We picked this ship for 2 reasons: 1 - we like Azamara (this was our 4th cruise on Azamara) and 2 - we liked the itinerary, especially the 3 days in Havana. Unfortunately, the itinerary was changed prior to our sailing and we had only 1 1/2 days in Havana and 2 days in Cienfuegos. One day in Cienfuegos would have been enough, and a second day in Santiago de Cuba would have been better. This was not Azamara's "fault" and we did not blame them.
In Havana, Cienfuegos and Labadee (Haiti), we were docked; we tendered in Santiago de Cuba. The tenders ran frequently and was not a problem.
We took only one Azamara excursion, a Jewish tour. We had very good presentations at the two synagogues we visited and a good appreciation of Jewish life in Cuba. Our tour guide tried, but was not well informed about Judaism, and got "defensive" when we pointed out mistakes in his presentation. The leaders at the synagogues were fantastic.
At the other ports, we took private tours (Tours by Locals and Shoretrips). There were 4 of us traveling together and the private tours were the way to go; especially in Cuba! Our tour guides were well informed and deftly maneuvered us around crowded streets. Much to our delight, we were able to visit markets, historic sites and buildings, barber shops, 2 hair salons, a department store, etc. While most of the tour guides were "careful" in what they told us, I left Cuba with a much better sense of what day-to-day life is like for its citizens.
Back on the ship, service was excellent. Servers even remembered what we liked to drink! There had been a G-I outbreak on the sailing previous to ours, so there were heightened precautions in effect (e.g. no self-serve at the buffet). The staff all took it in good stride. The Captain gave us a daily briefing on the number of cases reported, as well as a daily reminder to "wash our hands for 20 seconds." Fortunately, there was not a repeat outbreak on our sailing.
The only negative about this cruise was the food. The food, even in the Aqualina specialty restaurant, was mediocre (Prime C was very good). In the Discoveries restaurant, I even had to send back a piece of meat that look like it had been run over by a car! Dinner buffets in the Windows Cafe were a disappointment. However, the food during White Night was good. Our last Azamara cruise was 2 years ago, and my recollection is that the food was much better on that sailing. Two months ago, we sailed on Windstar and that food was superior to Azamara's.
We did not attend any of the shows. Lounge entertainment was okay.
Announcements were kept to a minimum which we appreciated. The cruise director was available, but not a nuisance.
We will sail Azamara again.
Our cabin was very nice and we used the balcony every day (the weather was great!). There were lots of hangers in the closet. The bed was super comfortable. The room was kept stocked with water, ice, and fruit. We had a refrigerator with soft drinks and beer. The only downside - as may other reviewers have noted - is that the shower is TINY! I am a small person and could barely turn around in the shower! I don't know how larger people shower. Our cabin attendant was so good that I asked Azamara to recognize him.
As discussed in my review, this excursion gave us some good insight into Jewish life in Cuba (there is only a small Jewish population). My impression was that our tour guide (who wasn't Jewish) had prepared notes that he couldn't deviate from and he got very defensive when we noted mistakes he made about Jewish traditions.View All undefined undefined Reviews