By Ben Lyons
As the cruise industry has exploded over the last twenty years, so, too, has the size of an average cruise ship. What was considered a megaship a little more than a decade ago has now become a medium sized ship, with 70,000 ton floating hotels now the norm rather than exception. This dramatic growth has brought about numerous changes to the cruise experience, and for many, the newer, supposedly better ships seem to be nothing more than flashy floating resorts.
Happily, there are a few companies that have bucked the trend of the bigger is better rule. At 30,000 tons and carrying only 694 passengers, the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey of Azamara Club Cruises blend the amenities and positives of a big ship experience, including multiple dining venues, numerous balcony cabins and a spa, with some of the spirit and personalized service found on smaller ships. There aren’t long, bustling lines at the buffet or the gangway, and forget an incessant string of announcements exhorting you to the belly flop contest by the pool. Instead, Azamara focuses on destination rich itineraries to many ports larger ships haven’t yet found or can’t reach. Straddling the line between luxury and mainstream companies, they also offer one of the best deals in the cruise industry. [Read full story]