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little britain

A Croatian Quest - Review

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Our first cruise on Azamara for over a year –we were looking to being on board again!

As our flights were very early from LGW we spent the night there before at the Premier Inn North – taking advantage of their Park and Stay package – I think it was £124….and they charged an extra £3 for 24 hr wifi access. The hotel was directly opposite the ramp to the terminal. Clean and basic as you would expect – we ate dinner in a lovely pub in a nearby village of Charlwood but we did have a drink in the bar.

 

Our 06.40 flight was on time - get a seat on the right hand side for the most amazing view of Venice as you land. And of the cruise ships in port.

We took the Alilaguna Blu transfer into the city – prebooked on line for €14pp. and this took about 1 ½ hrs. It was OK but not quite as scenic or ‘romantic’ as I thought. Our hotel was the Domina Home over on Guidecca – well away from the madness that is St Mark’s Square. It was a short walk from the Molino Stucky Alilaguna stop. A very nice little hotel with friendly staff that we would not hesitate to recommend to others or to stay in again.

 

The next day came the fatal flaw in our plan, which was to catch the Alilaguna Blu just one stop from the Stucky over to Marittima cruise terminal (€8pp). Unfortunately about 50 other people had the same idea and were waiting with cases at the hotel, and the two boats that came were too full already to take anyone. One said he was going to drop people at Marritima and then come back for us…..he never showed. . So we ended up catching a water taxi from the hotel, sharing with 4 charming Norwegians heading for the MSC ship…this was easier said than done as apparently you had to give the driver your room number at the Stucky before he could take you (probably some Italian union law..) so the Norwegians gave theirs and we just said 105 which was the first number that came into DH’s head and this seemed to work! The water taxi cost €70 for the short ride but split 6 ways it wasn’t bad. I think there were 6 ships in port that day so Marittima was chaos – suitcases everywhere. We clambered our way over them and to our checkin which was one of the quickest ever experienced. And onboard to our first glass of champagne.

 

The major change we noticed was the introduction of Dining Packages which consequently meant it was impossible to book a specialty restaurant if you left it any later than lunch on the first day…and even then we had to take our 3rd choice of date/time. The host in Aqualina advised us, rather unhelpfully, that we should have booked on the pier….!

 

There was an announcement that ‘dress codes will be strictly adhered to’…I wonder what issues they had on the prior cruise to cause this! Our fellow passengers were a very mixed demographic - 10 children ( including Captain Jose’s 2 charming daughters) and a lady with a little service dog. I did over hear some miserable people complaining about the dog…but they looked as if they were the sort of Brit who complained about everyone and everything! The dog was sweet and totally well behaved.

 

Sailaway out of Venice is now strictly regulated- there has to be 30 minutes between ships. When walking around we did see much evidence of the campaign to keep the cruise ships out of Venice too.

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They do tower over the buildings so I can appreciate the resident’s point of view. Here is Disney arriving.....

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and here is Celebrity leaving..

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Onboard most other things were as we remembered. Menus for the week available to view on the in room TV, small chocolate selection left at night (admittedly a bit repetitive this cruise and no chocolate strawberries..:-( ). Films to rent included 'August Osage County' for $9.98 or 'Her' for $11.98. We did not get the newspapers left in our cabin at night, and now I think of it I never saw anyone reading the newspapers on board, so I think perhaps they have been discontinued?

Ross was a live wire as usual, Ryszard was charming as usual and it was our first cruise with the enigmatic Captain Jose who is a very good fit into the Azamara stable of Captains.

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Entertainment on board – I have to admit that I think ‘Voices’ is one of the best shows I have seen on a cruise; ever. I love the simplicity of it and the acapella feel.

They had the Brazil vs Germany match screened at the poolside! A sort of mini - MUTS!

The White Nights party was held in the bay of Kotor with the magnificent fortress lit up on the hill above us.

And the Azamara Evening featured a Croatian cellist called Ana Rucner. She was outstanding and if you have never heard of her (like me) check her out on uTube – she is a real live wire!

 

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Part 2: the ports.....

Edited by little britain

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Thanks for taking the time to post your review. I'm surprised to read that there were no newspapers. I wonder if that's true for others recently returned from Azamara cruises.:confused:

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There were newspapers but you had to go and get it rather than it being delivered to your room as usual.

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That Ana Rucner certainly gets around in Croatia. We enjoyed our AzAmazing evening with her on Hvar Island last fall. I never before had seen or heard a cello made of metal and glass.

 

Ana put on a great show with lovely slides of many of the lovely tourist sights in Croatia on a big screen behind her. I understand she works closely with the Croatian tourist authorities.

Edited by CintiPam

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There were newspapers but you had to go and get it rather than it being delivered to your room as usual.

 

Strange, on the previous Quest cruise (Athens to Venice) the newspaper was always left on our bed to read with the Pursuits. Maybe depends on which Room Steward you have.

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There were newspapers but you had to go and get it rather than it being delivered to your room as usual.
As with so many things people complain about here, if you go to guest relations and ask the daily paper will be delivered to your stateroom.

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Entertainment on board – I have to admit that I think ‘Voices’ is one of the best shows I have seen on a cruise; ever. I love the simplicity of it and the acapella feel.

I love Voices too!

 

Phil

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There were newspapers but you had to go and get it rather than it being delivered to your room as usual.

Daily delivery of newspapers is a suite perk only. Perhaps you were in a suite before?

 

Phil

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As with so many things people complain about here, if you go to guest relations and ask the daily paper will be delivered to your stateroom.

 

The point again is not complaints, rather valid highlighting of inconsistencies between the two ships and between two sailings on the same ship.

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Daily delivery of newspapers is a suite perk only. Perhaps you were in a suite before?

 

Phil

 

Err no it's not Phil, we have always had our Daily News delivered in our Veranda Cabins on both ships. I would suggest the inconsistency is due to particular room stewards.

 

 

I would agree with marinao44 a simple request to Guest Relations, or even your room steward would sort out any non delivery

 

Steve

Edited by mara01

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Err no it's not Phil, we have always had our Daily News delivered in our Veranda Cabins on both ships. I would suggest the inconsistency is due to particular room stewards.

 

 

I would agree with marinao44 a simple request to Guest Relations, or even your room steward would sort out any non delivery

 

Steve

And I agree with Steve too - we have always had the newspaper on our bed in the evening in our balcony rooms and even in our ocean view room. However in these days of free wifi in port and 3G connections I guess they are pretty much out of date by the time that they are delivered - so my comment is no way a 'complaint', just an observation, and we didn't miss them at all.

Edited by little britain

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Err no it's not Phil, we have always had our Daily News delivered in our Veranda Cabins on both ships. I would suggest the inconsistency is due to particular room stewards.

 

 

I would agree with marinao44 a simple request to Guest Relations, or even your room steward would sort out any non delivery

 

Steve

Steve, you are correct. I just checked the Az website and the daily news bulletin is listed. Apologies for the misinformation (I didn't get them in a verandah cabin on Journey recently, but did in a suite. Should have asked, but not an issue).

 

Phil

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We didn't get them in our cabin on our recent Quest cruise - but then our stateroom attendant was less than stellar :( We used to pick them up from Guest Relations

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The Ports……so we sailed out of Venice, slightly later than usual due to the 30 min delay between ships. If you have never sailed out of Venice you really must get it on your bucket list – as it is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Strangely enough there was a Silverseas ship also in port…this sailed at 11.30p at night…..so they missed it! Doh.

 

 

 

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the windows café with a glass (or 2 of wine).

 

IMG_0578-M.jpg

 

Again this was to be a cruise where unfortunately we rarely made it to the main dining room. I have said before that we ‘would not be seen dead’ in the buffets on other larger ships, but the buffet on Azamara does not have the smash-and-grab feel of the larger buffets. It is always a wonderful display of beautifully prepared food. And the variety of sections that are offered with the Indian or the Seafood Nights means that it seems to get our business every time! So on this cruise we only ate in Discoveries once (and admittedly that time was very good). On our 4 Azamara cruises to date we have still failed to get to Discoveries for breakfast on any of them!.

 

This was to be a very port intensive cruise – in fact it was quite confusing to have lunch in one port and then move onto another for the evening!

First up was Zadar. We docked right in town next to the Sea Organ. This is very difficult to describe – it really is one of those you need to be there moments. There are a series of steps leading down to the ocean, and underneath these steps are a series of pipes and blow holes….as the waves hit the pipes it causes a cacophony of sounds…..melodious and often off tune but very relaxing and unique. The town itself is a very short walk, pretty streets, churches, roman ruins and free wifi.

 

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We sailed at 2.30p through the beautiful islands that line the coast line and arrived in Split at 9pm.

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This time we were docked in Split and it was a healthy walk from the port into the town; it is much easier to tender here IMHO.

Wow, Split on a Sunday night is just jumpin’! Every café and bar was packed. There was music on every corner, and this is perhaps one of the main reasons why we enjoy Azamara so much: the ability to see the local life at night without the hordes of tourists!

 

We enjoyed the same sights which were very different by day of this beautiful town.

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We sailed at 3.30p a short hop to arrive in Zdar by 7p.

 

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Zdar was where the Azamazing evening was held; we tendered into town which was a very efficient operation and then we were led around the harbourside a short walk to the Veneranda Cultural Centre. Members of staff assisted guests and Captain Jose was on hand to greet everyone. As I have said before this was a fabuluous performance by Ana Rucner. Behind her was a screen of shots of the beauty of Croatia and her playing the cello in many varied locations. We were very disappointed to see that some people walked out of the concert….apparently it was too loud. Doh.

After the concert we lingered in town with a beer and then back to the ship to enjoy Cherries Jubilee on the deck and a short concert by Kenny Williams. A truly fabulous singer who unfortunately is leaving in November. It would be a real shame if Azamara let him go.

 

After a slightly damp morning we caught the tender into town and enjoyed a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called Dva Ribara. Follow the harbour round, past the main square and it is just before the entrance to the Veneranda Cultural Centre. Their local wine was very good. Hic.

Edited by little britain

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The Ports……so we sailed out of Venice, slightly later than usual due to the 30 min delay between ships. If you have never sailed out of Venice you really must get it on your bucket list – as it is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Strangely enough there was a Silverseas ship also in port…this sailed at 11.30p at night…..so they missed it! Doh.

 

 

 

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the windows café with a glass (or 2 of wine).

 

IMG_0578-M.jpg

 

Again this was to be a cruise where unfortunately we rarely made it to the main dining room. I have said before that we ‘would not be seen dead’ in the buffets on other larger ships, but the buffet on Azamara does not have the smash-and-grab feel of the larger buffets. It is always a wonderful display of beautifully prepared food. And the variety of sections that are offered with the Indian or the Seafood Nights means that it seems to get our business every time! So on this cruise we only ate in Discoveries once (and admittedly that time was very good). On our 4 Azamara cruises to date we have still failed to get to Discoveries for breakfast on any of them!.

 

This was to be a very port intensive cruise – in fact it was quite confusing to have lunch in one port and then move onto another for the evening!

First up was Zadar. We docked right in town next to the Sea Organ. This is very difficult to describe – it really is one of those you need to be there moments. There are a series of steps leading down to the ocean, and underneath these steps are a series of pipes and blow holes….as the waves hit the pipes it causes a cacophony of sounds…..melodious and often off tune but very relaxing and unique. The town itself is a very short walk, pretty streets, churches, roman ruins and free wifi.

 

IMG_0581-M.jpg

 

We sailed at 2.30p through the beautiful islands that line the coast line and arrived in Split at 9pm.

IMG_0588-M.jpg

This time we were docked in Split and it was a healthy walk from the port into the town; it is much easier to tender here IMHO.

Wow, Split on a Sunday night is just jumpin’! Every café and bar was packed. There was music on every corner, and this is perhaps one of the main reasons why we enjoy Azamara so much: the ability to see the local life at night without the hordes of tourists!

 

We enjoyed the same sights which were very different by day of this beautiful town.

IMG_0601-M.jpg

 

We sailed at 3.30p a short hop to arrive in Zdar by 7p.

 

image-M.jpg

Zdar was where the Azamazing evening was held; we tendered into town which was a very efficient operation and then we were led around the harbourside a short walk to the Veneranda Cultural Centre. Members of staff assisted guests and Captain Jose was on hand to greet everyone. As I have said before this was a fabuluous performance by Ana Rucner. Behind her was a screen of shots of the beauty of Croatia and her playing the cello in many varied locations. We were very disappointed to see that some people walked out of the concert….apparently it was too loud. Doh.

After the concert we lingered in town with a beer and then back to the ship to enjoy Cherries Jubilee on the deck and a short concert by Kenny Williams. A truly fabulous singer who unfortunately is leaving in November. It would be a real shame if Azamara let him go.

 

After a slightly damp morning we caught the tender into town and enjoyed a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called Dva Ribara. Follow the harbour round, past the main square and it is just before the entrance to the Veneranda Cultural Centre. Their local wine was very good. Hic.

 

Your pictures are gorgeous and am really enjoying your review.

 

Don't think I have seen Kenny Williams on my previous Quest cruises but glad that he will still be on board in September

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Your pictures are gorgeous and am really enjoying your review.

 

Don't think I have seen Kenny Williams on my previous Quest cruises but glad that he will still be on board in September

 

After enjoying his singing back on the ship after Ana's concert, we looked for him in the dalies. It wasn't until we went to the "Voices" show that we realized he was one of the Quest singers and dancers, and then we decided we had seen him last year. He especially shone as a solo performer!

 

Loving this photo review, I want to be back on the ship! I also realize that we've been missing a bet with the evening buffets! Thanks for posting this, Leslie, your photos are great. We just realized because of the Galapagps next summer we likely won't be back on an Azamara ship until 2016...quite depressing!

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Les, you write it so wonderfully. I agree with everything so far. We didn't go ashore in Split, but had a blast of entertainement just sitting on the veranda listeining to the music from the Riva in Split. Hvar was fantastic and the consert with Ana Rucner was spectacular. She is Croatia's sweetheart and one of the most popular artist in this region. She performs worldwide and Azamara has done a great job getting her to perform for us.:)

We also noticed people leaving before the end of the concert, but my first thought was that they were trying to get a head start back to the tenders. I was upset by this and I could see on Ana's face that she was a bit confused as people started moving out before she had finished. We try to teach our kids good manners, but some elders sure would benefit from a refresher course in basic behaviour.:(

I second your experience of the Mosaic Cafe as an evening Buffet. We have normally dined in Discoveries and the speciality restaurants, but this time we found it difficult to pass on Windows as we had such fantastic evenings in the open air , either when sailing and the sun was setting in the ship's wake, or when docked and enjoying beautiful views of Venice. The food in Mosaic was way past our expectations and we were flabbergasted by the delicious and delicate dishes. Just fantastic.:D I told Fabio and he was very thankful, and made sure our comments got back to the kitchen staff.:D

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Next up was Montenegro. Again if you have never sailed into Kotor, add this to your bucket list too. It is about 2 hours though fjord-like scenery. There are two pretty little islands with churches on, and being Azamara the Captain got permission to do a ‘loop’ so everyone got to see them. What other line would do that?!

 

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We had a private tour booked with Milo, (popmilo@rocketmail.com) highly recommended on these boards, and now by us. Four of us shared his 6hr tour for €120. He took us to see Perast, then the pretty walled town of Budvar,

 

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then to see the hotel island of Sveti Stefan (where Novak Djokovic was getting married the next day) and then up into the hills to the old capital of Cetinje where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch of local ham and cheese and salt crepes. And of course a cold beer. Delicious. Then back over the hills, with fabulous views down over Kotor and back to the ship.

 

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We were actually over 7 hrs but it was a great day out. Kotor itself is a lovely walled town, full of cafes and shops (and plenty of free wifi). That night was the signature White Nights party on deck. The weather had started off by looing stormy so we were worried that it would be ‘indoors if wet’ but thankfully the skies cleared to give us a beautiful balmy evening. Sitting in the harbour with the lights of St Johns Fortress above us – magical.

When did they start doing advertising onto the satellite dishes though?

 

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We sailed at 10pm onto our final port which was Dubrovnik. Again we were docked when it is so much easier to tender into this town as the tender drops you right by the city gates, but Azamara laid on free shuttle busses to run us into town. The weather was not kind to us this day and those who went early got wet! We went in at 11:30, and were back by 1:30. Again this is a town that deserves more than a day visit and we would have enjoyed an overnight stop here.

And then back into Venice. Sailing in at noon, the sun high in the sky…words cannot describe it!

 

We docked at the small San Basilio terminal so you have a view straight down Guidecca. Possibly the best parking space in town!

 

We bought a 36hr vaporetto pass for €25pp which enabled us to jump on them whenever we wanted. Don’t forget to validate it before your first trip as there appeared to be ticket inspectors on pretty much every trip we took.

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On the first afternoon we walked around town watching daily life go on,

 

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and then spent the night on board having dinner in Aqualina (good view!) and then listed to the beautiful voice of Amanda Poulson on deck.

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San Basilio is a funny little terminal. Very simple. The vaporetto stop is just one small bridge away and the water taxis pull right up to the steps. It is a world away from the chaos of Marittima where there were 6 ships in that day! We caught the vaporetto around to Piazzale Roma and left our luggage at the deposito bagagli office (right between the entrance for the People Mover and the Pullman Café with the striped awning) for €7 per bag and took the vaporetto over to Burano. Again if you have never been here, add it to that list! Beautiful multi-coloured island.

 

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The trip takes around 1hr 20mins so make sure you leave yourself enough time. We enjoyed a pizza lunch and then caught the boat back, picked up our luggage and caught the bus to the airport for €6pp.

We sat in the BA lounge watching the lightening and rain and felt sorry for those sailing out that evening.

 

It is disappointing to see Park West back on board selling their tat. The shops had their usual sales, and there was a chap selling very nice, but very costly pearl jewellery. We never made it into the Casino, or the Spa, or the Gym…how can you miss so much on such a little ship! The LCV hostess was Jesse who we have not met before (she looks a bit like Kate Middleton!) and the LCV benefits seem to be reduced as you now get 235 mins of free internet (down from 237…). One bag of laundry per stateroom (down from one each), and no senior officers brunch.

 

In summary a very good trip; with just beautiful ports but we feel we probably would not do 7 night cruise again as we felt it was too short, and we definitely missed our days at sea. Activities were missed out due to this such as Iron Chef, and others we felt were crammed in – like the Brunch but this was served the morning we sailed into Venice and who on earth wants to be indoors that morning? The ship is looking the same as ever, a little tired in places, the crew were good but in some instances we felt as if they were going through the motions; perhaps some of them were new – but we didn’t build up the rapport that we have done in the past. I am sure the steward has details that we are LCV members so he does not need to go through the ‘save the waves’s speech with us! Azamara are a very good niche product. No they do not compare to Silverseas – but at least they sail out of Venice at a time when you can see it LOL. Unfortunately for us we feel that their prices are now too high and we too will wait for those bargains rather than pre-booking a year in advance.

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I agree. it was a very nice cruise but, as you said, a bit port intensive as we would have prefered to stay longer in each port. The usual "morning to evening" stay was only done in Kotor and Venice.

Dubrovnik was too short, I second that, but then again,- they managed to put in a fabulous itinerary for a seven days cruise. Next time we will be looking for a 10 day cruise or just do a B2B. I mean: "Who wants to leave after seven days." lol.

The crew was new to us as we have only sailed on Journey. Russ, the excellent Cruise director, said that I would probably be a Journey fan also after the cruise, because, as he put it, the first love will always be your preferred one. I agree with Russ, but we did also love the Quest. Fantastic Captain Jose and fabulous crew. We had some minor remarks about a few things that we did put in the feedback form we were sent by mail but no big issues. We mentioned the drink packages (again) and the new top floor dining packages. Nothing to do with Quest, this is the same for Journey.

It is going to be interesting to see where Azamara is moving in the future. We have seen some changes since we cruised with them for the first time in 2011. All of them seems to be in the "cutting costs"-segment and the product has gotten slightly less attractive during the years.

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Little Britain, I am thoroughly enjoying your report. And the photos!! I'm glad you liked Burano. Every time we've walked around that island I get the feeling of being lost in a box of crayons.

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Little Britain, I am thoroughly enjoying your report. And the photos!! I'm glad you liked Burano. Every time we've walked around that island I get the feeling of being lost in a box of crayons.

 

LOL! Just for you here are some more.....

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Irresistible place, isn't it. A cruise that ports in Venice is worth its weight in gold. ;)

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Thanks so much for your review and particularly for your lovely photos. We sailed last September on Quest to visit Croatia and agree that seven days simply is too short. However, our itinerary was lovely. And we also visited Burano; thanks for the photo memories!

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Thanks for another great review Lesley, look forward to this itinerary next year and your info will definitely help, beautiful photos, Burano is now on the to go to list!

Cheers, Wendy and David

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Edited by davwen81

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Oddjob, could you put your review in its own thread, as Little Britain has done here? That way people can read it and make comments/ask questions. It's a really good review!

OK. Just did. Thanks for the tip.:)

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