It’s been a long time since I took a cruise during such a high-anticipation time as the Christmas holidays, and I guess you could argue it was risky to embark attempt it on a ship and a new line. But up to the point of flying out to Singapore last Monday, all of the things I’d heard about Azamara Quest were good, and after a week on board those reports weren’t exaggerated.

This is a lovely ship, which in a former life was one of the R ships of the now defunct Renaissance cruises. She is boutique in size, carrying just 694 guests, and is beautifully appointed with all the bells and whistles of a much bigger ship; a great gym, a lovely pool deck and four dining options. I love the European country house decor, with lots of dark wood and royal blue; cruising on this ship is akin to being a guest in an elegant home, rather than at sea.

Azamara was a new concept for the cruising giant, Royal Caribbean International, introducing what’s been dubbed a “luxury lite” brand to the company. My take on what this new concept means is that most of the things which are included in the fare are similar to the luxury end of cruising – specialty coffees, soft drinks, bottled water, wine with dinner and so on. Charges for the great alternative restaurants is nominal – just $15 a head including gratuity and wine – and other alcohol is chargeable but at very favourable prices.

Top things to report so far including the crew who are faultless as well as friendly, and deliver the kind of on the ball service you get on five star plus ships. The baristas in the elegant Mosaic Cafe know their stuff and make a serious coffee for us caffeine addicts. And the food….well we’ve tried three of the four venues so far and both the quality and variety are top notch. Our stateroom is great – on deck 7 with a balcony – and the only complaint I have here is the bathroom, which is super small and very basic for a ship of this type….but I guess that’s how they built them in the old days. And Quest rides the waves very well, being put to the test in a two metre swell out of Singapore at the beginning of the cruise.

I will be reviewing the ship in more detail after I get home, but as of this point in time it’s proving hard to fault Quest. The crew worked hard to create the Christmas spirit on board, and we had two nights and three days in Bangkok to enjoy the festive season. Next blog I will report more on the destinations – the next is Sihanoukville, Cambodia – and if you have any questions to ask in the meantime, do so and I will do my best to answer them. Happy Christmas to all cruise fans and to anyone on the high seas, happy cruising!