Azamara Quest in dock

My first-ever ocean cruise on Azamara Quest

I was lucky enough to embark on my first ever luxury ocean cruise experience on the beautiful Azamara Quest for their Seminar at Sea. This was the perfect way for me to experience the ship, service, food and much more first-hand, whilst learning more about the Azamara brand, and why they truly are so fantastic! 
We joined other travel agents in Pisa for three days, and what a trip it was going to be as we sailed from Pisa to Monte-Carlo and then to Marseille. We were blessed with beautiful weather for the end of October which accompanied our time on the trip wonderfully and made great exploring weather too.

Our home for the next few days

This was my first time on an ocean ship, as I mentioned, and Azamara Quest made for a great inaugural voyage. She is identical to the other three ships in the fleet, meaning you can choose your next dream cruise based on itinerary rather than the ship and its amenities.

We spent our time on board split between the beautiful public areas, including The Den, The Living Room and the top deck pool area. The atmosphere on board was always lovely, with never having to queue for anything or wait at a bar or restaurant; there was no fighting for seats when waiting to watch a show in the evening. However there were always enough people to feel the buzz of the ship and the delights it had to offer. 

Veranda Stateroom on Azamara Quest

We were extremely lucky to be in a Veranda Stateroom for our three days on board. The stateroom was exceptionally spacious with a large balcony, an extremely comfy bed, plenty of wardrobe space — which is very important for an over-packer like me — a dressing table and seating area with a coffee table. Our balcony was the perfect setting to sit and watch the world go by with a cocktail in hand, or eat breakfast delivered to the room before an early start to go on an excursion and explore the day’s destination. The rooms were classy, whilst being light and airy — the perfect place to relax after a busy day or get ready for an evening of exquisite drinks and dining with friends. Being able to open the veranda doors and let the warm breeze into the room as we reflected on our days in Monaco was truly a treat, especially at the end of October as we escaped the cold, dark mornings of the UK.   

Everything had been thought of in terms of stateroom amenities. We had our own bathrobes and slippers, shower products, tote bags for excursions, both in-suite and main dining menus, different choices of pillow, a mini-bar stocked with our choice of drinks and of course a chocolate on our pillows every evening with a cold bottle of water to accompany it. There was nothing more we could have asked for, however if there was, our stateroom attendant was always on hand to answer any questions or help us in any way he could. 

Excursions in paradise

As we woke up in Monte-Carlo, we were greeted by gorgeous weather and the most spectacular view of the city. Azamara pride themselves on Destination Immersion, and they offer more overnight stays in port than any other cruise line. We most definitely experienced this during our trip.

Monte Carlo Casino Azamara

We were docked right in the heart of Monte Carlo surrounded by super yachts. This is compared to larger cruise lines, who are only able to dock in Nice.  We had a 10-minute walk to the famous casino; five minutes if you took the lift up the hill. Everything was at our fingertips. 

Monaco flower market Azamara Quest

We took a stroll around the Formula One track, sipped an Aperol spritz overlooking the sea and casino, and took pictures so the memory would last a lifetime.

Knowing we had all day in our destination due to being docked overnight, there was no rush, and we could enjoy the day at our own leisure and had time to fit in any activity we desired. That's what it's all about — more overnights than any other cruise line.

Afterwards, we headed back to the ship for a delicious lunch at our favourite restaurant — the Patio — which I will come on to later. With all the time in the world, we then headed to the top deck to catch the last of the autumn sun and take some relaxed time in the pool and hot tubs — accompanied by our Azamara bathrobes and slippers for afterwards.

Our second day in Monte Carlo started with an early rise for our excursion to Nice. We were treated to a walking tour at sunrise, followed by wine tasting in one of the oldest cellars in Nice. This was a lovely way to not only see Nice and learn about some of their traditions and history. We were immersed in the lifestyle of those living on the French Riviera and I could have stayed forever.

Wine tasting Azamara Quest

As we passed through Nice and back to Monte Carlo, we took a stop on the famous road where Grace Kelly used to live and looked in awe at all the houses belonging to many famous people, including Tina Turner and Joan Collins. The panoramic views over Villefranche and Nice were breathtaking and were like something off a postcard. Seeing these destinations in the space of 24 hours was a bucket list moment. I would love to go back. 

A culinary sensation

Throughout the Azamara fleet, there are six different options to choose from for dining on each ship. These include two speciality dining options to try, which do come at additional cost, Prime C for your choice of steak cooked to perfection, Aqualina for some of Italy’s most authentic dishes and the main Discoveries restaurant where dishes are tailored to your destination.

The Discoveries restaurant is spectacular not only in its dining options and food, but in its decoration and views.

Due to being at the back of the ship, the panoramic windows allow a perfect viewing spot when eating lunch or dinner, and we experienced this first hand when sailing out of Livorno on our first evening on board. 

A particular dining highlight was our evening in the specialty restaurant Prime C. On our final night we were lucky enough to dine here and the food was phenomenal.

I started with the Korean fried chicken, followed by the lobster bisque with a filet mignon for my main and mini cinnamon doughnuts for dessert. The steak was cooked to perfection and any requests are seen to and executed by the chefs to the letter. I could have tried one of everything on the menu and I was blown away by the choices. Everything I tried that evening was full of flavour and simply spectacular. All the other food on board the ship, however with steak my favourite food, I had to give Prime C the spotlight it deserves.

For the more casual dining options there is Windows Café, which offers both indoor and outdoor dining options with panoramic views. This was a perfect spot for lunch when we were docked in Monte Carlo. Meanwhile, Mosaic Café resembles the ship’s very own coffee shop and is the perfect place to start and end the day. I took full advantage of this when disembarking and took my latté away in my Azamara cup!

Last but by no means last is, the Patio was probably my favourite spot for lunch. It’s located on the pool deck and once again offers both covered and outside dining. After a busy morning of excursions we sampled the delights of buffalo chicken wings, grilled tuna steak wraps, loaded nachos, all finished off with self-serve frozen yoghurt. You can order as much or as little as you like, which we soon learnt after we ordered another round of chicken wings and nachos — we simply could not get enough, and Kendal — my shipmate for the trip — still talks about them to this day.

Azamara Quest top deck

Select beverages are included throughout the day on Azamara; an inclusion I was impressed by. Everything we could have wanted, from house wines to soft drinks, beers and my favourite, the frozen daiquiri. Only the premium brands come at an extra cost. We had everything we needed and more throughout our time on board and the whole Azamara team were incredible. They are like one big family. From Amanda, the Cruise Director, to our room attendants and all the restaurant staff, everyone made our time on board unforgettable. Like ourselves at Panache Cruises, nothing was too much trouble.

There was one particular interaction that has stuck with me from our time on board and this was when we got back on the ship after exploring Monte Carlo.

After scanning our cards to register us back on to the ship, we were greeted with "welcome home". This made me really smile and made me think about how much we had been made to feel at home by the entire crew during our time on board. A little touch like this can really make the whole trip.

Although it may seem small, this was one of the biggest takeaways for me from the trip, of course along with many other AzAmazing moments and experiences. 

An incredible experience

Finally, as the sun began to set on our time onboard. We relaxed on the top deck, drink in hand and enjoyed a sail away out of Monte Carlo as we headed towards Marseille. The backdrop of the most expensive city in the world drifted into the distance and we reminisced on a fantastic trip.

Azamara Quest final night

My overall experience was completely mesmerising and lived up to — and actually exceeded — all my expectations. I am extremely grateful that I was able to sample the delights of Azamara first-hand and understand why it is so amazing. Azamara is perfect to truly immerse yourself in destinations and get into the heart of new countries and cities like never before and my time onboard is one I will never forget.

Call Panache Cruises on 0161 513 8200 if you want to learn more about Azamara.

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