Asia is about as local as it gets to Australia and we enjoy the region so this cruise provided a good option for us. Had travelled on a smaller ship in the past (Silver Whisper) and enjoyed the experience plus like the idea of all inclusive. Ship boarding was painless and quick. Disembarkation for shore excursions was well organised and painless, as was final disembarkation. Journey had a recent refit so all areas were very nicely presented and we enjoyed the ship. Weather was not so kind to us, which puts a bit of a strain on facilities when going on deck is not an option, but no real hassle and meant we got to talk to more people than we probably would have - seemed a very nice group of people onboard. Shame the White Night and Opera under the Stars had to be cancelled due weather as I am sure they would have been great, but can't blame the ship for bad weather.
Considering it is a small ship the entertainment was excellent. The small song and dance group were very good, better than some seen on larger ships. We were lucky enough to have Briona Daugherty onboard, a very versatile singer and her night at the opera was outstanding. Comedian/magician a bit average, but our experience is these acts tend to be a bit hit or miss. Eric the cruise director is also a talented entertainer in his own right and his shows are not to be missed - Azamara is lucky to have permanent staff like Eric. As you would expect, the gym is small and can get a bit crowded at times.
The menus in the main restaurant (Discoveries) were spectacular but the food did not always live up to the promise, although generally good. Buffet was good. Prime C and Aqualina were outstanding and would rate as 5+, well worth the supplement. Chef's Table also provided a very nice experience. Overall rating is a balance of the main and supplemental options. Wine and alcohol are included but with upgrade options available. These can be purchased any time during the cruise. Included are 2 white, 2 red, a bubbly and Rose on offer each day and changed on a daily basis. Wines are from all around the world. We were going to upgrade to a wine package but enjoyed the daily wines well enough and didn't bother. Stewards were always happy to let you try the wine before selecting. The crew were great with the majority coming over as genuinely friendly and helpful.
Shore excursions were by far the most expensive we have seen (and the basis of our rating) but well run and we enjoyed them - the bicycle tour in Ho Chi Minh is not for the feint hearted! Shuttles were provided at all ports and were convenient. A big advantage is the ability of the ship to dock 'downtown' in places like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. Enjoyed the Hanoi tour but be warned the advertised 3.5 hour transit from Halong Bay is more like 4.5, which reduces time in Hanoi, and the drive back was a bit painful. Hanoi itself was great. I think they would be better having an overnight at Danang, which provides access to Hue and Hoi An, and just a day stop in Halong Bay (where the cave is not to be missed), others might disagree.
Azamara seem to sit somewhere between the regular cruise lines and those such as Silver Seas. They are are more expensive than the regular cruise lines but you do have inclusive wine and spirits, no additional charges or tips, the staff were great, the ship seems to attract a nice group of people, and in most ports is conveniently located close to the action. If an attractive itinerary comes up we would travel with them again.
Although expecting a smaller cabin it was fine. Cabin decor very good. Some drawers a little small, but for 13 day cruise there was plenty of room. Cabin kept clean and tidy by helpful stewards.