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Sail Date: July 2019
We sailed in July with Azamara for the second time. Our first cruise with Azamarawas on the Pursuit in the Autumn of last year. The only real difference we could see between the ships was the Casino, when that is removed and the Lounge ... Read More
We sailed in July with Azamara for the second time. Our first cruise with Azamarawas on the Pursuit in the Autumn of last year. The only real difference we could see between the ships was the Casino, when that is removed and the Lounge becomes bigger it is a definite improvement. However The Journey is a lovely ship, we did not notice any shabby areas, she gleamed! Add to the experience the wonderful crew, a Captain who was so personable and who made in scheduled ‘stops’ so the chef could source local Norwegian berries and cheese and you have a recipe for a fun time. We even did an oil rig safari! Not many can say that! The food, service and overall holiday was first class. We are already booking two back to back cruises with Journey in November, can’t wait. Caribbean here we come! Thank you Azamara for Azamazing holidays Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night ... Read More
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night in Rouen, France which changed the ability to spend an evening in Paris which was our plan. Azamara's goal is to make this a boutique cruise catering to a smaller group of people. Our ship was to capacity with 690 guests on board. The attempt is a good one and the entertainment is definitely top notch. However, to compare this line to Windstar or Seabourne on anything but entertainment would be a disappointment. The crew is friendly, food is good, not exceptional, staterooms are small and the bathrooms are tiny. The idea of all inclusive beverages is a bit misleading as they up sell 2 different drink packages to include certain mixed drinks and certain brands of liquor. On the included drink package if you want to order say a mojito, you must specifically ask for the basic liquor or they charge you for it. There is a very basic list of drinks that can be ordered on the regular package anything that differs from that list, if you don't specifically ask for the included liquor package, will be charged to your room. It cheapens the experience. On other boutique cruise lines all drinks are included unless you specifically ask for the top shelf liquor, then you are charged for a top shelf liquor. On the positive side, they have a wonderful smoothie bar in the buffet every morning. All food in the buffet is labeled for gluten,dairy,vegan etc. Some of the staff are better than others when it comes to accommodating dietary needs. Gluten free was a trick for many and by the end of the cruise I gave up asking for GF items ie bread as it seemed liked too great a challenge and just ate the items I knew were GF. We had a balcony state rooms which was nice. Smaller than other ships but adequate. The bathroom is a joke. Literally, no room for 2 people to stand in the space. To brush our teeth while the other person was brushing theirs, one of us would have to get in the shower to accommodate for space. (We're not large people). Entertainment was by far much better than other boutique lines. Cruise director Eric is extremely talented and ran a fabulous entertainment department. I would sale on Azamara again but I would consider it a nice cruise line not a luxury boutique line. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise due to ports we were visiting for the first time. It was our first Azamara cruise on a smaller ship. We have cruised with Princess and royal Caribbean on our previous 9 cruises without too many complaints. We Just ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to ports we were visiting for the first time. It was our first Azamara cruise on a smaller ship. We have cruised with Princess and royal Caribbean on our previous 9 cruises without too many complaints. We Just loved the ship size, we agreed that it was such a relaxed feeling for both passengers and crew. The service was great, a big thanks to all the crew for enhancing our vacation experience... thanks to Pitoon in the casino bar for your professional service, cheers mate! As has been described many times the azamazing evening and white night were fantastic events. We will definitely cruise Azamara again in the future thanks to all crew from chefs to cleaners for service with a smile. Surprisingly we found the food to be an equivalent quality to previous cruises, but not as many choices. All in all really good food. We really enjoy eating in the dining room, but was disappointed when themed buffet style food was offered in both the dining room and the buffet at the same time. Why remove the dining room choice? If I wanted buffet food I would go to the buffet? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and ... Read More
We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and personable. The Cruise Director Eric was a hoot and very talented. Food in the main dining room and the best with at least a dozen selections every night. Food in the Steak House and Italian rest. was excellent with terrific service. They could not do more for you. the shows were great, Singers and dancers were great. Eric CD had a great voice. The Amazing Night aboard the Yorktown was the tops and something we never experienced before. The White Night in Bermuda was also a one of a kind. Everyone of the Staff and crew were extremely friendly and always said hello and how are you. Even the passengers were great. Having a Bridge Director pushed it over the top. 53% of the passengers were past Azamara guests. We became one as we booked another Amazing Cruise on board. It would be great to see more Azamara cruise out of NY. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We did a 16 day cruise around the Caribbean.The weather was amazing and the crew could not have been more helpful. My wife and I paid a premium to go on this ship. All gratuities and drinks were included. We have completed about 11 ... Read More
We did a 16 day cruise around the Caribbean.The weather was amazing and the crew could not have been more helpful. My wife and I paid a premium to go on this ship. All gratuities and drinks were included. We have completed about 11 cruises on different ships. This was the first time on Azamara Journey. We enjoyed every part of the cruise except one thing which we consider very important and ruined the overall cruise. That was the deck chairs. For a luxury 700 passenger ship we expected to be able to sit around the pool on a nice day. Unfortunately, we were not able to secure a deck chair on the pool deck most days. On some days we had to sit in the Living room lounge as there were absolutely no chairs available. What annoyed me more than anything else was that there were always about 30 chairs with personal items on them but no one around. They had been "reserved" early in the day by passengers who wanted a deck chair for the day. Although there were signs up saying not to do this, the crew did nothing about it. I was so annoyed I took several photos of chairs that were reserved with personal items on them and went about 45 minutes later and no one had been sitting on the chairs. When I pay a premium for a cruise I do not expect this sort of thing to happen and I do expect to be able to find a deck chair for my wife and I. If you go on this ship do not expect to be able to sit on a deck chair most nice hot days.. I can understand this on a budget ship but not a ship of this standard Until they sort this out I probably will not be cruising with Azamara again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We decided to go on this cruise because I would celebrate my 70th birthday on the ship, I had never been to the Caribbean, after 10 cruises we decided to try out a more luxury ship and finally we wanted to visit New York for the first ... Read More
We decided to go on this cruise because I would celebrate my 70th birthday on the ship, I had never been to the Caribbean, after 10 cruises we decided to try out a more luxury ship and finally we wanted to visit New York for the first time. We had previously sailed on the Tahitian Princess many years ago. It was also an R class ship, identical to the Journey. We loved the ship and the destinations then. Firstly, the negative things: The shower was very small compared to other ships. We could barely turn around in the shower. On the White NIght evening there were no where near enough tables for the passengers. We managed to obtain a table eventually but many passengers told me they had to eat in one of the restaurants and missed out on all the White Night Entertainment. I was very disappointed on my 70th birthday. We decided to eat at the Aqualina Restaurant as it was a special night. We had a Premium Beverage Package where nearly all brands of drinks are included. The waiter offered us a bottle of wine which I thought was included. He did not tell me till after he had opened it that there would be a $40 charge.for the wine on top of the $30 admission. On other cruises on my birthdays the crew had always sang happy birthday to me and given me a cake and a free bottle of wine. Not on this ship!!! The last thing and most important thing that infuriated us was people getting up early and putting personal items on deck chairs to reserve them for the day. Signs up saying not to do this, but the crew were not enforcing it. On a nice day do not expect to find a free deck chair on this ship. Because of this we may not sail on the Journey again. When we pay a premium for a cruise we do not expect to have to sit in the lounge on a nice day!!! On a positive note. we found the crew exceptional and all passengers very friendly, The atmosphere on this was great and we have made some friends which we will keep in touch with. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this short, six-night Azamara cruise for several reasons: First, although we prefer longer cruises, two weeks or more, we faced some time limitations this trip, including work obligations and also meeting family and friends ... Read More
We chose this short, six-night Azamara cruise for several reasons: First, although we prefer longer cruises, two weeks or more, we faced some time limitations this trip, including work obligations and also meeting family and friends afterward for some spring training baseball games; second, we had heard some very good reports on Azamara from friends who really enjoyed the casual, small-ship atmosphere and we figured this would be a way to try it out without a big financial or time commitment; third, and most importantly, we wanted to visit Cuba, and this cruise included two days and an overnight in Havana. Embarkation at the Port of Miami was easy. We drove to Miami from our home in the mountains of North Carolina because we wanted to have a car for the post-cruise spring training. It is a long drive, and next time we probably would fly (though we hate the MIA airport). We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Blue Lagoon International Airport on a stay and cruise package that included parking and a shuttle. That worked out fine compared with parking at the Port and saved us a little money and a good bit of hassle. It took only a few minutes to get through the formalities of paperwork (including the Cuban visa ($75 per person), which Azamara took care of for us. Soon we were sitting in Journey's buffet restaurant enjoying a drink. Drinks are included in the cost of Azamara cruises, but the included package mostly has low-end brands and house wines. My wife decided to upgrade to the Ultimate package because she enjoys fancy craft cocktails -- unfortunately we would learn that, unlike Celebrity and some other lines most bartenders on Azamara are not up to speed on making complex drinks. Before long we went to our Deck 8 Veranda Stateroom. Having read and heard a lot of reports, we were prepared for the stateroom to be on the small size, and the bath and shower to be tiny. The bathroom wasn't quite as small as I had feared, but I have to say that on a so-called premium ship that the shower is as small as it is. I have rheumatoid arthritis and back problems, and I have to say it was not a pleasure to look forward to a shower. Although the Journey is almost a 20-year-old ship (it was built in 2000 as an R-2 class ship for Renaissance Cruises, now defunct, and then sailed under two names for Pullmantur line), it appeared to be in quite good condition. We liked all the mahogany and other woods in some of the public areas and enjoyed going on several open decks as in the "old days" of cruising. Journey has one of the smallest swimming pools I've ever seen on a cruise ship.The fitness room is pretty well equipped, although smallish and with only one recumbant bike. We found Azamara staff, both officers and guest-contact crew, almost uniformly helpful, friendly and hard-working. That was the case although gratuities were included in the fare. (At the end of the cruise we did tip extra for our room steward, who was excellent, and a bartender who had been extra nice to us.) I have to admit that our overall experience may have been shaded by the fact that my wife had a cold that started soon after boarding (after disembarking she went to a doc-in-the-box in West Palm Beach and was diagnosed with acute bronchitis and an eye infection. A couple of days after board I developed a toothache that turned out to be sinus-related. None of this was Azamara's fault (we didn't hear of any noroviruses this trip), and we probably should have checked with the clinic on board. Dining was certainly adequate on board, but not exceptional. We usually ate in the main dining room, Discoveries, for dinner (everyone has open seating, and only once or twice did we have to wait for a table). Some of our favorite dishes, such as the escargot appetizer, seem to be the same as on sister line Celebrity, but others were mediocre. Service was always excellent, however. We did try Prime-C, the steak house (a $30 per-person upcharge), which was fine but not memorable. The Windows buffet, again, was adequate but with a limited menu compared with other ships we've been on. The Patio on the pool deck, which serves burgers and such, was -- I have to say again -- only adequate. We loved our two days in Havana and wish we could have spent the entire cruise at Cuban ports. Why this itinerary included Cozumel I don't know. We have been to Cozumel many times, both on land trips and on cruises and no longer find it of any interest at all. It is a good dive destination that has been ruined by too many cruise ships and too much commercialization (Cozumel, amazingly, is the 3rd busiest cruise port in the world.) We were not that impressed with the ship excursion staff, who pushed the cruise tours pretty hard, and one of our pre-booked tours was canceled for no reason we could understand. To summarize what we liked and didn't much care for: Liked: Easy embarkation and disembarkation Friendly, helpful staff Lots of "traditional" wood paneling and such The Havana stop -- Havana is amazing, and we only wish we had had more time there So-so: Enrichment offerings (basically one speaker whose knowledge of parts of the Caribbean seemed a little dated -- having written many books on the region I probably knew more than he did) Dining in all venues Entertainment The small-ship atmosphere -- Journey carries fewer than 700 passengers, but we really felt that we had more and better options for places to relax on the Solstice-class Celebrity ships. Didn't like: Cozumel Bartenders' skill -- some bartenders seemed to have no training in making anything but the very basics. The Celebrity ships we have been on had much better bars and craft cocktails; the ship skimped on some ingredients, for example substituting cheap maraschino cherries for Luxardo cherries. I think Azamara should totally rethink its drink policies – just raise the fare a few bucks and make the included drinks cover more options and better brands. Small stateroom, tiny bathroom and ridiculously little shower Bottom line: I guess our expectations were too high. We were hoping to really love Azamara, but at this point I doubt we would go on another Azamara cruise. We prefer its big-ship sister, Celebrity, and hope that Royal Caribbean's purchase of a majority interest in Silversea will result in a true premium line in the cruise family (we have been on Silversea and hope that Royal Caribbean upgrades to new ships). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
As a first time cruiser I was not sure what to expect however with excellent accommodation, excellent food, attentive, competent and friendly staff, there was little that could or did go wrong. Dining...Didn't need to upgrade to ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was not sure what to expect however with excellent accommodation, excellent food, attentive, competent and friendly staff, there was little that could or did go wrong. Dining...Didn't need to upgrade to any of the packages on offer and ate mostly in the Windows and Patio areas. a delight. Booze....Didn't need to upgrade to any kind of premium package, the wines on offer were excellent as was the rum punch and beer. The Spa...Young lady insisted that I needed a haircut and I did, received and excellent haircut and not overpriced. Entertainment...The house band were excellent, the singers could sing and the dancers could dance. They all came together on the White Night event and were terrific. The set shows however were more high camp and cheesy than anything else, , although 70 this year I was brought up on the Stones and Beatles and Genesis, Pink Floyd etc If anyone plays Sweet Caroline to me again I will probably hit them. We were treated to terrific reggae with Third World and some chap from a West End Show who knew his stuff. In saying all that no one goes on a cruise for the entertainment. Excursions...Didn't go on any of the ships as found them overpriced, It was easy to get a local taxi in most of the Islands to take us round for an hour and cheaper. Everyone worked hard to ensure a good time was had by all. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My friend and I had both lost our husbands and wanted a relaxing holiday in the sun. I had previously cruised with Celebrity and when an offer came for Azamara Journey we booked immediately. From start to finish it was brilliant. We ... Read More
My friend and I had both lost our husbands and wanted a relaxing holiday in the sun. I had previously cruised with Celebrity and when an offer came for Azamara Journey we booked immediately. From start to finish it was brilliant. We loved the outside eating areas, the friendly service,the food ,the staff (especially our cabin staff of 7022 and bartenders Paul and Jestin) Embarkation was easy. The Captain and the Cruise Director had brilliant repartee. The ship is great. We loved it because it was small. Our cabin was excellent and breakfast on the balcony was a real treat . The food was superb and we felt no need to eat in the specialty restaurants. The all inclusive drinks package gave us all we wanted. We didn’t organise shore excursions by choice and just wandered around the ports where we were docked or tendered. We arranged a shore excursion on the last day to the Everglades before transportation to the airport and that worked well .It was lovely that the Captain wished us a safe journey at the end of the trip . We could find nothing to fault . The reggae concert was an experience as was the white night party . Value for money -what can I say? I don’t know how they made a profit . Would we go again ? Try stopping us!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was my 8th overall cruise, and I chose this trip for the amazing immersive itinerary of Cuba. From the moment I stepped on the Journey, I appreciated the calming decor. It was so great to be on a ship of only 600 - you really got to ... Read More
This was my 8th overall cruise, and I chose this trip for the amazing immersive itinerary of Cuba. From the moment I stepped on the Journey, I appreciated the calming decor. It was so great to be on a ship of only 600 - you really got to know your fellow passengers...especially if you're an outgoing guy like me. We ate almost every meal at the discoveries restaurant and were VERY pleased with the quality, presentation, and taste of the food. I've been avoiding red meat recently, and they always had at least two fish choices(other than salmon)! i asked for freshly steamed broccoli and they always delivered on any request that I had. The entertainment wasn't extensive - but we did enjoy both shows by our cruise director...the VERY tall and lovely Eric! Please, please, please...book private tours of cuba! Do not take the cruise's excursions. they tell you that it is difficult when you get to cuba and that you can't get off the ship if you don't have a tour booked...NOT TRUE!!! All three of our private tours were AMAZING...private air-conditioned cars from the 50's. Do your research on TripAdvisor - and book with confidence! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose Azarmara because we did not want to be on a giant cruise ship with thousands of our closest friends. We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to experience Cuba and not just stop one place for a few hours. Service was ... Read More
Chose Azarmara because we did not want to be on a giant cruise ship with thousands of our closest friends. We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to experience Cuba and not just stop one place for a few hours. Service was stellar everywhere we went. After a couple of days in Windows Cafe, the server called me Diet Coke with a smile because it was a small enough ship to get to know people. Themed food night in some of the restaurants were well appreciated. The white night party on the deck was a fun evening. Lots of dancing! There seemed to be ample seating almost always in the pool area and plenty of activities for those who wanted to participate. The ship put up a big screen for the Superbowl and served Superbowl party foods for dinner which was a great touch. Getting on and getting off the boat at ports was a breeze.The ship was small enough to dock at all three ports so we didn't have wait to transfer to start our vacation. We chose to do private shore excursions, but did do the Tropicana & Santiago de Cuba though the boat, which were both well organized and interesting. Highly recommend the El Cobre tour which included an outstanding steel drum band who played music you would never expect from a steel drum. Our private tours were with Blexie - Havana & Caribbean Pearl Tours which were personalized based on our interests. They were both outstanding. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 1st cruise in 14 years, and we have been intrigued by Cuba for even longer. As new empty nesters and not yet retired, costs still are kind of a thing. Some of our choices reflect some effort at economy, which we found is ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise in 14 years, and we have been intrigued by Cuba for even longer. As new empty nesters and not yet retired, costs still are kind of a thing. Some of our choices reflect some effort at economy, which we found is achievable even on Azamara. Our past cruise experience had been on 2,000+ passenger behemoths; part of this review relates to the (first for us) small ship experience. For economy, we flew to Miami early on departure morning (a decision we'd like to have back as we were gambling with winter weather up north). Our Deck 6 midships cabin had an obstructed view through the window. We felt little ship motion, no vibraiton and we were well-insulated from public space noise by other cabins. The obstructed view meant a savings, but we could see well enough for us. We love the (little) R ships and we felt seeing the same staff and passengers lent a sense of collegiality and hominess. Sometimes some passangers might feel the activity selection was insufficient for their tastes - whether this is a legit concern really needs to be weighed in terms of cruise demographics. Our school-year sailing to Cuba meant that the average passenger age was about 66, with a pretty tight standard deviation. In our mid and late 50s, we were decidedly among the youngest on board. Now and then, all of the programmed activities were for an older age group. We were happy enough on our own, but not everyone would be. Azamara pays attention to the details. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze and the food was outstanding. We did not do the upgraded restaurant or drink options; we are foodies and still do not feel it necessary as the food in the main dining room was great. Here is an interesting and important observation about food during dinners too: portions are modest and gluttons will be disappointed. To us that was fine, but might not be for everyone. There always is the buffet option, with rotating regional specialities each day. All you can eat there, but it lacks the ambience of the main dining room. Along this same vein, there only was a midnight buffet one light with late-ending nighttime shore excursions. Otherwise, no. Fine with us too. Another nice thing about the dining room was this: no assigned seats or times. You come when you want. If you like your waiter and remember his/her name, you can ask for that section but need not. The tables are close enough to strike up conversations with neighbors if you want, but one need not. We have recollections of assigned seats on other cruises with incompatible table-mates; we like Azamara's solution. Room service was included and perfect every time we used it (for coffee in the mornings). Tips are included in your fare; we tipped our room stewards and waiter anyway. Service from absolutely everyone was top-notch. We did the shore excursions sponsored by the cruise line and generally were very satisfied. Mind you, Cuba is new to tourism and Azamara is new to Cuba. Some growing pains were inevitable and showed. Overall, we feel we really learned a lot about the Cuban people and culture, which is why we went. There was one child on the boat, under the age of 20. She was two years old. This is not a cruise for young families or children. The boat simply is not equipped. We knew that and were happy. We definitely would go again on Azamara, on an R-ship (we love the smallness) but might do something a bit more tourism-experienced than Cuba next tme. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The January 2019 10 Day Cuba cruise was our 46th, and first on Azamara. Since the cruise right before ours experienced an outbreak of Norovirus, our ship was under the strictest controls the entire 10 days. You could not touch anything, no ... Read More
The January 2019 10 Day Cuba cruise was our 46th, and first on Azamara. Since the cruise right before ours experienced an outbreak of Norovirus, our ship was under the strictest controls the entire 10 days. You could not touch anything, no condiments on the tables, etc.. Overall, we were surprised at how many things were just not good on this ship, but grateful for those that worked. Journey is a 20 year ship, one of the former Renaissance ships, and at 30,000 tons it is easy to get around, big enough to hold 660 guests comfortably with enough dining options to avoid crowds. Even with only 4 elevators for the whole ship, there was hardly ever a wait. Our balcony cabin, deck 7 near the mid/rear elevators, needed a face lift, even thought the write-ups said that the ship was fully renovated in 2016? The bathroom is very, very tight and shower ridiculously small. For a premium-priced ship, the cabin was a major disappointment. There was, however, enough storage since the cabin is old style with drawers and two closets. The bedding, pillows are upscale and comfortable with nice duvet comforter, and better quality sheets. While on board our main comparison was to the Oceania cruises we took on Riviera, a 55,000 ton, small ship as well. Just on the basis of food alone, there is no comparison.The food on Oceania was superb, on Journey very mediocre, except for a few evenings when the Chef did a very good job. The food in Journey's Windows Buffet, deck 9 was poor at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Except for breakfast, since on many days there was no other option ... we tried to avoid Windows, as much as possible. Bacon, fatty and greasy, same fruit each day, along with the exact same eggs, and other breakfast offerings.  One day and one day only they had very good blintzes ... never to be repeated. At lunch and dinner there were too many stews. A better alternative to Windows at breakfast or lunch was Discoveries dining room  ... serving breakfast and or luncheon on sea days and The Patio, deck nine for hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled lamb, chicken, nice salads, sides including terrific french fries during an expanded lunch hour. In fact the french fries all over the ship were very good, as well as the breads and rolls. The first several days the dinner meals in Discoveries Dining Room  were poor. Then after the fourth or fifth day, the food seemed to get better. Many guests we talked with complained about the food. Some good choices in Discoveries were the Escargot, Shrimp Cocktail, French Onion Soup, Osso Buco, Veal Schnitzel ( superb), Strip Steak, Caesar Salad. We quickly found that the best desserts on board were the Gelato and terrific Sorbets ( real sorbet, not sherbet). Sorbets became our go to  dessert on board. One night I relented and had the Creme Brulee and it was a bit curdled. During one of the evenings, the ship hosted a "White Night" party with a terrific buffet ( even lobster tails and super jumbo shrimp ), numerous appetizers, main dishes and dancing. It was a great evening. They also hosted a "German" lunch buffet ( in Discoveries) the last sea day on the ship which was superb. Ten different types of sausage, roast pig, veal schnitzel, cheese spaetzle, assorted salads and desserts, all accompanied by an "OOM PAH Band". Also towards the end of the cruise they hosted a "chocolate extravaganza" , deck 5 near the shops. While the spot was clearly the wrong place on the ship to have this event,  ( way too small of an area), it was a wonderful gesture to have desserts, candies made out of chocolate. We bought a three pack of three dinners in the specialty restaurants ( $70 pp which included two nights in Prime C; one night in Aqualina). Best choices in Prime C - Filet Mignon and Chateau Briand for two. Aqualina had a wonderful Dover Sole ( get it with butter and lemon sauce, not the Putanesca sauce). The one positive thing I can say about this ship is that they are willing to make changes in some of the entrees ... leaving out ingredients, or pairing other sides with your entree. The shows/entertainment were  DISMAL. The ship's singers only performed 2-3 times during the 10 days, with the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director being the talent on one night each. The special guitarist, Nestor Santurio was very good. His two night performance of Flaminco, Santana tunes, etc. was very good, but his second night was overshadowed by the choco fest, scheduled during his concerts.  We did enjoy the one speaker who gave 4 talks ( Dr. Reben Peylomal) about Cuban history and politics. This ship needs major help in evening shows/general entertainment.  The one and only pool is about 20' x 15' with cut ins for the two jacuzzis. You really could not swim unless it was in off hours, and no one else was in the pool.The one strong suit of this ship is service.The mostly Indonesian, Phillippino, Indian Staff is very helpful, willing to please and is genuinely more friendly than we have ever experienced on any ship. A special shout out to: GOMER; SULTAN; GODSON, some of our restaurant servers and our cabin attendants AGUS AND AARON. We appreciated their services. This ship gets an "F" in internet services. First for those who do not travel with tablets or laptops there are only 4 computers in the Living Room on Deck 10 front of ship, seated by the most uncomfortable couches. Worse than being the slowest internet on the high seas, YOU CANNOT CONNECT TO YOUR EMAIL IF YOUR CARRIER IS COMCAST.NET.  The Internet Manager admitted that they do not have the bandwidth to reach Comcast.net and in fact no one has ever been successful in connecting with their Comcast.net email account on this ship. I could not reach it directly or indirectly via MAIL2WEB.com. For this reason and this reason alone we would never cruise on Azamara again. We were totally "incommunicato" for  10 days. This is the first time in 46 cruises we could not connect to our email account. Some of the benefits they package into their expensive fare includes a pretty liberal beverage package with modest red and white wines; Beck's, Bud and Newcastle draught beer; Pina Colada's, Strawberry Daiquiri's, Bloody Mary's and yes Mojito's .You have to ask them to make the Mojito with house rum or they will try to charge you an extra $5.95. We thought the beverage package was pretty good. You don't have to present your seapass ... just order the drink you want, including soda, water, juices, etc..The ship also includes all gratuities but charges for specialty restaurants ( which Oceania includes gratis ). CUBA: We booked this cruise over a year ago, because this was the only ship going to the 3 ports ( Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba) , for what was supposed to be a multi-night, extended period for each port. Havana was supposed to be 3 days, but just a few days  before  we left , Azamara cut it to two days and extended Cienfuegos to two days and Santiago to an overnight and one day. Havana should have been 3 days, Cienfuegos one day and Santiago a full two days. Ship's tours were very long, too long ... some running as long as 7-8 hours and others 5 1/2 hours. Guests were coming back to the ship exhausted, especially since the average age on this cruise was late 60's. As usual they tried to put the fear of God into you about rules and regulations for Americans touring in Cuba. We learned that you could arrange your own private tours with Govn't sanctioned tour companies, see much more and pay about half what the ship charges. $299 for two people to do the American Classic Car tour in an old convertible is at least $100 to $150 more that what the private tour companies charge. Ditto for night tours, to night clubs etc.. The contrast of cities, architectures, stories you hear about Cuban dictators is absolutely heart breaking. Yet the resolve of the people to survive, under the worst of conditions, is heart warming. We took a horse and carriage tour one day and were so saddened to see all the skinny horses doing their best to pull the carriages and then find out when they outlive their usefulness are eaten, as Cubans will eat horse meat. Just as skinny roaming the streets are dogs and chickens don't survive that long because a chicken dinner is only affordable once per month. Fresh eggs are coveted, but hard to obtain. You can't eat the chicken and expect it to keep laying eggs. Santiago was the biggest surprise and seemed to have some industry, lush lands for plantings and better housing options. This is where Fidel is buried as well as the hero Marti. Overall we had a good time and were grateful to finally see Cuba which is frozen in time. We truly hope things will improve for this nation of warm people. Unfortunately it will take an investment infusion of $ mega billions to bring it into the 21st century. Who will take on that task? One final comment, one of surprise. About four days into the cruise, guests were provided a survey form. It was a short form and we responded by including comments about the food, and how disappointed we were, so far. We also commented about the poor internet service. A few days later, we were eating in the specialty restaurant, and after our meal the Specialty Restaurant Manager came to our table and asked if we enjoyed the meal, which we did. He thanked us for filling out the survey form and being so candid. We were shocked that he knew about our comments and even more surprised that he chose to approach us about what we said. Apparently our responses were listed on the ship's computer system for restaurant management to read? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Three ports in Cuba, three days in Havana. . .all were enticing! Our first cruise on Azamara, a little pricey, but we were determined to make the trip. As others have said, we, too, were led to believe that you needed to participate in the ... Read More
Three ports in Cuba, three days in Havana. . .all were enticing! Our first cruise on Azamara, a little pricey, but we were determined to make the trip. As others have said, we, too, were led to believe that you needed to participate in the high-priced Azamara excursions every day in order to comply with both U.S. and Cuban rules for U.S. visitors. Not true. Although we did three tours because we wanted to, on other days we sought to comply with the people-to-people commitment on our own. Basically, the Cubans care about what you bring into Cuba, but generally not what you do while there. U.S. government cares what you are doing while in Cuba, but were really lax when we returned with no one even asking what we had to declare. Go figure. A couple of months before the trip, the number of days in Havana was reduced to 2 days--disappointing--but apparently beyond control of Azamara. Same for need to be tendered, not docked, into Santiago de Cuba. Tendering took 20 minutes from ship to dock, and was well handled by the crew. For us, Labadee, Haiti--the private resort owned by Azamara's owner, Royal Caribbean--was wasted on us. Azamara passengers appear to average age 72, and I cannot imagine they took advantage of all the outdoor activities offered--again at high prices--or even just lie on the beach for a full day. There was even a charge for a nature walk around the resort. Really?! Lunch BBQ was great--avoid the food set out in the sun--but saddened by watching the under-nourished and water-denied dogs wandering about. Come on, Royal Caribbean. . .even if these animals are owned by locals, put out food & water, and perhaps have them spayed. Since this ship is the original, but refurbished, R6 (now-defunct Renaissance Cruises), we felt very comfortable having traveled on the R1. The Club Veranda Stateroom was very nice. A few minor negatives: smallish bathroom, poor quality of TV set image, magnifying bathroom mirror was fine if passenger is over 5'7". Large comfortable bed, ample storage space, a zillion hangers in a lighted closet, incredible steward service, free self-service laundry (on level 7). Public areas were comfortable and always clean. Discoveries dining room (main) is large and can be noisy--come early or late to avoid this. Service is wonderful, and the food is good quality. Because of size, however, the occasional buffet there can get a little chaotic. The more casual dining option, Windows Cafe, is always buffet, but better passenger flow. Food is tasty but some items can be more cafeteria-like. Once we saw the additional cost for the two specialty restaurants, we decided to stick with the dining that was included in fare. We're used to not being charged extra on Oceania and Celebrity. Oh, Internet was also extra--not so on Celebrity, Viking, or Oceania. Having been on small cruise ships, we do not expect Broadway shows or big entertainment events. The few singers were very good, although music selections were a little dated. The Azamara Orchestra is really a 4-man band. . .and they were excellent. The 24-year old leader plays piano and delivers witty repartee. The White Nights was much more to our liking with music and dancing from the 70s. Think most of the 600+ passengers turned out for this on-deck activity. There was one enrichment speaker for the whole trip: four presentations in ten days. He knew the material, but his delivery was deadly. I was not the only one who nodded off to sleep while the professor droned on. We will price Azamara voyages in future, but we might find better value for the same trip on Azamara's sister Celebrity ships. Yes, they are larger, but not one of the "Leviathan of the Seas" class ships! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We picked this ship for 2 reasons: 1 - we like Azamara (this was our 4th cruise on Azamara) and 2 - we liked the itinerary, especially the 3 days in Havana. Unfortunately, the itinerary was changed prior to our sailing and we had only 1 ... Read More
We picked this ship for 2 reasons: 1 - we like Azamara (this was our 4th cruise on Azamara) and 2 - we liked the itinerary, especially the 3 days in Havana. Unfortunately, the itinerary was changed prior to our sailing and we had only 1 1/2 days in Havana and 2 days in Cienfuegos. One day in Cienfuegos would have been enough, and a second day in Santiago de Cuba would have been better. This was not Azamara's "fault" and we did not blame them. In Havana, Cienfuegos and Labadee (Haiti), we were docked; we tendered in Santiago de Cuba. The tenders ran frequently and was not a problem. We took only one Azamara excursion, a Jewish tour. We had very good presentations at the two synagogues we visited and a good appreciation of Jewish life in Cuba. Our tour guide tried, but was not well informed about Judaism, and got "defensive" when we pointed out mistakes in his presentation. The leaders at the synagogues were fantastic. At the other ports, we took private tours (Tours by Locals and Shoretrips). There were 4 of us traveling together and the private tours were the way to go; especially in Cuba! Our tour guides were well informed and deftly maneuvered us around crowded streets. Much to our delight, we were able to visit markets, historic sites and buildings, barber shops, 2 hair salons, a department store, etc. While most of the tour guides were "careful" in what they told us, I left Cuba with a much better sense of what day-to-day life is like for its citizens. Back on the ship, service was excellent. Servers even remembered what we liked to drink! There had been a G-I outbreak on the sailing previous to ours, so there were heightened precautions in effect (e.g. no self-serve at the buffet). The staff all took it in good stride. The Captain gave us a daily briefing on the number of cases reported, as well as a daily reminder to "wash our hands for 20 seconds." Fortunately, there was not a repeat outbreak on our sailing. The only negative about this cruise was the food. The food, even in the Aqualina specialty restaurant, was mediocre (Prime C was very good). In the Discoveries restaurant, I even had to send back a piece of meat that look like it had been run over by a car! Dinner buffets in the Windows Cafe were a disappointment. However, the food during White Night was good. Our last Azamara cruise was 2 years ago, and my recollection is that the food was much better on that sailing. Two months ago, we sailed on Windstar and that food was superior to Azamara's. We did not attend any of the shows. Lounge entertainment was okay. Announcements were kept to a minimum which we appreciated. The cruise director was available, but not a nuisance. We will sail Azamara again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise because it had a Cuba Intensive itinerary. That said, I did book most of my excursions through private companies. Places I wanted to go such as Vinales National Park were not on their Itineraries and I often dislike ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it had a Cuba Intensive itinerary. That said, I did book most of my excursions through private companies. Places I wanted to go such as Vinales National Park were not on their Itineraries and I often dislike being with the busload of people. Also, I have traveled many times on Celebrity and Royal and had never tried Azamara. The ship is a very easy to manage size in terms of getting from point A to B. The rooms (veranda) are considerably smaller than their sister ships, but adequately appointed. The whole ship is miniaturized in general. Things I really liked: Staying more than one night in Port. Azamazing evening was very well organized. They did a sensational White Night Party on the main deck. Labadee was wonderful arriving on a small ship and having the island to ourselves. The attention to detail and service was very good. It was very relaxing traveling on a small ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We are a British couple in our sixties. This was our second Azamara cruise. Embarkation at Miami took the best part of an hour, complicated by queuing to get and complete the Guest Travel Certification form for Cuba before proceeding to ... Read More
We are a British couple in our sixties. This was our second Azamara cruise. Embarkation at Miami took the best part of an hour, complicated by queuing to get and complete the Guest Travel Certification form for Cuba before proceeding to another queue for check-in. It would have been nice if those of us who had downloaded and completed the form prior to arrival could have been fast-tracked. Journey was being given a thorough clean because of some guests suffering gastro-intestinal illness on the previous cruise. As a result no cabins or suites were available until mid to late afternoon. This also meant no self-service at buffets for the first couple of days. The same thing happened near the end of the cruise, after a handful of guests reported gastro-intestinal illness. I guess this happened pretty regularly. It was a minor inconvenience and a very understandable precaution. The ship was nicely decorated with Christmas trees, poinsettias and lots of other seasonal decorations. On boarding we purchased three meals in the specialty restaurants. We had to decide there and then which three dates we wanted. We particularly enjoyed our two meals in Prime C. In Aqualina the food was fine, but it was almost empty with no atmosphere and each new course arrived immediately after our plates were cleared from the previous course. They said they had had lots of late cancellations. The food in the main dining room was reasonable. We like to share a table for six or eight to meet new people. This didn’t seem as well organised as on our previous Azamara cruise. A few times our table was only partially filled. On Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve they insisted on timed reservations because of expected high demand, but in the event there were lots of empty tables. A couple of evenings when nothing on the main dining room menu tempted us we ate at The Patio. We enjoyed the food there, but the service was patchy. We had no problem finding included wines that we liked. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of variety of activities and entertainment. There were no comedians, magicians or acrobats; only singers and dancers. The Azamazing evening in Cartagena was rubbish. A lengthy coach trip to a lovely theatre for a terrible performance by a very pretentious pianist. Most of the music was pre-recorded. As with our previous Azamara cruise, the friendliness of the staff was a big positive. The sole exception was one of the shore excursions staff who my wife and I on separate occasions found to be rude. Our overall experience of the Azamara shore excursions was not good. A couple of snorkelling trips I wanted to take were cancelled. Two other excursions were just about OK but not as advertised. In Cuba we had arranged independent tours and they were great. Getting on and off the ship in Cuban ports was as quick and easy as everywhere else. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We had picked it because of the itinerary and because we liked the idea of going somewhere warm for Christmas or New Year. In both respects it was a success. We loved Cuba and enjoyed being on a cruise in a warm climate over Christmas so much we have booked another for next year (Pursuit – New Year in Rio). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower ... Read More
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower was tiny with a shower curtain that randomly wrapped around your body! Service was very good, especially stateroom and dining room. We booked shore excursions through the ship mostly as the literature from Azamara made it seem the only way. Not so! Very disappointed in the shore excursions and with the shore excursions desk staff. The spa was excellent albeit pricey. The specialty restaurants were good and offered a pleasant break from the main dining room at competitive prices. The included beverages of wine and beer was nice. Especially liked mosaic cafe for daily cappuccino. Embarkation was smooth with rooms ready by 1:30. Luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as ... Read More
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as being more upscale and luxurious than the typical mega-ships. We have been wanting to visit Cuba since they opened it up to Americans and thought a cruise would be a great way to see more than just Havana. After some initial snafus with our reservation that was graciously resolved by Bonnie over on the CruiseCritic discussion boards, we boarded in Miami for our 10 circle trip around the Cuban island with stops in Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman, Cienfuegos and Havana. The most appealing part of the itinerary was the promise of multi-day stays in port rather than the usual arrive-at-8am-leave-at-5pm schedules of other cruise lines. Which leads me to our first big gripe with Azamara: it was only after plotting the arrival/departure times on the calendar that we realized that the "extended" time in port was very misleading. On the itinerary, it listed only 1 day at sea but in actuality we ended up with almost 4 full sea days. For example, days 3 & 4 were listed as in port in Santiago, however, we arrived at 8am on Tuesday and left at 6am Wednesday. That's not 2 days - that's one day + one night. Wednesday turned out to be really a sea day but that's not how it was shown on the schedule. Same for Cienfuegos on Friday/Saturday. We arrived Friday morning but left the dock 8am on Sat and didn't arrive Havana until Sunday evening. That's almost a day and half at sea. We really only got 1 full day at each of these ports and just 2 days in Havana instead of 3. We talked to several others who felt that Azamara was very misleading in the marketing about the time in port. I know that ships can't magically teleport from one location to the next but it would have been less confusing if the itinerary matched reality so we knew what to expect and plan our excursions accordingly. Azamara highlights that they have more immersive itineraries by allowing more time in port but I don't think it counts when that time is spent sleeping. Second major disappointment was the overall lack of service throughout the ship. While the crew and waitstaff were generally good and always very courteous, it was decidedly less than what you'd expect from a "luxury" cruise line. Water glasses frequently went unfilled and you had to hunt around for someone to take your order or answer a question. The exception to that was for some reason the waitstaff was always there in a flash to whisk away your empty plate or glass - like there was a reprimand waiting for them if they left dirty dishes about but initial orders or refills were often slow to arrive. Other couples we met onboard talked about their past cruises on Regent or SilverSea and how the staff fell over themselves trying to serve you and worked hard to anticipate your needs rather than wait to be called upon. While service was not bad, per se...it just wasn't on par with other luxury brands or even some mainstream brands like Celebrity. This brings me to the third major criticism and that was the food. The buffet was really disappointing as was the grill out by the pool. The food looked very nice and there was always good selection but it was also exceptionally bland and lacking flavor. Almost like salt and spices are forbidden in the kitchen. Several times we were let down by something that looked amazing only to be utterly tasteless. For example, the prime rib was very drab. How a kitchen can make a staple dish like prime rib boring and totally lacking in flavor is beyond me. The main dining room was a bit better and we ate there most nights. Eventually we learned what things to avoid and how to ask for specific items we had had before. Most nights the menu followed a theme chosen by the chef. There were some rather odd choices some nights that really wasn't all that exciting, however you could always order a selection from the a la cart menu. The daily wine selections were usually pretty good and we never felt the need to buy the special bottles listed at considerable upsell prices. We had the Premium beverage package which was adequate for our needs but you could see there are some shennanigans going on with the way liquor selections are structured. It's all intended to get you to go with the Ultimate package instead at $22/day. For us it wasn't worth it and we just paid for the few top shelf drinks individually. The premium package includes all beers and most lower tier "well" spirits and mixed drinks which is fine for most people unless you have a specific liquor preference. Many specialty drinks like caipirinas, desert wines and top shelf liquors are excluded and require separate purchase at full price. It's a little confusing as to what drinks are part of which package and I believe this is intentional. We only got to try the specialty restaurant once and we really liked it in spite of the $30 per person cover. Had we known before that the buffet and main dining would be so lacking we would have made reservations at Prime C or Agualina every night. Reservations filled up quickly however - especially for the last night at sea. Another intentional method to get you to upsell over and above what's included. I booked a massage at the spa for the first sea day and it was very good. I was not expecting the sales pitch for their high priced lotions so just be aware that they'll try to sell you at the end. Also, spa services automatically include an 18% gratuity so don't feel pressured to add extra tip. Otherwise the spa is rather underwhelming and not worth the high prices. There's a special sun deck and hot tub just for spa patrons but I don't see how it's worth the extra price. The exercise room is just off the spa and while adequate for getting a workout in, there isn't much in the way of equipment. The usual treadmills, stationary bikes and nautilus-type weights. We booked a guaranteed outside cabin and the room was fine. A little small of course but perfectly adequate. I should have splurged for a veranda instead but ultimately it was fine for our needs. With the extra time at sea and most of our time in port dedicated to excursions, we didn't spend a huge amount of time in the cabin anyway. Our stewards were fantastic and were like ninjas - always slipping in to replace towels and straighten up while we were out. They greeted us by name each morning. We were assigned cabin 6004 which is an oversized outside stateroom at the very front of the ship on deck 6 port side. It is extra long which allows it much more space than usual - about the size of a typical hotel room. This is due to the space where the balcony is in the veranda staterooms is replaced with a large round picture window approx 4 feet in diameter. It creates a bit of a "fishbowl" experience but it was perfectly fine as we spent most of our time outside anyway. There is a small loveseat and coffee table in addition to the desk & chair. Plenty of room to move around and we were not bumping into each other except for in/out of the bathroom and around the bottom of the bed (which is the same layout for all other non-suite cabins). Being at the front of the ship you definitely feet the movement - both up & down and side to side rocking. Might be worse on really rough seas. We could hear/feel rumblings down below when the boat pitched upward that I suspect were the stabilizers kicking in. It's a smaller ship so this was very common throughout the boat even in the aft dining room. My wife is prone to seasickness and was initially worried about the location, however she did not have any problems. Other issue with the location was the noise from the anchor chains and vibration from the front thrusters when entering and leaving port. This was temporary however and we did not find it too bothersome except for it waking us up at 5am on the last day. As our cabin was directly above the Cabaret Lounge on deck 5, we could hear the bass and drums during band practice and evening performances. This might annoy some people but we didn't really have any problem with it as the shows are rather short anyway. There is a connecting door to the suite next door and we occasionally heard muffled voices thru the walls and from the hallway but somebody suggested putting a towel or bathrobe against the floor and this worked to block out both noise and light. Otherwise the cabin is very quiet, secluded and dark. Bathroom is tiny and takes some getting used to with regards to maneuvering - especially the shower. The shower curtain clings to you but we found if you put the bottom edge of the curtain outside the stall (there is a groove in the floor leading to a drain outside the shower) then it helps to create some additional space. Not a lot of space to spread out so you have to be creative with storage. This is true on any cruise ship however. Bed was super comfortable with nice linens and comforter. A/C was great and kept the temperature perfect. Closet organizer was efficient and adequate with plenty of storage. Mirrors and lighting was terrific. Note to others...do NOT attempt to bring onboard any kind of travel iron or clothes steamer. Ours was confiscated from my wife's luggage upon embarkation. There was no mention of portable steamers being prohibited in the boarding documentation but they said they can set off the fire detectors. The self service laundry on deck 7 has ironing boards and irons as well as laundry supplies. The machines are free but limited so you have to be diligent and strategic about timing in order to get a load or two done ahead of others. One other gripe...the onboard Internet was so slow it was almost completely useless. Thankfully we did not pay extra for this otherwise we would have been really upset. Eric, our cruise director was fabulous and very funny. His "grandpa" jokes were groaners but perfectly pitched for the audience. He and the captain even formed a bit of a comedic duo on the daily announcements. You can tell Eric has a definite flair for Broadway showtunes as the music was decidedly tilted towards that genre. Overall the performances by the singers and dancers were very good and entertaining with a good mix of contemporary and traditional music. I'm sure some of the older crowds didn't fully appreciate the ABBA night show. The lounge pianist was charming and the trio band was pleasant. They played upstairs in the Living Room at night and by the pool during the day and at sail aways. It added to the overall pleasantness of the cruise. Nothing was offensive or too wild - nor was it just Perry Como elevator music either. It was a good balance of entertainment for the crowd which definitely skewed a little higher on the age scale than the brochures allude to. The White Night party was held in port at Cienfuegos and it was the highlight of our trip. The food buffets were over the top and truly gluttonous. Lines were long - especially for the lobster tails but there was something for everyone. The music was fantastic and everyone's spirits were very high. Eric led an actual conga line around the pool area and had a very memorable duet with one of the passengers. It was really a great party and something to look forward to. We ended up booking a couple of Azamara sponsored excursions and a couple independent trips on our own. In Santiago, we found a local taxi driver who took us to a couple of places like Castro's grave and the memorial to Jose Marti. We saw the changing of the guard at the national cemetery and had lunch in a local paladar with our taxi driver. We got to sit down and chat with him about the country and his life which was very interesting since his English was as limited as our Spanish. In Cienfuegos, we opted for the excursion to the El Nicho waterfalls about an hour away. This involved a hike in the mountains over some pretty steep terrain although the views at the end were worth it. We also got to visit an artist commune and watched some interpretive dances which was strange to say the least. Grand Cayman - we had been there before on a different cruise and there's really nothing else to do but go to the beach. We decided to walk which was a mistake in 90+ degree heat and humidity. We caught a bus back to the dock for $5 bucks. We arrived in Havana Saturday night. We booked the show at the Cabaret Parisian rather than the Tropicana. From what we heard the Tropicana was probably a better choice but the shows are essentially the same. It was a late night however as the show didn't start until 10pm and we didn't get back to the ship until midnight. Sunday we had arranged for a private tour guide through HavanaTourCompany.com. Our guide was awesome and even managed to deal with including a couple we met onboard at the last minute. We had a fabulous lunch in Old Havana then took a walking tour and convertible ride through the city and to Fusterlandia outside of the city where we bought some original artwork. We saw all the main sights and learned about the history, finishing up that night with dinner and a show at La Taberna. It's definitely worth it to use an independent tour guide in Havana and not go with the overpriced tours offered by the cruise line. You get better pricing, a customized itinerary and the guides are little more open to talking about their lives than the "official" government approved Havanatur. Monday morning we did the coffee, rum and cigar factory tour. We visited the Partaga cigar factory (which makes 25 other brands like Cohiba and Montecristo). It was a literal sweat shop with 4 floors of un-air conditioned rooms and workers hand rolling cigars for pennies a day. We were then bussed around the city to several government shops to buy cigars and rum getting a bit of a guided tour along the way. Rum and cigars are the same price everywhere (state controlled) so don't feel pressured to buy them on the tours. We were warned not to buy cigars on the street however as there are no guarantees as to quality. It helps to know in advance what you're looking for in terms of brand, sizes and shape. Expect to pay approx 50% less than you can find authentic Cuban cigars elsewhere (Canada for example). Originally the AzAmazing Evening was scheduled for our evening in Santiago but was changed at the last minute to our arrival night in Havana. Since we had already booked a show we ended up passing on this event. We heard it was rather interesting - a special ballet performance at the Grand Theater. Overall, we were pleased with our first Azamara cruise and we even booked a second one to Alaska next July - this time with a balcony. We enjoyed our trip and would recommend it to others with the caveat that it all depends on your expectations going in. Some things were great compared to a typical cruise - most standard drinks are included as are tips. There are some areas where you still get nickle & dimed but it's not nearly as bad as the major lines. The smaller ship is a double edged sword - it's more intimate with much fewer passengers but it's also a rather boring ship with not a whole lot to do if you're the type that requires constant excitement. The demographics skew older with not a single child onboard. Most were in their 60's, 70's or 80's although there were a few younger gay couples as well. The marketing material would have you believe that Azamara is a luxury cruise line - on par with other luxury brands like Regent, SilverSea or Paul Gaugin. In the end, it's a bit like first class on Delta or United Airlines...yes, it is a much better experience than flying coach but it's also no comparison to foreign carriers like Singapore or Emirates. Go in with the proper expectations and you'll have a great time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his ... Read More
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his vocation. Entertainment was less than spectacular due to a change in dancers, which were absent. Nonetheless Eric de Gray is a true star and directing the musicians and singers did a great job and no one complained. Food . A veritable flow of excellent offerings at all times to suit every palate, To avoid repetition, some new dishes should be introduced for longer voyages as this Transatlantic 2 week. Wines included are adequate, unless one is a wine connoisseur. An additional wine list is available, but at ship prices which don't offer good value. Bar alcohol is more than adequate and only top liqueurs Cognacs and Whiskies etc are charged. Cabin Butler service was impeccable. Room service was rapid and perfect. The Hotel Manageress Heike, watching with an Eagle eye ensures the ship is immaculate, and staff care for pax . Indeed all is faultless. Upon boarding Lisbon some new crew joined. Deck restaurant service was at times chaotic for the first few days. Completing a questionnaire to highlight such matters, was responded to within hours by many staff members and of course Heike who ensured more management attention rectified the complaint/observations soon thereafter. They followed up too! NOW A WARNING** Be aware this ship changes dates, port itinerary and times, seven times ..... following booking. So do other Azamara ships. In the event of a complaint to head shore office in Miami, I'm told by other pax that they are always disinterested. A Larry Pimentel problem, common under his management of other ships too. The Azamara company under the management of CEO Pimentel an American, decided; as he did with previous ships he managed, to lower the dress standard. There are NO formal nights, so dont take fancy long dresses nor tuxedos. Dress code is now 'No Jacket Required' which sadly translates into 'American slop scruff order' . Basically whatever you have in a plastic bag will do. No kidding, I noted some pax wore the same few clothes throughout. Many travelling with a carry -on. Few gents wore jackets, and only one a tie. I saw shorts T shirt and flip flops in the dining room, but only once, so guess that was called to order. This critical observation may transmit a scene of ragged vagabonds. You are assured its far from that. Not being snobbish, but perhaps 50% dress shabbily and carelessly. Everyone is extremely pleasant, happy and well behaved. The atmosphere is excellent. It has no style, but as its a small ship, is far far removed from the Carnival ships and other cheap offering,s where heaped plates of some sort of food is virtually thrown on long tables where Tank tops, torn shorts even barefoot is prevalent, so Ive seen on videos. IMPORTANT PLEASE TAKE NOTE ! Cruise lines have added Cuba to their itineraries. Not necessarily because its a wonderful destination, but for its novelty factor. Mainly because they can use this as a major pax rip-off. They conveniently don't advise pre cruise that a VISA is essential, but advise on board a few days prior to arrival Cuba. There is a compulsory charge of $75 per visa PER PORT see below* Additionally to be allowed ashore they insist on buying a tour see below*, minimum $89 claiming this is a US law compliance. see below* * According to the Cuban immigration inspectors, a Cuban Visa is compulsory and pax must be in possession at arrival. Cost is $25 and cannot be purchased in Cuba. One can be purchased at varying prices previous to arrival from a Cuban Embassy $25, Online agents, travel agents and airlines at varying prices. UK online cost is GBP24. American airlines like their cruise counterparts charge an excessive $75; a big money making scheme. Solution is Buy before you go. Visas last 30 days for multiple entries. Compulsory tours. A bigger money spiinning scheme. They are Massively overpriced and I heard almost everyone who was forced to buy one on board expressing extreme discontent both at the excessive price and quality. The same tour guides are available on shore for a few $ (CUC the local currency) . e.g. The daily rate for a driver and car is CUC25 Incl gasoline ! US law prohibits travel to Cuba but permits tourist visits for one of 10 reasons mainly culturally based. This ruling DOES NOT apply to non Americans who can enter freely (with a VISA) . The cruise ships conveniently and wrongly interpret this to mean ALL pax, so beware. Fact is, a non American citizen does NOT need an official Cuban tour to go ashore! If you find the ship prohibits disembarkation; although I would question the legality of such an action. Buying the cheapest tour to use as a sort of pass to get off the ship, then doing your own thing is perhaps the way to play that game. ...... Cuba is a poverty stricken country where wages are minimal. $20 a MONTH is a good salary, thats a few cents an hour. However they survive very wel and happily off that amount, for everything else is state subsidised. Food is free on coupons. Free health care. Electricity gas etc amounts to less than $2 a month. Havana is changing and improving. They have some paint now, and are able to decorate in small ways. There are serious 5 star hotels in Havana. Beautiful buildings re created from the old special architectural buildings. Kempinsky have re furbished an entire block. Must have cost a hundred million or more. A roof terrace affords fabulous views over old Havana. A Mojito is only 5 CUC. In a back street its 2 CUC. However the room rate is $400+ a night. Spanish hotel chains have also built luxury hotels . Iberostar - Melia- H10 Tourists especially Americans throwing handfuls of $ in tips are poorly viewed. A small tip like $2 is gratefully accepted, a large tip like the ridiculous 20% expected in the US, is viewed with disdain and almost as an insult. I gleaned this from many deep conversations in Spanish I enjoyed with locals. I recommend you book with Azamara you cannot be disappointed, but beware of itinerary changes and especially Cuban schemes. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We feel that we are out growing Celebrity and are looking to find a place for us to continue cruising. Sadly Azamara wasn't the fit for us. Azamara is a lovely cruise line but it seems to cater to an older and a more sedate crowd. We ... Read More
We feel that we are out growing Celebrity and are looking to find a place for us to continue cruising. Sadly Azamara wasn't the fit for us. Azamara is a lovely cruise line but it seems to cater to an older and a more sedate crowd. We prefer a more lively bar scene and love the martini bar on celebrity. We never found a place that really had a big enough bar to allow for a lively bar scene. They did have a DJ in the Living room on the 10th floor in the later hours which was great! but there really was no place to grab a bite to eat after all the drinking before you went to bed so we found ourselves a little hung over each morning when a little food; even a slice of pizza might have helped absorb the liquor. The DJ area was very popular every night with about 100 people so I think Azamara needs to address this problem and put out a few munchies as everyone was asking for the same thing, "where they can get a little bite to eat?" I know there is room service but just a few munchies would solve the problem easily. The people in their 60's are going to be the future of Azamara cruising and when the redo their ships they should try to work this in to their "Living room" allowing for the older crowd to still continue the wonderful experience they love but then adding the top floor for the upcoming generation of cruisers with the more lively bars scene...maybe even adding that martini bar which is a great signature of Celebrity!! Other than that the Azamara line was wonderful, the food and service far higher than Celebrity; a BIG step up in quality! The captain was so accessible and I was surprised with the entertainment they could put out within a smaller ship. You can tell the Journey is in need of a dry dock refurbishment but they try to keep it looking as good as they can.I will check back occasionally to see if they start to "young up" the ship and the activities and once that happens I will definitely travel with Azamara in a minute!!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Had a wonderful time on our Azamara Journey cruise which began in Copenhagen and ended with an absolutely splendid, majestic sail right up the Thames in London to end in picturesque maritime Greenwich. We flew the short hop to ... Read More
Had a wonderful time on our Azamara Journey cruise which began in Copenhagen and ended with an absolutely splendid, majestic sail right up the Thames in London to end in picturesque maritime Greenwich. We flew the short hop to Copenhagen a day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Absalon, three minutes walk from the Central Station and six minutes walk from Tivoli World where we spent the afternoon and evening. The hotel was excellent and I would recommend it wholeheartedly. Around noon, we got a taxi to the pier, Nordre Tolbord, which was close to the Little Mermaid, so much nearer to town than where the larger ships dock. It was pouring with rain so we didn't take advantage of the 10pm departure and venture back into Copenhagen. The ship's crew took our luggage from the taxi and covered us with large umbrellas while escorting us to the port security tent. A look at our passports and it was straight into the ship and the cabaret lounge for checking-in. A most welcome sparkling wine, cocktail, tea and coffee were immediately offered while we sank into the easy chairs before being called to collect our key card and find our stateroom. We had booked a guarantee balcony and were allocated 7115, near the aft. It was a great room and was so quiet and, of course, handy for two flights up to the Windows cafe, pools, patio etc or two flights down to the main restaurant – Discoveries, cabaret lounge etc. It was a very comfortable room and had a small sofa, table, dressing table/desk, chair, bedside tables, tv, fridge with included sodas etc and a few paid-for items (listed on a note above), safe, plenty of storage and hanging space. Flowers and fruit were provided, binoculars and umbrella to use, slippers to keep. The bathroom, as most people note, is tiny but well equipped. (Have to say that the shower is slightly longer than the one we recently had on Sapphire Princess). We enjoyed room service which was always punctual and good and even if we only ordered tea and coffee, the table was always laid with a cloth. The room was kept in great order by Alvin and Edwin. We asked for extra coathangers, pen, writing pads and all were instantly provided. Breakfasts were enjoyed mostly in Windows cafe where there was always a great choice and I especially liked the made to order smoothie counter. Waiters constantly offered more tea, coffee, juice etc and if you ordered an omellete would bring it to you. We didn't try the speciality restaurants this time as the meals in Discoveries were outstandingly good. So different to our last experience on Aamara Quest four years ago when the majority of guests were part of a charter group. The food then was obviously scaled down to their budget and it was incomparable with this time. We felt cheated then as we, of course, paid for a normal cruise. I'm so glad that Azamara redeemed themselves this cruise and the food was wonderful every time. Some impressive buffets were provided – an Asian one, a fabulous seafood one and a German themed one, along with Umpah band. White Night was great fun too. The service from every member of staff was impeccable. One or two waiters were obviously new, as we understand some had transferred to Pursuit, and looked a bit lost at times and not quite up to speed. We always ate dinner around 8.30pm so tended to miss the evening entertainment in the cabaret lounge. We did see a couple of performances by the resident singers and the assistant cruise director, both were okay if a little cheesy – same old Broadway musical and old fashioned songs. We enjoyed going up to The Living Room at the bow of the ship for our pre-dinner cocktails and canapes. There we listened to The Sparkling Trio and enjoyed their laid-back style. We heard two great pianists in Spirits bar and the Library (Drawing Room) The late night disco was good fun with plenty of people on the floor, including us. Our first port of call was Aarhus, Denmark's second city. A nice place to stroll and shop. Next up was Skagen on the northern most tip of Denmark. We weren't expecting anything of this small town but had a brilliant day. The sun shone, the town was 'cute' in the loveliest possible way, the shops eclectic and my husband bought me an elegant Skagen watch for my birthday. We walked all the way along the pristine beach to the end of Denmark and loved every minute. On to Oslo and as we had been here before and visited the Kon Tiki Museum etc decided to catch a tram and go to the beautiful Vigeland Sculpture Park. Next day was a sea day and there was lots to do on board and it was good just to relax with a book from the well stocked library and a cocktail, of course. I worked my way through the included cocktails over the course of the 11 days! We arrived in Amsterdam in pouring rain and it was too bad to venture forth but by the evening the rain had abated and most guests were taken on a canal boat ride to the Maritime Museum for a splendid concert for the Azamazing evening. The whole experience was truly amazing. As we had an overnight here next day we caught a train (24 mins) to Utrecht. This is the most delightful city with canals, quaint shops, interesting architecture and lots of history. On to Germany and Bremerhaven and some more sunshine. The waterfront is very modern with an extensive promenade housing a zoo, maritime museum, canal boat trips, a large shopping complex and a fascinating immigration museum where we spent the day. The museum won the accolade of being the best European museum in 2017 and we can see why. You can follow the journey of those who emigrated from Europe to the US, Canada, South America and Australia and can even research your own family history if your ancestors emigrated. The interactive features and recreation of ship interiors, Ellis Island reception hall etc were exceptional. Belgium followed and we docked in Oostende, a lovely traditional seaside town. We took the 15 minute train ride into Brugge. The map provided on board was so sparse that we couldn't find the centre of town but at least we had fun exploring. When we reached the centre it was packed with tourists but very beautiful and very 'chocolate boxy'. We didn't have quite so much time in port as the ship's departure time was earlier than previously so we made a hasty retreat to Oostende. Sadly, another couple who went into Brugge had their return train cancelled and they missed the ship, although Captain Tysse waited an extra half hour. Pleased to say they caught up with Journey next day. France beckoned as we sailed off into the sunset and next morning we docked in Honfleur. It is such a pretty town, centred around the lovely harbour. The markets were in full swing and made for a lively, bustling atmosphere. We sat in a cafe with a bottle of local Normandy cider and watched the world go by. We have spent a week in Honfleur so didn't feel the need to visit the nearby D-Day beaches again but some guests spent the day there and said what a moving experience it was. For me, the highlight of the trip was the thought of sailing up the River Thames and mooring in Greenwich, London. We had a pilot on board who commentated on the history of the river and lots more as we sailed in around the twisting turns in the river and at one point the Journey turned a full 360 degrees. We moored up opposite the tea clipper, the Cutty Sark, the old Royal Naval College, the Queen's House and up on the top of Greenwich Park one can see the Royal Observatory where the Greenwich Meridian Line is set. Our final evening on board was the icing on the cake when we were allowed to invite my husband's twin sisters on board for dinner (for a small fee). They were thoroughly impressed and we now hope that they will come sailing on Azamara with us. We live beside Tower Bridge where Captain Tysse told us he would have liked to moor but can't at the moment due to the Port of London removing the heavy duty bouys. We forgive him as it would have been great to walk home but it was just a 15 minute ride from Greenwich. My husband even went into work the same day! Can't wait for next time – maybe on Pursuit. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We boarded the ship in Copenhagen and departed in Stockholm after an 11-day journey visiting some interesting ports on the way. We had a Stateroom with balcony booked. The cabin was small but manageable. Only comment we must make is ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Copenhagen and departed in Stockholm after an 11-day journey visiting some interesting ports on the way. We had a Stateroom with balcony booked. The cabin was small but manageable. Only comment we must make is that the design of the bathroom is very small with a shower difficult to manage for bigger persons. The room was very clean, and the bed was comfortable. The room attendants looked after us well. Food was of high quality and came in great variety. The cruise was an all-inclusive one, but there are also drinks on offer that are not covered by the all-inclusive package. We were happy with the drinks of the all-inclusive selection. We used the speciality Restaurants that came with an extra cost of $30 per person. There is a Steak place and an Italian Restaurant. Both are recommendable to give yourself an extra treat. There is also a Buffet and an a la card Restaurant that is included in the package with no extra charge. For a snack inbetween there is the Patio that offered Hamburgers, Satays and Sausages. The staff in general are very friendly and attentive. Nothing is impossible for them to arrange. We only experienced one exception. It must have been her bad day. There are two entertainment venues. The Cabaret a large theatre and the Living Room. We spend most nights in the Living Room before dinner to listen to the resident Mexican Band that played everything from Pop to South American tunes. Very good. The young Guitarist was very talented. In the Cabaret we enjoyed the white night party and a speech by Mr Lech Walenza. Also, the Violin player was very good. However, there were nights we did not go to the Cabaret at all and there were nights we departed before the end of the show, but then you cannot like everything. Azamara is an American owned company and the ship orientation is towards their core market. One thing we did not like was the compulsory tip of 18% for services even so the cruise was promoted to be all inclusive. So be aware if you have a Beauty Treatment or a massage that you are paying more than the advertised price. A price that is already very inflated compared to Australian cost before compulsory tip. Everything worked like clockwork on the cruise. The ship always arrived in time at the ports and the shore departures went very smooth. Because the Journey is such a small ship it is sometimes able to sail right into the heart of the towns. No feeder boats were needed to transfer passengers. We arranged our own shore excursions. In Warnemuende we took the train to Rostock and the tram to the old part of town. In Danzig we just went with the shuttle provided by the ship to town and done our own walking tour. Same in Estonia. We had a two-day tour booked in St Petersburg over the internet. The local tour company was excellent with an experienced tour guide. No upfront payment. We only paid at the end of the two-day tour. They give rebattes for early bookings and we got also a refund because we were not able to see two Museums due to time. This was not their fault, but due to our request to return to the ship early on the first day. St Petersburg was full of tourists and without the tour we booked we wouldn’t have been able to get into the attractions without any great delays. The quey at the Summer Palace was so long that even our guide got excited and took several photos. The Tour Company we used was BEST GUIDES GROUP. Highly recommendable local company. You can find them on the Internet. ANNA the guide was very knowledgeable with a very likable personality. She never lost her patience with all the crowds and went out of her way to please fellow travelers. Also, we feel that two days sightseeing is enough even so most Tour company offer three days. We were a very small group of 10 people that made the tour even more enjoyable. In Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm we used Hop on Hop off busses. They come right to the port and take you around the city and stop on several places of interest. Also, in these cities a Hop on, Hop off boat was included. The cruise was a very enjoyable experience. Highly recommendable. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are a couple in our 50's and booked this cruise because we wanted to see the Baltics/ Northern Europe and we wanted to try a better quality small ship cruise after getting very tired of the mega ships. We were very happy with our ... Read More
We are a couple in our 50's and booked this cruise because we wanted to see the Baltics/ Northern Europe and we wanted to try a better quality small ship cruise after getting very tired of the mega ships. We were very happy with our choice. The small ship experience is so much better for us. Embarkation and debarkation were totally hassle free. In addition we really enjoyed the excellent quality of the food. Azamara upgraded us from a veranda to a suite and we loved the larger room. We ate in the specialty restaurants most of the time and they were excellent, we ordered breakfast in our room several times and loved that. We ate lunches at the patio grill almost everyday, loved the Greek lamb burgers and hot fresh French fries! The staff is exceptional! So friendly and welcoming. The ship never felt crowded even though it was full. It was so nice that all your needs are included in your fare, the included wines were good and certain ones that we really liked the waiters were happy to get for us on days they were serving different selections. We mainly drink wine so cannot speak about the other alcohol options. The ports we visited were great. St Petersburg was one of the highlights. We took the ships 2 day tour and had a wonderful time and saw so much, it really is a small group of around 20 people, we used the 3rd day to relax after the huge crowds in the museums, etc.. Other ports we used the Azamara provided shuttle (again included) and toured on our own. We did not attend the Azamazing evening since we had been out on a tour for 10 hours that day. I heard it was very nice. The entertainment in the evening was not great every night (but some great performances) but that didn't bother us, one night we saw Tony Arias who was terrific!! So funny and a great singer, loved him! Another night was an ABBA night and we loved that! Our cruise director was Alicia Hill and she's wonderful, she had a great standing room only show. Our next trip is probably South America in 2020 and we most certainly will come back to Azamara. Thank you Azamara for such an outstanding trip! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We cruised the Baltic ports at the end of June on Journey. Previously we had sailed on Quest in Feb 2016, both ships being identical helped in navigating our way around. Both ships have been upgraded since and I was slightly disappointed ... Read More
We cruised the Baltic ports at the end of June on Journey. Previously we had sailed on Quest in Feb 2016, both ships being identical helped in navigating our way around. Both ships have been upgraded since and I was slightly disappointed that the BEIGE look in the cabins dominated, the heavy chairs in the dining room were ridiculously heavy and I needed help in getting closer to the table to eat. The Cabin stewards were wonderful and so helpful especially when i fell ill with sea sickness. My cabin steward brought me three cans of ginger ale and was so concerned about my well being. All crew were polite and willing to help. Food in the dining rooms was good, the speciality restaurants had gone up in price from $30 to $40 per person since we last cruised with Azamara. To be honest they were nothing special and I think the meals in Discoveries were far better. As for the entertainment, well, we didn’t bother as there was nothing to inspire us to go see and from the comments of other passengers we were correct in doing so. Surely, when docked in St Petersburg for three nights local Russian dancers could have been brough on to provide entertainment. The same in Tallin as we were in port until 10am. Cruise tours, no matter which line you travel on are always over priced. We booked a three day tour with Alla tours in St Petersburg which was excellent. So sad to say but, I think the luxury has gone out of Azamara and this worries me because we have a Christmas/NY cruise booked at the end on 2018 Read Less
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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