Sail Date: May 2007
We booked our cruise onboard Mercury last summer then transferred the booking to the online TA that we have used for many cruises. This review was written as a day by day report to give an ongoing perspective to our experiences. Saturday ... Read More
We booked our cruise onboard Mercury last summer then transferred the booking to the online TA that we have used for many cruises. This review was written as a day by day report to give an ongoing perspective to our experiences. Saturday We arranged for a car service to pick us up at 10:30 from the Residence Inn Times Square which we found an excellent place to stay. We used Marriott points and saved a bunch since breakfast and light suppers were included. About 10 minutes after we left the hotel we stopped to pick up Kelly and Lauren from our Roll Call and headed through the Holland Tunnel to Cape Liberty cruise terminal. Traffic was light for a holiday weekend and the trip took less than ½ hour. On arrival at the terminal, we handed over our luggage and checked in easily with our preprinted Express Pass - very easy and fast check-in with friendly personnel. About 5 minutes later we boarded a bus for the short ride to the ship. We were among the first to board (no problem with two bottles of wine we carried on) With champagne in hand, we headed to the buffet for lunch. We had pizza and salad at a table on Deck 9 aft (outside) with Kelly and Lauren. I left to check on our dinner reservations at Aqualina (which I had made via Celebrity's customer service manager from home). This was my first meeting with Dominic who informed me that the reservation was indeed made for the day and time requested, added a reservation for Prime C and informed me that we were not in cabin 7039 as we thought but had been moved to 8049. I was surprised and wondered the cabin had been changed. During lunch, the announcement was made that the cabins were ready (12:45 pm) so we went to explore our new cabin. What a nice surprise. The upgrade fairy is alive and well and lives on Journey! We had been upgraded from a balcony cabin to a lovely Sky Suite (not as large as we've seen on other ships, but lovely nevertheless). The dEcor was elegant and we enjoyed the gold and burnt orange colors. Nice balcony with a rectangular table and 2 chairs on which we enjoyed room service breakfast several times as well as afternoon wine.The bathroom was large with a tub and shower (design looked lovely but caused water on the floor every day - the narrow glass partition probably should have been wider) Elemis toiletries were in containers large enough to last all week with some to take home. Towels were of very good quality and attractive. The Cabin had plenty of drawer and closet space (two tier hanging rods made hanging longer things difficult) and empty suitcases fit easily under bed. Our butler, Nelson, came in to introduce himself (dressed in tux with tails) and tell us a bit about the ship's services. We told him we needed some things laundered/cleaned due to our week in NYC prior to cruise. He opened our first bottle of wine for us and poured us a glass -...we knew that our cruise had begun and it was sublime. We unpacked and did a quick tour of the ship where we found things in good shape, went to muster drill, and then to deck 11 to take pictures as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty and out of NY harbor. A wonderful start to our long awaited cruise. We went to the Martini Tasting in the Looking Glass Lounge - excellent with larger portions than on previous ships. In fact, we split one tasting and I had to ask to have my final of 3 drinks held until the next night - no problem! We enjoyed having fun there with the bride and her wedding party from the wedding that had occurred on the ship prior to sailing from Bayonne). Dinner in Discoveries - there was ½ hour wait at 8 pm. We asked to share a table and had dinner with a lovely couple from the UK (both of the wives were nurses so we had lots to talk about). Our table was in a very noisy location in the center of restaurant - a location that we didn't repeat. Food was good and the service adequate. We ordered a continental breakfast for 8-8:30 AM. and went to bed early. We slept very well on a comfy mattress with lots of pillows. Restaurant descriptions .....All restaurants are quite attractive. Aqualina is, as you might imagine light with sea colors and Prime C has lots of dark wood. Seating is good - lots of windows and not crowded. Discoveries - the main restaurant/dining room - is attractive with tables quite close together. Suggest you ask for a table of size you wish in the back section (right side is a bit quieter) and chose an early or late time. Most crowded during the 7:15-8:15 hour with waits of 30-45 minutes which makes the Martini Bar crowded and noisy. We found having Martinis in the 10th deck Looking Glass Lounge each evening was quiet with lovely views and a wonderful bartender (Marco from north of Dubrovnik) with beautiful eyes - yes, I did like looking at him ? We really enjoyed the Cova Cafe which got crowded pre-dinner and during evening entertainment. We always found seats but some days it was harder than others. Surprise! Justin Roland, our Captain's Club Host on Mercury last summer was the combination CC Host/Future Sales Mgr. He called and we stopped to see him before dinner - friendly, helpful as always AND he invited us to the Captain's Table for dinner. Thanks, Justin...more about that later. Sunday Our room service breakfast (OJ, French Toast, fruit and hot water to make our own 'good' coffee using portable French Press) arrived after phone call at 8:20 AM as requested. Ordering at least coffee and juice is a wonderful way to get a wake-up call and have coffee first thing in the AM - a must for us. We slept well after figuring out how to reset AC since it was very cold in the room. Awoke at 7 so relaxed, read and enjoyed the balcony until food arrived then had it placed on the table on the balcony. Food was not 'set-up' and attendant refused a tip! Weather was warm and breezy with some clouds. After breakfast, Art headed to the Looking Glass Lounge to read and I checked with Justin to see if Connections party invites had been sent - he didn't know but said he would check. Met Art and saw the few children onboard with a counselor playing trivia, cards and games and generally having a good time. We went to return a book to the library and discovered the Connections party in progress - we had not received an invite (due to cabin change apparently) but got in on enough to hear comments from CD John Howell and ask a few questions. John asked for feedback, answered questions and, in general, seemed sincere. I volunteered to collect comments and send to him. Had lunch from sandwich bar in Buffet area (called Windows) with some cold salad selections and again sat outside on deck 9 aft. Then went to ask Justin about Captain's Club activities. Again found that the list never made its way to our new cabin and we had missed the Senior Officers' Party for Select and Elite members. I was bummed and not happy with the nonchalant response I got...but got over it and obtained a list of other activities. Went to Art Auction (Champagne and enjoyed the bidding - one of our Roll Call members did quite well). Then on to Battle of the Sexes Trivia - which is one of the few games we really enjoy - ladies lost but anything can happen in the battle of the sexes - 2 more times to go! Had little sandwiches and listened to the Harpist at Cova Cafe - she plays beautifully and has a very nice voice. Not crowded and pleasant place to relax. Sat on our balcony until time to shower and dress for our evening with the Captain! I was glad I had brought one dressier outfit (not formal but a bit more than country club casual) which was perfect for the evening. We met Justin and the 3 other invited couples at 7:30 in the Martini Lounge. Introduced ourselves and chatted over drinks until the Captain joined us then were led through Discoveries by Justin who had let us know the appropriate protocol. We had our picture taken at the table with the Captain. Dinner was very nice - a congenial group, active conversation and an engaging Captain! Much fun. After dinner we went to the Cabaret for Showtime with Antonio Salci - an amazing pianist and entertainer - and the wonderful Journey orchestra. A truly terrific show. Stopped by the Casino for the raffle of $500 and other gifts (we didn't win but it was fun to see the winners' reactions). We went to bed early to get up to watch the ship go through St. George's cut - a must do activity. Ordered coffee for 6:30 AM so that we could be dressed and on deck for the 7:45 event! Monday Awakened at 6:30 AM by call saying our coffee and OJ were on the way... dressed and on deck by 7:15 to see the approach to St. George's - got some good pictures of the pilot boat transferring the pilot to Journey on a cloudy morning. Going thru the cut was exciting but those who had done it before were disappointed that the town crier in uniform and canon shot were non-existent. After breakfast we walked from ship to King's Square where we began our self-directed walk through St. George (from Frommer's Bermuda 2007 book). Made a few wrong turns due to poor signage but managed to find all of the buildings on the list. We especially enjoyed the Unfinished Church at the top of a hill...great pictures and interesting plaques explaining why the church was not completed. After 2 hours returned to the ship for rest and lunch - sun had come out and it was quite warm so our spot on the aft deck was a welcome site. We had excellent shrimp scampi salad and a sandwich. Note: Art had been searched thoroughly at Bermuda security where a photo ID as well as ship's pass was required. This often happens to him...hmmm; wonder if he's on some kind of list ? After lunch we went back into town to mail some post cards we had bought that morning - post office is a few minutes walk towards the square - large white building on left side (postcard stamps are 70 cents apiece!). Then we hopped on a #11 bus towards Hamilton - up the steps next to Cafe Latte - and used it as a tour bus to see some of the residential sections of the island. Enjoyed the views and the narrow, curving roads. It was fun to see how many locals greeted each other and asked about family members as they got on and off the bus, passed golf courses, hotels, large beautiful homes, etc. We got off at the ferry landing in Hamilton and took the ferry marked Dockyards/St. Georges. Sat on top deck (both covered and uncovered seats available and I had it to myself with one other passenger - Art stayed below). It was a fantastic ride - beautiful scenery, breeze blowing, great picture taking spot. When we stopped at the Dockyards, I ran downstairs to bring Art to the top deck and we enjoyed the longer ride back to St. George's Island. Bought a couple of requisite Tee Shirts on the way back to the ship - no long security stop this time. Art napped while I showered to get ready for dinner at Aqualina. Still no canapEs delivered to the room. Enjoyed the Harpist in Cova Cafe again and our nightly martini in Looking Glass with Marco (who has figured out that Art wants the same Bombay Sapphire each night and I like to try whatever new one he suggests). So far I've enjoyed his Cosmo, Paradise, and Green Apple martinis with more to come. Aqualina - very good food and service and we loved that it was complimentary (one night for all; 2 nights for suites). I wasn't thrilled with the Paella that I ordered since it was not rice-based but rather small kernels of corn (not bad, but not what I expected). And the crème brulee was beautifully presented (as was all of the food) but not the best. Art enjoyed all of his meal! There is a tasting menu that includes wine with each course that adds $50 to bill. We passed and ordered wine by the glass which was an excellent Sangiovese. Only problem with advanced reservations is that you choose the day and time before knowing the activities onboard that might conflict with your chosen time. After dinner we went to the Cabaret for the Hollywood Stars (singing). They were quite good but too much sea air, food and wine sent us to bed before the show was over ? We made great plans to visit several beaches starting early the next morning. Tuesday Awoke early and thought I heard 'rain'...convinced myself that it was a dream and went back to sleep. Work for good at 8:15 AM and the dream was still playing. It was a dreary, rainy, windy day with, at times, torrential rain. We have a rule to never let the weather hold us back and to not 'sweat' the things we can't control. So....off to breakfast and the Captain's announcement that there would be rain/clouds/showers all day! After breakfast in the dining room, we put on the raingear that we had tossed into our duffels at the last minute and grabbed the umbrella that we had taken from our car and the one in our cabin closet and off we went! We walked down Front Street trying to stay on the covered sidewalks as much as possible, wandering in and out of shops and, amazingly, buying nothing! Wandering on some side streets, we asked a local if there was an Internet Cafe nearby - thankfully, there is one just a block or two from the ship (if you're interested in finding it, cross the street in front of the ship, turn left and make a right on a street whose name begins with a B (sorry but I didn't write it down ? ). It's on the left hand side of the street up a hill. Nice place with helpful employees and complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate which we relished in our cold and soggy state. We bought a ½ hour Internet card for $4. Fast connections with an easy to access timer. We left the card with the minutes we didn't use in our cabin hoping one of the crew uses it. We sent a group message to friends and family and posted an early report on CC then went back to the ship soaking wet to mid-thigh! It took 2 days for our jeans to dry! We changed and went to Windows for lunch. We ate with 2 nice couples (one from NJ and one from Pearl River, NY). So far, the tally we've been keeping re: Journey is clearly in favor of larger ships - most people we've talked with had been on Zenith several times and would not have chosen a ship the size of Journey if given a choice. We, on the other hand, although booked on Zenith, love the size of Journey and took the opportunity today to book a Best of Italy cruise on Quest for fall 2008! For us, trips like those in the Med. are so port intensive that having no formal nights and open dining times works much better. And the itinerary is excellent - all Italian with one stop in Split, Croatia and starting and ending in the Rome port. We hope to plan a pre-cruise trip to Tuscany so we were happy campers. After lunch we went to Michael's to enjoy the comfy atmosphere while I wrote in my journal and DH read his book with a nap thrown in! Today we received a survey form from the Hotel Director, David Kelly and we noted the still broken messaging system, public bathroom near main dining room that needed attention, lack of canapEs and almost invisible butler. We made the point that if Azamara wishes to compete with Oceania, these details needed to be addressed quickly. Went for our nightly delicious Martinis by Marco in Looking Glass followed by dinner in Discoveries was good (food and service) but quite noisy. We asked for a table towards the back but we needed to be further back to avoid the noise in the front of the restaurant. Certainly didn't keep us from eating and enjoying dinner. We did not go to hear the piano player, Dan Hodge, as we had heard him lots of times in Cova Cafe. The NewlyWed-Not-So-NewlyWed Game was funny as always with the usual risquE comments by those married the longest. But a fun way to spend a ½ hour. Just relaxed the rest of the evening, chatting with new friends and wishing the Casino was open. The required closing while in port, when you're in port for the bulk of the cruise, left a lot of people with time on their hands in the evening. Wednesday I realized this morning that Alexandra Battery Beach Park was near St. George and not near Hamilton as I had written down. So, after breakfast, we headed to the Ferry Dock to take the ferry back to St. George. We asked for directions from a shop owner in King's Square and she told us she had never heard of the beach. I had gotten the information from a Cruise Critic who had collected beach glass there with his wife (see www.lavasurfer.com/info/bermuda.html for long, interesting and helpful information.) We spent a few minutes looking over two maps and were able to show the local lady where the beach was (she called it Battery Park and told us how to get there). Off we went on a mile long, hilly walk through a lovely residential area to find Cut Road. I was excited to stand near the cut since I had taken pictures of that very spot as we sailed through the cut. I climbed up into the Fort, took a bunch of pictures and we continued on our way down the road. We came upon a rather large fort-like Battery building with a small beach park a bit further down the road. Two women who I had told about the beach the night before had arrived before us (by bus) and told us that since low tide wasn't until the afternoon, there wasn't a whole lot of glass on the beach. There was also a bunch of large jelly fish washed up on the beach so we trod carefully. We collected enough off of the seawall to make me happy and walked to the nearest bus stop to take #11 back to Hamilton. On the way back, I surprised Art with a stop at the Swizzle Inn - highly recommended by lots of guidebooks and posters on Bermuda threads. We had the Rum Swizzles that everyone recommended with a Triple Dip snack plate. We were not impressed. The Swizzles were good but small and the snack just OK....it was quite noisy. We sat on the upper deck and lots of traffic including buses passed frequently. But we have pictures of us drinking there and the bus stop was directly across the street. I wanted to stop at Crystal Caves but we had spent a lot of time getting the glass and I was ready to go back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we took a ferry to the Dockyards. Really enough to do there for several hours, but we just walked around the Crafts Center and watched a few craftswomen showing their crafts. We didn't find anything of interest so we walked over to the Snorkel beach which looked shallow and safe for children. It was cool and windy - we waded into the water, brrrr! It was too late to go into the museum since the last entry was at 4 PM and we thought the $8 admission fee too high for the short time that we would have. So we took the # 7 bus back to Hamilton. It drove along South Road past all of the beaches and some nice hotels and beautiful views crossed the shortest draw bridge and we saw more residential areas. We decided to try to make our last day (we were sailing at 3 PM) a beach day! The bus stopped a short distance from the entrance to the security area to return to the ship. I must include that the Bermudian security people here were the nicest, funniest and most pleasant people I've ever seen in that kind of position. By the time we had left and returned to the ship several times, they were almost our friends - bantering with us and telling funny stories. We went back to the Looking Glass (of course) but I wasn't feeling well (the snack at Swizzle Inn??) so this time I had a Ginger Ale. About an hour later, we headed for our reservation at Prime C. It is a lovely place with very good food (my favorite, though, was Aqualina). Dominic was making his rounds again, stopped to talk to us and was his usual charming self. After dinner, we stopped at the Cova Cafe to listen to the music. Captain Bouzakis walked by and stopped to talk with us. He told us that he would be bringing the Quest online in September. We told him we hoped he was still there when we sailed the following September. I'd guess he will be used to do start ups of other new ships (just my intuition - nothing he said. We then meandered to the Cabaret to see the Comedian/Magician who we really enjoyed. We had seen him (or someone with a similar act) on a previous cruise. He had some very funny interactions with members of the audience. The White Night festivities were later that night but we chose not to participate - masquerade type parties are not our thing. There was a street festival on Front Street and we listened to marching bands and laughter for awhile and then went to bed in hopes of an early start the next day. We had heard that if we got to Horseshoe Bay by 9 AM, the beach would be relatively empty for several hours..... Thursday Last day in Bermuda, so we followed our plan and got up at 6:30, had breakfast at the buffet and hopped a #11 bus to the bus station changing to the #7 bus to Horseshoe Bay. On the way we realized that we had just used expired bus passes. We hadn't used the pass in yesterday's rainy weather and hadn't realized that the 3 days were consecutive. At least we weren't found out and didn't have to spend time in a Bermuda jail?. Only a 10-15 min ride took us to the path down to the beach. There were very few people there as we'd been told. We rented beach chairs ($10 per chair with a $5 returnable deposit) and set them up in the beautiful cove on the right side of the beach that reminded us of Virgin Gordo. I then walked the length of the horseshoe shaped beach - white sand with some red flecks giving the sand a slightly pink tinge. The day was perfect, sunny with puffy white clouds, warm air temperatures but cold water temperature. We spent several hours enjoying the beach, watching the kids play in the shallow water, chatting with others arriving from the Journey and relaxing in the sun on our final day in Bermuda. We waded in the water in the cove - not as cold as in the open ocean - so that we could say that we had been in the water at least once. We packed up to head back to the ship. We had planned to climb back up the hill to get the bus but met a couple going back to Journey and shared a taxi back ($17). We said our final good-byes to our port security friends, dropped our things in the cabin and went to lunch and then started packing. Packing is a chore that I don't like especially when it signals the end of a wonderful vacation. But getting most of it done left me with time to enjoy the last afternoon on board, be on deck for sail away with Kelly and Lauren, and to take final pictures of Hamilton from the top deck. I got back to the cabin in time to watch the pilot boat retrieve the pilot from Journey and to enjoy a glass of wine on our balcony. We went to the Captain's Club party at 6:30 in the Cabaret. We asked for Martinis when the waitress came around to offer wine/champagne/Mai Tais. She was happy to oblige and so we enjoyed our last Martinis of the trip. A couple we met at the Captain's table got the award for the most Celebrity cruises (21) - we were frequently reminded that X and Azamara were part of the same brand. I wonder if this will change as cruisers rack up numbers of Azamara cruises. We had dinner in Discoveries served by our favorite waiter in a quiet area in the back of the dining room. Lobster tails were on the menu tonight - mine was good; Art's was excellent. I found that my appetite was decreasing from too much overindulgence on previous days. We had planned to go to the evening show, but, once again, we were tired from the beach outing and crashed early. Wondered if we're getting old or just relaxed - decided it must be relaxation?. Friday and Saturday Whew...the bitter sweet end of every vacation is upon us...looking forward to picking up our little schnauzer and seeing the family, but sad to leave our relaxing and beautiful Sky Suite and ending our vacation. We decided to be 'served' all day today and asked for and got our favorite waiter and good table locations each time. We had ordered OJ and coffee early so we really had 2 breakfast...but even oatmeal tastes good when it's served with a smile. After breakfast we went to the pool deck, DH in the shade and me in the sun. We read and relaxed until 11 AM when we went to the Martini Bar for the complementary Chardonnay blending seminar for Captain's Club members. The tables were nicely set up with multiple glasses, napkins, etc. Justin, 3 Sommeliers and a Maitre D' and the two of us. After about 10 minutes, when no one else had joined us, Justin gave us the choice of a 'one on one' seminar or a bottle of wine with dinner. We chose the wine and thanked the group. As we were leaving, Justin pointed out that one of the Sommeliers was from Australia. He knew that we are sailing on Mercury in Feb from Sydney and looking forward to a winery tour while there. We asked the Aussie if he could recommend a wine tour and chatted with him for a few minutes. After a light lunch, we went to the Chef's Culinary class which was terrific. The Exec Chef and Dominic had an entertaining repartee going between them; they were very funny. Audience members asked questions and the Chef introduced members of his staff such as the Pastry Chef and Senior Asst Chefs. He demonstrated how to sear and prepare a Filet Mignon, Polenta, veggies and sauce. Then everyone got to sample the food. We really enjoyed this and stayed afterwards to tell them so. Then the final Battle of the Sexes; a large crowd showed us this time with raucous participation from the younger members who had just completed a funfilled karaoke session. Misty was in charge again and kept the momentum going...ended with a tie and a Bonus round with the question being answered correctly by a retired school teacher - a WOMAN! Guess we showed them - by gender and age!! It was a lot of fun and I have a certificate to prove that I get the last word for a year! I spent most of the rest of the afternoon finishing up our packing and leaving out our travel clothes for the AM. We then finished the last of the two bottles of wine we had brought onboard with us and dressed for our last pre-dinner drinks in the Looking Glass. We were supposed to meet fellow cruisers there and have dinner with them, but, unfortunately we didn't have their last names or cabin number, so when they didn't show, we couldn't reach them to see if we had the wrong time. So...we laughed it off, finished our martinis, said good-bye to Mario and Maria (the other bartender/waitress in the Looking Glass) and went to dinner. We stopped for music at Cova and then found that we had a long wait for dinner...which wasn't bad since I wasn't at all hungry. We bumped into the honeymoon couple with whom we had breakfast one morning and offered them one of our 2 bottles of champagne (one in the room when we arrived and the other sent by the CD) since they were driving and we couldn't carry bottles onboard and had no room in our luggage. It was fun to give them a bottle with a Celebrity Label as a momento of their honeymoon cruise. Didn't eat much for dinner...after ordering the Grilled Salmon that is on the menu every night. It was cooked exactly as I liked it, too. After dinner, we wandered around the ship visiting some of our favorite spots and then went back to the cabin and put our luggage tags on and the bags in the hall. Saturday AM Somehow I awoke spontaneously at 5:30 AM -I went out on the balcony just as we passed under the Veranzano Bridge. The sky was pale pink and there was a light mist over the city...breathtaking! I grabbed my camera and woke Art to see the amazing scene. I stayed on the balcony until we were almost at the dock taking some lovely sunrise pictures and enjoying see the Statue of Liberty welcoming us back against a blurred skyline! We dressed and went to breakfast in Discoveries...taking the last bottle of champagne with us to give to someone who was driving home. The majority of our fellow cruisers seemed to be from NJ, PA and NY so a lot of folks drove or had cars drop them at the port. We sat with 2 couples from NJ and they were happy to take our little gift home. Had our final meal with our trusty waiter, retrieved our carry-ons and went to hang out in the Cova Cafe until our 'color' was called. We met our honeymoon couple who thanked us for leaving the champagne outside their cabin door. Disembarkation was a snap...short wait, picked up luggage, short bus ride, quick customs' check and a walk dragging our luggage to the taxi area. We were given a town car for the same price as a taxi and in 15 minutes we were heading to the check-in point for our flight. We had several hours until our flight so were in no hurry...and, of course, getting through security took no time at all ?. Our flight was delayed by 45 minutes but was uneventful. Our shared sandwich of airport food was not what we had come to expect! We spent the waiting time talking about our favorite times on the trip and looking forward to our next cruise in Feb. 2008. In summary,it was a very good cruise for us; not perfect or the deluxe trip we had anticipated, but fine. We look forward to sailing Azamara in the future when all of the kinks are ironed out. The ship was beautiful; we enjoyed Bermuda and we met many very nice people. The people we meet (crew and passengers) always influence our travels more than anything else and they were wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I have always wanted to visit Bermuda and there is no doubt cruising is the most economical and (IMHO) the best way. We originally booked the Celebrity Zenith in a Category 11 Concierge room. A few months later I was informed of the switch ... Read More
I have always wanted to visit Bermuda and there is no doubt cruising is the most economical and (IMHO) the best way. We originally booked the Celebrity Zenith in a Category 11 Concierge room. A few months later I was informed of the switch to the Celebrity Journey and subsequently the Azamara Journey. I was very happy about this because now I was in a Sky Suite, about 60 sp feet bigger and a nice balcony which the Zenith did not have. Being touted as a step up from Celebrity and on par with the likes of Oceania I was really looking forward to this trip. I traveled with my wife along with my 21 yr old son and his roommate from college (they were in an inside cabin) After reading messages from cruisers on the first 3 sailings I was more amused then concerned since I have NEVER had a bad cruise so here goes: EMBARKATION: In a word EASY. If you are in a suite you bypass the longer line and the photographers! It took us less than five minutes to get on the ship after arrival in the terminal. I also noticed (noon) that the other line was not too long. This is one advantage of a small ship! We also had an extremely smooth ride to Bermuda - smoothest ever out of NYC. CABIN: I was in 8039, one of the new Sky Suites. For me it had plenty of space - the room itself, the closets and the bathroom. I am a big guy and loved the size of the bathroom. The were broken fixtures on the sink that I was told "we know". The bathtub is unnecessary and a little to high to climb in and if you are 6' tall your head will scrape the ceiling. The worst design flaw here is that there is no door or curtain - the floor gets VERY VERY WET ! I showed a couple of senior staff members and all they could do is shake their heads ! They claimed they had no idea. The "BUTLER" was nothing more than the cabin steward in a tux. We did receive fresh fruit a few days and some awful canapes every day but nothing special. SHIP: I love this ship: this is the old R6 from Renaissance and last year I was on the Tahitian Princess which was the R4 so I already knew I would like it. I have to say though that I can't figure out where the $19 million went to refurbish it, a lot was the same as the Princess ship down to the same carpet, fixtures, some paintings and the awfully in need of a refurb pool. Very odd that the front of the ship was much colder than the rear - especially the Cabaret deck 5 forward - many complained it was too cold - I loved it. SERVICE: Mostly excellent. Room service was spotty but is 24 hours, the dining room was mediocre as due to open seating there is no connecting with the same people and the waiters for the most part just go through the motions. There were a couple of exceptions to this. My cabin staff was also quite good. FOOD: Mostly very good. Aqualina and Prime C were excellent, the dining room was very good to excellent (no better than any other cruise I have taken) for lunch and dinner but I found breakfast, both at the buffet and in the dining room to be VERY disappointing. The sushi bar on deck 9 was very good and, on a day that I found odd, on Lobster tail night the buffet had the best Beef Wellington I have EVER had - and no one knew !!! Yes - I did both that night. CASINO: Small but very professional and the best manager I have ever dealt with. No blackjack or slot tourneys and the Texas Hold 'Em machine is a total rip-off. SHOWS: The production shows were only singers and geared toward the over 65 crowd - not my thing. I was disappointed that there were no production shows; I know its a small "stage" but Princess did it really well. The instrumentalist and comic magician were TOP NOTCH. The magician ( Carl Andrews) best I have ever seen on a cruise ! SHORE EXCURSIONS: I did not do any but my son had one cancelled that he ended up doing on his own with the same person! He was told the person cancelled so he called on his own and the person did not even know it was cancelled and was really angry at the cruise line. I do not want to get more into detail but suffice it to say that the shore excursion desk was not truthful. There did seem to be a lot of excursions offered. ART AUCTION: Yes I now the good and the bad but this is a guilty pleasure for my wife and I. I have never seen so little money spent on the auctions this trip. Azamara and Park West thought everyone on board was a millionaire. Ridiculous choices - there should have been much more under $500-1000 I do not want to ramble any further but I was surprised there were no port talks and discussion of how to get around Bermuda. Quite a few old folks in wheelchairs I saw going to Horseshoe Bay Beach(GREAT PLACE) but did not know of the really steep hill to get to it! No midnight buffets or decent food late either. The are some crappy sandwiches by the coffee bar though. Drinks were great but terribly overpriced. I am only trying to be honest. The cruise was excellent and we all had a great time. I think that Azamara will be a deluxe line one day, that day is not today. They need to deliver quickly what they have promised or their credibility will disintegrate quickly. For what they are charging now I would not sail with them again, for what I paid though, I definitely would. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Cape Liberty was a breeze to sail out of and no lines. With promises of celebrity spa like treatment on our cruise, we anxiously boarded the boat. Our rooms were very nice, and our bedding was exceptional. I did receive that promised fruit ... Read More
Cape Liberty was a breeze to sail out of and no lines. With promises of celebrity spa like treatment on our cruise, we anxiously boarded the boat. Our rooms were very nice, and our bedding was exceptional. I did receive that promised fruit on day one but that went south quickly. What treats or canapes got served at 2pm? I never received one. I wandered around the ship looking for activities and lo and behold they were making masquerade masks for an upcoming ball! Are you kidding me? Paper, glitter and unsharpened preschool scissors! What nonsense. The over 90 group seemed to be having a good time. They had a 2 minute scavenger hunt but the little old lady in front of me had all day to get to the host. Old people were in the library laying on the sofa and frankly between the temperature and the age group I felt like i was on a floating morgue. Food was just good. If you didn't grab your lunch from the buffet by 2pm, you were out of luck. They removed bins as your spoon anxiously scraped the bottom for a tidbit. As far as the gourmet restaurants, they were just ok. You could get the same on either side, I suspect they shared a kitchen. The shows were for old people. Some guy singing Frank Sinatra, boring. Some guy playing the piano, boring!! I've taken cruises with Cirque Soleil shows and this was way more expensive. Very disappointed with the sales pitch of this ship. The entire cruise was misrepresented from the very beginning and we were led to believe this was a once in a lifetime cruise...well it was because I think I'll try an all inclusive next time. This was my honeymoon and it was the most boring cruise ever!! I feel bad for the waiters who gave less effort than I'm used to. I never even got offered an ice tea for dinner. Very disappointed! Wont take this cruise line ever again, It is for the older crowd. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Extreme disappointment is how we would describe our "Celebrity turned Azamara Journey cruise". We arrived at Port Liberty to find it was The Azamara" not the Celebrity, classic bait and switch. After day two we dubbed our ... Read More
Extreme disappointment is how we would describe our "Celebrity turned Azamara Journey cruise". We arrived at Port Liberty to find it was The Azamara" not the Celebrity, classic bait and switch. After day two we dubbed our ship" Azamara Surprise". There was no "early or late" seating as stated. We awoke many mornings to the sound of welding going on outside of our room because the ship was still under renovations. And we're not talking the general touch up paint that one may see while cruising. We're talking having to walk around the partitions that were lined up in the hallway that were eventually installed as separations for our "verandas". One morning one of the workers actually walked into our cabin after knocking very lightly on the door, which we didn't even get a chance to answer before he walked right in! He was looking for the workers outside of our cabin! Many of the wait staff was inexperienced. They told us that they were previously busboys on the last cruise ship and had no experience as waiters but were offered this job. The cafeteria style dining was horrible! Often times there were no coffee cups, juice machines w/no juice and the floors in the area constantly were wet! I feared for the older passengers! We often waited in line to be seated in the dining room. You had to ASK for coffee/tea, the salt and peppershakers didn't work and the server's uniforms were in terrible shape! . The complimentary dinner was very good but these were the types of meals we had on previous cruises at no extra cost! Getting food after 10pm was impossible as there were no little stand type eateries. Hot tub and pools often closed. The best entertainment was the few great karaoke passengers! The best part of the cruise was getting OFF the ship to wander beautiful Bermuda! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
1st I would like to begin by stating that we had originally booked this Bermuda vacation on board Celebrity Zenith. My wife and I had traveled on Celebrity Zenith twice before and absolutely loved the ship. The two of us also loved her ... Read More
1st I would like to begin by stating that we had originally booked this Bermuda vacation on board Celebrity Zenith. My wife and I had traveled on Celebrity Zenith twice before and absolutely loved the ship. The two of us also loved her sister ship the Horizon which we sailed on once before. Celebrity sold the Zenith and purchased this vessel from another cruise line and renamed the ship Journey. We were automatically placed onboard this ship is SUPPOSEDLY the same accommodations.....Below, I will share with you my experiences. Arrival at Terminal : Absolutely splendid. I will tell you that Cape Liberty is an extremely organized and well oiled machine. I pulled into the terminal area, unloaded my luggage, and parked my car within 5 minutes. Everyone was extremely helpful and accommodating. We were then led to the check in area. I had reserved this cruise a year ago to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary so we booked a Royal Suite. Because we were in a suite we had a separate check in area and were checked in on the shipped in 2 minutes. I looked through the curtains at the other check in area and they had a line of about 10 people maximum at 12 noon.....I was expecting the circus which normally occurs in New York Terminal. At that point we were escorted to a shuttle bus which drove us to the Boat which was a one minute ride up the block. we proceeded up the gangway, presented our seapasses and had our photos taken for security and were on the boat by 12:15pm after pulling in the parking lot at 12 noon. This is where the Celebrity and Azamara begin to separate....We were then told that the rooms were not ready so if we could go have some lunch in the Windows Cafe we would make an announcement around 1pm we spent about 1 1/2 waiting for the rooms to be prepared. At which point, they made an announcement that you can proceed to your rooms.... Celebrity would never have done that. They always walk you to your room upon boarding the vessel. We arrived at our room and saw a beautiful suite overlooking the front of the boat. We had a great view of NY harbor as we were leaving port. We met Jose our "Butler" and he asked if we would like to have afternoon tea service, I told him that we did and we would like to have that along with finger sandwiches in our room at 3pm everyday. I also requested that we would like to organize our in room massages with Aquaspa and were told that there were none on this vessel. Day 1 : Began by us immediately going to guest relations to organize a baby sitter for the late evening hours. We were told that they would "TRY" but that Baby Sitters are limited on board that it was a first come first serve basis. I was instructed by a "lovely" lady Margaret at the front desk that there would be NO baby sitting organized on the first night. I asked my "Butler" to see if he could find us a baby sitter and he did.... We then ventured to meet the Kids Club staff.... Where's the Fun Factory we asked? There is none! In the back of the Looking Glass night club they have designated a small area for the Kid's Club to utilize.....This is an embarrassment. They also only have two counselors working at any point and time for ALL the kids. So you have potentially 20 kids being supervised by two Young Ladies. In some cases there was only one lady supervising all the children during dinner time. They have all the children together and they all do the same thing regardless of age. I have an 8 year old and a 3 year old who have different personalities......They were in the same age categories and did the same things. My kids were deprived the full experience they should have received. No talent show! No Kids Club T-shirts! We also learned that as of September they are doing away with the kids program entirely.....If you have kids, find another cruiseline. We then made reservations at the main dining room.... Supposedly open seating but you can arrange for the same dinner time if you inquire. We arranged to have some reservations at the more upscale restaurants on board and did so with ease. we ate in the main dining room on the first night.... I have to say, their food in the dining rooms are absolutely spectacular. After Dinner I ventured to their Casino..... What a joke of a Casino. 2 Black Jack tables, a Roulette Table, a 3 Card Poker Table and slot machines.... Lots of slots.... NO CRAPS TABLE!!!! I asked the pit boss why no Craps Table? How can you have a Casino with No Craps Table? I was told that they do not have the accommodations to hold the dealers for a Craps Table....They did have additional Black Jack and Three Card Poker tables with dealers waiting for players but most of the time they had no people at them. I told the Pit Boss, why not use the dealers standing at tables waiting for players to do a craps table.....Anyway, No Craps, but the dealers are wonderful and Azamara probably saved me money by not having a Craps Table.....However, if you like to gamble find another Cruiseline. Day 2: We had Dinner plans at Aqualina, this is there French / Italian restaurant....The Maitre D' Dominique is absolutely unbelievable....Great Guy. Food is outrageous. Wine selection is very nice..... We found out that there are NO MIDNIGHT BUFFETS on this cruise ship. After 12 Midnight no food to be found anywhere except room service. We ordered one night room service to there Cova Cafe and they delivered it there..... Funny stuff. We realized for the kids.... Ice Cream during certain times only..... No Self Serve Ice Cream machine..... Pathetic. Pizza is pretty good and so is the Hamburgers. Day 3: Television service goes out completely in all rooms. When I inquired with the "Butler" he said they were working on it. This is when I started to realize that I was receiving the services of a Stateroom attendant in a Tuxedo..... Not European style Butler Service. If you speak to the Hotel Manager she willadmit to you that Azamara does not offer European Style Butler Service. If you look in their brochures you see that it mentions all rooms have Butler Service.... I was short changed in this regard as well. I inquired with front Desk about the TV's and was told it was a ship wide problem and that they were working on it. Day 4: Ate Dinner at the Prime C Restaurant.....Have the Cowboy Rib eye Bone in..... Its an unbelievable piece of meat. Also, they cook their steaks one temperature higher than you request....If you want Medium rare you need to order Rare. however, food is excellent. Still no TV service, and a joke of a kids club so my kids were freaking out at this point. Thank god the island is absolutely gorgeous.... So we spent most of the time at the beaches. I also could not access my emails beginning this day. The computer Center was down. My office staff had no way of contacting me and almost lost a bid because I had no access to emails. When I asked Margaret at the front desk what was the problem she told me that it was TOO TECHNICAL of an explanation to share with me. I asked her to amuse me and share her info..... She refused and I then asked for her boss who had a similar type of attitude till I asked to speak with the Hotel Manager.... All of a sudden, everyone became very responsive. Amazing. the Hotel manager is Heike.... Make sure you introduce yourself to her as soon as you board. Day 5: Still no TV Service, Nor Computer Center. Day 6: TV Service Resumed and computer Center service but the computers are like you are using some kind of dial up service. I was greeted by 225 emails which took quite sometime to sift through. At this point, I requested to meet with Heike and share my concerns regarding the services they were offering my family. She told me that she would address them. All of a sudden, everyone was jumping through hoops for us... Front desk calling to make sure TV service was functioning correctly. We did get some heavy rains and the veranda doors were leaking into our suite causing the carpeting to get all wet. Day 7: No Grand Finale in the dining rooms.... No Baked Alaska displays..... Nothing special done. Here are some additional items I forgot.... They canceled Bingo on day 4 because not enough players showed up to cover the Pot of $500 so they canceled Bingo..... Azamara can't front a $500 bingo pool? No Cigar Bar.... Very Few Shops....No merchandise onboard with the ship Logo.....Can you believe that? Entertainment???? The best entertainer on board is a ventriloquist and the Harp player..... That should give you an idea of the entertainment on board. No Priority Disembarking for Royal Suite Guests.... We were one of the last groups off the boat. Received our Luggage Last coming on board the vessel. They organize everything from the inside out to the suites. So when you see priority luggage handling and disembarking on the brochure.....Its all fluff. Cape Liberty Terminal is a great experience. Once they let us leave the boat.... we were on the road in 15 mins. If it was not for the Dining Rooms and there staff I would suggest everyone to stay clear of this Vessel. However, do not waste your money on a Royal Suite on this vessel.....They do not service you adequately.....Just get a Ocean view room, you get the same services from your Stateroom attendant in a Tuxedo. Azamara is supposed to be a sister company of Celebrity..... Not in my book.... They better get there act together or this will be a short lived experiment for Azamara. Now I know why Celebrity launched it as a separate brand. Good Luck AZAMARA. You'll never see my family again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Embarkation: We drove to Cape Liberty and parked in the port's parking lot for the duration of the cruise. A shuttle bus picked us up immediately and drove us to the terminal, where we were greeted warmly. We were checked in ... Read More
Embarkation: We drove to Cape Liberty and parked in the port's parking lot for the duration of the cruise. A shuttle bus picked us up immediately and drove us to the terminal, where we were greeted warmly. We were checked in immediately - no lines and no waiting. We were again greeted warmly once we boarded the ship and were met with complimentary glasses of champagne. We were told that we could eat lunch or go to our cabin which was ready for us. We chose to walk around a bit first and our bags arrived shortly after us in our cabin. The ship itself: We loved the size and scale of the ship. It was small enough that getting around the ship was very easy and getting back to the cabin from any point on the ship was quick and easy. And, although the size made for a warm and intimate feeling, we never felt crowded or at a loss for privacy. We were able to find a private spot whenever we chose to do so. The decor is one of understated elegance with traditional and contemporary elements nicely combined - lots of polished wood, warm velvets, teak, leather, and other elegant fabrics. We were relieved that there were no towers of glass/chrome/mirrors/garish colors which seem to be prevalent on some of the larger cruise ships. It was often too cold in the common areas on the ship and I was glad we brought sweaters. The pool was small and there are two small jacuzzi tubs in the pool area. There are plenty of deck chairs on the pool deck and the top deck as well. There is a jogging track around the deck above the pool. We very much appreciated the no smoking policy on the ship. Both the Looking Glass Lounge and the Library are very pretty spaces. The Library was supposed to turn into Michael's Club at night, but we stopped by there on several occasions in the evening and there was nothing going on there. The cabin: We had an ocean view cabin with a large round porthole covering most of the outside wall. The cabin was small but not uncomfortably so. There was more than adequate storage for our things and we brought alot of clothes and accoutrements. The bedding was very lush and comfy - high thread count sheets and down duvet. The towels were very plush. The bathroom was tiny but we managed fine with it. There was a flat screen TV mounted on the wall showing a few channels. The food: Overall, the food was very good to excellent, and the selection was fine. There were a few "misses" in Discoveries, the main dining room, a few soups that we did not enjoy come to mind. There were small pastries and tea sandwiches in the Cova Cafe available all the time and they were yummy. The coffee in the machines in the Windows Cafe far surpassed the quality of the coffee in the dining room. The beans are freshly ground with each cup. My husband made iced cappuccino's for us with the machines every day and they were out of this world. By the end of the trip, they had run out of cream, which was a problem for us and seemed an unnecessary slip-up. The same selection of bread, rolls, and bread sticks came with each meal in a bread basket. I would have preferred a little more variety in this area, but we really loved all the breakfast rolls and pastries available every morning in Windows, especially all the different flavors of croissants and the brioche was delicious. Smoked salmon was at breakfast every morning and it was delicious. Beverages: We bought a bottle of wine with our meal at Aqualina and fell in love with the wine. We ordered it again the next night and were told that they had run out :( Alcoholic drinks were relatively generous and of good quality, but they were overpriced at $8 apiece. We felt that the coffee and tea at the Cova Cafe should have been complimentary, but these were all extra and a bit expensive as well. Service: From the moment we boarded the ship until we left, we were consistently impressed with the gracious service we received. The ratio of crew to passengers is nicely high and the entire crew were sincere and attentive. We didn't see that much of our butler, but he was friendly and helpful, and our cabin was kept spotlessly clean. We received small surprises in our cabin every day like chocolate covered strawberries, canape's, chocolates, etc. We were especially impressed with Dominique, the Maitre'D who made us feel very special. Entertainment: The musical and comedian entertainment was of professional caliber and enjoyable. The Cabaret where the shows and other events took place was a lovely space. We enjoyed the cooking demonstrations and enrichment lectures as well. Specialty Restaurants: We ate at both Aqualina and Prime C. We enjoyed both, but preferred Aqualina. The foie gras appetizer at Aqualina was stellar and the steak fries at Prime C were addictive. Open Seating: It worked out quite well for us. It was important to be able to be on our own schedule for this precious vacation time and it was nice not to be tied to the dining room at a particular time every night. We were seated immediately at a table for two (at our request) in every case but one when we were asked to come back in 1/2 hour. Disembarkation: Everything went very smoothly. We disembarked in groups spaced about 15 min. apart. We went through customs in a minute w/no wait and then met our bags in the terminal and were taken to our car in the lot, again w/no wait. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Azamara Journey Review June 9-16, 2007 The port of Bayonne, New Jersey is about ½ hour from the Newark Airport (a $45 cab ride). Upon arriving at the port, there is a sense of desolation, as this particular dock has fallen into disuse. ... Read More
Azamara Journey Review June 9-16, 2007 The port of Bayonne, New Jersey is about ½ hour from the Newark Airport (a $45 cab ride). Upon arriving at the port, there is a sense of desolation, as this particular dock has fallen into disuse. Apparently, Celebrity/Azamara is using the port for the summer in the inaugural season to go to Bermuda. Embarkation was easy and organized although two of our bags were lost in the hold for several hours. We boarded the ship around 1:00 p.m., ahead of the scheduled 4 p.m. sailing. We went straight up to the two 'fine dining' restaurants, the Prime C and the Aqualina, to make reservations for dinners. We were given one complimentary seating by the ship and paid an additional $25 per person for the other reservations. More on this later, but the restaurants are on a par with New York dining and service. From this point, we ventured into the very nicely appointed exercise facility where we booked into spinning classes that were offered 3 times per week at 8 a.m. NOTE: reset your clocks on the first night out, as we missed the first session because we had not advanced our room clock. The cabin: we originally booked a Sky Suite but received a call two days before sailing that the suites were overbooked. We were offered a 'sweet' deal to downsize to a veranda cabin. $1500 credit and $300 on board credit later, we were in a veranda cabin one deck below the suites. The A-1 category cabins were just fine and very similar to other Celebrity veranda cabins: ample space for luggage, king bed, a desk with a chair, lighted vanity, drawers on one side, cabinet on the other, flat screen TV with CNN, ESPN, 4 movie channels, veranda (the same size as the Sky Suites) with a table and two chairs, a small sofa and table, triple closet and drawers, room safe and corner cabinet which would presumably someday contain the mini bar which was absent in our cabin. The in-room amenities: toiletries were all ample quantity and quality: Elemis brand. Towels were refreshed twice daily, plenty of supplies. One bottle of Evian was provided at the outset, but there was a charge for additional water, which staff told us was 'very expensive'. Including a bottle of water each day would have been a nice touch, adding to the elite status being sought by the ship. In port, 2 liters of water cost around $2.50. Bedding was very nice, new, comfortable, and refreshed every day. The butler service: The cruise line advertises one butler shared between two cabins unless you are in a suite where you have your own butler. Our butler was excellent, but he was training room stewards so he was responsible for much more than just our cabin. He delivered fresh fruit twice to our cabin, fresh flowers once, 2 canapés on two different nights, and he oversaw the placement of towels, turndown, newsletters, etc. in our cabin. The idea of a butler is very appealing, but for all other purposes, it was difficult to see a difference between butler service and the service of a room steward or cabin attendant. The cruise staff: This is where the cruise line shines. They have gathered the brightest, most congenial group of cruise members that we have ever seen. Each person, from the cocktail server, casino workers, room stewards, line waiters, sommeliers, maitre’d, activities personnel, harpist, piano player…whomever we spoke with…they LOVED their jobs and it showed. What a great crew! Entertainment: A gracious and talented harpist played daily on the mezzanine level. Also, a pianist who covered everything from jazz to the ‘one hit wonders’ shared the same space or traveled to Michael’s Club on the 10th floor. He was a terrific talent. The ship had a small orchestra and a pool band, neither of which played often enough during the daytime. The Cabaret, where the main entertainment occurred, hosted a very funny comedian/magician who made $20 bills move from envelopes into grapefruits, and cards float through space, as he included the audience in participation and told clever jokes. Another night a low-key humorist enlivened the audience with home grown humor. Two nights held no show time entertainment. Two nights gave us the typical cruise ship shows with ‘That’s Hollywood” and “Swing” type songs and dance done by attractive 20-somethings. The final night was a conglomeration of all of the above, without the comedian/magician from the first night. Overall, the entertainment was good, but not great. Three nights offered two seatings but the remaining two nights offered only one seating. On board entertainment: This is probably the weakest area of the cruise. The old stand-bys of pool games such as pass the hula hoop or pass the orange under the chin, King of the Cruise, Bingo, and Trivia are just overdone. A truly upscale cruise should be able to come up with something a little more innovative and “status” appropriate. Excursions: BEST of the lot! Everything from carriage rides, motorized bikes, snorkeling, ‘snuba’-diving, walks, and taxi tours was included. Look over the offerings and make your plans accordingly as it seems that EVERYONE leaves the ship when in port. The beaches in Bermuda are excellent and it is easy to grab a cab in port and go to the beach. Dining: The Prime C is billed as a steak restaurant and it does have excellent cuts of steak as well as great fish, veal, and pasta. Most folks seemed to think the Aqualina was a seafood restaurant but it has a strong French/Mediterranean influence. Service in both restaurants was impeccable! The menu changes so you can dine more than once, as we did, and get a good variety. Save room for the food, though…servings are ample and upscale, so you will truly want to ‘dine’ while in these venues. Desserts are to die for…and change frequently. The soufflés are well worth the experience. The ship: This particular ship was commissioned in 2000 or 2001 as the former Renaissance Cruise line. The furnishings are completely new in the suites and most of the veranda rooms have new carpet, bedding, etc. Yet there is evidence of the age of the ship in many areas where rust can be seen at the joints of balconies, poles, and stairs as well as bubbles on the finish of the teak railings. The pool looks like an antique compared to the newer ships. The tile is aging and the grout is discolored. The surface is actually quite slippery as there were two ‘slip and falls’ that required surgical care during the week. Crossing the Gulf Stream, this ship had a lot of movement. Several voyagers were ill on the going over and the return due to movement. The waves did not reach over 9 feet, but it could be felt everywhere. Four crew members told us that this was the calmest crossing to date. Our air conditioning went out twice while we were in port for a total of about 15 hours. It was restored both times, but there was no comment made by the guest services. We had to initiate all of the questions and did not receive any explanations or apologies. The Azamara Journey is seeking to establish itself as a ‘cut above’ the rest of the line as an adult venue with class and taste that pampers its guests. The daily papers note that jeans or shorts are not permitted in the dining rooms, yet every day we saw evidence of many diners in jeans and shorts. When we asked the staff about this, no one seemed to be aware that we were being told that there was a dress code for dining. Customer service had called each person before boarding and informed us that there would not be a formal night, yet on the third or fourth night, we were encouraged to wear our ‘gowns and tuxedoes’ and “make it a night at the Ritz”. Azamara Journey has not yet found its niche, but it is making a lot of strides in the right direction by hiring brilliant staff. We look forward to seeing the improvements to be made to make this into a true ‘first class’ journey. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
AZAMARA JOURNEY - MY THOUGHTS Azamara Cruises, a branch of the Celebrity family goes `freestyle` cruising. We had originally booked to travel on the Zenith from New York to Bermuda and return, but recently Celebrity Cruises sold the ... Read More
AZAMARA JOURNEY - MY THOUGHTS Azamara Cruises, a branch of the Celebrity family goes `freestyle` cruising. We had originally booked to travel on the Zenith from New York to Bermuda and return, but recently Celebrity Cruises sold the Zenith and acquired Azamara Journey, which now sails on this cruise. We had previously travelled on this cruise on board the Zenith and thoroughly enjoyed the service, entertainment and ambience of the Celebrity Brand, thus the reason for the repeat cruise. When we were advised that the Azamara Journey would be of a higher standard of service etc than the Celebrity, so we were really looking forward to this trip, but we were disappointed On board the Journey - "Attire - Azamara Journey's ambience is always elegant casual; there aren't any formal nights. However, please note that jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes and bare feet are not permitted in restaurants and indoor bars at any time" All meals are taken open seating in the Discoveries Dining Room - dinner is served between 6.00pm and 9.30pm. The ship sails from Bayonne, New Jersey. The port of Bayonne is in a very isolated area - great if you plan to drive to the ship and park your car on the pier during the cruise, but difficult and somewhat expensive to get to, if travelling independently. On arrival at the pier, and even before we were able to get out of the taxi (USA$35.00 from Newark Penn Street Station), we were approached by a porter who was aggressive and somewhat intimidatory in respect of tips. He reminded us that he was responsible to ensure that our bags were placed on he ship. Having suitably rewarded him for his services, our suitcases were placed in a crate for delivery on board. Check-in was efficient, professional and courteous. We were handed a letter at check-in advising us that Azamara Journey was a non-smoking ship - " Azamara Journey has two designated smoking areas. They are located in the aft section of the Looking Glass Lounge, port side, and on the starboard section of the pool deck. Smoking areas have signs (no they don't) indicating that smoking is permitted there Cigar and pipe smoking are restricted to Pool Deck 9 forward starboard section. All other areas of the ship are non-smoking. This includes Public Rooms, Restaurants, Pool Deck, Staterooms and Suits, Verandas and Halls. Unfortunately this was the first we were advised of this policy. We understand that some guests were advised of this policy prior to embarkation but most were not. As a smoker this caused concern. The `corners` allocated were seldom cleaned, ashtrays were overflowing and rarely emptied and there was not enough room for the number of smokers onboard. The ship and furnishings are however beautiful with exquisite flower arrangements throughout. However on some of the stairways and bedroom corridors, where there is thinner carpeting, there is a `tinny` feel to the floor. Being a smaller vessel, the `motion of the ocean` even in the slightest swell is noticeable. We were occupying an `inside cabin` or stateroom on Deck 8. All Staterooms have their own Butler. Another name for your stateroom steward only dressed with tails. Unfortunately he did not provide or offer Butler Services as defined on other Premier Cruise Lines. The cabins too are well presented and comfortable, although there is limited storage facility, though enough for a 7 -day cruise. Unlike Celebrity Cruises, there is writing paper, pens or postcards of the ship in the cabin information folder, and no Totes bags are provided. There is supposed to be a pillow menu, which we were never offered. The cabin directory indicated that there was an in-cabin bar - this was not the case, nor was there a refrigerator. There was a television, though not an `Interactive Service` as on other Celebrity Ships. Bath robes and slippers are provided, together with heavenly toiletries. The telephone messaging system was non-functional throughout the cruise, even though we reported it twice as not working. Occasionally we were able to hear the conversations of the guests occupying the next cabin. The Main Dining Room - the Discoveries Dining Room was excellent in all regards - food, variety and service. A feeling of warmth and friendliness abounded. The buffet - Windows Cafe is very small in size and thus selection was limited. The food was of reasonable standard and quality. There are no trays and no waiters to assist guests with their food to their tables. There are two speciality restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C Restaurants (supplementary charges apply) - though guests are offered one complimentary dinner per guest per voyage (beverage charges apply). The dining experience in each of these restaurants is truly outstanding. There are no `elegant afternoon teas` served on board, nor are there any tableside flambres in the Discoveries Dining Room (Crepes and Cherry Jubilees are pre-pared behind the scene). There is a luxurious spa on board, offering a full range of exotic and relaxing treatments. There is one small - very small swimming pool on board and two whirlpools. Other usual services were available - shopping, photography, shore-excursions and Internet access. Entertainment was good but not all that good. There were no professional Las Vegas style floor shows featuring singers and dancers - apparently there is not enough room on the stage - a major disappointment for us, as we always enjoyed this type of entertainment provided by Celebrity. Evening entertainment consisted of singers and comedians. The Celebrity Cabaret Lounge, the main venue for evening entertainment has poor visibility of the stage from some of the seating. There were no enchantment lectures. All bands and music provided throughout the ships was excellent - there was something for everyone. All the crew on board were pleasant, helpful and wanting to oblige and assist in anyway possible. For us, Celebrity Journey was a disappointment. We missed the little Celebrity touches, the lavish style entertainment and of course the non-smoking policy - but that is just us? Maybe, as this was only the 2nd or 3rd voyage for the Journey that time is needed for things to settle down. There is no doubt a market for this type and style of cruising in specialist areas. I do believe that a mainline Celebrity ship would be more suited on this route. Time will no doubt tell. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Just back from June 30 cruise We had a great family gathering to celebrate our 50 anniversary. Ages 9,12.13.15.16,32,40,44,47,47,47,52,60,71,73. Everyone enjoyed the ship. The size was great, the food was fabulous, the rooms were fine ... Read More
Just back from June 30 cruise We had a great family gathering to celebrate our 50 anniversary. Ages 9,12.13.15.16,32,40,44,47,47,47,52,60,71,73. Everyone enjoyed the ship. The size was great, the food was fabulous, the rooms were fine and we had 4019,4021,4033,37,37,41,43,45 which were really convenient. We really enjoyed the spa and exercise room. The pool is not that big but the area around it and the 2 hot tubs were used by many. The windows cafe was very lovely with inside and outside seating with plenty of service. There was always water, ice tea, juice and hot coffee or teas. We often went there for breakfast and lunch and to the dining room for dinner. Martin the maitre d' was great and the food outstanding. The last night we did eat in Aqualina which was hosted by Dominique. The food there is over the top - truly memorable.They honored our celebrations with special chocolate cakes that were exceptional as well.Many people dressed up as we all did one evening and some of us varied from nice casual to dressy on other nights as well. Almost everyone in the dining rooms came dressed appropriately Our butler and steward were very attentive and brought us savories every day we were in our room around 4 inaddition there were fresh flowers every day. The shows were entertaining but not really special but we we went to a few as well as the karaoke one evening. We were satisfied with that. On the fourth of July they hosted a huge barbeque in the pool area with music . The journey band is excellent. The photographer is really excellent and we got some great photos of our family. We did the excursion that took us on a catamaran to a snorkeling area and served Rum Swizzles as well as juice and some cheese and crackers as well. That was excellent as well; a highlight of our week. Try to get to Tobacco Bay to snorkel, Horseshoe bay to swim, Dockyard to see the dolphins, sheep and learn some history, golf if you want some awesome courses and even play tennis in Hamilton within walking distance of the ship very reasonably. Enjoy some shopping, take the ferries and the buses and there is lots to see and easy to travel, We were so happy that our experience exceeded our expectations. With 407 attendants to 750 passengers there were staff to help your every where and they were really friendly. Hope you enjoy as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
This cruise on Azamara Journey was, by far, the most enjoyable I've experienced! That does not mean it was problem-free; to the contrary, I had some serious difficulties. However, the good outweighed the bad by far. Embarking at Cape ... Read More
This cruise on Azamara Journey was, by far, the most enjoyable I've experienced! That does not mean it was problem-free; to the contrary, I had some serious difficulties. However, the good outweighed the bad by far. Embarking at Cape Liberty gets smoother and quicker every year. Port workers know me now and treat me like a returning friend. We arrived at noon; luggage taken promptly; check-in took 15 minutes total including wait time; short bus ride to ship. The cabin was ready so we dropped off our carry-on things and by 1pm we were eating lunch at the buffet! The luggage was there by time the life-boat drill (a real drill) was over. A funny moment occurred at that point All those with mobility impairments waited in a separate area nearby, while the other passengers marched out, single-file, to their assigned lifeboat. The leader held up a large number sign for the particular lifeboat. Looked like kindergarten kids on an outing. There was a head count for each group. Those of us who were separate were told not to worry, that they were well trained to help us. After everyone was with their boat, our group was brought to the elevators and placed on them. Vedia and I were alone on one and looked at each other as it began moving. We went back (from some floor) to the drill floor and said "where are we supposed to go?" Anywhere we want, was the answer. Seems they wanted us to have free elevators before the crowd came back! LOL! Last year I hated my cruise because the ship was too big, too crowded, too many unsupervised children, too many unhappy and over-extended crew members, and mediocre food. Journey is just the opposite. Small, friendly, well appointed, the best and most attentive crew - top to bottom - I've ever experienced. Also, with a passenger total of 700 one gets to know people very easily. In 24 hours passengers and crew were on a first name basis, and it was one big extended family (without the infighting!) The food was wonderful. CABIN My cabin was big enough. Nice closets, pullout sofa, new furnishings, fridge and minibar, balcony, and real wooden hangers. Also provided at no extra charge were robes, slippers, binoculars, Evian water, Elemis products. There were fresh flowers daily, along with a bowl of fruit, 4p hors d'oeuvres, and different sweets at night (not just mints, but brownies, candies, cookies, and more.) I was not in a suite - they got more!? Note: the 'butlers' are stewards unless you're in a suite! (which is not a putdown because the stewards were immaculate, efficient, and quick.) An Azamara over-sell. DINING The food is excellent. The only down note is room service breakfast, which is basically continental in nature. MAIN The main dining room is anytime with tables for 4 or more. While you can't necessarily get the same table every time, if you're early, you can get the same section and, therefore, waiter if you want. They serve 3 meals a day. Good variety and multiple choices. At dinner you choose from at least 3 appetizers, 3 soups (2 hot 1 cold,) 3 salads, 6 entrees including pasta, fish, red meat and fowl, in addition to the every day choices of shrimp cocktail, steak, roast chicken, and vegetarian selections. One night I had trouble deciding between 2 that sounded great. After deciding on one, he brought both! Desserts are fabulous, and ice cream handmade. The rolls are not warm, but they are fresh and delicious and varied. I never ate lunch there, but breakfasts were very good, and quick. BUFFET (pool deck) Standard fare, good but not exceptional. (7a to 11p) No pizza/pasta section and no ice cream or frozen yogurt mid afternoon. Only on the pool deck can you get free, help yourself, coffee and non-soda beverages anytime. GRILL (pool deck) Nathan's hotdogs, crispy fries, real hand ground steak burgers, and other items. 11a to 4p and VERY popular! COVA CAFE From 4p to 1a there are all manner of delicious pastries, cookies, scones, brownies, and sandwiches free for the taking. You only pay for drinks including tea and coffee. Busy spot around 11p. The food is replaced frequently. ] SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS One time free for all guests, but suites get 2x free. We went to chop house once and it was excellent. The other Med/Italian one is highly praised too. No midnight buffets! LOUNGES There are 5 lounges and bars. Drinks are pricey at $7-12; soda and coffee $2 if without liquor. ENTERTAINMENT Solid, and very enjoyable. There are no big production shows and no off-color comedians, but there are very talented people in the lounges and cabaret! If not enough, there are 4 in-room first run free movie channels. There is a dj and disco, as well. MISC The crew is exceptional. Upper level crew are constantly checking to see that passengers are happy and satisfied, and also learn everyone's name. If someone has a complaint - whether or not justified - it is acted upon immediately. The Captain is very friendly and funny. When not busy, he freely mixes with passengers, and answers questions. The cruise director and staff are friendly and good. Standard activities onboard from Bingo to pool games. There is a spa and acupuncturist. I tried neither. I also did not do their shore excursions, Shopping is very limited. One high-end bling shop. One high-end resort wear shop. One sundry shop, but very few souvenirs and tee shirts. Do shopping ashore! They do provide cold cloths and beverages when you return to the ship's gangway. Very small pool. New deck furniture supposed to be in place by mid-July. Some comfy lounges, but most are motel-type pool lounges for now. Large, flat screen tv's, wi-fi, and cell service. FELLOW PASSENGERS 50+. There were young couples, and some children, but not may of either. This is not a cruise for young people! It is geared toward 50+, and many were very ++! There were young children and a day program for them, but limited. Teenagers and 20-30 something's might be most unhappy. We had few problems with motion. The worst times were crossing the Gulf Stream, and I felt that on the big ships too. Vedia is very subject to motion sickness, but felt fine with just her patch. I, on the other hand, felt sick Friday until 2 Dramamine kicked in! Debarking in NJ was as quick and simple as the embarkation. It took us longer to cross the GW Bridge!! I said in the beginning that there were problems. The ship is not yet finished with the refurbishment. It will be, maybe, by their real season starting October. It was rushed into service much too soon. It is NOT a luxury ship as hyped, at least not yet. It IS a great Celebrity ship, but most Celebrity ships are wonderful! Why are they messing with success? For me, there were serious access issues. It is definitely not wheelchair friendly by design. I understand all R and Oceania ships are the same way. The crew and fellow passengers saw to it that I did as much as possible, but some things I missed like getting out on deck to see my sunsets! I'd send Vedia out with the camera, but it wasn't the same. Still, as I said, the good well outweighed the bad! SUMMARY This is a terrific ship and crew. It is beautiful inside with real wood, wrought iron, gold leaf, nice artwork, and improving rugs and furniture. It is not a ship I would recommend for young families, but more for people who want to relax and enjoy their surroundings. I have great memories for a lifetime. Cherry on cake: good visits with Bermuda friends. Journey is not a wheelchair friendly ship. Having said that, however, I would not necessarily let it stop me from a planned cruise. The access cabins are well laid out. The bathrooms are a good size with a roll-in shower, hand held and fixed shower head; and fold up bench. There are sturdy grab bars appropriately placed. The door to the cabin has a power assist, activated by button inside and out. There are fridges in all handicapped rooms. Corridors are narrow but do-able. There are difficult ridges on the floor everywhere. It is almost impossible to get out to the decks. The pool does not have a lift nor can you get close to it. I did not see it, but I'm told the spa is not accessible. The elevators are roomier than many other ships. The gangway in Bayonne and Bermuda are the worst I've encountered! The Cabaret has ramps to the lower level where you'll have an unobstructed view, but you have to get there early. Once people are starting to sit and the chairs are moved, it is almost impossible to get to the ramps which are in the front. Bermuda does have wheelchair vans but you have to know someone who knows where and how. I can help you if you need this info. If you have limited mobility, use a manual chair, scooter, walker etc, you'll encounter relatively few insurmountable problems. The crew is wonderful and very attentive to every tiny and major need. If you use a powerized wheelchair, it's do-able but I don't recommend this ship. I do use one and can speak from experience, having just been on it. 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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