Baltic Cruise on Azamara Quest - the ship

Sarah Bolton on 11 September 2013
Each year I try to get away over my birthday - last year was Prague, and this year I did a Baltic cruise on-board one of my favourite cruise ships, the Azamara Quest. The itinerary started in Stockholm and ended in Copenhagen. It included calls at Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Kiel, Warnemunde and Travemunde.

The Azamara Quest is a premium ship which is small, with a relaxed style, refined feel and friendly atmosphere. I chose a cabin with a picture window, as I personally like to watch as the ship dock. It’s a great way to see the port and to get an idea of what the weather is doing! The cabins are well appointed, with comfortable beds, lots of storage, and I definitely felt like I was coming home each day when I returned.

The food on-board is the best I've had at sea - whether I ate in the buffet (Windows Café), pool grill, the main restaurant (Discoveries) or the specialty restaurants (Prime C and Aqualina). Dining included themed evenings in Windows Café, a different menu every day in the main restaurant and the choice of dining in the specialty restaurants (where a cover surcharge applies). My personal favourite, and where I had my birthday dinner, was Prime C. My birthday feast was truly decadent, with my selection being beef Carpaccio to start, followed by lobster bisque, Caesar salad, filet mignon with peppercorn sauce served with steak fries and creamed spinach and finally a to-die-for warm chocolate lava cake.

The service throughout the ship is impeccable. The crew are so friendly and personable that you really do feel you've made friends. I found it quite astonishing that on embarkation day many of the crew remembered me from my previous cruise four months previously - and some even remembered my name. The waiter on ‘eggs’ duty at the Windows Cafe also remembered my special request for Eggs Benedict from the previous cruise!

Earlier this year Azamara became ‘more inclusive’, with added value included in the cruise price. As well as full board, most drinks are now included, along with gratuities, free port shuttle buses and one complimentary ‘AzAmazing Evening' per cruise. For more details on this just read my blog which focuses on the itinerary.

The entertainment is low-key, but good quality - you won't find big Broadway style spectacles on a ship of this size, but every evening there is entertainment in the main theatre, either by the ships singers, dancers and band or by a guest performer. Some of the lounges also feature a pianist or harpist - or the DJ in the nightclub, so there's always something going on to appeal to everyone.

The shore excursions are well-priced and of an excellent standard, with wonderful guides and well thought out itineraries (and if you pre-book them online you get a bit of a discount!)

The clientele on board are mainly American, but with a large contingent of Brits and Canadians, and then small numbers of varying nationalities - this cruise saw quite a few Australians on board.

Overall I've fallen in love with this ship and its crew, and can't wait until my next cruise on my ‘second home’. To read more details about my cruise in my blog that focusses on the itinerary.