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Celebrity versus Azamara

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We are Elite Plus on Celebrity but are considering an Azamara cruise in 2021.  We normally book a Sky Suite or better on Celebrity and the Club Continent Suite seems similar but a bit smaller.  We also book for all 4 "perks" including premium drinks, free unlimited wifi and paid gratuities.

Azamara attracts us because of the itinerary we are considering.  Can anyone outline the major differences we can expect on Azamara compared to Celebrity considering what I have noted we are used to?  Thanks.

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You will get drinks and gratuities included. Included drinks are only certain brands and drinks - for example Gordon’s and Beefeater Gin, Famous Grouse Whisky, Smirnoff Vodka are the included spirits brands. You can ask for any cocktail to be made with the included brands (but there is no included cognac). In a CCSuite, you have 4 half bottles of spirits in your Suite and you can eat at the two speciality restaurants every night ( but you still have to book at these two and booking is on a first come, first served basis - no priority for being in a Suite.).You will have 240 minutes free wifi, but you may have more depending what loyalty level you are  (See the bottom of this page for equivalence https://www.azamara.co.uk/loyalty/azamara-circle/member-benefits ).

I suggest you look at the topic ‘Tips for Azamara Newbies’ for other information.

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Posted (edited)

My wife and I, when sailing on an Azamara ship, always upgrade the free, standard drink package to the premium package. I do not remember the exact cost per person, but it is very reasonable. The premium package includes all but the ultra-premium labels.

 

You can upgrade your drink package on board ship. It is done by the same staff that is taking reservations for the speciality restaurants. If you do not want to upgrade on day 1, you can upgrade on any other day at a prorated amount.

Edited by SteveGT3

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The biggest difference is size. You won't have the lines at elevators, restaurants, tenders, etc. that you have on huge ships. And no assigned dinner times or tables. Everything is at a more refined, relaxed pace. We started our cruising on Celebrity, but once we tried Azamara, we've never been back.

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Although we do not know how it will be when life returns to cruising, my experience having cruised a bit on both is it depends what matters to you whether you will notice big (positive) differences or little (niggling negative) issues.

 

Positives come from the itineraries (as you have noted) and coupled to that docking much closer in and, unless taxi union rules prohibit it, free shuttles into town.  Other positives come from staff focussing on service and not upselling and the paperwork for tills and sales and a generally more relaxed atmosphere.   Every bar feels like a Michaels Club as a result.  You will not have bottle juggling etc at the bars but I think Azamara bar staff are far better than Celebrity.

 

Entertainment is very much a personal taste its certainly more extensive on Celebrity and the enrichment talks are of a much higher standard on Celebrity.  That said, the entertainers in Spirits Bar and The Living Room on Azamara are much more accessible than those on Celebrity who we have found did not really engage with guests, rather they came and played a set routine and left.

 

Main dining room we find is better on Azamara, speciality restaurants are good, no gimmicks, better than Tuscan but not as good (or as fancy) as Murano.

 

If interacting with officers is your thing, you will see far more officers on Azamara, though you will probably see much less of the cruise director than you do on Celebrity.

 

You are right the club continent suites are smaller than the Sky suites if a bath tub is important to you, be careful which suite you choose.  If a tub is not of interest to you, as is my case, I actually like the large showers in the Azamara club continents.  The butlers are broadly similar standard, a bit like Celebrity the new ones have rough edges whereas the experienced ones are very efficient operators.

 

Think that is all I can think of

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Posted (edited)

As for the included drinks we have found the wine choices to be lacking whereas on Celebrity with the included drinks the wines...IMHO....are much better and you can have whatever you want whenever you want. On Azamara they have choices for the day. Sometimes they repeat and if you find one you really like you might be able to ask for it on a day that it isn't offered. 

The itineraries and the ability to go to smaller ports and stay longer are for us a big plus.  

Edited by suzyluvs2cruise

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Thanks for the replies.  Very helpful.  Now just have to wait and see when it will be safe to travel and yet still allow for an enjoyable experience.

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My overall comparison having done many on each?  Azamara I find way more relaxed. Little effort required in choosing where to eat or drink because there aren't so many venues (which could be a positive or negative). A suite has free unlimited specialty dining. Both restaurants i think are very nice. I love the themed buffets too. Good food, nice atmosphere, chance to sit outside if the weather is good. Smaller and less choice than the Oceanview cafe, but nicer feeling with proper dressed tables. Like a restaurant. 

 

The cabins are smaller than Celebrity, but if you book a Club Continent Suite they are very comfortable. Choose carefully. They are under a public deck and some are noisier than others. Check the cabin sticky at the top of this board. 

 

I find the crew and officers far more approachable in general and the ship has a more intimate feel. 

 

I like both lines for different reasons. As Elite Plus you'll get some reciprocal benefits including discounts on upgraded beverage packages. The standard offering is ok, but the drinks packages aren't as varied as Celebrity. Space on the ship to stock drink being the reason. 

 

Phil 

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I see you've had some good replies to your Celebrity/Azamara question. My wife and I find Azamara much more like a good boutique city hotel that you return to because of the people who work there. Azamara has a unique crew member compensation plan (not tip based) that seems to keep their key crew members coming back. We've done 16 cruises with them and always have about 25 crew on any of their ships that know us by name ... 🙂 ... they seem to just transfer between ships and not leave the company ... google "Azamara the movie" and Azamara guests will relate this also ... many of those interviewed for this video are still with Azamara ... 🙂 ... good luck!

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1 hour ago, GlobalMethod said:

... google "Azamara the movie" and Azamara guests will relate this also ... many of those interviewed for this video are still with Azamara ... 🙂 ... good luck!

 

I did Google Azamara the Movie.  What fun to see Ryszard, Ngawhira, and Captain Carl again.  The movie really does explain what sets Azamara apart.

 

 But I think that Russ Grieve (the Cruise Director) is sorely missed. We were always so happy to sail with him. 

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Posted (edited)

I agree with all the other comments above.

 

One situation not mentioned that we feel is a plus for Azamara is if you find other cruisers whose company you enjoy, you can easily dine with them if you'd like. On Celebrity, if you were in a suite and your new friends were not, you would need to find a suitable dining time at a specialty restaurant or pay to have them join you. While it can be done on Celebrity, it's not nearly as simple as on Azamara.

Edited by wyojeff

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Celebrity is hyper class focused and working hard on separating guests. Celebrity's also working hard to eliminate/reduce forward viewing opportunity - making that important feature available pretty much only to suite class. The main reasons why we will not patronize Celebrity.

 

The premium lines like Azamara, Oceania, Viking are much less so - the vessels are more like ships and less like Vegas at sea.

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We moved from Celebrity suites to Azamara and have not looked back.   We started in a Club Continent Suite and have progressed to their largest suites.   Never dined in the MDR for dinner as we alternated between the two Specialty restaurants.   The staff was wonderful and we were able to order off menu if we gave them notice.    We used the on board credit, always very large for suites, and upgraded to the ultimate experience.   It also gives you additional credit.

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You should give the MDR a try. We love sharing tables so we can get to talk to lots of people. You can’t do that in the speciality restaurants.

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3 hours ago, Grandma Cruising said:

You should give the MDR a try. We love sharing tables so we can get to talk to lots of people. You can’t do that in the speciality restaurants.


I agree, and we also prefer the less formal service.

 

In fact, when in a suite we usually eat in the MDR.

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I think it is hard to tell what will be good advice now for post covid cruising - some of the things we liked about Azamara may no longer be allowed.  I think the only certainty will be less people and probably more personal service on Azamara than Celebrity.  

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7 hours ago, Grandma Cruising said:

You should give the MDR a try. We love sharing tables so we can get to talk to lots of people. You can’t do that in the speciality restaurants.

 

The tables in the speciality restaurants are not has spaced out has they used to be.

Who knows what the settings will be like in the future, the only thing for sure is that things will never be the same..

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9 hours ago, Grandma Cruising said:

You should give the MDR a try. We love sharing tables so we can get to talk to lots of people. You can’t do that in the speciality restaurants.

 

We too love to share tables with people.  Oceania has found a way for people to share tables in their specialty restaurants.  I wonder why Azamara can't or won't. They're the same ships.

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1 hour ago, Bloodaxe said:

 

The tables in the speciality restaurants are not has spaced out has they used to be.

Who knows what the settings will be like in the future, the only thing for sure is that things will never be the same..

Never say never - if there’s an effective vaccine, then there’s no reason for things not to get back to where they were. Although I guess that mean they might not let you onboard if you hadn’t been vaccinated.

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38 minutes ago, Grandma Cruising said:

Never say never - if there’s an effective vaccine, then there’s no reason for things not to get back to where they were. Although I guess that mean they might not let you onboard if you hadn’t been vaccinated.

 

News on the vaccine front.

 

Progress continues.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jul/16/covid-19-vaccine-what-have-we-learned-from-oxford-phase-one-trial

 

 

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11 hours ago, Grandma Cruising said:

You should give the MDR a try. We love sharing tables so we can get to talk to lots of people. You can’t do that in the speciality restaurants.

I’m wondering. If Azamara have a Retreat Club like celebrity for suits  class passengers 

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21 minutes ago, SEA DOGY said:

I’m wondering. If Azamara have a Retreat Club like celebrity for suits  class passengers 

Nope the beauty of an Azamara vessel it is a one class ship - once you are out of your room you are all treated the same.  Even the front spa decks suites have access to is accessible to everyone else for the payment of a fee

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10 hours ago, uktog said:

Nope the beauty of an Azamara vessel it is a one class ship - once you are out of your room you are all treated the same.  Even the front spa decks suites have access to is accessible to everyone else for the payment of a fee

I agree and one of the beauties of that is service on the ship is more consistent. No hiving off the best servers to the suite guests that has been my experience on Celebrity. 

 

Phil 

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