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HAL vs Azamara


Hflors
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Two cruises: Circle around Japan on the Azamara Quest and Circle the Pacific on the MS Amsterdam with many ports in Japan

 

Positive on Azamara: quality and sophistication of food; a Japanese 'ambassador' on board who helped with advice and maps for independent shore trips. I wish she had also given talks, but she didn't.

Negative on Azamara: our standard cabin with balcony had no sofa, balcony was cluttered with a dining table and two dining chairs. The two of us could barely fit out there to take photos. The excursion team was uninformed about the country. The expert speaker gave three wrong pieces of information within the first 30 minutes of his talk, all on basic knowledge for anyone who has ever traveled in Japan.

 

Positive on Holland America: friendlier and more congenial hotel services crew; expert speakers and shore excursions team were experienced and had correct information.

 

Summary: Although we are foodies, we would not book Azamara again. There were too many negatives for us. We booked a Holland America cruise again, food is decent, crew is genuinely nice, itineraries are great. 

 

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We were on the Quest for our New Zealand cruise in 2019.I liked the ship layout, the dining options, the Mosaic Cafe where we could get coffee, tea, biscotti, little sandwiches, etc.  Loved the Mosaic Cafe concept.  We were in #6084 which was a V3 Club Veranda stateroom.  We are 4* on HAL and I was surprised that the stateroom was so small but we adjusted and we weren’t in it that much.  The large table on the veranda was in the way so I shoved it to one side as best I could.  The staff was very nice but I agree with the poster above that the “locations” people were not terribly helpful with port information.  Like Seabourne, Azamara expected the local residents to provide information about the ports.  I like the information the day before we arrive so I can make plans.

 

I would definitely cruise Azamara again but HAL feels like home to me.  

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My Azamara experience to date was on a cruise to Cuba, so perhaps it was a bit different to most. I feel they were quite good at giving us the information needed on touring in Cuba, and were quite honest in answering questions about what US citizen tourists can and cannot do. (I know they were honest because I had researched it well in advance.). I also liked that they had brought on board a lovely Cuban singer who not only gave two performances but answered detailed questions about growing up in Cuba. 

 

In terms of the dining I would rate the settings (both MDR and cafe/buffet) ahead of HAL, but some of that is of course the more personalized service you get on a smaller ship and in smaller venues. Since our cruise was only a week, we did not try the specialty dining. 

 

Yes the cabin was small, but since I cruise with a number of lines (not just HAL) it was not a shocker -- again, given the size and age of the ship. I spend precious little time in my cabin anyway.

 

I would certainly sail Azamara again given the right itinerary, dates, and price. In fact, there is a lovely Black Sea itinerary I'd like to book -- but I really doubt it will actually sail, as it is scheduled for May 2021.

 

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Having sailed both lines I find the Azamara a better quality product.  I would take the lowest level cabin on Azamara over the top suite on HAL.

AZAMARA is smaller ships, fewer passengers,  professional service & more of a casual experience( no I'm not talking board shorts & tank tops).

The food was very nicely presented w all options from buffet to specialty restaurants. We always book a midship balcony cabin & were perfectly happy.

FOR years I sailed on HAL but for the last 10 years or so we gave it up as the shops got larger it was just like a floating mall w fewer & fewer crew. Now HAL is just another CARNIVORE CORP BRANCH.

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On 11/24/2020 at 5:59 PM, cruisemom42 said:

My Azamara experience to date was on a cruise to Cuba, so perhaps it was a bit different to most. I feel they were quite good at giving us the information needed on touring in Cuba, and were quite honest in answering questions about what US citizen tourists can and cannot do. (I know they were honest because I had researched it well in advance.). I also liked that they had brought on board a lovely Cuban singer who not only gave two performances but answered detailed questions about growing up in Cuba. 

 

In terms of the dining I would rate the settings (both MDR and cafe/buffet) ahead of HAL, but some of that is of course the more personalized service you get on a smaller ship and in smaller venues. Since our cruise was only a week, we did not try the specialty dining. 

 

Yes the cabin was small, but since I cruise with a number of lines (not just HAL) it was not a shocker -- again, given the size and age of the ship. I spend precious little time in my cabin anyway.

 

I would certainly sail Azamara again given the right itinerary, dates, and price. In fact, there is a lovely Black Sea itinerary I'd like to book -- but I really doubt it will actually sail, as it is scheduled for May 2021.

 

They are the only line I am aware of that sails the entire Black Sea including Georgia 🇬🇪 and northern Turkey.  Most lines just do the western part.  We were scheduled to do the cruise in 2021 but cancelled, maybe in 2023.

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A new line is going to sail this itinerary, but I threw away the material. They were extremely expensive.

 

I was looking at this region. For your sake, I hope that the Azamara location team and 'expert' speaker will be better than in Japan. We had done our own research and it was our third time to the country. That's probably why I was most annoyed about Azamara's misinformation. cruisemom42 had better luck with Cuba.

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On 11/27/2020 at 9:33 AM, KirkNC said:

They are the only line I am aware of that sails the entire Black Sea including Georgia 🇬🇪 and northern Turkey.  Most lines just do the western part.  We were scheduled to do the cruise in 2021 but cancelled, maybe in 2023.

 

I was lucky enough to be on the Prinsendam when she did this.  It was a marvellous itinerary and we loved every port we visited.

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On 11/24/2020 at 5:47 AM, Hflors said:

Could someone comment on the differences between a HAL cruise and an Azamara cruise?    Thanks in advance

Helen


Azamara is an excellent cruise line. The service and quality surpasses that of HAL, especially in the dining room. 
 

Im not a fan of the old R Class ships due to the small cabins but the quality of the cruise more than makes up for it. Someone else said they’d rather cruise in Azamara’s lowest room over a HAL suite. In truth, I can’t disagree with that. 

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What we have noticed on CC is that when cruise line zealots (of all brands) compare their beloved cruise line to another that they most often focus on the negative.  They also seem to want and expect an exact carbon copy experience-both ship and cruise.  We tend to focus on and enjoy some of the differences between cruise ships and cruise line vs. a focus on the negative.  If you look for it, you will find negative things to say about all cruise lines and cruise ships.....including HAL.  Perhaps it depends on one's outlook.

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50 minutes ago, iancal said:

What we have noticed on CC is that when cruise line zealots (of all brands) compare their beloved cruise line to another that they most often focus on the negative.  They also seem to want and expect an exact carbon copy experience-both ship and cruise.  We tend to focus on and enjoy some of the differences between cruise ships and cruise line vs. a focus on the negative.  If you look for it, you will find negative things to say about all cruise lines and cruise ships.....including HAL.  Perhaps it depends on one's outlook.


Not sure what that’s all about. Do you have a comment on the differences between HAL and Azamara?

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