised on, but then it is only a small sized ship and it shows. Disembarkation at the ports of call was very easy ( we visited 3 ports in India, and this does put the staff under pressure as the immigration process is overtly complicated and staff have to mess about with passports and shore cards, but this was all handled well ).
One issue which we heard about, and perhaps others may be able to comment. The UK guests went to great lengths to obtain Indian visas, often at considerable cost and form filling. It was made clear that no one would be allowed on the ship who did not have an Indian visa.
We heard that a few Americans had got on the ship without the Indian visas, but on arrival in India they were told they could see 'Immigration' and if they coughed up $40 they could get on shore.
If this is the case its pretty bad practice; outlines the corruption in India and is a slap in the face to all of us who toiled and paid to get the correct documents before boarding. Perhaps Azamara would like to comment ?.
On the issues of shore excursions or 'land discoveries' as Azamara calls them. We had two in India, as it was the first time for my wife here, and as it would be a culture shock I wanted to get an organised trip ( In Kochi and in Mumbai ). No problems. They were well organised, but as all cruise excursions, over priced.
I did make a comment to the tour desk that in our tour we spent too much time at a 'retail outlet'. You don't just pay to visit a jewelry and tat shop, but to see the sights!!. We were not happy with this. In the other ports we did our own thing as follows, but being in Asia, barter and negotiate before doing so.
Penang, organised taxi tour ourselves for 3 hours, No problems
Colombo city: Tut tut tour (ourselves) and the Buddhist temple tour (ship)
Kochi (ship tour)
Goa, taxi tour 4 hours, organised ourselves
Mumbai (ship tour), organised a taxi in the afternoon
Muscat, walking tour ourselves and organised a 2 hour taxi tour
Dubai, free bus to the mall. We only had a few hours before flying home, so some last min shopping ( in theory, but bought nothing when I saw the prices !!!)
Entertainment. we had a good time. The ship had plenty to do if you wanted, and we found it a good balance between sea days and ports, so we could relax. Went to the port talks with Dr Mulis, an entertaining American Dr !!.
One of the guests did a series of talks on his research on the Titanic ( yeah, on a cruise ship !! ) BUT they were well presented and informative.
The evening shows were never over crowded with the fight for seats we have experienced on other cruise lines. The small company proficient and entertaining. We had a great pianist and violinist and a number of cast shows, a comedy entertainer; and unfortunately a stand up comic who was about as funny as a dose of flu. The cruise director was entertaining and informative and never over intrusive, well done!
One suffers the usual bout of photographs at every opportunity, but the guys in the photography department were of great help to me with my camera questions. One point, the prices of the photographs did seem very expensive, so beware.
Went to the gym a few times and again it was fine. nice range of equipment and a very competent fitness instructor. My wife avoided the spa, which looked fine, and again the staff polite. She did get her hair done ( 18% gratuity charge!!) which would have been fine if she had not been tempted to buy an expensive facial cream as well (MUCH cheaper on shore!)
One great plus with this cruise is the inclusivity. There is a wide range of drinks which are included, ie, coffee, soft drinks, cocktails, beers and spirits. You can buy extras of course, but we found the selection more than adequate. We are not big drinkers, but it was great to have this and avoid always needing to sign a tab. This is a great plus with Azamara we think. Even paying a little more up front, we thought we were getting a premium product.
This brings us to the staff. We never experienced any problems the whole voyage. They were unfailingly polite and could not do enough for us. From the captain and his officers ( who were always visible and happy to talk to passengers ) to all the crew, they went all out to ensure we had a good time. This goes such a long way in creating a good impression, and is one of the reasons we would re book with this company.
This leaves the food, which in our view was first class. the menu changed each day and there was a great selection, both in the Windows buffet and Discoveries restaurant. Food was served hot, and promptly.
Anytime dinning was great, and the service again first class. We thought they had a great team of chef's with imaginative menus. Again, any requests were dealt with and did not seem a problem.
My wife had a dietary issue , and it was dealt with, no problem. We even went to the speciality restaurant (Prime C), we did not try Aqualina, and that was great as well.
Not one complaint all cruise!!!. My wife had one meal she did not enjoy ( her main course ). Nothing wrong with it, it was just the wrong choice for her. So again, a very big thank you to the staff.
Disembarkation was easy (well, we needed to get off in the middle of the night to get our flight !!!, so no crowds ). Would we cruise with them again. Most certainly, its been the best experience so far so. Thanks to everyone for making such a memorable vacation for us!
Dr Malc and Annemarie