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This was our first time on Azamara, we have done 20 cruises in the past usually 2-3 week itineraries. In the last 6 months we have tried several new cruise lines including Crystal, Seabourn and Viking after primarily cruising on the main lines of NCL, Celebrity and Hal. Originally we only booked the 17 night Transatlantic but managed to find a good last minute deal while in South America and added the 11 night Buenos Aires to Rio preceding leg. Overall we had a wonderful time with the weather being mostly great (except on white nights), the crossing being smooth and the crew and service being excellent. Embarkation in BA was very easy and super quick (in contrast to our X cruise from the same port which was chaotic) due to the small number of passengers who seemed to arrive spread out and the large number off staff in the terminal. On boarding we were greeted with champagne (the same terrible stuff all the cruise lines seem to be using now). It was immediately apparent how friendly the crew is. The ship is new to Azamara and one of the seemingly famous R class ships. They have done a great job with their refurbishment in most areas as the interiors looked lovely and new. The ship is probably the smallest we have been on and has a small boutique hotel feel. The movement was noticeable, especially on the first leg and seemed strange as the sea seemed relatively calm. The captain told me it was because the stabilisers don't work all that well when sailing slowly as we were, it was noticeably better on the crossing. We have been enjoying the small ships but did find this to be a little less spacious then the slightly larger vessels of Crystal and Viking where the extra space more than offsets for the slightly larger amount of passengers. The highlights of the ship were the library space and the crows nest however it was noticeable in bad weather conditions that internal public space can be difficult to find. The less favourable aspects of the ship was the lack of a full promenade for walking but Azamara has cleverly made the top deck above the pool an area exclusively for walking (something that was lacking on Seabourn). The partial promenades are an excellent place for lounging and watching the ocean. Speaking of lounging, the sun loungers are the best we have come across - the cushioning was impressive. There is a lot of comfortable furniture around the ship and it is obvious that Azamara is aimed at those who mostly like to relax. Fellow passengers were very friendly and the vibe is definitely casual and was noticeably more relaxed than some of the other premium lines, this suited us perfectly. It seemed the majority of passengers were either regular Azamara or Celebrity cruisers. It is definitely a social atmosphere and meeting fellow passengers was easy. At first it seemed nightlife was non existent until we discovered the disco was rocking every night on the first leg. On the second leg there was still a lot of activity in the evening but it tended to be more towards the Den around the piano player. Cabins - we had 2 different ocean view cabins. The first was on deck 6 and was an obstructed view. The room was an unusual shape. It was quite small but with some imagination the storage was plentiful. The bed was super comfortable and the linens and towels clearly new but the room had no couch. The shape of the room meant that getting changed was easy and you did not tend to obstruct one another. Liana our attendant was phenomenal. Our second cabin was your more typical layout located on deck 4 with unobstructed view. It was a larger cabin but we had to have the coffee table removed as it blocked 90% of the passage into the room. While this room was preferable it was noticeable that we tended to get more tangled when trying to get ready. One slight annoyance of this location is that the corridor was often blocked when in port which meant long walks to get back to public areas. The major issue with both cabins were the infamous showers. Small would be an understatement and add to this the uncomfortable feeling of shower curtains and it was not a pleasant experience. Often I resorted to having a shower at the gym facilities after having a steam. There is probably little Azamara could do to fix this but it does feel noticeably less luxurious compared to its small ship rivals. Similarly on this negative note was the in room entertainment system, incredibly poor. No on demand offerings at all and even the cruise ship information such as maps and cameras seemed very old technology (how does this happen on a new ship?) Dining - the ship has the MDR, buffet, poolside patio and 2 specialty restaurants. The MDR was a lovely but extremely busy room. The breakfast offered here was the best I have come across with interesting alternatives such as shashuka and asian inspired dishes and the breakfast steak was one of the best I have had. Dinner was generally good with a large menu with plenty of variety. We found that the daily specials tended to be the best along with simple meat dishes. The quality of meat was good relative to other lines, fish was hit or miss and more exotic dishes tended to fail. The buffet was good without being great, the freshly made sandwiches at lunchtime being the highlight and the daily roasts. The outdoor eating area is lovely. We did not eat dinner here but it was a different theme each night. The patio did the usual burgers but had a nice salad bar and at night was a good casual alternative focusing primarily on meat dishes. The specialty restaurants are a steak house and an Italian, $30 for each. The food and service in each was excellent and a noticeably better experience than the mdr which is not always the case. It was noticeable that there is a lack of asian options onboard compared to other small lines. Room service was very good but the inability to see the mdr menu on the tv or app is ridiculous and means you have to leave your room. Bars/drinks - there are plenty of bars for a small ship with the dedicated coffee bar being very popular. The main bars are the Den and Living room which are both great. The restaurants all have small bars as well. Bar service was very good and we rarely waited too long. Quality of drinks was average. Much better than on Seabourn but well short of the standard we experienced on Crystal. Similar to Viking where it depended a little on the bartender. Azamara includes basic drinks which is generally good and helps add to the social atmosphere. For me the major problem was with the drinks packages and it was noticeable this was frustrating for a large number of fellow guests. The premium package purports to offer premium beers and spirits. In the case of beer this is not true it simply adds more of the usual standard brands, there was nothing resembling a craft beer and there was no pilsener or pale ale at all. Again it could be debated whether the additional spirits are premium. The ultimate package adds "premium" wines and water and some more spirits. However, of the 8 wines 3 were missing, of the 6 scotches 3 were missing. There is no dessert wines at all included - I have never seen this, they would not even include a cheap chilean option from the menu. Onboard management complained of supply issues in South America and a lack of authority to adjust what is included. If this is the case Azamara head office should be sued for false advertising, if onboard management cannot adjust what is included then everything must be available. Further to these problems obtaining a glass of the ultimate wines in the restaurant regularly took between 15 and 40 minutes which was unacceptable. As time went on and complaints became more frequent the sommeliers (only 3 on the whole ship) began using alternative brands and stocking the nearby bars but why the wines are not put in the restaurant makes no sense. Viking has the same system and yet was never a problem as they simply stored the wine next to the inclusive options. On a small number of occasions I was poured included wine instead of the premium and twice witnessed standard spirits being used in my cocktails, this is unacceptable when you have paid extra for the better products. This was my major gripe on the cruise and noticeably cheapened the entire cruise experience. It felt like we were constantly having to discuss problems related to premium beverages. Azamara would be wise to change to one premium drinks package and have the products readily at hand especially as it spent considerable time and man power marketing the packages! Activities - trivia, trivia and more trivia - an overload. We love participating but surely a little more variety of activities might be appropriate and more variety of questions for those on b2b's. The first cruise was port intensive so there was little in the way of onboard activities and we found the port lecturer to be rude and uninformative. The second cruise was packed with trivias and lecture, we loved the art classes but could not participate in other activities as they were all scheduled at the same time. Also the timetable never changed day to day which led to a feeling of reliving the same day over and over. There was a number of fitness classes that were enjoyable although the instructor was not inspiring. The ship has table tennis and shuffleboard however due to location both are impractical for use. Entertainment - hit or miss. There was some particularly memorable performances such as the local tango act, the capoeira dance group, Amanda the ACD show and the ballroom dancers. However the production shows were simple (band was good though), the comedian was racist and on a couple of nights there was simply a bad movie. We had one Azamazing evening which was excellent and logistically impressive although we were the last back and only just made dinner time. Both white nights were hit by poor weather, the first simply moved indoors and the party continued on the second however the entertainment did not follow indoors and it fizzled in comparison. We found the CD to not be personable, he often walked around the ship but didn't seem to mingle much with guests. Strangely his wife did a number of performances but apparently was not an employee or contractor - we found this strange and pondered whether there could be an insurance problem in the unlikely event something went wrong. Also seemed strange to give so much time to her when Amanda the ACD was clearly much more talented and enjoyable and we even noticed that on white night the employed singers would have to miss out on a microphone in lieu of her participating. On the first leg the ACD Lee was a lovely guy who was very personable with the guests. The Trio band used in the bars were clearly talented but the set was so old fashioned, you were lucky if you got to hear something from the 60s. While we are in our early 40s and younger than most on the ship the general music of the ship was way too old and it was noticeable that few people danced until a modern song was played. Also the DJ in the disco did not have wifi so it was impossible for him to play requested songs not on his list. The piano player had a great knowledge but seemed to be lacking confidence when it came to singing although he improved markedly on the second leg. Service - the highlight of the ship. Probably the most friendly crew we have encountered (2nd to Crystal on overall performance). I guess service needs to be at a premium to balance the lower quality hardware.but they definitely delivered. Many of the crew remembered our names quickly and our preferences. Officers were more visible on the 2nd leg but often you had to approach them to actually interact. Disembarkation was earlier than other cruise lines. Overall a relaxing cruise and very good value for money compared to main lines. The vibe felt similar to celebrity but obviously much more intimate. Crew friendliness is their main strength. Personally we like a slightly larger ship (900-1000 passengers such as Crystal and Viking) with a greater variety of activities but can see why Azamara has such a loyal following.

9 out of 10 - First Timer - back to back

Azamara Pursuit Cruise Review by teamflames

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Club Oceanview Stateroom
This was our first time on Azamara, we have done 20 cruises in the past usually 2-3 week itineraries. In the last 6 months we have tried several new cruise lines including Crystal, Seabourn and Viking after primarily cruising on the main lines of NCL, Celebrity and Hal.

Originally we only booked the 17 night Transatlantic but managed to find a good last minute deal while in South America and added the 11 night Buenos Aires to Rio preceding leg.

Overall we had a wonderful time with the weather being mostly great (except on white nights), the crossing being smooth and the crew and service being excellent.

Embarkation in BA was very easy and super quick (in contrast to our X cruise from the same port which was chaotic) due to the small number of passengers who seemed to arrive spread out and the large number off staff in the terminal. On boarding we were greeted with champagne (the same terrible stuff all the cruise lines seem to be using now). It was immediately apparent how friendly the crew is.

The ship is new to Azamara and one of the seemingly famous R class ships. They have done a great job with their refurbishment in most areas as the interiors looked lovely and new. The ship is probably the smallest we have been on and has a small boutique hotel feel. The movement was noticeable, especially on the first leg and seemed strange as the sea seemed relatively calm. The captain told me it was because the stabilisers don't work all that well when sailing slowly as we were, it was noticeably better on the crossing. We have been enjoying the small ships but did find this to be a little less spacious then the slightly larger vessels of Crystal and Viking where the extra space more than offsets for the slightly larger amount of passengers. The highlights of the ship were the library space and the crows nest however it was noticeable in bad weather conditions that internal public space can be difficult to find. The less favourable aspects of the ship was the lack of a full promenade for walking but Azamara has cleverly made the top deck above the pool an area exclusively for walking (something that was lacking on Seabourn). The partial promenades are an excellent place for lounging and watching the ocean. Speaking of lounging, the sun loungers are the best we have come across - the cushioning was impressive. There is a lot of comfortable furniture around the ship and it is obvious that Azamara is aimed at those who mostly like to relax.

Fellow passengers were very friendly and the vibe is definitely casual and was noticeably more relaxed than some of the other premium lines, this suited us perfectly. It seemed the majority of passengers were either regular Azamara or Celebrity cruisers. It is definitely a social atmosphere and meeting fellow passengers was easy. At first it seemed nightlife was non existent until we discovered the disco was rocking every night on the first leg. On the second leg there was still a lot of activity in the evening but it tended to be more towards the Den around the piano player.

Cabins - we had 2 different ocean view cabins. The first was on deck 6 and was an obstructed view. The room was an unusual shape. It was quite small but with some imagination the storage was plentiful. The bed was super comfortable and the linens and towels clearly new but the room had no couch. The shape of the room meant that getting changed was easy and you did not tend to obstruct one another. Liana our attendant was phenomenal. Our second cabin was your more typical layout located on deck 4 with unobstructed view. It was a larger cabin but we had to have the coffee table removed as it blocked 90% of the passage into the room. While this room was preferable it was noticeable that we tended to get more tangled when trying to get ready. One slight annoyance of this location is that the corridor was often blocked when in port which meant long walks to get back to public areas. The major issue with both cabins were the infamous showers. Small would be an understatement and add to this the uncomfortable feeling of shower curtains and it was not a pleasant experience. Often I resorted to having a shower at the gym facilities after having a steam. There is probably little Azamara could do to fix this but it does feel noticeably less luxurious compared to its small ship rivals. Similarly on this negative note was the in room entertainment system, incredibly poor. No on demand offerings at all and even the cruise ship information such as maps and cameras seemed very old technology (how does this happen on a new ship?)

Dining - the ship has the MDR, buffet, poolside patio and 2 specialty restaurants. The MDR was a lovely but extremely busy room. The breakfast offered here was the best I have come across with interesting alternatives such as shashuka and asian inspired dishes and the breakfast steak was one of the best I have had. Dinner was generally good with a large menu with plenty of variety. We found that the daily specials tended to be the best along with simple meat dishes. The quality of meat was good relative to other lines, fish was hit or miss and more exotic dishes tended to fail. The buffet was good without being great, the freshly made sandwiches at lunchtime being the highlight and the daily roasts. The outdoor eating area is lovely. We did not eat dinner here but it was a different theme each night. The patio did the usual burgers but had a nice salad bar and at night was a good casual alternative focusing primarily on meat dishes. The specialty restaurants are a steak house and an Italian, $30 for each. The food and service in each was excellent and a noticeably better experience than the mdr which is not always the case. It was noticeable that there is a lack of asian options onboard compared to other small lines. Room service was very good but the inability to see the mdr menu on the tv or app is ridiculous and means you have to leave your room.

Bars/drinks - there are plenty of bars for a small ship with the dedicated coffee bar being very popular. The main bars are the Den and Living room which are both great. The restaurants all have small bars as well. Bar service was very good and we rarely waited too long. Quality of drinks was average. Much better than on Seabourn but well short of the standard we experienced on Crystal. Similar to Viking where it depended a little on the bartender. Azamara includes basic drinks which is generally good and helps add to the social atmosphere. For me the major problem was with the drinks packages and it was noticeable this was frustrating for a large number of fellow guests. The premium package purports to offer premium beers and spirits. In the case of beer this is not true it simply adds more of the usual standard brands, there was nothing resembling a craft beer and there was no pilsener or pale ale at all. Again it could be debated whether the additional spirits are premium. The ultimate package adds "premium" wines and water and some more spirits. However, of the 8 wines 3 were missing, of the 6 scotches 3 were missing. There is no dessert wines at all included - I have never seen this, they would not even include a cheap chilean option from the menu. Onboard management complained of supply issues in South America and a lack of authority to adjust what is included. If this is the case Azamara head office should be sued for false advertising, if onboard management cannot adjust what is included then everything must be available. Further to these problems obtaining a glass of the ultimate wines in the restaurant regularly took between 15 and 40 minutes which was unacceptable. As time went on and complaints became more frequent the sommeliers (only 3 on the whole ship) began using alternative brands and stocking the nearby bars but why the wines are not put in the restaurant makes no sense. Viking has the same system and yet was never a problem as they simply stored the wine next to the inclusive options. On a small number of occasions I was poured included wine instead of the premium and twice witnessed standard spirits being used in my cocktails, this is unacceptable when you have paid extra for the better products. This was my major gripe on the cruise and noticeably cheapened the entire cruise experience. It felt like we were constantly having to discuss problems related to premium beverages. Azamara would be wise to change to one premium drinks package and have the products readily at hand especially as it spent considerable time and man power marketing the packages!

Activities - trivia, trivia and more trivia - an overload. We love participating but surely a little more variety of activities might be appropriate and more variety of questions for those on b2b's. The first cruise was port intensive so there was little in the way of onboard activities and we found the port lecturer to be rude and uninformative. The second cruise was packed with trivias and lecture, we loved the art classes but could not participate in other activities as they were all scheduled at the same time. Also the timetable never changed day to day which led to a feeling of reliving the same day over and over. There was a number of fitness classes that were enjoyable although the instructor was not inspiring.

The ship has table tennis and shuffleboard however due to location both are impractical for use.

Entertainment - hit or miss. There was some particularly memorable performances such as the local tango act, the capoeira dance group, Amanda the ACD show and the ballroom dancers. However the production shows were simple (band was good though), the comedian was racist and on a couple of nights there was simply a bad movie. We had one Azamazing evening which was excellent and logistically impressive although we were the last back and only just made dinner time. Both white nights were hit by poor weather, the first simply moved indoors and the party continued on the second however the entertainment did not follow indoors and it fizzled in comparison. We found the CD to not be personable, he often walked around the ship but didn't seem to mingle much with guests. Strangely his wife did a number of performances but apparently was not an employee or contractor - we found this strange and pondered whether there could be an insurance problem in the unlikely event something went wrong. Also seemed strange to give so much time to her when Amanda the ACD was clearly much more talented and enjoyable and we even noticed that on white night the employed singers would have to miss out on a microphone in lieu of her participating. On the first leg the ACD Lee was a lovely guy who was very personable with the guests. The Trio band used in the bars were clearly talented but the set was so old fashioned, you were lucky if you got to hear something from the 60s. While we are in our early 40s and younger than most on the ship the general music of the ship was way too old and it was noticeable that few people danced until a modern song was played. Also the DJ in the disco did not have wifi so it was impossible for him to play requested songs not on his list. The piano player had a great knowledge but seemed to be lacking confidence when it came to singing although he improved markedly on the second leg.

Service - the highlight of the ship. Probably the most friendly crew we have encountered (2nd to Crystal on overall performance). I guess service needs to be at a premium to balance the lower quality hardware.but they definitely delivered. Many of the crew remembered our names quickly and our preferences. Officers were more visible on the 2nd leg but often you had to approach them to actually interact.

Disembarkation was earlier than other cruise lines.

Overall a relaxing cruise and very good value for money compared to main lines. The vibe felt similar to celebrity but obviously much more intimate. Crew friendliness is their main strength. Personally we like a slightly larger ship (900-1000 passengers such as Crystal and Viking) with a greater variety of activities but can see why Azamara has such a loyal following.
BBMacLaird, CBO - Azamara Club Cruises has responded
Thank you team flames for the 5-star review!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of The Independent Traveler, Inc.
teamflames’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Club Oceanview Stateroom
Cabin 04
We had 6044 and 4050. 6044 very obstructed view - small room with no couch. 4050 larger but still small. Tiny bathrooms and showers. Terrible in room entertainment.
Deck 7 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins