We went from Mumbai to Cape Town - 24 nights with 11 sea-days. I will start wit the good bit by saying that the staff were without exception excellent and as good as any ship that i have sailed on. The rest of my comments are critical - Management was another matter!
We did not get off to a good start! We were supposed to spend two days in Mombasa, Kenya which was a prime reason for us taking the trip but this was canceled on security grounds. I can wholly accept that but nobody bothered to tell us or our travel agent. We only found out by accident a few days before we left.
By and large the food was not good. I just never got on with the Canteen (Azamara calls it "The Cafe"). as the food was invariably only luke warm at best and sometimes colder than that. They kept doing "theme nights" from round the world (e.g. Mexicann, Indian and so on). I ended up wondering what wonderful chefs they must have to cope with all that! Salads were particularly poor but the soup and the ice cream were good. But I never had a good meal there.
The menu of the main dining room was pretentious and I often could not understand what was on offer - e. g. what on earth is "panacotta cauliflower"? Often the accompaniment did not seem to fit the main course - e. g. "wilted spinach" with British style battered fish and chips which I thought verged on the unbelievable!.I want to state that I got one evening in this restaurant what I consider to be the worst steak i have ever had in my life. It was not just inedible but I actually could not even cut it with my knife and it got sent straight back. But to be fair, their breakfast was very good and immaculately served.
The entertainment was mediocre - except for the magician (brilliant) and a couple of performances from the singers and dancers. We walked out of "The Hits of Broadway" as we had not even heard of the musicals featured, let alone the mediocre songs performed!
I think that our cabin was advertised as having an "ocean view" and that was technically correct if you regard an ocean view as viewing the sea from the narrow space between two lifeboats. At any rate, it was very cramped with only one seat meaning the second occupant had to sit on the bed. There was no table of any sort - e.g. for room service.The toilet was microscopic.
I never bother with Wi-Fi on a cruise but my wife does. The price of a full package, if my memory serves me well, was $478 for the cruise which was as expensive as the reception was bad. The Wi-Fi service was regarded by most of the people to whom I spoke as appalling and I never passed the customer relations desk without hearing someone complaining about it. Azamara are behind the pack on Wi-Fi as companies with ships of similar size are offering it free of charge - e.g. Viking, Oceania and Regent to quote but three.
The cruise did not seem to have been well thought out. For example, why did we not go to the smaller Seychelle island on Sunday and go the capital on the main island on Monday when places and shops would have been open - they weren't on the Sunday! And how come that insufficient reconnaissance had seemly been done on our destination for the so-called "Amazing Evening" in Durban leading to it being cancelled?
I know that every cruise line takes advantage of a captive audience and offers excursions at high prices but I felt that Azamara prices were extremely high. i took the brochure home with me so that I could pick out a couple.How about "lunch on the rock in Dar es Salaam" at only$269? Or a game drive, 3 days and 2 nights for only $2799. One person who went on this one should have been accompanied into South Africa by a ship's guide. Unfortunately the girl in question was from the Phillipines and was refused entry without a visa which she had not got. Good forward planning!
And, finally "Trivia" or as it is called in the UK "quizzes". We had 11 sea days and Trivia helps to while away the hours. Unfortunately the boat did not seem to have anyone who knew how to run a quiz. After a while I was concerned about the marking of the quizzes and, as an experienced quizzer, I was concerned about the fairness of it We were told to mark (i.e. score) our own sheets - which, of course, is utter nonsense. I approached the Cruise Director and suggested that we all exchanged papers and he agreed. This went on for three quizzes and, would you believe it different people won? Suddenly without anyone bothering to tell me we went back to self-marking. i approached the Cruise Director who told me that "other people" had protested - he was doubtless right but to which team did they belong? No answer. I tried to speak to the Assistant Cruise Director and he couldn''t get away fast enough.Basically, he refused to talk to me. I subsequently told the Cruise Director it was totally unacceptable to refuse to speak to a customer who was polite in approach and had paid several thousand Pounds for the cruise. Answer there came none. Someone (not I) complained that a team was consistently playing with 7 members instead of the maximum of six. This was solved by increasing the team limit of 6 to 8. I am assuming that the team involved had more clout than people like those with whom I associated.
And the Progressive Quiz!!!!. The quizmaster told us on the first day that mobile phones were banned but failed to repeat the message. Without even trying I knew of two definite cases of the use of phones. In proper quiz circles this is not far from a hanging offence and is despicable. The quizmaster offered the participants the opportunity to nominate particular subjects which resulted in (for example - there were others!) two questions on the "Brady Bunch", a question on the "beaches of North Sydney" and "girls' doll shops in the USA". What on earth has this got to do with general knowledge? But it got worse! As a general knowledge question we were also asked the date of the birthday of the Assistant Cruise Manager! Words utterly fail me!
As a final twist the last quiz on the last evening (The Music Quiz at 10.15pm to be specific) was won by a group of cheating Australians who scored 40 points out of a possible maximum of 36 points I am still trying to work this one out!
I have been on 5 Azamara and 5 Celebrity cruises and before this recent cruise i have never had any cause for complaint of any nature. Unfortunately,we have booked (and paid for) a cruise with Azamara at the end of March which is on the same boat. I am not looking forward to it!
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