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Azamara vs HAL

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Am looking at Azamara possibility as a back up if we have to cancel our HAL cruise.

My question is for any one who has cruised on both. Your impressions please.

 

Now I know that on Azamara, gratuties and drinks are included in the price of the cruises, but what I want to know are there any other differences good or bad between the two cruise lines? Were there any differences in service, food etc.?

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We've cruised both. At one time, we were booked on a HAL cruise to Mexico, but then after just a bit of research, we discovered Azamara and they did the same itinerary for less $. They are now our favorite line, but HAL is right behind. And Azamara prices seem to have increased since that cruise. We also cruised Azamara to Norway this past summer. It was excellent! Azamara shines in their service. Their crew seem genuinely happy to be there. Many would say the food is better on Azamara, but I don't think so. We did enjoy their specialty restaurants, and felt the food was excellent there. Definitely, Azamara is a couple notches above HAL, but it depends on what you're looking for and price. More nickel and diming with HAL, but we know what to expect, so that's not an issue. With Azamara's small ships come a much more intimate, personal feel of cruising. On our Norwegian cruise, there were lots of 'little things' that made our trip special, and less 'canned' than the major cruiselines. The captain made stops along the way that were not on the itinerary. Stops for goat cheese, mail, strawberries. If you've cruised with HAL, you'll be 'wowed' with Azamara. But either line is great.

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We have sailed Azamara twice and HAL three times. We've had one good cruise on Azamara and two on HAL. We were on the Ryndam in Oct and loved it. We found the food, service and suite on the Ryndam to be superior to Azamara. We will not sail on Azamara again as we feel the R ships are poorly designed. I was sea sick for 4 days on the Azamara in the Caribbean and never on our Med cruise on the Ryndam.

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Been on Azamara twice and HAL four times.

 

We love Azamara and we like HAL.

Food in the dining room probably are equal though the speciality restaurant on Azamara are very good.

The R-ships are our favorites and more akin to clubs while the HAL ships have at least twice the amount of passengers. So it becomes more cozy or intimate on the Azamara ships - though admittedly we have only been on the Quest and not the Journey.

 

Crew - both are very good though HAL's people are pretty stretched out thin.

 

The Officers of the Azamara are more acessible and friendly.

 

Azamara seems to be more port-oriented.

 

However, you probably can spend a few less dollars on HAL.

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After sailing on HAL ships since the 1970's w/ the Carnival buyout & all the cutbacks we stopped sailing w/ the line (the cutbacks were evident in food & service and maintenance) after a disasterous cruise on Veendam..the aft pool made into a splash pool so additional cabins could be added on the deck below, sewage smells in several areas and the ship just being in bad shape overall with fewer staff for the amount of passengers onboard - it was more akin to being onboard an old Carnival Cruise line ship.

 

We sailed on a 16 day Panama Canal Cruise on the Journey & it was great all around - the ship was in great shape(some people didn't like the English Country house décor - but that's just a matter of personal taste), the staff plentiful & quite professional We are moderate drinkers & anything we asked for was provided. There weren't any lines for any service, the entertainment was a better quality than HAL and feeling that you could relax without thousands of people and visiting the interesting ports that HAL new monster ships can't access.

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We have sailed Azamara twice and HAL three times. We've had one good cruise on Azamara and two on HAL. We were on the Ryndam in Oct and loved it. We found the food, service and suite on the Ryndam to be superior to Azamara. We will not sail on Azamara again as we feel the R ships are poorly designed. I was sea sick for 4 days on the Azamara in the Caribbean and never on our Med cruise on the Ryndam.

 

I totally agree about the R ships being very poorly designed. People must be wowed by the "new" factor. Not that the ships are new, but everything else!

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Guess we are contrarians because DW and I love the R-ships and cruised on them with Renaissance and Azamara This is smaller ship cruising and the only comparable HAL vessel is the aging Prinsendam. And count us among those that think Azamara has superior food and service to HAL.

 

And there is a story about those R-ships. Many years ago we were on the R-4 in Tahiti when we met the ship's designer (a Englsh gentleman names Sir John McNeece). He told us how he originally sketched out the first R ship at a luncheon with some Swiss bankers who wanted to finance a new cruise line (later to be called Renaissance). These men liked the ship so much that they asked for 8 vessels, each to be exactly the same right down to their soap dishes. Hence we had R1 through R8.

 

Hank

Edited by Hlitner

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We love the R ships run by Oceania and disagree they are poorly designed. Other than the sight lines in the show lounge I did not find much to complain about. We have not done Azamara but it is a premium line, HAL is mass market and slipping big time since we started sailing it with declining food, service and ship maintenance.

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We are 4 star on HAL and sailed on the Quest about a year ago. It was a pleasant experience, but did not feel the value was there, having paid considerably more for a verandah than a Neptune suite. The shower was tiny, we had sewerage smells, and we had no water or electricity for a period of almost 8 hours one day.

We met Granny Di on this cruise, and like her, DH and I experienced sea sickness - while on a pretty calm Caribbean Sea - and we have been in storms on HAL ships with no ill effects. The Azamazing Evening was a free for all. Like her, I don't see us returning to Azamara.

The Haven suite life on NCL is giving HAL competition for our money and we are embarking on a second cruise with them.

 

Marion

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There is no comparison between Azamara and HAL.

 

Actually, the comparisons between cruise lines is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

 

Try comparing an Azamara Quest to a AZ Journey or a Volendam to a Maasdam. Much depends on your preception, weather, ports and expectations.Some like strolling down a "Fifth Avenue" on a mega-ship, others prefer small ships, the smaller the better!

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What's wrong with comparing apples to oranges?

 

The comparison between Azamara and HAL is valid for passengers who usually book Neptune suites on HAL.

 

igraf

 

 

 

 

Actually, the comparisons between cruise lines is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

 

Try comparing an Azamara Quest to a AZ Journey or a Volendam to a Maasdam. Much depends on your preception, weather, ports and expectations.Some like strolling down a "Fifth Avenue" on a mega-ship, others prefer small ships, the smaller the better!

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Guess we are contrarians because DW and I love the R-ships and cruised on them with Renaissance and Azamara This is smaller ship cruising and the only comparable HAL vessel is the aging Prinsendam. And count us among those that think Azamara has superior food and service to HAL.

 

And there is a story about those R-ships. Many years ago we were on the R-4 in Tahiti when we met the ship's designer (a Englsh gentleman names Sir John McNeece). He told us how he originally sketched out the first R ship at a luncheon with some Swiss bankers who wanted to finance a new cruise line (later to be called Renaissance). These men liked the ship so much that they asked for 8 vessels, each to be exactly the same right down to their soap dishes. Hence we had R1 through R8.

 

Hank

 

How can they justify the design of the showlounges? Was there no way they could have made the grade steeper and ceiling higher so people could see?

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Marion.....

 

You were right on about the Ryndam...we loved it!!

 

We sail on the Breakaway again next month...Haven Aft cabin...now that is a WOW!

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Granny Di-

Sorry we will miss you -we're on a Haven Aft Cabin, but on the Epic, for a Med cruise.

Enjoy!

 

Marion

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Thanks everyone. We are still "thinking on it" as they say. We have some time yet.

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How can they justify the design of the showlounges? Was there no way they could have made the grade steeper and ceiling higher so people could see?

 

When you cruise on a smaller ship there have to be compromises. But if you want to compare apples to apples think about some ships (including on HAL) that have large pillars blocking lots of the site lines in the theaters versus other ships (such as the Grand Class Princess ships) that have been designed so pillars are not an issue. And have you ever been is some of the movie theaters on HAL ships? nd then we could talk about main showroom designs that utilize the entire center section of the balcony (often considered the best seats in a theater) for the sound technician...relegating all the seats to the "sidelines."

 

One of my favorite old ships was the Marco Polo (in the days when she was run by Orient Lines) which had the worst main theater layout we have seen on any ship. But that ship is now over fifty years old, still going strong, and has its share of fans.

 

Hank

Edited by Hlitner

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When you cruise on a smaller ship there have to be compromises. But if you want to compare apples to apples think about some ships (including on HAL) that have large pillars blocking lots of the site lines in the theaters versus other ships (such as the Grand Class Princess ships) that have been designed so pillars are not an issue. And have you ever been is some of the movie theaters on HAL ships? nd then we could talk about main showroom designs that utilize the entire center section of the balcony (often considered the best seats in a theater) for the sound technician...relegating all the seats to the "sidelines."

 

One of my favorite old ships was the Marco Polo (in the days when she was run by Orient Lines) which had the worst main theater layout we have seen on any ship. But that ship is now over fifty years old, still going strong, and has its share of fans.

 

Hank

 

Funny you should mention Marco Polo. That ship has peaked my interest!

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Funny you should mention Marco Polo. That ship has peaked my interest!

 

She does have a long and interesting history, having started out as a Russian ship with ice-breaker hull. Because of fate, DW and I keep running into the Marco Polo when we are in Europe and the ship still looks about the same as she did when we first cruised on her back in the early 90s. It is amazing that a 50 year old ship has been continuously maintained to such a degree that she meets the current safety standards. It is nice to see a ship that looks like the classic cruise ship versus the modern top-heavy boxes. We once cruised through a hurricane (Hurricane Bob) on the Marco Polo and experienced about 12 hours of seas that topped 40 feet. The Marco Polo, with her strong deep hull (over 26 feet) rode through the storm well while the much newer Nordic Prince suffered major hull damage in the same seas.

 

Hank

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Funny you should mention Marco Polo. That ship has peaked my interest!

 

That ship had amazing itineraries. Unfortunately, she left the main stream market before we could try her.

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Marion.....

 

You were right on about the Ryndam...we loved it!!

 

We sail on the Breakaway again next month...Haven Aft cabin...now that is a WOW!

 

The Haven on BA is what broke us from HAL. You will *love* it! The balconies are huge back there! IMHO, it would behoove you to move up to deck 15 or 16 if at all possible, directly into The Haven *proper*. The service and ambiance in there is a step higher, as you don't have to traverse the ship to use Haven amenities.

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The big attraction for us in Azamara are those delightful R class ships, by far my preferred.

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The Haven on BA is what broke us from HAL. You will *love* it! The balconies are huge back there! IMHO, it would behoove you to move up to deck 15 or 16 if at all possible, directly into The Haven *proper*. The service and ambiance in there is a step higher, as you don't have to traverse the ship to use Haven amenities.

 

This is our second cruise in a BA Haven Aft. We have the same cabin booked for 2016. We were able to get the UDP, UBP, Gratuties, and $300 OBC for less than an inside on Azamara. I don't understand the value with Azamara as we've done the suites and balconies on Azamara....no comparison between the suite life on Azamara and the Haven! I prefer the studio cabins on NCL to the balconies on Azamara. For those who have never sailed NCL....UDP means ultimate dining plan aka specialty restaurants, and UBP aka ultimate beverage plan.

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Am looking at Azamara possibility as a back up if we have to cancel our HAL cruise.

My question is for any one who has cruised on both. Your impressions please.

 

Now I know that on Azamara, gratuties and drinks are included in the price of the cruises, but what I want to know are there any other differences good or bad between the two cruise lines? Were there any differences in service, food etc.?

 

Azamara is similar to the way that HAL used to be. Very good food and service.

 

Their prices have gone up considerably and per diem is about what HAL charges for very popular cruises such as VOV. They are luxury lite with smaller approx. 650 passenger ships, so not a fair comparison if you are only looking at price since HAL is a mass market line.

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We've sailed in balconies and suites on both lines. Azamara is like buying the charming small old house in the center of town. HAL is the new large house in the suburbs with all the whistles and bells. They are priced the same. Some will pay premium prices for the little house in the town center while others prefer the larger homes in the suburbs with all the latest amenities.

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