As first-timers on Azamara Cruises, my husband and I chose this ship primarily for its port-intensive itinerary and passenger size of ship (less than 700 guests). Embarkation and check in were a breeze - it probably took us 30 minutes in total from time of arrival at port to getting to the cabin. The ship itself was beautiful, well-kept and clean.
Our room club verandah stateroom was well-maintained and our cabin attendants were wonderful. We were pleased that we spent the extra money to get a room with a balcony, and spent a fair amount of time on it when we were in our room. The bathroom is tiny but well cleaned, and you get used to the size. Fortunately we had quiet neighbors on either side of us which made for an even better experience!
There was a sufficient amount of dining options to choose from. We ate mostly in the Windows Cafe for dinner - great selection to choose from, and also tried both specialty restaurants once each, as well as the MDR a couple of times. Quality of the food was fine for the most part, and we really enjoyed the Aqualina restaurant. Windows Cafe is buffet style, so with that comes food that may be lukewarm at times.
Because the itinerary was port-intensive, we did not partake in too many on-board activities, and when we did it was mainly the daily afternoon trivia contests. Nighttime entertainment was okay - I believe a few of the acts were new to the ship - so it was a bit hit and miss in terms of quality. I'm sure they will work out the kinks as time goes by.
The ports themselves were great, with the exception of Amsterdam, which we found quite grimy (cigarette butts and trash everywhere). The only excursion we signed up for was a three-day one through a local operator in St. Petersburg, which was tiring but fantastic. Otherwise, we prefer to explore on our own and the small size of the ship meant we were able to pull right into the city center of most ports and walk into town.
Above all, we found the staff and crew extremely delightful, and always with a smile on their faces and willing to assist however they can. Thank you Wilson and Raymond for keeping our room immaculate! Alicia the Cruise Director was always full of energy, and is also a great singer/entertainer.
We would definitely sail on Azamara again if the right itinerary came along.
We spent three nights in Stockholm before boarding the ship. Beautiful, clean city. We explored the Old Town, saw the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace, and spent one day on the island which houses the Vasa museum (amazing!) and Skansen museum (fun to explore).
We spent a pleasant morning walking around Helsinki - visited a few of the major attractions (Senate square, cathedral, Orthodox church). It was a Sunday, however, and many places did not open until 12 noon.
We used a local operator for our three day excursion, and it was excellent. Our guide was full of historical knowledge on the many attractions we visited. St. Petersburg has some stunning architecture and wonderful palaces. After three days, we were very tired but very pleased with our visit.
Tallinn is a compact but very pretty little town. The market square and its vendors were fun to see. It turned out to be quite a warm day, so we ended our visit by indulging in a cheese plate, along with some Estonian beer and cider in the very busy square!
Copenhagen was very busy and very warm! We saw a few of the main attractions, and spent a couple of hours in Tivoli gardens, where we enjoyed a delicious traditional sandwich. Nyhavn is so picturesque - many pictures were taken. This was my husband's favorite port!
As mentioned, we were disappointed on how dirty Amsterdam was (the grey day didn't help). It was very busy, cigarette butts covered the sidewalks, and trash was tipped over in several places. We did enjoy our visit to the new church where there was a world press photo exhibition taking place.
Another grey day, but Brugge is a very charming town. Lots of picturesque canals and buildings, and everywhere was easily walked. The ship was docked about 40 minutes away, so getting to the town center involved a combination of the ship shuttle and a local bus ride. Glad we made the effort, though.