Skip to main content

Cruise Ship Review

Azamara Quest - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Azamara Cruises has come a long way since its hasty debut in 2007, and early reviews no longer reflect the current state of Azamara Quest. The specialty restaurants have changed fees and menus, Celebrity Cruises traditions like Michael's Club and the Cova Cafe have been transformed into uniquely Azamara venues, such as the Drawing Room and Mosaic Cafe, and the ship has really focused on creating a clear and distinct identity. (In Fact, the line, which was previously operated by Celebrity's management team, recently named former SeaDream president Larry Pimentel to helm it.) Azamara Quest has also greatly improved its food quality and evening entertainment options.

The ship is still working out some of its kinks -- such as the much-touted butlers that, in reality, are cabin stewards with extra assignments. Still, it now feels more like the hybrid it was meant to be. Azamara, like its near-competitor Oceania Cruises, is a "luxury lite" line, a term for cruise lines that offer luxe-oriented service and food and unusual itineraries at a value price point. On the luxury end, I appreciated the intimately sized ship with its tasteful decor, minimal queuing and across-the-board friendly and helpful staff. Prime C and the Windows Cafe were standouts -- a cut above typical cruise-ship fare.

The biggest draws for passengers are the fabulous itineraries, jam-packed with marquee ports and exotic destinations. Our 16-night exotic Mediterranean cruise, featuring Turkey, Israel and Egypt, had only 4.5 sea days, with sailaway scheduled as late as 9 or 11 p.m. on several days and an overnight call in Istanbul. The combination of enticing destinations, a comfortable home base and a price point slightly lower than its competitors is encouraging cruisers to check out this new line, and Azamara is already gathering quite a crowd of repeat passengers.

The ship does show its more mainstream pedigree, however. The photo gallery and art auction desk are prominently located along the main Deck 5 thoroughfare, and at every port, a costumed crewmember is waiting to pose with you for pictures (which you can then purchase at marked-up rates). Although the fee for specialty dining has come down, it's not free like on many luxury ships. Cabins run a bit small and have tiny bathrooms, unless you splurge on one of the suites.

Ultimately, the question is: How does Azamara compare with Oceania, its only true competitor? Having sailed on both lines, I'd say that Oceania runs slightly more toward the luxury side (no fees for dining, a smaller casino, no tacky photo ops). Oceania excels with food and its uber-comfy Tranquility Beds, but Azamara has it beat when it comes to friendly and engaging staff and entertainment. And, while both offer cheaper cruise fares than the true luxury lines, Azamara has been selling at rates lower than Oceania's for nearly the same experience.

Overall, Azamara Quest was a fabulous home base for a port-intensive itinerary. After over-stimulating days in port, the ship's calm and cozy atmosphere was the perfect place to unwind. It was lovely to be greeted with smiles and hellos, just as if you were returning home. And though I'd ideally wish to have every meal rate a delectable 10 and to be entertained until the wee hours of the morning, turning in at a reasonable hour without a stomachache from over-eating was probably a blessing in disguise -- especially when my alarm clock was set to wake me up in time for that early morning tour.

Dining

The Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 is the main dining room, which serves breakfast and dinner every day and lunch and afternoon tea on sea days. It's always open seating, and passengers can choose to dine alone or join others at larger tables. There are plenty of two-tops; however, there's hardly any space between adjacent tables, meaning you have very little privacy from the diners on either side. Don't forget to check out the ceiling frescoes -- you'll either think they're a nice decorative touch or a bit too much kitsch, depending on your taste.

Breakfast hours change, depending on arrival time in each port, but are roughly from 7 to 9 a.m. on port days and 8 to 9:30 a.m. on sea days. Menu items include eggs made to order, Scottish kippers, pancakes and French toast, fruit, cereals and pastries. Lunch is served from noon to 1:30 p.m. on sea days, but as many passengers prefer to dine more casually, Discoveries is pretty quiet at this time. I quite enjoyed my two-course lunch of feta-and-vegetable salad and pesto pasta. Afternoon tea on sea days (on port days, tea snacks can be found upstairs in the Windows Cafe) is not quite as elegant as on some other lines, but each table offers a three-tiered tray of cookies, petit fours and finger sandwiches, and waiters come around to serve tea and scones with jam and clotted cream. A harp provides musical accompaniment, which is a nice touch.

Discoveries is most popular at dinner, served between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Dinner service tends to be leisurely and takes longer if you're sitting at a mixed table, rather than with just your party. The menu is quite extensive, offering appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, special dinner salad, healthy choice options, entrees and vegetarian options. In addition, 10 to 15 items are always on offer, including Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak and sauteed filet of salmon. A separate dessert menu also contains a wide selection of items, including ice cream, sugar-free options and after-dinner drinks.

The best dishes are the meats (a flank steak dinner salad received two thumbs up) and pastas (including a fabulous ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), and salads are usually good (with the exception of the iceberg salad, which consisted of bland iceberg lettuce dumped on a plate with a handful of veggies). The fish dishes are very hit-or-miss, as are the vegetarian entrees. The chilled fruit soups are, by far, the worst dishes on the menu every night; either the flavors are bad, or they just don't taste like soup. (My chilled strawberry soup should have been a sauce spooned lightly on a chocolate torte, rather than a stand-alone dish.)

For casual dining, the Windows Cafe (for some reason, the name officially changes to Windows Breeza during dinner) is a cut above the typical cruise-ship buffet venue. It's open nearly all day long for early-riser breakfast, regular breakfast and late continental breakfast running from 6 to 11 a.m., lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m., afternoon delights (on port days) from 4 to 5 p.m., and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Coffee, tea and juice are available around the clock. Although the buffet is technically self-service, dining staff are always around to help serve you, and waiter service is available for juice, tea, water and other beverages. Most of the seating is indoors, but you can also choose to dine al fresco on the aft deck.

In the morning, Windows offers a selection of hot breakfast items, cold and hot cereals, pastries, decadent cinnamon rolls, fruit and yogurt. In addition, you can get made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes or French toast. The "Health Nut Bar" serves up freshly squeezed orange juice or fruit smoothies to order. Lunchtime features a huge salad bar, as well as premade salads (like bean, pasta or seafood salads), sandwich meats and cheeses, fresh-baked bread (Azamara Quest's bakery selections are absolutely fantastic at every meal and in every dining venue), hot items and several kinds of pizza. Dinner highlights include a carving station, freshly made sushi and made-to-order Asian-style stir-fry. (The chef actually ransacked the galley to cook me up some tofu with my stir-fry.) Occasionally, there's a theme night -- on our cruise, we had Turkish and Indian theme dinners -- but the standard options are always available for those less interested in ethnic cuisine.

Lunch and dinner always seemed to have an inordinate number of desserts, including an ice cream freezer with multiple flavors (including sorbets and sugar-free ice cream). On sea days, afternoon tea is set out buffet-style, but you can still choose from finger sandwiches, cookies and scones -- just without the fancy presentation of tea in Discoveries.

Just outside Windows is the Pool Grill, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which offers the typical burgers and dogs, as well as veggie burgers, chili dogs, brochettes of meat and veggies, ribs and salmon. French fries, onion rings and tortilla chips are also available. If you're not ordering a cheeseburger, wait times can be long, as your meal is grilled to order. Easy to miss is the soft-serve ice cream machine hidden in the corner by the beverage station. We didn't notice it until a few days into the cruise.

For nearly round-the-clock dining, the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. It's the extra-fee specialty coffee and tea kiosk, but munchies like finger sandwiches, cookies and small desserts are always free. Grab a snack to go, or take one of the seats in the open atrium area by the shops and art auction desk.

Azamara Quest has two specialty restaurants -- Prime C and Aqualina -- located side by side on Deck 10. Reservations are required (though on a slow night, you might be able to walk in) for these dinner-only venues, open from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Azamara takes an unusual approach; instead of charging a $20 to $30 cover charge (like sister lines Royal Caribbean and Celebrity) or offering specialty dining for free (like more upscale lines), the line recommends a suggested service fee of $5 per person, per meal, at either restaurant. It's an odd amount -- not high enough to limit diners wishing to make reservations nor to accurately represent the quality of service, but not free like on most other deluxe and luxury cruise ships.

Prime C is the classic steakhouse and, in my mind, is the better of the two restaurants. It's decorated like so many onboard steakhouses with dark woods, sedate colors and black-and-white photos of old-time celebrities like Elvis, Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart. Tables are spaced well enough apart, and nearly everyone has a sea view. The four-part menu is divided into soups/salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The wild mushroom and three onion soups are not only the best starters, but possibly the best dishes on the entire ship. The entrees -- including the tender filet mignon, the enormous bone-in rib eye steak and the juicy salmon -- were fabulous. All the desserts got high marks, but the best choices, by far, were the chocolate fondue and the cinnamon donuts; dip the donuts into the caramel sauce and then into the chocolate fondue, and savor the fact that you're on vacation!

Service at Prime C is absolutely outstanding. I have never felt so well taken care of at a restaurant. Our waiter, Ahmet, was solicitous and polite -- answering our questions with thorough and accurate explanations, applauding our menu selections and always returning promptly, never leaving us to scan the restaurant looking for him -- but he never hovered over us in an overbearing way.

Aqualina serves up American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Where Prime C is dark, Aqualina is light with cream-colored walls, blue chairs, white tablecloths and wispy, sheer curtains surrounding the maitre d' stand. Each table is lit with a single candle -- an unusual touch for a cruise ship.

The menu has the same four-part structure as Prime C: soups/salads (endive salad with caramelized apples and berries or lobster bisque), appetizers (including a perfectly melty brie in phyllo dough and beautifully presented scallops on corn pancakes), entrees (lobster thermidor, rack of lamb and pan-seared red snapper) and desserts (grand marnier or chocolate souffles). My dinner companion and I were in the mood for fish -- usually a smart move in a Mediterranean restaurant -- but our waiter warned us not to make those selections. We ended up with three fish dishes (one of each) for the two of us, and we were disappointed in all three of them, but the delicious appetizers and salads made up for the mediocre mains.

Service at Aqualina was a tad more distant than at Prime C -- just matter-of-fact order taking and food delivery without the warmth and personal touch of its sister restaurant. Perhaps we were put off by the waiter completely rejecting our dinner choices, but the restaurant's staff simply did not interact with us in the personal way we were treated in Prime C.

Editor's Note: Azamara's literature claims that each passenger is entitled to two meals at specialty restaurants (three for suite passengers), but in reality, this statement is practically meaningless. There's no guarantee you will get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, and Cruise Critic members have complained of trying to get a spot and failing, while others claim to have dined in either Aqualina or Prime C most nights. Book your reservations as early as you can to have the best chance of getting in. Captain's Club members can make one reservation in advance of the cruise.

Finally, room service is available is 24/7. The breakfast menu is more extensive than other ships, which offer only a simple continental repast. Aside from fruit, bagels, cereals and breakfast meats, you can also order omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and a "Healthy Choice" breakfast (egg white omelet, wheat toast, fruit, cottage cheese with granola and orange juice), among other hot items.

During a restaurant's open hours, passengers may order room service from its menu, which butlers can provide daily. Finally, a selection of options available 24 hours a day includes chicken noodle soup, Caesar salad, steak, grilled chicken sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The all-day room service menu actually has quite a number of vegetarian items -- a "Healthy Salad," veggie burger, vegetable lasagna, avocado-tomato quesadillas and cheese pizza.

Public Rooms

Azamara Quest's reception area has a cozy feel with the purser's desk, shore excursions desk and future cruise sails desk all located in the main atrium area of Deck 4, surrounded by comfy chairs and couches. On Deck 5, the Photo Shop is located across from the casino; there you can browse and purchase photos taken by the ship's photography staff. In the atrium area by the Mosaic Cafe are two boutiques -- the Quest Shop sells everything from logo wear and stuffed animals to rather expensive clothing, bags and sundries, while Indulgences offers more upscale purchases, such as designer sunglasses, fancy watches and liquor. The art auction desk sits prominently at the intersection of the Mosaic Cafe, entrance to Discoveries and the stairs down to the Purser's Desk.

The beautiful library is up on Deck 10 by Prime C and Aqualina. It has an extensive collection of books and a beautiful ceiling fresco of birds, giving the impression of a greenhouse. Although the library is called the Drawing Room, it's the Looking Glass lounge that offers card tables, board games and a Wii gaming system (featuring virtual golf and bowling).

The eConnections computer center is just outside the spa; if you want to use the ship's wireless, you must go there first to set up an account. You can purchase Internet packages for $40 (75 minutes), $60 (125 minutes), $80 (185 minutes) or $100 (265 minutes). Without a package, Internet use costs 65 cents a minute. There's no charge to use the printer hooked up to the eConnections computers; it's great for printing out boarding passes. The Internet connection was surprisingly good on my trip; it disappeared entirely for a few hours from time to time, but when it was up, the connection was always quite good -- no waiting for minutes for pages to load.

Cabins

Azamara Quest has seven categories of staterooms. Inside cabins (158 square ft.), outside cabins (170 square ft.), verandah cabins (175 square ft. with 40-square-ft. balconies) and sunset verandah cabins (same size cabin with larger, 46- to 64-square-ft. balconies) have more or less the same layout, each featuring a bed, desk, closet and sitting area with a loveseat and small table. All are decorated in blue and white and feature dark wooden furnishings.

Beds are comfortable but are nothing special. Between the two regular pillows and two decorative pillows on each bed, as well as the loveseat's throw pillows, the small cabins can often feel overwhelmed with them. Outside and balcony cabins that sleep three will typically have pullout sofas, while inside cabins have beds that pull down from the ceiling. Balconies are each furnished with two chairs and a table -- great for eating, bad for lounging. Storage is adequate, but there are no extra cupboards under the beds or over the couches.

Bathrooms are smaller than average with toilets facing at odd angles into the rooms and tiny showers with the dreaded clingy curtains. Bathrooms come with bottles of Elemis spa brand shampoo, conditioner and body lotion (in larger-than-travel-size containers), and there's a hairdryer in one of the desk cabinets. Safes and mini-fridges can be found in the closets -- in addition to the typical sodas and alcoholic beverages for purchase, there's also a basket of pocket-sized games for sale. Flat-screen TV's offer interactive features that allow passengers to view their bills or order room service on screen.

At 266 square ft. with 60-square-ft. verandahs, Sky Suites are extra-spacious verandah cabins. The color scheme is red and beige. These staterooms have extra-large sitting areas with sofas and chairs, as well as larger closets. Bathrooms are huge, compared to those in regular cabins, and feature tubs and extra amenities like shower gel and a bath mitt.

For true luxury, Azamara Quest offers Royal and Penthouse Suites. The Royal Suites, ranging from 440 to 501 square ft., each feature a separate living/dining room and master bedroom, a master bath with whirlpool tub and shower, passenger bathroom and a 105- to 156-square-ft. verandah. The Penthouse Suite, at 560 square ft., has a separate living/dining room and master bedroom, walk-in closet, dressing room with vanity, master bathroom with marble features and a whirlpool tub, passenger bathroom and a 233-square-ft. verandah.

Suite passengers receive priority check-in, luggage delivery and priority debarkation; free garment-pressing of two items per person; in-suite spa services (for a fee); a private portrait sitting; priority tendering; a welcome bottle of Champagne; specialty in-suite coffee and complimentary sodas and bottled water.

All cabins on Azamara Quest receive fruit baskets, replenished daily; free bottles of water; fresh-cut flowers; turn-down sweets; afternoon canapes (you must request them); shoe-shine service; personal stationery; and complimentary use of bathrobes, binoculars and umbrellas. Passengers can choose from a selection of pillows: Swedish Isotonic, hypo-allergenic, a body pillow or a Conformance pillow. (Editor's note: I neither saw a pillow menu in my cabin nor heard about the choice from the butler, so apparently you have to know to ask for the menu.)

In addition, all cabins come with butler service. In reality, this means there's a staff member who you can ask to unpack and re-pack your luggage, make restaurant and spa reservations and bring you afternoon snacks -- but it's more like a cabin steward with extra responsibilities (when asked), rather than a personal butler who makes his presence felt and goes out of his way to enhance your cruise experience. Azamara claims to be working on improving the butler service, but it's not clear to me whether the butlers will ever be a real service or just a marketing ploy.

Entertainment

The main onboard entertainment venue is Deck 5. The Cabaret show lounge is an intimate performance space with a bar in the back. Instead of a Broadway-style theater with a big stage and stadium seating, it feels more like the secondary show lounge on larger ships with a small stage, dance floor and rows of free-standing chairs that are arranged in semi-circles around the dance floor. Sightlines aren't fabulous, so be sure to grab a seat early.

Continuing aft, the Casino Luxe features slot machines and gaming tables, as well as its own bar. Pretty quiet during the day, the casino is definitely hopping in the evenings. Past the shops, the Mosaic Cafe (formerly the Cova Cafe, a la Celebrity) is in an open, atrium-style space with scattered seating and a piano. This area is the hub of the ship; it's where you pause to grab a midday snack, hang out on a sea day with a deck of cards or a good book, play trivia or listen to musical performances. Outside Discoveries is the Discoveries Lounge (formerly the Martini Bar), which is the perfect spot to sip a before-dinner drink while listening to harp or guitar music. On Deck 10, the Looking Glass lounge has it all -- a dance floor, D.J. booth, bar, card tables and board games, and the Wii. Typically multiple activities are going on there at once.

Azamara Quest packs its sea days with plenty of daytime activities. (The spacing between event listings in the Pursuits daily newsletters is noticeably reduced to squeeze all the activities in.) But, for the most part, activities are limited to cliched onboard events. You'll find multiple trivia games each day in addition to line dancing classes, spa seminars on burning fat faster or eating more to weigh less, arts and crafts like origami or jewelry making, casino or sports (Ping-Pong, shuffleboard) tournaments, art auctions, bridge, bingo, culinary demonstrations and wine-tastings. Enrichment programming is limited to a handful of lectures about the history of some of the ports (on our sailing, these were a bit dry) and computer classes. Perhaps the activities are a tad lackluster because most Azamara passengers come onboard for the port-intensive itineraries and want to relax and take it easy on port days.

The best daytime event, by far, was the cook-off between the cruise director and the hotel director, which was more of a comedy sketch, even though one of the chefs did come out at the end to explain the right way to make crepes suzette. If harpist Mary Amanda is on your cruise, go to anything she leads (typically dance classes and a session on harp history and playing), as she's quite an engaging and humorous presenter.

In the evenings, you can find a variety of musical entertainment throughout the ship, including a guitarist or harpist at the Mosaic Cafe or Discoveries Lounge, the Azamara Trio playing soft rock in the Looking Glass, and a cabaret-style singer/pianist later in the evening at Mosaic. Pre-dinner in the Looking Glass is where the twinkle-toed ballroom dancers strut their stuff. (I'm talking passengers, not pros.) Passengers either loved or hated the musical stylings of Jim Badger, our cabaret entertainer. (Personally, I found him grating and overdone, but he always drew a big crowd.) The harpist and guitarist were top-notch.

Depending on how late we stayed in port, there would either be one or two performances in the Cabaret show lounge. The best acts were the solo passenger performers, including singers, pianists, fiddlers, magicians and other musicians who could command the intimate space without overwhelming it. A folkloric show in Turkey, complete with a belly dancer, was packed. The weakest acts were the song-and-dance shows put on by Azamara's own five-person ensemble; they were enjoyable but of lesser quality than the passenger acts.

Some nights featured additional evening entertainment, including a handful of well-attended karaoke nights in the Looking Glass, themed dance parties and an al fresco deck party, featuring a Dancing with the Stars competition that paired crewmembers with passengers for a dance-off. Dance music almost always consisted of bad 70's wedding classics like Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" and The Village People's "YMCA" -- old standards would have been better. We learned on the last night that if you want modern dance music, you can find it -- but only after midnight when a D.J. takes over the Looking Glass. In reality, the combination of Azamara's port-packed itineraries and jet lag meant that typical bedtimes ranged from 9 to 11 p.m., and often there wasn't enough going on in the earlier hours to convince people to stay up for the fun.

Azamara's shore excursions department offers the usual sightseeing opportunities. The offerings struck me as neither especially innovative nor active, but they did cover the basics (tours to Ephesus from Kusadasi, excursions to see the pyramids from both Egyptian ports). The tours got mixed reviews. It's hard to know if people had high expectations that weren't met because many of the tours were rushed, owing to long drives from the port to the attractions and the need to fit in everything in a short day. (The Israel tours suffered from this especially, but there's really no solution.) Our Cyprus tour had an excellent guide (well spoken and knowledgeable about many topics), but the five-hour tour left no room to grab lunch, creating a busload of somewhat grumpy, hungry cruisers.

Tour pricing seems rather arbitrary, with some being quite reasonably priced ($49 for our five-hour Cyprus tour, $79 for a 4.5-hour Pompeii tour from Sorrento) and others seeming overpriced ($165 for a full-day tour to Capri that didn't include lunch, $475 for an overnight excursion to Cairo -- we paid $225 for an independent tour).

I will, however, commend the shore excursions onboard staff for being quite helpful in explaining tour components, offering honest advice about whether we would be just fine doing a port on our own and even giving information about independent touring, such as where to find buses and ferries.

Fitness and Recreation

Deck 9 is the lido deck with one pool and two whirlpools surrounded by teak loungers with cloth-covered padding. Wicker tables and chairs are set up for al fresco dining by the Pool Grill; on the opposite side of the pool bar, a covered area offers comfy couches and lounges for reading or hanging out in a shadier spot. On the forward end of the pool deck, a Ping-Pong table is available for game play. One deck up, an oval track circles the pool area for walking or jogging. A half-deck on Deck 11 provides additional space for sunbathing and is a great place to stargaze on the one night the ship turns the upstairs lights off. The pool area was definitely packed on sea days; for a quieter outdoor respite, try the loungers on Deck 5.

Given the size of the ship, the Astral Spa (featuring Elemis products) has to be small, but it does offer full service. A salon offers typical hairstyling, manicure and pedicure services, while treatment rooms are available for everything from massages to facials and Ionithermie Algae Detox. An acupuncturist is also onboard. Wait for the in-port spa specials for the best deals, such as three treatments in an hour for $99 or a pedicure with skin treatment and foot massage for $48 (regularly $61). Passes to the thalassotherapy pool and spa sun deck can be purchased by the day or the cruise. A one-day pass is $19, a cruise pass is $99, and a couple's cruise pass is $175; Penthouse and Royal Suite passengers receive complimentary access, as do passengers who book a spa treatments (free all day for port-day treatments and free for one hour before and one hour after treatments on sea days).

The small fitness center packs a lot into minimal space. Elliptical trainers, treadmills and stationary bikes all have high-tech displays with TV capabilities. Behind them, a selection of free weights and a few weight machines are available for pumping iron. An aerobics area is kitted out with spinning bikes, conditioning balls and yoga mats, as well as a complicated-looking Pilates machine. Fitness classes -- including yoga, Pilates, aerobics, body conditioning, spinning and stretching -- are all free of charge. They're well run, but you'll reap the most benefits (and risk hurting yourself less) if you've done these activities before, as the instructor won't adjust your positioning. Personal training and body composition analysis are available for additional fees.

The best-kept secrets on the ship are the spa locker rooms. Use of the steamrooms is free (just swap your cruise card for a locker key), and so are the spa showers, each with multiple jets for a massaging wash. When you're tired of fighting with the curtain or banging your elbows in the tiny cabin showers, head on up to the spa for a more enjoyable cleansing. The anteroom between spa reception and the locker rooms also serves up fruit-infused waters for free, which are quite refreshing whether you've been to the spa, worked out or have simply been lounging in the sun.

Family

Azamara Quest has no children's areas or programming, though kids are allowed onboard. Infants must be 6 months to sail (or 12 months on all transoceanic voyages). Although the ship is not set up for kids, we saw more families than we expected, including an infant and several school-age kids, as well as a few teens.

The pool, Wii, some board games and in-cabin TV's are pretty much the only shipboard amenities that will entertain children. If you plan on bringing your brood onboard, make sure they're capable of finding their own fun while on the ship. Despite the lack of children's programs, the staff did seem to go out of their way to reach out to the youngsters; I noticed this especially in the Windows Cafe, where the servers would call to the children by name and engage them in conversation.

Fellow Passengers

Passengers onboard were quite the international mix, though the largest nation represented was the U.S., followed closely by Canada and the U.K. Other Europeans made up the rest -- mostly French, Spanish, German and Dutch speakers. Azamara says a growing percentage of its passengers are Asian, but we did not encounter anyone from that part of the world on our cruise. Azamara Quest's daily program is printed up in one or two additional languages, depending on the passenger makeup, and an international hostess is onboard to meet with non-English speakers and translate the program if necessary.

Although a large fraction of passengers are seniors, there was a greater percentage of 20- to 40-somethings and families with children (including babies, kids and teens) onboard than I had anticipated. Azamara says the average age is 55 and older, and onboard entertainment -- from trivia topics to musical choices -- is clearly intended for Baby Boomers and their elders.

Dress Code

Azamara Quest's evening dress code is always resort casual, which means slacks and a nice shirt (button down or two-button) for men, and sundresses, dressy slacks or skirts for ladies. Dressing to the nines is the exception rather than the rule; we saw some stunning dresses in the specialty restaurants and Discoveries, as well as a handful of guys in suits, but mostly passengers dressed nicely but not necessarily fancily.

Gratuity

The onboard currency is the dollar. Gratuities of $12.25 per person, per day apply to all passengers(including third and fourth passengers in a stateroom and children) in standard cabins. Passengers in Penthouse, Royal and Sky Suites are charged an additional $4 gratuity per person, per day, to cover the services of a Head Butler, in addition to the butler and stateroom attendant. The total gratuity for suite passengers is $16.25 per person, per day.

Gratuities for all passengers are automatically added to your onboard account and cannot be modified or removed. Consider it a service fee, rather than a discretionary tip.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

Dining

The Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 is the main dining room, which serves breakfast and dinner every day and lunch and afternoon tea on sea days. It's always open seating, and passengers can choose to dine alone or join others at larger tables. There are plenty of two-tops; however, there's hardly any space between adjacent tables, meaning you have very little privacy from the diners on either side. Don't forget to check out the ceiling frescoes -- you'll either think they're a nice decorative touch or a bit too much kitsch, depending on your taste.

Breakfast hours change, depending on arrival time in each port, but are roughly from 7 to 9 a.m. on port days and 8 to 9:30 a.m. on sea days. Menu items include eggs made to order, Scottish kippers, pancakes and French toast, fruit, cereals and pastries. Lunch is served from noon to 1:30 p.m. on sea days, but as many passengers prefer to dine more casually, Discoveries is pretty quiet at this time. I quite enjoyed my two-course lunch of feta-and-vegetable salad and pesto pasta. Afternoon tea on sea days (on port days, tea snacks can be found upstairs in the Windows Cafe) is not quite as elegant as on some other lines, but each table offers a three-tiered tray of cookies, petit fours and finger sandwiches, and waiters come around to serve tea and scones with jam and clotted cream. A harp provides musical accompaniment, which is a nice touch.

Discoveries is most popular at dinner, served between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Dinner service tends to be leisurely and takes longer if you're sitting at a mixed table, rather than with just your party. The menu is quite extensive, offering appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, special dinner salad, healthy choice options, entrees and vegetarian options. In addition, 10 to 15 items are always on offer, including Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak and sauteed filet of salmon. A separate dessert menu also contains a wide selection of items, including ice cream, sugar-free options and after-dinner drinks.

The best dishes are the meats (a flank steak dinner salad received two thumbs up) and pastas (including a fabulous ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), and salads are usually good (with the exception of the iceberg salad, which consisted of bland iceberg lettuce dumped on a plate with a handful of veggies). The fish dishes are very hit-or-miss, as are the vegetarian entrees. The chilled fruit soups are, by far, the worst dishes on the menu every night; either the flavors are bad, or they just don't taste like soup. (My chilled strawberry soup should have been a sauce spooned lightly on a chocolate torte, rather than a stand-alone dish.)

For casual dining, the Windows Cafe (for some reason, the name officially changes to Windows Breeza during dinner) is a cut above the typical cruise-ship buffet venue. It's open nearly all day long for early-riser breakfast, regular breakfast and late continental breakfast running from 6 to 11 a.m., lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m., afternoon delights (on port days) from 4 to 5 p.m., and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Coffee, tea and juice are available around the clock. Although the buffet is technically self-service, dining staff are always around to help serve you, and waiter service is available for juice, tea, water and other beverages. Most of the seating is indoors, but you can also choose to dine al fresco on the aft deck.

In the morning, Windows offers a selection of hot breakfast items, cold and hot cereals, pastries, decadent cinnamon rolls, fruit and yogurt. In addition, you can get made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes or French toast. The "Health Nut Bar" serves up freshly squeezed orange juice or fruit smoothies to order. Lunchtime features a huge salad bar, as well as premade salads (like bean, pasta or seafood salads), sandwich meats and cheeses, fresh-baked bread (Azamara Quest's bakery selections are absolutely fantastic at every meal and in every dining venue), hot items and several kinds of pizza. Dinner highlights include a carving station, freshly made sushi and made-to-order Asian-style stir-fry. (The chef actually ransacked the galley to cook me up some tofu with my stir-fry.) Occasionally, there's a theme night -- on our cruise, we had Turkish and Indian theme dinners -- but the standard options are always available for those less interested in ethnic cuisine.

Lunch and dinner always seemed to have an inordinate number of desserts, including an ice cream freezer with multiple flavors (including sorbets and sugar-free ice cream). On sea days, afternoon tea is set out buffet-style, but you can still choose from finger sandwiches, cookies and scones -- just without the fancy presentation of tea in Discoveries.

Just outside Windows is the Pool Grill, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which offers the typical burgers and dogs, as well as veggie burgers, chili dogs, brochettes of meat and veggies, ribs and salmon. French fries, onion rings and tortilla chips are also available. If you're not ordering a cheeseburger, wait times can be long, as your meal is grilled to order. Easy to miss is the soft-serve ice cream machine hidden in the corner by the beverage station. We didn't notice it until a few days into the cruise.

For nearly round-the-clock dining, the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. It's the extra-fee specialty coffee and tea kiosk, but munchies like finger sandwiches, cookies and small desserts are always free. Grab a snack to go, or take one of the seats in the open atrium area by the shops and art auction desk.

Azamara Quest has two specialty restaurants -- Prime C and Aqualina -- located side by side on Deck 10. Reservations are required (though on a slow night, you might be able to walk in) for these dinner-only venues, open from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Suite passengers can eat in these restaurants as often as they like, at no charge, while everybody else pays $15 a head. Reservations will be first come, first served.

Prime C is the classic steakhouse and, in my mind, is the better of the two restaurants. It's decorated like so many onboard steakhouses with dark woods, sedate colors and black-and-white photos of old-time celebrities like Elvis, Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart. Tables are spaced well enough apart, and nearly everyone has a sea view. The four-part menu is divided into soups/salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The wild mushroom and three onion soups are not only the best starters, but possibly the best dishes on the entire ship. The entrees -- including the tender filet mignon, the enormous bone-in rib eye steak and the juicy salmon -- were fabulous. All the desserts got high marks, but the best choices, by far, were the chocolate fondue and the cinnamon donuts; dip the donuts into the caramel sauce and then into the chocolate fondue, and savor the fact that you're on vacation!

Service at Prime C is absolutely outstanding. I have never felt so well taken care of at a restaurant. Our waiter, Ahmet, was solicitous and polite -- answering our questions with thorough and accurate explanations, applauding our menu selections and always returning promptly, never leaving us to scan the restaurant looking for him -- but he never hovered over us in an overbearing way.

Aqualina serves up American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Where Prime C is dark, Aqualina is light with cream-colored walls, blue chairs, white tablecloths and wispy, sheer curtains surrounding the maitre d' stand. Each table is lit with a single candle -- an unusual touch for a cruise ship.

The menu has the same four-part structure as Prime C: soups/salads (endive salad with caramelized apples and berries or lobster bisque), appetizers (including a perfectly melty brie in phyllo dough and beautifully presented scallops on corn pancakes), entrees (lobster thermidor, rack of lamb and pan-seared red snapper) and desserts (grand marnier or chocolate souffles). My dinner companion and I were in the mood for fish -- usually a smart move in a Mediterranean restaurant -- but our waiter warned us not to make those selections. We ended up with three fish dishes (one of each) for the two of us, and we were disappointed in all three of them, but the delicious appetizers and salads made up for the mediocre mains.

Service at Aqualina was a tad more distant than at Prime C -- just matter-of-fact order taking and food delivery without the warmth and personal touch of its sister restaurant. Perhaps we were put off by the waiter completely rejecting our dinner choices, but the restaurant's staff simply did not interact with us in the personal way we were treated in Prime C.

Editor's Note: Azamara's literature claims that each passenger is entitled to two meals at specialty restaurants (three for suite passengers), but in reality, this statement is practically meaningless. There's no guarantee you will get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, and Cruise Critic members have complained of trying to get a spot and failing, while others claim to have dined in either Aqualina or Prime C most nights. Book your reservations as early as you can to have the best chance of getting in. Captain's Club members can make one reservation in advance of the cruise.

Finally, room service is available is 24/7. The breakfast menu is more extensive than other ships, which offer only a simple continental repast. Aside from fruit, bagels, cereals and breakfast meats, you can also order omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and a "Healthy Choice" breakfast (egg white omelet, wheat toast, fruit, cottage cheese with granola and orange juice), among other hot items.

During a restaurant's open hours, passengers may order room service from its menu, which butlers can provide daily. Finally, a selection of options available 24 hours a day includes chicken noodle soup, Caesar salad, steak, grilled chicken sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The all-day room service menu actually has quite a number of vegetarian items -- a "Healthy Salad," veggie burger, vegetable lasagna, avocado-tomato quesadillas and cheese pizza.

Dining

The Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 is the main dining room, which serves breakfast and dinner every day and lunch and afternoon tea on sea days. It's always open seating, and passengers can choose to dine alone or join others at larger tables. There are plenty of two-tops; however, there's hardly any space between adjacent tables, meaning you have very little privacy from the diners on either side. Don't forget to check out the ceiling frescoes -- you'll either think they're a nice decorative touch or a bit too much kitsch, depending on your taste.

Breakfast hours change, depending on arrival time in each port, but are roughly from 7 to 9 a.m. on port days and 8 to 9:30 a.m. on sea days. Menu items include eggs made to order, Scottish kippers, pancakes and French toast, fruit, cereals and pastries. Lunch is served from noon to 1:30 p.m. on sea days, but as many passengers prefer to dine more casually, Discoveries is pretty quiet at this time. I quite enjoyed my two-course lunch of feta-and-vegetable salad and pesto pasta. Afternoon tea on sea days (on port days, tea snacks can be found upstairs in the Windows Cafe) is not quite as elegant as on some other lines, but each table offers a three-tiered tray of cookies, petit fours and finger sandwiches, and waiters come around to serve tea and scones with jam and clotted cream. A harp provides musical accompaniment, which is a nice touch.

Discoveries is most popular at dinner, served between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Dinner service tends to be leisurely and takes longer if you're sitting at a mixed table, rather than with just your party. The menu is quite extensive, offering appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, special dinner salad, healthy choice options, entrees and vegetarian options. In addition, 10 to 15 items are always on offer, including Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak and sauteed filet of salmon. A separate dessert menu also contains a wide selection of items, including ice cream, sugar-free options and after-dinner drinks.

The best dishes are the meats (a flank steak dinner salad received two thumbs up) and pastas (including a fabulous ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), and salads are usually good (with the exception of the iceberg salad, which consisted of bland iceberg lettuce dumped on a plate with a handful of veggies). The fish dishes are very hit-or-miss, as are the vegetarian entrees. The chilled fruit soups are, by far, the worst dishes on the menu every night; either the flavors are bad, or they just don't taste like soup. (My chilled strawberry soup should have been a sauce spooned lightly on a chocolate torte, rather than a stand-alone dish.)

For casual dining, the Windows Cafe (for some reason, the name officially changes to Windows Breeza during dinner) is a cut above the typical cruise-ship buffet venue. It's open nearly all day long for early-riser breakfast, regular breakfast and late continental breakfast running from 6 to 11 a.m., lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m., afternoon delights (on port days) from 4 to 5 p.m., and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Coffee, tea and juice are available around the clock. Although the buffet is technically self-service, dining staff are always around to help serve you, and waiter service is available for juice, tea, water and other beverages. Most of the seating is indoors, but you can also choose to dine al fresco on the aft deck.

In the morning, Windows offers a selection of hot breakfast items, cold and hot cereals, pastries, decadent cinnamon rolls, fruit and yogurt. In addition, you can get made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes or French toast. The "Health Nut Bar" serves up freshly squeezed orange juice or fruit smoothies to order. Lunchtime features a huge salad bar, as well as premade salads (like bean, pasta or seafood salads), sandwich meats and cheeses, fresh-baked bread (Azamara Quest's bakery selections are absolutely fantastic at every meal and in every dining venue), hot items and several kinds of pizza. Dinner highlights include a carving station, freshly made sushi and made-to-order Asian-style stir-fry. (The chef actually ransacked the galley to cook me up some tofu with my stir-fry.) Occasionally, there's a theme night -- on our cruise, we had Turkish and Indian theme dinners -- but the standard options are always available for those less interested in ethnic cuisine.

Lunch and dinner always seemed to have an inordinate number of desserts, including an ice cream freezer with multiple flavors (including sorbets and sugar-free ice cream). On sea days, afternoon tea is set out buffet-style, but you can still choose from finger sandwiches, cookies and scones -- just without the fancy presentation of tea in Discoveries.

Just outside Windows is the Pool Grill, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which offers the typical burgers and dogs, as well as veggie burgers, chili dogs, brochettes of meat and veggies, ribs and salmon. French fries, onion rings and tortilla chips are also available. If you're not ordering a cheeseburger, wait times can be long, as your meal is grilled to order. Easy to miss is the soft-serve ice cream machine hidden in the corner by the beverage station. We didn't notice it until a few days into the cruise.

For nearly round-the-clock dining, the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. It's the extra-fee specialty coffee and tea kiosk, but munchies like finger sandwiches, cookies and small desserts are always free. Grab a snack to go, or take one of the seats in the open atrium area by the shops and art auction desk.

Azamara Quest has two specialty restaurants -- Prime C and Aqualina -- located side by side on Deck 10. Reservations are required (though on a slow night, you might be able to walk in) for these dinner-only venues, open from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Azamara takes an unusual approach; instead of charging a $20 to $30 cover charge (like sister lines Royal Caribbean and Celebrity) or offering specialty dining for free (like more upscale lines), the line recommends a suggested service fee of $5 per person, per meal, at either restaurant. It's an odd amount -- not high enough to limit diners wishing to make reservations nor to accurately represent the quality of service, but not free like on most other deluxe and luxury cruise ships.

Prime C is the classic steakhouse and, in my mind, is the better of the two restaurants. It's decorated like so many onboard steakhouses with dark woods, sedate colors and black-and-white photos of old-time celebrities like Elvis, Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart. Tables are spaced well enough apart, and nearly everyone has a sea view. The four-part menu is divided into soups/salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The wild mushroom and three onion soups are not only the best starters, but possibly the best dishes on the entire ship. The entrees -- including the tender filet mignon, the enormous bone-in rib eye steak and the juicy salmon -- were fabulous. All the desserts got high marks, but the best choices, by far, were the chocolate fondue and the cinnamon donuts; dip the donuts into the caramel sauce and then into the chocolate fondue, and savor the fact that you're on vacation!

Service at Prime C is absolutely outstanding. I have never felt so well taken care of at a restaurant. Our waiter, Ahmet, was solicitous and polite -- answering our questions with thorough and accurate explanations, applauding our menu selections and always returning promptly, never leaving us to scan the restaurant looking for him -- but he never hovered over us in an overbearing way.

Aqualina serves up American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Where Prime C is dark, Aqualina is light with cream-colored walls, blue chairs, white tablecloths and wispy, sheer curtains surrounding the maitre d' stand. Each table is lit with a single candle -- an unusual touch for a cruise ship.

The menu has the same four-part structure as Prime C: soups/salads (endive salad with caramelized apples and berries or lobster bisque), appetizers (including a perfectly melty brie in phyllo dough and beautifully presented scallops on corn pancakes), entrees (lobster thermidor, rack of lamb and pan-seared red snapper) and desserts (grand marnier or chocolate souffles). My dinner companion and I were in the mood for fish -- usually a smart move in a Mediterranean restaurant -- but our waiter warned us not to make those selections. We ended up with three fish dishes (one of each) for the two of us, and we were disappointed in all three of them, but the delicious appetizers and salads made up for the mediocre mains.

Service at Aqualina was a tad more distant than at Prime C -- just matter-of-fact order taking and food delivery without the warmth and personal touch of its sister restaurant. Perhaps we were put off by the waiter completely rejecting our dinner choices, but the restaurant's staff simply did not interact with us in the personal way we were treated in Prime C.

Editor's Note: Azamara's literature claims that each passenger is entitled to two meals at specialty restaurants (three for suite passengers), but in reality, this statement is practically meaningless. There's no guarantee you will get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, and Cruise Critic members have complained of trying to get a spot and failing, while others claim to have dined in either Aqualina or Prime C most nights. Book your reservations as early as you can to have the best chance of getting in. Captain's Club members can make one reservation in advance of the cruise.

Finally, room service is available is 24/7. The breakfast menu is more extensive than other ships, which offer only a simple continental repast. Aside from fruit, bagels, cereals and breakfast meats, you can also order omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and a "Healthy Choice" breakfast (egg white omelet, wheat toast, fruit, cottage cheese with granola and orange juice), among other hot items.

During a restaurant's open hours, passengers may order room service from its menu, which butlers can provide daily. Finally, a selection of options available 24 hours a day includes chicken noodle soup, Caesar salad, steak, grilled chicken sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The all-day room service menu actually has quite a number of vegetarian items -- a "Healthy Salad," veggie burger, vegetable lasagna, avocado-tomato quesadillas and cheese pizza.

Dining

The Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 is the main dining room, which serves breakfast and dinner every day and lunch and afternoon tea on sea days. It's always open seating, and passengers can choose to dine alone or join others at larger tables. There are plenty of two-tops; however, there's hardly any space between adjacent tables, meaning you have very little privacy from the diners on either side. Don't forget to check out the ceiling frescoes -- you'll either think they're a nice decorative touch or a bit too much kitsch, depending on your taste.

Breakfast hours change, depending on arrival time in each port, but are roughly from 7 to 9 a.m. on port days and 8 to 9:30 a.m. on sea days. Menu items include eggs made to order, Scottish kippers, pancakes and French toast, fruit, cereals and pastries. Lunch is served from noon to 1:30 p.m. on sea days, but as many passengers prefer to dine more casually, Discoveries is pretty quiet at this time. I quite enjoyed my two-course lunch of feta-and-vegetable salad and pesto pasta. Afternoon tea on sea days (on port days, tea snacks can be found upstairs in the Windows Cafe) is not quite as elegant as on some other lines, but each table offers a three-tiered tray of cookies, petit fours and finger sandwiches, and waiters come around to serve tea and scones with jam and clotted cream. A harp provides musical accompaniment, which is a nice touch.

Discoveries is most popular at dinner, served between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Dinner service tends to be leisurely and takes longer if you're sitting at a mixed table, rather than with just your party. The menu is quite extensive, offering appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, special dinner salad, healthy choice options, entrees and vegetarian options. In addition, 10 to 15 items are always on offer, including Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak and sauteed filet of salmon. A separate dessert menu also contains a wide selection of items, including ice cream, sugar-free options and after-dinner drinks.

The best dishes are the meats (a flank steak dinner salad received two thumbs up) and pastas (including a fabulous ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), and salads are usually good (with the exception of the iceberg salad, which consisted of bland iceberg lettuce dumped on a plate with a handful of veggies). The fish dishes are very hit-or-miss, as are the vegetarian entrees. The chilled fruit soups are, by far, the worst dishes on the menu every night; either the flavors are bad, or they just don't taste like soup. (My chilled strawberry soup should have been a sauce spooned lightly on a chocolate torte, rather than a stand-alone dish.)

For casual dining, the Windows Cafe (for some reason, the name officially changes to Windows Breeza during dinner) is a cut above the typical cruise-ship buffet venue. It's open nearly all day long for early-riser breakfast, regular breakfast and late continental breakfast running from 6 to 11 a.m., lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m., afternoon delights (on port days) from 4 to 5 p.m., and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Coffee, tea and juice are available around the clock. Although the buffet is technically self-service, dining staff are always around to help serve you, and waiter service is available for juice, tea, water and other beverages. Most of the seating is indoors, but you can also choose to dine al fresco on the aft deck.

In the morning, Windows offers a selection of hot breakfast items, cold and hot cereals, pastries, decadent cinnamon rolls, fruit and yogurt. In addition, you can get made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes or French toast. The "Health Nut Bar" serves up freshly squeezed orange juice or fruit smoothies to order. Lunchtime features a huge salad bar, as well as premade salads (like bean, pasta or seafood salads), sandwich meats and cheeses, fresh-baked bread (Azamara Quest's bakery selections are absolutely fantastic at every meal and in every dining venue), hot items and several kinds of pizza. Dinner highlights include a carving station, freshly made sushi and made-to-order Asian-style stir-fry. (The chef actually ransacked the galley to cook me up some tofu with my stir-fry.) Occasionally, there's a theme night -- on our cruise, we had Turkish and Indian theme dinners -- but the standard options are always available for those less interested in ethnic cuisine.

Lunch and dinner always seemed to have an inordinate number of desserts, including an ice cream freezer with multiple flavors (including sorbets and sugar-free ice cream). On sea days, afternoon tea is set out buffet-style, but you can still choose from finger sandwiches, cookies and scones -- just without the fancy presentation of tea in Discoveries.

Just outside Windows is the Pool Grill, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which offers the typical burgers and dogs, as well as veggie burgers, chili dogs, brochettes of meat and veggies, ribs and salmon. French fries, onion rings and tortilla chips are also available. If you're not ordering a cheeseburger, wait times can be long, as your meal is grilled to order. Easy to miss is the soft-serve ice cream machine hidden in the corner by the beverage station. We didn't notice it until a few days into the cruise.

For nearly round-the-clock dining, the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. It's the extra-fee specialty coffee and tea kiosk, but munchies like finger sandwiches, cookies and small desserts are always free. Grab a snack to go, or take one of the seats in the open atrium area by the shops and art auction desk.

Azamara Quest has two specialty restaurants -- Prime C and Aqualina -- located side by side on Deck 10. Reservations are required (though on a slow night, you might be able to walk in) for these dinner-only venues, open from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Suite passengers can eat in these restaurants as often as they like, at no charge, while everybody else pays $15 a head. Reservations will be first come, first served.

Prime C is the classic steakhouse and, in my mind, is the better of the two restaurants. It's decorated like so many onboard steakhouses with dark woods, sedate colors and black-and-white photos of old-time celebrities like Elvis, Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart. Tables are spaced well enough apart, and nearly everyone has a sea view. The four-part menu is divided into soups/salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The wild mushroom and three onion soups are not only the best starters, but possibly the best dishes on the entire ship. The entrees -- including the tender filet mignon, the enormous bone-in rib eye steak and the juicy salmon -- were fabulous. All the desserts got high marks, but the best choices, by far, were the chocolate fondue and the cinnamon donuts; dip the donuts into the caramel sauce and then into the chocolate fondue, and savor the fact that you're on vacation!

Service at Prime C is absolutely outstanding. I have never felt so well taken care of at a restaurant. Our waiter, Ahmet, was solicitous and polite -- answering our questions with thorough and accurate explanations, applauding our menu selections and always returning promptly, never leaving us to scan the restaurant looking for him -- but he never hovered over us in an overbearing way.

Aqualina serves up American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Where Prime C is dark, Aqualina is light with cream-colored walls, blue chairs, white tablecloths and wispy, sheer curtains surrounding the maitre d' stand. Each table is lit with a single candle -- an unusual touch for a cruise ship.

The menu has the same four-part structure as Prime C: soups/salads (endive salad with caramelized apples and berries or lobster bisque), appetizers (including a perfectly melty brie in phyllo dough and beautifully presented scallops on corn pancakes), entrees (lobster thermidor, rack of lamb and pan-seared red snapper) and desserts (grand marnier or chocolate souffles). My dinner companion and I were in the mood for fish -- usually a smart move in a Mediterranean restaurant -- but our waiter warned us not to make those selections. We ended up with three fish dishes (one of each) for the two of us, and we were disappointed in all three of them, but the delicious appetizers and salads made up for the mediocre mains.

Service at Aqualina was a tad more distant than at Prime C -- just matter-of-fact order taking and food delivery without the warmth and personal touch of its sister restaurant. Perhaps we were put off by the waiter completely rejecting our dinner choices, but the restaurant's staff simply did not interact with us in the personal way we were treated in Prime C.

Editor's Note: Azamara's literature claims that each passenger is entitled to two meals at specialty restaurants (three for suite passengers), but in reality, this statement is practically meaningless. There's no guarantee you will get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, and Cruise Critic members have complained of trying to get a spot and failing, while others claim to have dined in either Aqualina or Prime C most nights. Book your reservations as early as you can to have the best chance of getting in. Captain's Club members can make one reservation in advance of the cruise.

Finally, room service is available is 24/7. The breakfast menu is more extensive than other ships, which offer only a simple continental repast. Aside from fruit, bagels, cereals and breakfast meats, you can also order omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and a "Healthy Choice" breakfast (egg white omelet, wheat toast, fruit, cottage cheese with granola and orange juice), among other hot items.

During a restaurant's open hours, passengers may order room service from its menu, which butlers can provide daily. Finally, a selection of options available 24 hours a day includes chicken noodle soup, Caesar salad, steak, grilled chicken sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The all-day room service menu actually has quite a number of vegetarian items -- a "Healthy Salad," veggie burger, vegetable lasagna, avocado-tomato quesadillas and cheese pizza.

Gratuity

The onboard currency is the dollar. Gratuities of $12.25 per person, per day apply to all passengers(including third and fourth passengers in a stateroom and children) in standard cabins. Passengers in Penthouse, Royal and Sky Suites are charged an additional $4 gratuity per person, per day, to cover the services of a Head Butler, in addition to the butler and stateroom attendant. The total gratuity for suite passengers is $16.25 per person, per day.

Gratuities for all passengers are automatically added to your onboard account and cannot be modified or removed. Consider it a service fee, rather than a discretionary tip.

Gratuity

Tips are included in the cruise fare, but additional tipping is at the passengers' discretion. Spa gratuities are not included in the voyage fare. And 18 percent gratuity will be added to passengers' onboard folio for spa services.Azamara Quest will never be a true luxury product -- not with its small staterooms and aging real estate in an industry where "newer" and "bigger" often mean "better." But with its smart new focus on "destination immersion" and sharply expanded menu of complimentary amenities, Azamara Club Cruises has carved out an upmarket niche that should have staying power.

What Azamara Quest (and sister ship Journey) aims to deliver is, as CEO Larry Pimentel frames it, a "bucket list" of must-see destinations around the world. How? With longer stays in port, more overnights and nighttime touring. It's a strategic move that represents a distinct departure from traditional cruising, which typically features daytime port visits and no overnights or nighttime touring. The ship also plans itineraries around popular events, docking in Rio for Carnaval, Monaco for the Grand Prix and London for the Chelsea Garden Show.

On our seven-night cruise along the French Riviera, we overnighted in both Nice and Monte Carlo. And, in other ports, we sailed away as late as 10 p.m., so there was ample time to enjoy dinner or explore the nightlife on shore. (One downside: On shorter itineraries with no sea days, there is no real sense of the sail or the sea because the cruising itself occurs in the dark. If that's an important consideration, it's best to rethink your itinerary.)

In addition, every cruise now features one complimentary AzAmazing Evening -- a local performance, concert or sporting event staged exclusively for Azamara that showcases a region's culture and cuisine. On our AzAmazing Evening in Sete, France, we watched a colorful water-jousting competition, a local tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, followed by an outdoor reception (with sparkling wines, octopus pie, fresh oysters and mussels) and fireworks. It was a showstopper.

As for the ship, Azamara Quest considers itself a floating boutique hotel. When it launched in 2007 with nearly 700 passengers, the ship was considered mid-size. By today's mega-ship standards, it's a small vessel, and that's part of its charm. Also, what Quest lacks in stateroom and bathroom panache, it makes up for with its handsome public spaces. It doesn't hurt either that the ship underwent a $10 million refurbishment in late 2012 that included an interior design redo of the Windows buffet restaurant, new chaise lounges on the pool deck, all new equipment in the fitness center and an upgrade of carpeting and furniture fabrics in most of the public spaces.

The food and service overall are quite good by any standard. One of the game-changers, though, are new fare inclusions -- not only an AzAmazing Evening but the self-service laundry, complimentary shuttles in many ports, butlers for suite passengers, house wines, beer, selected spirits, bottled water and soft drinks. The onboard experience is far more luxurious than it was before. Both onboard and ashore, this is a ship that has reinvented itself.

Dining

The Discoveries Dining Room on Deck 5 is the main dining room, which serves breakfast and dinner every day and lunch and afternoon tea on sea days. It's always open seating, and passengers can choose to dine alone or join others at larger tables. There are plenty of two-tops; however, there's hardly any space between adjacent tables, meaning you have very little privacy from the diners on either side. Don't forget to check out the ceiling frescoes -- you'll either think they're a nice decorative touch or a bit too much kitsch, depending on your taste.

Breakfast hours change, depending on arrival time in each port, but are roughly from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Menu items include eggs made to order, Scottish kippers, pancakes and French toast, fruit, cereal and pastries. Lunch is served on sea days only. You can make lunch a four-course affair or keep it simple by ordering the burger of the day. Afternoon tea on sea days (on port days, tea snacks can be found upstairs in the Windows Cafe) is not quite as elegant as it is on some other lines, but each table offers a three-tiered tray of cookies, petit fours and finger sandwiches, and waiters come around to serve tea and scones with jam and clotted cream.

Discoveries is most popular at dinner, served between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Dinner service tends to be leisurely and takes longer if you're sitting at a mixed table, rather than with just your party. The menu is quite extensive, offering appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, special dinner salad, healthy choice entrees and vegetarian options. In addition, 10 to 15 items are always on offer, including Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, New York strip steak and sauteed filet of salmon. A separate dessert menu also contains a wide selection of items, including ice cream, sugar-free options and after-dinner drinks.

The best dishes are the meats (a flank steak dinner salad received two thumbs up) and pastas (including a fabulous ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), and salads are usually good (with the exception of the iceberg salad, which consisted of bland iceberg lettuce dumped on a plate with a handful of veggies). It's best to steer clear of the chilled fruit soups.

For casual dining, Windows Cafe on Deck 9 is one of the best buffets at sea. It's open nearly all day long for early-riser breakfast, regular breakfast and late continental breakfast, running from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m.; afternoon delights (on port days) from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and dinner from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Coffee, tea and juice are available around the clock. Although the buffet is technically self-service, dining staff are always around to help serve you, and waiter service is available for juice, tea, water and other beverages. Most of the seating is indoors, but you can also choose to dine alfresco on the aft deck.

In the morning, Windows offers a selection of hot breakfast items, cold and hot cereals, pastries, decadent cinnamon rolls, fruit and yogurt. In addition, you can get made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes or French toast. The "Health Nut Bar" serves up freshly squeezed orange juice or fruit smoothies to order. Lunchtime features a salad bar, as well as innovative premade salads (like butternut red beet, pork and lychee or seafood salads), sandwich meats and cheeses, fresh-baked bread (Azamara Quest's bakery selections are absolutely fantastic at every meal and in every dining venue), hot entrees like grilled mahi mahi and veal Milanese, a carving station, sushi bar and several kinds of pizza. Dinner highlights include a carving station, freshly made sushi and made-to-order Asian-style stir-fry. Every night is a theme night -- on our cruise, we had French, Indian, Mediterranean, Italian and Greek theme dinners -- but the standard options are always available for those less interested in ethnic cuisine.

Lunch and dinner always seemed to have an inordinate number of desserts on offer, like multiple flavors of ice cream (including sorbets and sugar-free ice cream). On sea days, afternoon tea is set out buffet-style, but you can still choose from finger sandwiches, cookies and scones -- just without the fancy presentation of tea in Discoveries.

Just outside Windows is the Pool Grill, open noon to 6 p.m., which offers the typical burgers and dogs, as well as veggie burgers, chili dogs, brochettes of meat and veggies, ribs, seared tuna spinach wraps, Cuban-style pork sandwiches and salmon. French fries, onion rings, grilled veggies, chicken fingers and tortilla chips are also available. If you're not ordering a cheeseburger, wait times can be long, as your meal is grilled to order. Easy to miss is the soft-serve ice cream machine hidden in the corner by the beverage station. We didn't notice it until a few days into the cruise.

For nearly round-the-clock dining, the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. It's the extra-fee specialty coffee and tea kiosk, but munchies like finger sandwiches, cookies and small desserts are always free. Grab a snack to go, or take one of the seats in the open atrium area by the shops.

Azamara Quest has two specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, located side-by-side on Deck 10. Reservations are required (though you can walk in on a slow night) for these dinner-only venues, open from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Suite passengers can eat in these restaurants as often as they like, at no charge, while everybody else pays $25 a head. Reservations are first-come, first-served.

Prime C is the classic steakhouse and likely the better of the two restaurants. It's decorated, like so many onboard steakhouses, with dark woods, sedate colors and black-and-white photos of old-time celebrities like Elvis, Judy Garland and Humphrey Bogart. Tables are spaced well enough apart, and nearly everyone has a sea view. The four-part menu is divided into soups/salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The entrees -- including the tender filet mignon, the enormous bone-in rib eye steak and the juicy salmon -- were fabulous. All the desserts got high marks, but the best choices, by far, were the chocolate fondue and the cinnamon donuts; dip the donuts into the caramel sauce and then into the chocolate fondue, and savor the fact that you're on vacation.

Service at Prime C is absolutely outstanding. We've never felt so well taken care of at a restaurant. Our waiter, Ahmet, was solicitous and polite, answering our questions with thorough and accurate explanations, applauding our menu selections and always returning promptly, never leaving us to scan the restaurant looking for him, but he never hovered over us in an overbearing way.

Aqualina serves up American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Where Prime C is dark, Aqualina is light, airy and elegant with taupe-colored walls, blue chairs, white tablecloths and wispy, sheer curtains surrounding the maitre d' stand.

The menu has the same four-part structure as Prime C: soups/salads (endive salad with caramelized apples and berries, seafood bouillabaisse, lobster bisque), appetizers (including a perfectly melty brie in phyllo dough and beautifully presented scallops on corn pancakes), entrees (osso bucco, rack of lamb, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, and "duo of duck," a combination of roasted breast and duck confit) and desserts (grand marnier or chocolate souffles). My dinner companion and I were in the mood for fish -- usually a smart move in a Mediterranean restaurant -- but our waiter warned us not to make those selections. We ended up with three fish dishes (one of each) for the two of us, and we were disappointed in all three of them, but the delicious appetizers and salads made up for the mediocre mains.

Aqualina also offers a caviar and Champagne bar from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fees apply (although passengers do not pay the $25 admission fee if they partake in the caviar bar only).

Notably, as of 2013, sodas, house wines and beers (Budweiser, Bud Lite and Beck's draft) are free with meals and in the bars. The complimentary spirits menu includes Smirnoff and Findlandia vodkas, Jim Beam bourbon, Cutty Sark scotch and cocktails like Bloody Marys, gimlets and Manhattans. Passengers who consume their own wine, beer or spirits in a shipboard restaurant, bar or dining venue are charged a $10 corkage fee per bottle.

Finally, room service is available is 24/7. The breakfast menu is more extensive than on other ships, which offer only a simple continental repast. Aside from fruit, bagels, cereal and breakfast meats, you can also order omelets, pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and a "Healthy Choice" breakfast (egg white omelet, wheat toast, fruit, cottage cheese with granola and orange juice), among other hot items.

During a restaurant's open hours, passengers may order room service from its menu. Finally, a selection of options available 24 hours a day includes chicken noodle soup, Caesar salad, steak, grilled chicken sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and assorted alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. The all-day room service menu actually has quite a number of vegetarian items: a "Healthy Salad," veggie burger, vegetable lasagna, avocado-tomato quesadillas and cheese pizza.

Public Rooms

Azamara Quest's reception area has a cozy feel with the purser's desk, shore excursions desk and future cruise sails desk all located in the main atrium area of Deck 4, surrounded by comfy chairs and couches. On Deck 5, the Photo Shop is located across from the casino; there you can browse and purchase photos taken by the ship's photography staff. In the atrium area by the Mosaic Cafe are two boutiques; the Quest Shop sells everything from logowear and stuffed animals to rather expensive clothing, bags and sundries, while Indulgences offers more upscale purchases, such as designer sunglasses, fancy watches and liquor.

The beautiful library is up on Deck 10 by Prime C and Aqualina. It has an extensive collection of books and a ceiling fresco of birds, giving the impression of a greenhouse. Although the library is called the Drawing Room, it's the Looking Glass lounge that offers card tables, board games and a Wii gaming system (featuring virtual golf and bowling).

The eConnections computer center is just outside the spa; if you want to use the ship's wireless, you must go there first to set up an account. You can purchase Internet packages for $18.95 (30 minutes), $26.95 (45 minutes), $47.95 (85 minutes), $79.95 (150 minutes) or $99.95 (235 minutes). Without a package, Internet use costs 65 cents a minute. There's no charge to use the printer hooked up to the eConnections computers; it's great for printing out boarding passes. The Internet connection was okay on our trip, but it sometimes took a while for pages to load.

There's a complimentary self-service laundry with soap and ironing boards on Deck 7.

Cabins

Azamara Quest has seven categories of staterooms. Inside cabins (158 square feet), outside cabins (170 square feet), verandah cabins (175 square feet with 40-square-foot balconies) and sunset verandah cabins (same size cabin with larger 46- to 64-square-foot balconies) have more or less the same layout, each featuring a bed, desk, closet and sitting area with a loveseat and small table. All are decorated in soft tones of blue, beige and light green and feature dark wooden furnishings. They also have electric outlets that accommodate both 110 and 220 volts.

Beds are comfortable. In fact, every mattress was replaced in the 2012 refurbishment. However, between the two regular pillows and two decorative pillows on each bed, as well as the loveseat's throw pillows, the small cabins can often feel overwhelmed with them. Outside and balcony cabins that sleep three will typically have pullout sofas, while inside cabins have beds that pull down from the ceiling. Balconies are each furnished with two chairs and a table -- great for eating, bad for lounging. Storage is adequate and got better in 2012 with an adjustment to beds, which now permits luggage storage below.

Bathrooms are smaller than average; toilets face at odd angles, and tiny showers have the dreaded clingy curtains. Bathrooms come with bottles of About Rose brand shampoo, conditioner, foaming body wash and body lotion, and there's a hairdryer in one of the desk cabinets. Safes and mini-fridges with complimentary sodas and water can be found in the closets. There are also alcoholic beverages for purchase. Passengers are welcome to bring their own wine, beer or spirits onboard to consume in their cabins without incurring extra fees. Flat-screen TV's offer interactive features that allow passengers to view their bills or order room service on screen.

All cabins on Azamara Quest receive fruit baskets, replenished daily; free bottles of water; fresh-cut flowers; turn-down sweets; afternoon canapes (you must request them); shoe-shine service; personal stationery; and complimentary use of bathrobes, binoculars and umbrellas.

At 266 square feet with 60-square-foot verandahs, Club Continent Suites are extra-spacious verandah cabins. The color scheme is red and beige. These staterooms have extra-large sitting areas with sofas and chairs, as well as larger closets. Bathrooms are huge, compared to those in regular cabins, and they feature tubs.

In a nod to luxury, Azamara Quest offers Club Ocean and Club World Suites. The Ocean Suites, ranging from 440 to 501 square feet, each feature a separate living/dining room and master bedroom, a master bath with whirlpool tub and shower, guest bathroom and a 105- to 156-square-foot verandah. The World Suites, at 560 square feet, have a separate living/dining room and master bedroom, walk-in closet, dressing room with vanity, master bathroom with marble features and a whirlpool tub, guest bathroom and a 233-square-foot verandah.

Suite passengers receive priority check-in, luggage delivery and priority debarkation; butler service; free garment-pressing of two items per person; in-suite spa services (for a fee); a welcome bottle of Champagne; specialty in-suite coffees; and complimentary dinners in the two specialty restaurants.

Entertainment

The main onboard entertainment venue is Deck 5. The Cabaret show lounge is an intimate performance space with a bar in the back. Instead of a Broadway-style theater with a big stage and stadium seating, it feels more like the secondary show lounge on larger ships with a small stage, dance floor and rows of free-standing chairs that are arranged in semicircles around the dance floor. Sightlines aren't fabulous, so be sure to grab a seat early.

Continuing aft, the Casino Luxe features slot machines and gaming tables, as well as Club Luxe, its own recently expanded bar. Past the shops, the Mosaic Cafe is in an open, atrium-style space with scattered seating that represents the social hub of the ship; it's where you pause to grab a midday snack, hang out on a sea day with a deck of cards or a good book, or listen to musical performances. Outside Discoveries is the Discoveries Lounge, which is the perfect spot to sip a before-dinner drink while listening to music. On Deck 10, the elegant Looking Glass lounge has it all: a dance floor, D.J. booth, bar, card tables and board games, and Wii. Typically, multiple activities are going on there at once.

If you are on a longer cruise, you will find that Azamara Quest packs its sea days with plenty of daytime activities. (The spacing between event listings in the Pursuits daily newsletters is noticeably reduced to squeeze all the activities in.) But, for the most part, activities are limited to cliched onboard events. You'll find multiple trivia games each day in addition to line-dancing classes, spa seminars on burning fat faster or eating more to weigh less, arts and crafts like origami or jewelry-making, casino or sports (Ping-Pong, shuffleboard) tournaments, bridge, bingo, culinary demonstrations and wine-tastings. Enrichment programming has never been a hallmark of Azamara, but that should change, due to the line's new arrangement with Compass, a provider of top-notch enrichment lecturers used by companies like Crystal and Seabourn.

In the evenings, you can find a variety of musical entertainment throughout the ship, including a guitarist or pianist at Club Luxe (by the casino), Looking Glass or Discoveries Lounge. Performances in the Cabaret show lounge on our cruise featured a comedian, singers and a classical pianist -- nothing super special.

Some nights offer additional evening entertainment, including movies, dance classes and an alfresco deck party called White Night that features a huge outdoor buffet and local folkloric entertainment.

Azamara's shore excursions department offers the usual sightseeing opportunities, but it has amped up its options with the addition of tours directed at more active travelers. One example is a four-mile hike on a French Riviera beach with a break for a wine tasting and typical Provencal meal. Prices are all over the map. A concierge is available to help passengers arrange for private excursions or tours that are run independent of the ship. The ship also provides complimentary shuttles to and from port communities, where available.

Each cruise, except for transatlantic voyages, includes a complimentary AzAmazing Evening that showcases the best of local culture in fabulous settings and famous landmarks. In Gibraltar, for example, passengers were treated to a concert inside St. Michael's Cave. In Saint-Tropez on the French Riveria, they watched a polo match, then socialized afterward with polo players onboard the ship. And in the Ancient City outside of Bangkok, passengers had a personal tour of replicas of different kingdoms, where they were introduced to Thai beer and cuisine.

Fitness and Recreation

Deck 9 is the lido deck, with one pool and two whirlpools surrounded by loungers with cloth-covered padding. Wicker tables and chairs are set up for alfresco dining by the Pool Grill; on the opposite side of the pool bar, a covered area offers comfy couches and lounges for reading or hanging out in a shadier spot. On the forward end of the pool deck, a Ping-Pong table is available for game play. One deck up, an oval track circles the pool area for walking or jogging. A half-deck on Deck 11 provides additional space for sunbathing and is a great place to stargaze on the one night the ship turns the upstairs lights off.

Given the size of the ship, the Astral Spa (featuring Elemis products) has to be small, but it does offer full service. A salon offers typical hairstyling, manicure and pedicure services, while treatment rooms are available for everything from massages to facials and Ionithermie Algae Detox. An acupuncturist is also onboard. Wait for the in-port spa specials for treatments at reduced rates. Passes to the thalassotherapy pool and spa sun deck are complimentary for suite passengers but can be purchased by others. A one-day pass is $20, and a couple's cruise pass costs $150.

The small fitness center packs a lot into minimal space. Elliptical trainers, treadmills and stationary bikes all have high-tech displays with TV capabilities. Behind them, a selection of free weights and a few weight machines are available for pumping iron. An aerobics area is kitted out with spinning bikes, conditioning balls and yoga mats. Fitness classes -- including yoga, Pilates, core strengthening, body conditioning, spinning and stretching -- are all free of charge. Personal training and a four-session body sculpting boot camp are available for additional fees.

The best-kept secrets on the ship are the spa locker rooms. Use of the steamrooms is free (just swap your cruise card for a locker key), and so are the spa showers, each with multiple jets for a massaging wash. When you're tired of fighting with the curtain or banging your elbows in the tiny cabin showers, head on up to the spa for a more enjoyable cleansing. The anteroom between spa reception and the locker rooms also serves up fruit-infused waters for free, which are quite refreshing whether you've been to the spa, worked out or have simply been lounging in the sun.

Family

Azamara Quest has no children's areas or programming, though kids are allowed onboard. Infants must be at least 6 months old to sail (or 12 months on all transoceanic voyages).

The pool, Wii, some board games and in-cabin TV's are pretty much the only shipboard amenities that will entertain children. If you plan on bringing your brood onboard, make sure they're capable of finding their own fun while on the ship. On rare occasions, when there are 25 or more children onboard during summer or holidays, Azamara Quest will "borrow" a youth counselor from its parent company Royal Caribbean International for the duration of the cruise.

Fellow Passengers

Passengers onboard were an international mix, though the largest nation represented by far was the U.S., followed by the U.K., Canada and Australia. Other Europeans rounded out the lot, although there were also passengers from the Dominican Republic, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Chile and Mexico.

A large fraction of passengers are seniors, but Azamara says the average age is 55 to 57. Onboard entertainment, from trivia topics to musical choice, is clearly intended for Baby Boomers and their elders.

Almost a quarter of passengers on a typical voyage are first-time cruisers who are seasoned land travelers. Azamara says its chief competitors are boutique hotels. Statistically, the cruise lines it draws from are, in order, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal.

Dress Code

Azamara Quest's evening dress code is always resort casual, which means slacks and nice, collared shirts for men, and sundresses, dressy slacks or skirts for ladies. Dressing to the nines is the exception, rather than the rule; we saw some stunning dresses in the specialty restaurants Prime C and Aqualina and in the Discoveries main dining room, as well as a handful of men in suits; mostly passengers dressed nicely but not necessarily fancily. Jeans are not permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants.

Gratuity

Tips are included in cruise fares, but additional tipping is at passengers' discretion. Spa gratuities are not included in fares. An 18 percent gratuity will be added to passengers' onboard folio for spa services. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Cruise Critic

Cruise reviews are provided by CruiseCritic.com, an award-winning cruise community and online resource for objective cruise information, published by The Independent Traveler. Copyright 1995-2009, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved. Travelocity.com LP neither assumes any liability nor makes any representations with respect to cruise reviews and other content provided by CruiseCritic.com. Before relying on any information in a cruise review, we recommend that passengers confirm the information with the cruise line.