A Beginner's Guide to Azamara--Quest Christmas Voyage 2013

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#1
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
I would like to begin by dedicating this review to Bill Leiber. When I first came to the Azamara forum it was shortly after the change towards the "all inclusive." As is inevitable with many changes, there was discord over the new direction, all of which Bill handled with grace and dignity. He represented the brand so well! If my husband and I fell in love with Azamara hook line and sinker, we owe our great thanks to Bill Leiber, because he paved the way. Rest in Peace, Bill.

Our Itinerary


On 12/20/13, leave Miami on an eight night voyage. Two days at sea followed by the ports of St. Thomas (overnight), St. John, Virgin Gorda, St. Barts, St. Martin, and lastly, San Juan

Pre-Cruise

My husband, Rob, and I booked this cruise in the summer. Guarantee veranda cabin. There was a promo offering $1000 Choice Air credit but the Fine Print stated that our class of cabin--a V3--was not eligible. It was an easy calculation on our part to see that even barring the air discount, we were better off with the guarantee, especially since one balcony on the ship was the same as any other to us. We're both Elite on Celebrity and our many cruises on X have taught us that Cabin Is All. Hump cabin? Aft cabin? etc. etc. It matters on an S class ship where you are. On Azamara, less so. I'm prone to seasickness but it's nothing that Bonine can't handle so I don't require a midship location to minimize the movement of the ship. And neither Rob nor I ever steps foot into an elevator so we don't care about distance from it. We ended up in a V3 veranda cabin three doors down from the aft and it suited us beautifully.

We stayed pre-cruise in the Marriott Biscayne Bay Miami hotel. Our room's balcony afforded us a view of ships docked. Not our ships, unfortunately! Should we sail Azamara from Miami again, I think we'd try for the Intercontinental. The Quest was docked smack dab in front of it. I'd have loved to have seen her sail in that morning.

Boarding was easy. A quick taxi ride took us to the check-in. I had wanted to walk--and it would have been possible--but wiser heads (i.e., Rob's ) prevailed. Good call as the day was hot and humid and we'd have looked like something the cat dragged in had we attempted that bridge.

We were met at the terminal building by an offical-looking man wearing a crisp white shirt (who was not a porter). He opened the taxi door for us and promptly whisked our bags away. I feel a bit silly about it now, but I must confess to being suspicious about him and feeling that way, I kept an eagle eye trained on our bags until I saw them loaded onto the porters' trolley. I've never encountered valet service like that on any other cruise I've been on. It was nice.

Easy embarkation. We got into our proper line and had all our paperwork done in no time flat. Onto the ship and greeted with a welcoming flute of champagne. We boarded about 1 pm, which is considerably earlier than we normally board. Neither of us is fond of long lines and we've found that boarding after 2 pm normally keeps us away from the crowds who are chomping at the bit to get on their ship. Our first taste of the lovely experience of sailing on a ship with a passenger load of under 700. No mad crowds to fight!




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#2
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Our Cabin

Smaller than we've ever been in but we immediately liked it. The color scheme was both elegant and soothing with warm tones of navy, gold, and autumn green. I was wondering how I'd take to its traditional styling, especially that coffee table that looked like something out of an early Ethan Allen showroom, and the botanical print above the bed that has to be original to the ship. No worries. Everything in the cabin suited the cabin. It all worked together to present a cozy cocoon that we liked being in. I'd have been sorry if they'd taken any of that away when they did the renovation, in fact.





You can see at the desk what electrical plugs are available. The water and the small bottle of wine are not complimentary, but this is clearly stated. The desk has shelves on either side. We stored smaller clothing items here.



The mini fridge is below the flat screen TV. We came on board with two cans of Boddington Ale and the fridge did a surprisingly good job of keeping them chilled. The closet was more than adequate to hold our clothes with plenty of shelves and hangers.

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#3
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011


I loved this balcony! It ranks right up there with my other all-time favorite, the deck 7 corner aft on Royal Caribbean's Voyager class ships. Even though it's only a fraction of the size. Why? When I sat on that balcony, I felt like I was on a ship. Funny thing to say, I suppose, since I was obviously on a ship to start with, but it felt like a ship ought to feel. No plastic railings with plexiglass. A plank floor (not real but the look was right ). Lots of solid metal encasing the space. I felt connected to the sea while seated on my balcony.

Having heaped on the accolades, however, I would be remiss not to comment that the table is awkward. It's a Catch-22 in ways. It's large enough to eat a full meal on. Large enough for a game of cards and a drink or two. Too large for anything else. I'm an average-sized woman and I had to squeeze around it and mind how I moved lest I end up with thighs full of black and blue marks. I might appreciate the good intents that led to the choice of this size table, but I do not appreciate the lack of common sense that led to its purchase.
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#4
Deep South Texas
5,300 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Dierdre,


Thanks for the post and photos. They were very helpful. Good to know that there are two US-style outlets.

Were you able to put suitcases under the beds?

I thought I read somewhere that regular water and soda in the minibar were gratis. I knew the wine and liquor were not.

How were the wines in the included package at dinner? Do they really offer only one red and one white of their choice each night?

I don't care for Chardonnay. Would they allow me a different choice, or will I have to buy a bottle. (Might bring a bottle as corkage is only $10) I can deal with just about any dry red wine as long as it's not from a box.
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Janet
Mexico, Texas
Number of Cruises: never enough
Loyalty program status: Does it really matter?





#5
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011


I knew from reading the Azamara forum that the bathroom would be small. It was. I was satisfied with the amount of storage, however. To the left of the toilet there were three shelves and to the left of the sink there was a mirrored cabinet. And the shelf below the sink. There was plenty of room for all my things and my husband's. The door had hooks for towels and our bathrobes, which our room attendant dutifully tied up every morning after tidying up our cabin.



The provided toiletries were of good quality though the scent wasn't my favorite. (However, I didn't like the scent of the Bvlgari toiletries that we had in our Celebrity suite either, so don't go by my opinion on that account. I simply prefer the cleaner fragrance of Aqua class toiletries.) The little box in the background had a shower cap, a few Q-tips, and two cotton pads. There were also cotton balls.



You know I can't talk about the bathroom without talking about The Shower. Yes! It's teeny tiny small! My first reaction was "Oh crum. How am I going to fit in this thing??????!!!!! I won't tell you otherwise. You have to shower sideways. Its one saving grace is that there's an opaque glass wall, which you can just about make out to the left of the drain. It's like a window of sorts, and it keeps the shower from being claustrophobic.

You know what? In the end it was perfectly fine. Really. Just an ordinary shower. It did the job of getting us clean. Plenty of hot steamy water. We didn't give it a second thought. Though I did miss that nice ladies' shaving bar that Celebrity's S class ships have.
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#6
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by Kellie Poodle
Dierdre,


Thanks for the post and photos. They were very helpful. Good to know that there are two US-style outlets.

Were you able to put suitcases under the beds?

I thought I read somewhere that regular water and soda in the minibar were gratis. I knew the wine and liquor were not.

How were the wines in the included package at dinner? Do they really offer only one red and one white of their choice each night?

I don't care for Chardonnay. Would they allow me a different choice, or will I have to buy a bottle. (Might bring a bottle as corkage is only $10) I can deal with just about any dry red wine as long as it's not from a box.
Kellie, we took a carry-on and a 24" (26"?) suitcase with us and both fit easily under the bed. To the left side of the right-hand bed nightstand, there's also a small space that worked well for my tote bag and pocketbook (valuables in safe, of course).

I'm not a good one to ask about wine because we prefer red wines, and that's what we asked for each night. However, I have read here that if you don't care for the selection of the day--be it red or white--they'll make every attempt to get you something from another day's offering. We really enjoyed the wines, no complaints at all. Most definitely NOT anything that would come from a box, ewwwww!

On Christmas day we had a special treat. The Hotel Director chose a $40 bottle of white wine to be poured in the dining room for Christmas dinner. I don't usually go for white wine but this was outstanding. I had many glasses and I wished I'd thought ahead enough to have made a note of which wine it was. I'd happily drink more of it.
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Azamara Quest West Indies cruise report here -
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1966387
Azamara Journey Mediterranean cruise report here-
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2103294
Celebrity Solstice Mediterranean cruise report here-
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1676328
#7
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
One of the first questions I asked on this forum was about food. As in, what are your favorites. One reply pointed me in the direction of this sinfully good Welcome Aboard cake that was served the first day in the Windows Cafe. Within an hour of it being cut, this was all that was left. Yes, it was delicious.


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#8
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
We were given a copy of Azamara's daily newsletter, Pursuits. Good thing we read it that afternoon but I get ahead of myself now.

After boarding we headed up to the pool deck. Up the stairs, out the door and onto a smallish space that had tables and chairs set for dining. My first impression was "Stemware! Wow!" Funny the things that catch your eye but the stem glasses were what did it for me. The glasses shimmered in the light. Every table had a proper placemat and glasses. No plastic or melamine in sight. Sigh. So civilized and elegant. I knew then and there that Azamara and me was a match made in heaven.



This photo shows the dining area of the Sunset Bar (aft) but the seating area close to the pool was of similar nature. Isn't it pretty?
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#9
1,356 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
loving this review and the accompanying photos. we're on Quest in 3 weeks' time and can't wait to be "home" again. Note to self....get up to Windows before that cake disappears!
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HAL, Princess, and Celebrity, and now Oceania
But our favorite is Azamara
Upcoming...Costa Rica in 2018 and Japan in 2019
#10
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
I took this photo of Rob sitting in the outdoor dining area close to the pool--same deck as the Windows Cafe, as you can see. This was late one night after everything had been put away. I think Azamara might be considering replacing the furniture. This is one of two seating/dining areas which are cleverly connected by a passageway behind the band stage that runs adjacent to the pool area on the aft side. At the other side there were two dining table/chair sets, both different, and a sign asking passengers to give their opinion of the furniture as it was under consideration for purchase. There were also two sofa lounge sets which I ought to have taken a photo of, but didn't. My opinion is that I like the tables and chairs that you see Rob seated at! The teak of the chairs beautifully matches the teak of the exterior doors. If they're wanting to try something new and updated, I'd merely change out the navy chair cushions to another fabric and leave it at that. Why mess with something that ain't broke.


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#11
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
We were no sooner comfortably seated on a pool deck lounger than we were approached by a waiter asking us if we'd like a glass of wine. Why not, sure! We weren't hungry as we'd had a hearty brunch at our hotel, but we did notice many people at nearby tables happily tucking into tasty looking meals. We sat and sipped and read our Pursuits, which informed us that there was to be a ship's tour at 3 pm. We eventually finished up our wine and headed to our readied cabin, dropped off our bags, and then went to the tour.

Ross, who is Music Director on the Quest, gave our tour. Charming young man who told us his parents were aboard that week. I asked him how on earth he'd find enough things to show us on such a small ship and he said there was plenty, and indeed there was, as you can see below. (Apologies for some of the not-in-focus shots but Ross leads a fast walking tour and it was all done on the quick. )


Rob and I on one of the landings (girl in mirror complimentary). I thought the selection of art throughout the ship was marvelous. Very sophisticated and well-suited to the spaces where it was hung. There was Warhol and

Lichtenstein among other famous names. Some contemporary, some more traditional, but all eye-catching.


Here's the entry way to the library. I love the paneled walls! They were painted a nice soft white which was very pleasing. The walls gave the appearance of an elegant Bed & Breakfast.


The library was gorgeous! And to think I had the impression from photos I'd seen that it was an old lady kind of place, a relic from dusty old years. No way. It was one of the loveliest spaces on the ship. There was a nice mix of traditional art--as seen above the hearth--and contemporary art. If memory serves, there was a striking Lichtenstein on the wall around the corner. The domed ceiling of the room was simply stunning. Again, something I thought might have been old-fashioned proved to be just that, but wonderfully old-fashioned, with a craftsmanship rarely seen these days.


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#12
Edinburgh
11,412 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Even though I am not a newcomer to Azamara, I am really enjoying your review and what you have chosen to focus on - thanks! (I think it is not a Beginners Guide but a really good all comers guide)
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536 days onboard Celebrity and Azamara 2000-2017 and 102 more days booked plus one river cruise
#13
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Our tour group led by Ross trouped into the Prime C restaurant. It had exactly the look you'd expect of a restaurant serving prime cuts of beef. Pitch perfect space. Rob and I didn't dine there on this cruise as we're saving it for our next, on the Journey with friends Librarylady19 (Sandi) and her husband. Can't wait, I tell you! The restaurant looked so inviting.


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Deirdre
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#14
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011


The Chef's Table was to the immediate left of the entrance. Fabulous meals can be eaten there. More detail-- http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1838725


The bar area of Prime C.


And here, the dining area to the back of the restaurant with expansive views to the oudoors.
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#15
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by uktog
Even though I am not a newcomer to Azamara, I am really enjoying your review and what you have chosen to focus on - thanks! (I think it is not a Beginners Guide but a really good all comers guide)
Thank you very much! I'm trying to include photos of minutiae people overlook but may wonder about, particularly if they've never been on the ship before.
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#16
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Prime C restaurant is connected to Aqualina, which serves "contemporary American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair." In we went, gawking at the dainty prettiness of the space. It's like night and day to Prime C. While Prime C has an solid, earthy tone to it as befitting a steak house, Aqualina evokes a feeling of wearing your best pearls and heels. The walls are painted a cool gray and the furnishings are done with blues and silvery grays. The various pieces of artwork are exquisite, as are the fower arrangements.

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Azamara Quest West Indies cruise report here -
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Azamara Journey Mediterranean cruise report here-
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Celebrity Solstice Mediterranean cruise report here-
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#17
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011


The views, of course, improved considerably once we left the Port of Miami!
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#18
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
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Azamara Quest West Indies cruise report here -
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Celebrity Solstice Mediterranean cruise report here-
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#19
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
You know the expression "An army marches on its stomach." Well, one could say much the same of a cruise ship, and to that end, Ross brought us around to all the eateries on the Quest. One would never go hungry nor be starved for an elegant setting in which to dine and drink. As so.


This is the space that leads into the main dining room. The Discoveries Lounge on Deck 5. Quiet on the afternoon we embarked, and never thereafter. It was a great space to hang out in as you waited for your table to be available...if you could find a seat!


Discoveries Restaurant. That contemporary chandelier is a product of the recent renovation. Discoveries served as our Muster Station later in the day, one of the posher places we've ever mustered.



Windows Cafe inside dining. I was so pleased to see the tables so nicely set. One could never label the Cafe a "cafeteria" as you could easily do on many other cruise lines. All you needed to do at the Cafe was choose your food from the buffet, take your seat, and the waiters would take it from there, bringing you whatever you liked to drink. Oddly enough, as much as I liked the tables and even the new carpet, I did not like eating in there and we did so only once, preferring the outdoor Sunset Bar. The pale gray walls of the dining room felt chilly to me and not conducive to a comfortable meal. My opinion, however, was obviously in the minority because the Cafe did a booming business breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And rightfully so. The staff in the Cafe was so welcoming. Such sweet-natured, professional, and competent people. Full marks to Azamara on this!


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Azamara Journey Mediterranean cruise report here-
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#20
Naples, FL
4,815 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Ross commented at the start of our tour that some Azamara passengers gain a pound a day. This elicited a huge gasp and mindful of the response, he made sure to bring us into the gymn. Only time Rob and I ever showed our faces there, but I heard from others that it was a very nice place.

For those who are not slothful, here are some of the classes offered.

Morning stretch
Tour de Cycle
Body Sculpt Boot Camp (fee of $35)
Legs, bums and tums
Abs class
Yoga
Pilates
Evening stretch

Go knock 'em dead, kids.
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Azamara Quest West Indies cruise report here -
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Azamara Journey Mediterranean cruise report here-
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2103294
Celebrity Solstice Mediterranean cruise report here-
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1676328