The Rio Carnaval on Azamara Pursuit
We arrived at the port terminal in Buenos Aires to see a mass of people and long lines of queues! Fortunately these were for the Costa ship also embarking at the same time - we were ushered past all these queues and dealt with very quickly and were onboard within 10-15 mins. We were handed a glass of bubbles on the ship and went through their registration without delay. The ship was exactly as we expected - all very good quality but on a smaller scale than previous ships. We decided not to go for a balcony suite which was a good decision as they are very small balconies with just enough room for a table and 2 chairs (no recliners!). The ocean view cabin was compact but this meant everything was easily to hand. The bed was soooo comfortable and the only complaint was the quality of the tv and the lack of choice of programmes. It was immediately obvious that all of the crew were very friendly and were always greeting you enthusiastically - wherever you were on the ship. The main dining room was well laid out at the back of the ship and we never had a problem getting a table for 2. The tables were conveniently placed so you could talk to your fellow diners (should you want to!). The inclusive drinks worked very well and there was a changing option of wines daily and there were plenty of cocktails, beers and coffees available (I can't believe people pay to upgrade their drinks package - but a lot did!). The entertainment was not as varied as on previous lines but one has to recognise these limitations on a smaller, boutique, ship. However, the Azamara singers were excellent and the other acts (comedy magician, concert pianist, Tango dancers etc) were very good. The Azamazing evening was exceptional - we were taken to a theatre and were delighted with a show depicting the history of the Carnival - very, very good indeed! There were always many menu options and we never felt the need to pay the extra for the other dining options. The quality of food and service was excellent and the Head Waiter was always walking the dining room and talking to the guests - so any problems (we didn't have any) were dealt with very quickly. Similarly, the breakfast in the Windows Cafe was always of good quality and there was plenty of choice - and the waiters were always on hand to collect any tea or coffee orders which was excellent. The Captain always gave a friendly and humorous account of progress each day and a very thorough account of how we were about to leave harbour or depart the anchorage. We found the ships tours quite expensive and always managed to organise our own tours locally at a much better price. If you are going to the Rio Carnival I would highly recommend booking tours and seats in the Sambadrome through DoBrazilRight who were excellent throughout our stay. If traveling to Argentina and Uruguay be advised the ship does not carry their currency and you can't change money in a bank as the ship has your passport! We managed by changing into Argentinian currency at the airport then using $US to convert onboard in Brazil. In summary - Azamara delivered on its promise of being a boutique cruise line giving an in-depth experience wherever we went.
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