We recently sent Beth Higson, Lee Dawkins, Andrew Freeman and Katherine Read of the Six Star Cruises team on-board a very special cruise ship: Azamara Quest.
Azamara Cruises is famous for indulgent ships and enriching excursions, but did Quest live up to our team’s expectations? See for yourself…
When we arrived in Monaco, the embarkation process was very smooth. We were tendered across (taken to the ship by a smaller vessel) after a short wait at the tender port (where we received a glass of chilled water), and were given our luggage labels. We landed in Guest Services within just ten minutes of entering the Gangway and were handed a welcome glass of Prosecco. The staff members conducting check-in and producing our key cards were very nice.
Décor and accommodation
The décor on-board Azamara Quest is subtle and modern. Recently refurbished, this star of the Azamara Cruises fleet is light and airy, with the décor flowing throughout the ship.
Accommodation-wise, we all stayed in Oceanview staterooms. These outside cabins are glass-fronted to allow natural light to flow into the rooms, however, our cabins were obstructed by a lifeboat. While this didn’t block out all light, we had to stand on our tiptoes to see over and out to sea, and the glass-front just made us crave the view we were missing even more!
In the stateroom, the bathroom felt very small, especially the shower. The room itself was big enough for a couple, but again, it did feel smaller than expected. That said, the wardrobe was nice and spacious and the room was well-appointed, with complimentary soft drinks, water and fruit. The bathroom was pleasant overall and included some lovely amenities, and the rooms each had a safe and a television.
Overall, we found that Oceanview staterooms are ideally suited for couples, while Balcony Suites would be better for families. The views are especially impressive in the suites on-board Azamara Quest – we can dream!
While we were on-board there was a live band during the White Night BBQ, a comedian, and karaoke in the lounge. But that wasn’t all: guests could also visit the Cabaret Lounge (hosting cabaret shows and magicians), the Casino or the Card/Living Room. The atmosphere was lively and relaxed, encouraging guests to mingle and socialise.
The White Night was fantastic, taking place in the main pool area which, on these special evenings, is used for dining and outdoor parties. Our favourite part of the Azamara Quest entertainment, however, was the incredible AzAmazing Evening we spent watching The Three Tenors in Livorno: an experience we’ll never forget.
The whole experience ran perfectly. Everyone boarded coach transfers and arrived at the theatre on time, and there was no issue getting back to the ship. There was no rush and no-one felt harassed into moving.
Food and drink
We were met with a range of dining options on-board Azamara Quest. Speciality dining could be found in Aqualina, main dining in Prime C, a buffet in Windows café and, while we were there, a themed White Night BBQ on the pool deck. The dress code in all restaurants was smart-casual, which gave us handy breathing room after filling up on delicious cuisine!
Generally, the standard of the food we ate during our Azamara cruise was excellent, though vegetarians would have been hard-pressed to find something satisfying. While our group remarked that the meat and fish dishes were the finest they had experienced at sea, there was just one vegetarian course on the menu.
Breakfast-wise, there were serviced buffet and a-la-carte options. The food in this area was lovely and we were also regulars at lunch time – don’t miss the amazing nachos and the frozen yoghurt machine. Room service was included and open for 24 hours – perfect for Katherine, who ordered a tasty midnight pizza! Simply order using your cabin phone or interactive TV.
The main thing that stood out about dining on-board Azamara Quest was the unbelievable service. Katherine was on crutches, and the ships crew couldn’t have been more helpful. They made themselves present whenever Katherine went up to get food from the serviced buffet, taking her plate and serving her. This was also the case for other guests with mobility issues. Staff really couldn’t do enough.
It is worth noting that speciality dining options come with an extra charge. These are incredibly popular, so make sure you book a table prior to your trip, especially if the ship is sailing at full capacity.
Azamara Quests on-board package is quite extensive. Soft drinks, house wines, certain spirits and cocktails are all included in the luxury cruise price, while guests can upgrade to premium drinks if they wish. Katherine only paid for one drink during the trip: a Baileys which cost a reasonable $7.50 including the service charge.
Guests are also treated to complimentary speciality coffees from the Mosaic café. The only thing you need to pay for here is their Nespresso range.
Speciality restaurants aside, dining was also included in the cruise, alongside gratuities. Things like spa treatments and excursions were excluded.
Overall, Azamara Quest is a ship for class and relaxation. It felt incredibly spacious: despite the ship being full, it never felt like it was. We didn’t have to wait for anything and the staff were incredibly attentive. In fact, Andrew used the gym, steam rooms, running track, Jacuzzis and pool several times each, and was the only person using them almost every time.
We cannot fault the staff on-board Azamara Quest. They said hello whenever we walked past and couldn’t do enough for us. The only issue we encountered was in the Spa. Beth wanted to take advantage of reduced price treatments and, while the member of staff on the pool deck was helpful, the Spa Receptionist abruptly answered “No” when this staff member asked to book Beth in. The Spa Manager stepped in immediately, apologising and finding an appointment right away, which was lovely of them.
Excursion-wise, the trips are more than worth the extra charge. Azamara Cruises has a unique destination focus, meaning guests are fully immersed in each port. Guests are even given a daily newspaper about the port they are visiting and what is going on that day. Our only gripe with the port we saw was that there wasn’t much to do in Livorno. However, Pisa is just 25 minutes away by taxi, the beautiful walled city of Lucca is 45 minutes away and Florence is around 90 minutes away.
We would recommend this cruise ship to affluent, retired and professional couples who appreciate class and relaxation in an intimate environment. While children are welcome on-board, there are no children’s facilities or entertainment and they could easily become bored.
Azamara cruises are perfect for anyone in need of a relaxing, culture-centred luxury cruise holiday. Even solo travellers would feel at home, as the seasoned cruisers on-board are more than happy to help you out with how the experience works. This friendly culture means you never feel alone.
Think of Azamara Quest as a beautiful boutique hotel at sea. Katherine is already hoping to book a 2019 cruise for herself and her husband!
Would you like to experience life on-board Azamara Quest for yourself? If you are searching for luxury cruises that are centred on fascinating destinations, incorporating a relaxed atmosphere and low-key indulgence, call our Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2848 to plan your perfect voyage.