What made Quest and the Sea of Cortez an Azamazing experience

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So, I have said a sad farewell to the Azamara Quest after a wonderful 12-day cruise to the Sea of Cortez that will remain long in the memory.
Not just for the occasional glimpses of whales and dolphins – I had hoped for more – and not only for the marathon excursion by train to the Mexico’s amazing Copper Canyon, which I wrote about a few days ago.
After the initial disappointments of Mazatlan and La Paz, we visited some lovely ports of call. Loreto – where Quest spent two days – is a real gem, and Cabo San Lucas at Baja California’s Land’s End has something for everyone.
Topiary archways cast welcome shade over Loreto’s principal pedestrian thoroughfare, and a recently-opened esplanade is a striking addition to the town’s seafront. Unlike most developments in Mexico, it actually looks complete.
The town is the site of the first European settlement on the Baja peninsula and a Jesuit Mission was opened in 1697. At a time when Las Californias stretched from Cabo all the way to Oregon, Loreto was the capital for 80 years.
Devastated by a hurricane in 1829, it enjoyed a brief flirtation with fame and celebrity in the 1940s and 50s when it attracted Hollywood stars, but a plan by the Mexican government to develop it as a major tourist destination has so far come to little.
Thank goodness. Cabo San Lucas – which has benefitted from Government backing, an airport, and the construction of countless condominiums, hotel resorts and spas, is a fun hang-out but some of us prefer peaceful solitude to the manic action of Senor Frog’s and $1-a-shot tequilas.
The real star of last week’s show was Azamara Quest herself, and her amazing crew.
For the ship we must pass a hearty vote of thanks to the long-defunct Renaissance Cruises, who built eight almost-identical 670-passenger vessels in short order and then promptly went bust.
The ships live on, thank goodness. As well as Azamara Journey and Quest (originally R6 and R7), Oceania Cruises has three and Princess two. The final one in the fleet, R8, is P&O’s Adonia, having also seen service as Minerva 2 and Royal Princess.
Despite being compact in size, the ships retain some of the grandeur of the so-called golden age of ocean liners. Screw your eyes up and squint, and the wrought iron balustrade of the Mosaic Café and the staircase down to the Deck 4 reception area could even pass for a miniature version of Cunard’s QM2.
OK, for a ship offering a luxury experience at somewhat less than the highest prices, the cabins and especially the bathrooms are on the compact side.
But there is ample public space, both indoors and on the open decks. For much of last week’s cruise the forward sun deck 11 was inexplicably almost deserted while chairs and loungers by the pool one level down were packed.
Food, in the Windows buffet and the Discoveries restaurant, was uniformly excellent; the two speciality dining venues, Prime C and Aqualina, were top class.
The crew were also out of the top drawer. Drawn from 40 nationalities, they worked together as a team and went out of their way to be helpful, considerate and friendly.
Following the trend of other luxury cruise brands, Azamara is all-inclusive when it comes to drinks – and that covers everything from bottled water to espresso coffees, to a beer at lunch and wine with dinner, plus basic cocktails and house spirits.
There’s a bewildering array of extra-cost drinks packages available for those who simply must have Grey Goose vodka, Laphroaig whisky and Remy Martin VSOP brandy, but most of those bottles stayed behind the bar, gathering dust, while everyone drank the regular stuff.
And, of course, we experienced one of Azamara’s trademark Azamazing evenings. The ship stayed in Cabo until almost midnight so we could travel a few miles from town to a grand beachside to watch an evening of myth and mystery, energetically put together and choreographed, and concluding with a breath-taking sequence of fire-juggling sequences.
As the show came to an end, with passengers in admiration of what to most had been a complete surprise, cruise director Russ Thomas Grieve asked for silence. We paused momentarily, only to be shocked again by a spectacular fireworks finale over the ocean.
What a night! And what an Azamazing cruise!

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:27+00:00 12 February 2014|Cruise Destinations, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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