We made a late booking after a very good experience on Quest in July/August. The itinerary for the Norway fjords was inviting and so it proved a good decision.
The cruise was again very good. The base product of better than usual cruise 4* dining quality and options. A very good and interesting Buffet. Add included wine and soft drinks. Provide an excellent service with a smile and this is a winning combination. The smart casual attire made for a relaxing and less stressful experience. Not having to squeeze a DJ and formal clothes into a suitcase made me enjoy Azamara before leaving home.
We have been on several cruise lines and our opinion is that Azamara goes straight into our preferred cruise-line shortlist.
Both ships provided fine dining with wonderful menu choices and delivered a fine experience which fluctuated from very good to excellent. Another enjoyable feature was the Mosaic Coffee lounge offering lite bites and a good relaxing area, with live music. Both the Main Dining Room and Windows buffet were very enjoyable any slight problems were just that - slight. The overwhelming experience was enjoyment and the Hotel Director must be commended. I have rarely had a more enjoyable couple of evening when the MDR delivered in spades and I made all the right choices from the menu. Great moments like this are treasure. All evenings were quality in dining.
The D(esignated Drivers) Captains were as different as chalk and cheese; given a choice it must be Captain Tysse, he adds to the experience and joins in the fun.
To compare the two ships on different voyages is a challenge but Azamara managed to achieve a top notch quality in Hotel and Dining on both ships.
The variables given the fact that Azamara seem to have nailed down the Hotel and Dining experience is the passengers, entertainment and itinerary.
Passengers: on the Norway trip were well dressed, and as well mannered as they were well heeled. I noticed little over indulgence and there was a good spirit and convivial atmospere. Our very recent Med trip was so very enjoyable but had a large mixture of nationalities. Well heeled yes but not nearly as well mannered. There was less esprit de corps. I feel sure that Azamara will be aware that some national mixtures on board may be potentially combustible!
Entertainment: obviously varies from voyage to voyage. The Norway cruise seemed far less vital and a little out of fashion in comparison to the Quest. Although the cafe artists and harpist was very good value. The CD has a big impact to the holiday experience. There was a particular vibrancy and sophistication in the Med which was maybe a little lacking on the Journey in August.
Itinerary: Azamara offer some rare opportunities to get to places away from the standard routes and the dreaded container ports. They appear to attract a more travelled and sophisticated cruiser. The allure of interesting and glamorous destinations is a trump card for Azamara. I look forward to enjoying more of the intimate destinations in future.
Overall: It was fascinating to experience twin ships in a short space of time. Azamara have the core model down to a T. Maybe the variables are more difficult to control. Great Cruise company. in July as the