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11 Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) to Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

We've been on well over 50 cruises, but this was our first one on Crystal. We wanted to experience the 'top of the line' feeling and we were not disappointed. When we cruise, our most important aspect is the on-board life, ... Read More
We've been on well over 50 cruises, but this was our first one on Crystal. We wanted to experience the 'top of the line' feeling and we were not disappointed. When we cruise, our most important aspect is the on-board life, especially the food and service. On this ship the food was outstanding. Quality, quality and quality!! Of course the service was just as fine. You can tell the impact a high employee to passenger ratio really has. We were also very happy with the refined clientelle on this ship. Most everybody was happy and friendly. Oh, and the pool deck was just great: lots of chairs and lounges. No fighting for a chair at any time! Our cabin was the 'picture window' variety. It was very spacious, had ample of room for storage and even sported a bath tub. Noteworthy was the shower which had great water pressure and none of the temperature flucctuations experienced on most other ships. Would we go again? Certainly!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The 10 nights Symphony cruise from Caldera to San Diego was our 15th cruise and our first cruise on Crystal. We sailed on Oceania and Azamara and the rest were mainstream lines like Celebrity, Princess Cunard etc. Oceania was our best ... Read More
The 10 nights Symphony cruise from Caldera to San Diego was our 15th cruise and our first cruise on Crystal. We sailed on Oceania and Azamara and the rest were mainstream lines like Celebrity, Princess Cunard etc. Oceania was our best cruise experience so far and I was curious how it will compare to Crystal. Embarkation took literally 15 minutes till we were in our cabin. 30 seconds later our cabin attendant knocked and introduced herself. 5 minutes later our luggage arrived. So far so good. We always book the lowest category cabin since we don’t use it much other than sleep and shower. We were in E2 cabin on deck 8. It is described as fully obstructed view but it is not really fully obstructed. The lifeboat blocks about half of the view, so you can still see the upper part of the view. The cabin is not big but it worked just fine for us. There is a lot of storage, and it’s nice to have a bathtub shower combo. It is also very nice to have a free self laundry. One odd thing about the cabin is that they still have those old thermostats. Not sure why they don’t replace them with the digital ones. Took as a while to set the temperature to a comfortable level. The ship is very elegant, and is in an excellent condition considering its age. You could never tell it is 25 years old. For some reason there is no art on the ship. Not sure why. There are about 5-6 dining venues (including 3 specialty restaurants), a lounge for main evening shows, 4-5 other smaller lounges, a movie theater, a very nice library etc. Service was exceptional across the ship, very efficient and friendly at the same time. Very friendly staff. Our cabin attendant Marina was great. The cabin was always in perfect condition, our favorite drinks and ice always re filled on time. Evening entertainment and daily activities were excellent. We attended six guest lectures, by Joe Wolff and Louis Rene Beres, all of them were fascinating. Definitely a step up compared to Oceania. Food was outstanding and comparable to Oceania. The breakfast buffet very good, the dinner in the dining room is excellent, lunch buffet not very consistent. It is probably heaven for Asian food lovers, but for someone like me who doesn’t like Asian food, the selection was a bit limited some days. We had 3 visits to the Brazilian steakhouse and loved it. There is an option to pre order basically anything you want, as long as they have the ingredients, which is very nice. The Italian specialty restaurant, Prego, was excellent, similar quality to Oceania's Tuscana. Amazing experience, both food and service. Between the mushroom soup, the filet steak and the desert, I still have to decide which dish was the best. They all were so good. Loved the Bistro for quick snacks. Did not visit the Asian venues since I don't like Asian food, but overall feedback from those venues is excellent. Internet was very good. Not the best we have experienced on sea, but among the best. Disembarkation was super quick, took us literally 20 minutes from the moment we left the ship till we arrived to San Diego airport. We paid $12 for the 7 minutes taxi ride (Crystal wanted $42 per person for transfer to the airport - I still have no idea where they are getting those prices and who is willing to pay them). Some things that we didn't like (or liked less): 1. Shore excursions while well organized overall, I was surprised to see buses almost full on most excursions (around 40 people, sometimes more). If this is typical, this is significantly worse than we experienced on Oceania. Even on Celebrity some excursions had only 20-25 people. Also the excursion staff provided incorrect information on couple occasions. We tried to cancel one of the excursions 26 hours in advance and got a negative answer. Yes, it was after the deadline (which is 7pm two days before the cruise), but they could be more flexible. Especially considering the fact that this tour is a trolley to old town San Diego, which you can do for $2.5 each direction with public trolley - Crystal cost was $79!! On Oceania, we had no issues to change or cancel excursions even after the deadline. 2. Pool experience has been good overall, no issues to find chairs. But there are very few chairs in shade, and I was surprised to see that Crystal still allows to smoke in the pool area. 3. Lunch buffet closes at 1:30 and Waterside at 1:00. If you come back from excursion after 1:30, the lunch options are fairly limited (Silk if you like Asian food, Trident Grill with some burgers, hot dogs and salads, and Bistro). Of course there is always an options for room service, which works 24/7 and is free. Still not ideal in my opinion, and they could extend it when there are large groups of guests returning from shore excursions around 1-1:30. 4. For some reason, most computer based classes focus on Apple products (iPhone/iPad/Mac). We are Android users, so most classes were useless to us. Which is unfortunate, and I find it odd considering that 70%+ of smart phone users today use Android. Despite some imperfections, we had a wonderful time, and Crystal is really very special. It exceeded our expectations in most areas, except the shore excursions. The ship combines a small ship experience (excellent service, no lines etc.) with outstanding entertainment and enrichment program. A truly 6 star experience, and definitely a step up compared to Oceania. We loved Crystal and already booked three more cruises on Symphony and Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We went on this cruise to check out Crystal's luxury ocean cruise line. We picked this one because it has a paddle tennis court on it which we could use for pickleball. We brought four pickleball padles and by the end of the cruise we ... Read More
We went on this cruise to check out Crystal's luxury ocean cruise line. We picked this one because it has a paddle tennis court on it which we could use for pickleball. We brought four pickleball padles and by the end of the cruise we had about 14 players all rotating in at 9 o'clock a.m. every day. It made the trip. We liked the cruise experience so much that we're planning on doing another one on Serenity that has two paddle tennis courts September 28th in case anyway wants to join us for some pickleball. We have been on Oceania, Regent, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian so have experienced many different classes of ships and classes of service. We had pretty much given up the ocean cruising because we didn't like the masses of people on board and nickle and diming experience. Then we tried luxury cruising. Compared to the Regent, my only complaint is that there could be some more music on the pool deck. I think we only had music one day and then also there is no sports bar, so if you want to watch a sporting event you have to go to your Room. I also like the fact that you don't need to pay for excursions on crystal...(regent includes excursions in their fares). Also I have to say Crystal does a better job protecting their pickleball courts from the wind. They had wind screens all around the court and about a 12' plexiglass on one side so it's pretty protected from the wind that makes it more playable when your cruising. We really enjoyed the cruise and the ship. They also did fabulous decorating for Christmas. We didn't really care to get off in any the ports since we've been there so many times, just enjoyed the ship. Even went to few of the movies in the Hollywood theater. We had excellent service all around and big shout out to our Butler Victor who went above and beyond, anticipating our every need. We did tip him extra as he was unbelievable. We had absolutely wonderful 6 star service throughout the cruise from dining, housekeeping, to cocktails at the pool, every crew member was great. We did see one variety show and the dancers and singers were very good. Lastly, an interesting note is they still allow guests to come on board so we had 4 friends visit for dinner at our overnight port in San Diego. I have tons of pictures and video of this ship let me know if you need something in particular... like menus. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This cruise went to places I have been wanting to see for a while, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico. The excursions from the ship were expensive, so on 3 occasions we went with private tour groups, and got better value for ... Read More
This cruise went to places I have been wanting to see for a while, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico. The excursions from the ship were expensive, so on 3 occasions we went with private tour groups, and got better value for money. The staff were always upbeat even during a small outbreak of Norwalk when they were all doing double duty to keep us healthy. The entertainment staff, and officers were serving breakfast and lunch. Luckily no one in my party was affected. This is a small ship, so the onboard activities were more limited, but there was always something to do. Although standard drinks were included, I saw no one who had overindulged, and smokers kept to their designated area. All the dining experiences were enjoyable, the food was perfectly cooked and the wait staff pleasant and efficient. I did not use the fitness area. I wouldn't NOT go again, although this is not my favourite ship. (see my review of my cabin). Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We have sailed on many cruises, and Azamara was a new one for us. The Quest looks just like the smaller ships on the Oceana line and except for a few differences they are exactly the same. But only in the ships appearances. We were on ... Read More
We have sailed on many cruises, and Azamara was a new one for us. The Quest looks just like the smaller ships on the Oceana line and except for a few differences they are exactly the same. But only in the ships appearances. We were on the prior segment and wanted to continue to see new ports in this part fo the world. 1 No embarking as we sailed on the prior segment, we stayed onboard and enjoyed the pool area. 2. Our cabin in the Continental Suite area was large but oddly decorated. The carpet was beige and black and always looked dirty. The large desk and counter above low drawers was a fake marble that also just looked dirty although that was the design. The bathroom was ok but had a tub with the shower in the tub. Now this was supposed to be a suite but a cheap shower curtain that didn't close all the way was really odd. Large balcony but rust stains everywhere. The cabin staff never brought in the seat cushions so they are always wet. More air-conditioning issues and chronic sewer smells in the corridor. 3. Dining - Main room was the best with OK meals but nothing special. The specialty dining was Italian or Steak house themed. Both rooms looked nice but the menus never changes. Both rooms had sushi as a special appetizer. Really!! The Italian had only one pasta dish and the Steak house had mediocre meals. Don't get the soufflés unless you like scrambled eggs for dessert. Our experience in the Italian venue: I asked for the pasta as an appetizer and got a well overcooked glop of pasta, could not eat it. While having dessert an 1 1/2 hrs. later the chef came over, apologized for the bad pasta and offered to make it again for me! During dessert!!!!!! And Azamara charges people for this lousy food and service. We had these issues on the first segment and nothing changed. Not even the menus. 4. The shore excursions were abysmal. Inexperienced guides, small 20 seat buses, some with minimal air conditioning. No headsets for walking tours and all guides talked to the air in front of them and unless you were right next to the guides you heard nothing. And so overpriced too. We saw other cruise ship folks getting on big buses and headsets too. After the 1st segment we cancelled all the pre-booked tours me made. Others did the same thing. We then did our own thing for a fraction of the cost and enjoyed the ports on our own. We do this in many places but gave Azamara a chance to see what they offered and they are worse them most. 5. Entertainment - As usual, like so many other ships the in-house productions were amateurish and high school productions are better. They did hire a few individual entertainers who were great but thats rare. The band only played at night, not at the pool area. Oh and Azamara has one night they take you to a special show in one of the towns. They transported at least 600 people in mini vans to an indigenous tribe location for a show. It look almost 2 hrs. each way to get everyone to and from the venue for a 40 minute show and unless you were outside the canopy area you saw nothing. Why couldn't they bring the 15 performers to the ship? A waste of an evening. 6. Staff - Amazing and great and wonderful. They made the cruise bearable. All except our butler. I don't know what he actually does but he constantly asked what he can do for us and we said "thank you we are fine". He served tea at 4:00 pm each day and he thinks that is something special. Even when we put the "do not disturb" sign on the door he called us on the phone asking if we wanted tea. This went on for both segments and during the second segment we just had to tell him to stop bothering us. 7. Public spaces are nice but so dated. Upholstery is warn and faded. 9. Disembarking was delayed and absolutely no organization. No matter what numbers were to be called first, there was a huge crowd pushing and shoving. The shore side folks acted like it was their first day on the job and had no clue. Nothing luxury about the ship. Although the staff did try to keep shorts out of the main dining room, jeans, flip flops, and pullover shirts were plentiful. So many folks in shorts and tee shirts just went to the buffet off the pool area. Some nights it was packed and of course no one told anyone about the dress code in the casino. We met some great folks, enjoyed the crew and saw some amazing things in Central America and Mexico. But no way will we ever sail Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The main reason we selected this cruise because of friends. We found the Quest to be clean, the food and service good, and the entertainment surprising good. The ship carried about 650 passengers, so pretty intimate. People who ... Read More
The main reason we selected this cruise because of friends. We found the Quest to be clean, the food and service good, and the entertainment surprising good. The ship carried about 650 passengers, so pretty intimate. People who expected a "luxury" cruise were disappointed however, nothing really special about it. We were on a Costa Rica cruise ...very little to see and do in several the ports. In Golfito there was hardly a town, let alone things to do. We did see hundreds of dolphins in the bay there, however. Most of the ports pretty much offered the same thing...jungle and monkeys. Many of the beaches were nice. Our biggest complaints had to do with 1. the transfer package and 2. the tender procedure. We spent $800 for transfers; there was no one to meet us at the airport upon arrival, and we ended up having to pay for a cab back to the airport after the cruise. Over priced and under performing. Very poor communication. Most ports we had to tender. Temperatures were in the 90's, humidity in the 90's also. For some reason the crew would make us wait 15-20 minutes while we sweated and broiled aboard the tender before departure back to the ship. Many people complained but never did see improvement. They need to go every 10-15 minutes instead of having 50-60-70 people waiting in the heat. The passengers were primarily a more mature crowd, so no crazy drunks or wild parties. Bottom line, we had a good time, the ship was fine...B+ Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Azamara Quest Review Costa Rica 15-25 Jan 2018 This was our sixth cruise with Azamara and it was every bit as good as the last five. We stayed in Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo, outside San Jose, for 4 days before embarkation. ... Read More
Azamara Quest Review Costa Rica 15-25 Jan 2018 This was our sixth cruise with Azamara and it was every bit as good as the last five. We stayed in Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo, outside San Jose, for 4 days before embarkation. The hotel was set in 10 acres of botanical gardens and had a swimming pool. It was great for bird watching. We took a tour from there to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which was excellent, and went into San Jose by taxi to see the National Theatre (amazing building). The hotel arranged transport for us and another couple to the port. The evening before embarkation we got an email from Azamara saying that due to high winds the port of embarkation had changed from Puerto Caldera to Puntarenas. The hotel was able to rearrange the transport for us, and it ended up costing us $70 a couple in a very comfortable mini-bus. When we got to Puntarenas we found embarkation a little different than usual. We were directed into a terminal building to be given a medical form, then took the shuttle bus along the pier to the ship. Check-in was completed in the Cabaret Lounge. This was all done with very little fuss and little queuing - given the short notice, we felt this was handled very well and efficiently. Our verandah stateroom was very comfortable. Our two attendants did a good job, bringing me lots of extra hangers and making sure our fridge had plenty of tonic waters as we requested. We are most nights in Discoveries (MDR) and found the food to be excellent, with some dishes being outstanding. We like to share tables, but found it quite difficult to do this because we like to dine fairly late and by the time we got there all the large tables had filled up. However we found that even when we had a table for two, we could chat to the couple at the next table. Service was generally very good, although on a couple of occasions we had quite a gap between courses. The included wines were OK and if we didn’t like the day’s offerings, it was usually possible to get some of a previous day’s wine. We booked dinner in Prime C (speciality restaurant - $30 a head extra) one night and, as always, the food and service was superb. We ate breakfast in Windows (buffet), where again the tea & coffee service was excellent. We mostly had lunch in the Patio, though I often went into Windows to get a slice of the roast meat of the day to have with salad. The cruise only had 2 sea-days and we spent these in our favourite spot -deck 11 sun-deck. The Azamazing evening was due to be held in the old part of Panama City, but as the weather was unsettled, the Captain decided to bring it onboard. It was a folk-dancing show and was quite good, but inevitably it lost atmosphere being held in the cabaret lounge. The White Night was excellent. The buffet included lobster, steak, lamb, Frito Misto, Paella and, of course, crepes suzettes served by the Hotel Manager. It was quite an emotional occasion, as it was Captain Carl Smith’s last voyage on the Quest before taking over the new Azamara ship, the Pursuit. The ports we went to were: Panama City - (two days). On the first day we took the Hop On Hop Off bus from Fuerte Amador where the boat docked and got off at the Miraflores lock. We didn’t see any ships going through the lock, but thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition about the canal and how it was built. On the second day we got a taxi into the old town and had a wander around it and around the fish market close by. Golfito - a small town right next to the dock. We had booked a private tour along with others on our Roll call. The tour was a boat trip in the Golfe Dulce to see dolphins, which we did -a pod of 340! We were then taken to an animal sanctuary where we saw monkeys, an ocelot, macaws, sloths and a tayra. Lastly we had the opportunity to snorkel over a small reef. Quepos - tendered port - there seemed to be quite a nice little town next to the tender port. Again we had booked a private tour to Manual Antonio National Park. The tour company met us just outside the tender port and took us to the park, where we walked through the park with a guide who had a monocular and who was able to point out various animals, birds and frogs along the way. The path led to the beach where we had time for a swim before setting off back again. Then we were taken for lunch in a local restaurant. Unfortunately it was a Sunday when we were there so the Park was very busy as the trail to the beach was used by them. We had to queue to get into the park, and then queue along the way to be able to see reptiles, birds, animals & frogs along the way. San Juan Del Tour, Nicaragua,- tendered port. This was a nice little town with a nice beach and lots of beach bars and restaurants, all close to the tender port. We had booked a private half day tour of the town, a visit to the statue of Christ Misericordia perched on the cliff over the town( half the size of Christ the Redeemer in Rio), then to an adventure park where we had a bone rattling ride in 4x4s, to a viewpoint where we could see Lake Nicaragua and it’s 2 volcanoes. From there we could do an included short walk or visit an Iguana Sanctuary, or do Zip-lining for an extra $30. I opted for the zip-lining, which was a first for me - I loved it! We ended up at a seaside restaurant for an included drink and to watch an excellent display of folk-dancing. Puntarenas -the ship was docked at the pier of this small seaside town. This time we took the ship’s tour to the Cloud Forest which was fascinating and included butterfly and humming bird gardens. The tour included lunch and the inevitable stop at a souvenir shop. Disembarkation was, as usual, very easy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
i chose this sailing because of a special promotion which made the price reasonable compared to most other azamera cruises and it had an interesting intinerary.. i had always wanted to sail on azamera due to its excellent reputation for ... Read More
i chose this sailing because of a special promotion which made the price reasonable compared to most other azamera cruises and it had an interesting intinerary.. i had always wanted to sail on azamera due to its excellent reputation for food quality, its small size, the free liquor and free gratuities. it lived up to my expectations, the staff is very friendly, the captain down to the housekeeping, food was excellent, white nights is a terrific event, get there early and grab a table with a very high end buffet. tendering was orderly and had minimal waits. the only 2 reasons it is not rated 5 stars was that we had a botched excursion where the vendor swisstours did not do all elements of the excursion in papagayo, azamera did refund us 50 per cent but we really wanted the complete refund. the second issue was the best entertainment on the ship was the singers and dancers and russ the cruise director who is also an excellent singer. azamera for some reason is letting go of all their singers and dancers as of feb 8th for some type of new format. this cruise had 3 nights of a violinist and a piano player/magician. do i really need 3 nights for classical music and no comedians. the inside cabin we had seemed smaller than other ships the same room size. overall though the cruise was excellent and i would definitely go on this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We have sailed on many cruises, (52 to date) and Azamara was a new one for us. The Quest looks just like the smaller ships on the Oceana line and except for a few differences they are exactly the same. But only in the ships appearances. ... Read More
We have sailed on many cruises, (52 to date) and Azamara was a new one for us. The Quest looks just like the smaller ships on the Oceana line and except for a few differences they are exactly the same. But only in the ships appearances. We booked this segment and the next as a back to back of Central America & Mexico. Except for Mexico all ports were new to us. So the itinerary was what got us to book. 1. Embarkment in Costa Rica - We get an email the night before that the location for embarkment is a different location but as independent guests, no further details were given us. Repeated calls to Amamara were no help. Thankfully our driver got us to the new port on time. We had a confusing and odd embarkment through the village of Puntarenas. Then sent to the theater for two more groups to inspect us. 2. Our cabin in the Continental Suite area was large but oddly decorated. The carpet was beige and black and always looked dirty. The large desk and counter above low drawers was a fake marble that also just looked dirty although that was the design. The bathroom was ok but had a tub with the shower in the tub. Now this was supposed to be a suite but a cheap shower curtain that didn't close all the way was really odd. Large balcony but rust stains everywhere. The cabin staff never brought in the seat cushions so they are always wet. Air conditional was non-existent when we arrived. It took 5 hrs. to fix. Why? 3. Dining - Main room was the best with OK meals but nothing special. The specialty dining was Italian or Steak house themed. Both rooms looked nice but the menus never changes. Both rooms had sushi as a special appetizer. Really!! The Italian had only one pasta dish and the Steak house had mediocre meals. Don't get the soufflés unless you like scrambled eggs for dessert. Our experience in the Italian venue: I asked for the pasta as an appetizer and got a well overcooked glop of pasta, could not eat it. While having dessert an 1 1/2 hrs. later the chef came over, apologized for the bad pasta and offered to make it again for me! During dessert!!!!!! And Azamara charges people for this lousy food and service. 4. The shore excursions were abysmal. Inexperienced guides, small 20 seat buses, some with minimal air conditioning. No headsets for walking tours and all guides talked to the air in front of them and unless you were right next to the guides you heard nothing. And so overpriced too. We saw other cruise ship folks getting on big buses and headsets too. 5. Entertainment - As usual, like so many other ships the in-house productions were amateurish and high school productions are better. They did hire a few individual entertainers who were great but thats rare. The band only played at night, not at the pool area. Oh and Azamara has one night they take you to a special show in one of the towns. It rained on the day we were to see this show so they brought all the entertainers on board. The show was to be outdoors and there were more entertainers then guests in the cabaret lounge. And for a 1/2 hr. show?! 6. Staff - Amazing and great and wonderful. They made the cruise bearable. All except our butler. I don't know what he actually does but he constantly asked what he can do for us and we said "thank you we are fine". He served tea at 4:00 pm each day and he thinks that is something special. Even when we put the "do not disturb" sign on the door he called us on the phone asking if we wanted tea. One night he even found us having dinner in the main dining room and asked if there was anything he could do for us. I sure wanted to tell him truly but just said "no thanks". 7. Public spaces are nice but so dated. Upholstery is warn and faded. 8. No disembarking as we sadly stayed on for the next sailing. Nothing luxury about the ship. Although the staff did try to keep shorts out of the main dining room, jeans, flip flops, and pullover shirts were plentiful. So many folks in shorts and tee shirts just went to the buffet off the pool area. Some nights it was packed and of course no one told anyone about the dress code in the casino. I would say this was an experience and would never sail with Azamara again but we had to sail with the for another 14 nights. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We took a back-to-back cruise on the Quest in Central America, the Pacific Coast and Sea of Cortez, from 26 January to 21 February: embarked Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica, exited San Diego. We are an older couple, my wife has mobility ... Read More
We took a back-to-back cruise on the Quest in Central America, the Pacific Coast and Sea of Cortez, from 26 January to 21 February: embarked Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica, exited San Diego. We are an older couple, my wife has mobility difficulties, and long-time cruisers. In both voyages we had an accessible stateroom: first a continental suite, second an ocean view. We had an extended trip on the Quest in Southeast Asia two years before, enjoyed the experience, and decided to travel on Azamara again. That was a good decision. We had just come off a large ship, the Regal Princess in the Caribbean: good but not great. The Quest was a real pleasure, not the least because of its smaller size. Everything was nearer, so easy to get around. Our first stateroom, the continental suite, was excellent: spacious, very attractive, and extremely comfortable. The second stateroom, the ocean view, was also comfortable, if neither so spacious or attractive – but certainly decent. The washrooms in both staterooms were very good. Housekeeping fine in both staterooms. The food on the Quest was generally very good. We ate regularly at the steakhouse Prime C where the meat was excellent, the ambience congenial. The rib steak was particularly delicious. We were not so taken with the other specialty restaurant Aqualina because the menu offered little we relish, but still the two meals we had there were ok. We did not eat often in the main dining room because, especially on the second voyage, the place was crowded and noisy. We did go to supper a number of times to the Windows Café, and the Sunset Bar outside: very pleasant and again fine food. I particularly liked some of the theme evenings at the buffet. Likewise the grill at the Patio and the various BBQs, always delicious and the latter very plentiful. Room service was fast and efficient, especially in the mornings. Yes, there were a few misses – once a seafood jambalaya where the seafood was largely missing, for instance. But these were exceptions: you can eat very well on the Quest. One of the cardinal virtues of the Quest is the staff, always friendly and helpful. The captain Jose was congenial and talkative and often present, as were his senior officers, especially the always gracious Philip, the hotel manager. The rest of the staff were superb, offering a level of service superior to that of any ship I have been on, including the Crystal Symphony (my favourite, where the service is also excellent). Time and again crew members assisted us, important when you have to handle a wheelchair. Special note: the embarkation process at Puerto Caldera and the debarkation at San Diego was exceptionally well-managed. The highlights of the cruise? First the Azamara special evenings, both at Cabo San Lucas, amazing performances of Mexican song and dance, in the desert, around the theme of the day of the dead, made all the more enjoyable with margaritas and assorted delicacies. Second the shows mounted on the pool deck, shows featuring local performers – marvellous. Third, the happy, lively white nights, party and dance on the pool deck. Fourth, on the second voyage (Sea of Cortez) the excursion via the train El Chepe to Copper Canyon, a striking natural formation in northern Mexico. Any negatives? Well, the lack of an in-room dvd player, the uninteresting regular entertainment, also lectures that didn’t appeal, the expense of some excursions (but the ones taken were well-designed). Minor problems really, given the overall quality of the cruise experience. In all Azamara cruises is excellent value. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
CRUISE TO CENTRAL AMERICA AZAMARA QUEST JAN.15-28, 2014 We flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and stayed at the Peace Lodge Vara Blanca 126 Alajuela, Costa Rica (peacelodgereservations@waterfallsgardens.com) We spent two nights there and it ... Read More
CRUISE TO CENTRAL AMERICA AZAMARA QUEST JAN.15-28, 2014 We flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and stayed at the Peace Lodge Vara Blanca 126 Alajuela, Costa Rica (peacelodgereservations@waterfallsgardens.com) We spent two nights there and it was a most magnificent stay. On January 15, 2014 at 9: 00 am Ricky Ricardo met 6 of us by previous arrangements for the trip to Caldera to board the AZAMARA QUEST. Ricky was able to handle all the luggage in his van for the six of us. We made a stop at Zoo Ave on the way to the ship which was an interesting stop to use up some time. The ship the Azamara Quest was built in 2000 and was the R7 until Renaissance broke up. She has also sailed as Delphin, and Blue Moon under Pullmantur. Pullmantur a Spanish Cruise line was purchased around 2005 by RCCL who thus acquired all Pullmantur’s ships. She was refurbished in 2007. She is 30,277 GRT with a crew size of 408 and Passenger capacity of 694. There are 42 suites. All tipping is included, but the service was so good we just had to tip. All the officers on this ship are frequently seen and call the passengers by name. The Hotel Director Phillip and the Cruise director Russ Grieves did amazing jobs doing things to entertain the passengers that were very unusual. They served ice cream and did an Iron chef competition. Both are just so quick witted one could not help liking them. Russ has got to be the hardest working CD I have ever seen. He was dancing on white night, announcing all the time, greeting passengers around the ship and just a bundle of energy. The captain was seen frequently around the ship and stopped to talk to all the passengers. He was even at the gangplank greeting passengers back on board after the AzAmazing evening in PV. I saw Phillip and the Captain at the AzAmazing evening and other officers and ship personal at the function also. My take is that Azamara cruise line would be Celebrity’s answer to Silversea. Having sailed three Silversea cruise ships, I must say that Celebrity has answered quite well. The complimentary wine aboard Azamara Quest exceeded the Silversea complimentary wine. Azamara did not comp. Bombay Blue Sapphire gin except to furnish a bottle to the Owner’s suite. They did comp Beefeater gin and most mixed drinks. The next day January 16, Thursday the ship had sailed about 20 miles to Puntarenas. All passengers boarded in Caldera because of limitation of luggage handling in Puntarenas. In Puntarenas, Costa Rica we took a tour of the Puntarenas Area with Ricky Ricardo (rickyricardotours@hotmail.com) Mob.Tel # 506-8848-1499 Ricky lives in Puntarenas so it was easy for him to meet us for this tour. He was kind enough to come to the Peace Lodge to get us and bring us to the ship. We had a River boat ride on a small personal boat of about 10 passengers seeing many different types of birds. A sheet with numbers was furnished each of us to use describing what type bird we were seeing. When the guide spotted a bird he would call out the number and you could then see the name of the bird. This was a wonderful day on the River and we also got to see crocodiles being fed chickens right by our boat by the guide. He was in ankle deep water and the crocodile would leap to catch the chicken in his hand. We had a stop at a local restaurant on the water for an included lunch of Cosada with fresh Sea Bass. This was a very nice stop. We also went on an Aerial tram through the jungle. Lot's of termite nest, but many beautiful birds also. I can highly recommend Ricky Ricardo. He was very prompt and informative and arranged some very nice tours. We stopped to practice squeezing sugar cane with a press. Sugarcane juice with lime is a nice drink. Of course he gave us time to shop. Ricky also stopped on the side of the road to visit some monkeys and they did come close to him for the bananas. On Jan 17,Friday we went to Colonial Grenada, Nicaragua where we saw La Merced Church, dozens of colonial homes, and the convent of San Francisco to see the mysterious stone idols. We had a ride on the Lake for one hour past some of the hundreds of small islands that were formed during the Mombacho volcanic eruptions. We had a Horse & buggy for an hour ride around Grenada. Each of us had taken a lunch and found a nice establishment to stop and get drinks to go with our picnic meal. This tour was arranged through Careli tours. (yescany.sanchez@carelitours.com). I was allowed to make payment for the 8 of us via check to a bank in Florida. The regular tour was upgraded to a buggy ride through the streets of Grenada for $5/person. On Jan. 18 Saturday Our next tour was in El Salvador where we had a ships tour from Acajutla, El Salvador to Nahuizalco and Ataco. Nahuizalco we visited the place of the four Izalcos, cradle of one of the most distinctive handcrafting techniques of wicker and tule in El Salvador and purchased somw nice wicker souvenirs. Ataco or High Place of The Springs offered vivid paintings on the walls of the town's buildings. This tour was billed as the "FLOWERS ROUTE" but was disappointing as there were very few flowers seen. This was a long tour and wore out some people. It was over 7 hours. Jan. 19, Sunday We stopped at Puerto Quezal, Guatemala and visited Lake Atitlan with our private guide Luis sponsored by Tours By Locals. Luis Benjamin Cholotio Tel.# +502-4177-5213 (aweacholo@gmail.com) gave us a very good tour. The ride from Puerto Quezal to Lake Atitlan was about 2 hours so the total tour was about 7 hours but went by quickly. We had very nice rest stops. We boarded a small boat at San Lucas Toliman and visited San Juan La Laguna Luis's hometown and saw beautiful art galleries. We used little tuk-tuk’s to move around town for an extra cost, but it was better than walking. We continued to Santiago Atitlan and visited the Catholic church, and the central park. It was a 2 hour ride from the port to the lake so it was good we brought a lunch to save time and eat while we were cruising the Lake. We decided to just ride by San Antonio Palopo on the eastern side of the lake, but in the interest of time we did not stop. We were getting tired. Luis never got tired. Our guide did tell us to bring some warm cover for the beautiful Lake Ride. We saw textiles and natural dye coloring in San Juan La Laguna our guide's hometown. He took us to visit his home where he lived with his mother. His mother always enjoyed visitors but was away at this time. We met nieces and nephews. This was a very informative trip that was personalized for the 6 of us that participated. Luis gave us very good personalized tour. Monday, Jan. 20 we arrived in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, I went on a ship tour of a Mangrove and Nature Exploration with 6 people per boat to tour the mangrove streams and lagoons populated by wildlife and birds. My wife and friends cancelled out because of the tour in El Salvador being too long. We saw pelicans, herons, and ospreys (Fish Eagle), cormorants, hummingbirds, egrets, spoonbills, storks and turtles. We had four original reservations, but three in our party elected not go on this tour. We saw a shrimp farm since these lagoons are salt water and have tidal variations. It is a new business not in full function yet. Tuesday January 21, Huatulco, Mexico where I again went on a ship's tour by myself. My wife and the other couple elected to just rest. We went to La Crucecita and scenic drive to see deluxe hotels, and Continue to Conejos Bay for breathtaking views. We visited an arts & crafts museum to see Oaxaca's arts & crafts. Next we visited La Crucecita, a quaint town where participants in the tour are allowed to browse the bustling market. On the way back at the La Entrega Beach we stopped and had a chance to take photos of our Azamara Quest ship from a high vantage point. Thursday Jan 23 after we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico where the 4 of us went to the Karmina hotel resort for a 4 hour visit of drinking and eating and laying out and visiting the resort. It was a beautiful property and probably could be visited inexpensively after talking to some of the people that were staying there. Friday Jan 24, we stopped in Puerta Vallarta. We took a short cab ride to visit Walmart and Sams which were next door to each other during the morning. More non Mexicans shopping than Mexicans. It was interesting to see the display or raw fish and octopus that we do not see in America. In the evening Azamara had arranged a complimentary show by The HUICHOL INDIANS OF THE SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS. This was a very nice experience. They used multiple vans to carry about 600 people into the mountains to visit the property. Large buses would not be able to make it. The Huichol Indians put on a colorful show and we were served margaritas, tequila and many nice snacks. A very nice fireworks show followed. I can say that this was a very nice success. As we went up the rough roads we would see cowboys on horseback with flashlights lighting our way to be sure drivers did not go the wrong way. Sat. & Sun Jan 25 & Jan 26 we spent at CABO SAN LUCAS. On the second day we did a sunset cruise which was very nice with very good eats and drinks. Nice views of the arch and saw a manta ray pop the surface. Mon. & Tues Jan 27 and 28 We had two nice days at sea and arrived in LA and we're trying to get off the ship when we were rejected by a customs hold that came up on the screen when my sail/sign was inserted. Phillip Herbert the Hotel director had no idea why. He called customs and an agent came after some delay and escorted us off. We had a 10:30 AM departure and did get to the airport at 8:30 AM in plenty enough time Unfortunately that flight got cancelled because of freeze in Atlanta, and we spent the night in LA at our usual Courtyard LAX on West Century Blvd. We had rebooked for the same flight to Atlanta the next day Thursday Jan. 30 which we got on the airplane and already had a drink when the captain said we would be delayed for take off for 5 hours. We were disembarked and realized that we could not make our Atlanta to MLU connection. The roads in Atlanta would not allow our daughter to get to the airport to pick us up for an over night stay and all the hotels were booked up so we rebooked for the 7:30 AM Flight to Atlanta on Friday Jan 31, 2014 and spent the night January 30th back at the Courtyard by Marriott on West Century Blvd.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014

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