|Dolphins off the Coast of Japan|
As an example, while the wait staff in the specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, provide a high level of service, you will find that the wait staff in the main restaurant, Discoveries, are more deliverers of your meal than waiters who are familiar with, and can fluently explain, each dish. In fact, unlike say Seabourn they do not have meetings where they taste the food prior to each service, so you are pretty much on your own with the menu.
Dinners in Prime C and Aqualina were uniformly excellent…and if you are in a suite you may dine there every evening at no additional cost. (Rumor has it an Asian restaurant will be added during the Azamara Quest's September refit.) On Oceania– a more directly comparable cruise line – you are provided one or two nights of complimentary access rather than the entire voyage and while overall Oceania has a higher quality of cuisine, it lacks the overall happiness of staff. (That said, I would rather be surrounded by happy crew and cuisine with some misses than better cuisine and crew that is not as happy.)
While most people I spoke to (few of which were American) found the Main Dining Room’s food quite good, I found it to be “adequate” and portion control extremely obvious. (To me this is a case of the quality meeting the expectations of the lower category passengers rather than the mission statement of the cruise line.) That said, I did not have a bad meal in the main dining room; just not a single memorable one.
|Azamara Quest Discoveries Main Restaurant|
With a full breakfast being available for delivery to your suite and breakfast (and lunch on sea days) being served in the main restaurant, for suite guests there really is no reason to venture into the buffet. One downside to this is that al fresco dining overlooking the stern of the ship is eliminated as a option if you do not brave the buffet; though dining on your veranda is a good alternative (though the room service menu other than for breakfast is quite limited).
|Azamara Quest's Al Fresco Dining off the Buffet|
|Azamara Quest's Chef's Table|
Food & Wine Parings with Italian, French and California Menus
Interestingly, the hamburgers served at the Pool Grill are frozen, but those provided through room service are fresh…and there is a significant taste difference. (Note: The room service pizza should be avoided at all costs!)
|Garnishes really need to be improved |
in the Main Dining Room, Pool Grill and Room Service.
Tomato, lettuce and onions matter!
The bar service was excellent throughout the ship. Thus, when the bartender sees me coming and begins to pour my Glenfiddich before I even sit down, and then provides me with a tray of snacks after I do without my asking, it is a bit of much appreciated intuitive service.
|Azamara Quest's Mikey|
He loves his job and it shows...as with all of the crew.
Azamara Club Cruises needs to significantly improve in the area of Shore Excursions. especially since it focuses its marketing on immersive travel. There needs to be more emphasis explaining that when experiencing emerging ports, rather than say Rome, things are not going to be perfect or polished; and that they need to appreciate/tolerate that they are on the "cutting edge".
Also, many of the tours were very expensive for what they were and some were not of a premium quality. Getting information about upcoming ports (even local maps) was difficult and the head of the department was, many times, very difficult to understand.
|Beatriz is as good as shore excursion staff gets.|
|Azamara Club Cruises' AzaMazing Evening in Manila, Phillipines|
|Azamara Quest Club Continent Suite|
- While standard wines, beer and spirits are included about the ship, and complimentary 375 ml bottles of liquor are provided in your suite, the wine splits, beer and Perrier provided in your suite are charged for.
- The bath amenities are merely acceptable (though they should be brand named in the suites) and the labels are frustratingly similar…especially if you wear glasses.
- The video system needs a significant upgrade with only part-time non-news programming and even though there is a limited complimentary DVD library, pay-per-view movies are just inappropriate; especially in the suites where a number of the movies are on the DVD list.
There are definitely some tweaks unrelated to the refit that would make significant improvement to the overall suite experience such as luxury bath amenities, no menu for beverages in your suite, a simplified beverage package menu, waiter service in the al fresco dining area and elimination of self-service in buffet.
Honestly, I think Azamara Club Cruises needs to reevaluate its pricing strategy as the Royal Caribbean concept of "butts in beds generate onboard revenue" doesn't work on an inclusive product like Azamara and undercuts what it wants to be with bargain hunters adversely affecting the product. Ten dollar watch tables just shouldn't be onboard.
Overall, Azamara Club Cruises provides a very good value for a suite guest by combining a fairly inclusive product with top notch (and happy) staff, strong cuisine in the specialty restaurants and unique itineraries.
Interested in an Azamara Club Cruise? Give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.