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Azamara, worth it?

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11 hours ago, Host Grandma Cruising said:

We like sea days and have found that relocation cruises on Azamara are very good value. We’ve done Athens to Dubai 3 times so far and have it booked again next year!

 

"Grandma"..I "get that"...TBH...we have pretty much done AZ T/Ps and T/A's...with a couple of others "sprinkled" in!!  Our "go to" for the more extensive cruises..with a lot of port calls...has been X. As DH is aging...the "ship" is more the destination...and that changes a lot of our choices!!! :)

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I am someone who is slowly migrating TO Azamara. Windstar is slowly pricing me out of their product. Azamara gets me an interesting itinerary at a price where I can afford to treat additional relatives to a fabulous experience. I hated the casino, love The Den, never see the shows and think the food and wine is fine. Azamara ships are larger than the Windstar ones but it is not overwhelming and never feels crowded. This size is going to work for me.

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3 hours ago, MNgardens said:

I am someone who is slowly migrating TO Azamara. Windstar is slowly pricing me out of their product. Azamara gets me an interesting itinerary at a price where I can afford to treat additional relatives to a fabulous experience. I hated the casino, love The Den, never see the shows and think the food and wine is fine. Azamara ships are larger than the Windstar ones but it is not overwhelming and never feels crowded. This size is going to work for me.

Thank you MNgardens. We are happy to have you and your family as part of the Azamara family! ❤️

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4 hours ago, MNgardens said:

I am someone who is slowly migrating TO Azamara. Windstar is slowly pricing me out of their product. Azamara gets me an interesting itinerary at a price where I can afford to treat additional relatives to a fabulous experience. I hated the casino, love The Den, never see the shows and think the food and wine is fine. Azamara ships are larger than the Windstar ones but it is not overwhelming and never feels crowded. This size is going to work for me.

I like Azamara and Windstar. Both Azamara and Windstar can be expensive. However, if you wait for promotions, you can get the cost down.  The 7 for 7 weekly and flash deals are good. Windstar has price assurance that will make price adjustments.  I have booked Windstar, and watched prices.  As prices change, I request an adjustment.  Saved $$$ by watching prices.

azamara has promotions that can also drop prices.  Book a veranda at the cost of an inside, 10% quarterly savings, and OBC deals.

I try not to book too many cruises on the same line.  It avoids being boring. This past year, I sailed on Azamara, Windstar, Celebrity, and Oceania.  Upcoming are Windstar and Oceania.

 

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RallyDave,

Many people and I would include myself in this category come to these boards to learn as much as possible about the cruise lines we are considering.  So we definitely want to hear both pros and cons so we can make an informed decision.  There is no doubt that on some boards there will be people who will be a cheer leader and get quite upset when someone posts a negative thought.  I first encountered these on the Regent Board years ago.  This is also when I first began to read your posts.  I do believe there is a difference on the Azamara board as the most prolific posters here that have sailed and continue to sail Azamara are generally pretty balanced and don't deny the problems that Azamara has especially with land portions of the experience.

 

I also find the reviews and comments from posters who have sailed recently and ones who continue to sail the most relevant.  The challenge for people trying to gather information is when posters who haven't sailed in years continue to post about their experiences and actively try to persuade new posters to look elsewhere at other lines.  Your motive may be truly altruistic but it often comes across as you are trying to hurt the cruise line because of the perceived lack of fairness and reasonable treatment you experienced.  This has been my experience in reading your comments here and for a number of years on Regent as well.

 

On the Azamara board you commonly say that you enjoyed the on board experience so much that you booked another cruise but after it was cancelled and the ineptness of home office you would never sail with them again.(The same way you felt years ago about Regent).  And you certainly have the right to feel the way you do and to take your business elsewhere.  But it would really be helpful to newbies on a thread that if you are going to jump in to discussions to elaborate more about what you liked about the onboard experience and give equal time to what Azamara does right.  Then say but the way you view things that it wasn't worth the home office challenges.  But to simply tell a poster who is asking whether Azamara is worth it "NO" when you yourself found the onboard experience worth booking again while on board is unfair both to the newbie asking the question and to Azamara.  Because as I mentioned on another thread where I'm the OP asking about the new "land" based trips I'm personally willing to put up with poor home office communications if it is a great travel experience and the on board/on land experience meets my personal value proposition.

 

These are open boards and I agree that all view should be valued and desired.  I just wanted you to know my opinion as to why you often get the "feedback" you get from people you perceive as "cheerleaders" and more importantly how your comments impact people looking for a balanced view to make the best decision for themselves.

 

Just one mans opinion

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papa B me, perfectly stated and way better than I could do, but fear it will fall on deaf ears. If I have a bad experience with Azamara that stops me cruising with them (and it is always a possibility) then I'd probably not come back here. If I did then at least I have some experience to base my opinions on. But one cruise?  Come on Dave. Give it a rest and move on with spending your time more positively. 

 

Phil 

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47 minutes ago, excitedofharpenden said:

papa B me, perfectly stated and way better than I could do, but fear it will fall on deaf ears. If I have a bad experience with Azamara that stops me cruising with them (and it is always a possibility) then I'd probably not come back here. If I did then at least I have some experience to base my opinions on. But one cruise?  Come on Dave. Give it a rest and move on with spending your time more positively. 

 

Phil 

Have no fear Phil.  papa B's excellent post was a very good reminder to me to provide more information and be more open describing the pros as well as the cons.  And Phil only completed a single azamara cruise but, did have a lot of experience with  second that we would have taken if not cancelled for financial reasons by azamara.

 

And, don't forget the many posts on CC by cheerleaders as well as others that we all should learn from with the many deceptive promotions and screw up's.   Reading accurate posts on CC can provide sufficient information to make an informed decision.

 

Thanks again papa B for giving me excellent recommendations that can improve my postings.

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On 8/17/2019 at 10:02 PM, cambriah said:

We have sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, Princess and RCCL.

All had their pluses and minuses.  All in all, we liked each of them with our favorites being Holland America and Princess.

we have heard many good things about Azamara from fellow cruisers and also on Reviews posted on Cruise Critic.

We are two Seniors, ages late 70’s Early 80’s who enjoy quiet dinners, an  occasional show and the not too rigorous land tours.

 

my question:  is it worth the higher price to cruise with Azamara — better staterooms, better food, more desirable land tours, better service — or should we stick to what we know?

These two Seniors would appreciate any comments/suggestions you might have.

 

Thank You 

Cambriah

 

Getting back on track:  We have cruised on Celebrity (5 times, all ship classes) and Princess (3 times) among the mass-market lines, and Azamara (twice), Oceania and Ponant (once each) among the premium lines.  My feeling is that Azamara is definitely worth the higher price – and I would say that Azamara is my favorite among all those cruise lines.

 

Here's why:  food on Azamara is very good (only Celebrity's suite-class restaurant Luminae and their specialty restaurants come close, and once you starting booking a suite the price differential goes away; Princess is ok but not in this league), service is stellar (we are among those who really value the interaction with the stripes) – and most of all, the destination-focused itineraries are what really draws us.  Oceania is supposed to have better food, but their itineraries are very boring IMO.  Ponant has some destination-focused itineraries [like the Circumnavigation of Iceland that we just finished] and their 'explorer-class' ships are really lovely, but the food is too adventuresome for many [including DW] and too light on red meat pour moi. The only other cruise line I have found with the type of itinerary we like is Windstar – we will be trying Star Legend next fall – but their cabins don't have real balconies even though they charge balcony prices.

 

Azamara weaknesses:  we really like the R-ships and Azamara has done a great job updating them [and removing the casinos only makes them better for us], but the non-suite cabins are tight [especially the bathrooms] – this isn't a deal-breaker, but we did decide to book CC suites in the future to get more breathing room and a nicer bathroom.  I wish Azamara had switched all of deck 8 to CC suites when they took over Pursuit [as Oceania has done with their R-ships].  And if you can handle the price, the CW suites are like being in heaven!

 

The other Azamara weakness, which hasn't bitten us yet, is the tendency to modify itineraries or cancel cruises for charters after taking bookings.  Sometimes this is due to external events [e.g. unrest in Turkey; the US first allowing then prohibiting cruises to Cuba].  Sometimes it's because Azamara announces their schedules earlier than most other cruise lines – and that's an asset for a planner like me [presently working on 2022 and itchy that nobody will take my bookings :classic_wink:]  As long as they don't cancel after airline bookings open [and since both Azamara and I are US-based, I mean 331 days] I would be disappointed but not outraged.  I really hope that Azamara can either buy a 4th R-ship or start a new-build project, as I think having four ships would help on this front [if they concentrate all charters on one particular ship].

 

Anyway, my advice is:  if you have found an enticing itinerary on Azamara, give it a try.  I think you will find a new 'home' on the oceans, but worst case you will have had a great itinerary.

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Papa B and Jazz - your balanced comments are what people like me and the OP who are considering AZ have well informed information to make our decision.  If you look at my posts, it has been a long time since we have taken a cruise.  We stepped back as we have gotten older and the kids have moved on and the large cruise lines do not fit our needs any more.  I have AZ seriously in my sights, and really appreciate your thoughts.  It is going to take a lot to get us back to a cruise, and I want to make a well informed decision.  Thank you.

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13 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

......  I think you will find a new 'home' on the oceans, but worst case you will have had a great itinerary.

Only if that itinerary isn't altered so much the original cruise is no longer recognisable 🙃

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People who don't particularly like the experience on a cruise line aren't likely to go back and pay for another experience on that line. You wouldn't expect those who don't think it's worth it to take several cruises with that line.  The regulars here believe it's worth it and that's why they keep cruising with Azamara.  Of course, they'll say it's worth it.  You really have to find out for yourself.  

Edited by hubofhockey

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Hi folks, reading through this topic there was quite a lot of off topic posting (including mine) so I’ve tidied it up by deleting a few.

Edited by Host Grandma Cruising

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 My husband and I are pretty easy to please and don’t find much to complain about on HAL or Celebrity, with whom we’ve cruised multiple times. However, we much prefer AZ to the mass market ships. 

The objective things to love about AZ are easy:  the small size, lack of crowds, port-intensive and interesting itineraries, and genuine friendliness of the staff. DH and I enjoy the food on AZ more than any of the other lines we sailed. We’ve taken some ship excursions and have been happy with them—they are comparable to those on other ships with the exception of the smaller group size.  

But honestly, the thing we like the most is more intangible—we just love the “vibe.”  We like the upscale but casual atmosphere; we don’t require and don’t much like being fussed over although we do like being treated well. We feel like we are very much at home there. So, for us, it is worth it. And there’s no way for you to measure this feeling without doing it yourself. I bet you won’t be sorry if you do! 

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2 hours ago, debcip said:

 My husband and I are pretty easy to please and don’t find much to complain about on HAL or Celebrity, with whom we’ve cruised multiple times. However, we much prefer AZ to the mass market ships. 

The objective things to love about AZ are easy:  the small size, lack of crowds, port-intensive and interesting itineraries, and genuine friendliness of the staff. DH and I enjoy the food on AZ more than any of the other lines we sailed. We’ve taken some ship excursions and have been happy with them—they are comparable to those on other ships with the exception of the smaller group size.  

But honestly, the thing we like the most is more intangible—we just love the “vibe.”  We like the upscale but casual atmosphere; we don’t require and don’t much like being fussed over although we do like being treated well. We feel like we are very much at home there. So, for us, it is worth it. And there’s no way for you to measure this feeling without doing it yourself. I bet you won’t be sorry if you do! 

Agree

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3 hours ago, debcip said:

 My husband and I are pretty easy to please and don’t find much to complain about on HAL or Celebrity, with whom we’ve cruised multiple times. However, we much prefer AZ to the mass market ships. 

The objective things to love about AZ are easy:  the small size, lack of crowds, port-intensive and interesting itineraries, and genuine friendliness of the staff. DH and I enjoy the food on AZ more than any of the other lines we sailed. We’ve taken some ship excursions and have been happy with them—they are comparable to those on other ships with the exception of the smaller group size.  

But honestly, the thing we like the most is more intangible—we just love the “vibe.”  We like the upscale but casual atmosphere; we don’t require and don’t much like being fussed over although we do like being treated well. We feel like we are very much at home there. So, for us, it is worth it. And there’s no way for you to measure this feeling without doing it yourself. I bet you won’t be sorry if you do! 

Well said, couldn't agree more.  On board we're valued and we appreciate everything they do for us to make our times with them special. God willing, we're looking forward to going 'home' with some of them to the Philippines very shortly. 

 

For us it's definitely worth it.

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17 hours ago, debcip said:

 My husband and I are pretty easy to please and don’t find much to complain about on HAL or Celebrity, with whom we’ve cruised multiple times. However, we much prefer AZ to the mass market ships. 

The objective things to love about AZ are easy:  the small size, lack of crowds, port-intensive and interesting itineraries, and genuine friendliness of the staff. DH and I enjoy the food on AZ more than any of the other lines we sailed. We’ve taken some ship excursions and have been happy with them—they are comparable to those on other ships with the exception of the smaller group size.  

But honestly, the thing we like the most is more intangible—we just love the “vibe.”  We like the upscale but casual atmosphere; we don’t require and don’t much like being fussed over although we do like being treated well. We feel like we are very much at home there. So, for us, it is worth it. And there’s no way for you to measure this feeling without doing it yourself. I bet you won’t be sorry if you do! 

 

Very well stated.  We can totally understand your train of thought.

We are very much looking forward to our next (only second) Azamara cruise.  Just need to make the final decision and book it.

 

NRayH

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So far almost all the posts in this thread doing comparisons are to lesser priced lines.  I'm coming from a different perspective, with about 160 nights on Regent, 60 on the Paul Gauguin, plus a couple of weeks on Seabourn.  I only have one 7-day experience on AZ, and would happily sail with them again for the right itinerary.  I also have a two-week TransAtlantic on Oceania's Riviera and would not sail with them again.

In addition to the port-intensive itineraries, which I really like, the social ambience, service, etc. on AZ compare favorably to the luxury lines.  The AAmazing experience is delightful, as are the White Nights.

Of course, the standard disclaimer applies: your mileage may vary.

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On 9/1/2019 at 11:48 AM, Host Jazzbeau said:

 

Getting back on track:  We have cruised on Celebrity (5 times, all ship classes) and Princess (3 times) among the mass-market lines, and Azamara (twice), Oceania and Ponant (once each) among the premium lines.  My feeling is that Azamara is definitely worth the higher price – and I would say that Azamara is my favorite among all those cruise lines.

 

Here's why:  food on Azamara is very good (only Celebrity's suite-class restaurant Luminae and their specialty restaurants come close, and once you starting booking a suite the price differential goes away; Princess is ok but not in this league), service is stellar (we are among those who really value the interaction with the stripes) – and most of all, the destination-focused itineraries are what really draws us.  Oceania is supposed to have better food, but their itineraries are very boring IMO.  Ponant has some destination-focused itineraries [like the Circumnavigation of Iceland that we just finished] and their 'explorer-class' ships are really lovely, but the food is too adventuresome for many [including DW] and too light on red meat pour moi. The only other cruise line I have found with the type of itinerary we like is Windstar – we will be trying Star Legend next fall – but their cabins don't have real balconies even though they charge balcony prices.

 

Azamara weaknesses:  we really like the R-ships and Azamara has done a great job updating them [and removing the casinos only makes them better for us], but the non-suite cabins are tight [especially the bathrooms] – this isn't a deal-breaker, but we did decide to book CC suites in the future to get more breathing room and a nicer bathroom.  I wish Azamara had switched all of deck 8 to CC suites when they took over Pursuit [as Oceania has done with their R-ships].  And if you can handle the price, the CW suites are like being in heaven!

 

The other Azamara weakness, which hasn't bitten us yet, is the tendency to modify itineraries or cancel cruises for charters after taking bookings.  Sometimes this is due to external events [e.g. unrest in Turkey; the US first allowing then prohibiting cruises to Cuba].  Sometimes it's because Azamara announces their schedules earlier than most other cruise lines – and that's an asset for a planner like me [presently working on 2022 and itchy that nobody will take my bookings :classic_wink:]  As long as they don't cancel after airline bookings open [and since both Azamara and I are US-based, I mean 331 days] I would be disappointed but not outraged.  I really hope that Azamara can either buy a 4th R-ship or start a new-build project, as I think having four ships would help on this front [if they concentrate all charters on one particular ship].

 

Anyway, my advice is:  if you have found an enticing itinerary on Azamara, give it a try.  I think you will find a new 'home' on the oceans, but worst case you will have had a great itinerary.

Cancelling a cruise for charters is not unique to Azamara - we’ve had that happen with Royal Caribbean, and friends have had it happen with other lines. 

3 hours ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

So far almost all the posts in this thread doing comparisons are to lesser priced lines.  I'm coming from a different perspective, with about 160 nights on Regent, 60 on the Paul Gauguin, plus a couple of weeks on Seabourn.  I only have one 7-day experience on AZ, and would happily sail with them again for the right itinerary.  I also have a two-week TransAtlantic on Oceania's Riviera and would not sail with them again.

In addition to the port-intensive itineraries, which I really like, the social ambience, service, etc. on AZ compare favorably to the luxury lines.  The AAmazing experience is delightful, as are the White Nights.

Of course, the standard disclaimer applies: your mileage may vary.

OP asked if Azamara was worth the extra money, so I think that’s the comparison that s/he is looking for. 🙂 For me, the answer is generally no for reasons I articulated in an earlier post. 

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22 hours ago, critterchick said:

...

OP asked if Azamara was worth the extra money, so I think that’s the comparison that s/he is looking for. 🙂 For me, the answer is generally no for reasons I articulated in an earlier post. 

You are, or course, correct about the explicit question of the OP.  But I thought the context was the general question of what constitutes value on a cruise.  And later in cars!  So I thought my perspective coming from the other side of the AZ price-point might be useful.  But, of course, since I had nice things to say about AZ compared to the luxury lines I'm not surprised that critterchick is unhappy with my post.

And, to be clear, although I really like AZ I am currently booked for another 120 nights on Regent in addition to the 160 already sailed. That has holed my personal travel budget to the point that I'm not likely to be on AZ in the foreseeable future.  Which is too bad. Perhaps they want to offer me a free cruise in return for saying nice things about them?  (ahem)

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1 hour ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

You are, or course, correct about the explicit question of the OP.  But I thought the context was the general question of what constitutes value on a cruise.  And later in cars!  So I thought my perspective coming from the other side of the AZ price-point might be useful.  But, of course, since I had nice things to say about AZ compared to the luxury lines I'm not surprised that critterchick is unhappy with my post.

And, to be clear, although I really like AZ I am currently booked for another 120 nights on Regent in addition to the 160 already sailed. That has holed my personal travel budget to the point that I'm not likely to be on AZ in the foreseeable future.  Which is too bad. Perhaps they want to offer me a free cruise in return for saying nice things about them?  (ahem)

Good luck with your wish☺  I  have  no problem with your post.  We have never cruised with Regent.

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2 hours ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

You are, or course, correct about the explicit question of the OP.  But I thought the context was the general question of what constitutes value on a cruise.  And later in cars!  So I thought my perspective coming from the other side of the AZ price-point might be useful.  But, of course, since I had nice things to say about AZ compared to the luxury lines I'm not surprised that critterchick is unhappy with my post.

And, to be clear, although I really like AZ I am currently booked for another 120 nights on Regent in addition to the 160 already sailed. That has holed my personal travel budget to the point that I'm not likely to be on AZ in the foreseeable future.  Which is too bad. Perhaps they want to offer me a free cruise in return for saying nice things about them?  (ahem)

I'm not unhappy with your post. I just didn't think it was on point to what OP was asking. And let us know how you do with that free cruise!

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3 hours ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

You are, or course, correct about the explicit question of the OP.  But I thought the context was the general question of what constitutes value on a cruise.  And later in cars!  So I thought my perspective coming from the other side of the AZ price-point might be useful.  But, of course, since I had nice things to say about AZ compared to the luxury lines I'm not surprised that critterchick is unhappy with my post.

And, to be clear, although I really like AZ I am currently booked for another 120 nights on Regent in addition to the 160 already sailed. That has holed my personal travel budget to the point that I'm not likely to be on AZ in the foreseeable future.  Which is too bad. Perhaps they want to offer me a free cruise in return for saying nice things about them?  (ahem)

Ah, if only I had such a magic wand! But please accept our gratitude for the kind words for our brand, and my thank you ❤️ on your post #71. We hope to have you back sailing Azamara once you save up again after your Regent dalliance ;)

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Many posters on the AZ boards mention what debcip called "the vibe".  Although important it is, of course, very subjective and opinions differ for different people. One can also do some quantitative research using, say, Wikipedia.  There are 2 numbers that are easily available.  First is space available, which is roughly the gross tonnage (GT) per passenger (the higher the better). The second is the number of passengers per staff (the lower the better).  Both space and staff cost money. Here are some examples:

 

Regent Mariner:  69 GT / pax, 1.6 pax / crew

Azamara Quest: 44 GT / pax, 1.7 pax / crew

HAL Eurodom: 41 GT / pax, 2.3 pax / crew

Majestic Princess: 40 GT / pax, 2.6 pax /crew

 

Not included above is Celebrity, which has been mentioned repeatedly on this thread.  This is in part because they have two classes of passengers, and I don't know how to separate them in my calculations. I met some folks on Azamara who had considerable experience with Celebrity who had positive things to say.  And some dear friends and cruise buddies are currently booked with Celebrity and I'm looking forward to hearing their report when they return.

 

Of course, I can't comment on whether more space and more staff to look after you is worth the extra money to you.  But for math geeks like me, finding these numbers is a fun way to while away the time until I get to get back on a ship.

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