Review: Azamara Onward cruise ship

Editors rating:
Very good

Azamara Onward cruise ship facts

  • 684 guests
  • 408 crew
  • 1999 launched
  • 2022 refurbished

Azamara Onward was built for people who want to see the world. This small luxury ship takes you places others don't and it gives you time to explore.

Review: Azamara Onward cruise ship

Editors rating:
Very good
By Published On: 10 Jun 2024

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Azamara Onward is perfect if you want to go places you haven’t been before; the small ship visits off-the-beaten path locales. What’s more, it usually has late-night departures and overnight stays in port so you can explore even more. On board there is a sense of easy luxury; it’s upmarket but never stuffy. The dining is delectable and the bars are bursting with atmosphere.


  • Overnights in port
  • Small-group shore excursions
  • Very good restaurants


  • Staterooms are small

Azamara Onward FAQs

Azamara Onward is a luxury cruise ship because it has resort-style amenities, very good restaurants and great service.

Gratuities, entertainment, most meals and beverages are all included when you sail on Azamara Onward.

Walking tours start from USD89, however small-group exclusive tours are from USD250.

There are no formal nights on Azamara Onward voyages.

Most guests who sail on Azamara Onward range in age from 40 to 75-years old. They typically come from the USA or UK, but Australians and Canadians are often on board too.

Our review ratings

Service efficiency
Problem solving
Language skills

Azamara Onward deck plan

The Azamara Onward deck plan is easy to get around. There are a total of 8 passenger decks, the highest of which is deck 11.

  • Reception: Deck 4
  • Accommodation: Decks 4 to 9
  • Main dining room: Deck 5
  • Theatre: Deck 5
  • Observation lounge: Deck 10

About Azamara Onward

Azamara Onward is an R-class ship that was built for Renaissance Cruises in 1999. Christened R Three it was to be based in French Polynesia. However, after the financial collapse of Renaissance the vessel was sold to Princess Cruises, before being bought by Azamara in 2021.

The Grand Staircase on Azamara Onward.
Azamara Onward’s Grand Staircase has an old-world charm.

Azamara Onward is designed to visit small ports, yet also cross vast oceans. It is 180 m. / 592 ft. long with room for 684 guests (double occupancy).

Azamara Onward was refurbished in 2022. The decor is modern and smart, yet it retains a classic elegance.

Food on Azamara Onward

The food on Azamara Onward is delicious and always tempting, no matter which of the five restaurants you choose.

Aqualina restaurant on board the Azamara Onward cruise ship.
The elegant Aqualina restaurant serves great tasting Italian food.

We rate the Italian-inspired Aqualina as the best restaurant on board. It serves delights like Mediterranean Sea Bass with Sauté of Shrimp, Calamari & Scallop, as well as Veal Chop with Garlic, Herb & Lemon Crust. There are also daily specials like Lobster Carbonara, Fillet Mignon and Raspberry Macaroons with Flourless Cake & Gelato.

A Rasberry Macaroon on a plate with ice cream.
Enjoy tempting desserts like Rasberry Macaroons.

Prime C serve succulent steaks, poultry and seafood. We recommend the mouthwatering Chateaubriand, not to mention the Herb Coated Rack of Lamb.

Rack of Lamb served medium-rare.
The succelent Herb Coated Rack of Lamb.

The main dining room is known as Discoveries Restaurant. The menu spans all four corners of the globe with dishes like Escargots à la Bourguignonne and a Malay Beef Rendang with Ginger & Lemongrass Sauce. For dessert we loved the Greek inspired Fig Almond Olive Oil Cake.

A Fig Almond Olive Oil cake.
Delicious: Fig Almond Olive Oil cake.

The Patio has al fresco poolside dining with meats and seafood served hot off the grill; it’s a nice casual alternative. In addition, there is buffet-style dining at the Windows Cafe where you can get a table on the aft facing terrace. It’s delightful, but it has to be said the food is not as impressive as the other venues on board. Light bites are also available in the popular Mosaic Cafe on deck 5.

Nightlife on Azamara Onward

The nightlife on Azamara Onward is different to what you find on bigger ships. It is curated for small-ship cruising with intimate bars and cabaret-style performances. On deck 5 in the Spirits bar there is a great pianist who takes requests each evening. Up on deck 10 the Living Room is popular for sunset libations, not to mention its resident three-piece band. The Atlas Bar serves hand crafted, signature cocktails with an indulgent tapas-style menu, for a fee.

The Azamara Onward cast performing in the Cabaret Lounge.
The Azamara Onward cast performing “Amped Up!”

Down in the Cabaret Lounge you can catch a show most evenings. Though to be fair, on our review voyage these were a little underwhelming, in spite of the talented cast.

Late in the evening the Living Room plays host to a themed disco. On our voyage the ABBA Night and 80’s Night were the most popular.

Staterooms and suites

All the staterooms and suites on Azamara Onward were made over in 2022. They look smart in tones of cream and charcoal, with sparkling chrome highlights.

The least expensive rooms are Interior Staterooms which do not have a view, but they are comfortable. On the other hand, Ocean View Staterooms have a porthole or picture window, but lifeboats can obstruct the view.

Inside a Veranda Stateroom on board Azamara Onward.
The Veranda Staterooms are cozy, yet comfortable.

Most Azamara Onward guests stay in Veranda Staterooms. While modest in size they do have space for a small sofa and writing desk, not to mention a lovely veranda. It’s worth noting that the bed is really comfy. The bathroom is petit, yet functional with a small shower, wash basin and shelves.

You can upgrade the Veranda Stateroom experience by choosing a Veranda Plus option. The room itself is identical, but you get extra perks like internet, laundry and specialty dining inclusions, as well as complimentary in-room spirits.

A Continent Suite on board Azamara Onward.
The Continent Suites offer more space.

However, luxury cruisers are sure to prefer one of the suites on Azamara Onward. We stayed in a Continent Suite and loved the extra space, not to mention the terrace-style veranda. There are even bigger Spa Suites, Ocean Suites and Owner’s Suites, all of which have separate bedrooms and living areas.

When you stay in an Azamara Onward suite you enjoy butler service too. The butlers know just how to spoil you with treats like afternoon canapés or in-suite parties. They can make restaurant bookings and even help with packing and unpacking.

Fitness and recreation

The Sanctum Spa is one of the most popular places on Azamara Onward. You can treat yourself to a relaxing massage or facial; or try acupuncture. Afterwards you can linger in the thalassotherapy pool on the Sanctum Terrace. There is also a salon with a range of hair and beauty treatments for men and women.

The Azamara Onward swimming pool.
Make a splash in the swimming pool.

The Azamara Onward pool is perfect for a refreshing dip. There is also a large gym where you can take fitness classes or book a personal trainer. A jogging track is up on the open decks.

Azamara Onward activates

Azamara Onward has lots of activities to enjoy. The signature White Night party is one of the most popular – everybody wears white at a fantastic poolside dinner with live entertainment and dancing.

You won’t want to miss the AzAmazing Evening either. It is a complimentary, shore-side event designed to enchant with a night of local culture.

The Antakya Civilizations Choir performing at Ephesus, Türkiye
The enchanting Antakya Civilizations Choir.

We saw a spectacular performance by the renowned Antakya Civilizations Choir amid the ruins of Ephesus, Türkiye.

Back on board there are more typical activities too including lectures from guest speakers and wellness seminars. Lots of guests enjoyed the free Captain’s Welcome Toast. Dance classes with the cast from the Cabaret Lounge were also popular; and so too was the Pub Quiz and bridge.

A shuffleboard court on Azamara Onward.
Play shuffleboard on the open decks.

On the open decks there is shuffleboard, ping pong and darts. There are also jewellery making classes and fashion shows. You can borrow books from the library on Deck 10.

Inside a Continent Suite on board Azamara Onward.
The library is full of good reads.

Solo cruisers, airline employees, friends of Bill W and Dorothy can all enjoy get-togethers.

Details about all the activities can be found in The Insider newsletter each day.

Shore excursions

Azamara pride themselves on having unique shore excursions. In fact, they have a remarkable network of land-based partners who whisk guests away on awe inspiring tours. These tours are curated especially for small ship cruising; in fact they are often small group explorations that immerse you in the local culture and way of life.

A small group of hikers in Crete, Greece.
Our hiking party was small in number.

For instance, in Asia there are rickshaw rides to local markets. In the Mediterranean there are speedboat jaunts to white-sand beaches and guided tours of historic sites. On my voyage we joined a hiking party across a picturesque Greek island. Along the way we learned about the flora and fauna, before arrivng at a beach where we swam in the pristine waters.

Azamara Onward inclusions

Your Azamara Onward cruise fare has lots of inclusions. Gratuities are included. So too are most meals as well as beverages; even a selection of alcoholic libations.

A cocktail with a view of the ocean behind.
Lots of beverages are included, even cocktails.

It’s worth noting that top-shelf beverage packages are available for purchase, but because the house wines are so good we don’t think you will need one.

Also included are the White Night party and AzAmazing Evening, as well as a shuttle bus service between the port and downtown.

In addition there is a free self-service laundry, although it can get busy at certain times of the day.

Guests who stay in a Veranda Plus stateroom or Suite get a free laundry allowance, as well as an internet package and a dining  allocation in Aqualina and Prime C.

Azamara Onward Dress code

The dress code on Azamara Onward is relaxed and casual. During the day guests wear shorts, jeans and T-shirts. However, the cruise line do not permit tank tops, baseball caps, bathing suits, shorts, or torn/distressed jeans in any of the restaurants.

In the evening the Azamara Onward dress code is resort-casual, but on my voyage most guest dressed more smartly; usually slacks and a shirt for men, or slacks or a skirt, and a blouse for women.

Azamara Onward does not have formal nights.

Fellow guests

Most guests on Azamara Onward are aged from 40 to 75-years old. Lots of guests are active retirees who cruise regularly. The majority of them come from the USA, but there are usually Britons, Canadians and Australians on board as well.

Because there are no activities for children, Azamara Onward might not be a good choice for families with kids.

It’s worth noting that Azamara Onward is gay-friendly.

Review conclusion

Azamara Onward is perfect for people who want to see the World. Indeed, this small cruise ship goes where others don’t. What’s more, overnight stays and outstanding shore excursions mean you can explore more. Combined with the sense of easy luxury, it makes Azamara Onward a great cruise experience.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.

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