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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My 7th time on Azamara and 4th time on Journey. This was my 36th cruise so trust my remarks. I have sailed on RCCL, Holland, NCL, Disney, Carnival, Princess and more. I escorted my group of 26 on the Journey for the 9 night ... Read More
My 7th time on Azamara and 4th time on Journey. This was my 36th cruise so trust my remarks. I have sailed on RCCL, Holland, NCL, Disney, Carnival, Princess and more. I escorted my group of 26 on the Journey for the 9 night intensive Cuba. Pre-Cruise hotel: JW Marriott on Brickell, fantastic. Ship Staff: Wonderful as ALWAYS!! From the stewards to Capt Johannes! Ship: Old World Classic Beauty!! My home away from home. Deck 4 Oceanvw, my favorite but I have stayed on every floor in balcony as well. Food: Outstanding as usual!! If you don't love the food on Azamara there is something wrong with you, sorry. Every meal fantastic, we ate at Prime C and Aqualina as well as main dining. Aqualina did not leave an impression on me last few times but a few revisions and it's right on par with Prime C at this point! Chef even prepared Baked Alaska off the menu as 1 in my party really wanted to try it!! Waiter brought out 5 fresh made Alaska's to our table and hands down the BEST I've ever had. And that was in the Main Dining room! White Night: Out did themselves with the lobster tail and shrimp on the BBQ! Never miss a White Night! Azamazing Evening: Ours was in Havana in the renovated theater from 1890 and still had the original wood floors! Incredibly beautiful and wonderful Lintz Cuban Ballet was an emotional experience. I was nearly brought to tears with this performance!! Excursions: Hemingways Havana, loved it! Havana Classic Car ride, loved it! El Nicho Natural Baths and Waterfalls, DO NOT MISS THIS! (Although too difficult for older and or out of shape travellers, you can still enjoy it buy walking upto the falls on the main path, then wait in the shady lovely restaurant while others do the rocky path up!) Tobacco and Rum Santiago, skip it ! This should be renamed and is not a factory as some thought. Not me as I read through the descripton but still not a great tour for me personally. Cuban History and Cultural talks: The best ever! Great insight from the lecturer! Onboard entertainment: Very very nice, not as cheeky as in a few past cruises. Great Spanish Guitar performance. Overall Commments and Tips: This is a truly Immersive Trip not a vacation to a caribbean island. A wonderful, educational experience in an oppressed world. Do not forget this folks as this is for those who want to expand thier minds and learn about Cuba and in an incredible way. Be kind to the Cubans as they love Americans but of course they only know Socialism and nothing else politically speaking. Bring little bottles of shampoo and lotions from the ship, hand them out to any local you meet. DO NOT BRING Canadian money! They will exchange it at the port but you cannot use it on the street like American Dollars or Euro's. Bring small bills of $20 and less, like lots of 5's and 10's. It is difficult to make change with local vendors. Even $1.00 bills, bring 50. You will need them for tipping which is HUGE in Cuba for guides, waiters and drivers, cabs etc. And yes bring little tissue packs and hand sanitzers or wipies! Dress lighlty it is hot in CUBA and Humid! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose Azarmara because we did not want to be on a giant cruise ship with thousands of our closest friends. We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to experience Cuba and not just stop one place for a few hours. Service was ... Read More
Chose Azarmara because we did not want to be on a giant cruise ship with thousands of our closest friends. We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to experience Cuba and not just stop one place for a few hours. Service was stellar everywhere we went. After a couple of days in Windows Cafe, the server called me Diet Coke with a smile because it was a small enough ship to get to know people. Themed food night in some of the restaurants were well appreciated. The white night party on the deck was a fun evening. Lots of dancing! There seemed to be ample seating almost always in the pool area and plenty of activities for those who wanted to participate. The ship put up a big screen for the Superbowl and served Superbowl party foods for dinner which was a great touch. Getting on and getting off the boat at ports was a breeze.The ship was small enough to dock at all three ports so we didn't have wait to transfer to start our vacation. We chose to do private shore excursions, but did do the Tropicana & Santiago de Cuba though the boat, which were both well organized and interesting. Highly recommend the El Cobre tour which included an outstanding steel drum band who played music you would never expect from a steel drum. Our private tours were with Blexie - Havana & Caribbean Pearl Tours which were personalized based on our interests. They were both outstanding. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - only Cuba with no unwanted stops at resort-like Caribbean islands. And on that score, we felt that we made the right decision. Cuba was absolutely fascinating, and we haven't stopped talking ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - only Cuba with no unwanted stops at resort-like Caribbean islands. And on that score, we felt that we made the right decision. Cuba was absolutely fascinating, and we haven't stopped talking about what we learned. As for the ship - we love the small size, the same as the small Oceana ships. The cabin was adequate, although the bathroom was a little small. It did have adequate storage and was kept immaculate by the cabin stewards. Now for the reasons that engendered a 3-star rating. The entertainment was the worst that we have ever seen on a ship. There was a feeling that Azamara was trying to economize - (1) instead of nicely wrapped chocolates on our pillows, there were two little pieces cut from a bar of fudge. Because they were not wrapped, I could not take them with me on my next day's tour. (2) the tablecloths in the main dining room were not ironed. If you won't iron the cloths, use polyester. (3) the daily program was printed on a smaller than usual piece of paper that necessitated the use of small font for the schedule. (4) Other than in Prime, the quality of the meat was only so-so. (5) free drinks were only available in public venues. Liquor from the mini bar carried a charge. Bottom line - I would only go with Azamara again if the itinerary was so compelling. Otherwise we prefer Oceana or Celebrity Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. We wanted to see Cuba and liked the fact that it only went to Cuba and involved several overnights. We really got a chance to experience several ports in Cuba. We also like cruising on the ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. We wanted to see Cuba and liked the fact that it only went to Cuba and involved several overnights. We really got a chance to experience several ports in Cuba. We also like cruising on the smaller ships. The service is more personal and you get to know the other passengers. We had a balcony cabin and it was perfect. There was enough storage space, bed was comfortable, and we made good use of the balcony, having breakfast there twice and using it for the sail-aways. We are glad more cruise ships re offering open dining as the Journey does. The food was excellent, prepared and presented well. The portions were just right for us, but those with bigger appetites can always order more food. The wait staff was very well trained and friendly. If you want fancy shows and lots of entertainment, this is not the ship for you. But we really enjoyed the ambiance and intimacy of this small ship. And there was enough to do and see. Over all, we loved the ship and the accessibility of the Captain. He was often seen walking around, and welcomed questions and conversation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise line because of its itinerary and the Journey being a small ship: 690 passengers. We have been on small ships before and have thoroughly them. The itinerary was Cuba intensive: 3 full days in Havana, 1 day in ... Read More
We chose this cruise line because of its itinerary and the Journey being a small ship: 690 passengers. We have been on small ships before and have thoroughly them. The itinerary was Cuba intensive: 3 full days in Havana, 1 day in Cienfuegos, and overnight in Santiago. The ship was great as was the food and service. Officers and captain were very visible. Highly recommend Azamara. Currency exchange in all 3 ports in Cuba. 10% penalty for US$. No penalty for Euros or Canadian. No problem getting off the ship and doing own thing in Cuba. In fact after the first day in Havana, we didn't even have to go through customs. We didn't do Azamara shore excursions as for many years I have hired private tour guides. In Havana we used Blexie Tours. I highly highly recommend them. We had a private guide, George, and classic cars for 2 of our 3 days in great shape with a/c. The third day we went on our own just soaking up the ambiance of the city. Very friendly people. In Cienfuegos I used Fer Tours. Good tour as well. Not as great as Blexie in Havana but then there is not as much to see in Cienfuegos. Traveled in a classic car in great shape. In Santiago used Out of the Box Tours. Maike (spelling??) was our guide. Highly recommend this tour as well. I could have paid for this tour in US$. Many times you have to pay to use the bathrooms and sometimes no toilet paper. Would recommend having small denominations of coins like 25, 50 cents to use and take toilet paper. You should tip 10% in restaurants. Our guides we tipped considerably more. 25-35% per couple. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
This "immersive" cruise to Cuba was perfect. It stopped in Havana for 3 days, then Cienfuegos and then an overnight in Santiago de Cuba. We were a bit taken back by the age of the ship at first but it was in excellent ... Read More
This "immersive" cruise to Cuba was perfect. It stopped in Havana for 3 days, then Cienfuegos and then an overnight in Santiago de Cuba. We were a bit taken back by the age of the ship at first but it was in excellent condition, the service was exceptional and the small size made it fast and easy to get ashore. Our only criticism was the inability to make reservations in the main dining room and occasionally mediocre food. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 7 that was quite spacious with a loveseat sized couch and coffee table in front of the sliding glass doors. The balcony was larger than most with a dining sized table and chairs. Room service servers routinely brought a white table cloth and we enjoyed meals on the balcony while in port. Though the bathroom was very small, it was perfectly adequate. There were plenty of outlets and USB ports near the beds for recharging. Internet service, though pricey, was the best we ever experienced on a ship. Dining is more limited than on some ships with the primary choices being the main dining room, the buffet or one of two specialty restaurants, one steak house and one Italian. The only dining room option was anytime dining with no reservations possible and on one evening we had a fairly lengthy wait. We appreciated the variety of options and the "theme" nights but the food was unpredictable - sometimes truly excellent (e.g. perfectly cooked steak) and sometimes "send it back" quality. We participated in one Chef's Table that was absolutely superb! Room service menu options, service and quality were extremely good. As expected for such a small ship (750 passengers) the entertainment was limited. A real highlight was that the two cruise directors doubled as entertainers and both were truly excellent. We really enjoyed Alicia Hill in both her entertainment and cruise director capacities. She seemed to know everyone on the ship. The White Night activity at which dinner was served poolside followed by dancing and entertainment proved to be really fun. Service was always fast and friendly and the crew went out of their way to accommodate requests. Standard drinks are included and there is no mandatory tipping. That said, we felt that the crew expected tips. Snacks and drinks were abundant. The crew was attentive, even to the point of remembering us and our preferences from one locale on the ship to another. We like wine and found the Sommeliers and wine list to be exceptional. The drawback to this wonderful ship and crew were the shore excursions in Cuba. We did two excursions when we arrived in Havana and both were dreadful. We don't fault the cruise line for this at all as both excursions were operated by the government with government employed tour directors, in government buses, that took us to government run restaurants and establishments. After day two, we figured out how to use private tours and find private restaurants and the rest of the trip was fantastic. We were very appreciative that we had a "floating hotel" to go home to every night and would recommend a cruise as a first trip to Cuba for anyone. We highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
ITINERARY. However, after the fact I'd suggest 2 days in HAVANA (not 3) and 2 days in SANTIAGO DE CUBA (not 1) Cabin & public areas were as expected since I normally sale on OCEANIA. Staff at all levels thru out the ship ... Read More
ITINERARY. However, after the fact I'd suggest 2 days in HAVANA (not 3) and 2 days in SANTIAGO DE CUBA (not 1) Cabin & public areas were as expected since I normally sale on OCEANIA. Staff at all levels thru out the ship were spotty. Some very good or good, a few were less than adequate. The DJ, who often handledTrivia is not as clever as he thinks he is. Very off putting. By contrast the Cruise director was a joy to be around. Her happiness is infectious. Boarding & departure went very smoothly... perhaps the best I've experienced. Food was also very spotty. Mostly good to very good...but every day or so I'd choose something the was just about inedible of average to poor. The cabin attendant did a very good job of keeping the cabin in perfect shape. As I had no special requests I rarely saw him but when I did I was greeted by name. Couldn't't ask for better service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We picked Azamara because of the itinerary: three ports in Cuba. The price was high, but it was billed as a "premium line" so we thought the cost would be worth the experience. We loved Cuba; I had arranged private guides through ... Read More
We picked Azamara because of the itinerary: three ports in Cuba. The price was high, but it was billed as a "premium line" so we thought the cost would be worth the experience. We loved Cuba; I had arranged private guides through FerTours (hats off to Alex!) in Havana and Cienfuegos and through Out of the Box tours in Santiago (Lisandra did an excellent job). In all three cities we traveled in early 1950's cars and the cost was far lower than the bus tours offered on Journey. Our cabin was drab and it was hard to believe the ship had been renovated. The bed was comfortable and the storage was ample. The bathroom was tiny and the shower had been designed for elves. The food on the ship was always available, but the only good meals we had were in the extra cost restaurants. We ate at Prime C twice and Aqualina (delicious Dover sole) once. The service in Discovery, the main dining room, was very slow and the meats (beef and veal) were beyond tough. We discovered that sticking with fish and seafood gave us the best chance for an edible dinner. The food at the White Night buffet was good, but the crowds made getting near your choices very hard. The brunch that was held once was also good. The service on the ship was excellent. Doug Cameron, a fabulous jazz violinist, entertained twice; we could have seen him every night. We will definitely see him if he ever comes to our town. Our trip was successful because we loved seeing Cuba, but we are still wondering why Azamara is a premium line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 1st cruise in 14 years, and we have been intrigued by Cuba for even longer. As new empty nesters and not yet retired, costs still are kind of a thing. Some of our choices reflect some effort at economy, which we found is ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise in 14 years, and we have been intrigued by Cuba for even longer. As new empty nesters and not yet retired, costs still are kind of a thing. Some of our choices reflect some effort at economy, which we found is achievable even on Azamara. Our past cruise experience had been on 2,000+ passenger behemoths; part of this review relates to the (first for us) small ship experience. For economy, we flew to Miami early on departure morning (a decision we'd like to have back as we were gambling with winter weather up north). Our Deck 6 midships cabin had an obstructed view through the window. We felt little ship motion, no vibraiton and we were well-insulated from public space noise by other cabins. The obstructed view meant a savings, but we could see well enough for us. We love the (little) R ships and we felt seeing the same staff and passengers lent a sense of collegiality and hominess. Sometimes some passangers might feel the activity selection was insufficient for their tastes - whether this is a legit concern really needs to be weighed in terms of cruise demographics. Our school-year sailing to Cuba meant that the average passenger age was about 66, with a pretty tight standard deviation. In our mid and late 50s, we were decidedly among the youngest on board. Now and then, all of the programmed activities were for an older age group. We were happy enough on our own, but not everyone would be. Azamara pays attention to the details. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze and the food was outstanding. We did not do the upgraded restaurant or drink options; we are foodies and still do not feel it necessary as the food in the main dining room was great. Here is an interesting and important observation about food during dinners too: portions are modest and gluttons will be disappointed. To us that was fine, but might not be for everyone. There always is the buffet option, with rotating regional specialities each day. All you can eat there, but it lacks the ambience of the main dining room. Along this same vein, there only was a midnight buffet one light with late-ending nighttime shore excursions. Otherwise, no. Fine with us too. Another nice thing about the dining room was this: no assigned seats or times. You come when you want. If you like your waiter and remember his/her name, you can ask for that section but need not. The tables are close enough to strike up conversations with neighbors if you want, but one need not. We have recollections of assigned seats on other cruises with incompatible table-mates; we like Azamara's solution. Room service was included and perfect every time we used it (for coffee in the mornings). Tips are included in your fare; we tipped our room stewards and waiter anyway. Service from absolutely everyone was top-notch. We did the shore excursions sponsored by the cruise line and generally were very satisfied. Mind you, Cuba is new to tourism and Azamara is new to Cuba. Some growing pains were inevitable and showed. Overall, we feel we really learned a lot about the Cuban people and culture, which is why we went. There was one child on the boat, under the age of 20. She was two years old. This is not a cruise for young families or children. The boat simply is not equipped. We knew that and were happy. We definitely would go again on Azamara, on an R-ship (we love the smallness) but might do something a bit more tourism-experienced than Cuba next tme. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We recently did a cruise on Azamara Journey, 9 day Cuba Intensive. We were very pleased with Azamara, the service was fabulous, the food very good. We switched off between Prime C and Aqualina every night except for White night, the ... Read More
We recently did a cruise on Azamara Journey, 9 day Cuba Intensive. We were very pleased with Azamara, the service was fabulous, the food very good. We switched off between Prime C and Aqualina every night except for White night, the service was terrific in both and the food was very good. We had room service for breakfast all except 2 days as we had early excursions and they did an amazing job at keeping the food very hot , our butler did a fabulous job setting it up so nicely every morning as well! All the days we had lunch on board we ate at the patio and the food was very good, I ordered kabobs every time and they were excellent . They have a brunch on a sea day which we went to , they had a large variety of food and very good. I wish i had seen a post on this before however i will now post , we went to White Night but did not show up before or the exact start time and there were no seats available so we ate in another restaurant and later joined the party, so if you do care get there on time. The pool area was lovely , they really made a point not to save seets which was nice as there was always seats available. We really enjoyed the living room for drinks before dinner most evenings, the music was not good but it is a loveley space. Azamara did an excellent job with everything, we highly recommend Azamara and everyone we met on board was equally impressed! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Cuba was the lure and Azamara offered the most intensive experience with 3 ports, Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. I won't talk about Cuba much here as I wrote a photo review on the Celebrity board with 1700 photos. This is ... Read More
Cuba was the lure and Azamara offered the most intensive experience with 3 ports, Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. I won't talk about Cuba much here as I wrote a photo review on the Celebrity board with 1700 photos. This is about the ship and the cruise line which was new to us. We sail medium size ships from the Princess and Celebrity lines and of course due to their size they have more variety to offer. Azamara excels in terms of providing an elegant and relaxing environment with less than 700 passengers. Even after 9 days on board we hadn't eaten in all their venues nor spent time in all the rooms on board. We adapted to the leisurely vibe on board and just a couple of days into the experience were already liking what we saw of Azamara. Would we sail with them again? Yes and have already booked a 7 day Rome to Venice in October 2020 which will include a 10 year Azamara anniversary meet up in Koper, Slovenia, with the other two ships in the fleet. We even booked the same aft cabin again. Cabins are small but well designed (back in the year 2000) and elegantly appointed. Elegant and tasteful are key words to describe the Journey. Soothing on the eye. We sailed with considerate adults who showed respect to each other. It's the staff that make a ship a home for a week and the staff are keen to be of service and represent the brand well. I had hoped they wouldn't be too formal or stiff and was delighted to find them loose and ready to laugh and smile without forcing. Very personable. The dining was the best we have enjoyed at sea, without the expense of a Specialty restaurant. Discoveries restaurant produced fine breakfasts lunches and dinners without fail. Surprises were two brunches, complete with live music and served by Officers. Highlights of the cruise! Even the pool cafe, the Patio, stood high above the deck fare on our other two lines of choice with expansive menus, table service and really well-prepared simple dishes. A good first impression was made on boarding- a glass of champagne, then relaxing on a pool deck without canned music and with thickly padded loungers with pillows, while waiters made sure your glass would not dry out. Only one announcement from the Captain and CD each day. Officers who greet you as they pass. Two unique Home Runs, apart from the Azamara trade-mark overnight port stays which first attracted us to the brand are the Azamazing Evening and White Night Party. Both smoothly executed considering 600 or more guests attended each event. In the case of Havana's Azamazing Evening we were all treated to an incredible performance by the Lizt Alfonso dancers which is one of the most passionate and moving performances we have seen outside of an Opera House or theater in the USA. Kudos Azamara! White Night, an on deck BBQ buffet with music and dancing was held on a warm evening tied up in Cienfuegos and we all got a chance to applaud the crew who were introduced in a parade. Azamara was pricy but included gratuities and basic beverages on board. I upgraded to an Ultimate Beverage package and had the choice of anything on the ship and that was a good move given my preferences. Entertainment is constrained somewhat in the evening shows by the showroom which is on one level so no tiered seating-get there early for the best views-but the artists and CD (Alicia Hill) give it their all. There are plenty of relaxing and cosy areas to sit with friends and enjoy coffee or a beverage aboard the ship , including a real library with books made from paper! Good first impressions continued day after day and there was no let-down. Just a great crew, steeped in the brand culture. They try to impress and with us succeeded and provided a very memorable experience. We have now added Azamara to our Princess and Celebrity roster of go-to cruise lines. Norris Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Chose this cruise for the destination. Originally booked on Oceania but changed to be able to travel as part of a group that provides educational credits for my husband. In my opinion Oceania is in a higher class but Azamara did not ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the destination. Originally booked on Oceania but changed to be able to travel as part of a group that provides educational credits for my husband. In my opinion Oceania is in a higher class but Azamara did not disappoint. Cabin was a good size with plenty of storage. Bathroom unfortunately was tiny. Turning around in the shower was nearly impossible. Cabin attendant terrific. Good good not great. Definitely not a reason to select the line. DJ was excellent at the White Night Party but entertainment is not their strong suit but my husband and I felt it met our needs. White Party Night was terrific as was the Azamazing evening in Havana. They took us to a very contemporary ballet in the courtyard of a museum. It was terrific. We did not book any excursions with the boat. They are way too expensive. Booked all private in advance. Two of the three we booked were terrific in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Cienfuegos guide was not great. Don’t let the cruise line convince you that you must book with them. Service everywhere was really good. Book your specialty restaurant as soon as you get on. They fill up fast. Only ate in the Italian restaurant. Very nice. Reasonably priced at $30pp. Having beer, wine and cocktails included and available all day is a bonus. No problem to find seats at pool. Could use a little better activities for days on board. All in all would recommend the line and this itinerary. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The January 2019 10 Day Cuba cruise was our 46th, and first on Azamara. Since the cruise right before ours experienced an outbreak of Norovirus, our ship was under the strictest controls the entire 10 days. You could not touch anything, no ... Read More
The January 2019 10 Day Cuba cruise was our 46th, and first on Azamara. Since the cruise right before ours experienced an outbreak of Norovirus, our ship was under the strictest controls the entire 10 days. You could not touch anything, no condiments on the tables, etc.. Overall, we were surprised at how many things were just not good on this ship, but grateful for those that worked. Journey is a 20 year ship, one of the former Renaissance ships, and at 30,000 tons it is easy to get around, big enough to hold 660 guests comfortably with enough dining options to avoid crowds. Even with only 4 elevators for the whole ship, there was hardly ever a wait. Our balcony cabin, deck 7 near the mid/rear elevators, needed a face lift, even thought the write-ups said that the ship was fully renovated in 2016? The bathroom is very, very tight and shower ridiculously small. For a premium-priced ship, the cabin was a major disappointment. There was, however, enough storage since the cabin is old style with drawers and two closets. The bedding, pillows are upscale and comfortable with nice duvet comforter, and better quality sheets. While on board our main comparison was to the Oceania cruises we took on Riviera, a 55,000 ton, small ship as well. Just on the basis of food alone, there is no comparison.The food on Oceania was superb, on Journey very mediocre, except for a few evenings when the Chef did a very good job. The food in Journey's Windows Buffet, deck 9 was poor at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Except for breakfast, since on many days there was no other option ... we tried to avoid Windows, as much as possible. Bacon, fatty and greasy, same fruit each day, along with the exact same eggs, and other breakfast offerings.  One day and one day only they had very good blintzes ... never to be repeated. At lunch and dinner there were too many stews. A better alternative to Windows at breakfast or lunch was Discoveries dining room  ... serving breakfast and or luncheon on sea days and The Patio, deck nine for hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled lamb, chicken, nice salads, sides including terrific french fries during an expanded lunch hour. In fact the french fries all over the ship were very good, as well as the breads and rolls. The first several days the dinner meals in Discoveries Dining Room  were poor. Then after the fourth or fifth day, the food seemed to get better. Many guests we talked with complained about the food. Some good choices in Discoveries were the Escargot, Shrimp Cocktail, French Onion Soup, Osso Buco, Veal Schnitzel ( superb), Strip Steak, Caesar Salad. We quickly found that the best desserts on board were the Gelato and terrific Sorbets ( real sorbet, not sherbet). Sorbets became our go to  dessert on board. One night I relented and had the Creme Brulee and it was a bit curdled. During one of the evenings, the ship hosted a "White Night" party with a terrific buffet ( even lobster tails and super jumbo shrimp ), numerous appetizers, main dishes and dancing. It was a great evening. They also hosted a "German" lunch buffet ( in Discoveries) the last sea day on the ship which was superb. Ten different types of sausage, roast pig, veal schnitzel, cheese spaetzle, assorted salads and desserts, all accompanied by an "OOM PAH Band". Also towards the end of the cruise they hosted a "chocolate extravaganza" , deck 5 near the shops. While the spot was clearly the wrong place on the ship to have this event,  ( way too small of an area), it was a wonderful gesture to have desserts, candies made out of chocolate. We bought a three pack of three dinners in the specialty restaurants ( $70 pp which included two nights in Prime C; one night in Aqualina). Best choices in Prime C - Filet Mignon and Chateau Briand for two. Aqualina had a wonderful Dover Sole ( get it with butter and lemon sauce, not the Putanesca sauce). The one positive thing I can say about this ship is that they are willing to make changes in some of the entrees ... leaving out ingredients, or pairing other sides with your entree. The shows/entertainment were  DISMAL. The ship's singers only performed 2-3 times during the 10 days, with the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director being the talent on one night each. The special guitarist, Nestor Santurio was very good. His two night performance of Flaminco, Santana tunes, etc. was very good, but his second night was overshadowed by the choco fest, scheduled during his concerts.  We did enjoy the one speaker who gave 4 talks ( Dr. Reben Peylomal) about Cuban history and politics. This ship needs major help in evening shows/general entertainment.  The one and only pool is about 20' x 15' with cut ins for the two jacuzzis. You really could not swim unless it was in off hours, and no one else was in the pool.The one strong suit of this ship is service.The mostly Indonesian, Phillippino, Indian Staff is very helpful, willing to please and is genuinely more friendly than we have ever experienced on any ship. A special shout out to: GOMER; SULTAN; GODSON, some of our restaurant servers and our cabin attendants AGUS AND AARON. We appreciated their services. This ship gets an "F" in internet services. First for those who do not travel with tablets or laptops there are only 4 computers in the Living Room on Deck 10 front of ship, seated by the most uncomfortable couches. Worse than being the slowest internet on the high seas, YOU CANNOT CONNECT TO YOUR EMAIL IF YOUR CARRIER IS COMCAST.NET.  The Internet Manager admitted that they do not have the bandwidth to reach Comcast.net and in fact no one has ever been successful in connecting with their Comcast.net email account on this ship. I could not reach it directly or indirectly via MAIL2WEB.com. For this reason and this reason alone we would never cruise on Azamara again. We were totally "incommunicato" for  10 days. This is the first time in 46 cruises we could not connect to our email account. Some of the benefits they package into their expensive fare includes a pretty liberal beverage package with modest red and white wines; Beck's, Bud and Newcastle draught beer; Pina Colada's, Strawberry Daiquiri's, Bloody Mary's and yes Mojito's .You have to ask them to make the Mojito with house rum or they will try to charge you an extra $5.95. We thought the beverage package was pretty good. You don't have to present your seapass ... just order the drink you want, including soda, water, juices, etc..The ship also includes all gratuities but charges for specialty restaurants ( which Oceania includes gratis ). CUBA: We booked this cruise over a year ago, because this was the only ship going to the 3 ports ( Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba) , for what was supposed to be a multi-night, extended period for each port. Havana was supposed to be 3 days, but just a few days  before  we left , Azamara cut it to two days and extended Cienfuegos to two days and Santiago to an overnight and one day. Havana should have been 3 days, Cienfuegos one day and Santiago a full two days. Ship's tours were very long, too long ... some running as long as 7-8 hours and others 5 1/2 hours. Guests were coming back to the ship exhausted, especially since the average age on this cruise was late 60's. As usual they tried to put the fear of God into you about rules and regulations for Americans touring in Cuba. We learned that you could arrange your own private tours with Govn't sanctioned tour companies, see much more and pay about half what the ship charges. $299 for two people to do the American Classic Car tour in an old convertible is at least $100 to $150 more that what the private tour companies charge. Ditto for night tours, to night clubs etc.. The contrast of cities, architectures, stories you hear about Cuban dictators is absolutely heart breaking. Yet the resolve of the people to survive, under the worst of conditions, is heart warming. We took a horse and carriage tour one day and were so saddened to see all the skinny horses doing their best to pull the carriages and then find out when they outlive their usefulness are eaten, as Cubans will eat horse meat. Just as skinny roaming the streets are dogs and chickens don't survive that long because a chicken dinner is only affordable once per month. Fresh eggs are coveted, but hard to obtain. You can't eat the chicken and expect it to keep laying eggs. Santiago was the biggest surprise and seemed to have some industry, lush lands for plantings and better housing options. This is where Fidel is buried as well as the hero Marti. Overall we had a good time and were grateful to finally see Cuba which is frozen in time. We truly hope things will improve for this nation of warm people. Unfortunately it will take an investment infusion of $ mega billions to bring it into the 21st century. Who will take on that task? One final comment, one of surprise. About four days into the cruise, guests were provided a survey form. It was a short form and we responded by including comments about the food, and how disappointed we were, so far. We also commented about the poor internet service. A few days later, we were eating in the specialty restaurant, and after our meal the Specialty Restaurant Manager came to our table and asked if we enjoyed the meal, which we did. He thanked us for filling out the survey form and being so candid. We were shocked that he knew about our comments and even more surprised that he chose to approach us about what we said. Apparently our responses were listed on the ship's computer system for restaurant management to read? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We picked this ship for 2 reasons: 1 - we like Azamara (this was our 4th cruise on Azamara) and 2 - we liked the itinerary, especially the 3 days in Havana. Unfortunately, the itinerary was changed prior to our sailing and we had only 1 ... Read More
We picked this ship for 2 reasons: 1 - we like Azamara (this was our 4th cruise on Azamara) and 2 - we liked the itinerary, especially the 3 days in Havana. Unfortunately, the itinerary was changed prior to our sailing and we had only 1 1/2 days in Havana and 2 days in Cienfuegos. One day in Cienfuegos would have been enough, and a second day in Santiago de Cuba would have been better. This was not Azamara's "fault" and we did not blame them. In Havana, Cienfuegos and Labadee (Haiti), we were docked; we tendered in Santiago de Cuba. The tenders ran frequently and was not a problem. We took only one Azamara excursion, a Jewish tour. We had very good presentations at the two synagogues we visited and a good appreciation of Jewish life in Cuba. Our tour guide tried, but was not well informed about Judaism, and got "defensive" when we pointed out mistakes in his presentation. The leaders at the synagogues were fantastic. At the other ports, we took private tours (Tours by Locals and Shoretrips). There were 4 of us traveling together and the private tours were the way to go; especially in Cuba! Our tour guides were well informed and deftly maneuvered us around crowded streets. Much to our delight, we were able to visit markets, historic sites and buildings, barber shops, 2 hair salons, a department store, etc. While most of the tour guides were "careful" in what they told us, I left Cuba with a much better sense of what day-to-day life is like for its citizens. Back on the ship, service was excellent. Servers even remembered what we liked to drink! There had been a G-I outbreak on the sailing previous to ours, so there were heightened precautions in effect (e.g. no self-serve at the buffet). The staff all took it in good stride. The Captain gave us a daily briefing on the number of cases reported, as well as a daily reminder to "wash our hands for 20 seconds." Fortunately, there was not a repeat outbreak on our sailing. The only negative about this cruise was the food. The food, even in the Aqualina specialty restaurant, was mediocre (Prime C was very good). In the Discoveries restaurant, I even had to send back a piece of meat that look like it had been run over by a car! Dinner buffets in the Windows Cafe were a disappointment. However, the food during White Night was good. Our last Azamara cruise was 2 years ago, and my recollection is that the food was much better on that sailing. Two months ago, we sailed on Windstar and that food was superior to Azamara's. We did not attend any of the shows. Lounge entertainment was okay. Announcements were kept to a minimum which we appreciated. The cruise director was available, but not a nuisance. We will sail Azamara again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise because it had a Cuba Intensive itinerary. That said, I did book most of my excursions through private companies. Places I wanted to go such as Vinales National Park were not on their Itineraries and I often dislike ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it had a Cuba Intensive itinerary. That said, I did book most of my excursions through private companies. Places I wanted to go such as Vinales National Park were not on their Itineraries and I often dislike being with the busload of people. Also, I have traveled many times on Celebrity and Royal and had never tried Azamara. The ship is a very easy to manage size in terms of getting from point A to B. The rooms (veranda) are considerably smaller than their sister ships, but adequately appointed. The whole ship is miniaturized in general. Things I really liked: Staying more than one night in Port. Azamazing evening was very well organized. They did a sensational White Night Party on the main deck. Labadee was wonderful arriving on a small ship and having the island to ourselves. The attention to detail and service was very good. It was very relaxing traveling on a small ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Three ports in Cuba, three days in Havana. . .all were enticing! Our first cruise on Azamara, a little pricey, but we were determined to make the trip. As others have said, we, too, were led to believe that you needed to participate in the ... Read More
Three ports in Cuba, three days in Havana. . .all were enticing! Our first cruise on Azamara, a little pricey, but we were determined to make the trip. As others have said, we, too, were led to believe that you needed to participate in the high-priced Azamara excursions every day in order to comply with both U.S. and Cuban rules for U.S. visitors. Not true. Although we did three tours because we wanted to, on other days we sought to comply with the people-to-people commitment on our own. Basically, the Cubans care about what you bring into Cuba, but generally not what you do while there. U.S. government cares what you are doing while in Cuba, but were really lax when we returned with no one even asking what we had to declare. Go figure. A couple of months before the trip, the number of days in Havana was reduced to 2 days--disappointing--but apparently beyond control of Azamara. Same for need to be tendered, not docked, into Santiago de Cuba. Tendering took 20 minutes from ship to dock, and was well handled by the crew. For us, Labadee, Haiti--the private resort owned by Azamara's owner, Royal Caribbean--was wasted on us. Azamara passengers appear to average age 72, and I cannot imagine they took advantage of all the outdoor activities offered--again at high prices--or even just lie on the beach for a full day. There was even a charge for a nature walk around the resort. Really?! Lunch BBQ was great--avoid the food set out in the sun--but saddened by watching the under-nourished and water-denied dogs wandering about. Come on, Royal Caribbean. . .even if these animals are owned by locals, put out food & water, and perhaps have them spayed. Since this ship is the original, but refurbished, R6 (now-defunct Renaissance Cruises), we felt very comfortable having traveled on the R1. The Club Veranda Stateroom was very nice. A few minor negatives: smallish bathroom, poor quality of TV set image, magnifying bathroom mirror was fine if passenger is over 5'7". Large comfortable bed, ample storage space, a zillion hangers in a lighted closet, incredible steward service, free self-service laundry (on level 7). Public areas were comfortable and always clean. Discoveries dining room (main) is large and can be noisy--come early or late to avoid this. Service is wonderful, and the food is good quality. Because of size, however, the occasional buffet there can get a little chaotic. The more casual dining option, Windows Cafe, is always buffet, but better passenger flow. Food is tasty but some items can be more cafeteria-like. Once we saw the additional cost for the two specialty restaurants, we decided to stick with the dining that was included in fare. We're used to not being charged extra on Oceania and Celebrity. Oh, Internet was also extra--not so on Celebrity, Viking, or Oceania. Having been on small cruise ships, we do not expect Broadway shows or big entertainment events. The few singers were very good, although music selections were a little dated. The Azamara Orchestra is really a 4-man band. . .and they were excellent. The 24-year old leader plays piano and delivers witty repartee. The White Nights was much more to our liking with music and dancing from the 70s. Think most of the 600+ passengers turned out for this on-deck activity. There was one enrichment speaker for the whole trip: four presentations in ten days. He knew the material, but his delivery was deadly. I was not the only one who nodded off to sleep while the professor droned on. We will price Azamara voyages in future, but we might find better value for the same trip on Azamara's sister Celebrity ships. Yes, they are larger, but not one of the "Leviathan of the Seas" class ships! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Of the 10 days only about 2 an a half were sea days. The itinerary changed from what was originally offered. We ended up with an overnight in Havana, Cienafuego, and Santiago de Cuba. Great tours in each. Also stopped in Haiti at Royal ... Read More
Of the 10 days only about 2 an a half were sea days. The itinerary changed from what was originally offered. We ended up with an overnight in Havana, Cienafuego, and Santiago de Cuba. Great tours in each. Also stopped in Haiti at Royal Caribbean 's island (Labadee) which was a fantastic beach especially since we were the only ship and less than 700 passengers. Standard alcoholic drinks free in the bars on ship and on Labadee. The drinks and bar service were great. Tips included but gave a few more to room and wait staff. Food and service on the ship were excellent. Shows on board decent but not great but better than river cruise boats. The smaller ship with 700 people made getting on and off easier than larger including tendering. Activities on board were normal cruise ship activities. Actually one of the best cruises ever. I would do Azamara again if the itinerary was unique. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We tried this for the destination of going to Cuba. We are very loyal to Celebrity, but wanted to give this a chance. Not sure we’ll ever return. The balcony room was OK except for the tiny bathroom. We didn’t have the best ... Read More
We tried this for the destination of going to Cuba. We are very loyal to Celebrity, but wanted to give this a chance. Not sure we’ll ever return. The balcony room was OK except for the tiny bathroom. We didn’t have the best attendants. Never got robes and one day they forgot to leave any washcloths or hand towel. Shore excursion person told us we needed their excursion in order to attend the Azamazing event that night. NOT true and we felt we were forced to buy an excursion we didn’t want. She also said it was impossible to get a tour outside the port. Again, NOT true. We then turned in all the rest of our excursion tickets and did things on our own. We were so frustrated with them! Entertainment was a big disappointment. Fitness center didn’t open on time the first two days. TV’s didn’t work on the recumbent bikes. Not the cruise we had hoped for. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose this cruise because of the amount of time that would be spent in Cuba. This was our first cruise on Azamara, and only our third cruise overall (previous cruises were on Regent and Ponant. We liked the small size (690 ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the amount of time that would be spent in Cuba. This was our first cruise on Azamara, and only our third cruise overall (previous cruises were on Regent and Ponant. We liked the small size (690 passengers) of the Journey. We thought our cabin (Club Continent Suite 8064) was excellent - large, plenty of storage, adequate sized bathroom. Only minor complaint was the room chairs were not particularly comfortable. We thought the food was generally very good. We ate in the two specialty restaurants 2 nights each and thought the food was excellent - we felt these restaurants were better than the specialty restaurants on our Regent Cruise. We were somewhat disappointed in the shore excursions. While some were good, they often felt long and repetitive. We booked one private excursion and wished that we had done more that way. In spite of all the concerns the literature seems to indicate, it is very easy to find private companies on the internet that provide much better and less expensive tours than those arranged by the ship. We used a company called CubaOutings and had an excellent tour of Havana with them. We did not attend the enrichment lectures because we heard from other passengers that they were not interesting. The entertainment was fair and was what we expected from this size ship. The cruise director Alicia did a wonderful job and was a talented performer as well. The entire crew was excellent --- friendly and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We are a British couple in our sixties. This was our second Azamara cruise. Embarkation at Miami took the best part of an hour, complicated by queuing to get and complete the Guest Travel Certification form for Cuba before proceeding to ... Read More
We are a British couple in our sixties. This was our second Azamara cruise. Embarkation at Miami took the best part of an hour, complicated by queuing to get and complete the Guest Travel Certification form for Cuba before proceeding to another queue for check-in. It would have been nice if those of us who had downloaded and completed the form prior to arrival could have been fast-tracked. Journey was being given a thorough clean because of some guests suffering gastro-intestinal illness on the previous cruise. As a result no cabins or suites were available until mid to late afternoon. This also meant no self-service at buffets for the first couple of days. The same thing happened near the end of the cruise, after a handful of guests reported gastro-intestinal illness. I guess this happened pretty regularly. It was a minor inconvenience and a very understandable precaution. The ship was nicely decorated with Christmas trees, poinsettias and lots of other seasonal decorations. On boarding we purchased three meals in the specialty restaurants. We had to decide there and then which three dates we wanted. We particularly enjoyed our two meals in Prime C. In Aqualina the food was fine, but it was almost empty with no atmosphere and each new course arrived immediately after our plates were cleared from the previous course. They said they had had lots of late cancellations. The food in the main dining room was reasonable. We like to share a table for six or eight to meet new people. This didn’t seem as well organised as on our previous Azamara cruise. A few times our table was only partially filled. On Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve they insisted on timed reservations because of expected high demand, but in the event there were lots of empty tables. A couple of evenings when nothing on the main dining room menu tempted us we ate at The Patio. We enjoyed the food there, but the service was patchy. We had no problem finding included wines that we liked. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of variety of activities and entertainment. There were no comedians, magicians or acrobats; only singers and dancers. The Azamazing evening in Cartagena was rubbish. A lengthy coach trip to a lovely theatre for a terrible performance by a very pretentious pianist. Most of the music was pre-recorded. As with our previous Azamara cruise, the friendliness of the staff was a big positive. The sole exception was one of the shore excursions staff who my wife and I on separate occasions found to be rude. Our overall experience of the Azamara shore excursions was not good. A couple of snorkelling trips I wanted to take were cancelled. Two other excursions were just about OK but not as advertised. In Cuba we had arranged independent tours and they were great. Getting on and off the ship in Cuban ports was as quick and easy as everywhere else. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We had picked it because of the itinerary and because we liked the idea of going somewhere warm for Christmas or New Year. In both respects it was a success. We loved Cuba and enjoyed being on a cruise in a warm climate over Christmas so much we have booked another for next year (Pursuit – New Year in Rio). Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Having not sailed Azamara in close to 8 years, after close to 20 cruises we chose to revisit Azamara based on their unique itinerary. We were able to see Cuba, and the three ABC islands to fill in gaps in our trips through the Caribbean. ... Read More
Having not sailed Azamara in close to 8 years, after close to 20 cruises we chose to revisit Azamara based on their unique itinerary. We were able to see Cuba, and the three ABC islands to fill in gaps in our trips through the Caribbean. After 8 years Azamara is no longer the line it once was. In some ways it’s better than it used to be, and in other ways not as good as it used to be. Let’s all agree most lines have cut corners in recent years. However the cost cutting and lack of attention to details on Azamara’s Journey are showing. I won’t go into all of them as there were many. In the grand scheme of things service was fine, no better or worse than sister line Celebrity. The food was decidedly average, not bad, not great and not luxury level. Where things start to fail Azamara is when it comes to the ship itself and it’s amenities. Despite the ship being a charming size at close to 20 years old and overhauled only 2 years ago, it’s clearly a tired and aged ship. I wonder what the future for Azamara would look like with this trio of aging ships, and no replacements publicly on the horizon. The other points of deficiency are entertainment and shore excursions. Despite cruise director Alicia’s bubbly personality and reassurance that they had greatly improved the nightly show offerings, they were flat at best. On an itinerary based around numerous days in Cuba, parent company Royal Caribbean, clearly has not learned how to handle Cuba, or deal with the complicated nature of doing business with the Cubans. Specifically Azamara’s AzAmazing evening was embarrassing for all involved, for them for offering it, for us for having to sit through a performance of a pianist who wasn’t even playing live, but rather playing poorly and un-miked to a pre recorded over produced cheesy soundtrack. Secondly Azamara sent tour group(s) out on a Hemingway tour revolving around a visit to the Hemingway house which was not possible as the house is closed on Mondays (our tour day). The bus group was not happy, the local tour guide was in a tough place trying to Ad lib and fill in, with a group that had largely covered most other highlights the previous day. Upon returning to the ship many complained to the Shorex desk, many days later they left message saying they were refunding 40% of the tour cost, in their option generously to the whole bus, despite the claim that only 5 guests complained. I know in fact many more did. Royal Caribbean should have known, had it done it’s home correctly, that they couldn’t offer that tour when on port on Mondays, instead they did, and took our money and only offered a meagre refund after being badgered by guests. Had most guests known the central feature of the tour would be unavailable, likely they would have chosen a different tour. Over to you Azamara rep who monitors these reviews. In conclusion it seems to me the future of Azamara is cloudy, and clearly seems to be losing ground to its competitors like Viking Ocean, Oceania, and perhaps even its own sister line Celebrity. Nothing short of a spectacular itinerary would inspire us to return to Azamara anytime soon. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Supposed to have a pull out couch instead got a recliner chair. Service is terrible. Staff had horrible attitudes. They charge double for the shore expeditions then if you just walk off the ship. Food is terrible. The meats are super dry. ... Read More
Supposed to have a pull out couch instead got a recliner chair. Service is terrible. Staff had horrible attitudes. They charge double for the shore expeditions then if you just walk off the ship. Food is terrible. The meats are super dry. Some if hardly considered food. Missed a port because of “high seas” their solution is waste another day on the boat. The boat itself is as boring as it gets. No real casino. They have a few games but they are all computer and no dealers. You have to pay $12 for any movies even old ones. The spa services are a total waste. We got massages and they were over 200 bucks. We would have paid them 100 to not touch us. All they do is pour oil over you then sit there and talk and try and sell you spa products. Complete waste of time. Currently am writing to our insurance to seek refund and would not recommend this cruise line to anyone. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower ... Read More
We chose this ship for the itinerary and do not regret the decision. The ship was small (680) so we felt many of the rocking and rolling. Veranda cabin was smaller than Aqua Class on Celebrity and the bathroom almost laughable. The shower was tiny with a shower curtain that randomly wrapped around your body! Service was very good, especially stateroom and dining room. We booked shore excursions through the ship mostly as the literature from Azamara made it seem the only way. Not so! Very disappointed in the shore excursions and with the shore excursions desk staff. The spa was excellent albeit pricey. The specialty restaurants were good and offered a pleasant break from the main dining room at competitive prices. The included beverages of wine and beer was nice. Especially liked mosaic cafe for daily cappuccino. Embarkation was smooth with rooms ready by 1:30. Luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Azamara We sailed on the 24th November 2018 10 day Intensive Cuba cruise on the Azamara Journey and wanted to share a few long overdue thoughts about the trip. As a bit of background information, we are a quiet couple in our 50’s ... Read More
Azamara We sailed on the 24th November 2018 10 day Intensive Cuba cruise on the Azamara Journey and wanted to share a few long overdue thoughts about the trip. As a bit of background information, we are a quiet couple in our 50’s and 60’s, pretty low key and happy to entertain ourselves. We are originally from the UK but have lived in the USA for 30 years.We cruise for the food and destinations, rather than the entertainment, and for the past 20 years have primarily cruised on Celebrity. However we have found todays Celebrity isn’t what it once was and have been trying a few other cruiselines, (Cunard, Oceania) to see if we can find a “better fit” for us. This time we gave Azamara a whirl as this 10 day Cuba Intensive itinerary (including 3 days in Havana, a day in Cienfuegos and an overnight in Santiago de Cuba), was too good to miss. As a bonus our Elite Plus status on Celebrity was recognised by Azamara so we received Discover Plus benefits with them. We flew down to Miami the day before on American from Reagan National. The flight was uneventful, taking off and landing on time. We spent the night at the Doubletree Biscayne Bay Hotel in Miami. I am allergic to feathers and it is usually quite a palaver to get a feather free bedding request taken seriously in hotels. As soon as I checked in at the Doubletree the receptionist said “…and your room has been made feather free”. Excellent! The Doubletree turned out to be part of a large entertainment and shopping complex and we ate onsite at Casablanca on the Bay and had a very pleasant dinner overlooking the marina. I would definitely recommend this as a pre-cruise hotel. Saturday morning, cruise embarkation / disembarkation day was manic at the hotel, and although they did offer us a shuttle to the port, we thought it would be quicker and easier to take a taxi as the shuttle was dropping people at many different ships. We arrived relatively early and dropped our bags at the kerb. Inside the terminal we were asked to fill out a Cuba visa application, told that $75 per person would be charged to our online account, and we were strongly urged to check the box saying we would be doing Azamara excursions. We were doing a mix of private and cruiseline tours, but as our first tour was private, we checked the “support of the Cuban people box”. When I handed the application back I was again asked to check a different box. I replied that I had checked the box that applied to me. The agent shrugged and handed me two blank visa forms and said we would be shown how to fill them out on board. We finished checking in and were asked to sit down for a while as they weren’t yet ready for boarding. After a few minutes they started boarding by cruise status, so we were among the first to board, and get a glass of fizz. As we took the stairs instead of having to wait for the elevator we were the first people in the buffet for lunch. I thought there was a good selection of food, and was happy to get a table in the aft outdoor seating area. There were plenty of bar waiters and they were very keen to pour the red or white wine of the day or rose or sparkling wine. We had a verandah cabin it seemed quite comfortable with ample storage space. The bathroom, particularly the shower was a totally different experience. I had heard that it was small, but assumed that being petite I wouldn’t have any issues. I was wrong, and boy did that shower curtain like to cling!!! Our cabin attendants were excellent and when we first met said that they had removed everything with feathers from our cabin. I was impressed. They kept the place scrupulously clean, and our bathroom was always well stocked with clean towels. A lot has been said about Azamara and Oceania offering a similar small ship product, but with the emphasis on food being Oceania’s strength and the emphasis on the destination being Azamara’s forte. I have to say that the food on Azamara gave Oceania a run for it’s money. We really enjoyed all the food in the dining room for lunch and dinner, so much so that we didn’t bother trying the speciality restaurants. We ate in the buffet the night it was Indian food and we were very impressed by it. The only disappointment with Azamara was the croissants. They always seemed dry and stale, whereas the ones on Oceania were exquisite. It was nice to have drinks anytime included in the cruise fare, and as a wine drinker I never felt the need to upgrade to a higher package to get better wines. I really enjoyed the french rose that was always available and the sparkling wine. My husband got used to drinking Becks, the included beer. What did surprise me was that sparkling water like Perrier or San Pellegrino wasn’t included in the basic drink package. The first couple of days they offered what looked like sparkling water in unlabelled bottles that had very little sparkle in them. I imagined they were perhaps making it themselves with a sodastream machine! In the end we bit the bullet and paid for Perrier. I can’t comment on the shows as they aren’t our thing so we didn’t go to any. We do like live music and listened to the “Sparkle Trio” in the Living Room most evenings. They were from Ukraine and comprised a young female singer and young male guitarist and an older keyboard player who scowled the entire time. We weren’t sure if he was their dad or their minder but he did not seem happy to be there! The other “entertainment” option was a female pianist who sang lyrics we knew to tunes we didn’t, and she seemed incapable of playing and singing at the same time. It was quite bizarre, but she did have a following in the Martini Bar! I really missed a string quartet playing classic music or a singer/guitarist. A lot has been said about Cuba, the Cuban visa, disembarkation in Cuba, exchanging money and private versus Azamara tours. Here is our experience. We checked the “support of the cuban people” box on the visa application, and were given blank visas which we filled out in the cabin. I’m not sure if there ever was help to fill out the visa on board but it was pretty self explanatory, and just required you to copy information from your passport onto it. An FYI, ANYONE arriving in Cuba on a ship that has sailed from the USA, MUST get the visa, even if you are from a country that would not require you to purchase a visa if you flew to Cuba, for example if you were Canadian. As we had a private tour booked at 11am, and as Azamara asked that passengers on Azamara tours be allowed to disembark first, we got off around 10:15am and took about 30 minutes to get through immigration. The official checked the passport and visa, took a photo and waved us through. This was the only time they seemed to really check passports and no one ever asked us if we were on a tour of any kind be it private or cruiseline operated. We changed money at the currency booths in the terminal. There is a 3% fee to change money plus an additional 10% fee if you are changing US dollars. We found some leftover Canadian currency at home and used that! We were out of the terminal by 11am, so ship to street took approximately 45 minutes. We downloaded the app maps.me before the trip and found it very useful to find our way around without having to use wi-fi. We booked a 2 day tour with I Love Cuba Photo Tours in Havana. We booked the tour via email from a recommendation we found on Cruisecritic. The tour was led by Yosel, an ex college professor who is now a professional photographer. His english was excellent. He showed us all the main tourist spots around Havana, and some off the beaten track spots where we got a real insight into the every day life of the locals. We had a car at our disposal and on the second day he rented a huge purple convertible that looked like a spaceship for us for 2 hours! The nice thing about doing this photo tour was that we provided our own SD card and Yosel took photos for us and of us on his camera and also showed us the perfect spots to take some of the Iconic Havana photos from. It was really nice to have his photos of us as a souvenir.

On our 3rd day in Havana we did a private combined walking and food tour with “A Taste of Cuba” aka “Food Tours Havana”. We found the tour recommended on cruisecritic and were able to book and pay online in US dollars. Our guide Ana was brilliant, full of fun and again an excellent english speaker. She toured the central historic district of Havana with us and we visited 7 different establishments to sample food. The Azamazing Evening was the second evening in Havana. It had originally been scheduled for our overnight in Santiago de Cuba but was switched to Havana as there was an issue with the dock there and it became a tender port for us. My husband isn’t a fan of dance and didn’t want to go to the show, so we gave it a miss. From what we heard from other passengers, it seems the show was phenomenal and they really enjoyed it. I feel I should add that in Havana we found everyone to be very pleasant, and the city felt very safe At Cienfuegos we took a ship tour to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its colonial buildings. The buses were good for the 90 minute drive and our guide, an elementary english teacher, although pleasant, was at times harder to understand than the guides we had in Havana. Trinidad was very interesting and we looked around the museum and a local church and also did a walking tour. The cobbled streets were very uneven and the terrain was challenging to people with mobility issues. We had a buffet lunch at a european style 4 star hotel and while nice I would have preferred something a little more authentically cuban. Our guide was from Cienfuegos and very proud of her city and took us on an unplanned panoramic drive around it at the end of the tour which was an unexpected surprise. We dropped anchor early evening in Santiago de Cuba, and it was a 20 to 25 minute tender ride to the city. We had booked an Azamara evening excursion to a jazz club to hear “authentic Cuban Jazz.” Oh my. Not what we expected at all. I will leave it at that. After the jazz experience the night before it was with trepidation that we boarded our bus for the ship tour to El Cobre as it had a “meet the people” element with a visit to a community centre to hear a steel drum band. We couldn’t believe our ears. They were phenomenal with a repertoire that spanned Cuban music to classical to Michael Jackson and The Eagles! Again a 3 course lunch was included and although it was in an italian restaurant, we were served traditional Cuban food, including rice and beans, plantain, pork, ropa vieja, fish and shrimp. We were seated outside and it was very hot but the staff wouldn’t turn on the fans, and people were complaining that there were no lights in the loos. Eventually the owner very apologetically admitted that the power had gone out a few minutes before we arrived. I was really impressed that they were able to prepare and serve such a lovely meal under the circumstances. Just before we were served dessert the power came back on, the fans worked and we were treated to deafening karaoke versions of traditional italian songs by the proprietors friend. What an experience! The final part of the tour was a walking tour of the historic centre of Santiago de Cuba and this was the only time in Cuba when I felt unsafe as we were surrounded by people begging. The guide was very angry that we were being hassled and bothered, and despite him repeatedly asking them to leave us alone they didn’t. We had one other port, the cruiseline private island. We thought it would be nice to stay on board and have the ship to ourselves while everyone else enjoyed their beach day. It seemed half the ship had the same plan as us! I mentioned previously that we were Discoverer Plus. This level comes with a number of perks including social activities (which we were never organised enough to take advantage of!), and free laundry and a set number of free wifi minutes which we did use. I thought the ship wifi was really slow and very hard to log onto, compared to the speeds we had on Oceania even in the middle of the Atlantic. We really enjoyed this cruise. We thought the ship was elegant, the crew friendly, happy and very helpful. We liked that there isn’t a class system on board with certain areas unavailable to people who aren’t in suites. The cabin was nice. We loved the food, and enjoyed that the drinks we wanted were included. The cruise itinerary was wonderful. I’m not sure we have found our “forever cruise home” with Azamara, but I wouldn’t hesitate to sail with them again if the price and itinerary was right. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I am a solo traveler who chose this cruise strictly because of the itinerary, a Cuba-intensive one. My previous cruising experiences have all been with Regent, Crystal, and Silversea. I did not expect the same level of service and ... Read More
I am a solo traveler who chose this cruise strictly because of the itinerary, a Cuba-intensive one. My previous cruising experiences have all been with Regent, Crystal, and Silversea. I did not expect the same level of service and amenities I have experienced with Crystal and Silversea, but I did not expect to be met with a stateroom (8025) that was frankly filthy and in need of deep cleaning as well as superficial cleaning. Photos posted show embedded dirt on telephone, remote, Bible, and binoculars. Also photographed are shower walls, melted ice from previous passenger, and 1 of 2 rags I used to wipe up grime before finally complaining. A caution about the stateroom design/construction: the verandah dividers are not opaque, and neighbors on either side can see into your stateroom, at least as far as the area with sofa and desk. To assure privacy, you need to close the drapes or turn off the lights. The AzAmazing Evening was very well done, excellent show in Havana (Lizt Alfonso), well organized transport of 700 passengers to and from show. The day in Labadee was also a pleasant surprise. I spent $175 for a Hilltop bungalow (bungalow #1), and it was money well spent, wonderful way to end a voyage. Bungalows have private beach, private barbecue, and private bar, also a personal butler who provides cooler of snacks and drinks. Floating beach mat also provided. Meals aboard ship were hit and miss. Too many buffets; even in main dining room, there was always a buffet at breakfast and several times at dinner. Ala carte service was available in the main dining room, but the buffet was "encouraged". Food at Prime C (dined there twice) was very good. Food at Aqualina (dined there twice) was worse than main dining room, but I had already paid for a 4-meal package. One meal was so salty it was inedible and had to be sent back to kitchen (by more passengers than myself). I did not have an extra hour to wait for a different entree to be prepared. Bar experience minimal but not impressive. I rarely drink wine or alcohol, but I do know how to make a decent mojito, and since we were traveling around Cuba, I thought I could get one on the ship, but neither the bartender at the pool deck nor at the private bar on Labadee knew how to make one without coaching. They used Rose's lime juice and/or a packaged mojito mix (rather than fresh limes and sugar), and Cuban rum was only available once that I saw, as a bar special for an extra $5. (I did not pay for a drink package.) I couldn't drink either drink. But I had a couple of great, authentic mojitos in Havana at local restaurants. Internet "service" was a joke, even though it cost $20/day. If connection was made, the speed was so slow that graphics in online newspapers, e.g., would not download and a photo could not be sent via email. Would I go again? To Havana, definitely; I loved Cuba and love the Cuban people, but I will fly or take a different cruise line. Read Less
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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