We chose this cruise for the amazing itinerary--circumnavigating Iceland (we're still reeling at the stunning beauty of the landscapes and seascapes we saw), touring both Ireland (Dublin and Waterford) and Northern Ireland (the Ards Peninsula outside of Belfast is beautiful), and cozying up to Fowey, Cornwall. The great advantage of a small ship like the Azamara, Pursuit is that it can enter what seem like impossibly small harbors; in Fowey, we were literally docked among the rowboats. The other pluses of the Azamara Pursuit were the efficient and helpful and friendly staff (the embarkation and disembarkation were a piece of cake) and the surprisingly good food in the buffet restaurant, which is usually the low point of cruise cuisine; on the Pursuit, the plenitude of choice at breakfast was probably the best we've encountered on any luxury ship and there were great international buffet occasions (we especially liked the Indonesian buffet). The daily gelato choices were absolutely delicious.
But, otherwise, the Azamara Pursuit was a big disappointment. The mostly-beige new refurbishment was more blah than the advertised "understated elegance" (this was only the second voyage for Azamara) and the public rooms, though comfortable enough and serviceable, were the least impressive of any luxury-class ship we've experienced (on, for example, Silversea, Regent, Crystal, Viking, Oceania, and Celebrity). I won't go into the tackiness of what passes for "art" on that ship, which sometimes left me shaking my head in disbelief. Our standard balcony stateroom was so small that the furniture simply didn't fit it. I laughed when we realized that we would have to move the coffee table to be able to open the door to get to the balcony. We weren't expecting great entertainment on a ship this small but we were expecting good lecturers; there was only one (on astronomy) and I would say that he was only just ok. How great it would have been to have had a lecturer who could hold forth on Iceland!
But perhaps the biggest disappointment and surprise was the mediocre and uninspired food in the ala carte restaurant and in the specialty restaurants. This ship had, hands down, the most undistinguished food we've ever encountered on a cruise ship. I always consider the soups the best test of a restaurant; in this case, nearly every soup we tried was so watery and bland as to be inedible. Even the highly-touted "Chefs Table" French meal was nothing special, certainly not worth the hefty additional fee.
We met people who had been on many Azamara cruises--but I think I can say with certainty that this will be our last. The Azamara Pursuit simply isn't worth the money.
The bed was exceedingly comfortable--but that's the only good thing I can say. Azamara has added additional staterooms to this ship at the expense of livable space. This standard balcony room and bathroom were the smallest I've ever encountered on a cruise ship. The only couch that could squeeze into the living area space was too small for two people and the coffee table blocked access to the balcony; we had to push the coffee table in front of the bedside table in order to open the balcony door. And the all-beige-refurbishment is exceedingly dull. I just don't know what the designer was thinking.