Azamara Quest Cruise Review by ACSWILM
- Sail Date: June 2018
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Club Oceanview Stateroom
We have cruised many other lines, and wanted to try something different: Azamara includes tips and standard alcoholic drinks, which took one further element of "surprise" out of the bottom line, since we don't do spa treatments or shop on board. We paid what we paid, and that was it, except for airfare.
Being on a smaller ship with just 650 fellow passengers was wonderful, as we quickly got to know the layout and some of our fellow cruisers quite well. We traveled with our young adult children, who found a paucity of activities for their age group; there was no organized attempt to have others in the similar situation (young adults accompanying their middle-aged parents on a summer vacation) meet, thus we were very happy that the itinerary was port-intensive, with no sea days. Had there been sea days, they would have been more restless. Only one ping-pong table, one shuffleboard area, one pool and 2 hot tubs; the gym facility was quite extensive given the ship's size, and the locker rooms had steam bath and showers for those interested in such.
The food was routinely exceptional in the main restaurant and very good at the buffet, with much to choose from, and the service was great: water glasses were kept filled (whereas you couldn't get water on Costa without paying for it!) and if one was drinking wine, those glasses were rarely empty as well! We did not visit the specialty restaurants, seeing no need.
Our staterooms were on the bottom level, Level 4, right above the crew quarters, but we still had oceanviews out the window and were conveniently near the Level 3 gangway to leave the ship while in port. Our steward was efficient and quickly realized we are not by nature early risers; we rarely actually saw him, but our rooms were always righted and tidied and replenished in our absence. We requested bathrobes at the start of the cruise, and were tickled to find a pair of binoculars and a full size umbrella, both for use during the cruise (not to be taken home), in the cabins upon boarding. There was a minifridge filled with drinks, but no need for them as drinks were always available around ship. Fresh fruit was provided in the cabin daily, but again, we had scads of choices at the buffets. Ice buckets were filled 2x/day.
The public rooms and lounges are all very nicely decorated, mostly in calm neutrals with touches of color from accessories and artwork, and seating was comfortable. Being short-statured, we did find that the chairs at the larger dining tables were higher and more comfortable than the chairs at the smaller tables, but most nights our family of four opted to be seated with other English-speakers and invariably had a great evening with stimulating conversations. Dress was resort casual most of the time, with no official formal nights; we saw one fellow being turned away when he arrived in dress shorts for dinner, but most folks were nicely dressed but not "fancy" most of the time. On the other hand, my daughter and son like to dress up and that was OK too--better to be overdressed than under-.
Very convenient for us was the free laundromat on Deck 7, with free detergent and 2 ironing boards as well, since we had traveled for a week on land prior to the cruise. Imagine my surprise to find all but one washer already filled and both ironing boards in use when I came with my little load on the first day of the cruise, just hours after boarding!
Half the ports on this itinerary were well-known to us (Barcelona, Ajaccio, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Santa Margarita/Portofino, but the others were new to us (Sete, Marseille, and MonteCarlo). Sete was delightful, with an easy walk from the ship to downtown; we climbed the local promontory to gain a bird's eye view of the surrounding sea and oyster farms, got our Fitbit steps in, and then happened upon the weekly (every Sunday) water jousting event which was very entertaining. Marseille was in some ways a much larger version of Sete. The ship provided free bus transport to the downtown area (the distance was not walkable) and then we meandered around the marina area with many waterside restaurants and shops, and made our way, as usual, to the highest point in town, the Notre Dame de la Garde Cathedral. Had to of course buy some lavender soap, as we wouldn't see any of Provence closer up, and reboarded the ship, looking forward to more exquisite seafood for dinner! Monte Carlo was our disembarkation point and we saw little except what could be spied from the bus windows as we left the ship at 9a on our way to Nice airport; French train and air strikes were wreaking havoc with everyone's travel plans, and we opted to pay for the coach transport ($20pp) rather than risk trying to find a taxi or train or to rent a car, given the serpentine corniche route and unknown roads.
In summary, we would be happy to take another Azamara cruise if the price-point were acceptable and if we were traveling as a couple, as an extended family, or with a group of couples; [I would counsel fellow travelers to think twice about taking anyone younger than 16-18yo on this cruise, as there is no kids' club, few other young passengers, and few activities available.] Azamara, in comparison to many other lines, made an effort to have a local representative of the next port on hand near the front desk, giving out train and bus schedules, maps, and advice. There was little/no hard-selling of excursions, drink packages, specialty restaurants, or photographs, the feeling being that the majority of passengers were experienced cruisers who'd seen it and done it all before and couldn't be bothered.For older, more mature travelers, this is a great way to meet others, eat well, see the world, be waited on, and have much of the stress of travel be taken care of.
Very well laid out cabin, with 2 nightstands (different styles, but each with a drawer), reading lights, light-blocking curtains, sofa and coffee table, desk and chair, a wall of closets, one with long hanging space and one with short hanging space, LOTS OF HANGERS!!, several drawers in the closet as well as at the desk, a cubby with door for more storage, a minifridge and hairdryer, umbrella! (remember to take to port if it's raining; we forgot), and binoculars! The bathroom was small but functional, with more shelf space than most other cabins we've been in. Three narrow wall shelves above the toilet, a closed shelf under the sink; mini-shelves in the shower area for toiletries, which were replenished daily (we ended up carting a bunch of bottles all the way home!); the shower didnt leak all over the floor, and there was a retractable clothes line for drying bathing suits, etc. Could have used a few more wall hooks in cabin, but now I'm just getting greedy.