Back in December 21, when all the talk was of a lockdown after Christmas, we were faced with a choice. Hold our nerve and hope we would still be able to embark on our Iona cruise in early January, which we were really looking forward to, or exit the UK earlier and return to Azamara with a cruise around The Canaries, which is what we did, postponing our P&O cruise, and boarding the Azamara Journey in GranCanaria on Monday 28th December, initially for an 11-day cruise.
It didn’t start well as our transport booked by Azamara for the airport to the hotel the night before embarkation never turned up. Things did not improve when the transport from the hotel to the cruise terminal turned up too early by over an hour.
This was an issue because we knew from our experience boarding the Azamara Quest the month before that Azamara doesn’t start embarkation before 2 pm. People should be aware if you are boarding an Azamara ship in Gran Canaria and you turn up too early, they will take your luggage for you, and then direct you into town to return later.
That said, the actual COVID testing and embarkation process for us was speedy and very efficient, and the Port and check-in staff were friendly and helpful. Oh and I should have said, there is a shopping center five to ten minutes walk from the cruise terminal.
Anyway, I’m not going to do my usual in-depth review, having only recently shared my thoughts about the Quest – the food, the accommodation, the amenities, the cleanliness were all what you would expect from Azamara and most cruise lines to be fair, we had no cause to complain, save to say my usual moan about expensive spa services and wholly inadequate in-room entertainment.
I thought for once I would look at a few different aspects of this cruise which was very Port intensive. We thoroughly enjoyed our stops in Funchal – Madeira, Santa Cruz de la Palma, San Sebastián de la Gomera and Fuerteventura, but to be fair we didn’t explore some of other ports for a variety of reasons, not least of which our personal wish to reduce the risk of COVID, and by the way, passengers were tested the day before disembarkation.
I should say at this point as we enjoyed this cruise and our time on Azamara Journey we decided to stay on and make it back-to-back. On the first half of the cruise, we had a club veranda balcony on the side which was absolutely fine.
On the second cruise, we moved to a Club Veranda Plus at the front on deck 7 which apart from a noisy loose partition on the balcony on the first night which was fixed the next morning was great. We thought the position on the front of the ship was absolutely awesome.
On the Quest we had a suite lower down at the front which we found quite noisy, this wasn’t at all. In fact, we loved it so much we are moving from a suite already booked on an Azamara next year to this cabin, and we won’t miss the included specialty dining.
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In summary, we would say if you travel frequently or for any length of time the downside with Azamara is that the food becomes repetitive and the entertainment is limited, but on the upside, the level of customer service is impeccable, the officers and the Captain were friendly and attentive, nothing was too much trouble.
We have cruised occasionally with Azamara since the first Quest cruise back in 2007, and it’s fair to say we have fallen back in love with them, they will compete with Viking for our small ship affection moving forward.