Background - I am a retired Army Officer - my DW is a former female paratrooper (tougher than woodpecker lips). We are used to getting what is advertised and understand great leadership from poor management. We decided to give Azamara a shot as we like Princess R-class ships and the itinearies they offered.
We sailed last summer on the Quest. Had a mini-suite. We had spent a number of days in Greece seeing the ancient sights and were pretty tired when we arrived at the port in Athens to board. The boarding process we saw was seamless and respectful. Once on board our butler, Ayup, was right behind us as we entered the cabin. What a super butler. Ayup truly embodied what was advertised by Azamara. A former Turkish soldier, we hit it off like brothers in arms. He was everywhere when we were on the ship! Examples:
Second day on board Ayup was spotted in his full butler attire kneeling down in our closet. What was he doing? Shining our shoes!
Fourth day – Ayup spots us up on deck nine near the pool socializing w/ other Cruise Critic friends. It is afternoon tea time. Ayup brings out hors d'ouvres for all 10 people. No one asked – he just figured he would add something to the party.
Sixth day – All ship officers come up to serve barbeque lunch to passengers. From the Captain on down to the engineering staff to the Cruise Director – all were serving passenger on deck nine. This shows commitment to the passenger but move over respect to the crew. This is something all Army Officers do on holidays – we serve the troops who serve the nation.
Sixth day (con’t) – My DW who loves fresh fish, hears that the =Head Chef bought out the morning catch at the Santorini fish market. Ayup hears the same. As she nears the barbecue, Ayup steps in, helps her find a fine sea bass and tells her to have a seat – “I’ll find you in a couple of minutes!” Sure enough, Ayup shows up with a huge tray with the fish and all the trimmings she likes. He then boned the fish for her right in front of her eyes (all the time in his butler’s uniform). My DW was smiling for two days.
Ninth day – We decided a month before the cruise to go to a local nightclub in Istanbul during the well planned overnight stay in the city. We mentioned this to Ayup, who said, “I know this club well…here, take my card and present it to the manager when you arrive.” He had inscribed a short note on the card in Turkish and said we would have a wonderful time. When we arrived we presented the card to the manager who said, “Ayup! Well…follow me!” We were seated in the best table in the club and as the night went on, a waiter showed up at our table with a bottle of Champaign (complements of Ayup!) and at about midnight a non-stranger appeared at our table to check on us – Ayup in street clothes! We later found out he coordinated our return transportation for us. A Butler indeed!
Day Ten – debarkation. The final statement of what Azamara does for passengers was when we left the ship. As we walked off the ship, we spotted the Cruise Director and the Hotel Manager at the bottom of the gangway – there just to say thank you and wish us a safe return home.
Why am I sailing again on Azamara in August? An entire cruise line’s attitude, a ship who’s crew was spot on in their jobs, ship’s officers who practiced leadership on a regular basis, and a super former Turkish Army tank driver (now butler extraordinaire) who exemplified the term “sergeant” – “to serve.”
(p.s. I tried to attach a picture of Ayup but it was too large for the server)