Azamara Club Cruises' focus on "destination immersion" was obvious throughout my 14-night voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong on Azamara Quest.
With just 698 passengers the ship's small size translates to more time in port – more overnights in the heart of the destination, night touring options and late night departures.
The ability to go up river to Bangkok compared to two hour journey from the port of Laem Chabang is just one telling example.
Despite not being heavily promoted, the highlight was the AzAmazing Evening (a unique, free inclusion on all Azamara Club Cruises) in Bangkok.
After discovering the architectural heritage of Thailand, we enjoyed a spread of impeccable Thai food and drinks against a backdrop of dancers, artisans and live performances.
House wines, shuttles and self-service laundry also feature in a solid base of inclusions, meaning you're left with more money to spend on thoughtful shore excursions of your choice, rather than prepaying for unappealing day tours or top shelf drinks.
Action that spiritual stirring: Three Must-See Temples In Bangkok
Explore Asia's Vice City: The Underbelly of Hong Kong
Azamara Quest enters the dry dock in April for a refurbishment, with the interiors slated to move toward a more modern, understated luxury.
All cabins and suites get new carpets, curtains, sofas and larger coffee tables, and many improvements will be made to the ship's culinary and public spaces.
It's fantastic that the cruise line is elevating the onboard aesthetics to fully realise the potential of the ship's intimate atmosphere.
Azamara Club Cruises would appeal to more adventurous travellers keen on exploring the ports they visit as much – if not more – than the cruise ship itself.
Josh Thorpe is the Team Leader for the Hobart-based Thorpe & Turner Travel Associates.
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