Azamara Club Cruise
  • Itineraries in Europe, Asia, South America, West Indies
  • Inclusive amenities such as wine with dinner, concierge
  • Smaller vessels with personalized service


Azamara Club Cruises' fleet – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest -- serves up a delightful ambience that's a hybrid of luxury and destination immersive cruising. The ships, which hold only 686 passengers, offer a superb blend of amenities (multiple dining venues, a casino, plentiful balcony cabins, and a quite generously-sized fitness facility). Yet they are small enough to feel friendly and cozy. Their size allows them to call at smaller, more offbeat ports and dock closer to cities that, in many cases, require larger vessels to tie up in outlying cargo ports.

While Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest are by no means new ships, they've aged beautifully. Credit Azamara's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., for making a significant investment in refurbishing the vessels when it acquired them. There has also been an ongoing effort to keep the ambience fresh and contemporary. In November 2012, Quest was in for an eight-day dry-dock that, in addition to a new paint job on the ship's hull, provided updates to soft furnishings in public spaces, a new steam room in the fitness center and a new caviar and champagne bar in onboard for-fee eatery, Aqualina.

Under the stewardship of Larry Pimentel -- former chief of Cunard and SeaDream, who joined the line in 2009 -- Azamara has blossomed. It has earned outstanding marks by Cruise Critic members for dining, service, decor, shore excursions and value for money. The line, already more inclusive than most other non-luxury cruise companies, select standard spirits, international beers and wines, gratuities, bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas, self-service laundry, shuttle service to and from port communities, where available and Concierge services for personal guidance and reservations. Suite Passengers also receive English butler service, complimentary Internet minutes, one free bag of laundry service, as well as other perks such as free dinners in the specialty restaurants and afternoon tea service. The line also holds AzAmazing Evenings event on most voyages.

Azamara's dining is one of its standout features. Each ship has four restaurants, and all are open-seating. Discovery, the main venue, is open for breakfast, lunch (while at sea) and dinner. Prime C, the steakhouse, and Aqualina, with contemporary Italian cuisine, are dinner-only. These two restaurants are the only to levy a fee: it's $25 per person to dine in Prime C and Aqualina, unless passengers are booked in suite cabins, in which case it's included.

Windows Cafe, the well-designed, compact buffet venue, offers casual cuisine (and occasionally a theme-oriented repast, such as freshly prepared sushi). Other venues include the pool grill for sandwiches, the Looking Glass Lounge for afternoon tea and the lovely Mosaic cafe coffee bar with its included-in-the-fare snacks and beverages.

Travelers on Azamara will easily find healthful food options that range from sushi to smoothies, as well as fitness options like personal training and healing spa treatments.

The line, which favors destination-intensive itineraries over long cruises with lots of sea days, is gradually improving its enrichment programs, choosing primarily to focus on lecturers with expertise in the history and culture of the region in which ships are traveling. You can also find activities on improving computer skills, organized Bridge, recipe demonstrations and wine-tasting. A casino is located smack in the middle of the ship; you can't miss it.

In the evenings, Azamara offers a range of options, from music revues in the Cabaret Lounge, its main theater, to dancing to live bands in the Looking Glass, its secondary venue. The can't-miss event on any Azamara cruise is the once-a-journey pool party, weather permitting (our favorite: The White Party).

The dress code is resort casual.

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