Quality without pretentiousness or formality: Azamara Quest Cruise Review by Alistair Gunn

Azamara Quest 5
Alistair Gunn

Overall Member Rating

Quality without pretentiousness or formality

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Other
We joined the Azamara at Athens after a pre cruise night at the Hilton (expensive but high quality) and embarkation was quick and easy (small ship advantage!). We were asked to book a time for dinner and chose 6.30, only to find that the Cruise Critic get-together had been arranged for then. This was useful, although only about half of the members appeared. The senior staff present went out of their way to make us feel that comments would be welcomed, listened to and acted on. This was reinforced by a form in our cabin halfway through the cruise asking for suggestions and criticisms so they could have time to do something about them.
We had booked a partially obstructed ocean view room which was as we expected, the only problem being that there was only one chair, so that in-room dining would have been difficult, but we prefer to use the dining facilities.
We enjoyed the open seating dining in which we were asked each night if we wanted to join a table or dine at a table More for two. We always chose the former as part of the cruise experience is to meet other people. At breakfast we found that the table for two was so close to others that those who wanted privacy would be disappointed, but I suppose they could just have used room service! We also particularly enjoyed the included wine with lunch and dinner. This was of good quality, and on the one occasion when we said it was not quite as good as the previous day, the waiter promptly came back with a bottle of the previous day's offering! The maitre d' was pressing us for comments and the only criticism I could offer was that when you turned down an offer for more wine or coffee, another waiter would ask you a minute later if you would like more wine or coffee!
The food in the main dining room was of such quality that we only booked one meal in Aqualina. It was of excellent quality, though. In the buffet wine was served at your table and only once did the service fall below a high standard when the staff were under pressure because everyone seemed to arrive for lunch at the same time on a day in port.
We had reserved two excursions with the half price offer for early bookers. There was a slight problem doing this online as the website removed the facility to do this, but after a fax from our travel agent, Azamara honoured this. Transport was always provided for those going independently.
Entertainment onboard was not lavish, but of a high standard and good variety. As there was only one performance, we sometimes missed it due to a late dinner.
Post cruise arrangements were excellent, including a private car transfer to the Airport after two days in Venice. Less

Published 11/03/11

Cabin review: 066038 Club Oceanview Stateroom

Cabin was clean and as we expected for a restricted view oceanview. It should perhaps be called a lifeboat view, but there was plenty of outside light. A comfortable bed, but only one seat would have made life difficult if we had wanted room service meals. Good shower, and plenty of storage space in ensuite.

Read All Club Oceanview Stateroom (06) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Easy to wander around the bustling narrow streets with plenty to see- even a cricket ground. Unfortunately there was no game on as I would have taken great delight in explaining it's mysteries to American fellow passengers. We visited the excellent maritime museum, which gave a good insight into the history of the 'green island'.
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We wandered around Chania independently and it was a pleasant resort and harbour with cafes and restaurants mainly filled with Greek holidaymakers. Unfortunately we were told that we would not have time to visit the main historical site of Knossos on Crete and there was no organised excursion to it. Two of our fellow travellers went by local taxi and did get back in time.

We went ashore independently and the shuttle bus dropped us at the Pile gate. We tried to be clever and go the other end of the main avenue where I had read there was another way up on to the walls. Unfortunately this was blocked because there was a film being made, although it was interesting to see all the cast and extras made up as medieval villagers and soldiers. Dubrovnik lends itself to this as a backdrop and is fascinating with its narrow streets and steps (and steps)in which locals are still living. We eventually had to return to the main gate to ascend the walls. We thought that once up there we could stroll around at the same level, but be warned; there was still a lot of climbing up and down as we toured the walls and it would not be suitable for the unfit! It was well worth the effort. Some effects of the war are still showing, although it has been greatly improved since some of our friends visited some years back.

We had pre-booked the ship excursion as the only thing to do here is to visit Olympia. This was the one wet day of our trip and it was pouring when we left the ship. Fortunately they reversed the order of things and we visited the museum first where the guide gave a knowledgeable account of many of the statues and remains of buildings from the site. By the time we got the the site, the weather had cleared up and we were able to wander through the ruins to the site of the original "200m". Interesting.

We took the wine tasting tour where we sampled three local wines of which the island is justifiably proud, particularly the one which is used in the churches at mass! The iconic blue and white village on the hilltop with its narrow streets and many steps did not disappoint, and there were plenty of souvenir shops and art galleries to browse.

We went ashore independently as it was an easy walk to the Diocletian Palace. This was an unusual 'ruin' since it was still lived in with a lively market in its cellar area. The church is well worth a visit for the ancient craftmanship on show. Outside the palace is a pleasant park and promenade.
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Alistair Gunn
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