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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because ... Read More
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because of an upgrade, we were staying in a Club Continent Suite as opposed to our usual Veranda 2. We really enjoyed the extra space, but did not utilize all the perks associated with the Suite. One of the perks was complimentary dining in the Specialty Restaurants, a choice we made for four of the 14 nights. For other dinners, of course, we ate in Discoveries (the main dining room), and on the Patio. Most breakfasts we frequented Windows, the buffet area. We were very pleased with the food in all the venues, especially the attention paid to certain food intolerances that limit some of our choices. One of the attractions for us on Azamara is the friendly and attentive service on board..From the room stewards to the waiting staff in the dining areas, this cruise was no exception. The friendliness is true of most officers as well. Although not noted for entertainment, in this case Azamara provided some of the best we have enjoyed. From The Azamazing Evening to more casual events, we found a lot to enjoy. Hard to pick out a port that was more enjoyable than the others. Because of our travelling through four countries, each port provided some interesting contrasts. As we sailed further North the weather cooled and rain became a sometime occurrence. That added to the variety of experiences on this itinerary. We participated in only two shore excursions. The trip to see Bayeux and its famous tapestry was well worth the cost. The walking tour of Cadiz was good but not amazing. In both cases we were travelling in relatively small groups. Most of the ports were quite accessible for those who wanted to explore on their own, and Azamara provided free shuttles where needed and appropriate. As part of that service, usually there was a guide at the drop-off points with maps and helpful suggestions. After sailing up the Thames the previous day, disembarkation at Greenwich was a little more complicated than at most ports. But the staff on the ships had it well under control, and there was a surplus of attendants on shore to assure that you made your connection with taxis for the airport, for travel home, or for extended stays in London. For the reasons above, out of 18 cruises this was one of our favourites. Although the itinerary is not one of the common ones offered, we think others should give it serious consideration. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
You can see photos from this cruise and our other sailings by following the link on our Cruise Critic profile page: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/profile/35108-jgnova/ I had a “zero birthday” coming up and wanted to do ... Read More
You can see photos from this cruise and our other sailings by following the link on our Cruise Critic profile page: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/profile/35108-jgnova/ I had a “zero birthday” coming up and wanted to do something special to celebrate – which provided a great excuse for another cruise. But it had to be something special – new ports and/or a new ship or, even better, a whole new (to us) cruise line. We also had the additional requirement that, because of health issues, the embarkation and disembarkation ports had to be within five hours travel time from our Northern Virginia home. I put together a list of options, which were mostly sailings from Miami or Fort Lauderdale that included the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). One option stood out because it also included two days in Havana, Cuba, and was on Azamara Club Cruises Journey. This was a 16-night repositioning sailing from Miami to Manhattan, with stops in Havana, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, St. Barts, Sint Maarten, and Hamilton, Bermuda. With four new (to us) ports on a new (to us) ship and cruise line, this became the obvious choice. And we are very happy we made that choice. Ship: The ship is lovely and very well maintained, despite its age – they were even refinishing the corridor handrails near our cabin. Like other ships under the RCCL umbrella, Journey was filled with artwork – paintings, prints, and sculptures (many by Salvador Dali) all over. The ship felt very bright all over – even the staircases and elevator lobbies, despite not having windows, felt very bright and open. The only times the ship felt crowded were when everyone tried to be in one venue at the same time – like White Night by the pool or the last two nights’ shows in the cabaret – and the staff brought in chairs for those events so everyone could sit. Cabin: The cabin had plenty of room for all of our stuff – drawers in the desk and in the closet, lots of hangers. There was plenty of light in the cabin, including extra lights by the desk, the bed, and a working balcony light. The cabin thermostat even seemed to work properly! We discovered that the coffee table by the sofa had a lever that raised it from coffee table height to a height that worked for eating our room service breakfast when we couldn’t eat on the balcony. Food: The food selections and quality were outstanding. With the exception of the AzAmazing Evening, when we ate in Windows (buffet restaurant) because of time constraints, we ate all our dinners in Discoveries (main dining room). We usually arrived around 7 PM and never had to wait for a table, which we usually shared with others, allowing us to meet many new people. Besides the menu selections, each night’s choices also included a chef’s selection and something more international, typically linked to the international themed dinner in Windows that evening. We could choose wines (at no extra charge) from each night’s selection of two whites, two reds, and a rosé – and they would pour wines offered on previous nights as well. We ate most breakfasts on the balcony, which was a treat – the server would even spread the tablecloth for us! The food was hot and usually delivered on time. We could even add things to the menu if we wanted (like a smoked-salmon omelet!). I had a few breakfasts in Windows on mornings when we had an early excursion and the selection was excellent. As opposed to other cruises on which we’ve sailed, instead of placing the omelet order and waiting while it was cooked, I just took a table card with a number and the omelet was delivered when it was done. The servers also provided all of the beverages, including fresh-squeezed orange juice. The ship had a few options for lunch. On days when our excursion returned in early afternoon, we went to the Living Room, where they had small sandwiches and desserts available. (That venue also had tapas in the early evening.) Other days, I would grab a burger (delicious) from the Patio or a salad from Windows and eat by the pool. Service: Service on the ship was excellent. The staff and crew would always greet us – our cabin attendants would open our door for us if they were nearby when we were returning. The pool staff were constantly walking around to clear up towels from vacated chairs and to take drink orders and clear up empty glasses. Entertainment: The entertainment was excellent. The ship’s cruise director and assistant cruise director each did a couple of shows and they were great performers. The ship also had an onboard troupe of six performers (four dancers and two singers/dancers) who did three different shows during our sailing. We were also entertained by a violinist, a magician/comic, and a pianist/singer, who joined the ship at different ports during the sailing. The violinist was a special treat for this voyage because of his work with Cuban musicians and students – and because he was joined for one piece by his young son, an incipient star. This was in addition to the pianist in the lounge and the ship orchestra and instrumental trio playing at different times throughout the ship. Our only complaint was about the volume – the cabaret shows would have been much nicer several dB lower. Ports: With the exception of Sint Maarten, we used the ship excursions in all of the ports. Cuba: The tour guides both days were very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. The bus was quite comfortable as well. Cuba is a very interesting place to visit for many obvious reasons. There are very few private cars and most people use buses or shared vans for transportation. The six-lane highway leading to Havana was almost empty and there was little traffic in Havana itself, something unimaginable in most other national capitals. Most of the urban-area buildings are in various stages of disrepair, which is a shame because they looked as if they had been beautiful before the revolution. Houses in the outlying areas looked better-maintained. We did the Jewish Heritage tour our first day in Havana and visited a Jewish Cemetery, two synagogues, and a Jewish-owned boutique hotel. We got to meet with a community leader at one of the synagogues and he answered our questions about the Jewish community’s history and current life. Our second day in Havana, we went to Ernest Hemingway’s house in San Francisco de Paula (about 9 miles from Havana), and were able to see how he lived and the tower next to the house in which he did his writing. We then went to one of his favorite bars in Cojimar, where we saw “his table” and enjoyed a daiquiri made the way he drank them. We then went into Havana to another of his favorite bars (how many did he have?) and braved the crowds to have a mojito. We then had time to walk around the cathedral and other historical sections before returning to the ship. Aruba: As we had never been to Aruba before, we took a ship excursion tour of the island. This tour included a visit to an aloe processing plant, a lighthouse, a natural bridge, and the fascinating Casibari Rock Formations, which I’d like to visit again to see the petroglyphs. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and the bus was fairly new and very comfortable. Curaçao: Again, this was our first visit so we took the ship excursion for an island tour. We got to see a coastal national park to see the cliffs and rock formations along the coast and watch the strong surf. We also visited a lovely beach, the old salt flats in an unrealized hope to see the flamingos, and a former estate house most recently occupied by a famous local artist. As was the case in Aruba, the tour guide was quite knowledgeable and bus very comfortable. After a quick lunch in the Living Room, I hiked from the port into town to see the old synagogue, which we couldn’t tour because it was closed on Sunday. This also gave me an opportunity to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge, a pontoon bridge that floats on the water and swings off to the side to let ships through. I also was able to get a closer view of the Queen Wilhelmina Bridge, the tallest bridge in the world, and two other small lift bridges in Willemstad. Bonaire: Another new island and another ship excursion tour. The tour guide was knowledgeable, but the tour company used a smaller bus that was not as comfortable, especially for those stuck in the seats over the wheels. We got to see Bonaire’s lovely coastline, old salt flats with many flamingos raising their young, an old house showing how the early island residents lived, some slave huts right on the coast by the salt flats, and a modern salt processing operation. The tour guide was very good, but she had to keep telling the driver to slow down so we could take photographs. St. Barts: Although we had been to St. Barts five years earlier, we had seen only the port area in the capital so we took another island tour. This tour was in a mini-van and the tour guide was not very effective at discussing much about the island characteristics. We did get to see several beaches and the beautiful island geography. The company arranging the tours should have done a better job preparing a guide for the driver to use. Sint Maarten: We’ve been there several times and I decided to have a beach day. I had searched the web before the trip and found that two bars with beach chair/umbrella rental facilities had reopened at Orient Beach so I decided to go there for the day. There is a taxi rank right off the pier complex and the people there will assemble groups to various destinations. I was able to share a taxi with few other visitors (from another ship) and paid only $9 for the trip instead of the $25 the trip would have cost for just me. The taxi dropped us off mid-beach near the Bikini Beach bar, which looked nice. However, someone at the port had told me that Kon Tiki, a short walk down the beach, had better food. I paid $15 for an umbrella and comfortable chaise (including a cushion) for the day. There were attendants patrolling the beach to take food and drink orders, and the bar and restaurant looked great and had brand new facilities. So I had a lovely day on the beach watching people windsurfing and doing other watersports. Bermuda: We’ve been to Bermuda twice before, but we were docked at the Royal Dockyards at the far end of the island. We took ferry trips to Hamilton and to St. Georges, but had never seen the Bermuda countryside. This itinerary had us docked right in downtown Hamilton so we were able to walk around to see the shops and restaurants. We also took a ship excursion that drove along the south coast of the island to the Royal Dockyards, giving us a chance to see the lovely beaches for which Bermuda is famous and some historical areas. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation was fairly smooth with priority processing only for suite guests. While we had completed the forms for the Cuban visas, we forgot to bring copies with us, so we had to take time to write out second copies, which the port people insisted we needed even though we had copies at home. Disembarkation was slower than normal, probably because the immigration people had not planned on the high percentage of non-U.S. citizens, who took longer to process. Once through immigration, we located our luggage and found a porter quickly, who then took us out to the drop-off area. We were picking up a rental car and driving home, so I walked about 2 ½ blocks to the car rental office, picked up the car, drove back to the pier, picked up DW and our luggage, and headed through the Lincoln Tunnel. I think I spent more time in line at the car rental office than it took to get to the office and drive back and get to the tunnel. Overall experience: This itinerary was an excellent balance of port and sea days, with 8 ½ days in port and 6 ½ days at sea. The majority of the passengers were from the United Kingdom, which was a new experience for us, and we got to chat with a lot of people from places we had only read about. With fewer than 700 passengers on a smaller ship, we were more likely to bump into the same people repeatedly and get to know them. Even with open seating at dinner, we wound up having the same tablemates a few times and would greet each other by name when we were walking around the ship or sitting in the cabaret. Another pleasurable aspect of the cruise was that we didn’t feel hassled to spend money. Drinks and wine were included if we didn’t request premium brands, as were coffees. And there was no constant sales pressure to eat in the specialty restaurants, as we’ve experienced on other lines. The senior ship staff were always present and visible – the hotel director would frequently assist seating passengers in Discoveries and we saw the Captain walking around the tables at least once. The captain and hotel director were at the gangplank every morning when we left the ship for our excursions, wishing us a good visit. Captain Johannes and Cruise Director Eric had a constant repartee during the noon announcements, with the captain teasing the CD about his shirt every day and the CD finding something funny to say in response. They obviously have a great relationship and that enhanced the voyage. This was the best cruise we have ever taken, thanks to the ship staff and crew, ship size, passenger friendliness, food quality, and itinerary. We are looking forward to another. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I just took my first cruise on the Azamara Journey and was highly impressed with the ship, crew, food, and friendliness of the passengers. I had received an extremely good deal on an obstructed ocean view cabin and luckily was able to ... Read More
I just took my first cruise on the Azamara Journey and was highly impressed with the ship, crew, food, and friendliness of the passengers. I had received an extremely good deal on an obstructed ocean view cabin and luckily was able to select cabin 6036, which is between lifeboats and thus not very obstructed. I was pleasantly surprised how well laid out this cabin was and it was totally acceptible for one person with alot of closet space. The bed was extremely comfortable and the pillows were soft and easy to sleep on. I enjoyed the smaller ship experience and how friendly the passengers and crew were. The service was exceptional and the food was much better than other, larger ships I have been on. I liked the way the buffet was arranged at dinner with tablecloths and candles, so you felt like you were in a restaurant rather than a cafeteria setting. The ship tours were more expensive but they were much smaller than other ships, with an average participation of about 12-15 persons per tour. It was simple to get on and off the ship and particularly convenient to be docked closer to the ports. I booked several other cruises on Azamara because I felt the higher cost of the line was definitely worth the enhanced experience. It is especially good for solo travelers as Azamara seems to cater to those traveling alone, and the passengers are so friendly and welcoming to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and public areas were clean, the food was delicious, and the land excursions excellent. Every night a different cuisine was served in Windows, the buffet restaurant, giving guests a chance to try different foods. The best place for evening dining is The Patio with table service but one can also visit the buffet line from there. We were able to get to know the different countries we visited. We were delighted to see Eric, the Cruise Director, again. He is so much fun and so entertaining. Standard drinks and tipping are included in the cruise price which means you aren't trying to drink your way through a liquor package and you don't need to worry about tipping too little or too much. They still need to improve their Wi-Fi connection. This was another wonderful cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This was our fifth cruise with Azamara and our third on the same route. We chose the route twice before as one or other of us had had knee surgery and this repositioning cruise includes many relaxing sea days. The itinerary includes the ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Azamara and our third on the same route. We chose the route twice before as one or other of us had had knee surgery and this repositioning cruise includes many relaxing sea days. The itinerary includes the option to visit both Luxor and Petra. On the previous cruises we weren’t fit enough to take these strenuous tours, but this time we intended to, and did, ‘tick off’ both these bucket list destinations. We had stayed in Athens twice before, so decided to look for a hotel in Piraeus and we found a great one. The Phidias Piraeus is a small boutique hotel very well located close to the Zea Marina, which has an interesting range of boats from luxury cruisers to small fishing boats. The road around the Marina has many restaurants and bars, so is an ideal place to find dinner. The hotel itself was great. The receptionist could not have been more helpful. Our room was small but very tastefully decorated in a modern style and the bathroom was nice - everything was very clean. Breakfast was great, too. They took us to the port the next morning at 12 on their free shuttle, along with about 12 other Azamara passengers who were staying there. As usual embarkation was quick and easy and well before 1:00 we were on board sipping a glass of bubbly. We went straight to the speciality restaurants reservation table in Windows(buffet) to buy a 3 meal dining package for the speciality restaurants and make our bookings, then had lunch in the Patio. By 2:00 we were in our verandah stateroom (7021) unpacking. Our steward, Luis, was happy to get us some metal coat hangers to supplement the ones provided. The cabin was very comfortable, with lots of storage space. We had asked for a queen bed configuration, and bed was huge and extremely comfortable. The balcony was small but had a table and two chairs - big enough for us to sit out there. We ate most dinners in Discoveries (MDR) and overall the food was excellent. We had some main courses that were outstanding - lamb chops, surf and turf, filet mignon, lobster with scallops and shrimp risotto. Azamara generally does soups well too - favourites include red pepper soup and Thai seafood soup. There were two or three misses though - garlic soup that tasted of rubber, veal chops that were tough and Thai beef curry that tasted like stewed beef, but these were very much the exception. We usually shared tables at dinner, often with the same group of people who all went to the Discoveries bar at about the same time (7:30) and had many lovely sociable meals. We ate twice in Prime C and once in Aqualina and these were all outstanding meals. We mostly had lunch at the Patio (my husband thinks the Azamara special burger is unbeatable) and breakfast in Windows. Although we were happy with the included drinks, we felt that the quality of the wine was lower than on our last cruise, a year before. After dinner, we often went to the Cabaret Lounge to watch some or all of the show. Mostly these were song and dance shows by the ship’s group of entertainers, including the talented Eric De Gray, the Cruise Director. During our 16 nights aboard there were two guest artists - a comedian and a cellist, but we didn’t see either of them. On a few nights we ended the evening dancing to disco in the Living Room, with the DJ Marcio. On this cruise there was a good crowd up there most nights. The Azamazing Evening was, unusually, a little underwhelming! It was in Wadi Rum, which is a beautiful setting, but the entertainment was folk dancing, which was very repetitive. It was men in white robes (plus a boy) waving swords and dancing. There was wine to drink but the only food was flat bread made by a couple of women sitting at the base of the stage. As we were sitting near the back we didn’t even get to try it! It also became quite cold once the sun set, as the sky was clear. We enjoyed the sea days, as we love sitting on a sun bed on deck 11. That means that I can’t comment on the lectures, art classes or bridge lessons - we didn’t get to any of them. From Aqaba to Muscat the ship was subject to high security - there was a team of security guards onboard and all outdoor areas had to be kept dark between dusk and dawn. We had to close our curtains at dusk and not use our verandah light. Deck 9 was only accessible after dark by ‘smoker’s corner’ - but the added bonus was that the view of the starry sky was wonderful with no light pollution! As always with Azamara the service was generally excellent. Senior Officers were very evident - we spoke to the captain a couple of times, and the Hotel Director, Heike, was everywhere - directing people to buses in port, welcoming us back to the ship. The other thing that always impresses is with Azamara is the general friendliness onboard - crew and passengers alike, and this cruise was no exception. Ports:- Crete - Agios Nikolas - we went on the little blue land train. We took the 70 minute tour for €13, which went up into the hills to a view point over Elounda and Spinalonga as well as back over Agios Nikolas, then had a walk around this pretty little town. Egypt - Safaga - we took a 2 day private tour with Your Egypt Tours which included Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, a sunset felucca ride on the Nile, an overnight stay at the 5 star Steigenberger Hotel on the banks of the Nile, the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple and the Colossi of Memnon - all for $160. We also had some optional charged extras - the Light & Sound Show after dark at Karnak Temple and visits to King Tutankhamen’s and King Seti’s tomb. I loved the Light & Sound Show, but my husband found it boring. The two extra tombs were well worth the extra charge, especially Seti’s tomb - the paintings there were amazing, so fresh and vibrant. Jordan - Aqaba - we went on the ship’s excursion to Petra. A very hard day, but also well worth it. We walked for 5/6 miles on uneven ground - not so bad on the way there as it’s downhill, but hard work coming back uphill. You can pay to go in a carriage, but we didn’t fancy it, they went pretty fast and the passengers looked as if they were being thrown around a lot. The walk through the Siq is interesting as the rocks are amazing colours, then you get your first glimpse of the Treasury - the iconic building that you see in every bit of information about Petra. It’s amazing, but there is so much more to Petra - lots more carved buildings and even an amphitheatre. Oman - Salalah - we didn’t get off the ship as it was very hot (88) and the port was 25km from the town. Oman - Muscat - we took the ship’s free shuttle to The Muttrah Souq, which is huge. The main path is where all the souvenir stalls are, but it’s more interesting on the side and outer paths where there are stalls and shops selling goods designed for locals, such as shops selling abayas (Arab black dresses). We spent a couple of hours wandering around the Souq and the surrounding area. UAE - Dubai - took the ship’s free shuttle to the Dubai Mall. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Our most recent journey took us on the Journey on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise from Singapore, through Thailand, Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. Our flight arrived late the night before, so we only had half a day to explore ... Read More
Our most recent journey took us on the Journey on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise from Singapore, through Thailand, Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. Our flight arrived late the night before, so we only had half a day to explore Singapore before boarding the ship later that day. We have been to Singapore many times before, so a short stay was adequate. I will say that if you have not been there before, the city is spectacular, especially Orchard Road at night during Christmas. We arrived at the Harbourfront Cruise Center mid-afternoon, and embarkation was a breeze. It was not crowded, the associates seemed to be well trained with the process, and were friendly and efficient. The ship had recently been refurbished in drydock, and looked brand new. Our cabin, a Club Continent Suite, had been remodeled without a tub, but had a very large shower and a marble/granite (or look-alike) sink. The room was very comfortable, had more than enough storage space with a good size balcony. This was the first time we had butler service, and still not sure what we could have asked for. He was instrumental in getting our dinner reservations in the specialty restaurants, which for suites is complimentary, but must be reserved because they do fill up, especially toward the end of the cruise. The ship is small compared to today's standards, and I do not believe we sailed full because upgrades were available in all categories by paying a reduced fee at the front desk. Breakfast....for the first time, I can honestly say that the buffet breakfast was better than the dining room. The dining room breakfast on the first two days was less than poor. Menu was uneventful, and food had no presentation at all. Waitstaff were not very attentive, possibly not experienced enough. The dining room was not busy, so service should have been better. The buffet had a good selection for the size of the ship, and had a made to order fresh waffle station, and made to order egg station. You could place your egg order and it would be delivered to your table by friendly attentive staff. The waitstaff were available to bring you most varieties of specialty coffees (no charge) and the fresh squeezed orange juice was wonderful. you could also order any variety of breakfast smoothie created on the spot. But...even better than the buffet was room service. The room service menu included items you could not get in the dining room, or the buffet (i.e.steak and eggs). We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony two times, complete with tablecloth and cloth napkins, delivered on time by our butler. Lunch.... in the dining room was a little better than breakfast, but again nothing to write home about. We were in port many days, so lunch was off ship. The few days we ate in the dining room, again not crowded, service was hit or miss. They did have a fresh cooking station which one day had tuna, another salmon, and the third time we were there, pasta with fresh clams. These items were very good, the rest of the menu seemed to be lack-luster. Wine was served with lunch, but getting a refill had to be asked for. Dinner.... We were fortunate to have Aqualina and Prime C as an option because we sailed in a suite. In both restaurants, by far, the best beef we have had on any ship, consistently every night. The lobster salad and lobster bisque were both outstanding, and memorable. All dishes were very well presented, delivered at the right temperature. Every dish was very good, and enough variety on the menu that for 10 days we did not tire of the choices. However... the service again was hit or miss. Such a shame, because the food was really outstanding. Wine was served as usual, but a refill had to be asked for, unless you ordered a wine that was not on the complementary list. The wine stewards were more attentive to the tables that requested those wines. Service should not suffer if you choose to drink a wine included in the meal. Bar service was also hit or miss. Many inconsistencies in the quality of the drinks. Fortunately, the drinks are all inclusive, and you can always order another, but you hate to be wasteful. Entertainment was good for the size of the ship. No big production shows. The casual musicians throughout the ship were very good, and the music level was just enough to enjoy it, and still be able to make conversation wiith your fellow travelers. Eric, the Cruise Director was always very visible (I guess being 6 1/2 feet tall would also help). He was very talented, took part in the production shows, and also had a show of his own. The guest entertainers were fun, the two we saw were a comedy musician, and a comedic violinist. The cruise ship singers and dancers also doubled as the activities staff, and were frequently late to their assigned activities. We enjoyed most of the trivia, the hardest part was not the questions, it was trying to understand the member of the activities staff and their pronunciation. One of the best benefits of a small ship, especially in the Asian ports, you get to dock right downtown. The sail up the rivers to these destinations is wonderful. On some of our past cruises with the same destinations, we were sometimes docked two hours away from the city. Staying in port longer and later was also a plus. Shuttle service was still provided, but you could walk with no problem. We chose a ship excursion to the Royal Palace in Bangkok. The country was still mourning the death of the King last October, so the Palace was more crowded than usual. The tour was good, but because of the crowd, it was hard to keep the group together, and difficult for the guide to explain what we were seeing. The tour would have been better if we were in smaller groups. We chose to go to the floating market the following day, again a ship excursion. This excursion was outstanding. We had a great time navigating the canals on the way to the market where we had plenty of time to people watch and to shop for trinkets..(i.e. more crap to pack!!) The highlight of the whole trip was the AzAmazing Evening held in Saigon, and it was just that...AzAmazing!! After a great buffet in the dining room all the passengers that chose to go were taken by bus to the event. We arrived and walked through some gardens where artisans were available to do calligraphy, caricatures, clay figures, etc. We were seated at small round tables on a lawn in front of a raised stage. The entire area had been covered with circus type tents because of the potential rain, an extra step they had not planned on. The performance highlighted the different types of music and dance from the different regions of Vietnam, and ended with a modern fashion show. We were served beer, wine, soft drinks, juice and water along with many plates of various finger food, most native to the area. The waitstaff was attentive, but not intrusive, and only served between the performances, very well done. The enrichment speakers onboard were very professional and had good presentations. One was from the WWF, World Wildlife foundation, and spoke about food waste, a great topic for me since I am in the retail food business. The other speaker was from Nasa, explaining the future of manned space travel back to the moon and beyond. The seminars were not very crowded, disappointingly, the speakers were very good. So, there were many highlights, but also many lowlights that need to be addressed. We did get a very good deal on this cruise, and feel we did get our money's worth. Paying regular price...we would think twice. Would we return...yes...we have two more booked for 2018, but again, we did get a great deal on those. With some new companies emerging into the small ship luxury market, Azamara may need to look closer at their service level, and some dining room meals, these were clearly not AzAmazing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
Enjoyable but certainly not 5 star. Embarkation was a shambles & upset a lot of people before they started their vacation. Come on Azamara - it's not rocket science and you must be able to do better than this. Staterooms were very ... Read More
Enjoyable but certainly not 5 star. Embarkation was a shambles & upset a lot of people before they started their vacation. Come on Azamara - it's not rocket science and you must be able to do better than this. Staterooms were very comfortable although a bit small, however I think the bathrooms were the smallest we have experienced on any ship, particularly the showers. However, having said that they were spotlessly clean & well maintained. Very comfortable bedding & lovely décor throughout the ship which certainly gave it the club-like feel. Staff were generally quite friendly but this was not consistent. Food was of a consistent high standard in the main Dining Room and was certainly 5 star in the speciality steak restaurant. Entertainment was average but there were two or three stand-out artists. The Azamara evening was certainly amazing. Overall it was an enjoyable & relaxing experience after a hectic 10 days in India. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2016
The dates fit into our schedule.The food was very ok on this ship. Not bad, not great. Too many people at the buffet lines and tables. MDR too physically crowded. The shows were fabulous. Momma Mia was Broadway quality. The shows were ... Read More
The dates fit into our schedule.The food was very ok on this ship. Not bad, not great. Too many people at the buffet lines and tables. MDR too physically crowded. The shows were fabulous. Momma Mia was Broadway quality. The shows were great.The cabin was a good size with a nice seating area. There was plenty of storage for 2 people. Also we enjoyed our excursions specially in country of oman with the best tourism Company there ( Lifetime-tours),Oman was my third stop on a four country vacation and I immediately fell in love with this country. At first I could not put my finger on why, but I think it was the heart of the people that made this place special. Ahmed, our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and professional. He spoke with a certain pride about his country and I could see why. He took great care to make sure we had a great time and he altered the tour a bit due to my disability to make sure I could still experience a Wadi, but just not a challenging.Also the excellent service and organisation we had with this agency.Finally it was everything beautiful and relaxing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Embarkation was speedy but there was no food available and we had missed lunch. The patio area was not open at about 3.30 pm when we boarded despite indicating it was in "Pursuits" Crew were helpful and accommodating. ... Read More
Embarkation was speedy but there was no food available and we had missed lunch. The patio area was not open at about 3.30 pm when we boarded despite indicating it was in "Pursuits" Crew were helpful and accommodating. Service with a smile. Dinner in the dining room was very good in terms of quality and choice. Breakfast and Lunch in Windows cafe was a little repetitive and no sushi offering at lunch. We did not eat in Windows nor use the other 2 restaurants (Aqua and Prime)any evening.. Ports were interesting Entertainment was poor. We don't go to shows preferring music while we have a pre or post dinner drink or coffee. Guitarist and piano player were both poor and repetitive.. Can't comment on the shows as we don't do shows. Wifi is expensive and poor. Azamara need to address this as it could be a deal breaker for us TV entertainment is extremely poor. We were on-board for 17 days and films from 1st week were repeated on the second week. Some cruisers spend time in their cabin and like to relax and watch a film, not so on this ship. Offering was really poor unless you wanted to pay for a film. Some passengers don't want fancy shows but prefer quieter entertainment. Communication in "Pursuits" needs to be a bit more forward thinking e.g. "no bus into port a Salalah" needed to be communicated well ahead of the night before we docked. This resulted in a rush to book a tour for those that wanted to go ashore after 4 nights at sea. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
After cruising on all the "regular" lines since the 70's, my husband and I sailed a step up on Azamara. We mainly chose this line because it was convenient for us. We had our Retirement trip and stayed in Italy for 10 days ... Read More
After cruising on all the "regular" lines since the 70's, my husband and I sailed a step up on Azamara. We mainly chose this line because it was convenient for us. We had our Retirement trip and stayed in Italy for 10 days and wanted to do a trans atlantic cruise back across the pond. Wow are we glad we took Azamara! Everything was excellent. No lines, no screaming children, no rock climbing walls. Just pure relaxation. The beds are fantastic and the linens sublime. The service is impeccable. The food is awesome even in the main dining room and the pool grill. There was always a deck chair and always a clean table at the buffet which was the best I have seen at sea. This is not a "party" ship. Mostly older folks 55 to 70. Since I fit in that category I felt right at home. I now understand why over 40% of the passengers are repeat customers. They only have two ships but for everything the provide including wine, cocktails,sodas and specialty coffees at NO EXTRA CHARGE it is worth every dime. So after 20 something cruises I am now a loyal Azamara fan. Just wish I had become one sooner. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was our 19th cruise on about 8 different lines. We generally take transatlantic crossings as a way to get to or from Europe. Fourth time on Azamara (AZ). We had a good time, highly enhanced by a group of extremely friendly ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise on about 8 different lines. We generally take transatlantic crossings as a way to get to or from Europe. Fourth time on Azamara (AZ). We had a good time, highly enhanced by a group of extremely friendly passengers. I'm not sure what AZ does to attract such friendly positive people; they are so much more outgoing and welcoming than on many other lines. If you like to socialize and meet new people, you will have unlimited opportunities. No snobs on board. The embarkation and dis-embarkation were a breeze, as were the processes of getting off and on at all ports. This is a complete pleasure after some nightmares on a couple of other lines. Very well done AZ! Service was almost always perfect, friendly, and personal. We were well taken care of. Most of the officers and top staff are around the ship, so you will have the opportunity to meet them and chat. They openly request feedback. The Journey recently came out of dry dock and there were some issues on the first cruise afterwards, but most of them have been resolved. The big transformation was the Looking Glass to be changed into the Living Room. This is the big observation bar on the 10th deck. It's now a gorgeous multi-purpose space and a big success. Otherwise you will find new carpets and some new furniture and new interior design in the cabins. A part of the retrofit was an incredible amount of re-wiring. We had hoped that it would improve internet speed and band width, but alas, we noted no difference from a crossing on the Journey in November, 2015. I was very happy in the Fitness Center almost everyday. I was concerned when I noticed that one of the recumbent stationary bikes was broken, but since the Center was so empty, I never had a problem getting my workout in. Beverage service was always perfect. We found the daily complimentary wines to be quite good, and often asked for a wine that was served on a previous day that we had liked. The selection of complimentary beers and soft drinks is very very limited. Food is very important to us, so I tend to be quite picky. We had many meals in the specialty restaurants which were all very good, although we got tired of the menus that never changed. One night in Aqualina we successfully built our own past dishes and were pleased. One of our best meals was a special rijsttafel, an Indonesian banquet, absolutely superb. I remember that they charge $25 per person. Food quality at the Windows buffet was adequate, a step above mass-market lines but below luxury lines. Sad to report that the food quality and selection in Discoveries, the main dining room, has slipped noticeably from a couple of years ago. It's now in the mass-market category, much like what you would find in the dining room on a Celebrity ship. The Patio is set up as an al fresco dining area at night, lovely space but the food quality is mediocre, nothing special. Entertainment was OK, but really no different than on most modest-sized ships. AZ uses many of the same guest entertainers you find on other lines, and you may have seen them all before. Talented people, but shows that one finds only on cruise lines. The big shows, which included talented dancers and singers, were carbon copies of what one finds on other lines, and not to our taste. AZ's biggest letdown, IMHO, is in their destination preparation and enrichment areas, and in the lack of variety of activities on board. Since this was a crossing, many passengers looked to be engaged or entertained during the day. Not much going on except lots of trivia contests, art auctions, napkin folding, the usual simple stuff. Guest lectures were not very challenging or interesting. Worst was that AZ offered very little preparation for our 5 ports, just some printed basics with the daily bulletin. No lectures or slide shows to prepare us. We stayed in stateroom 6088, which I will attempt to review below. There were lots of unresolved issues from the dry dock. The staff got an earful of complaints about these issues from the PAX in similar-sized staterooms. Last very positive note: The Cruise Director and Guest Relations Director hosted 2 LGBT get togethers which were both well-attended. They personally welcomed us, told funny stories and related that the AZ CEO is reaching out (wisely from a marketing point of view) to the LGBT community. These meet-ups were followed by hosted LGBT dinners in the dining room. Very nice touch. Nothing close to this on any of the other lines we have sailed. Thank you Azamara! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We did the TA repositioning cruise for our 25th anniversary and enjoyed it alot. If you like "sea days", then this is the type of cruise for you. We were a bit nauseous with some ocean waves the first day, but got comfortable ... Read More
We did the TA repositioning cruise for our 25th anniversary and enjoyed it alot. If you like "sea days", then this is the type of cruise for you. We were a bit nauseous with some ocean waves the first day, but got comfortable quickly. Very nice cruise company and service was fantastic ... always with a smile and a "Hello, Mr and Mrs A". Food was B+ to A-, so do not expect a 3 star Michelin food, but it was tasty, plentiful and the variety was excellent. Shows were good. Do not expect to beat the house in Bingo or in the Casino, but it is fun to try. Aqualina and Prime C were very good, but we liked the Windows buffet the most. The gym, spa, pool, track and hot tubs were all used and appreciated. Mostly we relaxed, but of course, we ate too much. Port stops were good and I was surprised that we could be back on board only about 30 minutes before departure ... I was thinking it might be 90 minutes. Drinks were good - no complaints. Wines of the day were good and a nice selection of varieties ... my wife and I are wine experts and found the selections to be good. The crowd was "senior", so do not expect alot of raucous partying and craziness. All in all, I would say we felt it was a great cruise for the money and we would recommend Azamara to all our friends. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We traveled with Azamara to the Caribbean in December 2015. We were so impressed we decided to book the transatlantic crossing and we were not disappointed. The service on Azamara is excellent. I also like the fact that this is all ... Read More
We traveled with Azamara to the Caribbean in December 2015. We were so impressed we decided to book the transatlantic crossing and we were not disappointed. The service on Azamara is excellent. I also like the fact that this is all inclusive so there is no "card swiping" every time you order a drink. The smaller cruise ships do not feel crowded and getting seats in the bar or around the pool is never a problem. The crowd on this cruise tends to be older, so if you are looking for lots of activities and night life this is probably not the cruise for you. Entertainment has never been a strong point for Azamara, which we knew prior to the cruise and as a result we did not attend many of the shows. The selection of TV shows / channels is limited and I would have liked to see a larger selection of free movies. I do find the internet expensive and wish that it was included in the price of the cruise, however that is the only negative. The food was very good. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. The all inclusive options were very good and we prefer the more laid back style of the outdoor and buffet restaurants. The ports of call on this cruise were all excellent. It was stated that there would be no taxis in Nice where we disembarked and we needed to book a shuttle with Azamara. This was not the case. Taxis were plentiful and we would have saved money by taking a taxi, since the shuttle did not go to our hotel. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We enjoyed five days in Miami enjoying some much wanted winter warmth before boarding the ship. We stayed at the Intercontinental Miami which is very convenient to the port but perhaps a little impersonal. Maybe next time we will stay in ... Read More
We enjoyed five days in Miami enjoying some much wanted winter warmth before boarding the ship. We stayed at the Intercontinental Miami which is very convenient to the port but perhaps a little impersonal. Maybe next time we will stay in a slightly smaller hotel. Embarkation was a breeze and very quickly we were onboard and enjoying the reimagined Azamara Journey. The changes to the ship are really good, the whole décor is lighter and there are two great additions, the Patio, which serves a dining menu outside between 6.30 and 8.30 each night and The Living Room (the old Looking Glass Lounge) which is now busy all day. The Living Room serves lovely Tapas free of charge each evening and is a delightful place for pre dinner drinks. We were excited to discover our refurbished suite on Deck 8 (we've been with Azamara several times) and to find it had a lovely walk in shower and lots of great storage in the room. Our room team kept the room so clean, always nipping in when we were out, like magic elves!. Dining was very good, every meal was excellent and the included wines were really good and better than we enjoyed on a previous Azamara cruise. We are in Prime C, Aqualina, The Main Dining Room, The Windows Café and The Patio. Being a transatlantic cruise, there were lots of entertainments and activities. Trivia was very popular, though I preferred the water colour classes run by Diane and the jewellery making run by the lovely dancer Sasha. There was something for everyone, though unfortunately the enrichment lectures were on subjects that did not have wide appeal. The service on the ship was extremely good, every crew member treats you as an individual and works out what it is that would make a difference for you. Everyone greets you with a smile and all the officers are very visible and will stop and chat with you whenever. We only went on one excursion in the Azores which was a very good one where we visited a pineapple plantation, a small village, saw the vistas of the Blue and Green Lake and finished up with some wine tasting. It was one of the better cruise line excursions we have been on. In other ports we just did our own thing as all were very walkable. No ships shuttles were provided in Gibraltar due to the control of the local taxi association but a shuttle was offered free of charge in Palma. Azores, Alicante and San Tropez did not need a shuttle because of the joys of Azamara, docking right in town. Would we go again with Azamara - were it was so good we booked two more cruises onboard. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We just took the Azamara Journey on the Transatlantic cruise from Miami to Nice. What a terrific ship. Food was always excellent and the staff at the restaurants are absolutely terrific. Not only were they helpful with recommendations ... Read More
We just took the Azamara Journey on the Transatlantic cruise from Miami to Nice. What a terrific ship. Food was always excellent and the staff at the restaurants are absolutely terrific. Not only were they helpful with recommendations but our waiter, Carlo has an absolutely wonderful sense of humor.The bar tenders are great and very knowledgeable. We thoroughly enjoyed The Living Room, their topside lounge. The waiters there soon learned our drinks of choice and were always johnny on the spot with the drinks. Balcony stateroom was decorated beautifully, as was the entire ship. An advantage of this small ship is that the staff gets to know you and soon anticipates your needs. The staff at Guest Relations were always helpful and Heidi, the hotel manager was always around to answer questions and resolve problems. Getting on and off the ship at the various ports is a breeze and the disembarkation process was the best I've ever experienced. The Port stops were excellent with enough time for exploration. Entertainment is only average and management should do better when booking acts, especially the performers who are there for the whole trip. Another concern was the number of service dogs on board. The owners did not appear to need the service dogs for any more than companionship. These dogs were everywhere including the dining rooms. I can easily see this issue getting out of hand. Azamara should more carefully screen the need for these dogs to be on board. We would recommend the Azamara Journey to anyone wanting a great cruise experience Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
This was our first cruise with Azamara having cruised around fifteen times with other companies. Embarkation was seamless with no queues at all - we arrived at the ship at 1230 for an 1800 sailing. Disembarkation was slower that seemed to ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara having cruised around fifteen times with other companies. Embarkation was seamless with no queues at all - we arrived at the ship at 1230 for an 1800 sailing. Disembarkation was slower that seemed to be caused by USA immigration procedures. The cruise started in Barcelona with stops in Gibraltar, Huelva (Spain) then St Maarten, Virgin Gorda before reaching Miami. As a stop Huelva is somewhat limited and we decided to take a bus to Seville (journey about 70 mins one way), other stops were fine with lots more local opportunities to visit. I would say that as this was a small ship the facilities were limited for a cruise which included 8 consecutive sea days as well as 3 other sea days. That said and as stated above, overall the cruise exceeded expectations particularly with food and service. However, the entertainment was a great disappointment to us and it seemed that the company relied on the in-house team in the main with limited other 'acts' being provided in support (the ventriloquist was very good as was the male entertainer who played sax/clarinet and tap danced). This may have been sympatamatic of the number of sea days not allowing for a frequent change of performers. Whilst the in-house team were very enthsuiastic the production was far less impressive than all other cruises we have experienced and to a point the ever present and hard working cruise director in my view seemed rather overbearing to the rest of the entertainment team and in my view he was used too often. That said I think that my view will be in the minority given the euphoric reaction the CD received whenever he performed or even walked around the ship, particularly from the older Canadian and American guests. The captain was very approachable as did the remainder of the crew who often mingled with passengers in all areas of the ship. In summary we will definitely do another Azamara cruise but will choose one with not so many sea days which hopefully should allow for more variety with entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
We had a great time on this transatlantic crossing. IMO Azamara (AZ) does a fine job delivering to a special niche market that is neither mass-market nor luxury. As a result, most aspects of the crossing were very good, with a few things ... Read More
We had a great time on this transatlantic crossing. IMO Azamara (AZ) does a fine job delivering to a special niche market that is neither mass-market nor luxury. As a result, most aspects of the crossing were very good, with a few things exceptional and a few areas that need work. One exceptional area is the fact that the Captain, Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, and entertainment staff are out and about, greeting the passengers and responding to their concerns. If this is important to you, you will be pleased with AZ. Another outstanding aspect is the friendly attitude of the passengers. Passengers are very outgoing and open to conversations. Passengers seemed happy and enjoying themselves. There was little of the picky complaining that one sometimes finds on other lines. If you like meeting folks and get your energy from other people, then AZ is for you. But if you want to be alone and are looking for a private or secluded getaway, you will have a problem finding it on this somewhat crowded busy ship. The crossing was fairly smooth in lovely weather with only one day and night of memorable motion caused by high waves. There were only 4 ports in 16 days, so lots of sea days. The Journey is attractively designed like a boutique hotel. It's very clean and in good shape, although there is little about it that will take your breath away. It is due to be redone in early 2016, which will be welcome as there are some tattered pieces of furniture and a few worn areas. We paid for an upgrade to an owner's suite, which I will review below. Embarkation was a breeze, quick and easy. Disembarkation in Miami was problematic due to delays from US customs & immigration. The Cruise Director kept us fully informed of the causes of delay and AZ's strategy to deal with them. Getting on and off the ship in ports was also simple and painless. Since this was a crossing and the ports were not particularly intriguing, the AZ Land Discoveries program offered only a few excursions, all of which were fairly high-priced. One can find lower cost options on line. We took one Land Discoveries excursion to Sevilla that was good, but not exceptional. Opportunities for exercise are very important to me as I struggle to avoid gaining too much weight on a cruise ship. The Journey delivers well in this area as there are a full walking track and a very good fitness center. I was always able to find an available bike in the center during my late afternoon workout. Service was very good with only a few rough edges in Discoveries restaurant and the Windows buffet. Cabin attendants were amazingly cheerful and seemed to actually enjoy their jobs. Most food and beverage staff were equally cheerful, and some got to know us and our preferences. The beverage service was very good on this all-inclusive crossing. There are lots of places to go for hot and cold drinks, plus waiter service in many areas. We are wine drinkers and found the included wines to be good. Remember that you can request a wine served previously that you enjoyed, as it often continues to be available. Coffee drinks in the Mosaic Cafe and in the restaurants were excellent. Included alcohol met our demands. But note that the included beer selection is thin, and there is a limited variety of sodas on board. Now on to the very few areas that IMO need some improvement. As suite guests we were fortunate to have access to the Specialty Restaurants, which we enjoyed. However the few meals we had in Discoveries Restaurant (the MDR), were disappointing. On previous AZ trips were were wowed by Discoveries, but not this time, as the food quality fit the category of "average cruise ship," in other words nothing special. The menus were dull and the execution mediocre. I would have enjoyed some higher level of activities on board, especially since there were so many sea days. While there is a lot going on, most of it falls into the simple inexpensive category such as trivia (6 contests per day, everyday!) and ping pong tournaments. We went to one destination lecture and saw another on TV, and found them only superficial. AZ could improve the quality of its enrichment program. In the area of entertainment, I admit that we are oddballs, preferring stripped-down performances to the glitzy big shows. AZ's offerings were what one seems to find on all cruise ships, lots of reviews of bits and pieces of pop music. Performers were talented, but the material was often lacking. We most enjoyed the small shows with a single performer and there were a few of those, and they were of fairly good quality. I admit that this is an area where my tastes are probably very different than other AZ customers. Who we are: We are 2 retired gents from Northern California who love the explore the world, mostly in land-based travel. We use ships primarily as a means of transportation, but can be seduced by a good itinerary. This crossing was our 18th cruise taken on 9 different lines. We will be crossing again on the Journey in April as we like AZ very much and the itinerary fits our travel plans. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2015
My husband and I have travelled a lot. Approximately 30 cruises. 20 on Princess then decieded to give the other cruise lines a chance. This was our second Azamara cruise and we thouroughly enjoyed it. We ate at the speciality ... Read More
My husband and I have travelled a lot. Approximately 30 cruises. 20 on Princess then decieded to give the other cruise lines a chance. This was our second Azamara cruise and we thouroughly enjoyed it. We ate at the speciality restaurants and signed up for the new Asian dinner as well as the Chef"s Table. Food was delicious. Highly recommend it. We had a great time in the Disco most evenings getting to know the staff and fellow cruisers. We enjoyed the white night the most. Eric and the other performers were fantastic. Loved the music. Never did so much dancing. Relaxing by the pool during the day without many announcments was nice. Very relaxing. We have booked our 3,4 and 5 cruise with Azamara. I quess we are converted. Great staff, I cannot say enough on how the made you feel like family. See you in April 2016. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We are grreat fans of TA cruises and, having attained Captain's Club top level on Celebrity, this was a natural for us. Check-in in N.Y.C. was an absolute breeze, we arrived at the pier, extremely conveniently located in mid-town ... Read More
We are grreat fans of TA cruises and, having attained Captain's Club top level on Celebrity, this was a natural for us. Check-in in N.Y.C. was an absolute breeze, we arrived at the pier, extremely conveniently located in mid-town Manhattan around 3:30, found noone ahead of us in line, and were aboard within ten minutes and were directed to the Windows Cafe, glass of Champagne in hand, for a late lunch. By the time we went to our cabin our luggage was waiting for us. Our cabin, 8040, although designated a suite, was not really that, as sleeping and living areas were not separated. But it was wider, by three feet or so, than a standard cabin, and the extra room made it much eas ier for the two of us to move around simultaneously. The balcony was also that much longer, which provided room for a lounger, two chairs and a table; unfortunately the weather was never quite mild enough for us to sit outside. The bathroom was of adequate size, had both a tub and a shower, and more than sufficiennt storage space. Storage space in the cabin was ample, our three suitcases all fitted under the bed. Our two cabin attendants were oustanding, giving the room thorough cleanings twice a day. After the first day they had learned our movements so that they were never in the way when we wanted to use the room. Our butler, Sanjiv, was absolutely first rate. He made our reservations in the specialty restaurants for us, brought us breakfast in the cabin on the minute on the days we had it there, and served it with considerable grace, kept our refrigerator stocked with the items we requested on the first day, and always had a snack waiting for us in the late afternoon when we'd return to the cabin. The food: We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room twice, found the choice of dished adequate, the food quite good but certainly nothing to rave about. The breakfasts there offered a wide choice but took rather too long to serve, so that we mostly breakfasted in the Windows cafe which offered a similar choice of dishes along with waiters to carry older passengers' (a category that included me) plates to their tables. The only problem was that, at peak hours (at lunch as well), there weren't enough tables to go around. Not really a problem as, without exception, seated guests were only too happy to share their tables when we asked if we might join them. The lunch buffet at Windows was hit and misss. The cold cuts were always inadequate, the hot dishes were mostly good, but not always, the offerings of the carvery varied in quality, the ice cream was very good indeed. We had the themed dinners at windows on two evenings, when the tables are covered with white linen. The Indian evevning was a big success, the French not so much. The pool lunches, on the occasions when we craved a simpler fare, were very good, with excellent hamburgers, fries and a choice of beef, lamb and chicken kebabs and nice, crisp fries. But by far the best food was to be had in the specialty restaurants where, as suite pessengers, we could eat as often as we liked at no additional charge. Prime C was excellent, with a superb fillet of beef, a lovely saddle of lamb and, since perfection is hard to achieve, a beautiful veal chop which was, however, a bit stringy and certainly badly oversalted. I can offer nothing but raves about Aqualina. Particularly memorable were two different pate de foie gras versions as starters, a splendid osso bucco and a marvelously tender broiled lobster. As for the free house wines (one had a choice of a different red or white each day both at lunch and at dinner at all the venues) they went from barely acceptable to pretty good. (Why, by the way, free wine and not free beer? And I would add that the same wines served in the bars at non-meal times were going for truly ridiculous prices, $11 for a glass of garden variety Pinot Grigio?)) In the specialty restaurants we chose to order from the wine list, it was possible to find good reds and whites for around $30, although only a few. I should mention that we were presented with four half bottles of assorted spirits (which we chose to exchange for four half bottles of a very good Scotch) in our suite, along with two bottles of bubbly and a bottle of wine. We were never in imminent danger of dying of thirst. The free specialty coffees and pastries, available at Mosaics Cafe at all hours, were excellent as well. As our Celebrity Elite Status translated into Le Club Voyage membership we enjoyed a number of additional percs. These included a more than generous free internet allotment a bag of laundry done free and one garment dry cleaned free. Additionally, there were four cocktail hours fo club members, with any drinks you wanted offered free a volonte, and two evenings of "happy hours" with drinks available at half price. The quality of the service throughout was extremely friendly and genuinely helpful. The one exception was a server who refused to honor our Club status at one of the happy hours and was overbearing and deliberately unhelpful in addition. After I reported the incident to the Customer Relations desk I was sought out by no less than three ship's officers who offered their profuse apologies and assured me that they would make it their personal responsibility to see to it that such an incident would not happen again. Apart from this very minor occurrence we had only the most pleasant of interchanges with the personnel aboard and found all the ship's officers, from the Captain on down, to be most friendly and approachable. On the one day that there were rough seas the captain changed course and reduced speed to minimize the discomfort caused to his passengers. The down side of this was that this cost him several hours and that he consequently missed the tide at Honfleur, causing the excursions from Rouen to be scrubbed, but from all I heard, most people were quite happy having been spared a day of utter misery, and from our perspective, it was a real bonus to be able to make the beautiful passage up the Seine in daylight rather than in the night. The quality of the entertainment, especially considering the size of the vessel, was excellent throughout. On the first evening a string quartet from the Julliard Music School, performed and this proved to be a special treat. Eliot Finkel was marvelous, both in his incarnation as presiding musician of the ship's orchestra and in his two classical piano recitals, both of which were truly delightful. How heartening that a cruise line can make the assumption that its guests are not necessarily musical illiterates, to be fobbed off with only the most glaring of schmaltz.The dance company proved to be very good indeed, we much enjoyed that evening. Nancy greatly enjoyed the dance lessons offered most days. Several passengers put together a series of question and answer sessions for the benefit of passengers not feeling entirely comfortable in the use of the French language once ashore and I had the impression that these were well received--they were certainly well attended. Azamara graciously not merely assigned a daily time in the observation lounge for this purpose but also publicized the sessions in the daily newspaper. Even though there were no port stops and that consequently this was not cruising in the generally understood meaning of the word, we were both delighted with our experience and enjoyed it as an extremely pleasant Atlantic crossing. In our opinion Azamara has come up with a most useful and pleasing formula. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Embarkation We arrived by cab from JFK at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and were on the ship within 10 minutes. It went very smoothly with the baggage handlers taking our luggage in front of the terminal, no line at security, and we ... Read More
Embarkation We arrived by cab from JFK at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and were on the ship within 10 minutes. It went very smoothly with the baggage handlers taking our luggage in front of the terminal, no line at security, and we were at the ship's entrance. The welcome by staff was less than what I had expected based on others' reviews, but perhaps they had had a long day. They seemed more interested in talking to one another than dealing with us. The Ship She is a beautiful ship. The public spaces are tasteful and comfortable. The library is very attractive. The Looking Glass bar was one of our favorite spots on board. The chaises lounges by the pool and looking to the sea were covered with lots of padding and blankets. The cafe was also quite nice, although located in a busy spot between the shops and the main staircase to the purser's desk. We loved the ability to get lattes and espressos at any time for no charge. Cabin The cabin was excellent, with more storage space than we actually used. Not having to pack formal clothes helped! A flat-screen TV was a welcome sight after the clunky old TV on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 in 2010. The balcony was lovely and there were enough electrical outlets for our gadgets. We found it well designed. The Ports Azamara's practice of having the ship serve as the hotel the first night, with departure late on the following day is an excellent idea. We were able to enjoy company of friends in New York the evening we arrived and for most of the next day. Once arriving in Rouen, where once again the ship serves as a hotel the last night. It was nice to come home to after dinner and we had none of the usual horrible disembarkation experience we've had with other lines. Passengers The passengers trended older, mostly American with a few Europeans and a few more Canadians, but it was a varied group politically, if not ethnically/racially as much. A good number of passengers had been to university. With a maximum of 695 passengers, on this trip the Journey carried 635. Food and Wine I live in the "foodie" San Francisco Bay Area and I'd say that the food was very good. The wines included with the fare were absolutely acceptable and well chosen. The main dining room is classic and comfortable. There was a problem getting a table one evening at 8 pm and the adjacent bar was packed, so it seemed a little disorganized, but it was only that one time. Otherwise, you almost never had to wait for a table. The buffet area was almost always a challenge for finding seating. Had the weather not been chilly, the open air tables would have been fine, but given the wind and the temperature, sitting outside wasn't very comfortable so everyone tried to squeeze inside. The food in the buffet was surprisingly good. Due to Azamara's having raised the price for eating in Aqualina and Prime C, we didn't feel any incentive to dine outside the main dining room or at the buffet. We received a complimentary visit to Aqualina before the end of the crossing and we felt confirmed in our judgment about paying extra. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't justify the extra cost in our opinion. We aren't big steak eaters, so Prime C was less of a draw. Challenges of a Small Ship On such a small ship, the problems I observed were 1) finding places to sit in the informal buffet at lunch and 2) the problem posed to readers by the takeover of all (and I mean all) public spaces by amplified trivia contests. If you like reading books, which we do, especially on a crossing, we were often forced either to go to our room or to go to the Library; and frankly, some folks even mistook the library for a place to have loud conversations. That remains my biggest complaint. The fact that a bunch of mature adults can only entertain themselves with trivia for 11 days is mind-boggling to me. Can't Azamara encourage other types of less intrusive entertainment or at least not use microphones, and limit the use of public spaces for that purpose? It seems like one of those cheap choices for the company, probably dreamed up in the accounting department. Staff I did not have the experience others have reported of staff being especially welcoming and enthusiastic. We had one very good server in the restaurant from ?le Maurice. No one ever remembered our names or seemed particularly welcoming otherwise; not unfriendly at all, just not going out of their way to make us feel welcome in the way others have reported. I would make one exception: our cabin staff was very warm and friendly. It probably helps that both were Brazilian! Entertainment Apart from the issue I've already addressed regarding amplified trivia games, the entertainment staff were quite good. One evening there was a jazz concert in the cafe that I found extraordinarily good. The shows were fine--not fantastic--but fine. There was a passenger choir that I really enjoyed (and tried to become part of, but oh, my voice...). The company had done no programming that was specific to Rouen, Paris, or France. A lot of passengers were taking their first--and perhaps only--trip to Paris (given their age) and had booked four-day package tours. Unfortunately, we were arriving on a holiday weekend when many things are closed and one of the four days was Monday when many museums are closed. On top of that, it had been raining quite a bit. We proposed to do a little session on the French language that turned into a 150-person class on pronunciation, phrases, customs, stereotypes, typical misunderstandings, practical considerations given the holiday and the weather, and a bit about the history of the city. We called it a "people's class" and we just asked what folks wanted and roped a couple of Francophone passengers into the mix to help. We did five classes in all. A couple of kind travel agents on board told the cruise director that we should be compensated (and it was work). When asked what I would like, I asked for free Internet. That request was turned down a couple of days later. The CD reported that it wasn't in his authority and that the accountants in Miami had emailed a negative response. He was able to provide two $25 meals at Aqualina. In the end, he was also able to provide me with one days' worth of Internet after a bit of a hassle. I don't know the inside and outside of this issue with the Internet, but it was a modest request and I am still shocked at the company's unwillingness to do it. Captain Due to a rather large storm in the North Atlantic, the captain chose to navigate in a straight line from NYC to the NW tip of Spain, then make a sharp left turn at the Bay of Biscay up to the Channel and on to the Seine River. As he said when he told us, "Our first duty is the safety of our passengers, and frankly, the safety of the ship as well." I respect that kind of thinking! We hit a few large swells on the way and a couple of people fell, but no serious damage was done. The ship performed amazingly well I thought, for her size. His decision was not popular with many people because it meant that instead of arriving in Rouen around 10 am, we arrived just after 6 pm, so tours people had planned to Giverny or around Rouen were cancelled. I felt it was a shame but it still allowed us an evening in Rouen. We went to a medieval inn for dinner with another couple of passengers where Julia Child ate her first sole meunière, so we were content. Disembarkation Disembarkation (and embarkation) was much, much better than our last experience on Cunard's Queen Victoria at Los Angles during the 2011 Christmas holidays. Although we had to stand in line for a little while due to the narrow landing staircase, it wasn't too difficult. Captain and crew lined up to thank us and to say goodbye. Buses for those with packages were available. It was raining quite a bit. Luggage was inside a tent and cabs pulled up fairly regularly to pick up those headed for the train station. We noted that because many people didn't speak French and the cabbies didn't speak English, many folks remained standing in the rain in confusion. I would recommend to Azamara that they station a French- speaking staff person to handle instructions to the cabbies for the passengers, like any boutique hotel would do. It would have been a considerate touch. Since we speak French, we just popped on in the cab and went on our way but I felt bad for so many other passengers who weren't being helped. Other The captain said this NYC to Rouen trip was a one-off due to the ship's having been chartered for a trip out of Rouen. That's a real shame. Currently, virtually everyone goes to Spain, Britain, or Holland. For those of us who travel often to France and would prefer to do so by ship, it's frustrating. I hope Azamara or someone will do a regular non-stop to France at some point. We'd be their most regular passengers! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
This was our 5th Azamara cruise, the first in a suite. We were used to the excellent crew, atmosphere. dining and entertainment. Journey did not let us down. Without port days the cruise experience was focused on the cruise itself. Cabin- ... Read More
This was our 5th Azamara cruise, the first in a suite. We were used to the excellent crew, atmosphere. dining and entertainment. Journey did not let us down. Without port days the cruise experience was focused on the cruise itself. Cabin- nice with real bathtub, more than adequate closet space. Wonderful service from our Butler and Room attendant, never obtrusive but very efficient. Food was Azamara, high quality and service. Whether in Discoveries or Windows , Pool Grill or the specialty Restaurants. Because there were only about 350 passengers Aqualina and Prime C alternated nights of opening. This caused no problem that I saw. The free wine option provided excellent 'Boutique Wines' in copious Quantity. The lectures were interesting 'Discovery' and Animal Planet presenter Nigel Marven gave several lectures on his experiences with various wildlife programmes and showed examples, fascinating. A US District Attorney gave background to famous trials and a great speaker taught us to appreciate the enormity of the Universe, complete with nightime event on Deck 11 spying stars in the sky. There was Ballroom dancing classes, Watercolour painting and even Portuguese lessons. The multi talented Entertainment staff headed by CD Eric de Gray with 'sidekick' Chris provided professional shows assisted by guest singers and a comedian. The talented Dan Daly hosted Piano time in the Mosaic cafe even though I sang a song with him as 'Ethel Merman', special mention to Marcio DJ and a great Yorkshire lass Sara-Lou who put up with a lot of good natured geriatric ribbing with great tolerance and humour. If you want a professional, luxury experience with out the stiff formalities of Tuxedos and enforced mealtimes and Table 'Mates' Choose Azamara. Downside, the Hotel Director was almost invisible, not the ever attentive visibility of Heike or Philip, never saw him never made himself known. No one was at the gangway to say Goodbye and as a multiple traveler never got invitations to Dinner with the Officers, Tours of the bridge etc that we enjoyed on previous cruises, but really 'no big deal'. The Hotel PreCruise, the Fenix was central clean and comfortable and good value however the Cruise Air travel booked by Azamara was an absolute disaster. Bad flight planning gave us a connection in London that was impossible to make.After 7 hours rom Canada we missed our connection along with some other passengers, having to sit in London for 5 hours for the next flight. Arriving in Lisbon our, and others, bags did not arrive, there was no one from Azamara to meet us or transfer us. We did get the bags about 30 hours later after doing all the tracing etc ourselves. People arriving on the same route the next 2 days had th same experience. Several cruised without their baggage, one gentleman lost his custom wheelchair. The bus to the ship was supposed to be at 12 Noon, they arrived at 1-15, the hotel had no one to contact. Not a good experience. Leaving at San Juan we were taken in School type buses to the Airport, no room for bags that were to follow in a van, fortunately they did, though we had to wait, unescorted outside the Airport for them to come. Great Cruise line, my advice, handle the transfers and hotels yourself and have a professional Travel Agent at least review any air arrangements before accepting and dont expect any shore representatives to turn up or assist with problems. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We took Azamara Journey from Miami to Rome. This was our second trans-Atlantic. We enjoyed the first one so much last year (it was not on Azamara) that we were keen to do it again. Azamara lived up to and exceeded expectations. In this ... Read More
We took Azamara Journey from Miami to Rome. This was our second trans-Atlantic. We enjoyed the first one so much last year (it was not on Azamara) that we were keen to do it again. Azamara lived up to and exceeded expectations. In this case, the ship is the destination and it's all sea days. It keeps the cruise director and his staff busy and indeed, the program was so full that there could well be two events that you wished to attend which ran at the same time. There's lots of interaction with fellow passengers and you get to know them really well.The daily trivia contest was hotly contested and very well supported. Azamara DOES listen. Somebody suggested that if this was S**b**rn, there would be a barman on duty since we had over 100 people in the lounge. Next day there was. Another passenger suggestion was the old tradition of the 'noon gun'. From that point on, a name was drawn from the hat every day and a lucky passenger got to blow the ship's whistle at noon. Cute, eh? Thank you, Captain.Cruise Director Eric de Gray is one of the best at sea. He certainly must be the tallest. He is not only a talented entertainer, he can keep order with the loud-mouths during trivia and is lightning quick with creative and very funny one-liners in all situations.We normally have dinner in the main dining room on cruises but used it only three times on this occasion. We did Aqualina a couple of times and the gourmet dinner with wines in Prime C. Both superb. All the rest were in the Windows Cafe. There are white tablecloths in the evening and a good selection of buffet items. There was always a chef on duty to make the theme dish of the day for you - Indian, risotto, fish & chips, etc etc and he was excellent. It was nice to sit outside aft, look at the wake and watch the sun go down in the west behind you. Wherever you dined, the waiters would pass by with the wines of the day to top you up constantly. The wines are well chosen, not cheap and nasty, and we enjoyed them. Guitarist Steve entertained and would take requests.Dance instructors Sunny and Dave were superb, the best we have seen. It would have been nice to have more opportunities for ballroom dancing during the cruise. They were quite limited. The band was great, led by the personable and very talented Dan Redner. He also directed the Hi C's choir which was fun, for the participants at least.We were on Azamara Journey in the Baltic 18 months ago and it was nice to be recognized by some of the crew including our favourite barman at sea, Dale.We used the computer room every day and never had to wait for a machine. With very few exceptions the internet worked well.We made one stop in Gibraltar and took the ship's tour. It was an excellent day and turned out to be more interesting and enjoyable than we expected. Gib is so compact that after the tour we stopped on Main Street for a pint and fish & chips - old English tradition we are told but not old English prices - then walked back to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
To criticise this cruise would be difficult. It was the third Azamara crossing and the sixth transatlantic. They really have it right, my only concern is that it is too much of a bargain to last at the prices we paid. The Journey, ... Read More
To criticise this cruise would be difficult. It was the third Azamara crossing and the sixth transatlantic. They really have it right, my only concern is that it is too much of a bargain to last at the prices we paid. The Journey, now an old friend, was as comfortable and friendly as ever, the cabin comfortable, the dining excellent and the ship well kept and cared for. The crew were, as usual, attentive, polite, caring and well mannered. The entertainment staff headed by Eric De Grey, an eccentric but phenomenal entertainer, organiser and all round really nice guy assisted by James, Mark and Jodi, put up with the passengers silliness at trivia etc. The activities were really well organised, lectures by Jesse Weir on opera were fascinating, well presented and attended as were others on local ports. Dining was exceptional whether at Discoveries, windows or the Prime C and Aquilina, absolutely no complaints at all. The touted free wine was of good quality and unrationed, many of us just couldn't believe the quality of wine and service. A nice touch was the freeing of charge for the Cova Cafe (Now renamed Mosaic) It became a meeting place for afternoon teas, morning coffee and just socialising, nice touch. In former years it was not so well patronized. The Officers were visible and friendly especially the Captains small son who endeared himself to the Grandparents on board. Jason (The Captain) was very approachable and friendly. Ports were Rome,Cartagena (Blah), Gibraltar, Tenerife and Nassau. Nassau was a bit of a disappointment, lots of pestering by locals when getting on shore, needed a good rainstorm to just wash it down. We don't take ships tours as they are not good value and move at the speed of the slowest passenger but we enjoyed looking around the ports, on a Transatlantic the sea days are the draw. Embarkation was an absolute breeze, Debarkation a bit chaotic, not due to Azamara but the ever arrogant Immigration officers of the USA. If Azamara could avoid Miami it would be great, an old grimy terminal with circular winding concrete steps to navigate to get to your bags, the usual dead slow stop customs officials showing their power.The chaos of non marked Taxi and Bus stands. After 2 weeks of politeness and 'niceness' being exposed to that lot was a come down to earth with a bang!(Dont get me started on TSA in Miami Airport) After so much leisure and relaxation to be dragged out of bed for a 6 am meeting with Homeland Security who then kept you waiting till 7 am was just a contrast between Azamara Club and USA Inc. My concern is that as I was paying about the same as in previous years for a superior service, free wine and coffees and a $500 OBC I hope that Azamara have done their costs right and will be profitable!! To those many many passengers I met and whose company I enjoyed, thank you. To the couple of miserable English Women who perpetually moaned and rudely berated the crew that it 'wasn't Seaborne' there was a reason you dined alone!! Happy Christmas. Thanks Azamara Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Our first cruise was with HAL nearly 20 years ago. Our experience was so positive that we remained exclusively loyal to them for many years & many cruises. We only strayed to take specialty cruises on expedition ships or traditional ... Read More
Our first cruise was with HAL nearly 20 years ago. Our experience was so positive that we remained exclusively loyal to them for many years & many cruises. We only strayed to take specialty cruises on expedition ships or traditional river cruises. About a year ago, we started to explore our cruising options beyond HAL. We were seeking an upper-premium product so we decided to try both Azamara & Oceania. We chose 14-nite transAtlantics on each - westbound Barcelona to Miami on Oceania Regatta (Nov/09) and eastbound Miami to Barcelona on Azamara Journey (April/10). This was our first experience with transAtlantics as we usually prefer port-intensive cruises. But our investment (or risk) would be minimal & we'd get an excellent impression with so many days at sea. I previously reviewed our Oceania cruise at http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=61359 so these comments will focus on our Azamara experience, although direct comparisons are inevitable. EMBARKATION We made independent air (FF) and hotel arrangements & stayed 1-nite pre-cruise at Sofitel Miami. We took a taxi to the cruise port about 12:30 pm & were efficiently processed by shoreside staff. We traded our passports for our Azamara Seapass, swiped our credit card & proceeded to board Journey. Once across the gangway, we were welcomed with a glass of sparkling rosE. Since staterooms weren't ready yet, we went to Windows to check out the embarkation buffet. We grabbed a slice of pizza & were barely seated when a server appeared with complimentary wine. Off to a good start! We soon learned that our sailing had only 491 pax (70% capacity) with 404 crew. Pretty similar to our reverse sailing last fall on Oceania Regatta which had 520 pax (76%) with 397 crew. STATEROOM We intentionally booked an identical verandah room in the identical location (swapping port for starboard) as we had on Oceania Regatta a few months ago. It was conveniently located on the 7th floor near the forward elevator. Other than the sounds of crashing waves, our room was very quiet. The room was configured much the same as Regatta with ample closet space, drawer storage and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. Perhaps it was the dEcor, but the room was not as bright & airy as on Oceania. Our bed was in rather poor condition & nowhere near as comfy as those we've had on either Oceania or HAL. The mattress had obvious dips & depressions. Bed linens were luxurious & in excellent shape. We knew to expect a tiny bathroom so there was no surprise. It was functional & clean although the shower curtain showed signs of mildew along the bottom edge & the shower drain was sluggish. Some towels & facecloths were frayed & in dire need of replacement. Elemis soap & toiletries were replenished as we used them. The 40 sq ft verandah was noticeably smaller than on Regatta. Who knew what a difference 10 sq ft could make? Balcony furniture was 2 upright chairs & a glass table that seemed inappropriately large for the very tiny space. The privacy barrier between balconies was made of opaque glass that had gaps of about 6-8 inches at each edge. This was not sufficient for total privacy. It was impossible to sit outside & not be visible to our neighbors from some angle. But the weather on this crossing was so poor that we rarely had the opportunity to use the balcony. We had cool temps & overcast skies for most of the trip. The Captain did all he could to outrun back-to-back storms after leaving Miami but we still experienced angry seas with 15-22 ft swells for several consecutive days. DINING Food is an important aspect of cruising for us. While we don't cruise specifically for the food, we won't sail on a line that has mediocre food. After reading many reviews about food on Azamara, we set our expectations lower than Oceania but higher than HAL. This made sense since HAL caters more in the larger mass market while Oceania fancies itself as the cruise line for foodies. Even with lowered expectations, we were disappointed with the food on Azamara. Our dining experience on Journey ranks close to the bottom of our 27 cruises. Not only did Azamara fail to reach the level of Oceania, in our opinion they did not even come close to HAL. We were disappointed in the main dining venues: . ordinary menus with limited selections . obvious repetition of ingredients . indistinct flavors with many items tasting similar . heavy use of salt to enhance flavor . little evidence of fresh herbs, spices or seasonings . sauces & gravies (and some soups) had starchy consistency . poor execution of many items: overcooked or undercooked . hot food often served lukewarm . less choice cuts of meat & fish for principal entrees . no fresh berries, only soggy defrosted available . very limited cheese selections . homemade ice-creams & sherbets often contained ice chips. But there were bright spots: . Smoothie Bar in Windows . fresh squeezed OJ & mouth-puckering lemonade . tasty burgers & kabobs, albeit very greasy, at Pool Grill . special themed nites in Breeza (Spanish Tapas, Asian Stir-Fry & Indian Curry) . Cova Cafe is a little gem for specialty coffees & tasty tidbits . food presentation was consistently superb in MDR . complimentary wine with lunch & dinner. Bottom line, dining on Journey was hit-or-miss for us. Over time, we learned how to increase our odds of a better meal. Apparently the trick was to make the right selections! We did manage to have a few good meals but they were the exception. I realize that food is subjective & palates vary greatly. I also appreciate that food on any cruise line can vary from ship to ship & even from sailing to sailing on the same ship. Maybe the food we had on Journey was not representative of Azamara. Maybe there were provisioning problems on this transAtlantic. Maybe the food budget was reduced & lower quality items had to be substituted. Maybe the galley crew were exhausted or out-of-sync. And maybe it's unfair for us to make an assessment of Azamara food based on a single sailing, but we trust our own palates & instincts. YMMV. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS We were entitled to 2 guaranteed reservations at each of the 2 specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, at a price of $15 pp per meal. Since we had no prior status with either Azamara or Celebrity, we were unable to make reservations on-line before the cruise. So we made it a priority upon boarding. We were surprised to learn that both restaurants were operating on a fixed schedule: early (6:00-6:30 pm) or late (8:00-8:30 pm). We tried several times to make a reservation at either restaurant for 7:30 pm. No can do. Nevertheless, we were eager to try them so we accepted the pre-set times. We enjoyed both specialty restaurants. Elegant atmosphere, attentive service, creative menus, flavorable food. We preferred Aqualina over Prime C. ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES Journey offered many games & activities for our 9 sea days. Golf putting, shuffleboard, ping pong, social bridge, bingo, team trivia, arts & crafts sessions, improv acting classes & ballroom dance lessons. Captain Theodorou even taught a jam-packed room of eager passengers to dance the Greek Korba. Opa! There were culinary demos, afternoon tea, wine & martini tastings ($), food & wine pairings ($), photo & computer workshops ($), wellness seminars & fitness classes. There were 3 enrichment lecturers on-board, making for diverse & interesting presentations. Recent movies were available on in-room TV but the rotation schedule made it virtually impossible to watch many during normal waking hours. Azamara still has an Art Director on board. He gave a few presentations & staged several silent auctions. On Azamara, loyalty has its privileges. Members of Le Club Voyage were invited to participate in a range of published & unpublished activities, including galley tours, bridge tours, engine room tours, Happy Hour, cocktail parties, connoisseur dinners, wine & specialty coffee tastings. Since this was our first Azamara cruise & we had no prior history on Celebrity or RCCL, we were excluded from these events. However, because of our involvement with Cruise Critic, we did receive invitations to the galley, bridge and engine room tours. Azamara arranged a couple of Meet & Mingle sessions for CC members. They trump both Oceania & HAL for hosting these events. Cruise Director Tony Markey announced that our group of 60+ was the largest they had on board this year. We enjoyed complimentary cocktails & hors d'oerves and met several senior officers. Hotel Manager Heike Berdos attended both CC parties. She's the real deal - very approachable & around the ship constantly. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in what CC members had to say. ENTERTAINMENT Who said a small ship can't deliver top-quality entertainment? Kudos to Azamara for providing excellent after-dinner shows in the Cabaret Lounge on Journey. There was a featured vocalist, pianist, violinist, guitarist, comedian as well as several performances by an Azamara 5-member resident cast. All superb. Pre and post-dinner music was provided by a harpist, guitarist, cabaret singer & musical trio. There was also pre-show ballroom dancing as well as an after-hours disco. SHORE EXCURSIONS We are independent travelers who tend to make our own shore arrangements. However, on this cruise we had a generous OBC so we chose to take a few ship excursions. Journey shorex team was among the best we have encountered on any ship. They were well informed, enthusiastic & helpful. And unlike many shorex staff who become harried on tour day & bark out orders to passengers, the Journey staff remained easy-going & helpful throughout. We took 2 shore excursions that were excellent. Interesting itineraries, informative tour guides, great value for money. PUBLIC ROOMS We thought Journey was clean, nicely appointed & well maintained. It has the underpinnings of a great ship. But it seemed to lack the warmth & vibrancy on either Oceania or HAL. Something intangible was missing. In our view, Journey needs a bit more love & careful attention to the little details. Journey has the same footprint as Oceania R class ships, yet there are noticeable differences in how the space is used. The casino on Azamara is larger & slot machines take up space that Oceania uses for its delightful Martinis Bar. Azamara does have a bar near the casino, but with a large screen TV & uncomfortable seating, it lacked the ambiance that Martinis exudes on Oceania. Cova Cafe is a lovely addition on Azamara. It is the perfect hang-out where we enjoyed many a specialty coffee & light meal. There is nothing similar on Oceania. The on-board shops are virtually identical on both lines, although the nod goes to Oceania for better product selection & merchandising. On Azamara, the Art Director had a desk on the 5th floor opposite the Cova Cafe. Art works were often displayed for sale around this area, as well as in the hallway outside the casino. The ship photographer & his photo gallery were also located here. This gave a slightly cluttered & commercial feel to the overall area. The Library was our favorite room on Oceania. On Azamara, it was still lovely but something was missing. It's as if nobody really cared about this space. Furniture was often scattered haphazardly about the room, seating was mismatched & lighting was poor. The "take a book, leave a book" section was usually in disarray, permanent books were often misfiled & there were no subscription magazines. The Library felt more like a forgotten rec room than the elegant space it can be. Looking Glass on Azamara is Horizons on Oceania. This is the spot where passengers gather to enjoy forward vistas thru the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows. But on Journey, the centre views are somewhat obstructed by equipment for the on-board band. Nearly half of the windows were blocked by a grand piano, large speakers & synthesizers. But to their credit, Azamara hasn't converted outside public space on the top deck into revenue-producing private cabanas as Oceania has done. So the best forward vantage points are still available for all to enjoy. But neither Azamara nor Oceania can come close to the wide-open public spaces on HAL, its gorgeous wrap-around teak promenades and unrestricted bow access for scenic cruising. DISEMBARKATION We experienced a well organized disembarkation off Journey. As on Oceania, breakfast hours & menus were limited. We were instructed to vacate our room by 8:30 am & wait in a public lounge for disembarkation. This was in marked contrast to HAL where breakfast is not restricted & all passengers can remain in their rooms until they disembark. We arrived in Barcelona at 6:00 am & disembarkation began about 7:30 am. As independent travelers, we had the option of several timeframes to leave the ship. We chose 8:15 am. The Hotel Manager & Cruise Director were waiting on the exit ramp to bid farewell to departing passengers. Nice touch. We retrieved our luggage inside the terminal & grabbed a taxi to our onward destination in Barcelona. FINAL THOUGHTS We have mixed feelings about whether we would sail Azamara again. We like many of their future itineraries as well as their focus on destination enrichment. We're thrilled with the included amenities & we're now members of Le Club Voyage with all its rights & privileges. We love the small ships & have rarely sailed with a friendlier crew than on Journey. There is much to like about Azamara. Yet we hesitate, primarily because they failed to deliver on an important aspect of cruising for us. We can't ignore our disappointment with the food in virtually all dining venues on Journey. Maybe it would be better on another Azamara ship. So we'll continue to watch the future roll-out of Azamara & maybe we'll hop aboard again. Either way, we wish them success going forward. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This was my husband's third and possibly final cruise. We had tried a trans-Pacific cruise on Celebritiy's Millenium and then a Pacific Coast/Sea of Cortez cruise with Holland America. My DH informed me that if this cruise was ... Read More
This was my husband's third and possibly final cruise. We had tried a trans-Pacific cruise on Celebritiy's Millenium and then a Pacific Coast/Sea of Cortez cruise with Holland America. My DH informed me that if this cruise was not any better than the previous two, he was not going to cruise anymore. I am happy to say that the Azamara Journey was a terrific experience (I knew it would be since I had cruised on this ship twice before) but was thrilled that my husband agreed with me. FOOD; The most important part of the cruise for my DH is the food, and the Journey did not disappoint. We tried all the options: Prime C, Aqualina, Main Dining Room, Windows Cafe, the Pool Grill, and room service. Great quality and selection is available in the Main Dining Room, and the specialty restaurants are top quality. The chilled seafood platter and seared foie gras in Aqualina are fabulous, and the lava cake in Prime C is its signature dessert. Because we were in a Continental Suite, our butler Pravin also served us hors d'oeuvres and shrimp every afternoon. We took advantage of the complimentary dining in specialty restaurants for suite guests, but the $15.00 per person service charge for non -suite guests is well worth it. The Journey also offers Connoisseur Dinners a few times each cruise, and we also took advantage of this. Chef Singh made a wonderful dinner for 10 of us (using Prime C large back table for location) and Boris, the sommelier made some great wine pairings to accompany each course. The charge for the Connoisseur Dinner is $60.00 per person. One new feature of the Azamara Club Cruises is the addition of complimentary wine with lunch and dinner. I was afraid that the wines would be of poor quality, but I was pleasantly surprised. We had everything from French Chardonnays to Oregon Pinots and Chilean Malbecs. In addition, each night the ship offers an additonal bottle of a red wine and a white wine that you can purchase for half-price. We did this some nights and were very pleased with the choices offered. ACCOMMODATIONS: Because we were in a Continental Suite, we had ample space for everything. There is lots of storage in the cabin, two closets, and an extra-large bathroom, including tub, not shower. The Elemis products are great, especially the bath and shower gel. I don;'t think a suite is necessary to be comfortable on the ship, but it's nice if you have it. The extra-large balcony with table, two chairs AND lounger was especially nice to enjoy beautiful views. LECTURES: We had great lectures for all tastes. For the adventurous, there was Nigel, an outdoors enthusiast who shared videos of his most dangerous moments in the wild, as well as some footage of pandas. For the gardeners, we had the President of the American Horticultural Society who showed beautiful slides of plants and gardens. For the seacruisers, we had a few presentations by (sorry can[t remember his name) an expert who gave the history of the sea trade and some famous women pirates. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to one of the two shows presented by the five-member Cabaret Cast entitled :"Sing It and Swing It". It was ably performed,but we thought the best entertainment was provided at the Cova Cafe by Dan Daly and his great voice singing the classics and by the Kristin Lee trio up in the Looking Glass. Her voice is a dead-ringer for Pasty Cline and she is versatile enough to sing country, the Louis Armstrong classic "It's a Wonderful World", and pop. SERVICE: The Hotel Director Heike appeared to be everywhere at all times. She runs a tight ship and the results are spectacular service delivered with a smile and grace. Our butler Pravin was amazing and seemed to appear whenever we needed anything. He was assisted by Alvin and Juan who kept our cabin spotless, Wherever you are on the ship, the staff is friendly and helpful without being phony. It certainly adds to the whole experience. SHIP: The ship can have as many as 700 passengers, but on our trans-Atlantic cruise there were 600. We enjoyed the spaciousness and lack of "cattleherding" mentality. The main areas used by passengers are the Cabaret Theatre (for evening shows and lectures), the Looking Glass (for wonderful viewing and some activities), the Cova Cafe (specialty coffees and teas, in addition to the evening piano playing by the talented Dan Daly), and the Pool area with Outdoor Walking Track. The ship is in very good condition, and while we were in port we noticed painters painting the exterior and workers revarnishing the wood rails and loungers (some of the most comfortable we have ever experienced). It is a clean and inviting environment. PORTS OF CALL: Normally a trans-Atlantic offers relaxing days at sea with ports of call that are minor distractions, but this itinerary offered some great ones. Our first stop was in the Azores and Punta Delgata, then on to Gibraltar, Cartagena, and La Palma, Mallorca, before reaching our final destination of Barcelona. We enjoyed all of the ports of call, and the ship's tours were reasonably priced and significantly lower than the ones from previous cruises I have taken with Azamara. ACTIVITIES: We took advantage of the many activities offered during the cruise including the Team Trivia contests, the Musical Challenges, and the Battle of the Sexes. In addition, there were craft classes, bridge games, and yoga classes. There was so much planned everyday that we had a hard time deciding what to do. OVERALL: I would unhesitatingly reccommend the Azamara Journey for anyone who wants a lovey cruise experience with personal service, good food and wine, and a smaller ship. The average age of the passengers was 60 - 70 years of age (though there were some younger couples), and there were no children on our cruise. Read Less
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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