9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as ... Read More
We recently completed a 10 day cruise around Cuba on the Azamara Journey. This was our 4th cruise in total and our first on Azamara. We chose Azamara mostly because of the itinerary and that it's a small ship experience marketed as being more upscale and luxurious than the typical mega-ships. We have been wanting to visit Cuba since they opened it up to Americans and thought a cruise would be a great way to see more than just Havana. After some initial snafus with our reservation that was graciously resolved by Bonnie over on the CruiseCritic discussion boards, we boarded in Miami for our 10 circle trip around the Cuban island with stops in Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman, Cienfuegos and Havana. The most appealing part of the itinerary was the promise of multi-day stays in port rather than the usual arrive-at-8am-leave-at-5pm schedules of other cruise lines. Which leads me to our first big gripe with Azamara: it was only after plotting the arrival/departure times on the calendar that we realized that the "extended" time in port was very misleading. On the itinerary, it listed only 1 day at sea but in actuality we ended up with almost 4 full sea days. For example, days 3 & 4 were listed as in port in Santiago, however, we arrived at 8am on Tuesday and left at 6am Wednesday. That's not 2 days - that's one day + one night. Wednesday turned out to be really a sea day but that's not how it was shown on the schedule. Same for Cienfuegos on Friday/Saturday. We arrived Friday morning but left the dock 8am on Sat and didn't arrive Havana until Sunday evening. That's almost a day and half at sea. We really only got 1 full day at each of these ports and just 2 days in Havana instead of 3. We talked to several others who felt that Azamara was very misleading in the marketing about the time in port. I know that ships can't magically teleport from one location to the next but it would have been less confusing if the itinerary matched reality so we knew what to expect and plan our excursions accordingly. Azamara highlights that they have more immersive itineraries by allowing more time in port but I don't think it counts when that time is spent sleeping. Second major disappointment was the overall lack of service throughout the ship. While the crew and waitstaff were generally good and always very courteous, it was decidedly less than what you'd expect from a "luxury" cruise line. Water glasses frequently went unfilled and you had to hunt around for someone to take your order or answer a question. The exception to that was for some reason the waitstaff was always there in a flash to whisk away your empty plate or glass - like there was a reprimand waiting for them if they left dirty dishes about but initial orders or refills were often slow to arrive. Other couples we met onboard talked about their past cruises on Regent or SilverSea and how the staff fell over themselves trying to serve you and worked hard to anticipate your needs rather than wait to be called upon. While service was not bad, per se...it just wasn't on par with other luxury brands or even some mainstream brands like Celebrity. This brings me to the third major criticism and that was the food. The buffet was really disappointing as was the grill out by the pool. The food looked very nice and there was always good selection but it was also exceptionally bland and lacking flavor. Almost like salt and spices are forbidden in the kitchen. Several times we were let down by something that looked amazing only to be utterly tasteless. For example, the prime rib was very drab. How a kitchen can make a staple dish like prime rib boring and totally lacking in flavor is beyond me. The main dining room was a bit better and we ate there most nights. Eventually we learned what things to avoid and how to ask for specific items we had had before. Most nights the menu followed a theme chosen by the chef. There were some rather odd choices some nights that really wasn't all that exciting, however you could always order a selection from the a la cart menu. The daily wine selections were usually pretty good and we never felt the need to buy the special bottles listed at considerable upsell prices. We had the Premium beverage package which was adequate for our needs but you could see there are some shennanigans going on with the way liquor selections are structured. It's all intended to get you to go with the Ultimate package instead at $22/day. For us it wasn't worth it and we just paid for the few top shelf drinks individually. The premium package includes all beers and most lower tier "well" spirits and mixed drinks which is fine for most people unless you have a specific liquor preference. Many specialty drinks like caipirinas, desert wines and top shelf liquors are excluded and require separate purchase at full price. It's a little confusing as to what drinks are part of which package and I believe this is intentional. We only got to try the specialty restaurant once and we really liked it in spite of the $30 per person cover. Had we known before that the buffet and main dining would be so lacking we would have made reservations at Prime C or Agualina every night. Reservations filled up quickly however - especially for the last night at sea. Another intentional method to get you to upsell over and above what's included. I booked a massage at the spa for the first sea day and it was very good. I was not expecting the sales pitch for their high priced lotions so just be aware that they'll try to sell you at the end. Also, spa services automatically include an 18% gratuity so don't feel pressured to add extra tip. Otherwise the spa is rather underwhelming and not worth the high prices. There's a special sun deck and hot tub just for spa patrons but I don't see how it's worth the extra price. The exercise room is just off the spa and while adequate for getting a workout in, there isn't much in the way of equipment. The usual treadmills, stationary bikes and nautilus-type weights. We booked a guaranteed outside cabin and the room was fine. A little small of course but perfectly adequate. I should have splurged for a veranda instead but ultimately it was fine for our needs. With the extra time at sea and most of our time in port dedicated to excursions, we didn't spend a huge amount of time in the cabin anyway. Our stewards were fantastic and were like ninjas - always slipping in to replace towels and straighten up while we were out. They greeted us by name each morning. We were assigned cabin 6004 which is an oversized outside stateroom at the very front of the ship on deck 6 port side. It is extra long which allows it much more space than usual - about the size of a typical hotel room. This is due to the space where the balcony is in the veranda staterooms is replaced with a large round picture window approx 4 feet in diameter. It creates a bit of a "fishbowl" experience but it was perfectly fine as we spent most of our time outside anyway. There is a small loveseat and coffee table in addition to the desk & chair. Plenty of room to move around and we were not bumping into each other except for in/out of the bathroom and around the bottom of the bed (which is the same layout for all other non-suite cabins). Being at the front of the ship you definitely feet the movement - both up & down and side to side rocking. Might be worse on really rough seas. We could hear/feel rumblings down below when the boat pitched upward that I suspect were the stabilizers kicking in. It's a smaller ship so this was very common throughout the boat even in the aft dining room. My wife is prone to seasickness and was initially worried about the location, however she did not have any problems. Other issue with the location was the noise from the anchor chains and vibration from the front thrusters when entering and leaving port. This was temporary however and we did not find it too bothersome except for it waking us up at 5am on the last day. As our cabin was directly above the Cabaret Lounge on deck 5, we could hear the bass and drums during band practice and evening performances. This might annoy some people but we didn't really have any problem with it as the shows are rather short anyway. There is a connecting door to the suite next door and we occasionally heard muffled voices thru the walls and from the hallway but somebody suggested putting a towel or bathrobe against the floor and this worked to block out both noise and light. Otherwise the cabin is very quiet, secluded and dark. Bathroom is tiny and takes some getting used to with regards to maneuvering - especially the shower. The shower curtain clings to you but we found if you put the bottom edge of the curtain outside the stall (there is a groove in the floor leading to a drain outside the shower) then it helps to create some additional space. Not a lot of space to spread out so you have to be creative with storage. This is true on any cruise ship however. Bed was super comfortable with nice linens and comforter. A/C was great and kept the temperature perfect. Closet organizer was efficient and adequate with plenty of storage. Mirrors and lighting was terrific. Note to others...do NOT attempt to bring onboard any kind of travel iron or clothes steamer. Ours was confiscated from my wife's luggage upon embarkation. There was no mention of portable steamers being prohibited in the boarding documentation but they said they can set off the fire detectors. The self service laundry on deck 7 has ironing boards and irons as well as laundry supplies. The machines are free but limited so you have to be diligent and strategic about timing in order to get a load or two done ahead of others. One other gripe...the onboard Internet was so slow it was almost completely useless. Thankfully we did not pay extra for this otherwise we would have been really upset. Eric, our cruise director was fabulous and very funny. His "grandpa" jokes were groaners but perfectly pitched for the audience. He and the captain even formed a bit of a comedic duo on the daily announcements. You can tell Eric has a definite flair for Broadway showtunes as the music was decidedly tilted towards that genre. Overall the performances by the singers and dancers were very good and entertaining with a good mix of contemporary and traditional music. I'm sure some of the older crowds didn't fully appreciate the ABBA night show. The lounge pianist was charming and the trio band was pleasant. They played upstairs in the Living Room at night and by the pool during the day and at sail aways. It added to the overall pleasantness of the cruise. Nothing was offensive or too wild - nor was it just Perry Como elevator music either. It was a good balance of entertainment for the crowd which definitely skewed a little higher on the age scale than the brochures allude to. The White Night party was held in port at Cienfuegos and it was the highlight of our trip. The food buffets were over the top and truly gluttonous. Lines were long - especially for the lobster tails but there was something for everyone. The music was fantastic and everyone's spirits were very high. Eric led an actual conga line around the pool area and had a very memorable duet with one of the passengers. It was really a great party and something to look forward to. We ended up booking a couple of Azamara sponsored excursions and a couple independent trips on our own. In Santiago, we found a local taxi driver who took us to a couple of places like Castro's grave and the memorial to Jose Marti. We saw the changing of the guard at the national cemetery and had lunch in a local paladar with our taxi driver. We got to sit down and chat with him about the country and his life which was very interesting since his English was as limited as our Spanish. In Cienfuegos, we opted for the excursion to the El Nicho waterfalls about an hour away. This involved a hike in the mountains over some pretty steep terrain although the views at the end were worth it. We also got to visit an artist commune and watched some interpretive dances which was strange to say the least. Grand Cayman - we had been there before on a different cruise and there's really nothing else to do but go to the beach. We decided to walk which was a mistake in 90+ degree heat and humidity. We caught a bus back to the dock for $5 bucks. We arrived in Havana Saturday night. We booked the show at the Cabaret Parisian rather than the Tropicana. From what we heard the Tropicana was probably a better choice but the shows are essentially the same. It was a late night however as the show didn't start until 10pm and we didn't get back to the ship until midnight. Sunday we had arranged for a private tour guide through HavanaTourCompany.com. Our guide was awesome and even managed to deal with including a couple we met onboard at the last minute. We had a fabulous lunch in Old Havana then took a walking tour and convertible ride through the city and to Fusterlandia outside of the city where we bought some original artwork. We saw all the main sights and learned about the history, finishing up that night with dinner and a show at La Taberna. It's definitely worth it to use an independent tour guide in Havana and not go with the overpriced tours offered by the cruise line. You get better pricing, a customized itinerary and the guides are little more open to talking about their lives than the "official" government approved Havanatur. Monday morning we did the coffee, rum and cigar factory tour. We visited the Partaga cigar factory (which makes 25 other brands like Cohiba and Montecristo). It was a literal sweat shop with 4 floors of un-air conditioned rooms and workers hand rolling cigars for pennies a day. We were then bussed around the city to several government shops to buy cigars and rum getting a bit of a guided tour along the way. Rum and cigars are the same price everywhere (state controlled) so don't feel pressured to buy them on the tours. We were warned not to buy cigars on the street however as there are no guarantees as to quality. It helps to know in advance what you're looking for in terms of brand, sizes and shape. Expect to pay approx 50% less than you can find authentic Cuban cigars elsewhere (Canada for example). Originally the AzAmazing Evening was scheduled for our evening in Santiago but was changed at the last minute to our arrival night in Havana. Since we had already booked a show we ended up passing on this event. We heard it was rather interesting - a special ballet performance at the Grand Theater. Overall, we were pleased with our first Azamara cruise and we even booked a second one to Alaska next July - this time with a balcony. We enjoyed our trip and would recommend it to others with the caveat that it all depends on your expectations going in. Some things were great compared to a typical cruise - most standard drinks are included as are tips. There are some areas where you still get nickle & dimed but it's not nearly as bad as the major lines. The smaller ship is a double edged sword - it's more intimate with much fewer passengers but it's also a rather boring ship with not a whole lot to do if you're the type that requires constant excitement. The demographics skew older with not a single child onboard. Most were in their 60's, 70's or 80's although there were a few younger gay couples as well. The marketing material would have you believe that Azamara is a luxury cruise line - on par with other luxury brands like Regent, SilverSea or Paul Gaugin. In the end, it's a bit like first class on Delta or United Airlines...yes, it is a much better experience than flying coach but it's also no comparison to foreign carriers like Singapore or Emirates. Go in with the proper expectations and you'll have a great time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his ... Read More
Another repeat cruise experience- excellent in 'almost' every way. Capt Johannes Thysse must be the most visible and approachable Capt afloat, as are his main officers. He is a consummate maritime expert and really enjoys his vocation. Entertainment was less than spectacular due to a change in dancers, which were absent. Nonetheless Eric de Gray is a true star and directing the musicians and singers did a great job and no one complained. Food . A veritable flow of excellent offerings at all times to suit every palate, To avoid repetition, some new dishes should be introduced for longer voyages as this Transatlantic 2 week. Wines included are adequate, unless one is a wine connoisseur. An additional wine list is available, but at ship prices which don't offer good value. Bar alcohol is more than adequate and only top liqueurs Cognacs and Whiskies etc are charged. Cabin Butler service was impeccable. Room service was rapid and perfect. The Hotel Manageress Heike, watching with an Eagle eye ensures the ship is immaculate, and staff care for pax . Indeed all is faultless. Upon boarding Lisbon some new crew joined. Deck restaurant service was at times chaotic for the first few days. Completing a questionnaire to highlight such matters, was responded to within hours by many staff members and of course Heike who ensured more management attention rectified the complaint/observations soon thereafter. They followed up too! NOW A WARNING** Be aware this ship changes dates, port itinerary and times, seven times ..... following booking. So do other Azamara ships. In the event of a complaint to head shore office in Miami, I'm told by other pax that they are always disinterested. A Larry Pimentel problem, common under his management of other ships too. The Azamara company under the management of CEO Pimentel an American, decided; as he did with previous ships he managed, to lower the dress standard. There are NO formal nights, so dont take fancy long dresses nor tuxedos. Dress code is now 'No Jacket Required' which sadly translates into 'American slop scruff order' . Basically whatever you have in a plastic bag will do. No kidding, I noted some pax wore the same few clothes throughout. Many travelling with a carry -on. Few gents wore jackets, and only one a tie. I saw shorts T shirt and flip flops in the dining room, but only once, so guess that was called to order. This critical observation may transmit a scene of ragged vagabonds. You are assured its far from that. Not being snobbish, but perhaps 50% dress shabbily and carelessly. Everyone is extremely pleasant, happy and well behaved. The atmosphere is excellent. It has no style, but as its a small ship, is far far removed from the Carnival ships and other cheap offering,s where heaped plates of some sort of food is virtually thrown on long tables where Tank tops, torn shorts even barefoot is prevalent, so Ive seen on videos. IMPORTANT PLEASE TAKE NOTE ! Cruise lines have added Cuba to their itineraries. Not necessarily because its a wonderful destination, but for its novelty factor. Mainly because they can use this as a major pax rip-off. They conveniently don't advise pre cruise that a VISA is essential, but advise on board a few days prior to arrival Cuba. There is a compulsory charge of $75 per visa PER PORT see below* Additionally to be allowed ashore they insist on buying a tour see below*, minimum $89 claiming this is a US law compliance. see below* * According to the Cuban immigration inspectors, a Cuban Visa is compulsory and pax must be in possession at arrival. Cost is $25 and cannot be purchased in Cuba. One can be purchased at varying prices previous to arrival from a Cuban Embassy $25, Online agents, travel agents and airlines at varying prices. UK online cost is GBP24. American airlines like their cruise counterparts charge an excessive $75; a big money making scheme. Solution is Buy before you go. Visas last 30 days for multiple entries. Compulsory tours. A bigger money spiinning scheme. They are Massively overpriced and I heard almost everyone who was forced to buy one on board expressing extreme discontent both at the excessive price and quality. The same tour guides are available on shore for a few $ (CUC the local currency) . e.g. The daily rate for a driver and car is CUC25 Incl gasoline ! US law prohibits travel to Cuba but permits tourist visits for one of 10 reasons mainly culturally based. This ruling DOES NOT apply to non Americans who can enter freely (with a VISA) . The cruise ships conveniently and wrongly interpret this to mean ALL pax, so beware. Fact is, a non American citizen does NOT need an official Cuban tour to go ashore! If you find the ship prohibits disembarkation; although I would question the legality of such an action. Buying the cheapest tour to use as a sort of pass to get off the ship, then doing your own thing is perhaps the way to play that game. ...... Cuba is a poverty stricken country where wages are minimal. $20 a MONTH is a good salary, thats a few cents an hour. However they survive very wel and happily off that amount, for everything else is state subsidised. Food is free on coupons. Free health care. Electricity gas etc amounts to less than $2 a month. Havana is changing and improving. They have some paint now, and are able to decorate in small ways. There are serious 5 star hotels in Havana. Beautiful buildings re created from the old special architectural buildings. Kempinsky have re furbished an entire block. Must have cost a hundred million or more. A roof terrace affords fabulous views over old Havana. A Mojito is only 5 CUC. In a back street its 2 CUC. However the room rate is $400+ a night. Spanish hotel chains have also built luxury hotels . Iberostar - Melia- H10 Tourists especially Americans throwing handfuls of $ in tips are poorly viewed. A small tip like $2 is gratefully accepted, a large tip like the ridiculous 20% expected in the US, is viewed with disdain and almost as an insult. I gleaned this from many deep conversations in Spanish I enjoyed with locals. I recommend you book with Azamara you cannot be disappointed, but beware of itinerary changes and especially Cuban schemes. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Positives Friendliness and service from the crew especially Dave at Discoveries for breakfast and Julius in Spirits Bar and other locations. Visibility of the captain and other senior crew members. I am sure the captain was wishing ... Read More
Positives Friendliness and service from the crew especially Dave at Discoveries for breakfast and Julius in Spirits Bar and other locations. Visibility of the captain and other senior crew members. I am sure the captain was wishing passengers a good day as we left the ship at every port we docked at. Food was generally very good, especially the speciality restaurants and the chef’s table, but we had no complaints about the food in Discoveries. Booked the dining package and speciality dining as soon as we boarded with no issues. Entertainment provided by Eric de Gray who was excellent and the other entertainment staff was very good. We attended most late shows and enjoyed them all. The exchanges between Eric and captain Johannes were amusing as were Eric’s grandad stories. AzAmazing Evening with Incanto Quartet in Livorno was excellent and very well organised. Size of the ship was great, nothing felt too far away compared to the other larger ships we have sailed on. Enjoyed the included coffee and snacks available at Mosaic Cafe. Generally bar service was very good and we had no issues with getting cocktails or drinks using the included spirits. We tendered at 3 ports and very rarely had to wait a long time for a tender boat in either direction. Closeness to the city at several ports of call, especially Porto Ferraio and Trapani. Oceanview room was adequate and Paulo our room steward was very friendly and efficient. Embarkation and debarkation were efficient both at start and end of cruise and at ports of call. Friendliness and courtesy of fellow passengers with very few exceptions. Living Room was very nice and the food which was served (especially the tapas) was a nice touch. Negatives Missed not having a balcony (our choice) but it was only one floor up to deck 5. Not being able to walk a full circuit of the ship on deck 5 and it was often closed off in the middle at both sides. Apart from the Windows cafe, unable to get a sea view from the back of the ship which I had enjoyed on other cruises. Other comments We are in our early 50s and whilst not the youngest on the cruise we were definitely at the lower end of the age range. White Night was very busy and queues to get food were quite long and slightly chaotic at times but the local Sorrento Mozzarella and tomatoes was a nice touch. Some of the included white wines were not to our taste, we stuck with included red wines which were generally good. We only had 1 sea day, so it was a very port intensive cruise, not sure how I would have felt if we had more sea days. Regretted missing the Indian night at the buffet because we booked Aqualina on that night because the smell was amazing. For speciality dining only times which seemed to be available for us to book were 18:00, 18:30, 20:00 and 20:30. We only booked private excursions so had no experience of Azamara excursions. I would have no hesitation to sail again on Azamara for the right price and itinerary. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My husband and I booked this trip for our 20th anniversary. We did a lot of research so I felt like I knew what to expect. We embarked in Rome after flying in two days earlier to spend a bit of time in the city. Embarkation was an ... Read More
My husband and I booked this trip for our 20th anniversary. We did a lot of research so I felt like I knew what to expect. We embarked in Rome after flying in two days earlier to spend a bit of time in the city. Embarkation was an absolute breeze. We arrived in the middle of the lengthy window for arrival and it took us only minutes to check in and walk aboard. The room was available right away. We had booked a picture window room with a sleeper sofa hoping that the sofa would give us a bit more space. Well, the room was tiny, the sofa was only an armchair that folded out to a single bed. When I went to ask at the front desk about the sofa they said that it does fold out therefore it is a sleeper sofa. I complained that that was misleading because we wanted the sofa to be able to sit together. The cruise was fully booked, there were no other rooms for us to be switched to that actually had a true sofa. They did end up switching out the armchair for something a tinge bigger, more like a small loveseat and that was the best they could do. The room itself was small but very well organized. There were lots of drawers and plenty of hanging space in the closet. We were able to easily unpack two weeks worth of clothes and stuff and slide the suitcases neatly under the bed. I especially appreciated that there were several shelves in the bathroom, three over the toilet, plus countertop, under the counter and in the shower storage spaces. The shower was small but doable for everything except shaving my legs. I ended up turning the showerhead towards the wall, opening the curtain and putting my foot up on the sink in order to shave. After settling in we explored the boat, overall we were impressed. The ship could definitely use a bit of cosmetic maintenance (lightly peeling wallpaper and some uneven paint in our room specifically), but the overall feel is elegant comfort. The size was perfect (about 600 guests), big enough to include several dining spaces, a spa, pool deck, living room and library etc. but small enough to not be packed with people and long lines for everything. We knew we didn't want a megaship with tons of families and massive buffets. We also aren't big nightlife people, no need for discos and a huge casino. While Azamara doesn't forbid children, they also don't encourage them. We have three at home, and we were looking for a grown up get away. We knew that we are a bit younger than their main clientele and we decided that was fine, we were happy doing our own thing. I would say the target audience for this line is empty nester - healthy retiree. There were definitely some older and some younger but we were some of the youngest on board in our mid-late forties. I also wanted to make a note that Azamara welcomes same sex couples, which I think is awesome. My brother is gay and he has told me that he and his husband avoid certain places because of prejudice and even potential violence. There were at least a handful of same sex couples on board and there was a nightly mixer for the LGBT community. The food on board was very good. We generally breakfasted at the buffet, had lunch at the pool deck patio restaurant and had dinner in the main dining room. You could get pretty much any breakfast food you could think of and many that I don't consider breakfast at the buffet. They had a station that did waffles, pancakes and french toast, and a second station that did eggs and omelets made to order. They also had a carving station with daily specials of roast pork, or beef or turkey, etc. There were both hot and cold buffet stations with fruit, yogurt, pastries, cold cuts, sausage, bacon, all kinds of eggs, beans, you name it. One server manned the several toasters serving toast, bagels, muffins etc. There were also several kinds of fancy coffees and fresh squeezed juice and smoothies. My husband found the lunch buffet a bit overwhelming and too tempting to just over-do everything so we usually lunched on the patio. They had a nice selection of burgers, wraps, and skewers along with a small salad bar. Dinner in the main dining room was very nice. While they do have a minimum standard for dress (no shorts, tanks, bathing suits, baseball caps, etc), they don't expect formal wear. Long pants and a collared shirt for my hubby and a sundress or nicer capris for me were no problem. The menu had several standards that were always available and then a rotating menu of daily options. You could tell that they made a point of always having a meat, a poultry, a fish, and a vegetarian option on the menu. While not vegetarian myself, I have several family members that are so I always note when places are vegetarian friendly and Azamara definitely is, even noting when items are vegan. We did not order any of the special drink or dining plans and we were perfectly happy. Azamara considers itself all inclusive and as long as you don't need high end name brand alcohol in your drinks you will be fine. Every day they feature two red and two white wines. You can also get all sorts of mixed drinks, etc. We particularly liked having a pina colada while out by the pool. We looked at the specialty upcharge restaurants and they didn't seem so much better than the main dining room. My one tiny complaint about the main dining room is that I think they try a bit too hard to be "fancy", especially in the naming of their selections. The entertainment on ship was not our priority. We only went to one evening show, the White Night production. Eating out on the pool deck with everyone dressed in all white was fun and the food staff really outdid themselves but the musical part of the show was definitely a bit underwhelming. We didn't take part in any of the planned activities and entertainments other than one lecture during our sea day which we did find very informative. We were mainly here for the ports and wanted nothing more than relaxation while onboard. We did each get a massage at the spa which was heavenly. Probably our only big complaint about the ship itself was that the wifi was awful to non-existent. We had specifically booked a package that included wifi and we didn't get it working until more than halfway through the trip and even then it was slow and spotty. Just as an FYI, the wifi doesn't work well with Windows 10 computers or any microsoft browsers. We needed to download chrome to even be able to log in and this took two different staff members help and a trip to the IT specialist. While researching options for this trip, the itinerary was one of, if not the most important, driver for our decision to book. My husband had never been to Italy and I hadn't been in years so we wanted to see all the highlights. We did a mix of cruise excursions, privately booked excursions, and just going off on our own. In general our first choice was to book privately because the cruise excursions were extremely expensive across the board but we still did do several because we either couldn't find another option or we were worried about timing and logistics for a specific port. We really appreciated having two days in northern italy and two days in the south. Probably the best stop was either Livorno (the gateway for pisa and florence) or Amalfi while the least interesting was Elba. I was pleasantly surprised by Sardinia, we very much enjoyed seeing the neolithic site there, the countryside was very pretty, and the fact that the excursion included a light lunch of local favorites was welcome. Overall, this was a wonderful trip. We felt that we were pampered and well taken care of by the entire staff. Our steward knew our name and always greeted us in passing after only our first meeting. The food service staff did their jobs with a smile. While it seems a bit silly, it was sweet to be greeted with a "welcome home" by the security team at the end of each day's excursion. The captain and other high level crew were very visible and willing to stop and chat. There were a lot of little touches that were really nice like the fact that they provided umbrellas at the docking point on a rainy day or beach towels if you were at a beachy port. There were always cool towels and water and punch at the dock. I had told them we were celebrating our anniversary when I booked and on our actual anniversary the room was decorated with streamers and a sign. I would definitely consider another cruise with Azamara. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We are experienced cruisers. We are not drawn to the large “resort” ships, except with our grandchildren. Increasingly we are selecting our cruises for the itinerary. The Azamara Journey was a 9 day Italy “intensive” itinerary with ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers. We are not drawn to the large “resort” ships, except with our grandchildren. Increasingly we are selecting our cruises for the itinerary. The Azamara Journey was a 9 day Italy “intensive” itinerary with major stops for Florence and Pompeii, and other stops in smaller ports- suitable for a smaller ship. This was a major reason we selected a smaller ship. The on board service was exceptional, delivered with genuine care by the staff. Little things- like a mid cruise comment card (with real follow-thru by ship department heads) made the whole trip enjoyable. The food was notably better than our past experiences. We had no waiting in the open seating main dining room and never had trouble finding an available clean table in the cafe. The 700 passengers were never the cause of undue lines or delays. The ship was clean and in good to excellent repair. My wife and I enjoyed ourselves and will be back. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We sailed on Azamara Journey from Barcelona 29-Sept-18 to Rome 6-Oct-18. Cabin 7121. This was our first sailing with Azamara, our 15th cruise overall. Anxious to try out the smaller ship we were looking forward to this itinerary and ... Read More
We sailed on Azamara Journey from Barcelona 29-Sept-18 to Rome 6-Oct-18. Cabin 7121. This was our first sailing with Azamara, our 15th cruise overall. Anxious to try out the smaller ship we were looking forward to this itinerary and stopping in some smaller ports the itinerary offered. Embarkation was incredibly easy, only issue was finding the ship location as it differed from the address listed on embarkation documents. We boarded the ship with no lines. Upon boarding the ship we were a bit surprised to see the electronic blackjack and roulette machines in the casino which is located immediately upon embarkation. We immediately booked our specialty restaurants and signed up for the ultimate beverage package. Doing our homework prior to sailing, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. The rooms were ready immediately as promised (1:30 PM) and our luggage was waiting for us. We unpacked and found the room to be adequate for our 7-day journey. We really had no space complaints. The bathroom shower curtain and caulking throughout the bottom of the shower was a little unsettling, but really, this was our only negative review of the room. Everything else was positive. We loved our ports of call. The best part was the Captain making a game-time decision to leave our first port early so that we could safely arrive in Marseille before the wind storm scheduled to arrive the next day. The crew and Captain were wonderful keeping us all informed. Meals were good. We ate at Prime C, Aquafina, Discoveries & Chef Table. Our favorite was Aquafina. We learned upon embarkation that our White Night was in Monte Carlo which was a little disappointing as we had dinner reservations in port that night. We cancelled our dinner reservations to attend White Night party. We arrived a little later as we wanted to spend more time in port only to discover there was no seating and we were rushed to hurry and get some food prior to food stations closing. The staff on the cruise were all very nice. I do say that we miss the evening entertainment of Celebrity martini bar and real dealers in the casino. Its our understanding that the Journey recently replaced dealers with electronic machines. This is too bad and a huge disappointment. The machines even broke down while we were playing them. We hear this isn't the case on the Quest and really hope that Azamara reconsiders the decision to get rid of the live dealers. For the most part we had a great experience on Azamara and plan to return for a 2019 Asian cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
After taking the Italian peninsula cruise last year on the Azamara Quest,( from Rome to Venice) we were looking forward to another wonderful vacation. Unfortunately we were very disappointed. The ports of call along the Spanish coast ... Read More
After taking the Italian peninsula cruise last year on the Azamara Quest,( from Rome to Venice) we were looking forward to another wonderful vacation. Unfortunately we were very disappointed. The ports of call along the Spanish coast were not interesting and the ports themselves were more commercial than pleasurable with working cranes, ferry boats and warehouses in full view of the ship. The boat docked so far away from the main points of interests that it was a chore to just get to the sights. The main dining room was more often closed than open for lunch and both the food and wine was sub standard. (Evening meals were better, but not the wine selection There was not enough staff to keep things going smoothly. At Cadiz and Gilbraltar there should have been a shuttle to get passengers within walking distance of the major attractions. The cabins looked a bid worn and twice during the cruise there was rattling within the wall that kept us awake. All and all not u[ to our expectations. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We feel that we are out growing Celebrity and are looking to find a place for us to continue cruising. Sadly Azamara wasn't the fit for us. Azamara is a lovely cruise line but it seems to cater to an older and a more sedate crowd. We ... Read More
We feel that we are out growing Celebrity and are looking to find a place for us to continue cruising. Sadly Azamara wasn't the fit for us. Azamara is a lovely cruise line but it seems to cater to an older and a more sedate crowd. We prefer a more lively bar scene and love the martini bar on celebrity. We never found a place that really had a big enough bar to allow for a lively bar scene. They did have a DJ in the Living room on the 10th floor in the later hours which was great! but there really was no place to grab a bite to eat after all the drinking before you went to bed so we found ourselves a little hung over each morning when a little food; even a slice of pizza might have helped absorb the liquor. The DJ area was very popular every night with about 100 people so I think Azamara needs to address this problem and put out a few munchies as everyone was asking for the same thing, "where they can get a little bite to eat?" I know there is room service but just a few munchies would solve the problem easily. The people in their 60's are going to be the future of Azamara cruising and when the redo their ships they should try to work this in to their "Living room" allowing for the older crowd to still continue the wonderful experience they love but then adding the top floor for the upcoming generation of cruisers with the more lively bars scene...maybe even adding that martini bar which is a great signature of Celebrity!! Other than that the Azamara line was wonderful, the food and service far higher than Celebrity; a BIG step up in quality! The captain was so accessible and I was surprised with the entertainment they could put out within a smaller ship. You can tell the Journey is in need of a dry dock refurbishment but they try to keep it looking as good as they can.I will check back occasionally to see if they start to "young up" the ship and the activities and once that happens I will definitely travel with Azamara in a minute!!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Had a wonderful time on our Azamara Journey cruise which began in Copenhagen and ended with an absolutely splendid, majestic sail right up the Thames in London to end in picturesque maritime Greenwich. We flew the short hop to ... Read More
Had a wonderful time on our Azamara Journey cruise which began in Copenhagen and ended with an absolutely splendid, majestic sail right up the Thames in London to end in picturesque maritime Greenwich. We flew the short hop to Copenhagen a day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Absalon, three minutes walk from the Central Station and six minutes walk from Tivoli World where we spent the afternoon and evening. The hotel was excellent and I would recommend it wholeheartedly. Around noon, we got a taxi to the pier, Nordre Tolbord, which was close to the Little Mermaid, so much nearer to town than where the larger ships dock. It was pouring with rain so we didn't take advantage of the 10pm departure and venture back into Copenhagen. The ship's crew took our luggage from the taxi and covered us with large umbrellas while escorting us to the port security tent. A look at our passports and it was straight into the ship and the cabaret lounge for checking-in. A most welcome sparkling wine, cocktail, tea and coffee were immediately offered while we sank into the easy chairs before being called to collect our key card and find our stateroom. We had booked a guarantee balcony and were allocated 7115, near the aft. It was a great room and was so quiet and, of course, handy for two flights up to the Windows cafe, pools, patio etc or two flights down to the main restaurant – Discoveries, cabaret lounge etc. It was a very comfortable room and had a small sofa, table, dressing table/desk, chair, bedside tables, tv, fridge with included sodas etc and a few paid-for items (listed on a note above), safe, plenty of storage and hanging space. Flowers and fruit were provided, binoculars and umbrella to use, slippers to keep. The bathroom, as most people note, is tiny but well equipped. (Have to say that the shower is slightly longer than the one we recently had on Sapphire Princess). We enjoyed room service which was always punctual and good and even if we only ordered tea and coffee, the table was always laid with a cloth. The room was kept in great order by Alvin and Edwin. We asked for extra coathangers, pen, writing pads and all were instantly provided. Breakfasts were enjoyed mostly in Windows cafe where there was always a great choice and I especially liked the made to order smoothie counter. Waiters constantly offered more tea, coffee, juice etc and if you ordered an omellete would bring it to you. We didn't try the speciality restaurants this time as the meals in Discoveries were outstandingly good. So different to our last experience on Aamara Quest four years ago when the majority of guests were part of a charter group. The food then was obviously scaled down to their budget and it was incomparable with this time. We felt cheated then as we, of course, paid for a normal cruise. I'm so glad that Azamara redeemed themselves this cruise and the food was wonderful every time. Some impressive buffets were provided – an Asian one, a fabulous seafood one and a German themed one, along with Umpah band. White Night was great fun too. The service from every member of staff was impeccable. One or two waiters were obviously new, as we understand some had transferred to Pursuit, and looked a bit lost at times and not quite up to speed. We always ate dinner around 8.30pm so tended to miss the evening entertainment in the cabaret lounge. We did see a couple of performances by the resident singers and the assistant cruise director, both were okay if a little cheesy – same old Broadway musical and old fashioned songs. We enjoyed going up to The Living Room at the bow of the ship for our pre-dinner cocktails and canapes. There we listened to The Sparkling Trio and enjoyed their laid-back style. We heard two great pianists in Spirits bar and the Library (Drawing Room) The late night disco was good fun with plenty of people on the floor, including us. Our first port of call was Aarhus, Denmark's second city. A nice place to stroll and shop. Next up was Skagen on the northern most tip of Denmark. We weren't expecting anything of this small town but had a brilliant day. The sun shone, the town was 'cute' in the loveliest possible way, the shops eclectic and my husband bought me an elegant Skagen watch for my birthday. We walked all the way along the pristine beach to the end of Denmark and loved every minute. On to Oslo and as we had been here before and visited the Kon Tiki Museum etc decided to catch a tram and go to the beautiful Vigeland Sculpture Park. Next day was a sea day and there was lots to do on board and it was good just to relax with a book from the well stocked library and a cocktail, of course. I worked my way through the included cocktails over the course of the 11 days! We arrived in Amsterdam in pouring rain and it was too bad to venture forth but by the evening the rain had abated and most guests were taken on a canal boat ride to the Maritime Museum for a splendid concert for the Azamazing evening. The whole experience was truly amazing. As we had an overnight here next day we caught a train (24 mins) to Utrecht. This is the most delightful city with canals, quaint shops, interesting architecture and lots of history. On to Germany and Bremerhaven and some more sunshine. The waterfront is very modern with an extensive promenade housing a zoo, maritime museum, canal boat trips, a large shopping complex and a fascinating immigration museum where we spent the day. The museum won the accolade of being the best European museum in 2017 and we can see why. You can follow the journey of those who emigrated from Europe to the US, Canada, South America and Australia and can even research your own family history if your ancestors emigrated. The interactive features and recreation of ship interiors, Ellis Island reception hall etc were exceptional. Belgium followed and we docked in Oostende, a lovely traditional seaside town. We took the 15 minute train ride into Brugge. The map provided on board was so sparse that we couldn't find the centre of town but at least we had fun exploring. When we reached the centre it was packed with tourists but very beautiful and very 'chocolate boxy'. We didn't have quite so much time in port as the ship's departure time was earlier than previously so we made a hasty retreat to Oostende. Sadly, another couple who went into Brugge had their return train cancelled and they missed the ship, although Captain Tysse waited an extra half hour. Pleased to say they caught up with Journey next day. France beckoned as we sailed off into the sunset and next morning we docked in Honfleur. It is such a pretty town, centred around the lovely harbour. The markets were in full swing and made for a lively, bustling atmosphere. We sat in a cafe with a bottle of local Normandy cider and watched the world go by. We have spent a week in Honfleur so didn't feel the need to visit the nearby D-Day beaches again but some guests spent the day there and said what a moving experience it was. For me, the highlight of the trip was the thought of sailing up the River Thames and mooring in Greenwich, London. We had a pilot on board who commentated on the history of the river and lots more as we sailed in around the twisting turns in the river and at one point the Journey turned a full 360 degrees. We moored up opposite the tea clipper, the Cutty Sark, the old Royal Naval College, the Queen's House and up on the top of Greenwich Park one can see the Royal Observatory where the Greenwich Meridian Line is set. Our final evening on board was the icing on the cake when we were allowed to invite my husband's twin sisters on board for dinner (for a small fee). They were thoroughly impressed and we now hope that they will come sailing on Azamara with us. We live beside Tower Bridge where Captain Tysse told us he would have liked to moor but can't at the moment due to the Port of London removing the heavy duty bouys. We forgive him as it would have been great to walk home but it was just a 15 minute ride from Greenwich. My husband even went into work the same day! Can't wait for next time – maybe on Pursuit. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
An unusual itinerary and a keen price.. The itinerary from which we booked showed arrival in Greenwich on 9th September at 1.15pm tendered. The ship was late and the tendering procedure using local tenders was appalling. The tender ... Read More
An unusual itinerary and a keen price.. The itinerary from which we booked showed arrival in Greenwich on 9th September at 1.15pm tendered. The ship was late and the tendering procedure using local tenders was appalling. The tender journey was short (approximately 5 minutes)but the one tender provided took 30 or 40 minutes to make a round trip. The result was that a huge line built up and we did not reach the shore until just before 4pm. All the local attractions such as the Cutty Sark, Maritime Museum, Queens House and the Observatory closed at 5pm. As a result we had barely an hour to look at anything. This rendered the day a wholly inadequate visit. We made many complaints to the officers in charge of tendering while we were standing waiting but they did nothing to speed up the process. We even asked the captain to get something done but astonishingly he said he was not responsible for the tendering. Azamara must take responsibility for making the completely ineffective arrangements. There was nobody on shore from Azamara and this omission meant there was no one expediting the turn round of the tender. Since it was a Sunday there were many other people using the Greenwich pier for river trips but Azamara completely failed to get the company they had appointed to provide an acceptable service. The consequence was that the call at Greenwich started by asking us to stand in line for an hour or more and then to be faced with the impossibility of seeing the places we had anticipated visiting because they were on the point of closing. The next day's disembarkation was in total contrast. It went smoothly with many Azamara staff on shore to speed the process. The cruise itself was pleasant but the weather could have been better. We did not like Bremerhaven as all the notices on shore including in the museums were only in German. There was a u boat on display and a railway truck used to transport Jews. Amsterdam was excellent as usual although it was frustrating not to be able to buy museum tickets at the door. The Amazing evening was a classical concert which was excellent if a little short. The dining room chairs in the main dining room looked good but were uncomfortable. The library was furnished badly and used to be much better. We enjoyed the Tapas every evening in the living room (observation lounge). A pity that a third of the front windows were blocked by the bandstand and that some of the sofas faced inwards rather than looking at the view. In contrast the outer ring of sunbeds on the pool deck faced outwards. Apart from the day in Greenwich we enjoyed the 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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