In our first post of this series we provided an overview of the Azamara Quest. In this post, we’ll give a brief description of some of the ports. Finally we’ll recommend who we think would be most happy with Azamara.
Miami – Getting on and off the Azamara Quest
Getting on the ship was a breeze. Check in took all of 3 minutes and we got right on the ship. Rooms were available shortly afterwards. We were able to change our room at the front desk (we wanted to be a little closer to the middle of the ship). We were impressed with how they handled food packages. In both instances the staff knew our names before we even sat down (they knew were were coming and could see our pictures on their computers). This was a nice touch.
Getting off the Azamara Quest was also easy. We left luggage outside the room at 11 PM the night before, and we left our room at about 8 AM and walked off the ship with no lines. We easily found our luggage and breezed through TSA and immigration. Small ships have lots of advantages!
St Barts (Saint Barthélemy)
St. Barts is a small French island which is reached via tender. Many stores were still not open post hurricanes – though the streets were totally cleaned up. Still the stores that were open were very nice, mostly high end stores. There were not a lot of the typical Caribbean diamond or souvenir stores. It’s a very expensive island – we saw dresses for 300 – 700 Euros and food items were approximately three times the price we pay in the States. We walked around the very nice harbor to a high point overlooking the ocean. Very pretty island. You can find French bakeries including macaroons (at the store across from the post office).
St. Kitts and Nevis (one country, two islands) is former British colony with very good infrastructure, though you drive on the left. We did an excursion in which we toured the island, took a tour of the local Carib brewery and then spent several hours on the beach at Carambola resort. There’s some beautiful views at the Timothy Hill lookout – both the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans can be seen as well as the St. Kitt’s Marriott Resort. The brewery tour was extensive even if the tasting was not. But we were able to try something called Vitamalt a non alcoholic drink. Once back at the Azamara Quest, we took a short shuttle into town where we found the more typical Caribbean shops and bars. We did find some very nice Batik place mats which we purchased.
Nevis is an adjacent island to St. Kitts and shares the same government. It’s less than 14 miles away by ferry. With it’s very small dock, all cruise ships have to use tenders to reach the port. We decided to get a day pass at the Four Seasons hotel. A short (10 min, $15 for 5 people) cab ride took us to a beautiful resort. We hung out by the pool relaxing. Poolside service included towels, padded lounge chairs with a towel wrapped padding, free water (passion fruit flavored), frozen watermelon treats, drink orders and full lunch service.
Most of the shops downtown Charlotte Amalie were open and ready for business, though there were certainly lots of construction and renovations. At the time of our visit (Dec 2017), approx half the island of St. Thomas still did not have power. None of the traffic lights worked in the shopping district but all the stores had power. Most of the shop owners we spoke to still didn’t have power in their homes. However, they were clearly thankful for survival and everyone we met had a smile and were noticeably polite.
When is Azamara the choice for you?
Azamara will have itineraries and port stops that are simply unavailable on other cruise lines. So the first reason to choose Azamara is for the destinations. Generally you’ll be in ports with less ships. The second reason is longer port stays with more overnights in those ports. Also, if you prefer a smaller ship that offers plenty of premium offerings without a mass market appeal, you’ll like Azamara. Have loyalty points with Celebrity and want a different experience? Those loyalty points port directly over to Azamara so you can get all the perks on a totally different line. The crowd on board is lively and fun but certainly not obnoxious. We found most of the passengers we met to be experienced travelers – not necessarily with Azamara but they are a well traveled crowd.
When is Amazara not the right cruise to pick?
We would not recommend those interested in (and willing to pay for) a true luxury experience. Similarly if you are a Foodie, this is probably not the best line for you; the food is quite good but not “Foodie good”. If you are looking for a cruise line in which the crew out does themselves each and every time – you might be disappointed. Finally, this is not the right cruise for you if you want lots of activities on the ship beyond the traditional pool, gym, spa, casino and bars.
Recommendation: Azamara and the Azamara Quest
This is a great niche product and we had a great time aboard the Azamara Quest. We strongly recommend booking Azamara if you’re an experienced cruiser and are looking for different destinations and itineraries. Even if you’re not experienced ocean cruiser, Azamara appeals to passengers used to land tours or river cruises because you get to explore many ports in much more depth (including evenings) than on many other cruises. The food and service are a step above mass market lines and the small ship experience will appeal to those that are just sick and tired of long lines. While Azamara does not try to be all things to all people, it’s a great choice for many.
So – want a great itinerary in modern, tasteful, premium style where you can immerse yourself in the ports themselves? Book an Azamara cruise!
PS: find a great travel agent – you’ll enjoy it even more. Check out some reasons why here.