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Bridging The Gap - The Azamara Club Cruises Experience

Ben Hall

It is late on New Year’s Eve, and we’re standing on the deck of Azamara Quest with the neon lights of downtown Saigon flickering all around us. As the minutes tick by, the expressway near the pier quickly becomes packed with thousands of people on motorbikes, as they gather for the celebrations. Around us Quest’s hard working crew ignore the heat and humidity as they hand out glasses of sparkling wine and party hats. Then, as the clock strikes midnight, the sky comes alive with the colour and the boom of fireworks, the band strikes up, and guests and crew start dancing. It is a memorable night, and as it turns out, just one of many on a cruise with Azamara Club Cruises.  

Luxury Lite 

We had joined Quest in Singapore for an 18-night cruise to Hong Kong, with high expectations of experiencing something a little bit different. Dubbed “luxury lite” when the ship first launched just over a decade ago, it’s a hybrid cruise product which sits between premium and five star. But as we quickly discovered, it has plenty to offer cruisers who enjoy luxury travel with an eye for a bargain. Like sister ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Pursuit, Quest once belonged to the now defunct Renaissance fleet, cruising under the name of R Seven for five years. She was snapped up by Azamara in 2007; boutique in size, she now accommodates just 702 guests, and has many unusual features to offer cruise fans. Her decor is contemporary modern and elegantly styled, and a 2019 dry dock stint saw the ship emerge with its casino converted into a lounge that will play live music at night, six new ocean-view staterooms, new furniture in its top suites, and two specialty restaurants. The “luxury lite” tag, however, really comes into play when examining what’s included in the cruise fare. Falling just short of the all-inclusive experience of lines such as Regent and Seabourn, its semi-inclusive fares include gratuities, fitness classes, the self-serve laundry, shuttle buses and some  alcoholic drinks along with most nonalcoholic beverages.

What’s Onboard 

For a mid-sized ship Quest also has four quality dining options. The primary venue,  Discoveries, is an open seating affair, while Windows Café is a casual, part alfresco buffet, and there are two specialty restaurants located forward on deck 10, boasting views and attracting a per head surcharge unless you’re booked into a suite. Prime C is one, a classic steakhouse from its decor to menu, while Aqualina is the other, a bright Italian restaurant. When it comes to accommodation, Quest has a wide range on offer from inside staterooms to large suites, so there’s a choice of layouts, balconies and price points to choose from when booking. Decor wise, all have a neutral palate of greys, browns and beiges, and nice textured wall coverings. Our Club Veranda Stateroom was just over 16 square metres in size with a workable balcony accessed via sliding-glass doors, and furnished with two chairs and a dining table. Beginning in 2020, some of these staterooms will change to Club Veranda Plus, and come with extra perks including a block of complimentary internet, a free bag of laundry every seven days, priority embarkation and debarkation and complimentary alcohol in the mini-bar. As onboard facilities go, Quest isn’t anything out of the ordinary when compared with other small-to-mid-sized ships today. She has a spacious sun deck with a pool and two jacuzzi spas, a decent fitness centre, a small but full-service spa, an internet centre, an elegant European-style café, and plenty of nooks and crannies for escaping the crowds. 


A major point of difference on an Azamara cruise is always the itinerary, which is big on unusual ports of call, and features longer days in port including more overnight stays. They’ve coined the phrase, “Destination Immersion”, which overturns a major criticism of cruising; you get to visit many places, but don’t have enough time to really see them or explore thoroughly. On our cruise, for example, we had overnight stays at both ends of the itinerary as well as in Halong Bay and Saigon, and a two night/three day stint in Bangkok to celebrate Christmas. "Like a Local" is the catchphrase of Azamara's shore excursions, with the aim to offer non-mainstream tours which highlight the local culture, attractions or history. Examples of day tours include a cheesemaking tour that takes you to a family farm to meet the owners and learn about the process of cheese making, or a visit to a local brewery for a tasting and a gala dinner. Evenings aren’t quiet either. Every Azamara cruise, except for transatlantic voyages and short cruises of less than a week, includes a complimentary AzAmazing Evening which combines local culture, a fabulous setting and a famous landmarks. Examples include a polo match in Saint-Tropez, or a visit to the opera in St. Petersburg. On most tours numbers are limited, including how many people travel on the bus.

Did You Know? 

The dress code on Azamara is always resort casual; there are no formal nights, but you are free to dress up if you choose!

Your fellow guests are usually a mix of North Americans, British and Australians, mostly retirees with some guests aged 40 to 60, and occasionally families with older children.

Guests booked in the Club World Owner’s Suite, Club Ocean Suite, and Club Continent Suite can dine at Prime C and Aqualina without additional cost.

Suite guests also have additional perks including English butler service, 235 complimentary internet minutes per guest, a free bag of laundry service per suite every seven days, complimentary in-suite afternoon tea service, and a US $300 onboard credit per person.

Azamara Pursuit, another ex-Renaissance ship, joined the fleet in August 2018 and is a twin of Azamara Quest, carrying 702 guests in 351 Staterooms 46 Club Suites.


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  1. Posted by on 24th Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Love Azamara 5 Star Review

    Love Azamara so much cheaper than the other premium cruise lines but smaller ships and a slightly older crowd. Only complaint is the bathrooms on the ships which are crazy small, but then you don't plan on spending your time in the bathroom eh?

  2. Posted by on 17th Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Small Ship Cruising 5 Star Review

    Sounds like a great cruise line, will explore some time for sure

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