Southampton, boarding the Azamara Quest – Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Today we joined the Azamara Quest in Southampton, England.
As a reader, your primary interest is the shipboard experience. I’ll skip over the details of getting to the ship from London. It all went smoothly.
The Azamara Quest was docked at the City Pier. (Southampton has more than one pier.). The taxi driver knew where it was. Although Azamara talks about their ships being smaller, it’s big enough that you can’t miss it.
We were scheduled for a 3:00 PM arrival for our health and wellness check. The taxi dropped us off about 1:30. The Azamara staff at the pier smiled and said “No problem.” We went through the metal detector, like TSA screening at the airport. Then we got in line.
There are two lines, one for Suite passengers and another for everyone else. We fit into the second category. We waited about 25 minutes, which was not bad because the line moved quickly. Azamara had 12 stations staffed by personnel. This was the health and passport check. You showed your vaccination card. They photographed it and gave us our ship ID cards.
Next, we moved into a large waiting room with seating similar to gates at the airport. There were two sections, A and B. We were in group B and filed onboard when our group was called.
Once onboard, Group B was seated in a lounge with a PowerPoint projector and screen. There was a two minute video representing the muster (lifeboat) drill. This location was our muster station. Then we were free to head to our cabins.
We settled in. We unpacked. Our cabin steward came by and introduced herself.
While Jane settled in, I joined the 5:00 PM ship’s orientation tour conducted by the assistant cruise director. Curiously, there were only about ten people in the group. I assumed there should be 500, the approximate number of passengers onboard. He explained many were previous Azamara passengers.
About 7:30 PM we headed to the main dining room for dinner. This turned out to be the peak time, so we stood in line, but not for long. We met a charming British couple (from Northern Ireland) in line and asked if they would like to join us for dinner. They agreed.
This was one of our first experiences with open seating. The waiters and wine stewards are busy, literally flying around. The wine stewards take drink orders too, so we started with a round of cocktails. These are included in the cruise fare.
The menu is divided into broad sections. This includes the featured selections for that evening (rack of lamb, for example), repeated favorites (steak, Caesar salad) and destination specific features. The wine steward came around, frequently refilling glasses from the complimentary selections. The Chardonnay and the Rose are excellent.
I started with escargot, followed by the steak. Both were very good. When dessert menus were presented, I was torn between the roasted pineapple gelato and the blood orange sorbet. These are flavors we don’t get at home. I ordered a scoop of each.
The dining room was emptying out and we seemed settled in for the evening. I eased us out so the staff could turn out the lights and go to bed.
We returned to the cabin, set the clocks ahead an hour, ordered breakfast for 7:00 AM and turned in.
It was a good day.
What’s the ship like?
The Azamara Quest carries about 700 passengers. The design theme is elegant, with lots of dark wood. I think they are going for the British Country House at Sea look. The lounges have names like the Living Room and Drawing Room. The layout is described by the cruise director as “fun at the front, food at the rear.” The staff is very enthusiastic and friendly.
The cabins are more or less standard sized, compared to other ships. I was impressed that both the shower and the bathroom have a channel running around the edges, each leading to a drain. Water should not be collecting on the floor as a result.
Who travels on Azamara?
It is fair to say everyone is welcome, yet different lines focus on different market segments. I have heard Azamara is focused on the “Adult Market,” meaning passengers whose children have grown and left the nest. I’ve heard the segment also described as “Upper middle class baby boomers.”
We have met several people in spontaneous situations. Everyone has been charming.
What makes Azamara special?
We are learning the answer as we go along. It’s only the first day, but we have seen some positive aspects.
- Alcohol is included. If you are in a bar or restaurant and want a drink, there is no charge. You can upgrade to packages with name brands or premium brands. The best analogy is visiting the American Airlines Admiral’s Club. House brands of wine and liquor are free. Once you step up to a premium brand, there is a cost. You can buy a daily plan featuring name brands, which is pretty reasonable. You can buy drinks with the premium brands a la carte.
- Savories, which I assume to be canapés, are available in your cabin. Fill out a form and they get delivered in the afternoon.
- Gratuities are included in your fare.
- Films are free. The ship has an on demand library on your tv. When you click to “purchase” the film, the cost is zero.
- Bottled water is free. Other lines charge for the bottles you would bring ashore.
- Coffee in lounges is free. Some ships run everything as a profit center. Azamara includes a lot.
- I think dinner seating is open seating everywhere with the exception of the two specialty dining venues. Will report more later
At the end of day #1 we are still getting oriented. So far, we are having an excellent time.
Ed. Notes: Cover photo Azamara Miami Deck, courtesy Azamara