The cruise line is Azamara Club Cruises, a sister company to Celebrity which is part of Royal Caribbean. It’s marketed as more exclusive, smaller and will visit destinations that bigger ships cannot get to. It has 650 passengers and 400 crew. The ship is the Azamara Quest, built early 2000s, with a few refurbishments in between.
All cabins are called Staterooms, which contain all amenities one requires, but is a little cramped. However, we did have a very comfortable king size bed. The bathroom is tiny but has lots of nooks and crannies to store toiletries. We had plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, so no complaints there! The attendants are discreet and make a great job of housekeeping. We had a balcony room with table and chairs, and it was warm enough to sit out.
Our trip included a complementary drinks package which was more than adequate for us – it kept me in Gordon’s gin and specialty lattes, along with a range of cocktails.
We also had an on-board credit allowance of $600 due to early booking and booking whilst on a previous cruise which is not to be sneezed at! So, what do we do with it? Used some of it against a dining package, and full internet service for the entire trip; wifi costs the ridiculous amount of $30 a day, or $279 for the entire trip per device. Outrageous! I opted, albeit reluctantly, for a full service.
There is a well-equipped gym, which I used daily.
And for those who liked being squashed up in order to sunbathe… Not my scene!
There are various dining options aboard: cafe, bistro, buffet, formal dining and specialty dining, all of which were very good. We decided to use some of our credit and purchase a specialty dining package, giving us two evenings in Aquilina (Italian) and two in Prime C (general) which was a bit more formal and smaller. Very nice and relaxed. The main dining room is Discoveries, where it is waiter service and you can opt for shared dining or on your own. The food and wine were delicious and the service impeccable.
In the Window’s Cafe, it’s buffet dining, and a great selection for breakfast and lunch.
There are several bars dotted around the ship: on deck, beside the pool, in the lounges; no excuse for going thirsty!
The ship has a casino, only operating when we are at sea, and there are several on-board shops, selling exclusive and expensive clothes, watches, jewellery.
There is a quiet area for card playing or surfing the internet but we spent quite a time in The Lounge with its pleasant seating, tapas, cocktails and evening entertainment of live music.
My impressions are that Azamara is just that wee bit classier than Celebrity. Lovely wines and good food. The passenger mix are fairly elderly (I felt positively youthful!) but there were a number younger than us as well.
The Insider is the daily pamphlet informing passengers about all activity for the day, opening times of bars and restaurants, times of shows etc. We liked the morning general knowledge trivia quiz, lasting half an hour, then the two themed quizzes between 4-5 pm if we were around. Points are collected for attending and more points for winning. Apparently at the end of the cruise, the points get cashed in for a selection of prizes such as T-shirts, baseball caps; that sort of thing. All good fun, teaming up with others.
There are on-board talks regarding destinations, ping pong, darts, yoga,. There is also a six-person song and dance troupe, who put on a show every few nights accompanied by the resident band. The standard is very high and performances are very slick and professional. Different nights have also seen a comedian and solo song shows .
The bars have a pianist, guitarist and DJ so there is a lot of entertainment catering for all tastes. There are a couple of ‘under the Stars’ cinema nights on deck with popcorn and ice cream. We watched Dunkirk – not my favourite film of the year!
I have to say the choice of entertainment has been very good, catering for all.
On sea days, a variety of talks are scheduled. Future Cruises is always popular, to entice you into booking up for your next cruise with various incentives. However, £17,500 for Miami to Lima with a Galapagos add-on, is just a tad too much! And that’s in a porthole cabin!
One evening was a ‘White Night’ on deck buffet party. It was good fun with some disco dancing and a parade of officers and staff with the flags of their countries. The whole world seemed to be represented.
Cruising can be as relaxed or ‘full on’ as you want to make it. Some folk never get off the ship, preferring to eat and drink, gamble in casino, pay exorbitant amounts for a variety of spa treatments (and then there is an 18% tax on top of that!) or take a variety of tours on shore organised by the cruise line. More of that later.