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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We stayed in a Club Continent Suite on deck 8. Very nice cabin, but no sofa - just a chair, so much smaller than the suites we were used to on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. The room was always kept well cleaned and the fridge ... Read More
We stayed in a Club Continent Suite on deck 8. Very nice cabin, but no sofa - just a chair, so much smaller than the suites we were used to on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. The room was always kept well cleaned and the fridge well-stocked. They even kept the ice bucket full! However, it is the service that Azamara provides that is the star. Bartenders, cabin stewards, waiters, and entertainers all go out of their way to get to know you and your preferences. We loved how they would have a drink or a coffee ready for you right as you walked up to the bar. The very first cruise I have been on where the CAPTAIN is out almost everyday engaging the passengers. We enjoyed a night at Chef's Table with the Hotel & Restaurant Manager and he went out of his way to visit with us every time we saw him about (even on the Bedouin Dunes Dinner Excursion!) The entertainment is VERY limited - but HUGELY talented so be prepared to be WOWED even with the limited offerings. They had beginning bridge lessons with Vic that was an experience I had been looking for most of my life. The food was okay. I have a gluten allergy and I was thankful that I brought some boxes of protein bars as I would have gone hungry a few times as they were not able to accommodate my needs. I got pretty tired of Tuscan bean soup and Greek Salad! The specialty restaurants were especially bad. Since we were in a suite, we were able to book a table there every night, but I couldn't really eat anything at the Italian one and there were no starters available gluten-free at the steakhouse, so we only went there a couple of times. The entire ship came back late for dinner after the AZamazing Evening, so everything was buffet - even in the dining rooms. They had NO gluten-free options at all! My husband complained to the Maitre D' and he did offer to have the kitchen prepare something, but it would have taken quite a bit of time, so I refused. We loved that everything was included. No daily tip, no exorbitant drink prices, no mad rush sales on the pool deck. Terrific! We also purchased an unlimited Internet package that was great! We were blocked in Jordan, but even in the open waters we got good service and I even streamed Netflix at night! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My fourth cruise on Journey and it won't be my last although my next sailing will be on Quest. Azamara has a lot to offer and the ships crew are very experienced and helpful. You certainly will feel well looked after while on board. ... Read More
My fourth cruise on Journey and it won't be my last although my next sailing will be on Quest. Azamara has a lot to offer and the ships crew are very experienced and helpful. You certainly will feel well looked after while on board. The food options are very good and although you have to pay a supplement to use the speciality restaurants they really are worth it. Take the 3 visit package for $70! The complimentary wines are ok but nothing great, they are supplemented by a reasonable pay as you go wine list The upgrade to the ships furnishings has lifted the ambiance of the public rooms as well as the cabins. That said I'm not sure the lighter colours in the public rooms is going to last the test of time, the red wine stains are already showing!! Cabins are comfortable but the bathrooms are quite small especially the tiny showers with the well dated shower curtain but in truth no worse than many of the mainstream cruise lines. Room service was good and the luxury of a breakfast in bed always welcome. USB points in the bedside lights is a nice and valuable touch. TV choice isn't great but no one is onboard to watch TV. But as a Brit I liked the access to Sky News and BBC News. The entertainment is not a strong feature of the ship and in some ways is disappointing. Others have said the same thing so it's a shame no action has been taken to remedy this as it does drag down the overall scores. I didn't use the shore excursions I'm not able to comment. All in all a good product and I'd be surprised if anyone on the ship didn't enjoy the experience and want to travel again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We selected this cruise because of its terrific itinerary. The ship in fact was only at sea for one night out of the eleven. Highlights were the evening at Ephesus arranged by Azamara, sailing into Santorini and Kotor, and the port of ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of its terrific itinerary. The ship in fact was only at sea for one night out of the eleven. Highlights were the evening at Ephesus arranged by Azamara, sailing into Santorini and Kotor, and the port of Dubrovnik. Food during the cruise was generally excellent with the best cuisine in the specialty restaurants. There were certain things that detracted from our enjoyment of the cruise. Although the ship appeared to have been refurbished and had some very nice public spaces, we noticed that the linens in our cabin were never changed. In comparison with Celebrity, its sister line, the ship was not that clean. There were a lot of passengers with colds. Extremely disappointed with the final day of the cruise. We had an evening flight out of Venice and had arranged for an excursion to Padua to cover the long amount of time between final embarkation and the flight. Two days before the end of the cruise the excursion was cancelled by Azamara because only seven of twenty two spaces had been filled for the excursion. At this point we could not change our flight due to the short interval. Sorry, but Azamara should have followed through with the excursion even though it may have lost a little money. We were stuck at the airport for many hours and the airport leaves a lot to be desired. Also thought the final embarkation was a bit chaotic. Cabin attendants harassed us all morning even though we told them we were in the final departure group. The final day left us with a bad overall feeling about the cruise. On the more positive side, the destination lecturer was excellent and personable. We really enjoyed his lectures. The last nights tenor was also a nice touch. Wish the cabins on this ship were a little better. Very small for an alleged upgrade of the Royal Caribbean brands. Bathrooms were tiny and so were the overall cabin spaces. Television reception was erratic and frustrating. Our next cruise will be on Celebrity which has some immaculate ships. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
First time with Azamara, this trip was offered for a long weekend fri-mon from Rome, travelling to St Tropez and Portofino, as it's only 2 hours away from Gatwick we thought why not, something different. after a early morning ... Read More
First time with Azamara, this trip was offered for a long weekend fri-mon from Rome, travelling to St Tropez and Portofino, as it's only 2 hours away from Gatwick we thought why not, something different. after a early morning flight, we arrived onboard around midday, to be greeted with a cold class of champagne and a very lovely lady was asking us about our flight was we ok etc.we had plenty of time to explore the ship and get our bearings, not hard as its a small ship, we have cruised many times, from large 4000+ down to 1800 passengers, so this was very small for us. We had a light lunch which was lovely and then laid around the pool, our luggage arrived around 2pm which was great, had a fab first day onboard, plenty of frozen cocktails around the pool and great deep mattresses on the sun beds with lovely plush towels, our evening meal was in prime c and had a great meal with good wine and very good service. The stop sat morning was St Tropez we didn't rush off enjoyed the sunshine around the pool, then went ashore around 2pm, lovely just walking around this port, our evening meal we went to the main dining room, very good selection lovely table in the window, and good wine once again. Sunday morning stop was in Santa Margarita for Portofino which was just lovely, got off early around 8.45am so we could have a walk around then still enjoy the sun later around the pool deck. Our evening meal was in Aqualina which was just amazing the service from Michael was just great, I've never seen so much skill in taking my Dover sole off the bone, he was a very happy server, the wine was fab, overhaul it was our favourite for the food, decor, service and wine. Our departure was very organised as we thought the captain was very well spoken and clear with his announcement, it was also loud to hear wherever you were aboard. So our overhaul verdict on this ship was very good The only downside I would say are; The cabin bathroom had a shower curtain which drives me mad, but as it was only a long weekend I could put up with this, if I was using it for 7-10 days plus, I would go stir crazy as the shower was very small, I'm not a large person but anyone bigger then myself I think would have struggled.also the balcony needs re painting also dirty doors and furniture. The entertainment was pretty poor, not a lot went on in the evenings, we had the onboard team doing music from the movies which was very avagrage. Also they had a magician/comedian called Mandy, she was struggling with the audience and I felt a little sorry for her, didn't find her very funny and her magic left a lot to be said. Again as this was a short taster cruise for us, I wouldn't like to think how I would feel after a week or longer, so for us if this is the quality of entertainment then we would struggle. And I would agree with other reviews regarding children, I would. NOT take babies, toddlers or teenagers on this cruise, stay home and let the older people enjoy this ship ages from 45 plus I would say. We may look into going again on this ship next year for 7 days plus. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Having cruised many times over the past 20 years, we decided to try a smaller ship with an excellent itinerary and good reviews. We certainly found our ideal on this cruise from the first moment we arrived at the dock. Even though there ... Read More
Having cruised many times over the past 20 years, we decided to try a smaller ship with an excellent itinerary and good reviews. We certainly found our ideal on this cruise from the first moment we arrived at the dock. Even though there was a porter's strike, embarkation and check-in was smooth and fast and we were enjoying lunch on board in no time. We found all the staff, including waiters, barmen and cabin staff always warm, polite and efficient. The Captain and crew were visible and always friendly. And what can you say about Eric the entertainment host - not only is he talented but he has that rare ability to make everyone feel special. We chose to go on two of their shore excursions and both were handled efficiently. The "White Night" on deck party under the stars was outstanding. Good food, flowing drinks and great music for dancing. And, as ever, Eric and his dance group were a delight. We didn't manage to see all the evenings entertainment ( we were usually too busy socializing with people around the various bars) but what we chose to see was very good. As the theater was smaller than on the mega ships, it made for a more intimate venue. Another plus for this cruise was that there was no overpowering loud music anywhere. A joy for those who love to socialize and chat with people. We met many lovely people on board and shared many meals/drinks with them. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Our travel agent recommended this GrandPrix Cruise as we then stayed on board for another 12 nights to Southampton Oh what a BIG mistake.Captain Carl made is first onboard talk,WE have sailed with him before very nice person.But what he ... Read More
Our travel agent recommended this GrandPrix Cruise as we then stayed on board for another 12 nights to Southampton Oh what a BIG mistake.Captain Carl made is first onboard talk,WE have sailed with him before very nice person.But what he said was alarming making it perfectly clear what to expect.It was more of a beer cruise than an 6 star Azamara luxury cruise Hardly anyone turned up for the cabaret shows The food was never hot.Then we after the GRANPRIX cruise we sailed to Southampton where the Highlight was too Sail into Seville....................................Not to happen the ruddy Rudder was not working???????Then it was said an electrical fault who knows the truth but the highlight of this Expensive cruise was not be.To say the food got better is An understatement i ate breakfast in the discovery restaurant waiter service I asked for soft scrambled eggs on toast I got over cooked eggs on bread.My wife & I sailed the Panama Canal & Dubai to Istanbul they were both FANTASTIC these 2 sailings where a DISASTER I hope this was just a BLIP by Azamara,because the staff really are amazing but this cruise was certainly not Raymond Abrahams Read Less
44 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I cannot put into words strongly enough what a disgraceful situation we had to endure for eight days, if you want to diet this is the cruise for you the food is terrible, if you want to be treated like a second class citizen and ... Read More
I cannot put into words strongly enough what a disgraceful situation we had to endure for eight days, if you want to diet this is the cruise for you the food is terrible, if you want to be treated like a second class citizen and patronised cruise Azamara. When booking our cruise it was stated that suite quests could use the two speciality restaurants every night if they wish, this is totally untrue we were told quite clear and strongly by the concierge that it was first come first served, this was a special trip for us as it was a big birthday for my partner, we ended up having cold spag. bol in our suite, on the subject of food we did not once have a hot meal or drink it was either cold or tepid, as we were advised by the concierge that 80% of guests return year after year our opinions were of no concern and she could not assist us with our requests the only answer she always had was no. This was a very expensive and disappointing experience. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
We are in our late 50's and have cruised a fair amount (maybe 15 cruises?). Most of our cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, although we initially cruised on NCL with our teenage daughters (the entertainment was better ... Read More
We are in our late 50's and have cruised a fair amount (maybe 15 cruises?). Most of our cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, although we initially cruised on NCL with our teenage daughters (the entertainment was better for them). We like Celebrity for a large cruise ship, but it cannot compare to Azamara! The ship is just the right size for a relaxing, luxurious vacation. As many will agree, the service is very good from the captain on down to the people clearing tables in the cafe. What we loved: - very few announcements, no blaring music by the pool - lots of room on pool deck (no need to reserve lounges), and the lounges are VERY comfortable - the food in all the venues is very good. A couple of so-so dishes in the dining room, but generally very good with lots of choices. The lobster was some of the best I have had, which is unusual these days! - the free drinks are great, and we loved the "wines of the day". We are wine drinkers mostly, so were a bit worried the wines would be the usual plonk - but they were VERY good - and having something new to try each day was really fun - the longer stays in port were nice, even though we did not go out on the town (too tired most nights!!) - the pool side grill had lovely lunches - try the Azamara Burger and the grilled chicken skewers (I miss those!) - the seating on the back of the ship outside the Windows Cafe is a lovely place to sit in the morning for breakfast Areas that could be improved: - take a chance on some non-Vegas style musicians in the lounges. I think the crowd on Azamara would all appreciate that. RCL and Celebrity suffer from much the same problem, although we have found that Celebrity usually has one band on board that plays good Jazz/rock that compares well to good downtown lounge acts. - Get rid of the Art Auctions! I suppose some folks enjoy them, but they clash with the overall refined feeling of Azamara. Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise and although you can always find something to complain about, it really makes no difference unless you focus on it!! Thank you Heike for pulling all this together, and also thanks to ALL the staff who gave us such great service. Special thanks to Furtado in the Casino bar, Alex in the Windows Cafe and all the staff that served us in the main dining room. Hope to see you all again some day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
We are not "experienced" cruisers but we have been on Celebrity twice and Oceania once. So our comparison will only be relevant to those lines. We are now convinced that we will, in the future, look to book again on Azamara ... Read More
We are not "experienced" cruisers but we have been on Celebrity twice and Oceania once. So our comparison will only be relevant to those lines. We are now convinced that we will, in the future, look to book again on Azamara as we found the whole experience with them outstanding. The personalized, friendly service that can only be found on a small ship was evident with each and every member of the staff. The cabins were adequate (a face lift coming this year). Entertainment was twice nightly which was excellent for those of us who like to eat later. Dining in the specialty restaurants was a very nice experience (especially Aqualina). White Night was a real treat with a spectacular buffet, entertainment and just FUN. The port intensive cruise was just what we were looking for (with just one day at sea). We found the other passengers friendly and found it to be more "lively" than previous cruises. We traveled with two other couples. One couple had never cruised before and the other couple had never been to Europe previously. They both were thrilled with their experience with Azamara. As was I. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
We have sailed on Azamara before, so its clear that they offer a product that we value. 1/ An example of their service: at embarkation in Istanbul it was raining. Evaluating the next day's forecast, Captain Magnus decided, I'm ... Read More
We have sailed on Azamara before, so its clear that they offer a product that we value. 1/ An example of their service: at embarkation in Istanbul it was raining. Evaluating the next day's forecast, Captain Magnus decided, I'm certain with headquarters' approval, to switch the first 2 ports so as to maximize our chance of good weather. This tactic worked perfectly, although I'm positive it entailed extra travel time and thus cost. 2/ In an improvement over previous cruises, there is a focus, both in the MDR and Windows Cafe, on aiding those with food allergies. For example, in Windows dishes without common triggers are labelled to allow better choice. 3/ White Night on board was a terrific experience and reflected the evolution of the concept. 4/ The presence of so many friendly and familiar faces onboard suggests an excellent retention rate of their valued staff. 5/ Azamara prides itself in providing a destination immersion experience (for example longer times in ports). This itinerary was no exception. 6/ Despite the fact the Journey heads to drydock in January, the condition of the ship, and our stateroom, was excellent. 7/ We thought the food superb, but this is truly subjective. Conclusion: Azamara did not disappoint. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
We have always enjoyed ourselves on the Azamara line, which is small and friendly. However, this time we noticed that they have significantly downgraded the standard of their restaurants. Firstly, the buffet lunch in Windows used to have ... Read More
We have always enjoyed ourselves on the Azamara line, which is small and friendly. However, this time we noticed that they have significantly downgraded the standard of their restaurants. Firstly, the buffet lunch in Windows used to have an exotic range of salads, i.e. seafood salad etc. Now these have been cut out and replaced with a very mundane selection. In the evening, the Discovery restaurant is offering very little fresh fish, usually only salmon. Also the whole menu is bland and uninspiring, and often turns up cold. Aqualina used to be our favourite fish restaurant, offering lobster cooked in a variety of ways, a giant stuffed shrimp and a sumptuous dover sole. Now they have changed this restaurant to Italian, and change the menu twice a week. This is because they only offer the dover sole for half the week, instead offering pasta dishes - a joke! It is still our favourite restaurant as the service and decor are better than the other fancy restaurant, Prime C. In the latter, they have good beef and lamb dishes but the decor is gloomy. Again, very little fish is served in any restaurant. Azamara offer a free selection of wines and drinks, but many drinks need to be paid for. There is no brandy or port on the complimentary list. The cabins are very small, and to get a normal size it is preferable to order a suite. However, The price is high for this line and they need to re-think the amenities they are offering for the money, or I think the loyal clientele will switch to other competitive companies.Certainly we encountered many complaints on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
We have just returned from our very first cruise with Azamara, a seven day dry-dock replacement cruise, which I think meant that it was planned at fairly short notice when dry dock repairs etc were not possible for that week. For this ... Read More
We have just returned from our very first cruise with Azamara, a seven day dry-dock replacement cruise, which I think meant that it was planned at fairly short notice when dry dock repairs etc were not possible for that week. For this reason, we did not experience the 'Azamazing evening' excursion, which is a usual feature of Azamara cruises. But everything else was nicely in place, including a rather impressive White Nights deck party (a sort of upmarket sail away party), which took place at Calvi, Corsica. We have cruised with P&O, Fred Olsen and Princess, but we found ourselves making comparisons on this cruise with two Regent cruises we have done recently, since both Azamara and Regent are inclusive of most drinks, and gratuities, and Regent is inclusive also of excursions. Embarking in Barcelona was extremely quick and easy (Azamara make this even smoother by giving passengers the option of checking in online and printing out an 'express pass', a great idea). Azamara Quest is a sister ship of P&O's Adonia (familiar to us) and boarding her was a real case of deja vu, except that on Adonia we hadn't been greeted with Champagne! Glass in hand, we were taken to our cabin, and then went to the Discoveries Restaurant for lunch. When we returned once again to our cabin (deck 7 aft), our luggage was there waiting to be unpacked. Cabins are considerably smaller than on Regent, but all necessities were there, including bathrobes (very heavy!), slippers and binoculars (small and pretty useless). The bathroom was tiny, but everything worked well, and there was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. Service right from the start was extremely friendly and efficient, and personal when it needed to me ---- a nice touch was the way passengers were addressed by name when leaving and returning to the ship, and the provision on hot days of cold towels and fruit punch as we boarded was greatly appreciated. In the main restaurant, both service and food were so good that we saw no need to visit the speciality restaurants (at extra cost). On balance, we felt that service on this ship easily matched Regent, and in most cases was actually better. We did not take any of the ship's excursions, which were largely very expensive for what they offered (an example is the cost of Rome on your own (i.e. a coach taking you there and dumping you for the day) at 99 dollars!). Instead, we took similar trips to Rome and Florence with Cruising Excursions, a company which provides a welcome alternative to pricey ship's excursions at about half the cost. Travel in an eight-seater minibus gave us a more personal experience, and access to places that coaches could not access. We experienced some wild weather on our cruise, which meant we missed our first port of call, Ibiza. Our British Captain ---in an abundance of caution, as he put it ----- wisely decided to stay a further night in Barcelona, thus giving us a very full day to see this fascinating city. Nonetheless, we did get some sunny days (particularly in Rome) and the cruise as a whole was very enjoyable. Entertainment was in a show lounge as opposed to Regent's 2-deck tiered theatre, but we thought there was more variety in Azamara's programme ---- flamenco in Barcelona, a magician/comic, a soprano, and the usual dance and singing shows including a rather good Broadway show on the last night. No crew show, though. We thought our cruise was good value for money, and so long as you don't mind paying for any the ship's organised excursions you may want to take we would recommend Azamara to any of our readers here. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my sixth Azamara cruise (four on the Journey plus two on the Quest), but it had been four years since the last. We were six in all, including two who had never cruised before. I fell in love with this line from the get-go. Of ... Read More
This was my sixth Azamara cruise (four on the Journey plus two on the Quest), but it had been four years since the last. We were six in all, including two who had never cruised before. I fell in love with this line from the get-go. Of course I had read some reviews saying the brand had been slightly diluted of late, and was, if not apprehensive, just plain curious. We felt welcomed and happy the moment we checked in. Heike recognized us, as did our cabin steward Alexis. Check-in at the San Basilio port (next to Zattere) in Venice was quick (even for those of us who thought there was no need to print the express pass - a la airline check-in, where everything is electronic) and friendly. Rooms were ready immediately - how do they do it? It was about 1PM. On the small Seabourn Spirit two years ago (same port in Venice) we were all hearded into a crowded lounge for about an hour waiting for our rooms. And only 1/3 the number of passengers...... The ship is spotless, and the new color palettes are lovely. There will be a huge renovation next winter, focusing on the cabins - but ours was just as comfy as ever. Huge amount of storage for two people - and the new beds are fantastic. As comfy as Oceania, for sure. Bigger TV's will be nice - but I rarely stay in the cabin. The Elemis products in the bathroom are missed - - but I did much of my showering at the fitness center after working out. Towels are plush and large. The food in the Discoveries Dining Room was always top-notch. The "boutique" wines that were included were generally just fine. We never felt pressured to upgrade to a different wine package. Service was prompt too. We bought a package of three specialty dining, and ate twice in Aqualina (delicious) and once in Prime C. The latter was the one experience that could be improved: our server seemed hassled and had no assistant. (It took one hour before even the appetizers appeared.) He even did some eye-rolling when one of us asked which main course to order (okay, this is subjective and who asks the waiter anyway.....?). His snippy response: "Madam, this is a steak house. Order the steak." Will give him the benefit of the doubt, as he was much friendlier after the first hour, and the food arrived promptly. I thought I would miss the teak loungers around the pool and on Deck 5, but the new ones are just as comfy and attractive. And easier to move! We only got to a few of the shows, as the Journey was in port late. By the time dinner was over, the show had already started. Two specialty entertainers I saw were good: The Comedy and Magic of Mel Mellers (hilarious in a panto/Dame Edna sort of way) and singer David Shannon, who managed to eschew the usual ship singer persona. (Word to all of them: Must EVERY singer include "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis????) The core entertainers on board were fine; their material less so. A shout out to the two Ukrainian dancers: Alina and Alex. Stunning and talented. The itinerary was chock full of wonderful stops. Even the chaos of arriving by tender in Santorini, with four HUGE ships arriving before us, was mitigated by our late departure: those ships were all gone by 5PM, and we had six more hours to enjoy this magnificent island hassle-free. That evening was the White Night party: what a treat to see the necklace of illuminated towns hugging the Santorini cliffs as we departed. The only shore excursion we did was the included Azamazing Evening in Ephesus. We had spent the whole day there - even the third time was astounding. Returning at night for an evening classical concert by the Camerata Izmir Orchestra, in the Odeon Theatre, was a special and moving experience: when Azamara started using the Odeon for these concerts (in 2012) it was the first time this venue had been used in 2000 years. We ended up with an overnight in one of the greatest ports in the world: Istanbul. Disembarkation was swift. (We missed Heike and Eric, alas....) Four of us stayed two extra days at the wonderful Hotel Seraglio in Sultanhamet, giving time to fall in love with this city all over again. Did I mention that I loved this cruise? Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
Journey and arrival Our holiday started at 3am with a journey to Manchester airport for our flight at 7am all went well. The journey to the port very good, practically no wait at the airport. Boarding the ship was excellent as ... Read More
Journey and arrival Our holiday started at 3am with a journey to Manchester airport for our flight at 7am all went well. The journey to the port very good, practically no wait at the airport. Boarding the ship was excellent as there was no wait at all. Cabin upgrade, things were going very well. Food and service We ate most nights in the main dining room, the food was good but not quite as good as previous cruises, the sweet selection and quality had deteriorated. The wines were: one white, one red and one rose, with a different choice every night. Most of the white wine was acceptable but on 1 particular night I did not like the taste and asked the waiter if it was possible to have another choice, he said of course and went away to change it, shortly after he came back with a rose saying they had no other white wine available. My husband asked to speak to the maître d who then sent for the sommelier who eventually came with a bottle of white from the last cruise. We couldn't believe it, unfortunately by this point we had finished our meal so left the dining room. It completely spoilt the whole evening. We were also very close to other tables and did not want to spoil their meals by creating a scene. On our way out the maître d said he would get the dining room manager to ring. Guess what, he didn't! Location The places we visited were all excellent, the tenders were very good as there was no waiting at any point . Journey Home Disembarkation at 8am went like clockwork, but far too early for our flight at mid day which Azamara had arranged. It was an indirect flight with KLM. taking us to Schiphol airport in Holland where we had to wait for a further 3 hours for a flight, on arrival at Manchester airport we discovered they had lost one of our cases. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We recently returned from our fourth Azamara Cruise, the "7 Night Costa Brava to Cinque Terre Voyage" in May, 2015. We departed from Barcelona, Spain, and ports of call included Palamos, Spain; Sete, France; St. Tropez, France; ... Read More
We recently returned from our fourth Azamara Cruise, the "7 Night Costa Brava to Cinque Terre Voyage" in May, 2015. We departed from Barcelona, Spain, and ports of call included Palamos, Spain; Sete, France; St. Tropez, France; Calvi, Corsica (France); Portovenere, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Nice, France. This was the shortest cruise we had been on, and definitely one of the busiest. Early registration (11:30 am) enabled our travelling companions to go back on shore for more sightseeing. Although the cabins were not ready that early, the registration process was completed efficiently and there was no mob of passengers. This is a great feature of Azamara. Having spent two days in Barcelona, we were ready to relax aboard the Journey while we waited for our cabin to be readied. We enjoyed our complimentary sparkling wine and signed up for the Dining Package. This is a three dinner package at the two specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina. Being only a 7 night cruise, with an Azamara Evening and White Night on 2 of the 7 nights, this package was very popular, and filled quickly. We were able to book the evenings we wanted, but had to adjust our plans to suit the dining times available. There are two seatings in the specialty restaurants; the first is at 6 pm, and the later one is booked quickly. The next time we go on a 7 night cruise we may not take the dining package. We only ate in the dining room one night, and that was a shame. The first day program was familiar and comfortable. Lunch in the Windows Café, unpack and enjoy the sunshine on the pool deck, with a cool drink. The Emergency Lifeboat Drill was followed by the Spa Raffle Giveaway, then the Cruise Critic social, dinner in the main dining room, and the production show with the Journey Singers & Dancers. Sail away was at 10 pm, right on schedule. I did say it was busy, didn't I? Port departures were on schedule, and quite late. Only one at 7 p.m., two at 9, three at 10 and one at midnight. Azamara promises longer stays, and they deliver. Because the casino and shops are only open when the ship is at sea, shopping and gambling time was at a premium. Not necessarily a bad thing…. Day 2, May 15th was my birthday! We arrived in Palamos, Spain at 8am. We were originally scheduled to tender in Roses, Spain, but wind conditions were not favourable for tendering so Captain Borsheim decided to dock us in Palamos instead. Our prebooked land discoveries excursion to "Medieval Monastery & Modern Cellars" took a little longer than planned, due to the change in port, but there was no problem. The monastery of San Pere de Rodes was very beautiful. There was lots of walking, but our guide, Marcus was exceptional. His knowledge and humour made the day a joy. We could have done without the modern cellars part of the tour. It seemed like the wine and olive oil tasting venue at Espelt was not equipped to handle our large party (about 40 guests). There were not enough servers, the person explaining about the wines could not be heard as he did not have a microphone and the acoustics were not good. The wines might have been okay, but there was no food or water to help cleanse the pallet, and after 3 hours of touring in the sunshine, both would have been appreciated. Back on board the Journey, we found that our cabin had been decorated in our absence. A birthday banner, decorations hung from the ceiling, and a card from the crew on the bed beside an animal made from towels greeted us when we returned. Our cabin steward, Aldo, and his partner Anwar had done the deed. It certainly made us feel at home. Dinner at Prime C was fabulous, as expected. After dinner it was time to have a photo taken with the Captain. I was surprised when he wished me Happy Birthday. Just another example of the crew going that one step further to ensure the passengers have an exceptional cruise. We are guessing that someone showed the Captain photos of those passengers having a birthday, but maybe he was just psychic. This was his first cruise for Azamara, and he is very personable and friendly. Health concerns aboard the Azamara ships are very serious. We received a thorough explanation of how important it is for the company to provide a safe and clean ship for everyone, and how proud they are to do so. Unfortunately I had occasion to make use of the medial facilities. In the middle of the night I called the medical office, and a nurse was at the cabin in a few minutes. Over the next couple of hours she returned and consulted us by phone. Medication was provided and in the morning the doctor visited. We were isolated in the cabin for about 36 hours, until it was deemed safe to let us mingle with the crew and fellow passengers. We have very high praise for the medical team aboard the Journey. It should be noted that while we were isolated, we were able to watch movies for free. Room service was excellent, any time of day or night they brought soup and jello. We can't discuss the Azamazing Evening in Cannes, because we were not there, but our friends said it was very well done. Transfers to and from the ship were timely and the event itself was excellent. Azamara provides complimentary laundry (do it yourself), and the laundry room is always busy. There are 4 or 5 sets of washers and dryers, but one washer was out of service. More machines would be useful. The ironing facilities were also quite busy, especially before White Night. We travelled with friends who had never tried Azamara before, although they have been on several other cruise lines. I suspect the perks on Azamara – complimentary wine and beverages, gratuities included, and complimentary laundry facilities to name a few, will bring them back to Azamara in the future. Azamara has always made us feel welcome and appreciated. Yes, they appreciate our business, and the friendly crew, special services, and well planned excursions make us appreciate Azamara. We are cruising on the Azamara Quest in December and look forward to another wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our 2nd cruise this year so you cannot help comparing the two. Azamara just switched to the all-inclusive system and you can tell. Small examples: They try to up sell everything which I hate. The drink/bar menu first shows 20 ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise this year so you cannot help comparing the two. Azamara just switched to the all-inclusive system and you can tell. Small examples: They try to up sell everything which I hate. The drink/bar menu first shows 20 pages with drinks you have to pay extra for, the last page and even the backside of that page shows the complimentary drinks. Why....... For 2 restaurants you have to pay extra but we are not sure if they were really worth the money. It is nice to have a different setting a few times but for the food you do not have to do it. The other restaurant is very nice as well! Some of the areas on the ship really really need some work. The pool side restaurant is really like you are on a Greek Ferry ship. For a 5* ship this is not ok. Also the Windows restaurant inside looks like a home for the elderly more than a 5* cruise. The rest is somewhat old fashioned classic but matching to the ship and its customers. Furthermore to compare with Seabourn: The crew on Azamara is very nice but...the crew on Seabourn is a few levels up. The first day they know you by name and know your special wishes. They are very attentive when entering a restaurant and they always bring you to your table, carry your food from the buffets. The moment you sit at your table a waiter greets you and helps you. At Azamara you have to wait minutes untill they spot you, they do not help you with your food to the table and they are really less attentive however they are nice and friendly! On our trip we found the entertainment team really bad. At Seabourn the full entertainment team joins you on the ships activities and after the show they are always in the lounges chatting, dancing, entertaining guests and having fun with guests! In such a nice way you feel their your friends and you miss them after the journey. At Azamara they do not want to interact with the guests at all. If they are in the bar after the show they only stand there talking to each other and can’t seem to wait until they can go to their rooms. Not 1 single attempt to interact we saw all 10 days. Such a shame because they can really make a big difference! Surely there were some staff members we will never forget because of their attitude and passion for their job: Carlos at the pool bar, Ernesto...wow he must teach the entertainment team how this business works. Everybody loved Ernesto! But also Jose in the main restaurant was splendid in doing his job on such a way that it made a huge impression on us. The Captain was funny and made also lots of contact with the guest which is very good. Our conclusion: We had a wonderful trip, met lovely people although we were about 25 years younger than the average age of the guests. But if we compare Azamara with Seabourn.... for the same money we definitely go on the Seabourn where you get the extra * in staff level, food quality and all the caviar, drinks and food you can think of complimentary without any up selling and with the best personal service you can possibly imagine! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first experience cruising and we enjoyed ever minute of it. The food was good, as was the choice of drinks that were included. We could not fault the staff they were helpful , friendly and courteous. Our cabin stewards, Ivo ... Read More
This was our first experience cruising and we enjoyed ever minute of it. The food was good, as was the choice of drinks that were included. We could not fault the staff they were helpful , friendly and courteous. Our cabin stewards, Ivo and Sajet, were wonderful, they were hardworking and the cabin was always immaculate nothing we asked was a problem to them. Our only negative was with the art dealers. We attended an auction and an appointment to talk about art and after that we found it impossible to find the art director or assistant. Luckily Guest relations managed to help us and we cancelled any dealings we were going to have. The only time we saw the Art Director and Assistant was on a tender going off on a day out!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
I have read a lot of forum posts comparing Azamara and Oceania, and now that I have been on both lines, I know what the Azamara fans are talking about. The interaction with the crew on the Journey was something I had never experienced ... Read More
I have read a lot of forum posts comparing Azamara and Oceania, and now that I have been on both lines, I know what the Azamara fans are talking about. The interaction with the crew on the Journey was something I had never experienced before, and I have been cruising for many years on many lines (except what are considered the "luxury" lines). I really enjoyed getting to know the officers and crew and fist bumping with Captain Sindre and others. It really made you feel like part of the family. That spirit exhibited by the officers was also seen in much of the crew. Every day getting on the tender, there was Tony, the Cruise Director, to see you off. If you ever are blessed to have Tony, give him a hug for me. Some days the Captain was there too, or even on the dock to greet you when you stepped off the tender. Have never had a Captain of a ship wish me a Happy Birthday. Silly for me to mention, maybe, but memorable none the less. So Azamara really wins on this aspect. We also had a wonderful cabin upgrade, so kudos to Azamara on that also. The only part of the experience that fell short of Oceania was the food. Oceania is truly the foodie cruise line and there wasn't a lunch or dinner we didn't enjoy immensely. We did have some lovely meals on Azamara, particularly in Aqualina. Azamara's entertainment was also very good and we did not miss an evening show. Another feature on Azamara that really stands out is the longer stays in ports. It was wonderful not to have to rush back to the ship. We choose this cruise also for the wonderful collection of ports: Istanbul, Kykonos, Santorino, Catania (for Taormina), Amalfi, and two days in Sorrento. We choose our cruises based on value and itinerary and do not always stick to one line. We will certainly choose Azamara again when the itinerary tickles our fancy. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We have cruised many times and thought we would like a to try a different cruise line.Loved the fact that the gratitudes were included.Alcohol was free unless you wanted to upgrade the brand..No hidden charges when you got on board.The ... Read More
We have cruised many times and thought we would like a to try a different cruise line.Loved the fact that the gratitudes were included.Alcohol was free unless you wanted to upgrade the brand..No hidden charges when you got on board.The room was just what we expected.Nice balconly and big enough for the 2 of us.One of the best nights on board was the White Night party on board.We had a great barbecue,entertainment and then followed by the DJ Matt dancing.Everyone enjoyed themselves.Staff are very accommodating and will go out of there way to help youPorts of call were great.Loved Sorrento and Alamfi Coast.We have already booked another cruise.Great Trip. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first cruise and it blew us away! From the moment we embarked the crew were exemplary in their attitude and were so welcoming. We had a great time, enjoying delicious food in relaxed and comfortable surroundings. The weather ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it blew us away! From the moment we embarked the crew were exemplary in their attitude and were so welcoming. We had a great time, enjoying delicious food in relaxed and comfortable surroundings. The weather was appalling on arrival - we had to wait 30 minutes before we could briskly walk across to the quay to the ship - and setting sail was into rough Med seas. Not a great intro to our first cruise :) And to be honest the weather through the cruise was below what we had hoped for, and Captain Carl admitted it was not really very good! But hey the ship and its crew have no control over this - but what they have control over they undertook with real pride and care. The service from the room team, to the entertainment and the restaurant staff was exemplary. We loved the open dining arrangements, the non-formal but not shabby dress code in the evening, the quality and selection of the food, and the complimentary drinks were great. The house wines each day were good, really no need to choose any other, and the choice of spirits and cocktails more than enough for us. Beer choice was minimal and primarily aimed at Americans and so I enjoyed a week without :) Our cruise, from Athens to Istanbul, was essentially a chartered one - it transpired that over 500 of the guests were from one USA travel company - EO - Educational Opportunities - and were bar perhaps 10 or so belonging to various church groups who wandered around with their lanyards and attached name tags - which made the 100 or so independents like us feel rather separate. I think it had an effect on the atmosphere of the entertainment as this massive group were using the Cabaret in the day for lectures etc and so were generally not around for much of the evening entertainment. They also tended to depart the ship on pre-arranged tours during the day when not being lectured and so we few remaining had the ship pretty much to ourselves! Other more experienced travellers will be able to comment more on the impact of having such a group, but it was obvious that the Looking Glass was sparsely populated in the evening for what were good fun evening of light entertainment - Simon on guitar was great fun, and Matt had a mostly empty dance floor for the late night DJ slots. The magic shows and the main entertainment in the Cabaret were all of an excellent standard - and Alina and Alex led the professional dancing brilliantly. How they did their routine in a pitching sea without falling over when we could hardly stagger in a straight line from our chairs was amazing. Another example of the impact of the group was evident when we turned up for a dance lesson - to find that we had in effect a personal lesson from the fantastic Alina and Alex - and even on the second lesson there were only 8 of us! We did not feel the need to eat at the two speciality restaurants - simply because the food in Discoveries and in the Windows Café was more than satisfactory. The gym was well equipped and we used the Jacuzzi on one day (when it was warm enough outside!). We have simply fallen in love with cruising - and now are not sure having done the Azamara experience that we would do any other - we loved the smallness of the ship, and the superb service - is there any other like it?   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
Pre-cruise This is the area that Azamara could improve on most. The booking process was easy; however, like several other folks, we were promised a shore excursion discusion if we booked at least 4 days before sailing. However, Azmara ... Read More
Pre-cruise This is the area that Azamara could improve on most. The booking process was easy; however, like several other folks, we were promised a shore excursion discusion if we booked at least 4 days before sailing. However, Azmara withdrew that offer (as is their option) without notifying us. Since we were aleady booked and paid, I do think we should have been either grandfathered into the promo or at least notified in advance that the offer was ending so that we could book our excursions. In the end, we didn't book any shore excursions and did our own thing including a private tour which if you have a group is a great option. Much better than the tour bus and about the same cost per person if you have 2 or 4 couples (check out the Cruise Critic Roll Call to form a group). As other cruisers have written on the community boards, best thing is to get a good TA and have them stay on top of Azamara. The Cruise Despite the disappointing pre-cruise experience, all is great once on-board. Check-in is easy and quick. Staff are friendly and helpful. One thing we enjoy about Azamara is the open seating in the dining room; if you are feeling social, you can sit with a group of people but if you want a more intimate dinner, you can ask for a table for two and you can show up when you want. We also dined in Acqualina twice for a small additonal fee. Food was fantastic! The Ports Another reasong why we like Azamara are the desitnations. With a smaller ship, they can get into places bigger ships can't, often right in town or very close. Even in large ports like Livorno, Azamara can pull up to the ferry dock, making it an easy walk into town. No shuttle required. Overall, a great trip and we will likely sail with Azamara again... just wish their Miami office would get their act together. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
I am an avid cruiser and usually cruise on Princess. I have also once cruised on Celebrity. . We decided to spend the extra money and try a different itinerary with a more inclusive cruise. This was much more than we are used to spending ... Read More
I am an avid cruiser and usually cruise on Princess. I have also once cruised on Celebrity. . We decided to spend the extra money and try a different itinerary with a more inclusive cruise. This was much more than we are used to spending on Princess so I was expecting a lot. The cruise was very nice and I did enjoy the smaller numbers. You saw the same people a lot which was nice. So a positive was a smaller ship. The service was outstanding. Everyone went out of their way to help in any way they could. Room was always spotless, you didn't lift a finger in the dining room. So service was excellent. The room configuration of the inside cabin was very nice. Roomy and comfortable for an inside cabin. The ship was pretty and easy to get around because it was much smaller than we are used to. Not far to walk anywhere. All of the areas were well kept and in nice condition. The food was very good. We loved the grill with many options. Dinner in the main dining room was very good as was the service. We ate breakfast in the buffet on level 9 and there was always plenty of seating and many good choices to pick from. We did eat at the specialty restaurant, Prime C on our last night only because we had a shipboard credit to use. It was spectacular and well worth it. The ports were nice. We went to Roses, Spain, Corsica, Marseilles, Portofino, and Monaco. We had to tender in some ports which was okay. The excursions we did through the cruise line were hit or miss. They were very expensive and not all that great. My advice would be to look into booking things on your own for much cheaper. So not that impressed with the excursions. The Azamazing evening was nice. We listened to an opera singer in Marseilles. It did take an hour to get there by bus each way and the chairs we sat on were plastic and very uncomfortable. Nice night, but not as fancy as I thought. They did have free laundry to do on your own, but there was only one laundry facility on the entire ship with 3 washers and 3 dryers. The laundry was constantly busy. They really should have more. Drinks included which was nice, but we are not really drinkers and you really are paying for the alcohol with the high price of the cruise, so not worth it for us. The captain was fabulous. Jose was personable, approachable, and always around mingling with the passengers. He was the best captain we have ever had on any cruise. The cruise director, Russ was nice. Entertaining and friendly. The worst part of the cruise was the entertainment. It was extremely lacking. There are only 4 singers and 2 dancers and they did not perform very much. They did have a violinist come on board and she was excellent, but she only performed one night at the beginning of the cruise, although she stayed for the duration of the cruise. Also, the cruise director performed on 2 pf the nights which I found strange. They did have a piano player outside the casino area who was terrible. There was a harp sitting in the mosaic bar area, yet it was never played. So the worst thing about this cruise was most definitely the entertainment. I am used to great shows, comedians, piano players, and lots of options. There weren't many on Azamara. Just one thing each night. Not too many activities during the day either. I just feel that the cruise was not much better than Princess and the high price did not justify the cruise. Princess's food is just as good, cabins are comparable, service just as good and the entertainment so much better. I did like that there were very few children and it is nice that some drinks and gratuities are included, but you are paying for the in the high price. I would not take Azamara again, although I did like it. I would go back to Princess for the much less expensive cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. Overall a nice cruise, especially if you are a drinker as it can get expensive when you constantly have to pay for drinks.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We had only cruised previously on larger ships, so we did not know what to expect cruising on the Azamara Quest. The embarkation was smooth and efficient, the welcome aboard by the staff was warm and welcoming, which set the tone for the ... Read More
We had only cruised previously on larger ships, so we did not know what to expect cruising on the Azamara Quest. The embarkation was smooth and efficient, the welcome aboard by the staff was warm and welcoming, which set the tone for the next seven nights. After having an initial wander around to try to get our bearings, we went to the Windows Café and enjoyed a good Buffet/Welcome aboard meal. The Cabins became available around 2pm, whilst we had read they were small, this proved unfounded as they were of a good size (perhaps not as large as modern day Ships) but well equipped and our cabin (7121) had a very good sized balcony. We had chosen the cruise mainly for its destinations, as we had only visited the embarkation port of Barcelona previously, so the other original destinations of Roses, Marseille, Sanury Sur Mer, Calvi, Portofino and Monte-Carlo were all new to us and we looked forward to exploring them. Unfortunately, we had two changes to the Itinerary, Calvi being changed to Bastia due to Pier maintenance (this really should have been advised earlier prior to travelling as this must have been known, as finding a note upon entering the cabin wasn’t really very good) and Sanury Sur Mer had to be cancelled due to ‘The Mistral’ would have prevented the Tender Boat leaving ship, so we had an additional day in Marseille, which we opted to travel to Aix in Provence, (which is well worth a visit). These did not detract from a really great cruise. We didn't take any of the tours other than the Azamazing Night in Marseille and made our own arrangements which worked out fine. The Azamazing Evening at a French Chateau to see an Opera singer (whilst not really being our usual thing); this was well organized and very enjoyable experience. We were especially looking forward to visiting Monte-Carlo and this proved to be the highlight of the trip, a truly marvelous and interesting place, Portofino was beautiful as was Bastia The ‘White Night’ is also a great idea, getting all of the guest together around the Pool area for a massive BBQ evening with entertainment, is a real ice breaker and a great evening, with all the officers taking turns to serve and cook The staff could not do enough for you, the cabin staff were brilliant and always gave a positive and warm smile to start the day, the Restaurant were courteous and informative and we did not experience any seating queues or delays. The package includes a complimentary drinks package, which is wide enough to cater for most tastes, but you can pay to upgrade if you felt the need to, but really isn’t necessary The food and dining experience was fabulous, the Restaurant Staff helpful and informative and a good choice of complimentary Wine, this made even better by sharing the table with many interesting, warm and friendly guests and due to this it wasn’t uncommon for the meal to take up to 3 Hours The Captain Jose and all the other Officers and staff are very visible, friendly and approachable, this being very different to the larger ships, indeed Captain Jose, if he decided to hang up his boots as Captain, would make a great entertainer, a brilliant personality. The only negative, mainly due to us having experience of larger Ships was that the shows were not to the same quality, but this obviously is a trade off to being on a smaller ship If you want the glitz and glamour of Broadway shows and a packed daily itinerary of activities, this probably isn’t for you, if you want a warm, friendly relaxed atmosphere, then this probably is for you and you should try it. We definitely will travel with Azamara again as the whole experience was very relaxing and enjoyable. The warm friendly atmosphere created onboard is truly AZAMAZING and everyone involved with Azamara Quest should take credit, including the guests.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
We have only sailed on Azamara Journey before and were looking forward to this voyage with it's sibling. We choose this cruise mainly because of the itinerary, but it was also a nice opportunity to get to know the other ship in the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Azamara Journey before and were looking forward to this voyage with it's sibling. We choose this cruise mainly because of the itinerary, but it was also a nice opportunity to get to know the other ship in the Azamara fleet. Last year Azamara only docked at the San Basillio terminal in Venice and we were anticipating that for this sailing as well. We tried at an early stage to get information about which terminal to be used but this information was not available until we got our travel documents, - i.e we got confirmed San Basillio. Four days before the cruise we had an email from Azamara changing the terminal to Marittima. This information was late and we learned that the port authorities had assigned Azamara the Marittima terminal several months before. The embarkation: Getting on the ship was not as swift as we are used to. Maybe because of the change of terminal. The database failed several times and we were left in the queue for 45 minutes with only a couple of people ahead of us. We finally got to the gangway and was welcomed aboard with the usual glass of champagne. The Quest is basically identical to the Journey and we felt at home immediately. Noticed that there were no senior officers at the gangway, but this could have been coincidental. Sail-off from Venice was beautiful and with the warm silky air we decided to have dinner in the Windows Café if we could get a table outside. So we did. We watched the skyline of Venice sink into the golden wake of the ship as the sun set behind us. Food was fantastic and we loved every minute of it. On the Journey we have actually never had dinner in the Windows Café, but preferred to eat in the main restaurant Discoveries or one of the two specialty restaurants Aqualina and Prime C. The food in Windows were beyond our expectations. They had an Italian Buffet that evening and it was amazing. A wide selections of pastas, steaks and a station making Risottos and Ravioli by the order plus some spectacular antipasti. We were in heaven. So to make a long story short: We actually had lunches and dinners in Windows for the rest of the cruise. Not only for the convenience but mainly because the evenings were so beautiful and that we considered ourselves to be lucky to dine under the stars watching the sunsets from the open deck in Windows. The food was fantastic in the buffet and we said to ourselves that this must be much better than having the conventional meals in the MDR. Our choice,- this time. We have had so many beautiful dinners in the restaurants on previous cruises and can highly recommend them all. We just never got to any of them this cruise.:-) Mind you: we tried to get a table in Aqualina and Prime C but never got further than the waiting list. Since we cruised with Journey last year they have introduced some "Dining Packages" where you can pre-book between 3 and 5 nights in the specialty restaurants and this has obviously made an impact on availability for the ad hoc reservations. You have to buy these packages when boarding and for us it meant that we never got a chance to go. We deliberately decided to NOT buy a package, since we only want one or maybe two nights in these restaurants. We got on the waiting list, but never got in. Sad to say we don't think this enhances the Azamara experience. It has always been possible to book a table in the specialty restaurants when on board on a first come first serve basis. Now the only people who can get in are the ones who decide on the first day, and they have to take three nights minimum. A move to the worse IMHO. Well, for us it didn't matter that much, and for this cruise we were much better off in the Windows Café. Ports: It was a bit port intensive this year. Normally Azamara take you to a port in the morning and then you stay until late night. This time it was a bit different. We got into Zadar on the first morning with just a daytime walkabout before we moved on to Split. Zadar was a beautiful city and the old town was fantastically picturesque. The daytime sailing southwards to Split was delightful and we enjoyed it by the pool and later on from the Windows Café where we, once again had the sunset table for dinner. Arriving Split at 9 pm there was not much to be done in the city other than have a short walk along the Riva. We had a longer sightseeing the day after and once again a fantastic city to explore by foot. We were impressed by it's beauty and history. Later that afternoon we sailed on to Hvar where we having the Azamazing Evening. Hvar is the "rich and beautiful"-people's paradise in Croatia, -kind of like a tiny Saint Tropez. Prices are slightly higher but it is a beautiful port. We had a hike up to the fortress above Hvar and then had lunch in the port. Another beautiful place and where we definitively like to return some day. The Azamazing Evening with a cello concert by the Croatian star cellist Ana Rucner was fabulous. Even more than we anticipated. What a firework she put out. What a lady. All honours to Azamara and it's shore team for being able to give us such a performance. High class. Brava Kotor was next and this time we were urged to get up early to watch the sailing into the fjord-like landscape leading into Kotor. This day in Kotor we were competing with 4 other ships and the port load was more than 8000 people. We had booked an excursion with Azamara and managed to get out of the city fairly easy. We had a beautiful trip to a small farm where we were treated to beautiful cured ham and cheese, all locally produced. We had entertainment and both wine and local grappa tasting. A great guide told us all about Montenegro and it's history and was a very informative and humorous element in the tour. When we got back to Kotor the tiny city was still packed with people, but we did a sightseeing with our guide and ended up with a cold beer in one of the many restaurants in the old city. Evening in Kotor seemed like it was going to rain, but as it slowly cleared up everything was set for the White Night on the pool deck. A great White Night as always, and Cruise Director Russ Grieve brought in local dancers before he let the Azamara band play up the dance. Dubrovnik was our next stop. This is a port where you are better off tendering into port than being docked in the cruise harbor which is more than 7 km outside of town. Azamara ran buses every half hour, so really no big deal, but if you get on the bus at the "wrong time" it will take you 45 minutes to get there. Next time we would prefer tendering. The stop in Dubrovnik was also a short one. Sail-off was at 15:00 and little time to do anything else than just see the old city and rush back to the ship. Last stop Venice. We arrived in the morning and had another wonderful day in Venice. We have done the major sights before and just walked around in areas where there are fewer tourists,- had a lovely lunch and walked some more. Off course our preferred table at the back of Windows Café was available and we had a fantastic last night in the best spot in Venice, - high above the city with magnificent view and a quiet restaurant. Crew: Well what can I say. We are used to the very best crew on the seven seas aboard the Journey. Russ, the Cruise Director, told us that we probably would think the same after a week on the Quest. "Your first love will always be your true love", he said smiling. And he was right. We did find some differences in the crews, but almost same quality on the Quest as on the Journey. First of all we had a fantastic captain in Jose Vilarinho. He is a smiling and open personality and easy to like. Russ is the very best of all CDs we have had. Just half an inch above the rest , -he he he. Entertainement was great. We enjoyed all of the shows and the fantastic ensemble. We have seen most of them before with other castings, but that is OK. Piano player: Honestly, we are not enjoying the location and the way they do it nowadays. I am sure the piano players, both on Journey and Quest, are good players, but when they bring all the music in a tiny laptop and put the vocals on with a sharp echo it is too much. Our player got a request from a fellow passenger, but couldn't play it as he didn't have it in his computer. I miss Jim Badger. We missed the "welcome home" on the gangway( security crew was not as friendly as we are used to) and the presence of senior officers when getting off the ship. Just minor things. The crew in the pool bar can also learn a thing or two from their colleagues on the Journey about customer satisfaction. We had some mishaps there. The drinks, - the so called all-inclusive, are difficult to administer. There are some drink packages that works for some but are a waste of money for most people. The drinks package we had on our first cruise, before the so-called all-inclusive was introduced was much easier to relate to. We did buy it then and would do it again if Azamara changed back to the old drinks packages. Product in total: Azamara has done some changes since we sailed with them the first time in 2011. They have gotten rid of the harpist playing in the Discoveries lounge, the band that used to play on the deck at sail offs and during some afternoons, - the guitar player that replaced the band is gone, -they have occupied the Mosaic café with art auctions, - the dinner venues are more difficult to get in to, - in short all are , in one way or the other are in the "cost-cutting" segment. Next year Azamara is chartering their ships, or mostly the Quest, to other agents and many of the weeks are unavailable. This is clearly also a way for Azamara to make money. We love Azamara and the experience on board both ships. It will be interesting to see how they will develop their product in the future. If they continue the cost-cutting on board we will soon have no band and no entertainement, just a couple of DJs and maybe a singer. The crews are still Azamaras greatest assets. We still love to come on board and we will still book new voyages, but we are worried for the future........ Read Less
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