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Sail Date: December 2014
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet ... Read More
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet access but would go to the stake supporting the on board experience. In summary for those who may not wish to read further. Good cruise not great. Tango evening in Buenos Aries very good. Ship entertainment good although English female magician was a cross between Jo Brand and Tommy Cooper but good in the end.. I think some allusions may have passed the USA /Canadian audience by. Eric is as Eric does and was good as usual. White night party better than usual but not surprising as it was New years Eve with fantastic fireworks display (20 minutes long) from prime position in front line off Copacabana beach. Food fair Morale on ship appeared to be poor with little leadership shown by Captain. Passenger mix good with no predominant group. I was surprised to see so many non-Christian people on board but maybe they want to escape Christmas as a festival although Christmas decorations were confined to 1 Christmas tree and fake snow on band area in cabaret lounge. We were led astray by bad group in casino lounge most nights so had good time. Now to review/comments Flew down from Newcastle and spent pleasant 3 hours in Exec lounge with a glass or 4 of Champagne before boarding flight to Buenos Aries. Good meal and lie flat bed made the journey faultless. We then emerged into chaos of arrivals at BA . Found rep eventually with one of the smallest arrivals signs I have seen for a long time. Simple transfer to hotel and met people on bus who we had sailed with previously. Hotel fine and had lazy day around pool. Tried to organise taxi for next morning and knowing state of Argentinean peso offered to pay in dollars. Evening concierge was quoting $35/40 plus tip for what appeared to be only a 10 minute journey on Google but was quite insistent we should book now through him. We had transfers booked through hotel so did not make decision. Next morning approached day concierge and was quoted $10 which we took. Advised rep so that bus was not waiting for us. We prefer taxi as it enables us to go when we want and no scrum re bus and baggage. We had a friend who lost hand baggage case which was placed in bus hold but was removed by a thief before bus set off. We always wait now until baggage doors are shut before one of us boards bus. Straight on board at 11.00 to be greeted by Heike and proceeded to make our Prime C reservations. Rather than do a blow by blow account I intend to split review into sep sections. I am fully aware that a lot of people may not like what I write and will say I am nitpicking but how many coincidences/ failures create a trend, All I would ask is read and consider if these were your experiences what would you think? Safety. At one port we were advised of a 30 minute tender journey so therefore a probable 1 Hour 20 turn round. Of the first tender boats the first had an engine failure on the water. Life happens BUT the second ran out of fuel and also had to be recovered with consequent chaos to tender times. Far more serious was if there had actually been an emergency we would have had only half the number of boats available. Totally unacceptable. Comfort. Aircon We commented on cabin air con and despite curtains closed all day and running on maximum cooling it was practically impossible to tell difference between corridors/outside and room. Complained for 4 days but no differences made. Accepted it in the end even though other parts of ship were kept cool. Toilets. Had blockages /overflows on at least 5 days in both toilets as well as elsewhere in public toilets in deck 9. I realise that these are probably client inflicted but not by us as we are scrupulous about items. I can tell you that one of the worst experiences is when (as you do) you get up in the dark to go to the toilet at 3am you most definitely wake up when you enter toilet and your feet get wet. Fortunately clean water but still a horrible moment. I do not consider that a pot plant in dressing area is equivalent to “fresh cut flowers in suite” but probably a Larry cutback. Morale on board Having sailed at least 10 times with Azamara we look forward to returning and seeing regular staff and had even brought Christmas presents for people like Heike, Alex and other favourite waiters etc. It appears that unlike previous times staff are now rotated between Journey and Quest and we therefore saw far fewer staff that we knew. Missing staff included Adel restaurant manager and Dale and Victor head barmen. It was alleged problems with visas was the reason for this but efficiency suffered because of lack of experienced staff. We also had new F & B manager as well as executive chef Iwan. Staff were certainly not as happy or smiling as on previous trips and officers were hardly ever seen on deck or as previous eating in the Windows Cafe. Food We are early risers 7.45 a.m. and were able to dine in Windows outside deck every morning. At no time did we see the fresh orange machine working and after a few days it had disappeared completely. On asking I was informed “Brazilian authorities do not like you to see it” Hey, I am on Azamaras finest not one of Mr Fyffe’s boats. Smoothies were as good as ever and made as you waited. I was not impressed when waiting for smoothie when Captain walked in, was served before me and did not even say “Good Morning, are you enjoying your cruise?” Maybe he thought the vote of thanks I gave at the Captains dinner in the library 2 days before was not fulsome enough. Rest of food fine with fresh eggs made as requested but there did not appear to be as many staff to carry food to your table if required or requested. I do npt expect for myself as able bodied. 2 days running they ran out of English muffins? It appeared they were on ration as on third day it was like Cpl Jones in Dads Army. If you asked for them they were produced from a cloth covered basket behind the counter!!!! It was great if you liked peach yogurt as this was the only flavoured offered. Surely somewhere in Argentina sells other flavours. Lunch Not great lunchers but soups were fine although the hot dishes could surely have looked better and maybe fresher if they only used half the hot area. Mainly ate freshly made sandwiches and it is the first time I have had an egg mayonnaise toastie as it was whipped into toaster before I could say thank you. Also has on 3 occasions the “room service burger “which according to folk lore is made from tail end of fillets from Prime C. In no way was it the same as on previous cruises. On cutting into it it simply split into pieces rather like mince. Not good. Burger bar at pool area Changes here in that now instead of burgers/hot dogs being prepared as required they are cooked en masse and placed in chafing dishes for self selection. Result is you get a Mcdonalds type bun instead of toasted bun fresh from grill also French fries are kept in same dishes resulting in cool fries. Answer: Cook less per fry and they will be fresh and hot. I would rather wait a minute than have cold/luke warm fries. No extra cost but customer satisfaction. Afternoon tea Had served in suite and I notice now only 5 prawns instead of 6 for 2 people (17 per cent saving) I think they could do away with bits on sticks as they are rarely fresh Whilst on subject the English tea bags are useless and I am NOT a strong teas drinker. Dinner Mainly ate in Prime C and again there is no doubt that the quality of steak has changed dramatically as well as general food standards. It was obvious that they do a good job with pre prepared items i.e. soups, salads, crab cakes and desserts but the fresh items like steaks were often poor. This may be my fault but initially ordered well done fillet steak (major mistake for Americans) but It was like shoe leather. Next time ordered medium which was indeed pink in middle but still completely dry with no juices. Had it sat too long under the lamps? Moved onto halibut which was great but unbelievably they ran out of later in the cruise. How can that happen? They know their passenger load and it must come frozen. Later on they also ran out of Dover sole and one night they ran out between ordering and service. I reordered their daily special of pork steak which was great and came hot and juicy so it is possible. Lamb was not much better and they had no mint sauce except that provided from a bottle which you shook like vinegar over your meal. Mint jelly was so fluorescent it should be in Doctor Who. They provide Marmite and Vegemite for us foreigners surely they could get some Colmans proper stuff? Captains dinner was completely unremarkable as I cannot even remember what we had apart from a Margarita Sorbet which had melted and had to be drunk from the glass. I remember being advised by Chef Iwan whose first Captains dinner this was that we would be served with “Lettuce emulsion “ also “potato spaghetti” . The descriptions were better than the reality as most hot courses were warm/cold. I did not spot the truffels although they were on the printed menu Drinks As previous cruisers we were aware that they normally carry 2 Rieslings which are our preferred choice. Usually a discreet request to restaurant manager would enable us to have this from day 1. This time was advised you could only have the 2 on offer. After 5 days one waiter was bold or stupid enough to comment that there was a Riesling on menu in Discoveries restaurant that night so they then provided the Chilean Riesling. It appeared that the German Diennhard one was no longer stocked although a far better quality. The following comments are from other passengers so cannot vouch for absolute veracity but no reason to doubt them. One couple had friends on previous cruise that raved about a particular daily wine and emailed them about it. They asked if they could have this wine but were advised that it was not possible as it was a free daily wine and not until it was on daily list. No problem they said “Can we pay for it?. Answer “We cannot sell it as it is an inclusive wine.” Also suite members get 4 half bottles of spirits but are not allowed to drink them other than in your room. I understand that Azamara may not want you to drink your own shop bought alcohol but it seems bizarre that if you are sitting in a bar with the provided bottles and using Azamara mixers. You would actually be saving them money as you would not be using their alcohol. Unless my memory is failing I thought that pool bar served draught beer but no longer and the “International selection of beers” is Becks, Bud and Heineken Surely with Inbev reach Azamara could take on board a limited amount of local bottled beer at each replenishment point and use as limited edition. Perhaps our final room service breakfast was a useful metaphor for Azamara on board service. Bacon good, potatoes good, muffin were no bigger than thumb/forefinger circle with an extra inch in circumference, poached eggs bigger than muffins and the weakest orange juice I have ever drunk. Final conclusions The peer of the realm with a party of 16 most certainly will not return and Francis a German lady we have met on 2 previous cruises who received the LCV award on ship for most cruises at 25 will not be returning either. Disembarkation the usual shambles with 3 ships at the same time and 1 hour to check in at Windsor atlantica hotel on Copacabana beach. We were finally dumped at airport 4 hours before departure time with checkout not due to open for another hour. We were all flying on same flight so why was it not possible to delay departure by at least 1 hour.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and ... Read More
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and were on board with a glass of bubbly and lunch waiting. Our balcony cabin was spacious enough and although we didn't use our balcony a lot it was lovely to have. The service on board was outstanding, Raymond and Hilda who looked after our room were fantastic and on my husband birthday they had gone in and put balloons and a Happy Birthday banner up, a nice touch. The food on board was very good, we ate in the Window cafe for breakfast and lunch and the discovery restaurant for dinner where we had excellent food and service. The entertainment that we went to was very enjoyable. There is nothing that I can fault about the cruise and I look forward to doing another one. Thank you Azamara Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Sailed a for the Christmas cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires and for the first time on Azamara. This was our first "upscale" cruise (or luxe-light as I've heard it called). We had a great time. Keep in mind this is before ... Read More
Sailed a for the Christmas cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires and for the first time on Azamara. This was our first "upscale" cruise (or luxe-light as I've heard it called). We had a great time. Keep in mind this is before this line went "all-inclusive." PRE-CRUISE: We checked into the Sheraton in the extreme western part of Leblon (Leblon is the very west part of Rio beach area) after an overnight flight. Had already met some people through our Roll Call who were staying in that hotel and met up with them and became good friends and spent a lot of time with them over the next 4 days having dinners and doing the activities. The hotel was good, reasonably priced, but a bit out of the way. Not bad if you are going to do guided tours as they pick you up (we did a 2 day private tour with Manu Picalat - highly recommended and book early as he's busy), but getting back into town on your own will require a taxi or a long walk (and I wouldn't do that walk at night though I personally didn't feel worried at all - but I have lived in very large cities most of my life). We did it a few times by foot, but it's a good 20 minute walk to the beginning of the action. Forget about driving yourself. It's certifiably insane! Overall, LOVED Rio and never felt all the danger people talk of. Very nice place and comes recommended. One tip is to see the Redeemer statue AS SOON AS IT OPENS. No crowds, and great views. I think that was about 7:30am. Also, they had a beach which was nice, but keep in mind it's not private as locals use it too. Not a problem, and never crowded, but the surf was pretty intense so I wouldn't go swimming unless you are a VERY good swimmer! Best part was leaving the sliding door to our balcony open and hearing the crashing surf every night as we drifted off to sleep. LOVED THAT! THE SHIP: Embarkation was super easy and fast (maybe 15 mins?). We REALLY loved the smaller format R-Class ships. We had about 520 people out of the possible 680-ish capacity on board so it was incredibly UN-crowded. This was very appreciated as the big ships drive us bonkers with the lines and crowds. Living in a crowded metro area, we like to get away from crowds. The ship didn't disappoint and we enjoyed the size. It was quite nicely appointed (it had just come out of dry dock and you could tell). Can't fault anything and was quite impressed at the level of detail and refinement. It was much like being in a 4 or 5 star NYC hotel. The public spaces were well laid out and never crowded. I didn't use the casino except to have a cocktail but on sea days or early port departures it got pretty busy in the evenings (it's also tiny so that's why I suspect it felt so busy). The lounges were very nice, and the MDR was fantastic and we appreciated the open seating. We ate many dinners with different friends we met or sometimes just the two of us. The fitness center was surprisingly good, as was the Library. We didn't use the spa. FOOD/DRINKS: VERY good. I wouldn't say the best I've ever had, but clearly they put a lot of effort into the food and it is more or less fired as you order which helps (take the galley tour - fun stuff and makes you feel good about where your food is coming from). Presentations were appealing and the variety was very good for a ship this size. We enjoyed each meal onboard. We ate at both speciality restaurants (twice at Prime C). Both were VERY VERY good. Very accommodating (when in Aqualina we wanted the lobster salad we had had from Prime C as it was really that good - no problem whatsoever). Also, the unlimited wine was free flowing with lunch and dinner and honestly, very good and varied... (and I mean this was truly a "please stop filling my glass after every 3 sips or I'm going to pass out" unlimited). The Lido buffets were really good and had a really great selection including sushi, several hot stations, etc. Left absolutely nothing to be desired! I will add that we had purchased the top-shelf beverage package which used to be $39.95 pp per day as we like our top shelf spirits and it was super convenient to be able to order whatever, whenever from wherever. For us this was worth it, however now that they have gone all-inclusive, this probably is a moot point. Also, the Mosaic coffee bar was tops - and included (even without the beverage package). Delish coffee-house drinks and nice littler finger sandwiches, etc. You won't go hungry or be disappointed, this I can promise. We used room service one morning and it was nice, but we get up early so we just headed to the lido for the most part... STAFF/SERVICE: Here's where I think you can REALLY see the difference between the mass-market ships an a more boutique line. Everyone who worked on that ship was engaged, friendly, and basically three steps ahead of any need/desire you had. I'd walk into the MDR bar before dinner, and of course our "pack of new friends" would be there and the amazing bartender (who I sadly cannot remember his name) would have the drinks poured and ready to go. Everyone was super engaging and would just chat, chat, chat with you. Some were quite busy (such as the cabin stewards) but they still made time to talk to you and make sure everything was just how you wanted it. We had brought on some spirits we bought in Rio before embarking and our steward saw this and made sure we had fresh glasses, mixers in the mini fridge, and ice at least 3 times per day. Nice touch! The CD was fun and engaged, and there were some fun activities. They also had a very good DJ for the Looking Glass lounge at night and he would go until pretty late, even though not many were there.... We ate it up being night owls. Honestly, can't say enough good things about the staff on this ship!!! CABINS: We were in the lowest class of Verandah room pretty mid ship on the 6th deck. It was fine, but not very large at around 170 sq ft. We expected this so we weren't disappointed per se, but you will want to maintain organization! The bathroom, on most any cruise ship, is insanely small, but it works. Plenty of storage. The entertainment system was fine with the typical... a few channels of TV, some movies, the bridge cam and room service ordering/folio review. What was pretty nice is each day they put the various menus for the restaurants on there so you could start your salivating early. :) The balcony was fine and as expected with two chairs and a table big enough to eat on. Also, it was quiet. No noise at all and we slept like babies on the very comfortable beds. One thing to note that we loved is announcements (which are rare anyways) are NOT piped into the rooms. Such a nice change. Several times we'd have to crack the door open to hear what the Captain was saying. Overall, my advice is don't overpack (and keep in mind they have free laundry facilities... more on that in a bit). ACTIVITIES: Each day we received our "Pursuits" guide, and it was pretty typical of your daily guide. Not a whole heck of a lot going on like a 3000 person ship, but again expected. Slots tournaments, enrichment lectures, some tours (do the tours of the bridge and the galley if you can) and the like. We really didn't participate as we had a fairly intensive port schedule and were quite worn out from many late nights in Rio. I will say it was perfectly acceptable for the size of the ship, however. EXCURSIONS: We used all ship sponsored excursions, though some ports we just struck out on our own. This is where your research will help you out. The prices were high, but not extreme, and for the most part we enjoyed each. Some were just "OK" but nothing was bad and everything went smoothly. PASSENGERS: Almost exclusively older, well traveled (mid 40's to ....?). A handful of maybe 10 kids with their parents. Very few 20 and 30 somethings. Most were from the US or Canada and a few from Brazil. Very well heeled group and there was little to know "drama" or anything of the kind. The ship goes to bed fairly early (11pm) and rises early (7am). We are a gay couple and never had any trouble fitting in, and in fact met 6 other gay couples on board... Everyone was very gracious and we made some great friends straight or gay! MISC STUFF: The free Laundry on deck 7 was great - EXCEPT it gets incredibly busy. The facility consists of three washers and three dryers. The detergent is automatically added to the machine (marine friendly) so you only need to bring dryer sheets if you are so inclined. There is also two ironing boards. My advice is do laundry on off hours like dinner or while in port. Embarkation day I made a bee-line to the facility even before really unpacking since we had already been in Rio for 4 days and we packed light (and changed 2x a day due to the heat/humidity). I lucked out. When I went back 40 mins later to move my clothes from the washer to the dryer, there was a line of about 7 people. And it mostly stayed that way for the duration of the cruise... Also, I'd like to suggest you set a reminder on your phone/watch so you know when the clothes are ready to be moved or removed, mostly as a courtesy to others... Trust me, when it gets busy people will do this for you and then you have wrinkles or wet clothes sitting on a dryer. Smoking (which I thankfully kicked) is allowed ONLY in one small section of the pool deck, but this should be a consideration if you smoke. Finally, if the weather is inclement (or in our case, our boat took on a bunch of weird non-biting mosquitos overnight one day in the middle of the ocean - which was promptly taken care of) the lido can be hard to find a seat in for breakfast. My advice here is head to the MDR. They have plenty of capacity and breakfast service is rather quick. OVERALL: YES I would said with Azamara again, in a heartbeat. I'm curious of the new all-inclusive offerings. I am still in the "exploring the lines" phase, so it will have to wait a few years as I have sailings on other luxe lines and a river cruise set up, but I think when the dust settles, you'll see me back on an Azamara ship! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
First time reviewer as we have just completed our 4th cruise, background is we have sailed with Celebrity in 2011 (Med) and got the cruise bug. We then did the Carribean with Holland America and Turkey and Greece with MSC Divina. We are ... Read More
First time reviewer as we have just completed our 4th cruise, background is we have sailed with Celebrity in 2011 (Med) and got the cruise bug. We then did the Carribean with Holland America and Turkey and Greece with MSC Divina. We are aged 35 and 39. We tried to book the full package through Azamara ie flights and cruise, the cruise departed on 27 Dec from Buenos Aires. Azamara wanted us to fly to London on Dec 24 from Scotland. Stay at the Airport on Xmas eve then spend Christmas day in the Airport as the flight was not until app 21.30. Arrive in Argentina on 26 and Azamara would give us a free night in a hotel. When we tried to change the flight to the 22nd as we did not want to spend Xmas eve and day at terminal 5 we were told this would not be possible. We got our own flights. We were really looking forward to the cruise as the ports were really good and the ship has a 5 star+ reputation. The ports were fantastic but the ship is not a 5 star. It may have been when it was new back in the late 90s. If you like visiting grannies and her furniture you may disagree with me. As we sailed on Nuiew Amsterdam when it was app 3 months old and MSC Divina was a week old maybe we have been spoilt on other ships. In relation to the usual subjects here is my opinion Embarkation was spot on, straight through no waiting. We also arrived at midday and got straight into our room. Staff were excellent although the DJ starts at 11pm and if there are less than 14 people he goes to bed. One night there was 14 but he still went to bed. Please note if you like a little music and enjoy a drink and a little fun this cruise ship is not for you. If you are aged 55+ dont like the big ships due to the walking, size and music and boutique type of hotels you will love this ship. We paid £2750 each for a Balcony room for 9 nights and felt there was not the same value for money with the cruise lines mentioned above. We paid app £1000 for MSC and this included all drinks and speciality coffees (1 week). You do get wine at dinner and lunch with Azamara and all wines were good quality. Also the tips for the staff on Azamara are included but we still tipped our cabin team and a couple of waiters. We paid for the drinks package which was 265 dollars each but my wife fell Ill on the first day and was confined to the room for 4 days. Azamara did allow us to cancel the package as drinking on your own on holiday is no fun. Azamara also gave my wife free internet in the room. Saying that 4 days is a long time. We never done any excursions with the ship as we had done most of them on other ships but as stated above the ports were excellent where you did not need a bus or taxi to get to. Uusally we would go to the entertainment every night but as my wife was ill for 4 days, 1 night was New Year and we ate late on a couple of occasions and missed the show. Out of the 2 nights we did go it was OK. Remember that most of the clientelle is 50+. The stateroom is the same size roughly of the other ships we have been on just a little older and more tired. I felt the food in the main resturant was good but my wife disagreed. We both felt in comparison to other ships buffet there was not as good a selection but this will be down to the ships size, buffet was never busy like the big ships. We would not cruise with Azamara again as we feel there are better ships with better value for money. Unlike the previous cruises the ship did not have the WOW factor that we thought we were paying the extra for. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to ... Read More
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to have snacks, drinks and Internet access. Club Europe full but meal on board perfectly acceptable. Met at Nice by Azamara rep (6 of us) and escorted to 50 seater coach. We had to wait approx 1 hour for delayed flight from Manchester. This did not please one passenger who after half an hour was demanding either A: Coach set off immediately B: A taxi be procured for him and his partner. We other 2 couples refused to be drawn into this discussion and on arrival of other passengers set of for Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo. Unfortunately this was the day of match between Real and Chelsea so traffic was horrendous and hotel was full of gravy trainers (UEFA delegates). Room was fantastic and overlooked F1 circuit hairpin. Adequate breakfast next day and then taxied to port. On arrival greeted by several staff we knew including Hotel director Heijke Berdos. On board by 12 00 and having dropped hand baggage for later delivery went to Windows cafe for lunch where met other old friends /crew members Adele / Alex and Jose. After lunch with complimentary wine and soft drinks went down to suite to meet butler? Suite was fine with bath as well as shower. Went to lifeboat muster drill to be advised that because of French (not Monegasque )dock workers and itinerary being set for 18 months the workers would not turn up at 5.00am to untie the ship with the result we had to leave early at midnight. Not great for one couple who had stayed in Monte Carlo for 2 days before hand and had planned a night out in Monte Carlo to arrive at ship at 2.00am. Imagine their surprise when they turned up to an empty dock. They were able to be reaccomadated and transferred to ship at St Tropez next day. This was totally NOT Azamaras fault and of course with such late notice they were unable to advise guests. In addition because of Lufthansa strike action some 37 other passengers also missed departure. Great advert for NOT making your own arrangements for arrival that day. Good night sleep and down for breakfast to Azamara specialities Freshly squeezed orange juice /cranberry juice /freshly made eggs of all varieties including poached as well as boiled as well as freshly made toast bagels muffins . Not bad to be sitting in open air watching the ships wake in the sun. Onto sundeck with Azamara signature proper wooden loungers with full thickly padded loungers with white slip covers and towels. Repeat as needed for 10 days. Food As suite guests we had complimentary dining in Aqualina and Prime C as standard and happy to report my favourites of Goats cheese souffle /French onion soup and Grand Marnier souffle are alive and well. If you ask they will serve almost any dish between the 2 restaurants and given 24 hours notice will prepare any dish of your request (subject to ingredient availability.) Probably no ostrich meat but we had a most beautiful salmon Wellington that the executive chef said had given him a new idea for possible menu changes The only let down for food was the windows cafe lunch offering which was very repetitive i.e. 1 hot carved meat/chicken with some spicing/fish in sauce and some other bits. They did have a good range of meat fish cheese to make fresh sandwiches or panini and if you were still desperate there was burger bar that did have good meat choices burgers hot dogs brochettes and speciality daily sausage i.e. German /Italian etc. On galley tour saw prep areas etc. and 24-hour room service is available together with in room dining if required. Drink All soft drinks free at all times 24 hours daily and wines 3 choices at lunch /dinner times free flowing (average 4 glasses at lunchtime.!!) All adequate quality including Roses and Rieslings for lighter drinking.. As suite guests we had 4 half bottles of spirits gin vodka whisky and rum as well as 2 bottles of champagne which took some drinking . Service This is amazing and a great advert for compulsory tipping as staff are guaranteed a decent wage and are desperate to return and indeed approx 80% of front facing staff return after their initial contract and some have been working for Azamara for 5 years You really feel humble when you realise these people are away from home for 6 months on 2 months off for 7 days a week yet they are still so friendly and remember your preferences re tea coffee etc. On Azamara you get a questionnaire after 3 days to see if there is ANYTHING wrong so that they can fix rather than have a complaint later. I simply commented on my card that for cruises with a fair percentage of Brits on board it might be nice to have Marmite sachets for guests at breakfast. Within 2 hours I had a call from Executive chef stating they would try to obtain some at next port of call Livorno. Imagine my surprise when at breakfast 2 days later waiter produced a jar for me. Azamara had gone to the trouble of obtaining some via port agent and had sought me out at breakfast. Embarrassing to say it was produced on a tray each breakfast for me. SERVICE SERVICE!!! Tendering Good with plenty of help on and off except Capri where Captain Johannes explained that they HAVE to use local tenders which are small craft seating about 20 on open boats. These are really quite unsatisfactory, as you have to step onto boat side then boat seat and finally deck. We are not old or infirm but we did not enjoy this at all. Captain explained that they had offered to pay for ferries but use their own lifeboats but this option is always refused by boatmen. Not sure why as I will quite happily be paid to do nothing or even go and earn some money elsewhere. We also had unfortunate experience at St Tropez where we tendered in on Azamara boats and were deciding whether to go to Port Grimaud but decided it looked too choppy for the small boats. We returned to tender back to ship. As soon as we had left harbour it was decided it was too dangerous to disembark until ship was swung to make a lee for safer disembarkation. We were therefore stuck on tender for an hour whilst ship was swung. Whilst not in danger it was very uncomfortable as life boat was pitching and rolling outside harbour walls. Captain explained that French weather forecast had been for 15 knot winds whereas in reality it became 30 knots and he considered it dangerous to continue until ship was moved. Excursions Did not do any Azamara as have been to ports already although if you book early you get 50% off pricing. Some American guests did 8 excursions and they must need a holiday to recover. Entertainment The cruise director Eric De Gray is fantastic as appearances in Hairspray /Elvis impersonator and in Abba in final show. Those who have seen it will agree it is amazing but do not want to spoil the surprise for others. He is always around and approachable yet so self deprecating although he says one of passengers favourite sayings is "you should do this Professionally" English comedian very good and his fiancee the singer also but pickpocket and Rat Pack impersonator less so and quite a few walked out of both shows. Guests A good mixture of nationalities Brits, Americans, Germans, Australians even including some Russians who wanted to gamble and eat in restaurants in bath robes. Thankfully refused admission by Addel restaurant manager. Disembarkation. Always the Achilles heel of any ship although if you have a later flight you can stay on board until 11.30 with early lunch. Unfortunately our flight did not qualify so we were dropped at airport approx 90 mins before desk opened. On check inn up to Exec lounge which does not compare with LHR with a few croissants and cold sandwiches. . A useful tip is if you book an open cruise you pay £150 deposit to get £400 off your next cruise and this is in addition to any TA discount as this is transferable once you have decided on cruise. You get best of both worlds. A loyalty discount as well as any best price you can get from travel agent. Overall a great holiday and we are looking forward to next one on 15 November Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Although we thought it might be a little late in the year for an Athens - Venice cruise, there were still plenty of tourist about but we escaped the hordes of summer and the weather was in fact good enough to sit on deck most days, at ... Read More
Although we thought it might be a little late in the year for an Athens - Venice cruise, there were still plenty of tourist about but we escaped the hordes of summer and the weather was in fact good enough to sit on deck most days, at least from about 10am - 3.30pm. The Quest cabin was perfectly comfortable with enough drawer and hanging space, made easier by quite a few hooks on the bathroom door and in the cabin. Suitcases are not taken away but there is a space in the cabin for them - we found they would fit under the bed which was useful when it came to packing to go home. The bathroom, however is tiny. It was however, very clean and although tiny, we managed to shower, was,etc etc. with no trouble. There was adequate shelving and a cupboard in the bathroom for everything we needed. The balcony was a little disappointing - bigger than Seabourn Spirit but smaller than Seabourn Odyssey (both considerably more expensive), with a small table and two chairs but no room for a sun lounger. Food is served in the self service buffet and in the restaurant at breakfast and dinner, but buffet only at lunch time. At other times there is also a deck cafe serving burgers etc. We found that for dinner the restaurant was rather better food and better service. For other meals the buffet was fine and had an outdoor area for eating which was lovely in November, although there were not too many people eating outside towards the end of the cruise (about mid-November). Perfectly drinkable wine was included with lunch and dinner and to our surprise was not limited to one or two glasses. However, drinks from the bar were quite expensive. The daily cocktail was about the most reasonable thing on offer at between $6 - $10 plus 18% of course. We didn't have a big bar bill! No smoking allowed on Balconies. Balconies very private. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were ... Read More
We have just returned from a 10 night Cruise on Azamara Quest from Venice to Athens with a pre cruise overnight at the Antony Hotel. We have previously sailed on Fred Olsen, Ocean Village, RCI, Cunard, Princess, and P&O and were looking forward to 5*+ "Boutique Style " Cruising. Air Arrangements - KLM via Amsterdam - great service from KLM and would fly with them again. However, the non direct and timing of flights arranged by Azamara added unnecessary frustration and travelling time - on disembarkation we left the ship at 9 am with a flight time out of Athens of 16.55 and eventually arrived in Manchester at 9.30 local time - 14 1/2 hours after leaving the ship. Such travel arrangements would probably be a deal breaker in the future. Due to the late flight and as we did not want to participate in the Athens excursions available through Azamara we took the opportunity to book a room at the Airport Sofital at a cost of 96 Euros, checking out at 2.30pm. Comfortable room and facilities including a pool and nice lunch in the bar. Pre Cruise hotel stay - Antony Hotel - Venice - 10 minutes from the Airport and 10 minutes from the Port. Good location to get the the Port the following day. Friendly staff, comfortable lounge. Basic but clean room. Dinner expensive and the lamb chops inedible. Embarkation. Left hotel by coach 12 noon and arrived at the Port 10/15 minutes later. As we had been fortunate to have been upgraded to a suite we were able to take advantage of immediate priority check in. However, embarkation was chaotic with no order, reminiscent of a rugby scrum with no regard to health and safety. Embarkation was a little delayed as the Ship had been subject to a deep clean due to Norovirus being on board. Once on board we were directed to Windows Cafe for Lunch and our cabins became available around 2pm and luggage promptly delivered. Norovirus - a small number of cases were reported during our cruise but probably no more than one would expect to see in the general population. However, the situation was well managed with food served from the buffet rather than self service until about 2 days before disembarking. I personally preferred being served and once self service was reintroduced I felt that Windows Cafe became more chaotic. Due to the Norovirus no table menus were available in the bars or coffee shop. We had a daily update from the Captain with regard to the status of "GI" - it would have been preferable for the update not to have been received during dining hours! Cabin - Club Continent Suite - Deck 8 - spacious and clean with a bathroom with a bathtub. Lots of wardrobes and storage and a balcony. Whilst Butler service was available we are not particularly demanding people and did not take advantage of Suite delivered afternoon tea, evening savouries or suite dining other than for some breakfasts. I did enjoy the complimentary Brandy and Gin which we had exchanged from the normal Whisky and Vodka. Whilst we did enjoy the spaciousness of the Suite we probably would not book one over a Veranda Cabin due to the differential in cost. Food - all excellent albeit we did not eat in Discoveries, preferring the more relaxed atmosphere of Windows Cafe. We ate in Aqualina twice and Prime C once - food and service all excellent. Entertainment - limited day time entertainment other than a number of trivias and a limited number of craft sessions. Whilst Azamara Cruises are destination orientated it would have been nice to have seen more ship board activities. Evening entertainment was ok but not as good as other lines we have been on. Bar/Lounge Facilities - all excellent in an evening but again in the day time lacking with no inside active bar where you could just sit and relax until 5pm. Lunch and Dinner complimentary wine - excellent and free flowing. Beer package excellent value. We particularly enjoyed the "Looking Glass" Observatory bar with live music. Excursions - we didn't participate, preferring to do our own thing. Ports - all excellent and would have looked much better in kinder weather. Particularly enjoyed Venice, Dubrovnik and Corfu. Complimentary shuttle services when required. Spa/Gym - nice facilities with small outside area including heated pool specifically reserved for Suite Guests. Gratuities - Dining. Bar and Housekeeping - included in Cruise Fare. Spa Gratuities extra. Value for money - this trip - excellent. Regular pricing quoted on a trip for next year (Veranda Stateroom - Greek Islands - August) we feel expensive at almost '£3000 each for 11 nights and would not be prepared to pay. Overall Experience - Enjoyable trip with like-minded people. Mix of Nationalities - British, American, Canadian, Australian, Chinese. Excellent value for money. Excellent food and service. Nice relaxed feel to ship. 5*+ experience? Having considered our overall experience on a similar trip on Queen Victoria last year including direct flights we feel that Cunard have the edge. However, we have signed up for the "Open Package" giving future discounts and we will be back subject to itinerary and costing. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and ... Read More
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and moving around the ship is easy. You hardly feel there are 650 passengers on board and it is easy to mingle and meet people. We chose to dress up everynight, but dressy casual is sufficient. Loved the open dining policy - it really meant not having to look at a watch! The open wine served (although is limited to a glass) is rarely enforced, very nice wines. Food is amazing and often a hard choice on what to select! Or do as I did and eat 2 desserts every night - the velvety cappuccino is wonderful! We throughly enjoyed the Prime C restaurant. The open pool bar has great hamburgers and tacos and the coffee at the Italian cafe is divine, as well as the afternoon nibbles! The lovely THICK mattress poolside coupled with the warm pool made it hard to leave the pool everyday! HIGHLY recommend this cruise line. A nice size ship, without feeling lost. Facilites and food excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, ... Read More
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, hotels/apartments and rental cars. This year one of our trips were cancelled and suddenly we found our self with 2 weeks of spare time to use at "anything". By pure coincidence we stumbled upon a cruise with Azamara and within a few days everything was arranged thru a TA in Oslo. We were going on our first cruise. We read many reviews before we decided and in line with some recommendations we opted for the interior cabin. It's true what they said. We never spent much time there and the money saved could be used on the beverage package,- among other things. Next time we might go for a balcony, but for the first cruise it was quite OK to just do the interior cabin. We got a great reception embarking in Nice and the Meet and Mingle Party was held later the same evening. A fine opportunity to meet some fellow cruisers that you only had some contact with via cruise critic. First port of call was Saint-Tropez. We had plans for lunch at Plage L'Esquinade and had a great day in port. The Saint-Tropez Sailing Week was in progress and it was fantastic to watch all the yachts and large sail boats passing by the Journey as we were tendered close to the port. Sanary Sur Mer was next port and it was really a quaint little village with a beautiful port. The only negative side to it was that they practice siesta and basically that meant that almost all the shops were closed from 12-3p.m. If you don't have a port excursion in a place like Sanary Sur Mer is a bit too quiet. IMHO they should do a bit more when they get cruise ships,- I rather feel a bit stranded in a beautiful town when everything is closed. If they don't want tourists I can suggest many places that would be better options, Saintes Maries de la Mer for example. Barcelona was fantastic- so were the other ports, not going into details, but the excursions we had was very nicely performed by Azamara and their agents. Very professional and surprisingly efficient. We would recommend excursions if you find them interesting because Azamara really make an effort to give you a supreme product. On board the Azamara Journey everything was pure excellence. The crew, from the maintenance staff to the officers, really seemed to enjoy working for Azamara. That was the first thing that struck me,- these people actually enjoy what they are doing. The restaurants were very good. we dined in all of them and can say that all the options are well worth a visit. The main dining room, Discoveries, was a bit more noisy than the speciality restaurants, but nothing to be bothered with. The food was equally as good, and that is what's important. We found the on board entertainment to be very good. Some very nice performances by artists flown in for a few days only and some performances from the Azamara artists. They all were high level performers and could easily work in the West End or on Broadway. We had a fabulous time on the Azamara Journey and will definately go again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Many others have made comment on just about every aspect of this ship and crew that echo my sentiments so I really just want to reinforce those aspects which I feel set this ship apart from the several other cruises we have done with ... Read More
Many others have made comment on just about every aspect of this ship and crew that echo my sentiments so I really just want to reinforce those aspects which I feel set this ship apart from the several other cruises we have done with Princess, Cunard, RCL etc. The crew, without exception were genuinely friendly without being obtrusive and any request was met with a "can do" attitude and a real desire to help. The ship's officers, including the Captain, were always around interested in taking meals with the passengers and listening to points of view that no doubt assist them in determining passenger attitudes and what may need attention now in the future. I felt the standard of meals in all dining areas as well as the wonderful theme buffets put on from time to time were exceptional and certainly a notch up from what we have experienced on all previous cruises. If it is turkey on the carving board, it is a whole turkey and not just rolled turkey meat that one usually sees on most other ships. We felt the main dining room was so good and the meals varied that there was no real need to visit the fee paying ($15 per head cover charge)restaurants although we did go to Aqualina's for one meal and that was very good. Enjoyed the shows and the enrichment programs and were never bored for something to do on board as well as the variety of fellow passengers from so many countries added an extra dimension in many varied discussions about travel, life experiences etc. Love the easy boarding and disembarking procedures that run like clockwork and little or no waiting to get on and off the ship at any time during ports of call etc. The extras provided like free shuttle buses, free water, beach towels and of course the wine with meals, half price beers, great coffees, suntan lotions, mossie repellant, cold/hot towels at the dockside, and the list goes on, to make this one cruise where you feel you are getting value for money and not be "nickeled and dimed" every minute of the day. Having the gratuities paid as part of the overall fare must make for a happier ship and a further reason why this ship is better than most. No art auctions - what bliss. The New Year's Eve party aboard the ship in Ho Chi Minh City was a really great night and the ship and crew went out of their way to put on a bloody good show with food, drinks, entertainment and decorations that could not have been more appropriate for the night. Even the great firework show over the river ahead of the ship was fantastic. Overall we loved the "smaller ship" experience, the visit to ports being often more than one day, the itinerary was interesting and we would sail again with Azamara without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Our sailing aboard the Azamara Journey was one of the best we have ever taken out of our 72 cruises. We sailed as dance instructors on this trip - our category is that of guest enrichment. As such we enjoy full passenger status in exchange ... Read More
Our sailing aboard the Azamara Journey was one of the best we have ever taken out of our 72 cruises. We sailed as dance instructors on this trip - our category is that of guest enrichment. As such we enjoy full passenger status in exchange for our teaching ballroom dancing. It could not have been a better trip. We were treated exactly the same as any other passenger and enjoyed all of the benefits and amenities as well. Not always the case on other cruise lines we have sailed. We were assigned an outside obstructed cabin. You probably have read that the cabins on these ships are somewhat small and ours was although beautifully laid out and majestically furnished. The bathroom is small but adequate as long as you don't mind making friends with your shower curtain. The linens are very superior to all other ships we have sailed on. The view - not much - but still bright! Robes, slippers, umbrella, binoculars, and superior bathroom amenities are all provided - equivalent to a suite on other lines. A couple of nights out we received a beautiful passport wallet, very nice heavy duty carry bag, and a gorgeous metal picture frame along with a Holiday card personally signed by the Captain and all senior officers. Journey does not have the glitz and glamor of the large mega ships. Capacity is 690, but we sailed with only 340. It was more like a floating country club than a cruise ship. The Captain was always around - one fellow passenger described him as a Social Butterfly! But so was the Hotel Manager and other senior officers. This resulted in service far superior to any received on other cruise lines (and we are Princess elite). The staff could not do enough for you. Azamara has also gone to an all inclusive policy. Our bill after 16 nights was $333. And of that about 1/2 was for internet!! Another $100 was for jewelry in the shop. Bar bill ??? $8 - With free flowing wine at lunch and dinner there is no need to bring or buy any! Also, there is no effort made to sell anything - a very refreshing change from past cruises. The photo shop is hidden away and depending on your route, you might not even see it. There was a shore excursion sheet the first day, but never again. There are no recommended shopping info sheets, but rather truly interesting print outs for the various ports. The cruise director, Eric De Gray was the most talented individual we have ever sailed with. His talents defy description and could take an entire review! There is not much cruise staff and not a lot of activities, but yet still plenty to do for those interested. We had a top notch duo in the Looking Glass - a beautiful lounge overlooking the front of the ship - think Crow's Nest on HAL. The showroom is small and sight lines are not very good, but there are no production shows so this is not really a problem. There was a variety of guest entertainers and some amazing performances by Eric and the ship's staff. We go to dance, not eat. The food was very good. Most of the time we ate in Windows (the buffet) and it was great most of the time. Not so much on Indian night as EVERYTHING was Indian. Need to offer some alternatives! The dining room is a beautiful room. Two meals there. First typical of about 2 hours. Second was very bad with nearly 45 min without wine and over an hour before first course! We saw many supervisors in Windows, but apparently none in Discoveries. We ate in the two alternative restaurants and both were absolutely marvelous and well worth the $15. Left a $10 tip each time, but otherwise all tips are included. This was not necessary, but well deserved. If you like wine, you will love this ship. Wine is free flowing at lunch and dinner. You can take it with you and even drop in Windows to get a glass to go. There does not seem to be any restrictions! The wine changes every day and was always excellent. There is also an interesting 1/2 price deal on bottles of wine that also changes every day. One day Rosemont Merlot was $14 a bottle (Costco price is about $10). Although an amazing deal, we did not see anyone buying wine as the wine being poured was always great! Embarkation and Disembarkation were unbelievable. We arrived in early afternoon and thought we were the only ones boarding! In San Diego, we were in Windows when our color was called, went to our cabin for our carry on and down one floor to leave and we were the only ones leaving! Reminded us of the Delta Queen!! Could not have been easier. While there is always room for improvement, Azamara tries harder than any other cruise line we have been on to accommodate passenger wishes. They have an interesting niche market to exploit. On paper they compare with Crystal, Seaborne etc. While we have not sailed on those top lines, we can say that they are far superior to the product on the major cruise lines and comparison might better be made to the best accommodations and highest past passenger amenities provided on those lines. There are no accommodations made for children so it is not a family cruise line choice. We are not leaving any Port reviews as we rarely get off the ship. We were amazed at how Cabo San Lucas has changed since we were last there 6-8 years ago. It was delightful. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Azamara Quest review From our outset at the embarkation port, we quickly identified how much more engaged this ship's staff was compared to any other of the numerous upscale cruises we have previously completed. Even though we ... Read More
Azamara Quest review From our outset at the embarkation port, we quickly identified how much more engaged this ship's staff was compared to any other of the numerous upscale cruises we have previously completed. Even though we arrived much too early to go aboard as a result of our very early arrival flight into Athens with nowhere else to go but wait at the port, the Azamara Quest staff were immediately friendly and helpful to us even though they were still occupied with completing that day's disembarkation of the previous cruise's guests. The warmth of the greetings from the directors of both hotel and guest relations, and their welcoming of early arrivals with an assortment of continental breakfast items in the port was impressive when they could have been dismissive until they had completed their tasks of the cruise just ending. This introduction set the tone of the entire staff's attitude throughout the 24 days: every staff member whom we encountered was not just eager to serve, but also to add their extra personal warmth of inquiry, or helpfulness. The friendliness of this staff, and their pleasure and pride in working on this ship, built a tone of congeniality throughout the trip: even the captain and officers mixed amongst us on a daily basis, chatting and overseeing that all was as it needed to be. How much clearer an understanding management had by daily visitations throughout the ship while chatting with guests and staff. How much more serious the recognition was here that each guest has a broad array of travel choices, and that this ship really wanted our experiences to cause us to return eagerly. Dining choices were outstanding whether in the very elegant main open seating venue, in the two a la carte restaurants, or in the attractively presented cafeteria selections. An assortment of outdoor deck party dinners, gracious afternoon teas with harp music, and dining room brunches with live musical accompaniment rounded out these choices. In each, a very high standard of both choice and quality was present. The accommodation was attractive and comfortable, and the 8th floor suites had considerably more living and storage space than the veranda cabins. Entertainment covered a range of options from Broadway to classical, but more space could be set aside for those who enjoy dancing other than at the disco. Excursions covered the port highlights well, and were fairly priced. The exotic itinerary of this cruise was what brought us the first time to Quest: the excellent staff and delightful on board atmosphere will have us return. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
I sailed on the Quest October 23, 2010 out of Barcelona, which was the President's hosted cruise.  Larry Pimental and his wife Sandi were both on the cruise and very visible. This cruise was the best one ever!!!!The amount of guests ... Read More
I sailed on the Quest October 23, 2010 out of Barcelona, which was the President's hosted cruise.  Larry Pimental and his wife Sandi were both on the cruise and very visible. This cruise was the best one ever!!!!The amount of guests on board is small and this makes for a more intimate experience. The staff is incredible friendly and helpful. Anything we asked for , they tried to accommodate. The senior officers were always around and we got to know them fairly well. Tony Markey, the cruise director, could not have been more gracious and friendly. Also a great singer. Alexander in activities was also fun to be around. Tony was very visible , helpful and personable. He and Alexander led a walk up to the palace at the port of Monte Carlo and what a beautiful walk it was. I traveled with my sister in law and her sister. We played bingo the first full day and won the upgrade to the owner's suite; a two room aft suite. Fabulous suite; not he biggest suite on the sea, but great. Butler, Rohan, was wonderful but we did not really know how to use him to full extent. This suite has marble bathroom with jacuzzi, huge balcony, table for dining; bar area with two bottle of liquor provided plus, of course, mixers. We are too spoiled now and of course will always want a suite. We had originally been in an oceanview cabin which was very small for three.This President's cruise offered some extras. We were invited to a "shore event" which was a bus ride to a castle in Tuscany where we had a marvelous Tuscan meal with fantastic wine and then were serenaded by three tenors from the Italian opera. What a wonderful gift to the guests!! Unfortunately, we did not know before the cruise what the special event would be, nor when, so some guests were already booked on the two day tour which could not be canceled; and some had private tours. It would have helped to know ahead of time for these people. We took only one ship sponsored shore excursion. It was a ten hour tour to Florence and Pisa . We saw allot, including the statue of David in the Academia museum, and the guide, Marco, and driver were excellent. The ship itself is a good size so that you don't get upset if you walk to the wrong side of the ship by mistake. The food was excellent and there were enough choices to always feel that you could get what you liked. The main dining room had open seating and the buffet was always very good. There was one night of poolside buffet which was a big hit with great seafood. They provided free red or white wine at lunch and dinner, different each night and always very good quality. Someone I met complained that he drank beer and wanted free beer instead and Richard, the food / hotel director, said it was being considered for the future. Cruise Critic members were given two get togethers in beginning and end of cruise and the officers listened to all the ideas and concerns. It seemed that there was daily parties of some kind or other with free cocktails. I have to say that this cruise line treats it's guest extremely well and wants you back. I have not sailed luxury lines like Seaborn or Regent, but now I feel that I don't need to. Azamara provides all the luxury and special attention which I need. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Panama Canal Cruise - 12/18/09 to 1/3/10 This was the best vacation we have ever taken in our 20 years of marriage!!! It was the perfect combination of casual and upscale. I felt like we were newcomers on the ship having only taken 5 ... Read More
Panama Canal Cruise - 12/18/09 to 1/3/10 This was the best vacation we have ever taken in our 20 years of marriage!!! It was the perfect combination of casual and upscale. I felt like we were newcomers on the ship having only taken 5 cruises. The clientele was from all over the world and had cruised to many ports of call. We picked this cruise since it was through the Panama Canal and was from 12/18 to 1/3. If you have never been through the Panama Canal, we thought this portion of the trip was worth taking the vacation for. We sprung for a room with a balcony and it was worth every penny as we often sat out there to read or take in a sunset or slept with the door open to hear the sea. Ports of Call Port Antonio, Jamaica - We have been to Jamaica before and didn't like in the past on this cruise. Wish it would be replaced by another stop. Cartagena, Columbia - We took the Fortress tour which was interesting. The street vendors in Columbia are pretty pushy! Panama Canal, Panama - It is hard to describe going through the locks, especially seeing enormous vessels with only 1-2' to spare on either side.....Amazing! Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We went on the Cloud Forest tour. This started with a 2 hour bus ride from sea level to 4500' elevation to the Cloud Forest. The ride scenery was great and once you get to the top, we went on the Suspension Bridge tour over the rain forest. A wonderful tour and one of the highlights of the trip. San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - We decided not to take another 8 hour tour and took the shuttle to the town. After we got there we took off our shoes and walked the beach for about an hour before we decided to have a few beers at a local place. Lots of fun. Hautulco, Mexico - This is a made up Mexican city for cruise boats. Given that, it is small and quaint and a good place to spend a few hours. Acapulco, Mexico - Best tour for us....Releasing baby turtles to the wild. We had about 30 folks on the tour and we got to learn about sea turtles. The baby turtles we released were hatched that morning and we placed them on the beach so they could get to the ocean. By the way, make sure you have them make you a corn tortilla from their small restaurant, it was great. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - We spent a week in Cabo about 7 years ago. It has changed greatly and is way too commercialized. If you can, try and avoid the downtown area....too many tourist shops. We were there with 3 other ships and the downtown was mobbed. We did have a nice lunch in a small cafe later in the day after many of the other tourists had left. Azamara Highlights: 1. Casual relaxed atmosphere throughout the ship. 2. Staff was friendly. 3. Prime C and Aqualina were much better than the Discovery Dining Room. Service and food were definitely worth the time to get a reservation and you can easily go more than the two allotted times. 4. New Years celebration was fantastic! They sure know how to throw a party. 5. Loved the morning/lunch/dinner buffet for the variety and especially the outdoor seating area. 6. We noticed that given 24 hours notice the chef would make any request as was seen by an Indian feast at the table next to us that was not on the menu. 7. Healthy eating options. We both spent 18 days away from home and did not gain an ounce! It was equal parts exercise and healthy eating. You can see how we did it on my wife's blog at Foodsforlonglife.com. 8. Tony, their cruise director, was amazing. He also was an incredible professional singer. They are lucky to have him. Azamara items to improve: 1. Ship galley and bridge tours should be limited to fewer guests even if that means giving more tours. Our galley tour had around 35 people and if you were not near the chef you could not hear anything. 2. There should be more of a selection of herbal teas. They had flavored black teas instead of pure herbal blends. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
We are a couple in our early 40s and this was our 11th cruise. Our past cruises have been with Royal Carribean and Celebrity. This was our first time on Azamara Quest. Our cruise left September 24th 2009 from Barcelona and ports of call ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 40s and this was our 11th cruise. Our past cruises have been with Royal Carribean and Celebrity. This was our first time on Azamara Quest. Our cruise left September 24th 2009 from Barcelona and ports of call included Monte Carlo, Portofino, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Split, Ravenna, Koper and overnight in Venice. The Quest is a beautiful ship - she is small but that made it nice with regards to meeting others. Because it was such a port-intensive cruise, we didn't care if there was much entertainment on board. If you are the type that wants a mega ship with lots of onboard activities, this is not the ship for you. The advantage of a small ship was that she could get into smaller ports and when we did have to tender, the line-ups were minimal. We had a Sunset Veranda balcony - if I were to do it over, I would have gotten a regular balcony. The Sunset Veranda was an in-hull balcony with only one lounge chair and one chair. If you were sitting you couldn't see the ocean. Not worth the extra money in my opinion. The cabin was of average size but had plenty of room to unpack and store our luggage. The food was spectacular on this cruise - among the best we've experienced. We had heard excellent reports of the food at the specialty restaurant Prime C and thus we went there twice - we were not disappointed. This is a very nice itinerary - highlights for us were Portfino, Sorrento (Amalfi Coast), Split, and of course, Venice! In Portofino we did a hike to San Frutuoso Abbey, which while strenuous, gave us spectacular views of the Italian Coastline. We took the ferry back from the Abbey to Portofino before returning to the ship. In Sorrento we hired a local limo driver to take us on a drive up the Amalfi Coast -wouldn't recommend driving it yourself unless you are used to heavy traffic and hairpin turns. Plus, you will want to look out of the windows! He also was able to take us to a great place for morning coffee and a gorgeous restaurant right on the cliffs for lunch. Since he was local, he was able to give us a lot of information that you might not get on a bus tour. In Split we walked around Koper for a few hours and then hopped on the local bus for a 30 minute ride along the Adriatic to Piran. Highly recommend going to Piran and the public transportation is clean and inexpensive. I would say that about Slovenia in general. Spotless, with friendly people and cheap beer! Piran has a real Italian Riviera feel to it and is absolutely gorgeous. Not to be missed. We added three extra days on in Venice and were glad we did - there is so much to see and do that overnight is not enough! To summarize, we enjoyed both the ship and the itinerary on this voyage and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Nothing in the last thirty years of cruising could have prepared me for the let down of this 16 night Panama Canal Cruise. Celebrity Cruise line should refund every passenger on this trip, their money, immediately. This trip was organized ... Read More
Nothing in the last thirty years of cruising could have prepared me for the let down of this 16 night Panama Canal Cruise. Celebrity Cruise line should refund every passenger on this trip, their money, immediately. This trip was organized by my friends for my 50th Birthday, and was researched very carefully... what follows will make you think twice about boarding either of the Azamara ships. What you are about to read has not been embellished one iota, and can all be substantiated by other guests. The good news is... the boarding process was seamless. We went directly to our "Sky Suite" to unpack. The press on this ship had stated the Azamara Journey had undergone a major remodel eighteen months previously. There was no indication of this upon entering our suite. Yes, the suite was rather small, and the bathroom miniscule, but it did appear to be clean, although extremely dated. There was no way this room had been fully remodeled eighteen months ago. Immediately the "Butler" (he is nothing more than a housekeeper with a bowtie) showed up introduced himself, and told us that if we needed anything, to just pick up the phone. He had a smile on his face throughout the entire cruise and did a great job keeping our room clean. After unpacking we caught up with our friends and we did a tour of the ship. We were expecting the five- star ship the Celebrity Cruise line was touting. We expected the ship to look just as it did in the advertising photos. Even an untrained eye could see the rust, the cracks, the dirt, the scratches, drapery rods with no draperies, lounge chairs that desperately needed to be varnished, I could go on, but why bother, we have bigger fish to fry. No one could explain why, but we set sail almost an hour and a half late. We missed the sunset and the fanfare that one normally looks forward to when you set sail. We should have known this was the start of a very long "Journey" to say the least. The open seating in the Discovery Dining Room is a great idea, and the fact that you do not have to dress up if you do not want to is an added bonus. However, do not expect dinner to take anything less than two-and- a- half hours in any restaurant on this ship. That is unless you have a desire to eat average cafeteria food, if so you can eat the buffet dinner in the "Windows Cafe". The menus in the Discovery restaurant create such mouth watering expectations that when you taste the food, you are in shock. What happened to the savory food that was described so elegantly in the menu? Why was it taking so long between courses? Why when we specifically told our waiter that one of our guests was deathly allergic to Bell Pepper would he continue to put dishes that contained bell pepper in front of her? The food was so bad in this restaurant that after four days of torture we made contact with the Food and Beverage Manager who kindly and graciously arranged for all of our meals to be upstairs in the two "Specialty Restaurants." More on this later. The first day, we were at sea, and we went to the gym. It was very clean, a great view of the water, and had all the right equipment one would expect. After about fifteen minutes on the treadmill we kept hearing some loud screaming coming from down a hallway and figured there was an aerobic class in progress. The screaming became more piercing and desperate to the point that many of us got off the lifecycle and went towards the door to see what the commotion was, but before we could get to the door a security guard closed the door. We were a bit confused as to what was going on, so we went through the spa and came out the other side of the hallway to an encounter that do not think any of us shall soon forget. It was almost as if we had stepped into a CSI crime scene. A security guard was telling us to "be careful" as we passed. There were bloody handprints and blood splattering on the outside of the first white paneled elevator doors. As we moved further along we could see that four or five other security guards had what sounded like two maniacs trapped in the other open elevator. It was totally surreal. Whoever was trapped in the elevator was screaming inappropriate racial remarks against the security guards who were from varying nations. In all the years we have travelled on ships we have never seen anything like this. We found it all deeply disturbing and went down to our rooms. Later we discovered that it was a father and son who had been drinking, and the son, who supposedly had never had any alcohol before, reacted badly to drinking and temporarily lost his mind. Everyone was expecting these two to be thrown off the ship at the first port, but surprisingly, they remained. And no surprise to any of us, a few ports later the drunken father was screaming at the drunken son outside of the ship, "I don't care if you walk home!" And with that he got on the boat leaving his intoxicated son to figure out what to do next. Passengers should not be subjected to this kind of behavior. Ever. There is no excuse for this. What more could I say about the itinerary except that on Christmas the cruise line had us in Costa Rica, and on and New Year's eve had us in Cabo San Lucas. All of the shopping was closed in Costa Rica. Whereas we were in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, on December 26th, where there is absolutely nothing to buy, and truly no reason to ever visit. This port should be taken off the itinerary, but is probably much cheaper for the cruise line to land in, because you end up staying there longer than you do when you dock in Acapulco, which is a shame, because in Acapulco you truly could use two days to see the scenery. None of the itinerary makes any sense, except maybe to the corporate office. As the cruise wore on, so did everyone's nerves. People were complaining left and right about the food, the accommodations, and the horrific third rate vaudeville performers. It appeared to everyone on the ship that one hand did not know what the other hand was doing. It was quite confusing, because all in all the staff was wonderful in their attitude. It was not until later in the cruise that we discovered that over fifty percent of the staff had never been on this ship before we sailed out of Miami. Most of them had never been on a cruise ship before. What was the head office of Celebrity thinking? The two high end restaurants "Prime C" and "Aqualina" did deliver better food than the other sources on the ship. However, this quality of food is what should have been delivered in the Dining Room to all of the guests on a daily basis. The high end restaurants on the "Journey" should be providing a higher quality product than what they have presented here. The staff was much more knowledgeable and attentive in these venues. It was a consensus on the ship that the Head Chef should be fired. In the daily activity program that is slipped under your door every night there was an article about the new head chef that had decided to change all of the round plates to square plates, and in doing so, Azamara was happy to announce they were incurring a major extra expense because square covers did not exist! Who is this chef? We have a news flash for you. How about keeping the round plates; and with the money you are saving hire proper chefs and purchase better quality food. In all of the years we have cruised, everyone in our party agreed, none of us could remember having such horrific food. If Azamara is going to advertise the "Journey" and the "Quest" as "Five Star" ships then they should hire someone to walk stern to bow and point out the obvious issues. Why are the coffee machines breaking down? Why are the Juice machines malfunctioning? Why are the water machines not working? Why is there not a menu on the wall at the Pool Side Grill? Why is the staff allowing glass items to be served anywhere around the pool area? Why have you run out of honey? Why have you run out of Butter? Why have you run out of Peanut Butter? Why did you run out of steaks, and why would you purchase them from Panama? Why have you run out of vegetables? Why are running out of desserts? Why would you leave port without all of the obvious provisions necessary? You want to know why? We will tell you what the cruise ship employees told us. The reason we were late leaving Miami was because the provisions were late being boarded and the Captain finally said, "Enough is Enough!" And off we went in the dark without enough provisions. You are kidding us right? This is a joke, right? Sadly it was not. We were asked to fill out response cards at the end of cruise and to drop them personally in the boxes located on the fourth floor @ "Guest Relations" Everyone we spoke to yesterday said they marked their response card saying they would never take another cruise on Azamara, and they would definitely never recommend Azamara to anyone in the future. It will be very interesting to see how many of those response cards end up in corporate hands. I can honestly say our party was never so happy to see land, as it was today when we finished my 50th birthday party cruise! PS... As other reviews have pointed out... This ship is not handicap friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We had booked a air/cruise through a local agency. Our flight was out of Terminal 5, Heathrow to Miami. We were met at Miami International by a rep from Azamara and as we were the last ones thru customs, we left the airport immediately. ... Read More
We had booked a air/cruise through a local agency. Our flight was out of Terminal 5, Heathrow to Miami. We were met at Miami International by a rep from Azamara and as we were the last ones thru customs, we left the airport immediately. A swift and smooth transfer to the Miami Wyndham airport - my only crit of that is that it is far from anything, so were confined to the hotel. The next morning buses were arranged for our transport to the ship, our checking in went smooth and in no time boarded the ship, to be greeted by someone handing out drinks. We were told our rooms were not ready, would be shortly and if we desired could leave our hand luggage to be delivered to our rooms, which we declined. We were told that dinner first night would be at a set time, which we were asked what time suited us etc. we took 8 p.m. for our convenience. We went upstairs to Windows for lunch, which at the time was pretty busy, not surprising as Discoveries dinging room was not open. Even tho, it was no problem to find a table and already meet new "cruisers". it was time for us to go to our stateroom, we were more or less off center forward and found the rooms as we expected. We were aware that the bathrooms were a tad small, but over the 16 days had no problem with the size of the shower space etc. Did find that the carpets looked tired, but for us everything was clean, neat & tidy. When we walked in discovered that the beds had not been made up into a double, but we soon met our assistant "Ever" who said no problem, which we found was always the case, and when we returned after dinner, all sorted. out. Found the ship very easy to navigate We had a problem with the Aircon, realizing on the first day sailing it was not working "properly", we complained to our Butler, who said would report it, in a few hours it wasn't so we then at the CC cocktail party met Philip Herbert,Hotel Director, and within a short while he had everyone running around. Our main reason for doing this cruise was to sail thru the Panama and to be away for the festive season, Our only gripe was that we had two days one was Xmas Day and one Sunday,when we were in ports, which we felt was a waste, do realize that itineraries are difficult at the best of times. We were pleased with the different venues for eating, even tho they say only twice at the Speciality Rests. We had no problem in booking 2 more for Prime C which we loved. We also alternated between Breeze /Windows and the Main Dining Room. My hubby loved the sushi upstairs and I had one of my best pan fried salmon there. We did in the main eat our Breakfast and lUnch out on the "aft" of Windows and when we ate there in the evenings, we were under the stars. Yes there were problems with the hot water and for us from the UK, we do like our Tea Hot and in a Tea Pot - another minor gripe. Towards the end they "ran" out of Butter, that should not happen, I also found had trouble getting honey , used to look for the little pots, but then realized there were always glass jugs by the Tea/Coffee - so that was no problem. We knew that the entertainment was going to by Cabaret Style - only one did we think was a waste. Loved listening to Dan in the Cova Cafe, and found his show good as we did Sue's, the Cruise Director. Joined in a few times in the trivia quizzes in Cova Cafe, which always made me laugh. The sun beds on decks were wonderful. Yes at the beginning some people reserved seats, which to me is ridiculous, if no one ever did, one would always get a bed!!! We personally, found the officers and crew friendly and chatty, they have job to do and do it as best as they can. Not all passengers see things the same and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Did on the odd occasion feel the ships movement, when I did, ate some Ginger, which I took aboard with me - I am normally not a great sea traveller, but had no problems on the Journey. There is quite lot more I could write, if anyone wants to know something from our perspective, please don't hesitate to ask. We would definitely cruise again on the Journey and her sister Quest (which we have not yet been on). We go cruising for the ports and if the itinerary suited us would not hesitate to book Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and ... Read More
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and our flight didn't change that view. Everything was OK though as the flight was on time. It was a $22 flat rate taxi ride from the airport to the cruise dock. We arrived early for boarding (around 11 am) and found registration to be quite easy with no waiting what so ever. Unfortunately, not within the cruise lines responsibility, we could not board immediately. The ship was undergoing inspections by both the Coast Guard and Immigration so we were asked to take a seat and wait for official clearance. Less than an hour later they were cleared and we could board. Again, an easy process and quite quick. We had our photo taken for the Sea Pass and were given a glass of Rose Champagne. The rooms were not ready but that was to be expected since we boarded two hours before the suggested time. It gave us time to explore the ship and it's common areas. We had never sailed with Azamara and this was also our first small ship adventure. My first impression upon entering the ship was the ceilings were standard eight foot heights. If you love the soaring atriums and massive open spaces, a small ship like this is not for you. I quickly acclimated though and grew to love the smallness. One of our first visits was to Michael's Club which is on the tenth deck aft. On Celebrity, Michael's Club is a very nice bar with live entertainment. On the Journey Michael's Club is a very nice library but no bar. There was a grand piano which was occasionally used by passengers and as practice by one of the performers. This room was simply lovely with seating in club chairs and sofas and tables upon which you could play games. The book selection was great and the books were filed alphabetically by author. Best selection and best organization I have ever encountered on a ship. There was always a good selection of books available. Very impressive! Michael's Club was also used for various meetings like the Cruise Critic party, the Officer's Cocktail party, some religious gatherings (it was Christmas), and a meeting place for the Connoisseur Dinners (more on those functions later). Windows Cafe is the name of the buffet area located on deck nine aft. It was open for open for lunch and had the only operating bar at that time. We took a break, had a light lunch and a glass of wine while we waited for our room to be ready. The buffet is small but very adequate for a small ship. No trays, simply stacks of plates which you loaded from various stations. It worked on the scramble system where you pick the food station you desire. For the entire trip there were never more than three people in front of me. The food selection was fairly broad and I thought the quality was quite good. There was always a salad station, a cheese station, a dessert station, and a carving station. At breakfast there was cereal, fruits, eggs, a toasting station, an omelet station, and a waffle/french toast station. Full breakfast service lasted until 10 am and a Continental breakfast continued until 11. One of the great things was their coffee machines. There were four of them all located on deck nine. You could choose from regular or decaf coffee, double coffee (cafe american), or expresso from six different buttons. We always had the regular double coffee and it was excellent. The coffee machine also had a spigot for hot water for preparing tea with a selection of bagged teas with milk and lemon available. Next to the coffee machine was another machine with ice and water. And a third machine which had four spigots dispensing iced tea, orange juice, lemonade, apple juice, fruit punch and a tropical blend fruit drink. Only four spigots, so the choices varied with iced tea the only one which was always available. All these machines were available 24 hours a day. By the time we finished lunch, an announcement was made that cabins were now ready. Azamara follows the good policy of very few announcements. Once a day (at noon) was the Captain's report followed by the Cruise Director reporting on the days activities. Our cabin was on the seventh deck forward very near the forward elevators. We were worried about noise from people gathering at the elevators but were never bothered. The cabin was 172 sq ft with a 42 sq ft balcony which is a pretty standard size. It was well furnished and comfortable. The bathroom was quite small with limited counter space but with enough cabinet space to hold our various necessities. There were bottles of Elemis shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for our use. I have had small verandahs before but this one was made smaller because the furniture took up most of the floor space. There were two chairs and a 2' x 3' table which was just too large for the space. To stand at the railing you had to move a chair to make room. The furniture would have been perfect had the verandah been twice the size. Azamara advertises every room comes with a butler. After a while, ours came by to introduce himself and cover some information on our ship. We found the service to be excellent but the butler concept is really just a cabin steward in a better uniform. He was easy to reach via his cell phone and any time we needed something it was quick and easy to call. Our luggage was delivered in stages over several hours. There was more than enough storage space for our needs. The closets come with removable hangers and there was drawer storage in one closet and also in the desk. Azamara runs their dining room on open seating, no reservations required, and country club attire. We were tired after our red eye flight so we skipped the dining room and went to one of their speciality restaurants for a glass of wine and an appetizer. We didn't have a reservation but they gave us a seat at an upright table which worked perfectly. The speciality restaurants are side by side on the tenth deck aft. Prime C is a steakhouse; Aqualina is Mediterranean. The food in both was excellent and we had several meals there throughout the cruise. Because the ship is small, it is easy to get around. The ship's lounges were also miniature versions of the Cova Cafe and the Martini Bar but perfectly adequate for the smaller number of passengers. The Cova Cafe always had snacks available when open. The Martini Bar was an evening operation only. Both had live entertainment at various hours via a guitarist, a harpist, and a pianist who rotated between venues. The ship's main showroom was called the Cabaret and it too was small but nicely furnished and comfortable. It was basically one level with a show floor that doubled as a dance floor. Entertainers were good but limited by the size with no sets or costume changes for the performers. All together the entertainment was just good not being any where near the variety or extravaganza of the larger ships. So if you desire high level entertainment, the Journey is not for you. We were happy because we more enjoy the entertainment in the small lounges where you can converse over beverages. The main dining room is a single story, prettily furnished room which is supposed to hold the entire passenger load in a single seating. I thought the food and service was anywhere from good to excellent. But the room just seemed to be too busy and not conducive to relaxed dining. The food variety was quite good but I felt they needed more wine servers. Being open seating, you walk up to the maitre de and tell him the type of table you want, i.e., a single, table for six, etc. There was never more than a ten minute wait and that was only once at the popular 8 pm. The Martini Bar was at the entrance to the dining room and was a good spot to either wait for a table or for dining partners. As Elite members of the Captain's Club we received a schedule of events in our room. I was impressed as we attended the Captain's reception, the Officer's cocktail party, the Cruise Critic party, and the Captain's Club reception that each event had waiters with trays of hors'douevers and servers with cocktails and an open bar. Very nice. Plus the hors'douevers were excellent. Also excellent were the daily savories provided by our butler. We had this service previously on Celebrity and were totally unimpressed. So we delayed ordering thinking it would be the same. Big mistake. The savories were actually small servings of appetizers from the speciality restaurants and included things like tiger prawns, foie gras, grilled salmon, pate, and even slices of lobster. We will order every day next time. There were ten sea days on this cruise and each sea day there were two events we loved. Each sea day at 10 am there was a cooking demonstration and at 1:30 there was a wine tasting. The cooking demonstration was done in the Cabaret show lounge by the head chef from the speciality restaurants and mainly featured items from those menus. Delicious samples were served at the end. The wine tasting was done by the cellar master and consisted of five tastes from a specific region. We covered France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Pacific Northwest, and other regions. An excellent idea well presented and informative. In conclusion we loved the ship and the cruise. It was an upscale cruise for the food, wine, and a very nice group of passengers. We will certainly be looking for more sailing opportunities with Azamara. Read Less
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