Azamara welcomed its fourth vessel, Azamara Onward, on May 2, 2022, as the ship was christened in Monte Carlo, Monaco, before embarking on her maiden voyage. The festive celebration was led by Carol Cabezas, president of Azamara; Carl Smith, captain of Onward; and Beth Santos, godmother and founder of Wanderful, a support and networking community for solo female travelers.
Transformed from her former life — the ship was Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess for almost 20 years — Azamara Onward now sports the same main elements as her three near-identical sisters.
It was evident during our four-night cruise that the ship was enhanced and refreshed cosmetically, but was not gutted down to the studs. Public areas received new carpeting, upholstery and furnishings, and all staterooms and suites were refurbished.
However, elements of the original ship’s “bones” remain, with old plumbing fixtures in some stateroom bathrooms and signs of age still showing in other areas. The pandemic also had a severe impact on the refurbishment, as a lack of workers and delayed supply shipments resulted in the pool area not being finished, and stateroom amenities such as hairdryers and veranda chairs had not yet arrived.
Returning guests will find Onward almost identical to her sister Azamara Pursuit, which was launched in 2018. Discoveries Restaurant, Windows Cafe, specialty restaurants Aqualina (Italian) and Prime C (a steakhouse) remain unchanged.
Public areas such as the Living Room, The Den, the Cabaret Lounge and the Patio are also back, as are the Sanctum Spa and fitness center. The Onward Boutiques now span a larger area, and the adjacent Mosaic Cafe footprint was slightly reduced.
New to Onward is Atlas Bar, which replaces the Drawing Room that once housed the library found on all other Azamara ships (the library is now in The Den). The result is a cozy space with conversational seating groups, a focal bar and a vibrant digital wall.
Signature cocktails handcrafted with regional ingredients are served along with gourmet bites. The cocktails carry a surcharge of $17.95 each, or are included with the premium beverage upgrade package.
With Onward, Azamara will be able to increase its destination-immersion offerings to all corners of the globe. Measuring 592 feet long and 84 feet wide, Onward can dock in small harbors, such as in the heart of Marseille, while the big ships use the commercial port nearly 5 miles away.
Late-night and overnight stays are Azamara hallmarks. On our sailing, Onward visited Porto Venere, Italy, for 15 hours and overnighted in Monte Carlo. Introduced for the first time was AzAmazing Day, designed to complement the regularly offered AzAmazing Evening. In Porto Venere, food and beverage tasting stations, along with opera singers and musicians, were scattered throughout the medieval village. As guests wandered through the streets, they were treated to a taste of Italian hospitality, art and culture.
Azamara Onward is a welcome addition to the fleet, providing value with included standard alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, self-service laundry and crew gratuities. As long as clients are aware that not all accommodations were completely upgraded (except for suites) and that some areas do show a little wear, they will enjoy their time onboard.