I don't usually write reviews, there are so many good descriptions of cruises and ports I normally don't feel I have a lot to add, but this last cruise was such a disappointment and it was relatively expensive I thought I had to.
Six of us booked an Azamara cruise through the Panama Canal based on an earlier cruise I had taken and therefore recommended we ‘upgrade’ to Azamara. Unfortunately this was the worst cruise ship experience we have had so far with any RCCL ship including a Royal Caribbean branded cruise.
The staff was mostly stellar and the smaller ship size does make it easier to get around and the ship is less crowded.
The entertainment was quite good on this cruise, Tony the director nearly made up for the other issues..
Unfortunately none of this could really compensate for the negatives.
Starting with embarkation things didn’t look good. We were herded into waiting chairs at arrival and made to move a row up now and again to make it easier for the staff to check us in, unfortunately the wait was very long, when we finally moved to the standing line it got worse, the line seemed to last forever. The computers were not working properly and they left us standing with backaches and tired feet with no explanation or apology.
On the ship, things didn’t get much better. Three cruises out of dry dock and the ship still isn’t right. It was very disappointing to see a ‘luxury’ cruise line present a ship in this condition.
The Televison and announcement systems did not work. No emergency announcements could be heard in our staterooms, fortunately there was no emergency but even the muster call was not broadcast and we had to leave the doors open to hear the hallway speakers. This seems unsafe as well as inconvenient. The TV function such as room service, repair service, entertainment etc. also did not work - we were not told but you could seem to order room service, it just would never show up. If your plumbing backed up in the middle of the night (as it did) the phone system disconnected when trying to call, the TV repair call system did not work and there were no attendants to alert - we just had to wait hours until the attendants were in the hallways to have it fixed.
The room condition was poor, rusty shower, broken headboard, broken reading light, dirty balcony, unpainted door jams etc.
The general ship condition was ‘unready’, staff were still painting and completing repairs from a dry dock which ended a month earlier.
The laundry was out of service the entire 16 nights, two small bags of laundry were offered as compensation, but this was not enough if you pack lightly expecting to wash during the cruise. It was known in advance, but Azamara did not alert us.
As for dining, the food quality is far below our previous cruise, below Celebrity, maybe on par with RC. Aqualina was a disappointment but Prime C was fairly good. The Chef’s table was not at all worth the fuss. The main dining was disappointing too, the staff was working hard, but could not compensate for the ‘hit and miss’ nature of the food quality and mediocre wines. As a group of 6, we always wanted to eat together and the front staff at the dining room nearly always seemed to be at a complete loss as to how to get us a table for six, they were bordering on rude several times. This cannot be a rare request and they should be prepared to accommodate groups (or state clearly that groups are not welcomed there), it really put a damper on dinner each night.
One amazing failure was during the Panama crossing, the volume of the running commentary was turned up so high (amazingly loud, we had to yell over it to be heard) that I had muffled hearing for a day even after they begrudgingly turned it off in the dining room.
The special ‘white night’ was very poorly organized, there was no room at the BBQ dinner, yet staff was diverted there so the dining room was understaffed and unready. The food was tired and cold and I couldn’t even eat it.
The AzAmazing evening event was a disappointment and complete waste of time - the show had little to no connection to Mexican Culture as described, was completely amateurish, physically uncomfortable in kitchen chairs sinking into the sand, and very far away from town in a sandy wash somewhere out in the middle of the desert at night.
I have no idea how Azamara went from being just right to being all wrong but something happened and we don’t think we'll be taking another Azamara cruise. It’s too bad as I was really looking forward to this cruise. I speak to a lot of high end clients in my business and had dozens asking me how it went when I returned, I couldn’t recommend Azamara at all after this and I’m sorry for the downturn. For well over double what standard cruises are priced none of us felt it was worth it.
The staterooms on this ship are small, we knew this in advance, the bathrooms are particularly small but I think manageable. The condition of the stateroom was disappointing. There was a sticky brown substance on the divider of the veranda that was never cleaned, the paint was chipping and the balcony rail seemed to have burn marks on it. The bathroom shower was actually rusty, the headboard was broken and falling and the reading light was broken and dangling. Sheets had unnerving stains on them. The info system did not work at all. The emergency announcement system did not work