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Sail Date: August 2011
This cruise was the first of B2B cruises which took my wife and I from Dublin to Lisbon and then onto Nice. We cruised on the Quest in 2009 (Best of Italy) and last year from Singapore to Athens and then B2B to Rome so it was hard not to ... Read More
This cruise was the first of B2B cruises which took my wife and I from Dublin to Lisbon and then onto Nice. We cruised on the Quest in 2009 (Best of Italy) and last year from Singapore to Athens and then B2B to Rome so it was hard not to draw comparisons. Close your eyes for a minute and you could be either ship but there were differences. The excellent standard of service that we expected of Azamara was there, the shore excursions were outstanding but a couple of aspects I found were disappointing. Let me start with the check-in in Dublin. Why on earth does Azamara promote on line check-in (which I dutifully completed) when the port staff at Dublin have to repeat the process... and made a hash of it. Finally had to sort out the account billing arrangements at Guest Relations in the days after we embarked. My comment about the redundancy of the check-in arrangements were met with furious nods of agreement. Despite having Azamara's President, Larry Pimental and his wife Sandie on board, I found the food was below par. Aqualina was a joy but the one and only time I visited Prime C, I was served a fatty and grisly piece rib eye steak. I could have returned it but wanted to keep pace with my table companions. I know that the menu catering is designed around the North American taste buds but with a number of Brits and Aussies on board I asked the Hotel Director is she could put out English bacon at breakfast in Windows. Bingo!... there it was the next day than after that on just the odd occasion. I dared not ask for Vegemite like I did on the Quest last year. On that occasion, the quite extraordinary Phillip Herbert, the Hotel Director went out his way to meet this request. The cappuccinos dispensed from the Expresso machines in Windows were undrinkable - best described as a strong flavoured sludge. On the other hand the food and coffee served elsewhere on the ship was very good. Mosaic's coffee and snacks were great. Discovery was excellent. The highlight of the cruise was the wine tasting and dinner in Bordeaux hosted by Larry Pimental. The food and entertainment at Chateau Kirwan was memorable although I thought the wines were a little overrated. The experience reinforced my view that value for money, there are many wines around the globe which would give the French wines a run for their money. The only real issue I had with this excursion was the long periods we were confined to buses in 30 deg C heat with little AIRCON while we waited for stragglers to turn up. The real downer for my wife and I came right at the end of the cruise. We were struck down with severe food poisoning early in the morning of our second day in Lisbon. That was the morning that guests were disembarking from the cruise. Because we were travelling B2B there was no compulsion to disembark - only swipe our "old" card out and our new one back in. With the onset of severe gastro, we couldn't even do that... we couldn't move more than a few metres away from the toilet. Our plans to see Lisbon evaporated. The only food we had eaten the day before came from Windows Cafe so we figured that this must have been the source of the food poisoning. A travelling companion who sat at our dinner table at Windows the evening before also suffered severe food poisoning. A common dish consumed by the three of us was the leek and mussel soup although investigations by the Food and Beverage Manager failed to trace the source. It did make me wonder whether any of the hundreds of cruise passengers who disembarked that morning in Lisbon left feeling unwell! As the morning went on and all the passengers disembarked our condition improved but one of the ship's crew urged us to see the ship's doctor. The worst fears on any cruise ship is Novovirus but I contend that this was classic food poisoning and by waiting 24 hours the symptoms would ease... which they did. In retrospect we probably should not have bothered visiting the doctor (in fact we saw the nurse) because we both ended up both being confined to the cabin for the next 24 hours. With the prospect of missing yet another port, I tried to get off the ship and and go sightseeing in Cadiz but merely ended up triggering alarms while trying to exit through security. Ended up having to plead with the ship's nurse to release us and even then when we both tried to leave, the alarms went off. Finally all was resolved and we got to see Cadiz. Throughout this unfortunate epsisode, the ship's crew looked after us well with free paid movies (which we were too ill to watch) while confined, use of the Thalassotherapy Spa to assist our recovery and an offer of compensation by Azamara in the way of credit towards our next Azamara cruise equivalent to the pro-rata the time we were confined. All of this hasn't deterred us from cruising with Azamara and while on board we booked another cruise - this time on the Quest from Hong Kong to Singapore departing 26 March 2012. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We only booked this cruise two weeks before departure, and we are so delighted we did. Our previous cruise experience has been on RCCL, Celebrity, NCL and MSC, so this was our first cruise on one of the smaller ships. Now we wonder why we ... Read More
We only booked this cruise two weeks before departure, and we are so delighted we did. Our previous cruise experience has been on RCCL, Celebrity, NCL and MSC, so this was our first cruise on one of the smaller ships. Now we wonder why we waited so long....... Embarkation. We live less than an hour from Dublin Port, so we arrived there at about 2pm. There were plenty of check in staff available and we were onboard within 10 minutes of arrival.There were some really good Irish muscians entertaining the departing passengers. Smoothest embarkation we have ever done. Well done, Dublin !! Stateroom. Because we booked so late (and it was the President's Cruise..more about that later), we took an Ocean View stateroom, number 3021, down on Deck 3. This became the subject of some gentle ribbing during the cruise, as we described ourselves as travelling 'Steerage'compared to the balconies and suites higher up. The stateroom was very well appointed, and very quiet at night. We had some of the officers in adjacent rooms and ok, we only had a porthole, but we could see out better than in some of the oceanviews with impeded views on higher decks. Our attendant was Hussein, who was unobtrusive and did a really good job.The bottle of champers waiting for us on arrival ( we are Explorer level ) was a nice touch. Food. We enjoyed the meals in Discoveries and the Windows Cafe so much we did not go to Aqualina or Prime C at all during the cruise. Overall, the service in Discoveries was good, maybe one night did not reach the usual standards. We opted to share most nights (went to Windows on two nights) and met some really nice people along the way. Menu choices were good and as I have a minor dietary issue with certain ingredients, the Head Waiter went through my choices to make sure I wasn't eating anything I shouldn't. The evenings in Windows were interesting. They did an excellent stir fry and on one of the last evenings, there was an Indian Food night. It was just a pity that the sea was rather choppy that night, it kept some people away. We didn't opt for breakfast or lunch in Discoveries at all, Windows all the way, with a few lovely lunches at the adjacent Pool Grill. Overall, we were really impressed with the food on the Journey. Entertainment. We were pleasantly surprised with the standard of entertainment. OK, there is no massive theatre for the Broadway type shows, but most evenings in the Cabaret Lounge there were really enjoyable shows, ranging from laid back American comic, Ric Ceisler, to the classically trained duo, Eden. There was an excellent classically trained pianist, Brooks Aeron, and a really droll Scottish comic, Scotty McLean. In Dublin, Cobh and Holyhead, local entertainers came on board and performed which was a really nice touch. The 'lounge' entertainers were really good, I especially liked 'Great Escapes' who played some lovely rock and roll, and Victor Cruez up in Windows kept everyone entertained. There was also some Elton John/Billy Joel from piano man, Jeff Warren, and Ireland's own Jacqueline Dolan entertained everyone on the harp. There was no razzamatazz, but it was all enjoyable and ably held together by cruise director, Tony Markey, who can sing a bit himself. Ports of Call. We were slightly concerned when we saw Holyhead on the itinerary, but it really is a nice little town and the local Male Voice Choir put on a special performance in one of the local churches. It was superb, the Welsh have really lovely voices. Cobh was next and this is a lovely cruise stop, with its Titanic connections and proximity to Cork and Blarney Castle. After a day at sea, we literally parked in the middle of Bordeaux!!. The Journey sailed right up the river and docked right in the centre of town. This was the day of the 'President's Event' when most of the passengers were treated by Azamara and its CEO, Larry Pimental, to a city tour then several hours at a local wine producing Chateaux, (3 different ones actually to cater for the numbers) including dinner and a typically French Cabaret, including the Can Can. It was a lovely gesture by Larry and Azamara and was one of the highlights of the cruise. On our return, the ships orchestra was entertaining both the remaining cruisers who didn't do the Chateaux tour and hundreds of locals who lined the Promenade. Next day, we had time to explore the lovely city of Bordeaux, and the Captain even organised an extra few hours, so we didn't leave till 10pm. Bilbao was next, nice city but very little was open as it was a Sunday. The Guggenheim Museum was a popular venue. The dock in Bilbao was just the opposite of Bordeaux, some 30 minutes by bus fron the city centre. Next day we were in Gijon, where the sun came out and what a lovely little place this was. Vigo next, which used to be a fishing village but has grown substantially. There were 3 cruise ships in town that day, so it was busy. The Journey was the last to leave, and we caught up with the Costa Pacifica and P&O Oriana in Lisbon the next day. The sail into Lisbon under the bridge is spectacular and we had the day to enjoy this lovely city and the really warm weather. We disembarked after an overnight in Lisbon. Officers, The ships captain (or Designated Driver, as he described himself) is fast on the way to legendary status. Captain Johannes Tysse is so professional at his job, but also very visible on board, and his good humour obviously rubs off on his fellow officers. He thinks nothing of putting the ship into a 360 degree turn to give everyone a good view of a sunset, and his announcements were full of humour and style. The other officers were everywhere, and they even dished out Ice Cream at the Pool Grill on the sea day. There was a great 'vibe' on board this ship, inspired by Captain Tysse and it runs through the entire crew.Its like everyone was taking their 'Happy Pills'. Smiling faces and cheery greetings from first day to last. Overall. We love the Azamara concept. We made loads of friends and it will be smaller ships for us from now on. The fact that wine at lunch and dinner and Coca Cola etc at all times are included in the price is a great idea. You never got the feeling of being 'nickle and dimed'like on other ships. The shops were quite limited, no alcohol, cigs or perfume on sale. The Mosaic Cafe was a great meeting place, especially at 'Trivia ' time, and the coffee was great. If I had a critiscism, it would be the cost of shore excursions and the photographs on sale. The internet speeds, while not super fast, were quite acceptable and as good as I have used at sea. Azamara, you have two converts, the first of many I am sure. 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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