After four years we returned to Azamara because of the route - from Piraeus to Dubai through the Suez Canal and Red Sea. It actually appeared as good value for money and we had loved Azamara in the past.
We flew to Athens a day early as exploring the city is pleasant in the October temperatures. Boarding was simple on the Saturday although one suitcase was delivered to the wrong cabin and it took time to get more than the 'it is coming' response.
The ship is looking good and well cared for with ongoing cleaning and painting etc.
The cabin has been improved with the refurbishment but remains relatively small and the shower is as poor as ever with the clinging curtain. Our cabin team were effective, meticulous and helpful.
We dined normally in the main restaurant for breakfast and dinner - and for lunch on sea days if the menu appealed. Food generally was excellent and service outstanding. The provided wines were acceptable mostly, although by no means top quality. Our one night in Prime C was as good as we recall from the past. The onset of precautions against norovirus towards the end of the cruise did disimprove the experience in both buffet and dining room but was understood.
We had read of Cruise Director Eric De Gray but only having seen him in action on and off stage did we understand the skills, charisma and charm of the man. His own shows in particular were excellent as were the formal shows. The guest artists were a mixed bag.
Ports were interesting and well organised for the ships visit.
Crete was an interesting new stop and we hired a car to take the ferry to Spinalonga. This was just a taster before the Suez Canal phase - fabulous to wake up and sniff Africa from our balcony. Passing through the canal was a bucket list ambition and a great experience.
Saffaga in Egypt is a fairly desolate port but is the base to get to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. We took a trip organised on the Cruise Critic roll call which was excellent although the four hour run each way was as tedious as was expected! Our armed guard on board the bus was a bonus!
Next stop was Aqaba Jordan where the Azamazing Evening took place in Wadi Rhum. It was well organised but the traditional music and dancing became a little tedious. The following day we took another CC organised trip to Petra. Memorable indeed. Jordan seemed a much better organised, cleaner and safer country than Egypt.
Our safety team joined us in Aqaba and we were advised next day of the ship slowing down while 'equipment' was delivered on a RIB from a mother ship nearby. We practiced safety procedures and for the next six nights deck 5 was closed off and only tea lights were it on deck 9 - curtains on cabins closed throughout the night. Most ships going through this area adopt similar procedures and most people seemed glad to know we were well protected from possible pirate attack - however unlikely.
After four days at sea there was a Salalah call in Oman for a half day and here we took a ships tour which was well run and interesting in this isolated area. Next stop was Muscat Oman's capital where we joined another CC tour managing to actually get into the Sultan's mosque. Muscat was impressive and the people very friendly. After a final sea day it was Dubai and a day there before flying home next day. The disembarkation was simple and indeed all the passport/visa procedures worked well and quickly.
This once in a lifetime cruise and we are unlikely to choose it again. It is highly recommended by us as is the Azamara experience.
Future prices appear eye-watering at present so whether we choose them again will depend on a reasonable deal coming up.
Refurbishment has improved the experience and the interactive slim television is a good improvement. The shower remains the Achilles Heel of this class of ship.
Take the metro to Athens itself from Piraeus
Took Cruise Critic tour to Luxor - a long drive!
Great base for Petra and for Azamazing evening
Part of a wider tour of the area - lots of camels!View All 6 Job's Tomb Reviews
Took a CC roll call tour - fascinating friendly place