We took a back-to-back cruise on the Quest in Central America, the Pacific Coast and Sea of Cortez, from 26 January to 21 February: embarked Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica, exited San Diego. We are an older couple, my wife has mobility difficulties, and long-time cruisers. In both voyages we had an accessible stateroom: first a continental suite, second an ocean view.
We had an extended trip on the Quest in Southeast Asia two years before, enjoyed the experience, and decided to travel on Azamara again. That was a good decision. We had just come off a large ship, the Regal Princess in the Caribbean: good but not great. The Quest was a real pleasure, not the least because of its smaller size. Everything was nearer, so easy to get around.
Our first stateroom, the continental suite, was excellent: spacious, very attractive, and extremely comfortable. The second stateroom, the ocean view, was also comfortable, if neither so spacious or attractive – but certainly decent. The washrooms in both staterooms were very good. Housekeeping fine in both staterooms.
The food on the Quest was generally very good. We ate regularly at the steakhouse Prime C where the meat was excellent, the ambience congenial. The rib steak was particularly delicious. We were not so taken with the other specialty restaurant Aqualina because the menu offered little we relish, but still the two meals we had there were ok. We did not eat often in the main dining room because, especially on the second voyage, the place was crowded and noisy. We did go to supper a number of times to the Windows Café, and the Sunset Bar outside: very pleasant and again fine food. I particularly liked some of the theme evenings at the buffet. Likewise the grill at the Patio and the various BBQs, always delicious and the latter very plentiful. Room service was fast and efficient, especially in the mornings. Yes, there were a few misses – once a seafood jambalaya where the seafood was largely missing, for instance. But these were exceptions: you can eat very well on the Quest.
One of the cardinal virtues of the Quest is the staff, always friendly and helpful. The captain Jose was congenial and talkative and often present, as were his senior officers, especially the always gracious Philip, the hotel manager. The rest of the staff were superb, offering a level of service superior to that of any ship I have been on, including the Crystal Symphony (my favourite, where the service is also excellent). Time and again crew members assisted us, important when you have to handle a wheelchair. Special note: the embarkation process at Puerto Caldera and the debarkation at San Diego was exceptionally well-managed.
The highlights of the cruise? First the Azamara special evenings, both at Cabo San Lucas, amazing performances of Mexican song and dance, in the desert, around the theme of the day of the dead, made all the more enjoyable with margaritas and assorted delicacies. Second the shows mounted on the pool deck, shows featuring local performers – marvellous. Third, the happy, lively white nights, party and dance on the pool deck. Fourth, on the second voyage (Sea of Cortez) the excursion via the train El Chepe to Copper Canyon, a striking natural formation in northern Mexico.
Any negatives? Well, the lack of an in-room dvd player, the uninteresting regular entertainment, also lectures that didn’t appeal, the expense of some excursions (but the ones taken were well-designed). Minor problems really, given the overall quality of the cruise experience. In all Azamara cruises is excellent value.