Azamara’s new ultra-modern ship is a classic small ship (684 passengers) that has been given a fresh and elegant makeover, a world of earth tones, warm grays and browns such as aged wood, with a touch of olive green.
Like the Azamara Onward style, the ship was christened at the Monte Carlo dock on May 2 and the first official cruise departed the next day. The multimillion-dollar restoration set the tone for Azamara’s three other ships, ready for summer voyages in the Mediterranean.
Azamara Onward has an understated and elegant atmosphere, both in the restaurants or bars (where most drinks are included in the fare) and in the accommodations, divided between staterooms and suites.
This is a cruise without the crowds of much larger ships for people who appreciate the finer things in life but enjoy cruising for what it is, rather than looking for a wild resort experience. The pace of life is relaxed and the ship’s modest size gives her access to smaller ports – on our maiden voyage she docked right next to the Old Port in the heart of Marseille, rather than the terminal used by most cruise ships is used. A few miles away.
Your cabin or suite
Our room had a modest balcony with a table and comfortable chairs, a TV with UK news channels (and Sky Sports News), a king size bed, sofa, desk and decent wardrobe space. The shower room was not large but well-appointed with a floor that looked like floorboards. There was a fridge but no coffee or tea. Some rooms do not have a balcony and others have no windows.
The suites are spread over several levels, with the Club Ocean suites opening onto large balconies at the front of the ship, while the premier Club World suites are at the rear. There are also two spa suites. Suite guests have unlimited access to specialty restaurants (lounge guests pay an additional fee). Suite accommodations have Wi-Fi, while it costs $19.95 a day for stateroom passengers – about £110 for a seven-night cruise
Food and drink
The main restaurant is Discoveries, on ship level with lots of dark wood and chandeliers. The menu includes half a dozen starters and main dishes, plus plenty of seafood. There is also an ever-available list of specials, including shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, salmon, and New York-style steak and chips, as well as world specials of the day such as Taste of the Mediterranean Day, which features swordfish with tabbouleh, Greek-style lamb chops, and fig and almond olives. oil pie.
The Windows Café (with a back porch that catches the sun) is a daily buffet with hearty breakfast options, from bacon and eggs to international dishes such as chickpea fritters, fruit, cold cuts and cheeses. Lunch options include vegetable curries. Just outside your door is The Patio, a patio grill serving burgers, chicken and lamb kebabs, and loads of salads – eat at shaded tables around the pool or by the Windows.
After dark, Windows transforms into an à la carte restaurant with everyday themes such as French, Italian and Mediterranean; dinner on the porch under the golden sunset was a delight.
At the stern of the ship there are two paid restaurants, Aqualina (Italian) and Prime C (steakhouse). Food costs $30 unless you’re in a suite, in which case it’s free. At the far end of Aqualina is a chef’s table, each with a seven-course tasting menu for $95.
Between the two is the small and sophisticated Atlas Bar, only cocktails from a select list (such as the Heart of Azamara: vodka, strawberry puree, lime juice, passion fruit nectar, Galliano, and absinthe), $17.95 each. Small plates such as smoked lobster carpaccio are also available for purchase.
At other bars, drinks are free, although there are two drink packages, Premium ($16.95 a day) with top brands and Ultimate ($23.95 a day) with Champagne, a wider selection of Atlas wines and cocktails.
The main bar is The Living Room, a large lounge where evenings can get lively.
The Den is a quieter bar with a pianist in the evenings.
The car-free Mosaic Café offers specialty coffee and snacks (breakfast croissants, savory lunchtime treats, and afternoon pastries), all free.
The main deck has a small pool and a couple of hot tubs with lounge chairs. The Sanctum Spa has a steam room, sauna, and treatment rooms, including massages (a 50-minute Swedish massage costs $149) and acupuncture. There’s a proper glass-walled gym that’s free for all, with free rounds and yoga classes. The thalassotherapy pool and outdoor terrace are free, but only for suite guests and guests who book a treatment. There is a walking/jogging track upstairs. The Drawing Room is a nice place to borrow books and games. Each port has a selection of excursions that often sample the region’s best, such as our wine tastings and lunches at the Buranco boutique vineyard just off the Italian coast.
The ship is not full of live entertainment. There is no theater, but shows are held in the Cabaret Lounge. A troupe of singers and dancers performed upbeat performances – we saw Groove Tonight disco party and other new acts such as Club Crooner (Sinatra and more) and Amped Up (70s rock).
‘AzAmazing Events’ will feature local acts on late departure days. Filipino band East Pearl play exciting rock and pop tunes on the deck as the sun sets and later in the evening in The Living Room. Other musicians play in different places and then The Living Room turns into a nightclub.
Azamara Onward hosts a spectacular party on the deck of the Notte Bianca and invites guests to wear white on all cruises of a week or longer. We were docked at the Monte Carlo, which has a breathtaking backdrop, and the pool deck was full of banners, flags and whitewashed tables. Onward Orchestra played while we buzzed in the cocktail atmosphere. We were then asked to find seats and proceed to the buffet, which buffet. There was a large grill element with chicken, steak and even piles of lobster tails cooked on real Weber charcoal grills. Apart from lots of lobster, I had a delicate version of bouillabaisse, a French fish stock, and lots of moules mariniere and more, the party continued until dark.
Azamara has long hosted AzAmazing Evenings, a celebration of local food and culture, and Azamara Onward debuts on AzAmazing Day. In pastel-hued Porto Venere on Italy’s Cinque Terre coast, Azamara has almost conquered the town with the help and enthusiasm of the local people. The locals.
A delightful pianist played on stage early in the morning, while the waiters served free pizza, cake, bread and cheese, as well as sparkling wine and delicious espressos and cappuccinos. An opera singer performed under the church on the hill at the harbor entrance, in a small square on a narrow street a saxophone trio played strange jazz and elsewhere an accordion/double bass duo played something beautiful that sounded like classical music from another planet.
Azamara Onward spends the summer in the Mediterranean and then heads to the Caribbean to winter. An intensive seven-night tour of France from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, departing 29/10/2022 and visiting Marseille, Nice, Sete, Portes-Vendres and Corsica, from £828 per person, cruise only, including drinks.