Q – We are considering our first cruise and, on the advice of good friends here in Ft. Collins, we are leaning toward the Azamara line. One of the cruise sites we visited said the ship was really showing its age and that carpeting was spotted and the decor was rather dated. We’re in our early seventies and late sixties, and we’re not exactly modernists but we don’t want to spend two weeks on a ship that feels dated.
We have heard that Azamara is adding an Asian restaurant which we would appreciate. Their concept of more time in port also appeals to us. Is this the right line for first-timers?
A – Most experts put Azamara, aloing with rival Oceania, in the premium category. That means they offer a somewhat more inclusive and personalized cruising experience than the mega-ships but they are not five-star luxury, all-inclusive. Given their placement, we think that Azamara is an excellent first choice for those who want to try cruising, are itinerary oriented, and prefer the idea of a smaller (686 Guests) ship.
The concept of more time in port, although advertised as an Azamara exclusive, is really an upper-end luxury trend. Studies show that affluent cruisers are, increasingly, concerned with quality time in port. We think that Azamara’s scheduling allowing dinner in port once or twice during most itineraries is a real product advantage.
There were initial plans to add an Asian restaurant to the Quest when she enters dry-dock in Singapore in three weeks. But that plan has been scrapped and the Sunset Bar will remain. The good news is that the ship, which looks somewhat like an English Gentleman’s Club in some of its public space, will be lightened and modernized. Look for a ligher decor with new carpeting, drapes, and soft furnishings. There will be lots of creams and browns and, of course, the mandatory soft beiges. Azamara is going to change some of the dark wood to a lighter color in keeping with this modernization of a ship originally launched in 2000 as the Renaissance 7.
So we see no reason to look elsewhere. We think that Azamara, assuming you find an itinerary you love, is an excellent choice for first-timers seeking a smaller (686 Guests) ship with some inclusions, a good price point, and more time in port. And you can roll around with the Mrs. on new carpeting. By the way – as we caution all Colorado residents – be careful what you pack.