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Sail Date: July 2014
Having only had experiences in larger ships, I was not expecting to have the wonderful adventures that we had while cruising from Venice to Rome with stops in Dubrovnik, Kotor, Taromima, Parga, Amalfi. With only 600 guests on board, within ... Read More
Having only had experiences in larger ships, I was not expecting to have the wonderful adventures that we had while cruising from Venice to Rome with stops in Dubrovnik, Kotor, Taromima, Parga, Amalfi. With only 600 guests on board, within a few days you really felt at home. It was a very upscale crowed with seasoned travelers. The staff could not do enough for you. The food was fabulous; the specialty dining rooms fabulous. I had read that the staterooms were small and the bathrooms were smaller and so I had bought a shoe bag to hang on the bathroom door. No need! there is plenty of space. We didn't take any of the tours from the ships and made our own arrangements which worked out fine. Since we shared the expense with our friends - sometimes we were 2 couples other times 3 couples it turned out to be less expensive and more expansive in covering details, plus we were more flexible if we wanted to wander in the towns. The only disappointment we had was when one of the ports, Capri, where we were to dock was changed because whomever was in charge in Capri wouldn't allow Azamara tenders to come to Capri and wanted Azamara to use the tenders from Capri's porti. Our captain and crew were very conscientious about everyone's safety and could vouch for the Azamara tenders and so we docked in Sorrento. This cost us about $100 per couple that we felt that Azamara should have paid for since we had to take a ferry from Sorrento to Capri and back. Would I ever go on a large cruise ship again, I don't think so not after being treated so beautifully by the staff on the Quest. 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: June 2014
Embarkation: Arrived by train to port. Line was a bit choppy. Do this here, sign this there . In other words not one check in. Room was an obstructed view but at a bargain price. Can't complain, adequate. Close the curtains because ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived by train to port. Line was a bit choppy. Do this here, sign this there . In other words not one check in. Room was an obstructed view but at a bargain price. Can't complain, adequate. Close the curtains because the maintenance staff are often on the lifeboats. Cabin steward only saw him 2x in ten days. We had to put drinks on the floor for him to get the message we needed more. Dining venues nice but the back of the ship which was my hangout did not have enough tables. The back of the ship had fabulous vistas.Free drinks in my opinion tasted the same and the martinis presented in a small glass. I would have payed to have a beautiful martini!!!! Barman in the back did not take to my hints that I would give him a big tip if I got a better drink. The bar at the pool served better drinks. The pool deck area was gorgeous. The ports great. Crete and Siracusa were my favorite. We rented a car in Crete and Patmos (easy driving). The overall staff were friendly , kudos to Adel the restauramt manager who makes the rounds, but I don't know if this makes up for not having a maitre d. We just got off the Disney Magic transatlantic, the maitre d brought me fresh strawberries evry night per my one time request. Breakfast had no fresh berries for the yogurt or slivered almonds only big nuts.Picky I know strawberries does not make a good cruise but I guess I had been spoiled. The buffet at the back was not the best. Dinner in Aqualina ok. I am used to a real bouillabaisse perhaps not we all the fish but some croutons please, some saffron. The souffle was just ok. One of the reasons I hesitate to cruise is that nothing taste authentic. However, I must say the overall experience is a positive one. My DH and I perhaps ate too much local food and could not appreciate the ship fare. The entertainment was poor. the director tried hard but you could not see the stage and acts were not engrossing enough to capture my attention. Went to bed. The ports and extended stays were fabulous. The fellow cruisers were Germans , Brits ,Australians,Canadians, and Americans. The amazing ev. cancelled at Ephesus. If I had known how horrible the substitution would be I would have cancelled. Not their fault though. I will be on Oceanea cruise in Nov. it will be interesting to compare. But for the excellent price, ports and cheery crew I will probably give them another chance. Debarkation was smooth Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
This was our first cruise with Azamara and was a little unsure because the ship is quite small. However we got such a good deal, we couldn't turn it down. it was our first time in an inside stateroom and was really hoping for an ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara and was a little unsure because the ship is quite small. However we got such a good deal, we couldn't turn it down. it was our first time in an inside stateroom and was really hoping for an upgrade, which we didn't get, despite some people getting double upgrades. Anyway, we made the best of it. The stateroom was roomy, clean and all together, no complaints there. All crew, in any capacity, were polite, friendly and seemed genuinely interest in you and giving you a good time. 10/10 for staff. This is probably because the captain was great. He's approachable, joins in and is very present and sets a good example for his crew. On our first evening we taken by Azamara to an underground cistern which is now converted to a sort of theatre and we were entertained by a string quartet. We were looked after by the Azamara crew, waited on and spoilt in every way. They call these Az-Amazing evenings, and all completely free of charge. Well done DJ Matt for accommodating a load of noisy Brits and we danced the night away. I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and wouldn't hesitate to book another Azamara cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We have just completed a month on Azamara Quest, Nice to Athens via Istanbul and the Black Sea. Having been on Azamara Journey previously we knew what was offered and the itinerary appealed. Once again the genuine friendly and helpful ... Read More
We have just completed a month on Azamara Quest, Nice to Athens via Istanbul and the Black Sea. Having been on Azamara Journey previously we knew what was offered and the itinerary appealed. Once again the genuine friendly and helpful staff and crew was a major component of our relaxing, enjoyable cruise which was as we expected and hoped it would be. In choosing a cruise, you need to know what you want from your experience and match it with what the cruise company and ship offers. Azamara, appeals to us is largely for what it doesn’t offer, as much as what it does! If glitz, glamour, parties, climbing walls, water slides, formal nights with tuxedoes and evening gowns, big screen poolside movies, culinary courses and discos etc are for you Azamara isn’t! The ship is small with only 700 passengers meaning it can visit ports and places the big ships can't. Yes the bathrooms, particularly the shower alcove, are small and some of the decor “dated” but so what. The casino is small, bingo is there if you want it (we didn’t) as is a spa, IT facility, small gym and jogging/walking track, library, specialty shops and the like but all generally small, understated and available and not crowded or “in your face”. The two specialty restaurants offer great food and outstanding service. The Windows buffet offers better choices, service and quality than we have experienced on other (bigger) ships. Tea, coffee, wine and other drinks are offered and brought to your table unlike some others where you have to stand in line and serve yourself (HAL take note!) Our main dining room experiences were, while somewhat rushed, good without being outstanding. I’m not sure why Azamara has joined and bothers with Park West to provide art auctions. Same old, same old and very little to interest. The three I attended each attracted less than ten people and not one bid was forthcoming in any of them. There are the usual comments about “Land Discoveries” excursions being over priced (they are) and very limited options in some ports but usually you can find something of interest and generally were worthwhile. Now having been disappointed twice, a word of caution here though. If in the description of a supposed wild life tour says something like “While we expect to see some wild life this cannot be guaranteed” generally means that you won’t! Our Danube Delta wild life tour was a case in point. Despite it being touted as being home for hundreds of species of birds we had to be content with our guide wetting himself about seeing two swans about 300m away from the boat and a flight of seven pelicans equally distant. A wonderful and innovative concept, the Azamara Amazing evenings provided can be special, our 1001 column cistern chamber orchestra concert in Istanbul was, very good such as The Three Tenors concert in Livorno or chancy – rain forcing the outdoor floodlit concert at Ephesus to be moved into an uninspiring hall (not quite the same as a 2000 year old Odeon amphitheatre). We don't necessarily look for or expect much from the entertainment component of a cruise. As such we know that Azamara does not look to (and in fact hasn't the facilities) to match what is offered on larger cruise ships. That being said, having experienced the flamboyance of the multi talented Eric de Gray as cruise director on the Azamara Journey this was an area which was a little below par on the Quest. Overall we knew what we were looking for and Azamara delivered (again). A major negative Azamara has no control over. During our month on board the Quest we got to know our waiters, drink stewards, food servers, tender staff and particularly our room stewards firstly as people and then as friends who were doing their absolute best to ensure that we as guests had a wonderful time. They couldn’t do enough for us and it angered and saddened us to see how some of the passengers treated them; rude, demanding, arrogant, loud and never a “please” or” thank you”. These were usually the same people who put their feet on chairs and tables in the Mosaic Cafe, walked past the hand sanitisers in the eating places without using them, when on tour didn’t listen to directions, asked the most stupid questions and arrived back at the bus past the appointed meeting time. Oh well, perhaps next time they might take a cruise that offers parties, climbing walls, water slides.........   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
My partner and I have cruised several times before with P&O, Cunard, RCI and Celebrity. As it was a special birthday for me we thought we would step up the ladder a bit and try one of the perceived “more prestigious” cruise lines. ... Read More
My partner and I have cruised several times before with P&O, Cunard, RCI and Celebrity. As it was a special birthday for me we thought we would step up the ladder a bit and try one of the perceived “more prestigious” cruise lines. The timing, along with an interesting and agreeable itinerary, led us to the Azamara Quest sailing from Nice on April 22nd. On our previous Celebrity Eclipse transatlantic cruise last November we made very good friends who decided to join us on this one also which was lovely. My partner has since told me that he called Azamara in advance of the cruise to ask if there was something he could arrange in order to make my birthday experience a bit special. He was curtly told “Everything on Azamara is special Sir” and therefore there was nothing they could suggest. So obviously expectations were high! After a couple of days pre-cruise stay in Nice (booked independently) we made our way to Nice port and were quickly aboard the Quest with little fuss around 12.30pm. We cleared security before boarding but the check-in formalities were taken care of in the Cabaret Lounge where we received a nice glass(or three!) of bubbly before making our way to the Windows Café for our buffet lunch. On our way to the Windows Café we had to run the usual gauntlet of sales opportunities with drinks packages, speciality restaurants, spa treatments and photographers all being touted. We had decided in advance that we would upgrade our drinks package as I am partial to a nice malt whisky after dinner and, as the whisky choice on the classic package was very limited and of inferior quality whisky, we decided to upgrade. My partner enjoys cocktails with premium quality gins and vodkas so this was also worthwhile for us. Our companions were happy with the included drinks package. Our first impressions of the ship were somewhat mixed. A colleague who had recently sailed on the Quest’s previous sister ship, the Adonia, had told us it was reminiscent of a stately home and I guess this is an apt description. It certainly was very traditional in décor and perhaps a bit tired in places although pristinely clean. Our buffet lunch was nice and appetising with plenty choice and was served nice and hot. Being the start of the cruise, the food was served to us by the staff rather than self-service. The included wines were free-flowing and of good quality, a feature which remained throughout our cruise. I wouldn’t say we had a disagreeable wine the whole cruise and in the main our glasses were kept well topped up. The lack of an included sparkling wine, even on any of the various packages on offer, was a talking point onboard. Our cabins were announced to be ready at 1.30pm and we promptly made our way to our Veranda Stateroom 6006 which was located on the port side forward. Our luggage was awaiting us on arrival which was welcome. Our 2 cabin attendants Bengie and Jose warmly greeted us and explained certain features of the cabin and also made arrangements about daily deliveries of ice. They made a good initial impression and were excellent the entire cruise keeping our cabin clean and tidy and we never had cause to ask for anything. The cabin was more spacious than we had expected and was smart and comfortable, the only criticism I would have is that the carpets were a bit tired and could do with replacing. We were aware of the small bathroom and shower but they were perfectly adequate and there were no issues. The balcony was a good size and had two chairs and a nice big table. We undertook a tour of the ship on the first afternoon which is when we became really aware of just how compact the ship was - the tour taking around 20 minutes or so - and that was spinning it out. Anyhow everything was pretty much as we expected. The pool and deck areas particularly appealed as they were spacious and well kept. As regards dining, our usual pattern was to have room service breakfast, if we were onboard for lunch (not often) we would have that in the Windows Café, and dinner in the evenings in the MDR. In general we found the food on the Quest to be of an average to good standard but, in all honesty, no better than we had previously experienced on our other cruises which was a bit of a disappointment given the premium pricing of Azamara. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I didn’t find the dining experience that special at all. On the evening of the White Night which was a buffet on the pool deck, we felt it was too cool to be outside so went to the MDR. We were promptly seated but told our waiter was manning the buffet at the White Night and would be with us shortly. After a wait of 20 minutes and not having been offered as much as a glass of water, one of our party was sent to the bar to get our own refreshments. Eventually our waiter arrived and told us that there was hardly anyone on deck at the White Night. Really poor planning and organisation. On day 2 of our cruise was the included Azamazing evening which we had pre-booked online. This proved to be the highlight of our cruise and maybe the one thing that did make Azamara a bit more special than other cruise lines. After an early dinner we were taken by coach to the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco which provided us with a spectacular evening of entertainment, We were given a couple of hours to view the magnificent aquarium and exhibits in the museum. There were mime artists, live music and plenty of free wine and canapés to enjoy. All in all a very enjoyable evening and was very well received by everyone we spoke to about it afterwards. The other plus for this cruise was the lovely ports visited and the fact that the Quest can dock at places not accessible to larger ships. We enjoy being able to walk off the ship straight into a quaint little town and just doing our own thing. We also liked the fact that there was no rush back to the ship as we usually sailed late in the evening. Our main downside to this cruise though was that, other than the plus points above, that the overall cruise experience did not match our perception of the luxury and high quality service which are associated with Azamara. For example, too many times we were left waiting for prolonged periods of time to order drinks even though the bar was almost empty. Also, although we had upgraded to the top level Ultimate Drinks Package, the drinks were, in the main, poorly prepared and cocktails were unimaginative and bland. They could certainly learn a few tips from the bartenders on Celebrity and Cunard. On the last evening, one bartender who had been surly to us throughout the cruise, suddenly burst into life and revealed she did in fact have a personality and told us that we had been our favourite guests of the cruise. I wonder why? Our other main disappointment was the entertainment. Yes it’s a small ship but the entertainment on this cruise was seriously low key. There was an excellent pianist who played in the Casino Lounge. A guitarist played and sang American folk songs from the 60s and 70s in the Looking Glass Lounge when he could be bothered. Although scheduled to play at certain times he seemed to please himself and came and went as he pleased. The Quest singers and dancers were below the standard experienced in other cruises. We did however enjoy Beverly Davidson, a violinist with a bit of a comic slant. We were glad we had our travelling companions as we made our own entertainment! An aspect of cruising which we enjoy is afternoon tea but as this cruise was port intensive and there was a limited offer of afternoon tea in Windows Café we decided on our last day onboard to order afternoon tea to our room and invited our friends to join us. What a shock when we received two flasks of hot water, four tea bags and a small plate of plain cookies to our room, not quite what we were expecting and quite embarrassing to present to our guests. However we all found the funny side of it and instead we opened a nice bottle of bubbly we had been saving! We self disembarked on our final morning at 9am as we had arranged our own independent transfer to Rome Fiumicino airport and this worked very well and much cheaper than the Azamara transfer offering. To sum up our first Azamara cruise experience, we liked the itinerary, the Azamazing evening and the longer times in smaller ports. We were disappointed with the quality of the dining, the bar service and quality of drinks and the entertainment. As previously mentioned we felt we paid a premium price for a very standard cruise product and although we enjoyed our experience overall we are unlikely to sail Azamara again. Having said that, we are very aware by talking to other passengers who are very loyal to Azamara and are delighted to the offering. That is great. Maybe its just not the one for us.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Where do I start? This is our second Quest sailing and we are in the age range 51-52 ;) We booked through a TA having first noticed the deal on the Azamara site. Off I went to our favourite chilled out TA, thank you Karole Saint-Brice et ... Read More
Where do I start? This is our second Quest sailing and we are in the age range 51-52 ;) We booked through a TA having first noticed the deal on the Azamara site. Off I went to our favourite chilled out TA, thank you Karole Saint-Brice et al, brilliant as usual, you sorted it out for us. Big thanks also go to Azamara because what happened made us feel like we had won a fabulous prize, we are still buzzing. We flew from Gatwick using the Azamara provided package for the cruise, good flights on BA and an easy transfer at Nice airport. This was only the second time we had done this, as we usually book flights separately. Embarkation was a bit of a mess, the security was not ready and only one Azamara Lady was helping to get luggage tags on cases. More staff eventually arrived to help and as soon as Nice security got themselves in gear things went quickly and smoothly. Once on board it was just as if everything that bothered us drifted away and that is how it remained. Relaxed enjoyment, great company, lovely efficient crew. The food is as good as you want it to be, we are not big eaters, not into rigid formality, we eat when we are hungry and that is what Azamara is all about it lets you, be you. Everything is down to what you want to do, when and how you want to do it. Stay on board, wonder ashore and back, ashore again later on, it's up to you. The buzzy bit. The upgrade fairy visited us not once, but twice. Then we also got a present from Azamara Krystal of $100 OBC on top of the OBC we had already been given. We got our cabin decorated for DHs birthday and a card. For our 30th wedding anniversary we booked Prime C and had a cake and singing. To add to the Azamara buzzy bit, a very special buzzy person was Mike, one of our new cruise mates, who had arranged a card that he got all our new friends to sign and we had our own party on the evening of the White Night Party. It all worked wonderfully and all the staff helped when asked. Little nod to Josie the lovely entertainment manager who danced with my DH when I ran out of energy and did whatever she could to make things special. The Azamazing evening 'A night at the museum' was an experience NOT to miss and we had a wonderful time, once again it was relaxed. Getting there was easy and ordered, our deck was first off. The museum was not really ready, no nibbles or drinks, no matter, that was not why we were there. A private visit to a magnificent place, over looking the sea. Marvellous Monaco, viewed from the roof terrace as the sun set and the lights of Monte Carlo started twinkling. Playing with baby sharks, wondering how the stilt creatures stayed up without falling over or how the ballet dancers in the big bubbles stayed conscious! Listening to the mixture of classic and rock played on electric violins and on the natural history floor traditional harpists. It was all like being in a surealist painting or a live art installation were you became part of the vision. You could leave at anytime the shuttles (public transport buses) ran back and forward all evening. Ports - great, all of them! We only did one ship excursion to Florence and Pisa. Our guide was instantly approachable and made little jokes that she laughed at which made us all smile, not the jokes but her enjoyment of them. Florence, fantastic everyone must go. A sad thing happened there that still affects us in different ways, Azamara was not there to protect us. We were sat feeding some breakfast buns to the pidgeons when a very thin raggidy woman approached asking for money, this is a problem along with illegal street sellers in Florence. When we said sorry but no we had no change (we had no change less than a 50euro note), she took the bag of pastries from me, we thought she was going to feed the birds, she stuffed one in her mouth and ate the rest as she wondered off. We just sat there stunned and saddened, the sun still shone brightly but life went a little bit darker. The one problem with this excursion was, Pisa! Two couples decided to be late back to the meeting point in Florence which was the start of the problem, we were now running 30 minutes late, at least. Off we went to Pisa, the traffic was bad, an accident held us up too (nobody hurt). When we got there we were told the walk was about half a mile, half a mile my ..... as Jim Royal would say! It was at least a mile maybe more and being late it became a route march. When we got to the Field of Miracles we had precisely 35 minutes and reducing to see the three monuments. No going up the tower or visiting and marvelling inside the other monuments. You need tickets to get in (no time to get tickets) even if you did have a ticket,no time to run up and down the 296/294 steps of the leaning tower, so we only had time for a photo call, buy some Pisa tat and a toilet break. Those with walking problems or people who tire easily should be warned about the walk to and from the field of dreams at Pisa. Perhaps Azamara should also have arranged tickets for the monuments ahead of time, if possible. The warnings about being late returners to meeting points was clearly explained at the talk we all attended, before we boarded the buses for the excursion, "if you are late back to the meeting point, you make your own way to the ship", perhaps this should have been actioned! Especially when you consider we all had Galaxy tablets provided to make sure we did get back and could contact the Guide. Everyone else was there at least 10 minutes before time so as not to inconvenience others. Regardless of the blips, it was a great adventure and we shared it with lots of lovely fellow cruise mates. It also gave us some much needed exercise. Other reviews talk in detail about the ports of call and describe the detail much better than I would. They were all super, easy, relaxing, beautiful and worth the effort. Cabin. 8012. No problems and although it was connecting there was no noise. Our room stewards (amazing both of them) kindly brought us another comfy-ish chair as these cabins only have one. The supplied toiletries are good, I found out they work better with the water that the stuff I usually use. We are Explorer level so we happily had enough internet minutes to not run out, even with the very slow access. We also got and used, the free bag of laundry, excellent! You know I am going to have to say it, when we got home, we missed our new group of friends. We missed the ship, it's crew, it's passengers, Mosaic coffee, the coleslaw salad (sad but it was my favourite food), the looking glass lounge, the craic in the smoking zone. Fortunately all emails got collected and our ringleader (Mike) sent pictures out in several group emails, once he and his very nice, patient wife got home. In our group there were 14 different nationalities which further enhanced the Azamara experience. Oh dear! I need to book another Azamara cruise, probably on Quest, right now!   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Our second cruise on Azamara Quest within 6 months was not disappointing. We had been "Azamazed" in October 2013 when we took the Nice to Rome cruise and booked the Nice to Rome cruise again for our 10th wedding anniversary in ... Read More
Our second cruise on Azamara Quest within 6 months was not disappointing. We had been "Azamazed" in October 2013 when we took the Nice to Rome cruise and booked the Nice to Rome cruise again for our 10th wedding anniversary in April. We had the joy of meeting up with friends made on our first cruise who had also enjoyed thier first experience so much they decided to repeat it. There were 4 different ports of call so it was definately a different cruise. The delight of this ship is the crew headed up by Captain Carl who seems to instill his enthusiasm in being captain of his lovely ship to all the crew. There is a heartfelt welcome and desire to please throughout the ship's company. Our butler Ravin and steward Vasily were wonderful. They made our special day more special with a personalised card, balloons in our room and a champagne fountain for us and our guests. THe weather was not so kind to us as it was too breezy for the White Nights in Olbia to be quite as wonderful as the evening off Amalfi in October. For those of us who braved it wrapped in the ships tartan rugs it could have been a Burn's Night. It was still fun and the crew go to such effort to lay out the dining room al fresco around the pool side. The wind and swell meant that our tender port of Bonifacio was not an option but Captain Carl made arrangements for us to berth in Porto Vecchio which turned out to be a delightful alternative and allowed those who were going to visit Bonifacio on the tours to get there as it was only 18 km away. Azamara is a relaxed shipping line with excellent food and service. The speciality restaurants are worth the small premium and if you have an early dinner for sail away you have a brilliant panorama as you sip your aperitif. We love Oceania and think that the food is better on their line but they are the gold standard for food at sea.We will be sailing on their Nautica in June which is the same R class ship so we will be interested to compare how the 2 lines work the same ship. We have only travelled on Marina and enjoyed the extra space in the staterooms and spa and extra restaurants. However we love the ambiance of the smaller ships and have been wooed by the wonderful officers and crews on Quest. We have booked a further cruise on Quest's sister ship Journey next year so we would recommend AZAMARA to anyone. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
We loved our first Azamara experience!  The small ship atmosphere is perfect for us at our age...we are both in our early 60's. We do not cruise to spend everyday touring. We cruise more just for the cruise experience and to just get ... Read More
We loved our first Azamara experience!  The small ship atmosphere is perfect for us at our age...we are both in our early 60's. We do not cruise to spend everyday touring. We cruise more just for the cruise experience and to just get away and relax. We liked the fact that Azamara is all-inclusive, not totally inclusive like some cruise lines, but mostly cause gratuities and complimentary drinks are included. We were quite fine with the daily wine selections and the comp alcohol worked well enough. Next trip though might upgrade the alcohol package so we can enjoy after dinner drinks like Baileys. The ship was in great shape and the room albeit a bit small had to be the quietest cabin we had ever had. Loved the fact of the sliding door to the verandah too. Yes, the shower is small, but they have done a great job keeping the water within the shower and not all over the floor The food was good, not great, and there was always the option of a different themed buffet for dinner every night at Windows. We only dined there twice and didnt do either specialty restaurant. Discoveries had a vegetarian and a healthy choice also nightly. Overall service was good. The crew was very outgoing and friendly and you would see the staff out and about daily including helping out at special buffets they might be having There was no high pressure selling and you would only hear from the Captain and Cruise Director once a day when they would give you a noon update We booked another cruise while onboard...next time the Journey. Could not pass up the itinerary including the Panama Canal and overnighting in New Orleans plus a stop in Key West. Thanks to all the Cruise Critic people for all they post. It really helped us set our expectations going in and like we said Azamara did not disappoint Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We booked this in August 2013 when Azamara had an offer of inclusive flights and an upgrade from inside to Veranda and it just seemed like too good a deal to miss. As we'd never been on a fly/cruise before we liked the idea of a ... Read More
We booked this in August 2013 when Azamara had an offer of inclusive flights and an upgrade from inside to Veranda and it just seemed like too good a deal to miss. As we'd never been on a fly/cruise before we liked the idea of a fairly relaxed dress code and thus not need to worry about the weight of all that formal attire. Also as we'd never been to Miami before we asked about being able to amend our flights to add a stay in Miami and that was no problem to arrange, though we sorted out our own accommodation for this. After four hectic nights in Miami it was time to make our way to Azamara Quest. We'd researched the ship fairly thoroughly via the Cruise Critic forum so had an idea what to expect and we weren't disappointed. From the simple and welcoming registration to the big smile and welcoming galss of champagne as we embarked things looked good and then they got better. There's often much talk about is Azamara a luxury line or not but we got what we paid for and a lot more besides. The cabin was on Deck 6, midships and was comfortable. Yes the shower space is a little small but if the shower curtain tries to wrap round you (ours did) then pull it taut and put one foot on the bottom and that soon stops. The cabin was nicely decorated and kept spotlessly clean by our cabin steward. The ship itself was clean and we found it to be pleasant. No sign of deterioration in the furnishings or decorations and always room to find a chair, table, sunbed wherever we were. The food was pretty good in all the venues and sometimes the difficulty was in selecting from the various options available. We enjoyed our meals, whether in the MDR or in the Windows Cafe and on the few occasions we needed Room Service that was fine too. The inclusive drinks were fine though we're not big drinkers (well not nowadays) and tried a good number of the daily wines though it wasn't at all difficult to request a different wine if you found one you really liked. The crew were every bit as friendly and welcoming as we'd read they'd be and often went out of their way to be helpful and this was true regardless of their position be it Hotel Director or waiter. Captain Carl's noon talks were most welcome and highly amusing. We find the mix of entertainment to be very good and the "crew" singers to be excellent and the Entertainment Team certainly kept us entertained. The April Fools Day Daily Rant just had to be seen as Alex got CD Russ with a switch of program that had Russ in near hysterics, great fun. Our fellow passengers were an international mix and a pleasure to be with and I suspect we've made some friends for life, albeit a distant relationship. Unfortunately we were a little unwell for the last few days of the cruise with some virus that caused us to cough and splutter quite badly and despite antibiotics and other medicines once home we're still not quite fully recovered and it's been nearly 2 weeks since we arrived home. However that doesn't prevent us from rating this cruise very highly indeed and we'll certainly be looking for another opportunity to enjoy Azamara's hospitality. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
I have just returned home from my first but not last Azamara cruise with my husband. We have sailed on a wide number of lines from Royal Caribbean to Silver Seas and this was the best yet. I follow the reviews and was skeptical when ... Read More
I have just returned home from my first but not last Azamara cruise with my husband. We have sailed on a wide number of lines from Royal Caribbean to Silver Seas and this was the best yet. I follow the reviews and was skeptical when reading the Azamara ones. But in all honesty, we can say they exceeded our expectations. The ship is older as reported and the bathroom and balconies are small, however, this is to do with the basic restrictions of an older ship. From the moment we arrived in the cruise ship terminal until the disembarkation with Captain Smith seeing us off and thanking us for coming, we felt at home. The service is excellent and friendly without being snobby. The food was really good and healthy choices could be found everywhere. We did not try the Prime C or Aqualina because we loved the theme buffets each evening on the back deck. A perfect combination of self service and wait staff assistance. Fellow passengers were Brits, Americans and Aussies with a sprinkling of others. Everyone was cheerful and friendly and happy with the cruise. The ports of call were super, all small Caribbean islands without the hubbub of shopping and thousands of other cruisers. The entertainment was terrific with a live orchestra. The dancers were all accomplished and Russ the cruise director was a welcome addition as he is also a professional singer. We enjoyed the lecturers on board and learned more about the history of the Caribbean. The wine which was served in abundance was just fine. If we didn't like one they found us another. It is not billed as a wine cruise so expect decent drinkable wine. All in all we were impressed from start to finish and tips really are included. While we tipped our excellent room attendant be because he was just so good, we never got the feeling from any staff that is was expected. Loved the Azamara Quest Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
Azamara Coastal California Voyage February 10-18 We were 2 couples from California who didnt wish to fly this time to get on a ship. We normally sail on Crystal and this time we tried Azamara. It was the worst experience ever ! The girls ... Read More
Azamara Coastal California Voyage February 10-18 We were 2 couples from California who didnt wish to fly this time to get on a ship. We normally sail on Crystal and this time we tried Azamara. It was the worst experience ever ! The girls in Guest Relations were nasty , rude and useless. They seemed to be bothered every time you asked them a question. The staff in the main dining room (Discoveries) were all wonderful. The managers were all wonderful as well. Unfortunately the food got progressively worse as the cruise went on. The NY strip was thin and very bad quality meat. The chilean sea bass tasted like it had been frozen for a year ! We had stroganoff one evening served with rice ! C'mon, who serves stroganoff with rice ? There was never a lobster night either. Decks were shabby looking and public bathrooms smelled and some didnt even have toilet seats ! On Valentines evening there was a dessert buffet with lots of sweet confections and an unappealing lackluster ice sculpture ! The entire spread was broken down and removed after 1 hour while people were still dancing ! I asked where all the desserts were and one staff member said that they were told to remove everything !!! At the buffet during breakfast my husband and I opted for pancakes one morning. We asked for maple syrup. We were brought some artificial version of maple syrup. It was definitely not real maple syrup. It is clearly evident that Azamara is trying to come off as being a luxury cruise line, when in fact they are anything but that. Not to have real maple syrup on a cruise ship ! Thats really tacky and inexcusable. Both the cream cheese and butter were not on ice and were not cold enough. (breeding ground for food borne illnesses). We noticed one of the staff members at the buffet picking his nose and then serving guests ! The entertainers were 2nd rate , including Max DiFaz a horrible pianist, and a guitarist named Simon Belair who was truly awful as well. The sound system by the pool was horrible with loud feedback all the time. This was like the amateur hour. It is quite obvious that Azamara doesnt really make preparations and and only cares about selling things to guests on board. There is constantly someone trying to sell you something on board to the point of ad nauseum. This cruise line is for inexperienced cruisers that think they are going on a luxury cruise. I will never ever listen to my travel agent again ! The only good thing about this cruise was Russ Thomas Grieve, the cruise director who is not only extremely talented but interacts with guests and seems to really care about making the passengers happy. I would never go on another Azamara cruise again nor would I recommend this company to my worst enemy ! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We booked the February 18 Los Angeles to Caldera and March 4 Caldera to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal while on two 2013 Azamara cruises (Norwegian Fjords and Hamburg to Southhapmpton). Normally, we book a future cruise or cruises while ... Read More
We booked the February 18 Los Angeles to Caldera and March 4 Caldera to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal while on two 2013 Azamara cruises (Norwegian Fjords and Hamburg to Southhapmpton). Normally, we book a future cruise or cruises while on board to take advantage of the booking on board discount. While these two Quest cruises generally met our expectations, for the first time in almost 5 years that we did not book a future cruise while on board. Pre-Cruise Experience. Poor. Enough has already been said about the website functionality issues, Le Club Voyage changes and unilaterally changing the 25% shore excursion program. Boarding & Back to Back Procedures. Excellent. Quick and seamless. We arrived at the ship around 11:30AM and were in our room by 1:30PM. The change over to the second cruise couldn’t have been handled better. We left the ship shortly before 8AM and had our pictures taken and received our cards for the next cruise as we left the ship. A short bus ride took us to the terminal where we met our guide for the day. Senior Staff. Excellent. One of Azamara’s big pluses. Both cruises had Philip Herbert, Hotel Director, and Russ Grieve, Cruise Director, as senior officers. Philip & Russ seemed omnipresent on both cruises. Both knew our names from the 2013 cruises, which to my wife is a big plus. They were both friendly, helpful and outgoing in a low key way, i.e., not in your face happy all the time. For the first cruise, we had Captain Jose and for the second, Captain Carl. Both were excellent especially in their communications. Presenters. Very Good. A little background to explain why the presenters are important to us. We don’t participate in trivia, bridge, bingo, casinos, etc. Our main reason for traveling is our interest in history, culture and scenic viewing. Therefore, we choose our cruises and travel in general based on itinerary. So, the presenters are an important aspect of our cruise experience. Jim Howard was good, but did rely on reading too many power point slides. Hal Tinberg was excellent. In addition, Nigel Marven, a naturalist and BBC presenter (think the BBC’s version of the late Steve Irwin) joined the second cruise in Costa Rica and provided entertaining highlights from his career using film clips. In New Orleans, Nigel even brought an alligator, a turtle and another reptile to his presentation. Cabin Steward. Excellent. Staterooms. This is one of Azamara’s negatives. We love the R Ships for their coziness, but the staterooms just don’t measure up to the luxury lines or the newer mass market lines. We did think the staterooms themselves made good use of the space available, leaving aside the shower which would make a small child feel claustrophobic. We thought the bedding was fine. Food - Good, not excellent. We thought the food started out excellent, but the quality declined by the second cruise. Being on the ship for 28 days made us realize the menus are very repetitive. Surprisingly, the ship ran out of certain fresh fruit items and the quality of the fruit selection in all restaurants was poor. The were issues with the ice cream refrigeration. We found the steak quality unacceptably poor. The service was surprisingly good. We tried to sit whenever possible in the same section and our waiter Armando and his assistants did an outstanding job. I am very fussy about food being served hot (not luke warm), but I never sent anything back. We are somewhat fussy -my wife doesn’t eat pork and there are a few random items I don’t eat - but the waitstaff always accommodated us. Similarly, if I didn’t particularly like the day’s wine selection, they found a prior day’s wine for me. Also, we preferred club soda to water at meals and virtually the entire waitstaff knew that by the second or third day. We thought the food quality of the Prime C food was mediocre. Mosaic Cafe - A gem - we loved the specialty coffees, treats, and seating arrangements. A small thing but a big plus. Additionally, the Mosaics staff did a great job preparing and delivering drinks. Room service - Not surprisingly, my wife loves room service, while I don’t like room service. However, I admit Azamara did a great job serving breakfast on time. Selections were extensive and included hot items which actually arrived hot. Maitre d’s - Another plus. They mingled well, unobtrusive, helping out and seemingly interested. Shore Excursions - Good. We did several and except for pricing they exceeded our expectations. Azamazing Evenings. Poor - Major disappointments. The Cabo (First Cruise) involved spending a lot of time tendering, riding buses, etc. for a very short performance. The second (Panama) was held on the ship. The only thing we found amazing about that was its promotion as something special. Le Club Voyage - Excellent - Perks - No free cruises like some, but Azamara offers excellent perks. When you get to the Discover level, you get 235 internet minutes each and a free laundry bag. Azamara did an outstanding Discover member brunch. On our cruises, we seemed to have conflicts with some scheduled Le Club Voyage events. Entertainment - Good. Russ’s performance is great, but we have now seen it 4 times. The Considering the venue (it is a cabaret facility not a Broadway stage), we thought Azamara did a surprisingly good job. As far as the ship’s cast,Azamara has 4 talented dancers as part of the ship’s cast. This enhanced the singers and dancers performances. However, the shows are the same as last year. Max DiFaz was excellent. Sadly, we missed the harpist. Symbolically, tone deaf, Azamara displays a permanently affixed harp in the seating area on Deck 5 adjacent to the Mosaic Cafe and the shops. The guest entertainers were generally excellent especially the very talented Bruce Parker. Park West’s Presence - Poor. Having Park West auctions means that the Cabaret Lounge cannot be used for other activities such as movies, cooking demonstrations, etc. Given the limited facilities on the ship, this is a big negative. Art Instructor - Excellent. Both cruises had a water color instructor on board who offered courses on each cruise. Sonja Griess did an excellent job. Conclusion. We considered several Azamara winter 2015 cruises. While we know that prices vary from cruise to cruise, we were surprised by the amount of the increase for the specific 2015 cruises we had interest in. Given the stateroom size issues, the food quality decline and the pre-cruise issues outlined above, we decided that although we love the staff, Azamara is no longer a great value proposition for us. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
After a frustrating time with the shore-side of Azamara, including being locked out of my reservation for close to a month and being wrongly told I could not get the benefits of my loyalty status because I didn’t pay enough for my ... Read More
After a frustrating time with the shore-side of Azamara, including being locked out of my reservation for close to a month and being wrongly told I could not get the benefits of my loyalty status because I didn’t pay enough for my cruise, I looked forward to having an “Amazing” on board experience. My comparisons are mostly based on our experience with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, whom we exclusively sail with. I had a lovely cruise. Great ports, good weather, lots of fun excursions and wonderful fellow sailors. I had never been on a “luxury” cruise before and was expecting an upscale atmosphere. I did not expect bingo and art auctions. Here is my review. Boarding: Boarding was fine but not as good as the boarding we generally have on Royal Caribbean where we are Diamond level in their Loyalty Club. We came on Azamara Quest as Discoverer (high tier) level due to our Elite level on Celebrity. Celebrity also offers priority boarding to its higher levels. Azamara did not, but it was not a problem as the lines were short. Boarding was delayed for half an hour. After we boarded, and were handed our flute of bubbly, we sat in a lounge area for over an hour then went to lunch. I quickly learned to skip the wine at lunch. They pour often and freely. Stateroom: The stateroom was extremely small. I’ve had larger ones on river cruises. Storage was limited, but we managed to get our stuff stowed. The shower is the smallest I have ever seen. We have a 23 foot motorhome and the shower in the motorhome is significantly larger than the one in the Quest. I am small and have never been bothered by shower curtain cling, but the shower on Quest was so small that I now understand what others have posted about shower curtains. The cabin attendant told us that the phone number for him on the wall did not work so we should call housekeeping. There was no number for housekeeping. We had to go to guest relations if we needed to contact the steward. The phone had no directions on it. I had to take out the big loose leaf book to learn how to use it. There is an alarm clock on one of the two tiniest of night stands. It took a few days for me to find the directions which were on a card almost behind the TV. The TV never worked to check our account and others said the same. The night stands were about a foot lower than the bed and had lamps attached to them which took up more space leaving very little area for your personal stuff. I like pin up lamps better as they free up the night stand area. We had an outside cabin and I made good use of the window sill for extra storage. The beds were comfortable but their method of making them is weird. If you want to cover yourself above your midriff, you have to scoot down in the bed as the sheets and blankets will not reach your shoulders. This was shared by other guests, so I don’t believe it was just our cabin. There is a small desk with two US style outlets. We had multi-plugs with us to charge up the gear. There was a hair dryer in the desk shelf on the right and another attached to the wall in the bathroom. There is one small medicine cabinet in the bath and a three-tiered shelf as well as the shelf under the sink. The water pressure in the sink was very high and splashed all over. The pressure in the shower was not as high. I would have liked it to be reversed. The soaps, lotions etc. were of great quality. I especially liked the shampoo. The towels were soft and large, but were n the other side of the shower. You had to remember to put one on the shelf under the sink before going into the shower. There are two small towel rods for hand towels and no place to hang the bath towels if you want to "save a wave". There were two thick terry robes in the closet, one pair of slippers and a large umbrella in the closet. There was also a small pair of binoculars. Our safe was broken so they replaced it. The AC did not work the first night and they fixed it the next day. There was a bottle of champaign in the stateroom and we asked for a bucket of ice to chill it. There was a plate of fresh fruit on the little table. I am not certain if it was replaced. We did eat an orange two times and they were replaced. Food: The food was good, not great, with the exception of prime rib, which was awesome. Desserts were not very good. Most of them were based on pastry cream which had a slightly artificial taste and a whipped texture. I had asked the diningroom manager if they would be serving strawberry Palova on the cruise. I’d had it on non-luxury lines. They made a special one for me. I told them it was wonderful, but I was more impressed that they took the effort to make it, than I was with the Pavlova, which was not very good at all. Their meringues tended to be too loose and undercooked. I am a big fan of hot dogs. My favorite lunch on a Celebrity ship is a hot dog at the pool grill. Azamara’s hot dogs at the Pool Grill were in a steam tray, not hot off the grill as are both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. The grill was right there, why couldn’t I get a freshly grilled hot dog? The ones on the steam table were not hot and had been sitting in liquid. Desserts were comparable to Celebrity. I don’t care for Celebrity’s either, but Celebrity can definitely make a better creme brule. Azamara’s creme brule was in a dish that was way too shallow and had the consistency of the Junket rennet custard we had as kids when we were sick. The gelato was never cold enough. I did like the “ice cream soup”, however. I decided to have the lobster tail one night in the main dining room. I was served a piece of rubber. I changed my main course, not opting to have another bad one. The prime rib and the lamb chops, however, were excellent. Portions are small and I would prefer more vegetables. The vegetables on the side of the main dishes were scant and decorative. I think the food was 60% presentation and 40% taste. The freshly made pancakes and waffles at the breakfast buffet were very good. Breakfast pastries were not so good. We had dinner one night at Aqualina, one of the two cover-charge restaurants. The food was very good, but not great. The lobster bisque and the Grand Marnier souffle were excellent. I was impressed that a waiter in the buffet area would take an order for a custom made omelet or egg dish and return it to you without your ever standing in a line. Most mornings, there was quite a long wait until a member of the wait staff noticed us. When they did, service was good. The service in the dining room was snail-paced. Many of the wait staff were not proficient in English and breakfast orders were often misunderstood. Lunch and dinner were better as they had the dishes on their order pads, still we saw too many instances of missed orders and delivery of the wrong food for a “luxury” line. We do My Time Dining and Select Dining on Royal and Celebrity. After the first night the dining room captain knows us and our cabin number by sight. We had to give our cabin number to the dining room captain every single night we ate in the main dining room. Since dining is open seating, I don't understand having to give my cabin number every night. The Ship: The quest is lovely. The ship was very clean. There is an abundance of dark wood and beveled glass. The furnishings and decor exude an ambiance of wealth and comfort. Bar service was excellent and the included beverages were very good. If you did not care for a wine at dinner they found another to your taste. On the pool deck, there were plenty of lounge chairs and large, soft beach towels. There were many, many chair hogs, especially in the small areas that were shaded. There should have been more shaded areas for those who can’t be in the sun. The gym is thimble-sized and I felt my claustrophobia in there so I didn’t use it. You have to do 12 loops around the walking track to get in a mile. Tendering was excellent. The crew was very attentive and careful. There was a minimum of engine noise when the ship was sailing and we did not experience a bit of vibration on the entire cruise. There was a steam room in the locker room and I used it. It was lovely and it was free. Being a small ship, there is a dearth of public bathrooms, but that is expected. The elevators were rarely crowded and worked quickly and efficiently. Probably the best elevator experience I’ve had in all of our cruises. Wifi worked well. It was ship-slow, but not frustratingly. I was in an outside cabin on deck 4, port side, which was near the guest relations deck so I had a strong signal. Others reported that they did not have a good signal. The public areas are beautiful and clean. The furniture is comfortable, though a bit large for smaller people. The Crew: There seems to be a culture of interaction with passengers. Some people love this. I was more interested in a nice cruise with interesting ports of call than I was in fist-bumping the captain. He seemed to be everywhere but on the bridge. Quite the social butterfly. We wondered if there was a real seaman on the bridge and this friendly fellow was hired for entertainment purposes. The cruise director, Russ, was fabulous. A very talented fellow. He made the guests feel welcome and included. The activities director, Alex, was also very talented and his efforts to entertain the guests were appreciated. The trivia games, bingo, etc. were led by entertainment staff as there was no activity staff other than Alex. There were speakers and a watercolor class, but I did not participate so I can’t comment. There was a fellow who played guitar and sang on the pool deck for about 45 minutes every afternoon. He played and sang the same songs every day. The piano player was excellent as was the other guitar player who played in the lounge. Entertainment: The shows were mostly done by the singers and dancers, talented young people. They were enjoyable. The costumes were attractive and the choreography was pleasant, though not very imaginative, and the dancers gave their all. There was a British woman who did covers of female singers who put on a nice show and later in the cruise, a very talented man who did a lot of Motown. He was excellent and they brought him back for the pool deck dance. I wondered how they would stage the shows in a lounge area as there is no theater on the Quest, but everything ran smoothly and was easy to see from all areas of the venue. We are big fans of trivia and attended most of the games as well as the progressive trivia on sea days. They hand out a checkerboard printed paper and you are asked to get the signature of the activity leader at each event, two signatures if you win. I thought this was too juvenile. I did not have a signature paper and I did not take home an Azamara pen. I am not at all upset as I already have a whole bunch of trivia prizes and I enjoyed playing. The Azamazing evening was in Cabo and was great. We were tendered and then bused to the venue, a lovely hotel by the sea. I commend Azamara for their handling the logistic of this event. It was flawless. We saw a wonderful show with dancers performing pre-Hispanic dances from the indigenous culture. It was followed by fabulous fire works. A great evening and truly Amazing. Excursions: We took advantage of the 25% discount for booking excursions before January 3, 2014 and did several with the ship. All but one were fine. The one that was not was due to a guide with a poor command of English whom we could not understand. Luckily, the museums we went to had signs in English. We also did several private excursions and they were great. Debarkation: We were given “green #2" tags and we debarked at 7:30 AM. The buses were right on the pier. We had to identify our luggage and give them the large hand luggage which we watched being put under the bus. Our flight was to leave at 1:36 PM and we were at the airport way too early, but the debarkation process was clean and fast. Kudos again to Azamara. All in all we had a very nice cruise. We met some interesting people from all over the world. We got to see ports that were fascinating and take excursions to some pretty wonderful places. We had plenty to eat and enjoyed the entertainment. Will I come back to Azamara? If I get an excellent deal like I got on this cruise and the ports of call were of interest to me, I would. If Celebrity or Royal Caribbean had the same ports, I’d sail with them before considering Azamara. It’s not that I like bigger ships, I prefer smaller ones and we sail on the smaller Royal and Celebrity ships, but I have had better experiences and service on Royal and Celebrity.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
My husband and I have tried 7 ocean cruise lines thus far and have generally enjoyed Celebrity and Royal Caribbean a bit more than the others. So we had little hesitation in trying their sister line, Azamara Club Cruises, when a really ... Read More
My husband and I have tried 7 ocean cruise lines thus far and have generally enjoyed Celebrity and Royal Caribbean a bit more than the others. So we had little hesitation in trying their sister line, Azamara Club Cruises, when a really good deal emerged on a Panama Canal Cruise. Eight friends agreed to join us for the January 5-15 cruise from Miami to Caldera, Costa Rica. We all booked our air arrangements through Choice Air. One couple opted to travel to Miami the day of the cruise; the rest of us flew from Houston to Miami a day early to relax a bit. We'd booked rooms at the Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Airport Blue Lagoon, located about 3 miles from the airport. The hotel van picked us up within a minute of our departure from baggage claim and quickly deposited us at the hotel. Within a block of the hotel were a shopping center with grocery store and cafes, as well as CVS and Walgreen's, where we all made last-minute purchases. We had a nice dinner at a Cuban café and enjoyed the free breakfast at the hotel the next morning. The hotel called 2 taxi vans for us, and we were on our way to the port by 11:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. Quick and easy. Upon our arrival, we dropped off the luggage and headed through security. We were whisked to the check-in counter so fast that I hadn't had time to pull out our boarding passes. This was truly the quickest check-in I've ever experienced. Within 5 minutes we boarded the ship, where we were warmly greeted by crew members and encouraged to enjoy one of the dining options. We figured the Windows buffet would be packed, but we were pleasantly surprised. Our delightful lunch signaled the start of a lovely cruise. Our exploration of the ship reinforced that feeling. We checked out all the pubic spaces and found everything we'd expect on a much larger ship--just on a smaller scale. The gym and spa were nice, as were the small casino, tasteful shops and lounges. Looking Glass, located on Deck 10, was a great room for viewing the sights or reading during the day, enjoying lectures and entertainment, along with dancing in the evenings. At first sight we fell in love with the Drawing Room, Quest's lovely library. It was open 24 hours per day, with books to be taken on the honor system. I found that it had really good Internet reception, so I relaxed there in front of the fireplace with my iPad on sea days. The main dining room, Discoveries Restaurant, had only a few tables for 10 people, but they managed to accommodate our whole group the first night. Service was prompt and efficient, and everyone appeared to enjoy their selections. Since Azamara has an open seating policy, we had to remember to request the large table for a particular time if we all wanted to eat together. Over the course of 10 days we ate once at each of the specialty restaurants (which have a $25 per person cover charge), a well as in the Windows Café (buffet) a couple of times. Each day complimentary red and white wines were offered with lunch and dinner; we liked all the selections well enough that we never ordered any of the specialty wines. Soft drinks, espresso and cappuccino were also included, so never experienced the "nickel and dime" irritants of other cruise lines. Prime C is a classic steakhouse. There I tried the seafood sampler starter, salad and 8 ounce filet mignon; all were excellent. There were so many great desserts that we wound up sharing many. The hit turned out to be the warm mini-donuts with 3 great sauces. We celebrated a birthday at Aqualina, the Mediterranean restaurant. I tried the goat cheese soufflé, lobster bisque, and seafood platter--including grilled scallops, calamari, tiger shrimp and a half lobster. My husband had enjoyed the mini-donuts at Prime C so much that he asked whether they could be obtained at Prime C as well. Our waiter went next door and brought back donuts and sauces for the entire table--along with all the individual desserts we'd ordered. We were pleasantly surprised by the entertainment onboard the Quest. In lieu of a theater, Quest has a more informal cabaret with movable chairs and tables. There is a small stage that's only a step up from the main floor, and a wooden floor extends out into the audience. We were able to get up-close views of the singers and dancers during performances, which we thoroughly enjoyed. During the cruise we delighted in several presentations by the ship's singers and dancers, who were every bit as talented as those on larger cruise ships. We also heard a cellist, a dynamic young vocalist, and a comedian. But we particularly enjoyed evenings when Russ Grieve, the cruise director, included a few songs in the program. We'd seen him perform in "Mamma Mia" in Las Vegas a few years ago, and he still has incredibly energy and a great voice. One evening he showed up for the ABBA Dance Party in one of his "Mamma Mia" costumes and danced with the ladies. Great fun! We also enjoyed the music in the lounges throughout the ship. We'd signed up for this cruise hoping for at least a couple of entertaining and enlightening lectures. We definitely were not disappointed. We attended 3 standing room only enrichment talks on the Panama Canal by Richard Wainio, who was involved for several decades in canal administration and treaty implementation. His insights really added to our appreciation of our canal transit and of our subsequent excursions in Panama City. Dr. Jerry Kronefeld offered a series of interesting medical talks throughout the cruise. Near the end our final speaker joined us: Nigel Marven of Animal Planet. He talked about animals to see in Costa Rica and showed us a Costa Rica wildlife video being developed. His enthusiasm was definitely contagious. One of our biggest surprises was the accessibility of the officers. Captain Vilarinho popped up all over the ship and seemed genuinely delighted to interact with the passengers. From the chief engineer to the hotel director to food and beverages director to the future cruise sales manager, we found the officers to be engaging, interesting people. Much the same could be said of the entire crew. If they didn't enjoy their jobs, they certainly did a good job of faking it! Azamara's shore excursion offerings seemed a bit limited to us, but we did manage to find ship-sponsored activities in each port that satisfied us. I'd checked online for local tours but hadn't found better options. First port: Cartagena. On a previous visit we'd done a fairly extensive tour, so this time we opted for a walking tour of Old Cartagena. Our guide set an appropriate pace and kept us all engaged. In the next port, Panama City, my husband and I split up. He went with several members of our group to view the expansion of the Panama Canal, while I went with 2 ladies on a Panama City tour. We saw a bit of the former Canal Zone, the impressive high rises of downtown Panama City, ruins of the old town, and much of the historic area known as Casco Viejo. Based on the talk that evening over dinner, all in our group seemed pleased with their choices. In Costa Rica we docked first at Golfito, a small town with a dock that formerly supported the area's banana trade. The Quest was apparently the largest cruise ship the town had seen in the last decade. Cars parked up and down the main road to watch as we docked. Later that evening when we enjoyed White Night food and entertainment out on the decks, the entire town must have heard the music. We walked around a bit before our tour the next morning, and there was very little to see. Passengers who didn't book excursions must have been quite disappointed. However, my husband and I loved the fact that we were docked rather than anchored out in the bay, and we enjoyed the solitude and wild beauty of the area. Swiss Travel provided the guides for various excursions in Costa Rica. In Golfito my husband and I selected a small boat cruise to a botanical garden and on to a wildlife rescue center. Our knowledgeable guide, Percy, did an excellent job and kept us thoroughly entertained. That evening he and the other guides drove north and met the ship the next morning in Quepos for a new set of land excursions. This time we had to take the ship's tenders in to shore. We'd opted for a 7 hour excursion to the Sky Walk and Pura Vida Gardens. A mini-bus took us about 45 minutes north through palm oil plantations to our first stop. The guide pointed out many of the trees, flowers and wildlife as we traversed several swinging bridges and winding trails. Later we drove up to a private garden owned by a couple from the Dallas area. We enjoyed a home-cooked lunch there before touring the garden with our guide. The views of Costa Rica's largest waterfall and of the Pacific were spectacular. Great photos! One excursion that we didn't have to pay for: the ship's "AzAmazing Evening" in Panama City. We had to register in advance, but the ship provided everything from start to finish. Following an early dinner, we boarded tenders that took us to Fuerte Amador where we boarded minibuses for the drive into Casco Viejo. A guide kept us entertained on the way--good thing because the heavy traffic made for a lengthy drive. Since several of our group were on one of the later buses, we missed much of the planned outdoor reception in a plaza. We had a quick drink and a couple of tapas before heading to the National Theater of Panama for a folkloric performance. The locals who'd arranged the seating weren't very organized, so we tromped up and down stairs several times before we were finally seated. The dancing and costumes were colorful, but the overall impression was of a fairly amateurish production. Still, we enjoyed seeing a bit of Panama City in the evening and felt we shouldn't complain about a free event. Imagine our surprise a couple of days later to find a letter from Captain Vilharino offering an apology, a $100 onboard spending credit and a future cruise credit. If we didn't manage to use our onboard credit, the remainder would be refunded to our credit card. All this for an event we hadn't paid for in the first place. I guarantee this made a VERY positive impression on us. Long review, but our overall impressions: the Quest is a small ship that is elegant but still casual; food is quite good; entertainment and enrichment opportunities abound; the officers and crew are delightful; and passengers appear to be well-traveled but down-to-earth. We still love Celebrity and some of the large ships, but we are already considering another voyage with Azamara. This may well be the perfect cruise line for my husband and me! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Azamara Quest through the Panama Canal – January 5-17, 2014 Day 1: Stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn a couple miles from the airport. Watch for the right van, there’s 3 Hampton Inns… Decently clean, better then usual TP, towels. ... Read More
Azamara Quest through the Panama Canal – January 5-17, 2014 Day 1: Stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn a couple miles from the airport. Watch for the right van, there’s 3 Hampton Inns… Decently clean, better then usual TP, towels. Granite counter in the bath and a large room. Good dinner at the Cuban restaurant next door. Good breakfast included, a little birding behind the hotel (separate report in the Ecology Board), then a $12 pp trip to the pier. Look at the lines for the other big ships, walk right up to the Azamara counter, second in line, and pick up our boarding materials. Up to the Windows Café for some sushi and salads and some of that free beer (very limited selection for free, but I’m not too picky). In the cabin about 2, muster drill at 4. Dinner was shrimp cocktail, French Onion Soup, Tenderloin. The white wine is Albarino, good. Taste them first if you like your wines, sometimes they have leftover bottles from the day before if you don’t like tonight’s selection. Nice sugar-free strawberry gelato for dessert. Very important: don’t accept a seat in the aft 20 feet or so, unless you like propeller vibration and noise. Day 2: at sea The first of my 12 days of smoked salmon, but they have trout, halibut, and herring as well. Baked eggs and some fruit. Coffee bad, think they forgot to rinse the pot after cleaning it yesterday? Trivia contests, daily suduko from the library, some Candy Crush… Lunch is Beef/Broccoi stir fry with rice, and the gelato is Raspberry now. Moderate swell and the ship is rolling a bit for dinner. Shrimp Wontons, Gumbo, Prime Rib. Time for the “Dining Hints”. The portions are modest, but if you want to really load it in, ask for another! There is a limited drink menu for the free stuff, so I always started with a Cutty Sark on the rocks, then switched to wine. After dinner drinks (brandy, liqueurs) are not on the free list. The baker, the soup maker, the ice cream guy really are good – make sure you have those. The sugar free desserts are quite good (sorry, near diabetic). There is always sushi, a Oriental stir fry, and a carved meat in the Windows Café for lunch and dinner. When you find a good waiter / assistant, ask for them and sit in their section every night – they really appreciate it. It will be worth it, and I got my Cutty Sark without asking every night – most usually waiting for me…. Show your appreciation at the end of the voyage. Barbesco and Sylvani will be aboard until May on their current contracts… You get fresh fruit in your cabin, a vase of flowers, and a couple of truffles every night. The coffee bar on deck 5 opens at 7 every morning – get a takeaway cup of latte with an extra shot there. Small snacks available there also. Day 3: at sea Hand carved lamb for lunch, no sugar Hazelnut gelato (very good…) Dinner had a great crab cake and some weird stroganoff (with red/green peppers?), Butter pecan gelato this time. Day 4: Cartagena I’ve been here twice before, so I no longer go into the town. There is a shopping area at the end of the pier behind the Duty Free with restrooms, a couple dozen vendors that don’t pester you, and what I think are reasonable prices (I’m not a shopper) They have coffee, souvenirs, emeralds… In front is a beer stand with 2 dollar beers, and you can get 2 hours of internet access for 5 bucks, along with the crew. Mostly I go birding in the woods behind this center for a couple of hours, with beer to replenish those body fluids. Dinner in the Prime C was disappointing – A great piece of meat, expertly cooked, with some of the lousiest sauces. The twice baked potatoes were ok. We make better stuff at home! Day 5: at sea Day 6: Panama Canal transit Pilot station: 5 AM 6:30 – Gatun Lock 2:00 passing Gamboa (in Gatun Lake) 3:15 Miguel locks. Out about 6. You get a map to look at, and our narrator really knew the history and minor little facts to dress up the journey. Officer’s BBQ on deck for lunch: tacos, volcano pizza, baked potato. We had about 3-4 of these deck meals during the voyage. Lunch had carved roast beef, good sides and plentiful horseradish! Our room attendant stored our bottle of welcoming champagne, and we had that on the balcony during the transit. This night was the Azamazing Evening, and it was about as close to a fiasco as you can get. There was a DJ concert right on the main road to Old Town Panama with about 10,000 young people blocking traffic. Old Town has narrow streets, this was Friday night, and everybody was out on the town. We had 32 small buses, 20 people in each. We were promised tapas and sangria – my first “tapa” was a cube of Manchego cheese with a green grape and a toothpick to hold it together. No sangria – white or red wine. The National Theater was about 50 seats short of needed, and with the traffic, the Ballet Folklorico got going about 1.5 hours late. (They were very good, incidentally). All the guides, one in each bus, knew a lot about the process. We never heard word one from any of the ship’s staff. By the time we worked our way back through the DJ contest, bedtime was close to midnight. Opinions were openly shared among the passengers, and a nice refund showed up later, both SBC and future cruise credit. Day 7: Panama Took the history tour. Archaelogy Museum, the Very old town from 1600 that Henry Morgan burned, then the Old Town walking tour, where I promptly got lost. Found another group, and they called around and I found my group again at the cathedral. Nice history tour. Panama is working on their tourist industry. I spent a week there last April and liked the food and people, but I proved to be allergic to the whole place. Bring some Claritin… The ship is running a shuttle to the local shopping center, and it looks like the crew has internet access in the bar where the tender docks. Ate dinner in Aqualina tonight, and that was a lot better. Day 8: cruise to Goltrito Cruised all day, and docked in Golfrito about sunset. There were at least 500 people on the shore taking pictures, and we found out that we were the first ship to visit in about a year or so. We’re tied up to the old banana dock. They no longer raise bananas here commercially, but there is a few tanks full of palm oil scattered around. Day 9: Golfrito Took a tour to the local wildlife refuge(across from the airport). Hiked to a waterfall, maybe a mile off moderate grade with some mud and rocks. Guide tried hard to show us stuff, but not a great place to do it. Shopping? There was two tent vendors off the end of the pier with the usual souvenirs, but not any wood puzzle boxes for MY grandchildren. Opening offer on a Tshirt was 20 bucks. (last year, I got an embroidered one for 10). No coffee – we had to buy it in the airport! Really getting used to stopping at the Pool Bar when we return for a couple of beers, it’s hot out! Day 10: Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park) Nice touch – note on our bed that “hey, you’re leaving at 7:30 for a tour, shouldn’t you order some breakfast at 6:30?” Tour of Manuel Antonio is well done, guides very knowledgeable, and I got to see the camo frogs and a hummingbird nest to boot! Watch your valuables, the monkeys will take your glasses up the tree and the raccoons will open your backpack for food. About a mile to the beach with decent footing, short cut back to a fruit snack. Lunch on the ship was Cajun chicken and beef goulasch. In the afternoon, I turned in my activities card for a Tshirt and a notebook. Dinner was an excellent lamb chop and wiener schnitzel. Day 11: Debark in Caldera, Costa Rica We were signed up for stopping in Sachi on the way to San Jose, but they told us we wouldn’t have enough time… We got to the airport at 10, and the staff didn’t show up to check us in until 12:30. Maybe Azamara should’ve timed this out a bit? Plenty of time to stop and buy an oxcart or something. Decent airport, we asked the attendant and got some beans and rice for lunch. ChoiceAir routed us through Charlotte, NC on the way to Denver – a route not appreciated by us, particularly when only one security line was open at that time of night in Charlotte.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
The Azamara H.R. department must have stumbled on the failsafe personality test. The staff and crew aren't just nice to the customers, they're even nice to each other! I have heard the Quest referred to as "the happiest ship ... Read More
The Azamara H.R. department must have stumbled on the failsafe personality test. The staff and crew aren't just nice to the customers, they're even nice to each other! I have heard the Quest referred to as "the happiest ship at sea" and that might not be hyperbole. On this cruise from Puerto Caldera Costa Rica to L.A., the majority of the passengers have sailed with Azamara before. It isn't uncommon to find folks who have sailed with Az five, ten, fifteen times and more. . . and the company hasn't been around all that long. It might not be Cheers where everybody knows your name, but with 600 passengers you aren't the anonymous digit you are on one of the mega ships. If you're looking for rock climbing walls, or ice skating rinks or big name entertainment, you're in the wrong boat. But there's still plenty to keep you entertained. Every cruise features a "White Night." The cruisers dress in white for a gorgeous banquet on the pool deck. This White Night was in Huatulco Mexico and the entertainment was a folkloric dance troupe--highly preferable to one more second string comedian, one more hokey magician. The officers make crepe suzettes and then everyone dances to old time rock n roll under the stars--invariably a fun evening. You'll see the Hotel Manager serving gelato and the matre d' bussing a table--a factor, I think, in the happy ship equation. The egalitarian attitude is refreshing. The nightly entertainment in the Caberet Lounge is sometimes mediocre and sometimes quite good. And there's always the little casino. I'm partial to the penny slots. You can't win much but you can't lose much and it's a fun way to while away an hour or two on a sea day. The last cruise we were on featured an "Azamazing Evening" on the Yorktown in Charleston Harbor. I thought it was okay, but my military buff husband was ecstatic. I was the ecstatic one on this cruise. A caravan made its way into the foothills of the Sierra Madres from Puerta Vallarta. The show included indigenous people performing in fantastic costumes--feathers to rival any Las Vegas showgirl, a mariachi band, a dancing horse and fireworks in a wonderful setting unusual and exotic. It was exceptional. I'm 67 years, I've been there, done that and I'm not easily impressed. I was impressed. Events like this take tremendous coordination and planning and they brought it off without a hitch. And now we come to the ever important food and drink category. Except for the small luxury ships, you're likely to get charged about eight bucks plus an 18% tip for a thimbleful of wine. Azamara decided to include Wine, beer and well liquor; no need to smuggle your booze aboard. Even so, the crowd is older and sedate and you're unlikely to be bothered by drunken revelers. To me, it's a welcome extra. The food is like the entertainment: sometimes mediocre and sometimes quite good. The dining room is lovely and service is excellent. The Windows Cafe is a glorified cafeteria with steam table food, the atmosphere frenetic. Take your food to the back deck and eat in the open air, though, and it's delightful. The two specialty restaurants charge $25 per person and while the menus are limited, the food -- no, scratch that-- the cuisine is to die for. Filet and lobster are the staples with the occasional chateau briand or beef wellington. The grill on the pool deck was quite nice for a made-to-order hamburger and fries. But recently they have been serving more steam table food and the pre-cooked burgers are hard to distinguish from hockey pucks. At times the food is so overly salted that I found it inedible. The cabins are clean and well maintained, wood and mirrors and as much space as you can hope for on a ship. The teeny bathroom and shower are nothing to write home about but hey! it's a ship. Go to the spa where there is a roomy tropical shower with seven shower heads. The Azamara Quest and the Journey are from the original Renaissance line that went bankrupt. The library is unchanged--A truly beautiful room with a mural of birds and botanicals on the ceiling that is so charming it will make you smile. We have sailed on Azamara six times and have worked our way up to a couple of nice little perks: a generous allotment of internet time and some free laundry. The self-operated coin laundry is free for everyone. There's a lovely champagne brunch for the repeat customers and a couple of cocktail parties. The staff and crew want to keep you coming back and they do a good job of it: solicitous, pleasant, and always smiling. The back office is that infamous horse of a different color. On our last cruise we put a deposit down for a future cruise. In return we would get an onboard credit. Many of the itineraries include a promotion whereupon if you book your airfare with their agency, Choice Air, you get a rebate on your cruise. We found a great price for this cruise on-line and my husband called to ask if it qualified for the Choice Air credit. "Yes,"  he was told. "Absolutely." Being the cynic that I am I said, "Sounds too good to be true." So I called. "Yes," I was told, the cruise definitely qualified. But when we actually booked the cruise we were told, NO, the promotion would not apply. Okay, it was still a good deal. . . not the end of the world. Then we were told we could not use our deposit nor would we get the shipboard credit. Seeing as how we have spent something in the neighborhood of $30,000 with Azamara, you might say I was a little disappointed with how we were treated: no explanations, no apologies. Azamara is owned by Royal Carribean (which also owns Celebrity). Their policies and philosophies about how to run a cruise line are apparently quite different from Azamara's. Unfortunate. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
My wife and I have recently returned to the UK after a 14 days cruise around Central America with Azamara Quest. We first started cruising in 1999 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was an excellent cruise and we expected all ... Read More
My wife and I have recently returned to the UK after a 14 days cruise around Central America with Azamara Quest. We first started cruising in 1999 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was an excellent cruise and we expected all other cruises to be similar. Sadly over the last 15 years, standards have fallen. So to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary we wanted something special, something luxurious. We have certainly found it on board Azamara Quest. Within 5 minutes of getting off our shuttle bus in Costa Rica we were onboard ship in the Cabaret lounge drinking champagne while we sorted out our cruise passes and paperwork. 10 minutes later, we were in our stateroom. Having previously queued for up 2 hours to get on board on day one with other cruise companies, this was our first introduction to luxury cruising. Our verandah stateroom was the height of luxury. The most comfortable bed and pillows I have ever slept on anywhere in the world. Add to that luxury bathrobes, slippers, fruit and flowers every day and a mini bar, we were truly spoilt. The itinerary was brilliant allowing a smaller ship (nearly 700 guests) to get into smaller ports and we only had to tender once in 14 days. The Land Discovery tours were well organised and two in particular stood out. Zip lining in El Salvador, then whale watching in Cabo San Lucas. Memorable trips with great video and photos to look back on in our old age. What separates Azamara Quest from the rest? Well all ships are steel, but the heart of the ship is the staff. From day one nothing was too much trouble. One couple told me they had left their passports in the overnight hotel stop in San Jose. Azamara sent a crew member in a taxi to fetch the 2 passports - a 2 hour round trip! Being a smaller ship we had the best of all worlds. It had all the amenities of a 5 star ship but none of the queues or lines in bigger ships for dining, or getting on or off the ship etc. The pool and sunbathing area was fitted out with fantastic sun loungers, small tables and huge towels. The staff were not obtrusive, but were aware when you raised a hand that you wanted drinks etc and nothing was too much trouble. Before dinner if you went to one of the bars they would remember what drinks you liked and if we said "little ice" they repeated it days later back to us. The dining experience was a joy! Open seating is something we are not used too. But picking the time we wanted to eat worked out great. Late dinner after long tours, and early dinner on days at sea. The quality of the food was even better than back in 1999. This was the friendliest cruise we have ever had in 15 years. We made so many new friends, and even met a couple who live 10 miles from us - we had to go half way round the world to bump into them! After a day touring, to get back to your cabin, shower and drink cocktails on the verandah while the sun was setting was something else. Could it get any better? Well yes it could and did. We spoilt ourselves with two visits to the Spa. Also, I said the food was tremendous. Well we went to Aqualina one of the two specialty restaurants on deck 10. This took fine dining to another level (no pun intended). Over the next two and a half hours my wife and I had a six course extravaganza including crab claws, escargot, lobster thermidor, and the best soufflé ever, especially when they poured Gran Marnier into it. To complete our evening they brought out a delightful cake and sang happy anniversary to us. We had no room left so they brought it to our cabin with coffee the next day at a time we had agreed. I could write three times as much extolling the virtues of this cruise, this beautiful ship and the best crew we have ever come across. My wife and I loved it so much we hope to cruise with Azamara again in May with the highlight being both the Quest and her sister ship Journey, berthing alongside each other in Monaco for the Grand Prix. Congratulations Azamara. You have set the bar so high we will not want to cruise with anyone else again. David from Bristol, UK   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
CRUISE TO CENTRAL AMERICA AZAMARA QUEST JAN.15-28, 2014 We flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and stayed at the Peace Lodge Vara Blanca 126 Alajuela, Costa Rica (peacelodgereservations@waterfallsgardens.com) We spent two nights there and it ... Read More
CRUISE TO CENTRAL AMERICA AZAMARA QUEST JAN.15-28, 2014 We flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and stayed at the Peace Lodge Vara Blanca 126 Alajuela, Costa Rica (peacelodgereservations@waterfallsgardens.com) We spent two nights there and it was a most magnificent stay. On January 15, 2014 at 9: 00 am Ricky Ricardo met 6 of us by previous arrangements for the trip to Caldera to board the AZAMARA QUEST. Ricky was able to handle all the luggage in his van for the six of us. We made a stop at Zoo Ave on the way to the ship which was an interesting stop to use up some time. The ship the Azamara Quest was built in 2000 and was the R7 until Renaissance broke up. She has also sailed as Delphin, and Blue Moon under Pullmantur. Pullmantur a Spanish Cruise line was purchased around 2005 by RCCL who thus acquired all Pullmantur’s ships. She was refurbished in 2007. She is 30,277 GRT with a crew size of 408 and Passenger capacity of 694. There are 42 suites. All tipping is included, but the service was so good we just had to tip. All the officers on this ship are frequently seen and call the passengers by name. The Hotel Director Phillip and the Cruise director Russ Grieves did amazing jobs doing things to entertain the passengers that were very unusual. They served ice cream and did an Iron chef competition. Both are just so quick witted one could not help liking them. Russ has got to be the hardest working CD I have ever seen. He was dancing on white night, announcing all the time, greeting passengers around the ship and just a bundle of energy. The captain was seen frequently around the ship and stopped to talk to all the passengers. He was even at the gangplank greeting passengers back on board after the AzAmazing evening in PV. I saw Phillip and the Captain at the AzAmazing evening and other officers and ship personal at the function also. My take is that Azamara cruise line would be Celebrity’s answer to Silversea. Having sailed three Silversea cruise ships, I must say that Celebrity has answered quite well. The complimentary wine aboard Azamara Quest exceeded the Silversea complimentary wine. Azamara did not comp. Bombay Blue Sapphire gin except to furnish a bottle to the Owner’s suite. They did comp Beefeater gin and most mixed drinks. The next day January 16, Thursday the ship had sailed about 20 miles to Puntarenas. All passengers boarded in Caldera because of limitation of luggage handling in Puntarenas. In Puntarenas, Costa Rica we took a tour of the Puntarenas Area with Ricky Ricardo (rickyricardotours@hotmail.com) Mob.Tel # 506-8848-1499 Ricky lives in Puntarenas so it was easy for him to meet us for this tour. He was kind enough to come to the Peace Lodge to get us and bring us to the ship. We had a River boat ride on a small personal boat of about 10 passengers seeing many different types of birds. A sheet with numbers was furnished each of us to use describing what type bird we were seeing. When the guide spotted a bird he would call out the number and you could then see the name of the bird. This was a wonderful day on the River and we also got to see crocodiles being fed chickens right by our boat by the guide. He was in ankle deep water and the crocodile would leap to catch the chicken in his hand. We had a stop at a local restaurant on the water for an included lunch of Cosada with fresh Sea Bass. This was a very nice stop. We also went on an Aerial tram through the jungle. Lot's of termite nest, but many beautiful birds also. I can highly recommend Ricky Ricardo. He was very prompt and informative and arranged some very nice tours. We stopped to practice squeezing sugar cane with a press. Sugarcane juice with lime is a nice drink. Of course he gave us time to shop. Ricky also stopped on the side of the road to visit some monkeys and they did come close to him for the bananas. On Jan 17,Friday we went to Colonial Grenada, Nicaragua where we saw La Merced Church, dozens of colonial homes, and the convent of San Francisco to see the mysterious stone idols. We had a ride on the Lake for one hour past some of the hundreds of small islands that were formed during the Mombacho volcanic eruptions. We had a Horse & buggy for an hour ride around Grenada. Each of us had taken a lunch and found a nice establishment to stop and get drinks to go with our picnic meal. This tour was arranged through Careli tours. (yescany.sanchez@carelitours.com). I was allowed to make payment for the 8 of us via check to a bank in Florida. The regular tour was upgraded to a buggy ride through the streets of Grenada for $5/person. On Jan. 18 Saturday Our next tour was in El Salvador where we had a ships tour from Acajutla, El Salvador to Nahuizalco and Ataco. Nahuizalco we visited the place of the four Izalcos, cradle of one of the most distinctive handcrafting techniques of wicker and tule in El Salvador and purchased somw nice wicker souvenirs. Ataco or High Place of The Springs offered vivid paintings on the walls of the town's buildings. This tour was billed as the "FLOWERS ROUTE" but was disappointing as there were very few flowers seen. This was a long tour and wore out some people. It was over 7 hours. Jan. 19, Sunday We stopped at Puerto Quezal, Guatemala and visited Lake Atitlan with our private guide Luis sponsored by Tours By Locals. Luis Benjamin Cholotio Tel.# +502-4177-5213 (aweacholo@gmail.com) gave us a very good tour. The ride from Puerto Quezal to Lake Atitlan was about 2 hours so the total tour was about 7 hours but went by quickly. We had very nice rest stops. We boarded a small boat at San Lucas Toliman and visited San Juan La Laguna Luis's hometown and saw beautiful art galleries. We used little tuk-tuk’s to move around town for an extra cost, but it was better than walking. We continued to Santiago Atitlan and visited the Catholic church, and the central park. It was a 2 hour ride from the port to the lake so it was good we brought a lunch to save time and eat while we were cruising the Lake. We decided to just ride by San Antonio Palopo on the eastern side of the lake, but in the interest of time we did not stop. We were getting tired. Luis never got tired. Our guide did tell us to bring some warm cover for the beautiful Lake Ride. We saw textiles and natural dye coloring in San Juan La Laguna our guide's hometown. He took us to visit his home where he lived with his mother. His mother always enjoyed visitors but was away at this time. We met nieces and nephews. This was a very informative trip that was personalized for the 6 of us that participated. Luis gave us very good personalized tour. Monday, Jan. 20 we arrived in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, I went on a ship tour of a Mangrove and Nature Exploration with 6 people per boat to tour the mangrove streams and lagoons populated by wildlife and birds. My wife and friends cancelled out because of the tour in El Salvador being too long. We saw pelicans, herons, and ospreys (Fish Eagle), cormorants, hummingbirds, egrets, spoonbills, storks and turtles. We had four original reservations, but three in our party elected not go on this tour. We saw a shrimp farm since these lagoons are salt water and have tidal variations. It is a new business not in full function yet. Tuesday January 21, Huatulco, Mexico where I again went on a ship's tour by myself. My wife and the other couple elected to just rest. We went to La Crucecita and scenic drive to see deluxe hotels, and Continue to Conejos Bay for breathtaking views. We visited an arts & crafts museum to see Oaxaca's arts & crafts. Next we visited La Crucecita, a quaint town where participants in the tour are allowed to browse the bustling market. On the way back at the La Entrega Beach we stopped and had a chance to take photos of our Azamara Quest ship from a high vantage point. Thursday Jan 23 after we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico where the 4 of us went to the Karmina hotel resort for a 4 hour visit of drinking and eating and laying out and visiting the resort. It was a beautiful property and probably could be visited inexpensively after talking to some of the people that were staying there. Friday Jan 24, we stopped in Puerta Vallarta. We took a short cab ride to visit Walmart and Sams which were next door to each other during the morning. More non Mexicans shopping than Mexicans. It was interesting to see the display or raw fish and octopus that we do not see in America. In the evening Azamara had arranged a complimentary show by The HUICHOL INDIANS OF THE SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS. This was a very nice experience. They used multiple vans to carry about 600 people into the mountains to visit the property. Large buses would not be able to make it. The Huichol Indians put on a colorful show and we were served margaritas, tequila and many nice snacks. A very nice fireworks show followed. I can say that this was a very nice success. As we went up the rough roads we would see cowboys on horseback with flashlights lighting our way to be sure drivers did not go the wrong way. Sat. & Sun Jan 25 & Jan 26 we spent at CABO SAN LUCAS. On the second day we did a sunset cruise which was very nice with very good eats and drinks. Nice views of the arch and saw a manta ray pop the surface. Mon. & Tues Jan 27 and 28 We had two nice days at sea and arrived in LA and we're trying to get off the ship when we were rejected by a customs hold that came up on the screen when my sail/sign was inserted. Phillip Herbert the Hotel director had no idea why. He called customs and an agent came after some delay and escorted us off. We had a 10:30 AM departure and did get to the airport at 8:30 AM in plenty enough time Unfortunately that flight got cancelled because of freeze in Atlanta, and we spent the night in LA at our usual Courtyard LAX on West Century Blvd. We had rebooked for the same flight to Atlanta the next day Thursday Jan. 30 which we got on the airplane and already had a drink when the captain said we would be delayed for take off for 5 hours. We were disembarked and realized that we could not make our Atlanta to MLU connection. The roads in Atlanta would not allow our daughter to get to the airport to pick us up for an over night stay and all the hotels were booked up so we rebooked for the 7:30 AM Flight to Atlanta on Friday Jan 31, 2014 and spent the night January 30th back at the Courtyard by Marriott on West Century Blvd.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
This cruise combined the best...departing from our home port (no airports!) and being once again on the Quest. Embarkation was easy...hardly any wait time before we received our seapass card and were welcomed on board by staff handing out ... Read More
This cruise combined the best...departing from our home port (no airports!) and being once again on the Quest. Embarkation was easy...hardly any wait time before we received our seapass card and were welcomed on board by staff handing out glasses of bubbly. Since we arrived a bit early, we headed straight to Windows for lunch. Unfortunately, lots of people had the same idea and they ran out of tables! We were prepared to eat on the loungers by the pool, but the ever efficient staff realized the problem and began bring out more tables and chairs, so we were quite happy. Our first (included) glass of wine with lunch made it perfect. By 1:30 the announcement was made that cabins were available, so we headed to Deck 7. We like this deck, sandwiched between two cabin floors and thus very quiet. Our veranda cabin was in good condition. Yes, it's small and the bathroom very very tiny, but there is plenty of well organized storage space and the beds are very comfy. We immediately met our attendants, Alvin and Osvy...they were excellent and Osvy especially always had a smile and a pleasant comment or two whenever he saw us. Before we knew it, we were called for muster drill (very easy) and then we got ready for the Meet and Mingle and dinner. There were lots of Cruise Critic members on this cruise and unfortunately, we had to leave the meeting early to meet our dinner companions. I really don't like having the Meet and Mingle on sailaway day....it's just too inconvenient, IMO. We took this cruise not for the sightseeing but to relax...and right off the bat we had two sea days! Perfect. When we arrived at Mazatlan (our first port) we were ready to go. We took a ship excursion...Concordia and Copola. It was quite good and we enjoyed a nice lunch in Concordia. The highlight was visiting a local artist in Copola (of course we had to buy something...very unique and we saw nothing like it in any other port.) La Paz was disappointing...on our ship excursion we just drove past the malecon (would have liked to walk along) and spent most of our time in the natural history museum and in a small weaving shop (didn't buy a thing) and then drove through what appeared to be the seediest part of town. Not an excursion I'd recommend. Next Topolobampo. Many of those on board took the very very long trip out to Copper Canyon. We didn't. Instead we went on a small boat to the mangroves and met the resident dolphin Pechocho...a wild dolphin who lives in a solitary state in the mangroves but who over the years has become quite tame and loves to swim up to the small boats for a belly and fin scratch. Then to a sandy beach where a tent with refreshments was set up for us. A very nice excursion. Next port Guaymas where we went ashore and walked the tiny town by ourselves. Not much to see but the townspeople had set up a little market and entertainment along the waterfront and we had fun watching and browsing the merchandise. The next stop, our favorite by far, was Loreto. We overnighted there (more on that later) and the first day went on an excursion to Coronados Island. On the way, our small panga (which held three couples and the operator) diverted to see hundreds of dolphins just a few feet from our boat. Then, just a few yards away an enormous Blue Whale surfaced. Wow! Absolutely awe inspiring and a bit scary, given the difference in size between the whale and our tiny boat! After that we went to the island itself and had a nature walk and snack and those brave souls (the water was still pretty cold at this time of year) who wanted to snorkeled. I waded into the water by some rocks and looked down and saw plenty of fish! The water was crystalline. We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. On the second day in Loreto we met some friends who have retired there and they showed us around town and we ate at a local restaurant. Loreto is a delightful place and one I'd love to visit again. Our last port was Cabo San Lucas. Very pretty but very very commercialized and street vendors stop you every few feet hawking souvenirs and excursions. After the hustle and bustle of Cabo, we were glad to have two more sea days on the way home to Los Angeles. Disembarkation was just as easy as embarkation, but not as much fun! Now a few things about the Quest. The new captain, Jose, is incredible. So personable and seemed to be everywhere at once! His noon time comments were fun and he even rescued one of the passengers on a snorkeling excursion. We heard that the water was cold and there was a strong current and the gentleman was having some difficulty swimming back to the boat...so Capt. Jose, who had gone on the excursion, swam over and helped the passenger back. We very much hope to cruise with this captain again...he was the best! All the rest of the staff were wonderful, as usual. Russ was his usual exuberant self and Phillip, the hotel director, as always friendly and helpful. Max Difaz, the pianist, was in great form and we enjoyed getting to know him a little better on this cruise. We were very lucky to find the perfect waiters in Discoveries on our first night and we made sure we ate with them every night after that (except for the White Night and one night in Aqualina)...kudos to Robert and Newman...charming, fun, and very attentive. On our night in Aqualina (the food was every bit as good as we remembered) we asked to be seated in John's station...we had met him on our first Quest cruise and he is terrific. My only "complaint" was that he kept bring us extra food...he wanted us to try everything...we were completely over stuffed by the time the dinner was finished. Food across the venues, Discoveries, Windows, the Pool Grill, and Aqualina (we didn't eat in Prime C this time) was very very good. The chef has a wonderful way with fish and I had the "healthy choice" almost every evening. My husband loves pasta and these too were excellent. Usually at the pool grill, we'll eat burgers, but this cruise I decided to try the blackened fish Panini....sooooo good. We had a couple of special nights on this cruise. Super Bowl Sunday was celebrated in the Cabaret. Staff had decorated with team color balloons (Seattle on one side and Denver on the other)...there were themed ice and watermelon carvings, and so much food. Sliders, hot dogs, bbq ribs, chicken fingers, side salads, and a huge bowl of popcorn. Russ was making ice cream sundaes too! We ate so much we didn't need to go to dinner that night. (And did I mention drinks? Beer, wine, cocktails, etc.) The only downside was that we were getting ESPN feed and so we didn't see the commercials...also, the satellite went out right at half time so we didn't get to see most of the halftime show! The second special night was the White Night which was held on our overnight in Loreto. Local dancers came on board and performed...there was an excellent pool side bbq (Phillip was making crepes suzette...soooo yummy)...lots of cocktails and wine...and then dancing! Lots of fun. The third special night was the Azamazing evening held in Cabo. Unfortunately, not so amazing. The original venue (Wirikuta Gardens) was changed at the last minute which was disappointing. The logistics of getting us all off the ship and to the venue was handled efficiently but felt like a cattle drive! The show itself was, IMO, very mediocre and cheesy. However the fireworks at the end were spectacular. Food consisted of sweets and cookies which, while nice, weren't the "local delicacies" promised. A few vendors had set up tables to one side but a quick look and we were done...the prices were astronomical compared to what we'd seen in town. As soon as the show was over, we were herded back to the ship. Azamara really needs to reconsider the entire Azamazing Evening promotion. In some ports and with some entertainment it could be lovely but some ports just don't lend themselves to this and it's especially disappointing when it is hyped so much and then doesn't live up to folks' expectations. Now to on board entertainment. I have to say this cruise was the worst of the ones we've done on Azamara. The quality of singers and dancers was not as good as on past cruises. We had a violin duo one night and after listening for a few minutes, I walked out. There was a pianist/magician (strange combo) who was just okay...Max was much better! They did bring on a comedian our last night on board who was very funny...the best show. But that was it for entertainment. Disappointing. On the other hand, there were two enrichment lecturers who were outstanding. One, Jay Christofferson, was a professor in marine biology. He gave four lectures which were absolutely terrific. Another lecturer was a cultural anthropologist...we made it to one of his lectures and it was very well done. Now, a note about the new "more inclusive" policy on beverages. We had been quite happy on past cruises with the included wine at lunch and dinner. But we did take advantage of the new policy and had cocktails out by the pool and before dinner. Very enjoyable. The wines were uniformly good and our waiters were quick to find a special favorite we'd had the previous night and bring it out to us again. On this cruise we used the jogging track every morning and it was nice to be up early and walking. Nice touch having orange and grapefruit ice water available (and towels too) A couple of mornings, though, we were diverted by whales spouting and breeching...easy to see from Deck 10. I also went for a spa treatment (they were running specials all the time) and had a very relaxing massage and facial. A bit of a sales pitch for the products but not too bad and the spa itself was very nice and Chloe, the therapist, excellent. In summary, another wonderful cruise on Azamara. Can't wait to be back on board again.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and ... Read More
We wanted to try Azamara Club Cruises. Which is interesting in itself, because until not that long ago, we had never *heard* of Azamara. We thought it would be something approaching the level of Crystal (whom we have sailed in the past and greatly enjoyed, pre-all inclusive). We love the small ship format, we were specifically interested in this particular itinerary (which included Mexico's Copper Canyon)...and, as Celebrity loyalists, we wanted to see what our status would bring us on Azamara. The Canyon was the big draw for us in the beginning. We have done the Mexican Riviera to death, but this itinerary offered the lovely small ports of the Sea of Cortez - and the Copper Canyon. Party-hearty survivors of Puerto Vallarta need not have signed up for this cruise. Embarkation in San Pedro was a breeze. The Azamara Quest was the only ship in port that day. We had forgotten the convenience of a smaller ship; the check-in lines were minimal, to say the least. Our key cards identified us as "Discoverer" - top-of-the-line status on this line, but that was to change (more below). One of the first crew members to greet us on the way up the gangway was Jose, the Captain. This would not be our first encounter with him. We were greeted on the main deck with sparkling wine and cranberry juice, and a bit of a wait - the cabins were not quite ready. Fortunately we were given a running commentary about the room status and after a while, coupled with more trips to the champagne tray, the stampede began to the rooms. For us, the National Affairs Suite turned out to be Cabin 6030, one of the last available rooms. It was off the forward elevators and stairs. It is one of the tender cabins, meaning the size of the cabin has been compressed to accommodate the ship's tenders in their davits, and views are obstructed. The bright side of our room was that it overlooked the smaller crew launch boat and we actually had a decent view out the window. The other side of the room? Thunk. Thunk. Slam. This room is directly above the doorway leading out to the boat deck on level 5. When the doors shut on a calm day, a "thunk" is definitely noticeable. When they shut on a sea day and the winds are up, the "slam" is much more pronounced. The noise was especially pronounced upon entering and leaving port as guests go to the rails, and when the crew puts out the deck chair cushions and towels at sunrise and collects them at sunset. We tried not to notice the noise after a while. It is a very narrow room; just enough space for the bed, closets, and a desk and cabinet. The only chair in the room is a stool, which made our decision to skip room service a lot easier. In the room was a missive welcoming us as Discoverer members in Le Club Voyage, containing special events planned "exclusively" for us as top-tier members (thank you, Celebrity). The perks included the LCV cocktail party, a champagne brunch hosted by staff, and - 235 free Internet minutes per guest. Whee! There was also a coupon good for a free bag of laundry. We usually tour a vessel prior to the boat drill. With the Quest, we saw everything in 20 minutes. I was always intrigued by the old Renaissance Cruises ships. This ship, and its sister the Journey, aren't getting any younger. They do have a dated look to them. But they are kept in very good condition. Dining: we ate in all venues. The Discoveries dining room is LOUD. If I could change the font to make "LOUD" bigger, I would. It is especially noisy toward the center. The least noisy part of the restaurant was near the entrance, where the hostess did her very best to maintain her cool against some terribly snobby customers: "we've been waiting for *two* minutes!" "what do you mean, we can't get our *regular* table?!" People, you're on VACATION - take a chill pill! Or enjoy a free martini from the nearby Discoveries Lounge bar. About those free martinis: Azamara is sort of semi-inclusive in offering a selection of free wines with lunch and dinner, and free beer and cocktails from the bars. As long as you're happy with Bud and Becks instead of Corona and a well vodka instead of Ciroc or Grey Goose, you'll do perfectly fine on Azamara. The bar menus detail what costs what...and what doesn't cost anything. We passed on the "specialty" alcohol packages that ranged between $16-19 bucks daily. The food in Discoveries was much better than anticipated - a varied selection every night, prepared well. The bread and desserts were the only weak parts. I thought the complimentary wines were mostly so-so - but I couldn't argue about the price, right? We ate in Aqualina, the Mediterranean specialty restaurant and in Prime C, the specialty steakhouse, once during our cruise. Aqualina was an exceptional dining experience for the $25 per person fee. I really liked my osso bucco. The Missus enjoyed the seafood platter. The experience in Prime C was a bit more mixed. The seafood appetizer was excellent, as was the filet. I should have ordered the NY strip a bit rarer than my usual "medium". The service in C felt slightly off. The pool grill offered a wide variety of specialties, more than most poolside eateries on other ships. The coffee bar on board, Mosaic Cafe, features the not-so-fee-friendly Nespresso system. But you could go up to the counter and order your standard non-Nespresso coffee drink, and the friendly staff will whip them up in a flash for you. One of our favorite gathering places on the Quest. A number of specialty pool buffets were set up during the cruise. One of them was hosted by the ship's officers, who dished out the chow - including an entire roast pig. The Missus asked the officer in charge of the pig, "how did you keep this pig below decks?" The officer replied, "he had his own little house downstairs, and his own little garden. He was pretty happy - until this morning..." Azamara officers are not without a droll sense of humor. In fact, we liked how the crew interacted with the passengers, from the captain on down. Captain Jose issued, almost without fail, his "Voice from the Bridge" - a noontime soliloquy that usually ran between 8-10 minutes, detailing everything from the location of sister ship Journey, the distance to his home in Portugal, and literally everything in between - spoken with an extremely straight face. There was rarely a time when we didn't see him at some event on board the Quest, and even on shore. He brought a certain humanity to his job. We enjoyed how the singers, dancers and musicians engaged with passengers at events, especially the "White Night" event. Tours: We only took a couple of ship tours. But one was the Copper Canyon, and that would be enough for any cruise. The CC canyon was *long* - one of the longest ship's tours I've taken in my life. Off the boat and on the bus at 5 AM. Nearly two hours to the train. Six hours by train to the lookout and hotel for lunch. Six hours back on the train, during which time darkness fell and there was nothing to look at. Another hour and a half on the bus. We spent a little under two hours on site, some of which was taken up by lunch and a folk show by the local Indians, and the rest of that time spent wandering around the lookout trying not to fall over the canyon's edge while being besieged by Indian souvenir vendors. Were we to do this again, we'd spend the night at the canyon and make it a two-day trip. A single day just killed us. That night, we returned to the port where a huge party was in full swing. The people of Topolobampo put on a big fiesta right on the dock, with a live band and a dance floor. We learned that the crew joined the mix and encouraged passengers to come on down and support the town's efforts. We received a similar welcome the next day in Guaymas, where there was almost non-stop entertainment at dockside and young volunteers wore t-shirts saying, "may I help you?" The "Azamazing Evening" in Cabo was a little underwhelming. The show felt really hokey, though the fireworks at the end were awesome. I would imagine the "Evenings" in Europe probably have more material to work with to make them more interesting. But I give Azamara props for getting a great proportion of the guests off the ship onto the tenders and buses and bringing them back in one piece. The SWAG we received - little handicrafts and tequila miniatures - was a really neat treat. Overall: The Quest: an aging ship without the bells and whistles of more modern ships. A curse, but perhaps also a blessing. There are cruises where we mostly don't need a lot of visual / aural stimulation. Public passageways could be a little tight, especially when bad weather drove everyone indoors from the pool deck. The area around the photo kiosk and shops is often cramped due to the presence of sale tables, which restricted passenger flow. The crew: very engaging, for the most part. I experienced no special Azamara "moments" with them but thought many of them made a solid effort to ensure we felt at home on board. The facilities: only one small swimming pool. The Quest offers a thalassotherapy pool as part of its spa services, but we passed on purchasing a day pass. On Celebrity, that pool is free to all to use. The Quest's spa pool is no more than a glorified hot tub in size. The Cabaret Lounge is the ship's multi-purpose facility for shows, lectures, bingo - and the special Super Bowl party held during this cruise. As a Niners fan, I had no dog in this particular fight...but that didn't stop me from doing drive-by munching on the party's food tables. As a theater venue, the sight lines are really poor, especially in the back. The Casino wasn't exactly packed during this cruise. The usual slots and blackjack junkies. C-Prime was reminiscent of your upscale American steak house - lots of black/white photos of American pop culture. Aqualina had a vaguely European feel to it. The shows: We didn't think much of the special guests brought on board as nightly entertainment. A couple of the musical shows were really done well. I had not seen the "Voices" show on any other ship and thought this was the best of the cruise. Cruise Director: Russ Grieve is the Best. Cruise. Director. Ever. He sings! He dances! He makes great waffles (during his stint at a LCV officers brunch)! Extremely outgoing. Most cruise directors are rather standoffish but Russ really made an effort to reach out to the guests and made them feel welcome. FItness center: collection of treadmills, ellipticals, strength machines and free weights. It is relatively small compared to larger ships and you might have to wait for a treadmill during some sea day mornings. A full range of exercise classes is offered. Quite a few people use the jogging/walking track above the pool deck. 13 laps on that track equals a nautical mile. Children's facilities: none that I could see. No children's programs were listed in the daily newsletter and there weren't any kids on this cruise. The itinerary: A Mexican cruise, but not the usual Rivera Shuffle (Cabo-Vallarta-Mazatlan). We saw a lot of the lovely little port towns along the Sea of Cortez. Been to most of them before, but liked them all. The tours: Other than Copper Canyon and a Sierra Madre trip out of Mazatlan, we really weren't interested in seeing anything. We were happy to bum around the port towns, especially Loreto and Guaymas. A pity Cruise Critic doesn't list these ports on its drop-down menu. I would be happy to write about them. Le Club Voyage: a number of events for past passengers, including a brunch in Aqualina and the usual LCV passengers event in the Lounge. The Aqualina brunch was nice. The passengers event was nothing special - except when the LCV representative tried to explain the "new" expanded status levels. Discoverer was the top level. She explained this would be surpassed by two new "super" levels - but was at a loss to explain whether, at those new levels, your treatment would be anything different or better than Discoverer. The changes were apparently so new that even the LCV rep was still trying to figure it all out. Would we sail on Azamara again? Perhaps. The itineraries are really interesting and we like the small ship experience. But Azamara's bread-and-butter is its European and Mediterranean cruises - a little far to travel, for us. Azamara won't tear us away from Celebrity and Crystal. It does, however, give us another cruising option. This was one of the nicer cruising experiences I've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We have cruised on several ships over the years, but after experiencing Azamara I'm afraid we are now jaded! Before we stepped onto the gang plank the Captain walked up to us and introduced himself, throughout the cruise he and Russ ... Read More
We have cruised on several ships over the years, but after experiencing Azamara I'm afraid we are now jaded! Before we stepped onto the gang plank the Captain walked up to us and introduced himself, throughout the cruise he and Russ the cruise director would engage you in conversation. After being on board only a couple days we all got a letter in our cabins asking if we had any suggestions as to how they could make our experience better. They wanted to know early on so we would get the benefits of those suggestions, as I said, class act. We have cruised on one of Quests sister ships before and deliberately choose this size ship because we prefer it to the larger ships, it's beautiful.the food, entertainment and port choices were great. We enjoyed the many new friends we made. This is a ship designed for seasoned travelers, I probably wouldn't take my grandchildren on this one. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Our first time on Azamara - but not new to cruising. We had heard good things about this cruise line and it lived up to our hopes. From the check in process to disembarkation it was well-organized and easy. Our verandah cabin was ... Read More
Our first time on Azamara - but not new to cruising. We had heard good things about this cruise line and it lived up to our hopes. From the check in process to disembarkation it was well-organized and easy. Our verandah cabin was beautifully maintained and when we had a drawer sliding and banging one night it was fixed the next morning along with a replacement light bulb we didn't even know was out. Cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage. Yes the bathroom is teeny - but certainly sufficient and lots of room for odds and ends. Cabin itself was well-maintained. Love the verandah furniture - large table to actually dine on and a couple of comfy chairs. We found the crew helpful and friendly and was very impressed that the senior staff including the captain and hotel manager were friendly and approachable and were always ensuring the guests had what they needed. We loved the choice of dining venues - both casual and more formal. And thought the food was very good. Prime C and Aqualina were well worth the $25 pp fee. But loved the informality of dress - elegantly casual and everyone looked comfortable and appropriate. With the current drinks policy it means being able to get a soft drink, wine or cocktail almost anytime without having to show your card - love it. There were plenty of places to sit an enjoy a quiet spot to read or relax. We bought passes to the Thelassotherapy spa area and thought the experience was well worth the cost. Few people and a lovely quiet area of the ship. Having sailed on Silversea several times and Oceania we were anxious to see how Azamara would fare compared to these 2 cruise lines - and I have to say it compared very well. Not quite the personal service of Silversea, and we preferred Azamara to Oceania. We have already booked another trip and if they continue in offering a quality cruise at a competitive price we will be sailing with them regularly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I took the 8 night Christmas voyage on the Quest. I've written a more detailed trip report with photos on the Azamara forum of Cruise Critic but here's the more compressed version. Dining: excellent. We did not ... Read More
My husband and I took the 8 night Christmas voyage on the Quest. I've written a more detailed trip report with photos on the Azamara forum of Cruise Critic but here's the more compressed version. Dining: excellent. We did not dine at the two specialty restaurants this time but will do so the next as they looked very inviting. We ate mostly at the outdoor Sunset Bar, having gotten our food at the Windows Cafe buffet. Each night had a different theme--Asian, French, Turkish, etc. The staff was always willing to tell you about the food if you didn't know what all the items were. The dinners we had at Discoveries were delicious and service was efficient and unobtrusive. High marks there. Public Rooms: very traditional decor that was considerably enhanced by contemporary artwork, carpets, and accent items. It all worked beautifully together. Cabins: we had a V3 deck 6 balcony cabin that was lovely. We were wondering how we'd like it since the cabin is a bit smaller than you'd find on newer ships but it was all good, no small part due to the adequate storage we found. Even in the tiny bathroom! Entertainment: Russ, the Cruise Director, is very engaging and did a great job hosting all the evening shows, which were cruise standard singing, dancing, and the like. We thought the cast did a fine job and the guest singer was fabulous. We attended two lectures, one of which had us hanging on every word (given by Mario, the Art Director) and the other of which was a yawn. Spa: didn't go to the spa except on a ship's tour the first day. Everyone seemed excited about the big showers that were available for anyone to use. When we saw the itty-bitty shower in our cabin we understand why. LOL Family and Children: given that it was a Christmas cruise, there were plenty of families on board. I didn't notice many--if any--children though. Shore Excursions: we did several and were extremely pleased with all of them. Azamara hires plenty of transportation for their tour groups and we were never crowded. The tour guides we had were engaging. Even without the discount (sadly no longer offered) I would have no qualms about booking excursions through Azamara. Embarkation: easy and well-organized; same with getting off the ship on the last day. Service: stellar. This is what Azamara is known for and rightfully so. This ship has a crew who is professional, genuinely welcoming, and attentive to your needs. Azamara's best selling point in our books. Value for Money: what appears to be expensive at first glance readily reveals its value as the cruise days pass. We had plenty to drink. Wine, beer, standard mixed and water are included. Not all brands but we didn't feel the need to upgrade. The full list of included and not included is on Azamara's website so we knew beforehand what to expect. We had free laundry because of our loyalty status but there's a laundry room as well so you can do your own washing and ironing if you so desire. Gratuities were included in the fare. We really liked not having to consider additional expenses once we boarded and this added to the relaxation factor. Summary: we loved our first voyage with Azamara. The crew made us feel like special guests. We walked off the ship more relaxed and happy than we have on any other cruise we've taken. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our 20th cruise, but the 1st with Azamara. It will be hard to go back to any other cruise line after our Christmas 2013 experience on the Quest. The service is superb; the staff are friendly but unobtrusive; the food was fabulous. ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise, but the 1st with Azamara. It will be hard to go back to any other cruise line after our Christmas 2013 experience on the Quest. The service is superb; the staff are friendly but unobtrusive; the food was fabulous. We hated to see the trip end. The cabin was quiet with no vibration. Location was ideal: near the bow stairway/elevators. Balcony is lovely with an unobstructed view. Near the self-service laundry, although we never heard or saw this facility. Lots of storage space for two people. Bathroom is smallish, but no smaller than on many other ships. Lots of bathroom storage. Luggage easily fit under bed. Tons of hangers provided. Embarkation was fast and easy, as was the debarkation process. Whenever we had a question about *anything* on the ship, there was a rapid, very helpful, very satisfactory response. Our Azamazing Evening was moved from Blackbeard's Castle to the Quest pool deck. We received lots of advance information about this and the ship outdid itself in presenting a fantastic evening on board. We loved the food, the costumes, and the entertainment. The ship's staff, from the captain to every member of the crew, contributed to making this a very memorable event. The ship outdoes itself where communication is concerned: notices on the TV, printed careds on the bed at night, reminders in the "Pursuits" paper, and verbal reminders from cabin stewards and waitstaff. We loved that there are very few public announcements on this ship! No annoying reminders about bingo, art auctions, or other entertainments.   Read Less
Azamara Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.3
Dining 4.5 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.1
Family N/A 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 3.5 4.2
Rates N/A 4.3

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