This our first Azamara cruise. We have been on similar Oceania R class ships 5 times before. Although in the future we will continue book future cruises based on destination, we would much rather sail with Oceania. There is a much more corporate culture on board of providing service.
The main dining room's food we felt compared very well to Oceania's. Service and ambiance however left much to be desired. Most tables around the outside are two or four tops, but they all crammed together, so effectively we always sitting with a party of 6 at a rectangular table. You have to make a real effort to ask for a table so you and your spouse, or even another couple can have a private conversation. Waiters are overworked and rarely check back after delivering your meal. Woe is you, if you find the pretty (awful) salt and pepper shakers are missing, empty or clogged. You can mention it after the course is over. Since one free white wine varietal and one red wine varietal is available free everyday, there are no wine stewards around to ask about the wine list. Only 2 sommeliers work the entire ship including the specialty restaurants.
While I am on the subject, who in their right mind would pick a Pinotage as a red of the day. A cruel joke. The two specialty restaurants were polar opposites, both with a $25 pp surcharge. Prime C was outstanding. Aqualina was not good. We were warned at the pool that Aqualina by not very good and it lived up (down?) to its reputation. How can an Italian restaurant not know how to make Risotto? Two types of Risotto on 3 dishes were past just being dry. Duck was crisp alright, right to the bone. (the maitre d' even suggested that after sending it back that the dish should be removed from the menu, why would they serve something that is apparently regularly so poor?) A watermelon tomato salad, on 4 different plates had a majority of unripened tomatoes. It was interesting to note that I submitted a mid cruise review on the poor food in Aqualina, and the chef left me a voice mail indicating that he had never heard any complaints before. If the passengers are gossiping negatively about a restaurant, food is being sent back or cleared with food substantially still on the plate, how could a chef not about know it.
In our cabin, the TV worked poorly, sound was always breaking up. And as the previous review noted, ship announcements did not work through the TV. The TV is another big difference between Oceania and Azamara. On Oceania all rooms have DVD players and an extensive DVD library. Azamara has pay preview at $12 per movie (Yes adult titles too) and no DVD. Oceania, also has a movie channel with a different movie daily. Azamara plays the same 4 old movies over and over and over on a 12 day cruise, Sleepless in Seattle, Man from Uncle, Crazy Stupid Love and Casablanca. Our cabin steward always had to be asked to provide shampoo or soap when we were running out. Otherwise the cabins are the same as Oceania.
Entertainment was overall very good. Probably much better than Oceania, since they rotate acts in and out, and I am guessing intermingling with RC cruises too.
Some other irritating events that occurred on this cruise were screwing up dining reservations, and not informing us that they misplaced our credit card information until we were walking off the ship. They took our credit card 3 times; on line at home, at the beginning of the cruise, and the first night when they said they could not find a record of our credit card. Over the next 12 days they never told us that it never made it into their system. At the end of the cruise Disembarkation turned into a disaster. The person at guest services, couldn't figure out how to handle a credit card, didn't tell us that there were two separate bills one for my wife's and I one for me; so we cleared one and then all of sudden we couldn't disembark again because I had a bill. We were already stressed due to issues at home and this put us over the edge. On top of it all, because I said I didn't want to get exciting future cruise offers directly from Azamara, I did not get a cruise review. They will have to read my review here. Unless liquor is your main stress reliever, I would suggest Oceania as a better option.