Azamara Journey Cruise Review by mommyjennifer
- Sail Date: October 2018
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
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.
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