You might think our Atlantic Coast voyage on the Azamara Quest was all brie, tapas and good wine. During the voyage I was also able to sit down with Captain Jonas Lyddby, the Master of the Azamara Quest. I’ve never sat down with a Captain before! There were plenty of questions I wanted to ask. When the opportunity presented itself, I set aside the brie, tapas and good wine and picked up my pad and pen.
How is the ship’s company organized? There are several departments including those concerned with the operation of the vessel like the Deck and Engine departments. There are necessary ones we do not see, like Security. The primary ones we passengers interact with fit within the Hotel Department, which also includes Food & Beverage. The Captain sits on top of the organizational structure, bearing overall responsibility.
Stability at sea. There are pros and cons to everything. Our 10 day cruise included only one sea day, we were in ports on the other days. That is a pro for stability. When we were not in port we were in the Bay of Biscay, not known for its calm seas. That’s a con in my opinion. The Azamara Quest is a 30,000 ton vessel. It has stabilizers that can be deployed in rough seas, functioning like a horizontal rudder. I asked Captain Lyddby about the stability of the larger megaships carrying 6,000 passengers, about ten times the Quest’s current passenger compliment. He explained, from firsthand experience the larger ships can be quite stable because they are wider. He explained the size of the vessel is not the determinant of stability at sea. Stability is determined by the design of the ship, the engineering and naval architecture involved. (I felt the motion at times, but our forward, facing cabin was located below the command bridge.)
Where are the passengers from? The majority of passengers on this cruise are from the US and the UK. Spain and other countries are also represented. (FYI: The passenger facing crew are primarily from Indonesia, the Philippines and India, which I learned from the Food & Beverage Manager during his interview. Fluency in English is a primary qualification.)
What differentiates Azamara from the competition? The voyages are port intensive. The objective is to deliver immersion into the culture. You spend more time in port, have a wide selection of tours aligned with what makes the port special, onboard local entertainment brought from ashore, dining featuring the option of local cuisine and onboard port lectures. Passengers can choose the degree of immersion that is right for them.
Sailing smaller ships allows Azamara to get into ports larger ships cannot. This means shorter driving distances to get to sights and more docking and less tendering. Smaller ships involve a tradeoff concerning amenities, but that isn’t a big issue. The adult audience choosing to travel on Azamara isn’t looking for a go cart track onboard.
Do Azamara ships literally sail around the world? It feels like the ship is always going somewhere new. Unlike Caribbean voyages repeating the same out and back itineraries, Azamara organizes its voyages in segments. Our voyage left Southampton, sailing to Lisbon. After we disembarked, the ship sailed from Lisbon to Barcelona over eight nights. From Barcelona, it headed to Athens. You get the idea. Captain Lyddby mentioned there might be a world cruise in 2023 or 2024.
After my interview, I learned more about the Captain and officers from casual conversations with passengers. Captains have followings! Repeat customers will sometimes choose their Azamara ship and segments based on who is Captain on their voyage. (Captains get vacation time too.) The officers and crew are held in high regard, often serving alongside crew members at live cooking stations in the dining room, for example. As I mentioned earlier, when we disembarked in Lisbon a day early, we carried our own baggage, as per the guidelines for early departure. I was amazed a crew member and the officer in charge of housekeeping insisted on taking our luggage from us and carrying it to the taxi stand, finding us a taxi and loading our luggage into the trunk.
Captain Jonas Lyddby and his crew gave me a very good understanding of what sets Azamara apart.
Cover photo courtesy Azamara
Many thanks to Azamara and its very capable team in working with me on arranging and helping us with our wonderful Azamara Quest cruise. Thanks to the All Things Cruise team as well for introducing me to Azamara!