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Sail Date: March 2012
Having read numerous forums regarding Azamara Journey cruises, I hadn't spotted any criticisms - everyone seemed to give glowing reports! We signed up for a CruiseCritics Meet and Mingle party and with more than 25 others doing the ... Read More
Having read numerous forums regarding Azamara Journey cruises, I hadn't spotted any criticisms - everyone seemed to give glowing reports! We signed up for a CruiseCritics Meet and Mingle party and with more than 25 others doing the same the party was confirmed. With flights and a pre cruise stay in Barbados arranged by Azamara, we had a late morning transfer to the ship. Despite there being 78 fellow travellers in the hotel, by transferring us in coaches for about 20 people, the registration procedure at the port was painless with only a short queue to contend with. By 11.45 we were sipping our welcoming glass of bubbly, and being advised that our rooms would be ready by 12.30 (which they were!) A quick trip to the pool deck revealed a small pool with two jacuzzis. The loungers were all substantial teak ones, with thick cushions and white towelling covers, as well as towels - no need to sign them in and out as on other ships we have been on. Our outside cabin was nicely presented with a good size comfortable bed. There was a bowl of fresh fruit and the mini bar stocked - soft drinks being complementary (as elsewhere in the ship). Plenty of hangers in the wardrobe together with two robes and slippers. The shower room was a typical tight configuration but well laid out with a collection of toiletries. The room attendant was quick to introduce himself and despite having no need for any dealings with him throughout our trip it was very impressive that he called us by name when we passed in the corridor! The CruiseCritics Meet and Mingle reception was well attended by about 50 guests together with various senior officers. Drinks kept flowing and there was a lovely selection of nibbles (so don't forget to sign up for the reception!) Also, it seems that passengers registered for M&M are automatically given allocations to tours of the bridge, engine control room & galley, all of which are an interesting insight into the ship's operations. Dining in the main Discoveries restaurant can be busy at times, and sometimes slow, but the quality of the food was excellent. Having commented in the mid cruise questionnaire about service, the attention to us when dining went up dramatically! Opting to share a table meant we did not have to queue for more than a minute or two. We noticed that with the restaurant being at the aft of the ship, there was some vibration and noise from the props. Not a particular problem in itself whilst dining, but it could mean that aft suites would suffer similar disruption, especially while trying to sleep when transiting overnight. The house wines, which were all reasonable quality, flowed freely with dinner, though some prompting for a top up was required occasionally. When service was slow, there was a risk of missing the evening show if we went in after 7pm. The quality of the entertainment was mixed, and my personal feeling was that the routines did not reflect the quality, and bring out the best, of the individual performers. Life around the pool was generally quiet, apart from sea days. There was no disturbance from taped music, though on sea days a duet played on stage for two hours. One evening there was a Caribbean themed barbecue around the pool which was very popular and topped off with a show and dancing on deck. Many members of the crew, including the Captain, mingled whilst we dined. As ever, they were very pleasant to chat with. On the final sea day there was a jazz brunch in the Discoveries restaurant - great selection of food (as ever), and live jazz music too. Windows cafe is the self service restaurant used for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if you wanted). The evening meals were promoted as being themed. On the Greek evening we had a look in hoping to have our own mezes, only to find the only Greek food on offer was a salad area with some feta cheese to make a Greek salad, so we dined in the main restaurant. Very disappointing. We did not check other evenings to determine whether the promos were more appropriately delivered. Having spoken to a few couples regarding their meals in the speciality restaurants, we were not convinced that the experience would be worth the cover charge. From reports, there was no doubt regarding the quality of food, or the more personal service, but it did not seem to warrant the recently increased fee of $50 per couple. Having pre-booked various excursions with Azamara we benefited form the 50% discount which made them worthwhile and competitive, but in most ports there seemed to be an option to make personal arrangements with local taxis or operators if you so wished. All in all, would any of our niggles make us think twice about booking with Azamara again? - No, we would love to join in the experience again! It's a great little ship, offering a high standard of service, and all the crew are very pleasant and working hard to ensure guests enjoy their cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
I was convinced to take a cruise on the Azamara Journey in March this year to the Caribbean. Having only been on two previous cruises, both larger ships, Adventurer of the Seas and Granduer of the Seas. I was slightly apprehensive as to ... Read More
I was convinced to take a cruise on the Azamara Journey in March this year to the Caribbean. Having only been on two previous cruises, both larger ships, Adventurer of the Seas and Granduer of the Seas. I was slightly apprehensive as to the stability of the smaller ship as I get sea sick. I say smaller ship, that is a bit tongue in cheek as the Azamara is not a small ship. It turned out that on the first night at dinner a did feel a bit queazy but on a vista to the fist aid on board I was given some pills, very reasonably priced at $3.00 and one around 5 pm did the trick and they weren't needed the rest of the trip. The on board level of comfort and cleanliness is next to perfect and there were portable hand wash machines everywhere. I also noticed the level of hygiene was very good at the serving areas. Although, watch out for your follow passengers as I did witness a guest poke around the cold section at breakfast with their fingers. I did mention it to a member of staff who, to their credit, did follow it through with the passenger. 10 out of 10 there. The quality of food was 8 out of 10 in the buffet, I would recommend when you want eggs to go to the omelette bar and have the made to your own preference. The staff are constantly on hand to take over and bring your food and drinks to you at the table and forever friendly. I did find it difficult to get a aft terrace seat at the busy times but if you are a late breakfaster you should have no trouble, but don't leave it too late or you will miss a hot breakfast. The table are well looked after but don't leave half glasses of drinks for too long as they will be cleared away as the staff are very attentive. The entertainment is fine for a smaller ship but only 7 out of 10. Don't sit too close to the entertainer if you are a little reserved as all the entertainers whilst I was on board did like audience participation. On all parts of the ship there was lots of room with exception to dinning at the peak times. I found the coffee bar above reception very nice in the afternoons on returning after a day trip between getting back on board and dinner. The pool area was in general very comfortable and the sun beds of good quality and as usual plenty of towels. Only problem was as usual, empty beds with personal belongings left on them to reserve the bed. I found the best way to solve the problem is just to take them to a member of staff and they then put them in lost property for the guest to find them later. I don't like confrontation so that solved the problem. The pool was very small though and in need of a refurb. The BBQ night on board was a great success with lots of atmosphere and all the guests seemed to take part. With the officers and captain mingling and doing the PR work. Captain Johannes was a star and a man with a dry sense of humour and apps, ( joke on board) as he referred to his phone a lot when he needed to answer a technical question. It worked very well for him.. The general decor was of a more traditional style and not modern retro so don't expect large splashes of colour and weird furniture. This is not to say the young wouldn't enjoy a quite cruise. The shore trips where different as we anchored offshore in most ports and took the ships tender to shore. This was an excursion in itself if you like river trips. When we got to shore everything that was promised was there and very well organised. In particular, we did a BBQ in Mayreau and the crew and staff had arranged everything prior to us arriving on shore, what a wonderful day we had there. All the other ports were equally beautiful in there own way and we had not trouble whatsoever at any time. We did have lunch on a beach bar in St Barts, for 4 it was $130 but you are on holiday in a very special place, you would pay as much if not more in the UK in London, Edinburgh etc. I did try to arrange an excursion and scuba diving in St Martin and missed out as the staff had gone ashore. However, we did it by ourselves on arriving at the drop off point by going into a shore side shop, try saying that after a few glasses of free wine, I would highly recommend arranging your own trips as we found it very easy with the help of the locals and saved ourselves over $100 for the very same trip and we had more time on the beach. On all dar trips I recommend getting off the ship early to get the most out of the day and it also allows you to return to the ship if the town doesn't suit you for some afternoon sun. I was disappointed with the casino as I had some dollars left from my last trip and was looking forward to some roulette or blackjack but there was only one roulette table and it was taken over by one guest and his wife who liked to cover the whole table and the minimun bet was $10 on the blackjack. The organisation for all transfers and excursions was 10/10 and in general nothing was too much trouble for any member of the crew. I finish by saying that the all inclusive Azamara Journey was 10/10 as gratuities, soft drinks and wine & coffees are included make it a very reasonably priced holiday which I will be doing again very soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband and I have cruised 25 weeks primarily on windjammer tall sailing ships. We love the adventure and ability to get to know the other passengers and crew that a tall ship allows. We also have enjoyed cruises on small OAT ships and ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 25 weeks primarily on windjammer tall sailing ships. We love the adventure and ability to get to know the other passengers and crew that a tall ship allows. We also have enjoyed cruises on small OAT ships and Grand Circle river boats. We started hearing about Azamara and all reports we read were positive so we decided to give try it thinking that it was a onetime thing as the ship that large would be too big for our taste. Boy, were we ever wrong -- we enjoyed every aspect of our Azamara Journey cruise. We purchased a package that had us flying into Barbados on the day of embarkation. All travel went smoothly including the transfer to the ship. Embarkation was a breeze. The only thing that was a bit disappointing in the whole 14 days was that we were not escorted to our cabin, or even to the elevator. But we had no trouble finding our way. Our veranda cabin was small but very comfortable with a love seat, desk and 2 chairs & a small table on the veranda. The bathroom was tight but had adequate shelf space for us to put all our toiletries. The ship can have close to 700 passengers but on this trip there were only 167 passengers on the 1st part of the trip. Journey was large enough to have all the amenities such as fine dining, pool, theatre, casino, piano bar that anyone could want yet it still had a small ship feel. The food and service in all of the restaurants was spectacular and we enjoyed the included boutique wines. We ate in both Prime C and Aqualina and had wonderful meals but honestly the food was just as good in the main Discoveries restaurant. There is a dress code mostly enforced in Discoveries and definitely enforced in Prime C and Aqualina. Most days we ate breakfast and lunch in the more casual Windows Cafe and the food was very good there also, just not much change day to day in the options. We had 7 sea days and had been concerned that we would get bored. Not a problem! We enjoyed relaxing by the pool, exercising in the fitness center or walking on the top deck jogging path. We played trivia and even bingo and had lots of fun doing both. And we enjoyed sitting on our veranda and reading. One day I went to the spa for a scalp massage that was wonderful. It is impossible to say enough good things about the staff and service. Everyone was friendly, helpful and professional. I asked our cabin steward on the 2nd day if I could have our ice refreshed around 3 in the afternoon and each day after that promptly at 3pm we had fresh ice. Our cabin was spotless. The service in all of the restaurants was exceptional. The activities staff all knew us and called us by name by the middle of the trip. On a couple of occasions the captain asked me if I was enjoying the trip. The shore excursions staff was also extremely helpful and friendly. We attended the shows every night. Some were the ship entertainers and others were guest entertainers including a comic, a magician and a pianist. It wasn't Broadway but it was fun and definitely entertaining. The ship's band was very good and on several occasions we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in Looking Glass while listening to them. In Belem we did a 4 hour river trip in the Amazon delta that included a walk in the rain forest. The river part of the excursion was interesting seeing the houses on stilts but the rain forest was a little disappointing in spite of the excellent naturalist that lead our group. We never got far enough away to be out of range of a radio that was playing loudly in a small village. Still, I'm glad we did this tour. In Fortaleza we walked around on our own from the shuttle drop off point. It was a shopping day and so the market area where we were was very crowed and dirty. It was difficult to get across the street and the cathedral we wanted to visit was closed. It was not especially enjoyable. Friends who did the city tour I think had a more interesting day. We did the dune buggy tour in Natal. It was ridiculously expensive but it was so much fun that it was one of the highlights of our trip. The giant sand dunes go for miles. We stopped along the way to do a zip line into a lake and ended up swimming at the beach. I recommend the trip but do think the cost at $269 is way too high. In Recife we did a city tour that was very enjoyable. We walked around on our own in Salvador de Bahia. From where the ship was docked it was eazy to get to the elevator to the Upper City. As it was a rainy day our walk was brief. If you do this on your own know that you must have Brazilian money to use the elevator. Buzios is a small very upscale seaside town. It was fun to just walk along the sea wall and people watch. Be prepared to spend lots of money if you do buy anything in Buzios. We stopped at a seaside restaurant and had 1 glass of wine, 1 beer and an appetizer and it was $60. Still, it was such a beautiful setting I'm glad we did it. We were tendered in Burzios and there were big swells and some difficulty getting the tenders to & from the shore. In Rio do Janeiro we joined 3 other people for a private tour that started with pick up at the port at 9am and had drop off at the airport at 7pm for our 10pm flight to Miami. It was a perfect way to end the trip. We disembarked in Rio de Janeiro and it was very busy as there were several large ships also disembarking at the same time. In spite of that it was a very easy process because there was a crew member to assist at every step of the way including guiding us around congestion points and lines we did not have to go through. It was an amazingly easy and organized disembarkation. Everything about our trip was exceptional but the real star is the crew. Each and every crew member from the captain to our cabins stewards were friendly, engaging and honestly seemed to want to do whatever they could to help us have a wonderful vacation. We are already planning our next Azamara cruise. Read Less
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