We’re experienced cruisers, an older couple, one of us has a mobility problem. This was the second of two cruises we took this winter, the first was a Princess cruise to Hawaii that was very successful. By contrast the Azamara cruise was less exciting though still very good.
We had done two cruises on the Quest last year covering much of the same territory, tho with the addition of the Sea of Cortez. We repeated because we wanted to stay close to North America – and Azamara offers a gourmet experience, important to us.
Unfortunately we came down with vicious colds and coughs. No fault of the cruise. Since the temperature was so hot we avoided visiting nearly all the possible ports, barring the Azamara evening in Cabo San Lucas and a short trip in Huatulco. Which meant we stayed on the ship, in itself a pleasant fate.
We had an accessible oceanview cabin. It was large, comfortable, and very quiet, indeed a congenial place to spend much of the day. The cabin, on the fourth floor, was especially convenient, with easy access to the elevators and from there to the front and rear of the ship.
The Quest is a small ship, so you rarely have a sense of being crowded, unlike on the Star Princess where battling for elevator space was a daily occurrence. Exceptions: when a special event like the white night party or a folkloric show which pulled in so many people, and the pool side bar-b-ques where there were long lines of hungry passengers.
We’d expected the food on the Quest to be very good: it had been on five previous trips. And, yes, much of it was tasty. But somehow not as pleasing as before, certainly not at the level of the Crystal (a line we have always enjoyed). The dining room offered a variety of dishes, including the standard salmon and steak, every night. Yet nothing was memorable this time. The nightly wines, included in the fare, were ok but not as good as on the Star Princess (where of course you had to pay). On sea days it also offered lunches, including once a tasty Spanish burger that pleased and, even more, a dim sum feast. (We didn’t try the brunch.) The Patio had excellent burgers and in the evening good steak, though its ribs ho-hum. Prime C, the specialty restaurant, as before, had very good steak (and some really fine desserts) but we found it noisy: try to get a table in the back away from the front where there is a large table that attracts people enjoying themselves with gusto, and thus much noise of course. The various pool side bar-b-ques were abundant and tasty – but, again, the ribs this time were not spectacular. The signature crepes, however, were as good as ever. The Windows Café, the buffet, in the evening served a themed dinner, seafood, Greek, American, etc. The paella prepared individually by a chef for the Spanish evening, was simply superb, one of the best I’ve had anywhere. But the pad thai similarly prepared was mediocre. And the Turkish night offered nothing of interest to us – or most others, it seemed, given the paucity of passengers. Room service breakfast was excellent, the many restricted but still varied, with much to choose from and delivered on time and as requested. We did go to the Windows Café for many lunches: what appealed were the various salads and salad makings as well as the sandwiches and sandwich makings, as well as the soups. The cheeses on the cruise were limited but decent – one difference with the Crystal where the cheeses superb.
The Quest looks good, despite its twenty years. It has a classic look yes, especially notable in the Discoveries dining room, the baroque staircase on the 4th-5th floor, and the drawing room. It has an excellent viewing space at the front, the Living Room where in addition you can enjoy drinks and at meal times various tapas. Recently the ship has added replicas of Dalí sculptures, a marvellous touch, and these enhance the overall look of the public areas. Likewise dropping Park West Gallery and replacing them with an individual artist was a wise move: he did an excellent rendition to the night of the dead, the theme of the Azamazing evening, producing it on site. The upgraded stateroom was great, despite the curious bump around the bathroom, presumably to ensure that the water ran off into the drain, not the room.
One of the outstanding features of the Azamara Quest is the staff. Captain José, Hotel Director Philip, the entertainment master Russ, the security chief Silvano, all these officers are fine people, friendly, congenial, helpful. And that applies to the rest of the staff. All of the people were ready to help, to offer assistance, to ensure that our needs were met, our concerns satisfied. The Quest is a very friendly ship where the staff goes out of its way to look after passengers.
We didn’t do much of the enrichment (tho the lectures we attended were decent) and almost none of the entertainment (excepting Russ’ singular performance, really an enjoyable show). We did go to the Azamazing evening in Cabo (the third time!) and it is certainly singular, full of colour, music, and charm – plus excellent margaritas. I should add that the logistics of this evening, moving all the passengers back and forward without mishap, the professional skill demonstrated, is itself amazing. The folkloric show when in Cartagena was also superb, again full of harmony and dance, a mix of Caribbean and Spanish and Hispanic styles.
In the end, then, a fine cruise. Pity our health didn’t allow us to enjoy more. But, in the end, the fact the cruise offered us such great service, some fine spaces, and so much peace made it all worthwhile.