I was apprehensive about this Spice Route voyage as the ship was fresh out of dry dock after refurbishment, especially after reading about the experiences of travellers after the sister ship Journey came out of dry dock in January.
I feel sorry for those who had the previous cruise cut short to enable the Quest to spend an extra few days in Singapore dry dock and it really worked out well for us. Azamara really learned from the Journey experience.
For me to give a 5 star rating means that everything has to be perfect - I actually give this cruise a 4.5 rating. We were booked into Club Continent suite 8059 and we were quite happy as it was fresh and nicely appointed with more than adequate storage space. While not the largest cabin we have travelled in as we have been on many cruises, it is more than comfortable with a generous balcony. As an architect I think the cabins could have been better designed on the R-class ships as the bathroom could have been bigger as there is a lot of wasted space at the cabin entrance between the closet and bathroom. Azamara could have rectified this, as I think the costs would have been prohibitive.
Well, the cabin choice suggested by my travel agent was problematic as the suite is located below the Windows restaurant and the kitchen dishwashing area. We didn't sleep a wink as it was incredibly noisy all night. We complained the next morning and advised that the only cabins available were a downgrade, which was not acceptable. They suggested that a cabin in our category would be available after Sri Lanka, 5 days into the cruise. We suffered for those 5 nights and would have expected a partial refund.
It all worked out for the best as when we came back on board after touring Colombo and Kandy, we were told we were being moved into one of the two new Spa Suites on Deck 9 and would be the first to use them. WOW!!!! They are simply amazing suites - not so much the cabin, but the bathrooms are spectacular with a circular tub looking right out to sea. The shower has 8 heads and is amazing. Double sinks and a separate toilet. Can't understand why they didn't move us there after the first night as neither was occupied and the second was raffled off in a bingo game for the last 3 nights. There is a ton of storage space, except we missed the deep storage drawers from the other suite.
Unfortunately not all the kinks had been worked out and we had a sleepless night as there is a short corridor between a crew entrance and a very heavy fire door separating this area that is used constantly by the crew. Every time someone used the fire door ( I counted 197 times) the whole cabin wall attached to that door reverberated as the door banged shut. This was all rectified the next day when the attentive maintenance crew adjusted the fire-door closer as well as the crew access doors. One still hears a loud click when the latch engages. Another issue was that there is constant Spa music in the short corridor as this was previously part of the Spa and the speakers were still interconnected.
This suite has now set the standard for us for all future cruises - it was simply fantastic for the final 10 days and we were sorry to leave the ship in Dubai. Not to mention that the pool deck bar is just a short walk from the suite. Butler service is great with canapés delivered to the suite every evening and Eyup, our Butler was most accommodating. he insisted on being our butler in the new suite as well.
We attended three Chefs Tables and the food was excellent, and the wine pairings by the sommelier were superb - well worth the additional cost.( part of our onboard freebees) The French dinner was the best, followed by the Californian and then Italian. As site guest we did not have to pay for eating at Aqualina and Prime C and took advantage. Superb service and very good food with a great variety on the menu. The daily offering of free wine was hit and miss, so we bought an upgraded wine package also part of our onboard credit.
We had breakfast and lunch at other venues and the food was good and varied with a good choice of menu. We ate at Discoveries on two occasions for dinner, however much preferred the two Speciality Restaurants. It's a pity that azamara didn't follow thru on adding the Asian Fusion Restaurant that was planned. We had booked a Indonesian Rijstafel, that was well worth the additional $50 and was served to 10 of us on the Patio. There was an over-abundance of traditional Indonesian dishes that compared to the best Rijstafels I had eaten in Holland and Malaysia. The Azamazing evening in Kochi was well executed and entertaining. The "white night" in Mumbai was hot as the ship is stationery without a sea breeze to cool one down - I think it's better to have it on a sea day, when it does not conflict with Port activities.
My wife and I have cruised on many luxury cruise lines and this cruise compared favourably with Crystal and Seabourne and I would rate it a a 4.5 star. We found the entertainment really brought the rating down, by there is only so much one can do without a proper venue on these smaller ships. I didn't particularly like the new furnishings, but that is really subjective and a matter of taste.
We had arranged private independent tours at most of the ports and they worked out well. We found the Discoveries staff to be less than helpful. We also spent week in the Golden Triangle prior to boarding in Singapore. We had planned on a similar Silversea cruise the year previously, but that was not in the cards and Silversea had increased their prices substantially this year, that we could not justify the additional cost, given the value of the Canadian Dollar. The only downside was that we didn't get to Myanmar which was part of the Silversea Whisper itinerary. We had a choice of Azamara Quest or Seabourne Quest (we have sailed on it previously) for similar itinerary and i am glad we chose Azamara. Apart from one evening, when a senior officer joined our French Chefs table we found that Senior officers didn't really show themselves.
Avoid this cabin. It's right next to Category (N1) midship on the starboard side, but below the Windows Restaurant and dishwashing area . Chose the similar cabin on the port side.
9000 and 9002 Spa Suites are "fantabulous"! If affordable depending on price.
Good perspective of the city
Wonderfull lunch will cruising the backwaters - a bit too long
Most interesting especially Jewtown
Good perspective of Mucat and good commentary
Fabulous guide and a good perspective of all facets of life in mumbai
The guide made the tour - she was fantastic