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Coming from Regent to Azamara on a whim - appreciate some insight please! (Warning long post!)

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Hi folks 🙂

 

My wife and I are looking at planing a 2020 holiday. We were seriously looking at another Regent cruise but literally stumbled upon an Azamara Pursuit itinerary in April (Miami-Lisbon) that, while limited for ports, appeals to us, and it's priced right... so we are strongly considering it.

 

I know that Regent and Azamara are not really *directly* comparable, but it really looks like the things that we like about Regent is mostly intact with Azamara - smaller ships, most things inclusive, both things are important to us. We recently did a Princess cruise in Sept just to try it, and the larger ships, crowds, seating issues in public areas, ship maintenance issues, nickel and diming and constant up-selling was just a turn off and really cemented me towards smaller/mid sized ships. I didn't realize how annoying it would be if I wanted a bottle of water when heading out to port and not just grabbing one, or a can of soda and needing to produce your card to get it. 10 minute lineup for a paid for "premium" coffee in the AM. Nothing it itself was huge of course, but all the "little" things add up. I'm in my mid 40s and in decent shape, but darn it, it's annoying if out of the bank of 4-5 elevators 2 are out of service all the time. I'm not a die-hard Regent fan, but even on cruises that didn't go smoothly (including crashing into the pier in Rome!) I've not had a bad or very disappointing cruise with them. Worst case was missing a port but I got over it.

 

I tried to read most of the newbies tips/tricks and room sticky threads, but I do have a couple questions I'd appreciate insight on - I do apologize ahead of time if these have been asked. I tried to organize this in a coherent way so it's not a rambling mess 🙂

 

Suite questions:

I am strongly leaning towards a OV cabin. I know this is a change from Regent (All of their cabins are verandas.. and to be fair even their basic veranda room is probably closer to the Contenent Suite, but we really don't stay in the room much and are typically in public place. Is there anything I'm really missing not having a veranda? The window view isn't a biggie, in fact, I'd almost consider an inside room, but I'm thinking more practically.

 

Assuming we stick with an OV, I am strongly tempted to book GTY instead of selecting the suite. I am aware that can be a crapshoot. If when the suite is issued and if it's ~awful~ (for whatever reason) - assuming there are other cabins in the same class that are available is it possible to change suites before embarkation? Or is to too bad, so sad?

 

Specifically Pursuit OV rooms, I see there is sort of a unique layout, category 8 in a lengthwise fore/aft layout. I can't find a single photo of that suite even in that sticky thread. Anyone have any insight? Is it like an interior room photo but just with a window on the long-wall? Smaller? Larger?  I think I read some people mentioning that it didn't even have a loveseat/table, so maybe quite a bit smaller?

 

Or, if we really don't care about the window, is the smart play to just go with a GTY interior room?

 

Entertainment:

I've done a bit of reading on the live entertainment, and it sounds like there is trivia, games, interactive activities, etc (for a trans-ocean entertainment is somewhat important) but do they show movies or anything like that? Behind the scenes ship tours? What is the in cabin TV programing like? Current US based TV? Are there multiple shows in the main theater in a given night? Typically with regent it was one show around 8PM and if you missed it (dinner, whatever) that was it. Although, to be honest half the ship probably didn't make it passed 7PM most nights anyhow because of their age.

 

Demographics:

We're solidly mid-40s. We are used to being on the younger side of things when cruising, especially Regent, which is to be clear totally fine. Heck - Met a retired astronaut on a Regent cruise so that was cool! I assume that's the case here? How about Children? We don't have kids, and it doesn't look like Azamara really caters to families, so I assume hoards of screaming children is not terribly likely?

 

Internet connection:

I understand it's a paid for service in the lower cabin categories - how is the connection quality? Regent was *terrible* to the point of being unusable more often than not. Not that I am taking a cruise to go on the internet, but it is handy to have a way for family to contact in case of a problem. Is there ship-shore cell service? That was a surprisingly nice thing with Princess, I could roam/text most times.

 

Drinks/alcohol/Premium dinging:

If you want something that is not included in the complimentary list, practically, how is it charged? Keep your keycard with your at all times and that is used? That's how it was on princess and works.. although sometimes the Mrs is in the cabin and I didn't have my card with me. Whoops.

 

I've read consistently to book premium dining ASAP. Is it really that busy? IE: If you don't book it the first day, you're probably not going to get a table in Prime C on day 10 of your cruise?

 

Exercise room/gym:

My activity of choice is martial arts and I need some floor space to practice. Regent was very accommodating for me and as long as there wasn't a yoga class or something going on in the gym I had run of the place. Would Azamara likely be similar? Or are there typically activities so often that might be an issue during the day hours?

 

Excursions:

It really seems like this might be a weak point with Azamara. Most feedback seems to be costlier than they should and a risk of being cancelled. Of course, most excursions are included with Regent (Well, not free, you're paying one way or another...) Is it good practice to just go out and book independently? Or are the negative comments overblown?

 

Embarking/disembarking:

Typically when should all aboards and "get the heck off. Please." happen? I'm presuming mid-late afternoon for embarking and before 10 for disembarking?

 

Will Azamara assist with transfers from airports/hotels (for a fee I assume?) or is that only if the pre/post packages are booked with them?

 

Edit- Last thing - Any benefit to booking directly with Azamara over a TA? I know some TA's will give rebates/gift cards, etc, Azamara do anything with oh, I dunno, air rates, upgrades or transfers if you go direct?

 

I think that's about it... I'm sure I'll think of something else that I forgot to ask but don't want to wear out my welcome haha.

Edited by slidebite

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2 hours ago, slidebite said:

Hi folks 🙂

 

My wife and I are looking at planing a 2020 holiday. We were seriously looking at another Regent cruise but literally stumbled upon an Azamara Pursuit itinerary in April (Miami-Lisbon) that, while limited for ports, appeals to us, and it's priced right... so we are strongly considering it.

 

I know that Regent and Azamara are not really *directly* comparable, but it really looks like the things that we like about Regent is mostly intact with Azamara - smaller ships, most things inclusive, both things are important to us. We recently did a Princess cruise in Sept just to try it, and the larger ships, crowds, seating issues in public areas, ship maintenance issues, nickel and diming and constant up-selling was just a turn off and really cemented me towards smaller/mid sized ships. I didn't realize how annoying it would be if I wanted a bottle of water when heading out to port and not just grabbing one, or a can of soda and needing to produce your card to get it. 10 minute lineup for a paid for "premium" coffee in the AM. Nothing it itself was huge of course, but all the "little" things add up. I'm in my mid 40s and in decent shape, but darn it, it's annoying if out of the bank of 4-5 elevators 2 are out of service all the time. I'm not a die-hard Regent fan, but even on cruises that didn't go smoothly (including crashing into the pier in Rome!) I've not had a bad or very disappointing cruise with them. Worst case was missing a port but I got over it.

 

I tried to read most of the newbies tips/tricks and room sticky threads, but I do have a couple questions I'd appreciate insight on - I do apologize ahead of time if these have been asked. I tried to organize this in a coherent way so it's not a rambling mess 🙂

 

Suite questions:

I am strongly leaning towards a OV cabin. I know this is a change from Regent (All of their cabins are verandas.. and to be fair even their basic veranda room is probably closer to the Contenent Suite, but we really don't stay in the room much and are typically in public place. Is there anything I'm really missing not having a veranda? The window view isn't a biggie, in fact, I'd almost consider an inside room, but I'm thinking more practically.



 

 

 

The shower in the room is useable but very small. Coming from Regent you’d really notice it. Your choice but maybe a club continent if the budget allows 

 

Assuming we stick with an OV, I am strongly tempted to book GTY instead of selecting the suite. I am aware that can be a crapshoot. If when the suite is issued and if it's ~awful~ (for whatever reason) - assuming there are other cabins in the same class that are available is it possible to change suites before embarkation? Or is to too bad, so sad?

very much depends on the sailing, I would not rely on it. There are some pretty bad ocean views. I would choose my room. You won’t get a verandah on the guarantee these days. They up sell 

Quote

Specifically Pursuit OV rooms, I see there is sort of a unique layout, category 8 in a lengthwise fore/aft layout. I can't find a single photo of that suite even in that sticky thread. Anyone have any insight? Is it like an interior room photo but just with a window on the long-wall? Smaller? Larger?  I think I read some people mentioning that it didn't even have a loveseat/table, so maybe quite a bit smaller?

 

Or, if we really don't care about the window, is the smart play to just go with a GTY interior room?


 

 

I would not

 

Quote

Entertainment:

I've done a bit of reading on the live entertainment, and it sounds like there is trivia, games, interactive activities, etc (for a trans-ocean entertainment is somewhat important) but do they show movies or anything like that?

sometimes and there is a movie channel but it’s limited. 

Quote

Behind the scenes ship tours?

 

yes for around $75 each. 
 


What is the in cabin TV programing like?

Honestly it’s poor. Yes US based and very limited. 

Quote

Current US based TV? Are there multiple shows in the main theater in a given night?



 

 

 

 

 

Usually the same show repeated twice at 8.15 and around 9.45. Occasionally if the headliner only does one show the orchestra do a jazz set or the piano bar player takes the stage for the earlier slot. 
 

 

Typically with regent it was one show around 8PM and if you missed it (dinner, whatever) that was it. Although, to be honest half the ship probably didn't make it passed 7PM most nights anyhow because of their age.

 

Demographics:

We're solidly mid-40s. We are used to being on the younger side of things when cruising, especially Regent, which is to be clear totally fine. Heck - Met a retired astronaut on a Regent cruise so that was cool! I assume that's the case here? How about Children? We don't have kids, and it doesn't look like Azamara really caters to families, so I assume hoards of screaming children is not terribly likely?

you’ve got the demographics about right. 
 

Quote

Internet connection:

I understand it's a paid for service in the lower cabin categories - how is the connection quality? Regent was *terrible* to the point of being unusable more often than not. Not that I am taking a cruise to go on the internet, but it is handy to have a way for family to contact in case of a problem. Is there ship-shore cell service? That was a surprisingly nice thing with Princess, I could roam/text most times.

 

 

 

 


Internet is very poor and expensive but it usually works. The ship to shore cell service is Cellular at Sea  very expensive on most providers  The AT and T package wasn’t available through my carrier  Depending on how the ship is positioned you can sometimes get a good enough signal for WiFi at sea  

 

Quote

Drinks/alcohol/Premium dinging:

If you want something that is not included in the complimentary list, practically, how is it charged? Keep your keycard with your at all times and that is used? That's how it was on princess and works.. although sometimes the Mrs is in the cabin and I didn't have my card with me. Whoops.


 

Yes you need your card. 

Quote

I've read consistently to book premium dining ASAP. Is it really that busy? IE: If you don't book it the first day, you're probably not going to get a table in Prime C on day 10 of your cruise?


 

on a long cruise if your flexible on time and date you should be ok provided you book at the early part of the cruise. It really fills up towards the end. 

Quote

Exercise room/gym:

My activity of choice is martial arts and I need some floor space to practice. Regent was very accommodating for me and as long as there wasn't a yoga class or something going on in the gym I had run of the place. Would Azamara likely be similar? Or are there typically activities so often that might be an issue during the day hours?


 

there are activities and classes on but I’m sure they would be able to try and help 

Quote

Excursions:

It really seems like this might be a weak point with Azamara. Most feedback seems to be costlier than they should and a risk of being cancelled. Of course, most excursions are included with Regent (Well, not free, you're paying one way or another...) Is it good practice to just go out and book independently? Or are the negative comments overblown?


 

Book your own unless it’s something that’s logistically complicated. 

Quote

Embarking/disembarking:

Typically when should all aboards and "get the heck off. Please." happen? I'm presuming mid-late afternoon for embarking and before 10 for disembarking?


 

embarkation usually starts around 12. Departures finish by 9 or just later. They may offer late departure to 2 for a fee of $35 each. 

Quote

Will Azamara assist with transfers from airports/hotels (for a fee I assume?) or is that only if the pre/post packages are booked with them?


 

Yes but it’s executive cars so not cheap. 

Quote

Edit- Last thing - Any benefit to booking directly with Azamara over a TA? I know some TA's will give rebates/gift cards, etc, Azamara do anything with oh, I dunno, air rates, upgrades or transfers if you go direct?


 

no benefit at all. Better with an agent 110%. 

Quote

I think that's about it... I'm sure I'll think of something else that I forgot to ask but don't want to wear out my welcome haha.

Hope you can follow this the quote function is being temperamental. Good luck with your research. 

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Here are pictures of a cat 08 cabin I stayed in. I liked the arrangement, but there is no sofa, chair or table in the room so room service is out. 

 

Personally I wouldn't book an OV GTY. You will most likely get a cat 06 which is near the anchor chain, underneath the show lounge and if it's rocky then you will feel it and the water hitting the hull of the ship. Too much risk for me. I most often choose a cat 05. More midship and nice location. 

 

Finally, cabin size. They will be much smaller than Regent, just to manage your expectations. The standard balcony cabin on Azamara is no larger than an OV. Same bathroom etc. 5C886C67-A61C-4DE0-A530-BFE845D47927.thumb.jpeg.5dacb0cde473c08ed1161d3eed4ccd22.jpegA9F19610-E529-455D-8A62-0A2D44EEDF9C.thumb.jpeg.f0185346e635d48b5701c69a17026f79.jpegB7A202F8-E5E2-4472-9D73-1272126D50B5.thumb.jpeg.a76521fd473b09fe970f445a84c43a27.jpeg

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A couple of things I’d add - yes, the bathrooms in inside, Oceanview and veranda cabins are small and you would notice the difference, but they are perfectly useable. It depends how much it bothers you.

Azamara often offer booked transport by bus to the airport either with or without a tour as part of their Shorex programme. This can work well if the timing fits your flight times.

Although it’s advisable to make premium restaurant reservations on embarkation day, you could probably make a booking later on as long as you’re not too fussy about times. 

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Agree with Phil that there is nothing wrong with an 08 OV category, except no sofa. They are ideally placed mid ship. We were allocated one on a guarantee and actually chose one next time. On a port intensive cruise they are fine.

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‘Will Azamara assist with transfers from airports/hotels (for a fee I assume?) or is that only if the pre/post packages are booked withthem?’
 

We used some obc on our last trip and booked the coach transfer straight  to Athens airport. If you have more time to waste for a later afternoon flight, you can book a transfer which typically involves an included excursion/ drive by sightseeing and drops you and luggage at the airport usually after lunchtime.

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Previous posts have done a good job of answering your questions. I"ll only add that we are Gold on Regent and are booked for a further 120-day world cruise with them.  So obviously I really like the Regent product.

But I thoroughly enjoyed my one Azamara experience for many of the same reasons why I enjoy Regent, and would happily sail with them again, but it just hasn't worked out. And the Azamazing night is something that has no equivalent on Regent, which is a win for Azamara.

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2 minutes ago, DavidTheWonderer said:

Previous posts have done a good job of answering your questions. I"ll only add that we are Gold on Regent and are booked for a further 120-day world cruise with them.  So obviously I really like the Regent product.

But I thoroughly enjoyed my one Azamara experience for many of the same reasons why I enjoy Regent, and would happily sail with them again, but it just hasn't worked out. And the Azamazing night is something that has no equivalent on Regent, which is a win for Azamara.

Unfortunately To manage expectations the OPs cruise won’t have an Azamazing evening 

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38 minutes ago, uktog said:

Unfortunately To manage expectations the OPs cruise won’t have an Azamazing evening 

Just to explain - Azamara don’t do Azamazing evenings on transatlantic cruises.

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We are also Regents cruisers and took an Azamara cruise to Cuba because of the 4-5 days in port in Cuba  We enjoyed Azamara, but it is not Regents.

We had a basic Veranda cabin which is smaller than Regents but it was comfortable.  What we missed most was coming back to the cabin after an excursion, getting ready for dinner, we would also sit and have a drink while getting ready.  The drinks in the refrig are not complementary (even if you have a beverage package), yes it is a small boat and easy to walk to get a drink, but something we missed.

When you purchase a drink not part of the included package, you will need your card (usually for the first couple of days) and you will need to sign for it.  The tips are included with the purchase, but the receipt also has a line for a tip.

We did not eat in a specialty restaurant, we found dinner in Discoveries to be quite nice.  The tables for two are larger than are Regents, so you have plenty a room for bread, wine glasses etc.  The tables are a little closer together but that didn't bother us.  There was always someone offering included wines, and they had a selection of two whites and two reds.

Windows always had a nice selection for breakfast/lunch, but having been spoiled on Regents with someone always willing to carry your plate etc, the service was good, but not Regent level.  We missed a couple of unique lunch buffets in Discoveries and dinner buffets in Windows, with different ethic foods on different days. (I didn't read the newsletter as closely as I should have)  Also, several days, discoveries had an abbreviated breakfast buffet plus order from menu. 

We purchased a couple of ship excursions and did a couple I arranged on line.  The ships officers were very visible and several of them were on the dockside watching us getting through Cuban immigration.

We were ready to participate for "White Night" which is a neat idea.  but while the food looked amazing, it was very crowded and hard to figure out what line to stand in to get some of that good food.  I didn't realize we could still have eaten in discovery restaurant.

Internet - look through all the paperwork in your cabin.  What I thought was internet instructions, ended up being instructions and the fact I had some free minutes (I found this while getting ready to get boarding passes to get home).

We enjoyed the cruise with Azamara and have a Black Sea cruise booked with Azamara.  Many more ports in the Black Sea than the Regent one.  But we are doing a Club Continent Cabin and purchasing a beverage package.

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As others have said, I wouldn't chance an OV guarantee.  Our first Azamara cruise was in a Deck 4 forward OV under the theater, and never again.  Lots of anchor noise, and we could hear the show in our cabin every evening.  We really felt the motion in that location, and unfortunately had rough seas one night--first time we ever got sick on a cruise!  If we were to book OV again, it would be Deck 4 towards guest services, but we've lucked out and booked our other cruises during the Double Upgrade sales, so have had Deck 7 veranda cabins since then.

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All, I really appreciate the thought out and detailed replies to my long winded OP! I apologize for not thanking you all independently but I read all of the replies and digested all they had to say.

 

In particular those with Regent experience contrasting the differences. We do not have super high class needs - heck we just did a Princess inside cabin - we just want something relaxing and not nickel/diming everything no up-selling.

 

Small bathrooms not a big deal - we're not overly large people or have mobility issues. The princess shower was comparable to a phone booth - maybe even a bit smaller haha.

 

I saw the post regarding the Azamazing evening (or lack of) on a transatlantic cruise. Anything else we need to know about a TA cruise experience? We've never done one before.

 

Thanks very much on the heads up for TV and entertainment - 2 shows a night is nice and while we don't go on a cruise to watch TV it is sometimes nice to watch getting ready for bed... although it doesn't sound like we should get our hopes up on Azamara programming.

 

If we go this way, I think we will take heed on the GTY OV cabins. I actually like the layout of the interior cabins - having a loveseat/table is kind of nice too. Similar thoughts with a GTY on them or are many in a dreadful location it's not worth the risk? I tried the booking process on their website and it looks like there is a lot of availability left, with only a couple at the extreme fore/aft of the ship still available (indeed, virtually all of the class 8 OV cabins are still available too). Mrs can get motion sickness symptoms on very rough so not being on the far ends is preferable for her... although I find the rocking helps me sleep. Go figure! Anyone have any knowledge about actually changing a GTY cabin once its issued?

Edited by slidebite

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I stayed in an OV Category 08. I was a little leery of it being obstructed but I could actually see between the tenders so it was no big deal. And the location is great. I will say that although I really liked it for one person I am not sure how comfortable it would be for two people. It is small but cozy and I would book it again. Cabin 6036. Some of these cabins are totally obstructed so try to get one in between tenders.

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I would never book a guarantee, particularly if motion is an issue.  I also wouldn't expect to be able to move cabins once your guarantee is issued; you might be able to upgrade to a higher category, but don't know that for a fact.  Ifit was me, I 'd find a cabin in the location I like and book it.  that way you will know where you're going to be.                                                                                                                                         

Edited by laurieb

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I have changed a guarantee to a better cabin but only in the same category. If there are alot of vacancies and the price difference is substantial it might be worth it but only you can decide. Just decide whether you will be ok with any cabin in the category in case you cant change. In my case I saved over $2,000 on a 10 day cruise so I decided to take the risk and just accept any cabin. Only you can decide.

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It depends upon where you are. I'm in the UK and cannot change a cabin under a GTY within the same category once assigned. I'm not sure if it's the same in Canada.

 

I understand why the rules are that way for us. A GTY is cheaper because the cruiseline has control over the cabin they choose. Enabling A change of cabin after assignment defeats the object and in essence you are getting a specific cabin at a knock down price. 

 

Phil 

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1 hour ago, laurieb said:

I would never book a guarantee, particularly if motion is an issue...If it was me, I 'd find a cabin in the location I like and book it.  that way you will know where you're going to be.                                                                                                                                         

This approach I heartily endorse.....during our early cruising career we booked a few guarantees, and had a couple of poor (not disastrous) cabin assignments. Now, at 46 cruises, we choose a specific cabin within our budget. By doing so, if the cruiseline offer a potential upgrade, the decision remains within your control.

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