Our cruise began in Auckland and finished in our home town of Sydney this was my 4th cruise and my partners first. A first for Azamara for both but my closest taken cruise was with the mother company RCCL. It was port intensive with only 2 full sea days which I thought was fabulous as I don't cruise to just sail about I want to see the new country that I am visiting so good on Azamara for excellent planning.
So how did it compare well most of all I would have to say and was far better then on the Rhapsody mainly because of it small size. What made that better everyone was close and friendly the staff seemed to be free to talk to passengers which made the experience so much nicer then on larger ships. It made making friendships so much easier as if you talked one day you could be sure to meet again the next day on larger ships you sometimes never see people again.
The food which on ships seems more important then when on land was very good quality the serves were small but when offered so many courses who needs large serves. I personally never had a bad meal. What I will comment is that although I only had one specialty meal I really couldn't see the value Prime C served very similar meals to the main dining and when paying US$25 extra pp I couldn't see enough difference to get me back again.
Cleanliness our room was always kept very clean by our cabin staff. The cleaning staff were always cleaning stairways etc and the antibacterial wash was placed in all eateries as well as gangways and shorelines to try to keep all bugs at bay. The first 48hrs no one could serve themselves food until the all clear from medical staff. These measures worked as no one became ill unlike other lines in recent months. The only comment I can make is that windows were not cleaned whilst in port and they were very salt stained making clear vision difficult. I felt maybe this was because they will go into dry dock shortly and the surrounds were rusted so maybe cleaning was not so easy without spreading rust.
Entertainment this is what was lacking for me. It came nowhere near RCCL most of the choices made were soloists and they were either lacklustre or not really showcased to their advantage. The production shows were good I enjoyed them as there was colour action and variety. The deck parties were also great for the same reason. I enjoyed both Polynesian performances on board as culture is what travel should be about. The Azamazing Night was a little disappointing for this reason as although I loved the quartet they had the traditional Maori culture could have played a much bigger part.
Excursions well I only booked one through the ship they were terribly expensive some 3 times what private parties offer. I don't know why ships do this as if they were more realistic in price you would never look outside for better value I booked 3 outside money lost to Azamara. In fairness to them the one I did do was enjoyable organized well but at least $50 to 60 to much. I did however really want to catch one of NZ trains and the other on offer was plain straight out prohibitive for us because of the price.
Room size in a word SMALL ours was the budget inside so I wasn't expecting much but is was even smaller then I imagined I saw inside some of the balcony suites and they were still small compared to RCCL. However I will say if room size is the most important thing for you maybe cruises is not something you should do as I would never spend much time in a room unless ill.
Overall I think for the mature market please note I do mean not suitable for families or young Azamara offers a great deal it may seem more expensive to begin with but all is inclusive except excursion. There is no quota on drinks which I understand does happen on some lines. So plenty for all being food or drink. Yes rooms are small but currently there are enough places to sit elsewhere. I think the ship will seem much more 21st Century after the refit so those joining the Journey and soon the Quest will be pleased with what they find.
I will recommend this ship to my friends and family and I would love to return in the future.
These cabins are small I hope when the refit occurs they will improve space in the bathroom and I would love to see VDU of the outside like on RCCL. This would make the room appear so much bigger. I understand the disabled ones are much better set out and larger. However ours was well placed for getting to the pool area and buffet dining.
Julie picked us up as arranged she was a lovely lady full of info she made the day. We saw all we hoped for and had a great group in our tour. It was good value.View All 63 Rotorua Reviews
Our tour didn't get off to a good start as a very inconsiderate guest declined to let the operator know they weren't coming. So after a late start we got on with our tour I am not a big wine drinker but I enjoyed the smaller winery we attended I did like the brewery. The town itself was very lovely with some spectacular homes. If I had my time again I think I may have enjoyed more time in the city and I think it may be a port you could look around yourself.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Nice town easy to walk around and plenty to see no need to book excursions.
I really liked this port it was quite small but perfectly formed we enjoyed walking around.
I was looking forward to this but as luck would have it the dolphins decided they didn't want to play. We still sailed about looking but none would stay for us to swim with Black Cat gave a refund of $55 each. I appreciated this and many other companies would not have done this so if you want to do this excursion give them a go.
We did see quite a few dolphins we just couldn't swim with them that day.View All 12 Swim With Dolphins Reviews
I enjoyed this trip the cruise ship had booked out the train so volunteers maned it. Gaye our hostess was full of fun she made my day. It was cloudy and cool in Dunedin but hot and clear in the Gorges. Booking on the ship was expensive I think you could get it much cheaper if you went on another day if staying in DunedinView All 68 Taieri Gorge Railway Reviews
This is my home town it is a magnificent harbour city and so impressive to sail into. If lucky enough to dock into Circular Quay it is possible to see the sites without booking a tour easily done by foot or public transport. The ferry to Manly moments away as is the station and buses. Opera house a hop skip and jump Botanical Gardens art gallery museums etc and of course you are landing in the Rocks. What more can a tourist or local want.