An Azamazing time on the Azamara Quest
Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience the Azamara Quest for a couple of nights. I boarded in Southampton on Saturday afternoon and dis-embarked in Amsterdam on Monday lunchtime.
Although I already had a good knowledge on the Azamara brand I hadn’t had the first hand experience of their ships before so it was great to see how they compare to other brands I have already sailed with.
Azamara Club Cruises are a 5 star deluxe more-inclusive brand that sit nicely in-between the more regular cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Cunard and the 6 star ultra luxury brands such as Regent, Silversea, Crystal and Seabourn. The main competitor of Azamara are Oceania Cruises who are also a 5 star deluxe and have a lot of similarities with Azamara. It is worth noting that Oceania only include soft drinks with the cruise fare, Azamara include a good selection of beer, wine, sprits and cocktails with the cruise as well as soft drinks and speciality teas and coffees. Another difference is that Azamara fares include gratuities so these are not added to your account or need to paid up-front. Complimentary shuttle busses in port are also included.
The Quest, like her sister ship the Journey only accommodates around 690 guests so this is definitely classed as a small ship which is perfect for the type of cruise product that she offers. There are plenty of decent larger main stream products out there, Azamara are about offering something that is more personal and luxurious than a standard ocean cruise.
The Quest has recently had a refurbishment and she looks beautiful throughout. The things that struck me whilst on this ship are all of the smaller things that can add up to a more luxurious experience such as the cushions on the seats, sunbeds and sofas around the ship, in a different class to many more mainstream brands it just means everything is that bit nicer.
The dining experience is also top-notch on the Quest, this is also helped with the ship being smaller. Dinner is all just open for you to come as you please rather than set times, more relaxed and less regimented than on some other cruises. There are also no formal evenings with the dress code being smart-casual throughout. The pool grill area just takes the quality to a different level compared to ones I have experienced on other ships with food of a lot higher quality being cooked to order and served to you at your table.
Another benefit of a smaller more luxury ship like this is that you just don’t get the queuing and bottlenecks of too many passengers in one place, it’s a lot less stressful in that respect. Getting on and off the ship is certainly less cluttered with only about 25% or less of the passengers you would normally get on other ships.
Azamara also have something they offer called an Azamazing evening. One of these special evenings are included free of charge for all guests that are not on trans-atlantic or sailings under 7 nights duration. These evenings are designed to give guests an exclusive cultural experience of their destination. We went to the Azamazing evening whilst docked in Amsterdam which was held in a church with lots of local talent including singers, organ and trumpet players. The sound with the acoustics in the church was just amazing. The organisation of everything was faultless by Azamara, no waiting around and greeted with a glass of bubbly on arrival was a nice touch. This isn’t something that other cruise lines do and it a nice addition to the many benefits that Azamara offer.
We were also given an exclusive bridge tour on the Quest which I really enjoyed as it is so interesting to see how everything operates with sailing of the ship from behind the scenes, the amount of screens, buttons and joysticks up there is certainly impressive !
My experience on Azamara certainly met my expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate to continue to recommend them to my clients who like the small ship feel and want something with a bit more exclusivity and luxury. Everyone has different needs, tastes and products that will or won’t suit them, I would say that Azamara isn’t particularly geared towards families and children and the experience is quite relaxed overall, whilst there is entertainment on-board this isn’t on the same level with the larger more main stream cruise lines who have massive multi level theatres and the like. Azamara often have some very good single passenger rates and I have many clients of mine who book with Azamara on a single occupancy basis, sometimes the supplement is only 125% of the double rate, very fair indeed I think.
The bottom line in my opinion is that Azamara do an excellent job of offering the type of product that they do. I would like to thank our hosts and all of the crew for having us and letting us have such a lovely experience.