Two years ago, I sailed on an Azamara cruise and loved the ship and crew. I was eager to sail on Azamara Quest again after her recent refurbishment and see if she was as pretty as the pictures I had seen post-makeover. Of course, I also wanted to know if the service and crew on the Quest were still fabulous. In short, I was not disappointed.
The Azamara Quest was departing from Southampton for a twelve-night Baltic cruise to Stockholm, and I was looking forward to Azamara’s longer stays in port and concentration on destinations. We had three overnight stays, in Amsterdam, St. Petersburg (two nights) and Stockholm. My husband and I arrived early at the port in Southampton and were prepared to wait until the scheduled noon embarkation, but we were pleasantly surprised that by 10:30 a.m. we were on the ship with a glass of sparkling wine in hand. The Azamazing service had begun!
Once onboard we could see for ourselves, the Quest looked Azamazing! The warm color palette of the new décor was very inviting, and the contemporary touches made it interesting and elegant. Our cabin had a silver tactile wallpaper with similar earth tone colors found in the common areas of the Quest. A nice discovery in our “reimagined” cabin was the USB port in the bedside light fixture – a thoughtful detail! In addition to a new 42” flat screen TV, we found new blackout curtains, bedding, carpet and furniture. The Quest’s aesthetics were beautiful.
As much as we were enjoying our Azamara cruise, we were excited for our Baltic itinerary. The first port was Amsterdam, which is where we had our complimentary AzAmazing Evening. By coach, all guests (nearly 700) were escorted to a 14th century gothic church in Monnickendam. With a glass of sparkling wine in hand (yes, Azamara is big on bubbles), we enjoyed music of the “Golden Era” of Amsterdam and were impressed with the church’s “great organ,” which dated to 1780. Captain Carl greeted each and every guest as we entered the church.
With Azamara’s focus on destinations and longer stays, they have added after-dinner shore excursions, “Nights and Cool Places.” My husband and I experienced one of these in St. Petersburg, and it turned out to be a highlight of our trip. It was a Russian variety show. We had pictured a traditional Russian folk show, and what we got was a Russian form of Moulin Rouge. The unexpected dance numbers along with the vodka tasting, which included horseradish and honey-pepper flavors, made for a really fun evening, and we won’t soon forget it.
Azamara’s destination immersion meant three days in St. Petersburg to see the major sights and explore the city via their Land Discoveries program. We were able to get early access to both the Hermitage and Catherine’s Palace, and we also took an evening cruise on the Neva River. Other not-to-miss sights we were able to take in were the Church of the Spilt Blood and the Nevsky Prospect district (great people watching!)
Because Azamara ships are fairly small, they are able to dock in more favorable locations than the larger ships. In port after port we were docked in the heart of these fabulous cities. In Copenhagen we were a short walk from the Little Mermaid statue. In Helsinki we were right in the heart of the city, and we were just as close in Amsterdam and even St. Petersburg. In Tallinn and Stockholm, Azamara provided shuttles into town, but it still wasn’t too far for walking off our shipboard intake of gelato.
The food on the Quest was as good as I had remembered. Being close to port meant we could come back to the ship for lunch or go back into town after dinner. This is a nice option to have, especially when the food on the ship is so good. Azamara offers “Cruise Global, Eat Local” to entice their guests to stay in port for lunch by recommending restaurants that locals enjoy. These restaurants are on the handy port map you can take as you are getting off the ship for the day.
On this sailing I was able to arrange a galley tour for a group I was hosting onboard, and it was fascinating to see where and how the food for 700 hungry passengers is prepared daily for the Discoveries Restaurant and room service. Fun fact: did you know there is an escalator in the lower galley going up to the dining room? Most impressive was the baking department where all baked goods served onboard are made, and the smell of baking banana bread made us weak in the knees.
The Azamara Quest is even better than the Azamazing ship she was two years ago. I met many past-guests, and they all gushed over how pretty the ship was and how consistent the service and quality of Azamara Cruises is. I can’t wait for my next Azamara experience. If you would like me to help you plan an Azamazing Journey, contact me. I’d love to share more of my experiences with you!