We boarded our BA flight at 9.30 and took off just after 10.00 am. We arrived in Nice at 2.30-ish and boarded the coach for the transfer to the ship. Once we arrived at the port we found that the usually well-organised embarkation was ... Read More
We boarded our BA flight at 9.30 and took off just after 10.00 am. We arrived in Nice at 2.30-ish and boarded the coach for the transfer to the ship. Once we arrived at the port we found that the usually well-organised embarkation was certainly lacking. First we were told to wait in a queue where passengers were collecting their luggage tags for the ship, which we didn't need to do as ours were already attached to our cases. Eventually we were directed to the gangway and queued again whilst staff and pax disembarked, probably some 10 minutes, still in the hot sun. At this point, someone was trying to take my hand luggage out of my hand whilst speaking to another person, thereby not listening to me saying that I would be taking my hand luggage on board myself. Eventually she looked at me when I wouldn't release my trolley and finally connected long enough to hear what I was saying.
Eventually we boarded and were due to be given our cabins. We already had our cabin number as we had selected it when we booked, almost 12 months prior. To our horror, we were met with the information that someone was already booked into our cabin. At this point, I had a sense of humour failure moment, but the steward did some running around and eventually found that someone had put the photos of some other passengers into our cabin in error. Despite this horror start to the cruise I have not reduced our five star rating, because it did not reflect necessarily what others' experience had been or is likely to be on other occasions and it was eventually sorted out completely.
Eventually we were ushered into the checking in area and given our cruise cards and we made our way to the cabin and offloaded our hand luggage. Although our cases had not arrived we decided to make our way to the Pool Bar where we had a delicious lunch.
After returning to the cabin feeling much more relaxed, we unpacked the cases and found they stored very easily under the bed, with plenty of room. Drawer and wardrobe space was very good and we loved the balcony with its lovely big table, ideal for breakfasting in the morning
We requested a table for two at each sitting for dinner and found the arrangement of the tables really good, in that you had your own table for two, but the adjoining tables for two were close enough if you wished to converse with your neighbours not not too close if you wished to engage in a private conversation instead.
Our favourite evening venue, where we sat most evenings, was in the Living Room, where we had a great view over the bow of the ship and nightly entertainment. This space echoed the same area on the Azamara Journey, in that it came alive just after 10.30 when the DJ opened up the decks and the dance floor filled up. There were dedicated themed nights, eg Abba and Beatles but whichever genre was on, it was always very popular and alive.
Our first port of call was Livorno where we went ashore mainly to buy postcards for our granddaughters and to buy coffee to sit and people-watch. It turned out to be quite challenging as there was no evidence of an ATM for ages. We did finally find one, but it appears that the is only one in the town - and it was not very obvious at all.
At Civitavecchia we had booked an excursion with Cruising Excurstions, who we had used for our trip to the Baltics on Celebrity Eclipse couple of years previously. As we have been to Rome on a number of occasions, we decided to go to Tuscania and Lake Bolseno in Maarta. Tuscania is older than the Roman times and was absolutely charming. We bought cappuccino in a taverno for one euro, which was delicious. The scenery across the countryside was stunning and we spent a very enjoyable 45 minutes here before we got back onto the minibus for our journey to the Lake. This is the largest volcanic lake in Europe and was so tranquil and peaceful that it was a real pleasure to walk alongside the waters' edge. We returned to the area to rejoin the minibus and waited only minutes after the time agreed before it arrived and set off back to the ship. At 47 euros each, we felt that this was a value for money excursion, although there was not a running commentary whilst we were on the bus, but a short introduction to the areas we visited.
Our Azamazing Evening in Sorrento started with a trip ashore on the Tender boats, followed by a short but exhilarating shuttle bus ride to the Agrumeto Gardens where a replica Festival of Piedigrotta was created. There was lots of singing and actors and musicians bringing old Naples to life as they impersonated merchants, magicians, street vendors and horse and carriage rides. There was an acrobatic pizza maker and street food and sparkling wine and beer, all leading to a wonderful experience in the beautiful, warm evening ambience. The transport back to the ship was available after about 3-4 hours, as people were ready to leave and I have to say the evening certainly lived up to our expectations.
Our visit to Siracuse had to be abandoned, as the dock was having work carried out, but it was replaced by a visit to Catania, Sicily. However, we enjoyed the short wander we had around the place, except for an incident when one of the local beggars, maurauding as a mother and baby, tried to pick my husband's pocket. Fortunately I was directly next to him, but I had to physically push myself between this woman and him to persuade her to back off. Obviously her 'baby' was no more than blankets wrapped up with a shawl conveniently draped to cover the free arm that was supposed to be holding a baby!! Nothing was taken, but as he only had his Boarding Card in his back pocket she would have been disappointed had she been successfully in gaining access anyway - but a lesson certainly about how careful you have to be with your valuables.
Our one day at sea was great, I love sea days and it was a usefully relaxing day before our visit to Chania, in Crete. Much bigger than I had thought it would be, this was a vibrant town, full of people enjoying the beautiful weather and cafes and shops.
We had already decided to stay on board when we visited Santorini. My hubby had already been ashore on our previous visit but when we realised that there would be in the region of 6800 pax as well as crew in port during the afternoon, we didn't fancy tying to get back down to the tender boats and back to the ship with that amount of competition. So we thoroughly enjoyed having the Quest more or less to ourselves, to chill out and relax.
To conclude this review, we ought to mention that we did buy an unlimited internet package, for one, which we could both use as long as one of us was connected at any time. We had a reduction of $70 dollars, courtesy of our loyalty tier, and for us it is worth the money. It was slow, but accessible for most of the time and I did need to visit Guest Relations on the second day when we were unable to access our logon. However the issue was resolved by the IT guys who came to the Desk to assist.
Overall the cruise was excellent, the service was impeccable, the food was varied and tasty, the puddings exquisite at times. The entertainment was great and, once again, Azamara lived up to and passed expectations. Read Less