We've cruised on commercial pleasure vessels with cabin counts ranging from 17 to nearly a 1000. Azamara's 2 identical vessels (the Journey and the Quest) strike a very satisfying balance. The ships are large enough to have multiple dining options, cabaret entertainment venue, pool deck, full gym and spa, casino and shops. More importantly, they're small enough that they're usually able to dock in town in the center of things while larger ships have to use tenders and ferry their passengers in and out. They're also small enough that you regularly encounter the captain and ships officers who, surprisingly, make the effort to learn your names and participation energy. Customer loyalty to the Azamara brand is very high; we met one gentleman embarking on his 24th cruise aboard the Quest.
The dining experience was top shelf.
Soda, wine, well drinks and beers are included as part of the cruise. What does that mean? It means that you have the choice between a white or red wine at each meal. These house wines change daily and by venue. All in all, they were quite adequate and, occasionally, great. Alternately, you can grab any of 3 beers (Becks, Budweiser or Bud Lite) or order a cocktail. There are premium beers, wines and call drinks you can order for an extra (steep) charge. There is no alcohol available with room service orders unless you buy it separately. So the "all-inclusive" designation comes with quite a few caveats but it's still better than being nickeled and dimed over every little sip.
For those willing and desiring to pay for better drinking options, there's plenty to chose from. Based on their Northern California wine selections from major producers, they charge about 2x what I'd pay in a retail setting back home (Northern California). Corkage fees are $10 per bottle and they have no restrictions on how much you can bring onboard. So it's theoretically possible to wheel your private collection aboard and catch up on your wine club. Bring your own corkscrew for use in your stateroom, theirs is pathetic if serviceable.
Call me slow but it wasn't until this cruise that I realized you can probably anticipate the clientele by the cost of the cruise. Azamara is a bit upscale and, in direct association, has an older clientele. It pains me to realize that, though on the young side, I fit reasonably well into this line's demographic. Port stops looked a little like a jail break from a retirement community. There were younger couples and some teens onboard but my bet was that half of them were with their grandparents.
My wife and I just disembarked from the Azamara Questions 7-18/8-1 2015 voyage originating in Edinburgh, saling the length of Norway under the midnight sun and ending at Copenhagen. Trhough sheer luck, cabin 6071 turned out to be special.
Azamara plans a facelift in the spring of 2016. February for the Journey and March or April for the Quest. In preparation, cabin 6017 on the Quest underwent remodeling during the cruise immediately preceding our cruise. We were the 1st guests to stay in the new 6071.
It's a very nice face-lift that switches the ship motif from its current "Renaissance" look to some more contemporary: lots of textures and finishes in what I characterize as sea green stainless steel. We were so very lucky.
BTW, the itinerary was spectacular. I'm being facetious when I say there were too many waterfalls. But there were.