Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Liner delivers opulence on the ocean

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The sun-drenched sundeck featuring pool flanked by spa pools on Azamara Quest. Photo / Andrew Warner
The sun-drenched sundeck featuring pool flanked by spa pools on Azamara Quest. Photo / Andrew Warner

Cruise ships coming and going are a familiar sight to Tauranga residents but for many, the inside of these ships is a mystery.

They support our growing tourism economy and boost visitor numbers to the Bay, but what is it like to be on one of these luxury ships?

While the Azamara Quest was docked in Tauranga on her inaugural visit to New Zealand the Bay of Plenty Times hopped on board to get a glimpse of one of the more luxurious liners to visit the city.

RCL Cruises' head of sales Australia and New Zealand and stand-in tour guide Peter McCormack called her a "boutique" vessel, unique in size. Azamara is 180m long and 25m wide, with nine decks, and weighs 30,277 tonnes.

RCL Cruises's head of sales Australia and New Zealand Peter McCormack in the drawing room, with marble fireplace, hand-painted ceiling and plush leather chairs. Photo / Andrew Warner
RCL Cruises's head of sales Australia and New Zealand Peter McCormack in the drawing room, with marble fireplace, hand-painted ceiling and plush leather chairs. Photo / Andrew Warner

Stepping on to the ship, it looked just as any other hotel reception does, with seating scattered around, a main desk and a semi-grand stairway.

But as the tour progressed it was easy to see why cruising is an increasingly popular way to see the world.

Unlike other cruise ships, the Azamara had no wave pools, 3D cinemas or water slides, rather it was all adult-style indulgence.

Mr McCormack said the ship catered mainly to those over 40.

While she was a bit of an older gal, cruising the waters since 2000, Azamara exuded a feel of old school romance.

The top deck featured a drawing room, with a marble fireplace, leather stuffed chairs, a hand-painted ceiling and wall-to-wall wooden bookcase - all that was missing was the rich smell of mahogany.

Also on the top deck were two specialist restaurants, an American-style steak house and modern Italian, whose food was not included in the cost of the cruise.

Moving down through the nine decks was luxury amenity after luxury amenity.

There was a small casino, cabaret, fitness centre, salon and a day spa with massages, facials, hair treatments and even botox injections.

The big sun-drenched deck boasted plush lounge chairs, two spa pools and a small plunge pool.

Guests would not go thirsty or hungry by any means with no shortage of cocktail bars on board and fine dining galore.

Old-style class on board the Azamara Quest. Photo/Andrew Warner
Old-style class on board the Azamara Quest. Photo/Andrew Warner

Meals and some alcohol were all inclusive at either the pool grill, traditional buffet or dining room where menus changed daily.

A basic inside cabin is $300 to $350 a night, including food and some alcohol, and the price goes up from there. The suites even come with your own English butler service.

Mr McCormack said it was the amazingly friendly crew, the emphasis on ambience and emphasis on destination that made the Azamara Quest a popular choice.

Read more: What's on this Waitangi weekend

He said the guests were well looked after with a lower ratio of staff to guest, and longer stays in port meant guests could really enjoy the destination.

Mr McCormack said the ship's inaugural visit to New Zealand had gone very well so far.

The ship came from Sydney and spent 12 days touring New Zealand ports, spending the night in Tauranga and Wellington.

After this trip the Azamara Quest will go to Singapore for revitalisation, returning to New Zealand waters in 2018.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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