The Cruising Critic gives Five Star Award to Azamara Club Cruises…

Cruise Line Review: The Cruising Critic gives Five Star Award to Azamara Club Cruises – Upscale Boutique Hotels Afloat creating the first class steamship travel of the past…


Azamara Cruises has the feel of smaller first class liners in the past. Such as Cunard and Holland-America Line operated during the heyday of trans-Atlantic service. The ships are comfortable and offer first class service.


I prefer these ships. They remind me of Matson Line’s Monterey and Mariposa. They are not Vegas afloat and certainly are a strong value for the upmarket ships operating today.

Video Tour…

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The Ships…

The Azamara Journey welcomes guests with beautifully designed staterooms — all with complimentary butler service and luxurious European bedding — and top-notch service from 390 crew members. This ship was designed for travelers drawn to outstanding service, gourmet cuisine and exotic locales. Amenities include the indulgent AquaSpa, which features exotic spa treatments and a thalassotherapy pool, specialty restaurants Aqualina and Prime C, each with spectacular views and delectable cuisine, and three sophisticated lounges — Michael’s Club, the Martini Bar and the Looking Glass. Onboard, guests will also find amazing artwork, a cabaret, casino and coffee bar, as well as a variety of shops and boutiques.


Elegant dining room reflects the first class travel aboard the great liners of yesterday… 

The Azamara Quest combines exceptional service and luxurious amenities in a smaller, intimate atmosphere. Onboard, guests will find well-appointed cabins complete with complimentary butler service, luxurious European bedding and 24-hour room service. In the evening, taste the creative culinary delights of Discoveries Restaurant or dine in one of Azamara Quest’s two specialty restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C, each with an intimate atmosphere and spectacular ocean views. Guests will also find a pleasing array of onboard amenities, including a casino, piano bar, martini bar, fitness center and spa. Spend an afternoon at an art auction that features original works from well-known artists, see cabaret style-entertainment in the ship’s show lounge or enjoy amazing views from the Looking Glass lounge.


journey-libraryAzamara Cruises resulted in a surprise move parent company Royal Caribbean International announced the formation of an all-new, deluxe cruise line in 2007. Two vessels originally slated for service in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, which were built for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises and acquired with the purchase of the Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, were the basis for the new line, Azamara Club Cruises. Designed to offer exotic destination-driven itineraries, Azamara Club Cruises presents a more intimate onboard experience while allowing access to the less traveled ports of call experienced travelers want to visit.

When a cruise line sets a course to break the mold in an industry where the product falls into traditional categories—mainstream, premium, luxury—it’s an exciting opportunity for experienced travelers who may want more than what a traditional cruise can deliver. More interested in traveling than cruising, they may still prefer the comfort and convenience that only a cruise ship can deliver in some exotic locales. Azamara Club Cruises gives this underserved group of travelers what they want—a cruise experience that’s a bit different. Not quite luxury but more than premium, Azamara offers a deluxe cruise with concierge-style amenities for which you’d have to upgrade to a suite on other cruise lines.

In addition, since its launch Azamara Club Cruises has added a number of more inclusive amenities to passengers’ fares, with no charge for a specific brand of bottled water, specialty coffees and teas; shuttle bus service to/from port communities, where available; standard spirits, wines, and international beers throughout the ships during bar hours; and complimentary self-service laundry.

Extensive overhauls of two ships that formerly sailed for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises have resulted in interiors that are brighter with the addition of light, neutral carpeting throughout, and splashes of bold color in the upholstery and drapes. Areas that once appeared stuffy are now welcoming, with contemporary artwork further enhancing the decor. Each vessel weighs in at 30,277 tons and carries only 694 passengers. While the size affords a high level of intimacy and makes the ships easy to navigate, there is no skimping on features normally abundant on larger ships, such as private balconies and alternative dining. Cruisers may feel that they’ve checked into an upscale boutique hotel that just happens to float.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.


  1. Thanks for the review. These ships are so great!

  2. Loved this piece. Like these ships because they are small and remind me of sailing aboard earlier cruise ships with my grand-mother.

    Our recent trip from Venice to Croatia, Albania back to Italy was just what we expected and more.

    First of all the embarkation was smooth and friendly. The port helpers met us at the boat dock as we had taken a water taxi right to the ship from our hotel. The taxi left and we discovered that my husband had left his “walking sticks” behind – the Azamara greeter took our hotel number and called for us, in no time the taxi was back at the port with our left behinds! Next a smooth check in and our choice of drinks and lunch before going to our cabin.

    We had a balcony on deck 6 which was great – very comfortable . I noted right away the refurbished porch furniture, wicker very nice and comfy. Our gift was a handy tote bag and and lovely room spray, great for the bathroom

    The free laundry room is much appreciated, soap provided!

    Our favourite part of Azamara is that we don’t have to drag big bags anymore as suits are not required.

    Even so everyone dresses smart and appropriate for the evening meal

    Oh, and the meal is open dining just ask for a table size to suit you and go when you are hungry

    They now provide and AZAMAZING EVENING something different on each cruise.

    Our night out was held in Split at a great resort under the stars to hear a magnificent concert by a famous cello artist named Anna. The crew helped my husband from start to finish, providing a wheelchair, mini van, and a crew member to push him! Beyond the call of service, Thank you so much crew The night was fully included with drinks and a big variety of food – like you needed anything after having our dinner on board!

    These ships are not really child friendly as there are no facilities just for children, one of the BIG reasons we book with Azamara. Yes, we have grandchildren but they have plenty of choices out there on other ships.

    Our next trip is May 2015 on the Journey and can hardly wait…


    This was our 20th cruise, but the 1st with Azamara. It will be hard to go back to any other cruise line after our Christmas 2013 experience on the Quest. The service is superb; the staff are friendly but unobtrusive; the food was fabulous. We hated to see the trip end.

    The cabin was quiet with no vibration. Location was ideal: near the bow stairway/elevators. Balcony is lovely with an unobstructed view. Near the self-service laundry, although we never heard or saw this facility. Lots of storage space for two people. Bathroom is smallish, but no smaller than on many other ships. Lots of bathroom storage. Luggage easily fit under bed. Tons of hangers provided.

    Embarkation was fast and easy, as was the debarkation process. Whenever we had a question about *anything* on the ship, there was a rapid, very helpful, very satisfactory response.

    Our Azamazing Evening was moved from Blackbeard’s Castle to the Quest pool deck. We received lots of advance information about this and the ship outdid itself in presenting a fantastic evening on board. We loved the food, the costumes, and the entertainment. The ship’s staff, from the captain to every member of the crew, contributed to making this a very memorable event.

    The ship outdoes itself where communication is concerned: notices on the TV, printed careds on the bed at night, reminders in the “Pursuits” paper, and verbal reminders from cabin stewards and waitstaff.

    We loved that there are very few public announcements on this ship! No annoying reminders about bingo, art auctions, or other entertainments.

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