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April 12th through April 26, 2008 (Fourteen Days)
Master: Captain Anastassos Lekkas
Staff Captain: Jason Ikiades
Cruise Director: Kevin Bielmeier
Hotel Director: Niyazi Korkmaz
Outside Stateroom #4055, Deck 4, Aft.
This was our 52nd cruise overall, and our 1st cruise with Azamara Cruise Lines.
We were accompanied by the Cruise Crazies Mascot – "Ms. Crazie." This was the second time this year she has sailed with us.
For this cruise the air transportation and local transfers were part of the cruise package. We flew U.S. Airways into Ft. Lauderdale airport where we were met by a Celebrity Cruise representative who escorted us to our ground transport van for the trip to the Wyndam Hotel at Miami Airport. Trip was about 35 minutes in duration. We had a fantastic room with a beautiful view of the golf course. In all, a very upscale hotel experience. We enjoyed an excellent dinner that night in the hotel
Our bus departed the hotel for the cruise ship at 11:00 AM. The trip to the port took about 20 minutes and was uneventful. Baggage transfer from bus to ship was handled by Azamara, so there was no need for us to deal with the porters.
Boarding process was quick, easy and painless in what appeared to be a new terminal building, at least I do not recall it from previous embarkations in Miami. We were welcomed aboard with a glass of champagne. Within a few moments the announcement was made that staterooms were ready for occupancy.
Our stateroom just off the lobby area on Deck 4 was very easy to find and we loved the location. It was a typical size stateroom. The elegant woodwork and cabinets were a very classy touch as were the bed linins which had the Azamara name embroidered on them. We loved the flat screen TV as well. I soon discovered that there were two 110 volt electrical outlets on the dresser, One more that usual. Important for keeping those electronics charged. We found plenty of storage space and hangers for our two week cruise. Room was equipped with binoculars, umbrella and of course robes and slippers.
Fresh flowers were present both in the stateroom and bathroom and were replace throughout the voyage. The bathroom was quite small, but worked out fine as long as we both did not try and be in there at the same time.
We then went up to Deck 9 to the Windows Cafe for some lunch. The array of offerings was quite impressive and we knew our cruise was off to a good start.
The ever-popular, mandatory Lifeboat Drill took place at 4:15 PM just before sailing out of Miami. Never much fun, but this one was less painless than most and well organized.
Our luggage had arrived at our stateroom when we returned from Lifeboat Drill so we unpacked and skipped the Sailaway Party on deck.
You may be wondering where the name Azamara come from. Azamara is a coined name derived from the Romance languages. This includes the more obvious links to blue (az) and the sea (mar). The name they told us was also inspired by a star, Acamar.
We dined the first evening in the Discoveries Dining Room, which is always open seating between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30 PM. You may however, request the size table you prefer. On this first night we requested a table for two. We decided against going to the Welcome Aboard Presentation in favor of sitting in the Mosaic Lounge and listening to the harp player/singer, Jacqueline Dolan from the U.K.
For the next six delightful days we were at sea, crossing the Atlantic. Will not bore you with day to day details, except to say the weather was perfect and so was every aspect of our Azamara adventure. The days were filled with all of the typical shipboard activities. I don't think we ever lacked for something fun to do or experience.
We found the food aboard the Azamara to be the best we have experienced on all of our cruises!! Service was outstanding to superb throughout the ship. The Windows Cafe featured a bar where fresh squeezed juices were prepared while you waited. They also made "Smoothies" on request. There was an Espresso machine that ground the coffee beans and prepared coffee 24/7. In addition to there were eqqs and omelets made to order, there was a special area to order waffles, pancakes and French toast made while you wait. During lunch they had a sandwich preparation bar where you sandwich made to your specifications. A daily sushi bar was also featured and of course a carving station. By far the best buffet we have seen aboard ship.
The shows in the Cabaret Lounge were excellent. There were five singers/dancers aboard and they presented three production shows during the voyage. Never had a problem getting a good seat and there was no need to arrive very early as we have found on many ships. The guest performers were all very good. Cruise Director Kevin Bielmeier was by far the BEST we have ever sailed with. We enjoyed a dinner with him and his wife Josie on our second night out of Miami and they are both very special people. He is a Broadway style singer and she is a professional dancer. Their two young daughters were also aboard for this sailing.
Here I have to mention the Azamara Orchestra led by Dan Hodge. They did a magnificent job throughout our trip. I particularly enjoyed their salute to Glen Miller.
There are three gift shops on board the Quest so shoppers will have lots of mostly high-end selections. We did a little browsing but that was it.
We attended all the Art Auctions conducted by British American Auctions of London and Florida. We won the Art Trivia contest and received a very nice piece of framed art by Lucille Radd. We enjoyed getting to know the Auctioneer Jacinta from Australia.
One observation, I think Azamara overdoes the marketing of their "Butlers." Your Butler was nothing more or less than your Room Stewart in a tux. I think some folks we talked with thought they were going to have a personal Butler to draw their bath, press their things, etc. I received an email for Azamara today and they are still touting the Butlers.
Our fellow passengers seemed to all be very experienced travelers, many having made several transatlantic voyages and several that we met had made multiple world cruises.
This made for very interesting trivia games. Our regular trivia partners have been on two world cruises and countless others. They were sailing in the Royal Suite where we joined them on several occasions. We look forward to sailing with them again.
Forgive this long review, but the Azamara Quest in a very special ship and it is my desire to share as much as I can about her and her fantastic crew.