Orange County, CA
Azamara Quest: An enriching, country club-like experience
If you are on a quest for destination immersion on a mid-size ship, then Azamara Quest from Azamara Club Cruises can take you there. One of the best features of sailing on Azamara Quest is longer stays in port. With more time available to explore, you get a better sense of the culture, history and people who live in the ports that Azamara Quest calls on.
While returning to the ship after a tour or a day spent exploring on your own, you are welcomed home by an attentive staff standing by to help you settle back and enjoy the onboard hospitality.
Probably where the cruise ship comes up a bit short is on space in the staterooms. Although each cabin is equipped with modern amenities, furnishings and European linens, there are some shortcomings when it comes to stateroom design: the bathrooms are small so expect one sink and a shower enclosure that is limited in size.
Where Azamara Quest goes well beyond the industry standard are varied itineraries that are especially appealing to those who travel to lots of ports; complimentary amenities that include select standard spirits, beer and wine, and fine dining that rivals the best restaurants on land.
Who will like sailing on Azamara Quest
Azamara's club-like atmosphere is appealing to up-market travelers who like a relaxed onboard experience that is big on delivering quality food, exceptional service and more time in port.
Where Azamara Quest sails
Azamara Quest has resumed sailings with a variety of 7- to 10-night itineraries in the summer months starting in such storied ports as Santorini, Venice, Kotor, Barcelona and Cartagena, Spain. Following a transatlantic crossing, Quest begins winter season with 7- to 14-night sailings in the Caribbean out of Miami, followed by longer wide-ranging itineraries out of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro before the ship returns to the Med.
As a general rule, Azamara Quest sails in and around Asia, the South Pacific, Australia, the Mediterranean, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, calling on off-the-beaten-path ports.
Dining on Azamara Quest
Main dining for all guests is offered in Discoveries. There is no set dining time, so you're free to eat when you feel like it. The menu changes every night, and you'll find a variety of items that feature classic to modern cuisine. The service in Discoveries is exceptional. Although the menu reflects regional dishes from the places that you visit, there's also a wide variety of appetizers, soups and salads, main courses and healthy choices.
For cruise passengers who want to try an alternative restaurant, you'll want to check out the Quest's specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina. There's a small fee to dine in these two speciality restaurants ($25 per person), unless you're staying in a suite (Club World Owner's Suites, Club Ocean Suites and Club Continent Suites), in which case it's complimentary.
This is Azamara's version of a traditional steakhouse. The wood-paneled walls, candlelight and ambience are the perfect backdrop to the main event: wonderful cuisine. Sample starters like vegetable tempura, beef carpaccio, cheese and onion soup or wild mushroom veloute. Entrees include filet mignon, veal tenderloin, whole rack of lamb, game hens or seafood. Sorbet is a great option for dessert, but the warm chocolate lava cake is also delish.
Aqualina features a menu of Italian-Mediterranean-fusion cuisine. Those who like caviar will want to pony-up to sample the caviar menu. Antipasti such as Tuna tartare, lobster ravioli or home-made gnocchetti are exceptional. For a main dish, I enjoyed the veal scaloppini in a creamy mushroom sauce with Gorgonzola. The flourless chocolate torte or the tiramisu is also top notch.
Entertainment & activities
Cruise Director Tony offers a variety of entertainment options for you to enjoy your time on the ship. In the evenings, you'll experience live production shows and musical performances. There's a good mix of live performances, full-stage musical revues, classical soloists, bands and other entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge.
After the show, head to the Looking Glass Lounge where DJ Matt plays enough popular hits to get people on the dance floor. Late-night party-goers should know that Azamara Quest guests usually turn in before midnight or just a little bit after.
While the main event of an Azamara Club Cruises vacation is an enriching cruise experience, make time to relax at the spa. If you stay in a suite, then make sure to take advantage of the complimentary pass to the Thalassotherapy pool (saltwater whirlpool) located in a private hideaway adjacent to the spa. I actually was not staying in a suite, but I chose to purchase a pass to the Thalassotherapy pool. Make sure to inquire at the spa desk if access to this wellness retreat is on your radar because a lot of other passengers either don't know about it or are not interested, which means more comfort and solitude for you.
The gym is also worth a visit because of its ample size, as far as cruise ship gyms go. The equipment is adequate, and there is a fitness trainer available to assist you.
Incredibly diverse itineraries
Most cruise ships leave port in the early evening, but not Azamara. One of the best things about sailing on Azamara Club Cruises is that the ships stay in port longer, which allows guests to explore by day and night.
Azamara Club Cruises offers signature events that are perfectly paired to their diverse ports of call. When I was sailing on Quest, I took advantage of a couple offerings that allowed me deeper immersion. In Turkey, I participated in an Insider Access tour while we called on Kusadasi. Our small group went to a local farm where we learned how to cook traditional Turkish fare. In Rhodes, Greece, I went on a special Nights in Cool Places tour, which was a guided walk around the ancient medieval city. Last, while we were in Santorini, I was one of the first people to test out the Cruise Global, Eat Local tour that takes you to a local restaurant.
Because this was my first experience on Azamara, I was not sure what to expect. Unlike so many cruise ships that fall short of what they promise, Azamara Quest works hard to make its voyages entirely satisfying for cruise passengers. The senior officers are visible on the gangway and are always willing to listen to feedback.
I knew to expect a destination-rich travel experience, but what I did not know was that Azamara's outgoing staff and crew would constantly deliver quality, service and friendliness throughout my journey. The ports of call are a reason to book, but the crew is the reason to become a repeat customer.
Carrie Finley-Bajak sailed on Azamara Quest on a press/blogger trip as a guest of Azamara. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
Republished and updated from an earlier post.
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Top highlights on this ship
- Azamara specializes in destination immersion, which means longer stays, more overnights and night touring in ports of call.
- Azamara Club Cruises voyages have a resort casual dress code.
- AzAmazing Evenings event take place on board, except on transatlantic crossings and voyages that are less than 7 nights long.
- All-inclusive pricing includes select standard spirits, international beers, wines and gratuities.
- English-trained butlers are available for suite guests.
- The ship offers shuttle service to and from most port communities.