This was our 8th cruise with Azamara (both Journey and Quest) dating back to May, 2008 so we are familiar with the ships, many of the crew/staff members and generally know what to expect. Any comments/criticisms are not a reflection on the many friends who work on the ships that we have been able to get to know and enjoy. They are the sole reason, if any, to consider continuing with Azamara; not the destinations (other cruise lines go to the same places), not the smaller size of the ships (many other cruise lines have similar-sized ships) and certainly not the featured shore excursions which have given us many regrets about our last couple cruises. Any trip can have unexpected problems but it is how they are dealt with (or not) that affects how you feel when you walk away.
After our disappointing Australia/New Zealand cruise on the Quest, in 2015-2016, the only reason we booked this Journey cruise was because they offered a chance to see the last day of the British Open golf tournament. Our disappointment in that overall experience and lack of response from cruise staff to complaints (they acknowledged that they had received many complaints from other participants) made us feel like it was a wasted cruise. The event was very expensive and, based on ticket price, Azamara appears to have made a large profit. We arrived after play had started for the day, but even worse, we had to leave early just when Spieth and Kuchar were on the 14th hole and the exciting finish began. We were told "be at the bus on time or we will leave you". Had we been facing a ship departure deadline, it might have been easier to understand but they brought us back two hours before the ship sailed. The shore excursion staff was sympathetic and uncertain why we had to leave before the end of the golf tournament and assured us they would look into the matter and respond in a couple days. That turned into a couple more days and then a week and then they told us on the last day that they couldn't resolve anything (or at east explain why we were forced to leave early) with their Miami office and that we should contact them directly once we returned home. Our overall experience with Azamara shore excursions has been that they are overpriced and often fraught with logistical problems and our Open experience was no different. That department's ineptness continues to be the weak link in the whole Azamara experience.
Now, for the rest of the story, the upgrades from the refitting in 2016 improved the cabin we stayed in - more efficient use of floor space, lighter colors for the walls and carpets and more efficient bathroom space. The USB outlet by the bed helps for recharging phones, etc., but there is still no electrical outlet on the bed side. If you need one for a CPAP, etc., remember to bring an extension cord to reach the only outlet on the end of the desk. Access to the balcony is a bit challenging since you have to go around/between the two chairs and a table. Don't lean on the table because it spins (a la lazy Susan) and will flip you. Our biggest complaint was the noise (reason for average rating). We don't hear anything from adjoining rooms but the cleanup staff on deck 9 has a habit of starting early in the morning (often before 6:00 am) and the noise of dragging chairs and tables, deck hoses, etc., carries right into the rooms on deck 8. One thing that did not improve with the refit is the artwork all around the ship. Everyone has different tastes in art but my impression of art is a lot different than that on Azamara and I would prefer something more in line with a sailing/cruising atmosphere.
We heard many complaints about the food but found it about average. The menu for the dining room has been changed so that the items available every day are listed along with the daily choices - gives the appearance of more choices but only that. The soups are my favorite and they are all still good. Prime C remains very good but, although the menu has changed again for Aqualina, it is still not what it used to be in the beginning when it had mostly a seafood selection. Both specialty restaurants could use more variety - change menu items mid-cruise for those that want to dine there more often.
We used to meet more returning Azamara guests than we do lately - guess they aren't returning. When we first discovered Azamara, we thought it was the only company we would need forever and they encouraged loyalty in returning guests through the Club Voyage but our overall impression is that now they are catering more to newcomers and a collection of special interest groups. It seems like everywhere you go on the ship there are areas closed off for one "Private Function" or another - hardly an "Azamara family" feeling.
Not to forget the staff and crew. There are still some really exceptional individuals and they make you feel welcome in every way possible. We look forward to seeing them again each time we cruise. We have noticed, however, that maybe half the staff you pass on the ship acknowledge your presence and say "good morning", etc. The same goes for ship's officers even when they make eye contact and know you are there. We didn't used to be able to go anywhere without everyone offering cheerful greetings. This seems like a small thing but we're not sure what to make of the culture change.
Entertainment on the ship remains excellent - particularly for a ship of this size. The Riverdance performance for Azamazing evening event was one of the best ever.
The reason for the average rating for embarkation was because of all the computer glitches that hindered passenger boarding. Seems those should be ironed out before people start showing up. Disembarkation went smoothly.
This is the first cruise where we have not felt like re-booking another one before we left the ship. Instead of growing together more as "Azamara family members", we sense less of that family atmosphere to draw us back. We have one more trip booked from over a year ago to use up free days and to hope for smoother sailing and then . . . . .
See above comments plus specifics for 8036:
-The lights above the curtains flicker at night. Can be distracting.
-Would be nice to have some way to lock the spinning table. It was a challenge to use and a safety concern if you lean on it for balance and it spins away.
-Need electrical outlets by the bed for CPAP or provide extension cords.
-Access to balcony is challenging because of having to negotiate around the chairs and table to reach the door in the corner. Really fun when the ship is rolling.
-TV remote wouldn't work a lot of the time unless you banged on it.
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See comments above. This was the only reason we went on this cruise and we arrived late and, even worse, had to leave early. It was not necessary for us to arrive back at the ship two hours before sailing time when we could have stayed and watched the exciting finish and trophy awards. Ship shore excursion people failed to give explanation or response - told us to contact "Miami" on our own when we returned home.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Right amount of time and right amount of detail.View All 94 Giant's Causeway Reviews
Beautiful city and fun to see the golf course. Would have like more tour and info on the golf part.View All 12 St. Andrews Walking Tour Reviews