Cruise Ratings
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Sail Date: March 2008
My husband and I have over 20 cruises under our belt, from week long Caribbean cruises to a full World Cruise. I believe those of us that cruise are blessed to be able to travel in style and see the places we may have only dreamed of. All ... Read More
My husband and I have over 20 cruises under our belt, from week long Caribbean cruises to a full World Cruise. I believe those of us that cruise are blessed to be able to travel in style and see the places we may have only dreamed of. All ports are different as well as all cruise lines. some just do it better than others. I believe my husband and I have just experienced a perfect cruise on the perfect ship, Azamara Journey! From the moment our plane landed everything went as planned. A rep from Azamara was at the airport to greet all the arriving passengers and whisk us away to the ship. Within 10 minutes after arriving at the Terminal we were on board and enjoying our complimentary Champagne. Our Balcony stateroom had more than enough room for storage and it was very clean and fresh. We really enjoyed the full size table on the Balcony as it allowed us to enjoy many meals under the evening stars. Room service was great except once, which you can forgive if they happen to be busy. Our cabin attendant worked very hard and did a great job. All rooms have a Butler, and while I don't think it works as good as it sounds, he did try hard and did a good job. The ship is small, a little over 700 passengers. What it lacked in size it made up for in spirit. All the staff were friendly and you managed to meet everyone. The Captain, Leif Karlsson, was absolutely outstanding and he set the tone for the whole cruise. He was always around the ship talking to every one and he had a great sense of humor. He always kept passengers informed of what was going on. He was a class act all the way, even standing at the gangway when we left thanking us all. He was certainly the best asset of Azamara. Liesl, the Captains club rep on board, was perfect in her job and seemed to know everyone's name. Another great asset of the ship! Paul, the cruise director did an outstanding job, a true gentleman. As it is a small venue there are no dance productions in the Cabaret. However, all the guest performers, which were mostly singers, were very good. The food on this ship is the best of any cruise line we have been on. Because it is a small ship all food is cooked to order and it shows. Steaks were done perfectly and everything arrived hot. The presentation of the food was a definite 10 out of 10! There are 2 alternate restaurants which passengers can dine in and there is no cover charge. A five dollar tip per person is suggested, and believe me, it is worth much more than this. The food and the service were absolutely perfect. We took this cruise as it visited 4 ports in Brazil and we enjoyed them all. Next year this ship is no longer going to South America and that is a shame. I would have loved to go to Antarctica on this ship. My husband and I would definitely recommend this ship, no matter where it sails! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We booked this cruise due to itinerary, price and bonuses...prepaid gratuities, on board credit etc. Our travel included airfare and transfers through the cruiseline. Flights were on LAN PERU and were fine...only problem was in Peru, ... Read More
We booked this cruise due to itinerary, price and bonuses...prepaid gratuities, on board credit etc. Our travel included airfare and transfers through the cruiseline. Flights were on LAN PERU and were fine...only problem was in Peru, where we were told we didn't disembark the plane -- we did. After a 8 hr flight they asked us for our previous ticket stubs. That was a bit alarming as one does not assume they are needed after the plane takes off. Information given to travelers was varied at the check in desk...most were told coming and going that no change of plane was necessary. On return flight, we were told we would disembark plane but reboard 20 mins. later. Turned out to be 1 hour 20 mins. Oh well....as a frequent traveler I am used to "going with the flow". I wish more people were this way....there is simply no need to rant and rave... Nevertheless, once on ground in Sao Paulo, we (eventually) found the Azamara greeters and after about a 30 min. wait were taken to the bus for transfer to Santos. No complaints here...they were VERY EFFICIENT in baggage handling etc. Embarkation was also VERY smooth and efficient. Had a quick meeting following the muster drill (also handled very efficiently) with fellow CruiseCritic.com members. We had arranged a private tour w/other cc members for Rio beforehand via cc. This was amazing...our guide was Marcos - great experience! We were also very lucky to have beautiful weather; not only for Rio but for the whole cruise! Following the first day tour, a few of us went to the Rio Scenarium nightclub for a taste of local night life. It is in a 3 story very old, historical building...former antique store that owner has built nightclub around. AWESOME - and very reasonable evening!! (We hired driver who stayed with us for entire evening...about 5 hours total and cost was approx. $30pp plus drinks...I DRANK...my tab with entrance fee was only USD $22.00. Very reasonably priced evening and no touristy "samba show" just real Brazilian nitelife. WOW - the local dancers are INCREDIBLE! Parati - Not much to see or do here. Alot of shops did not accept USD. Itapaji - See above. We over-nighted here - apparently only because it was the stop for the (PRICEY) excursion to the falls. Not much to see or do. I did hear that on Sat. some took a private tour to the beach w/ cable car. This seems to be the only saving grace for this port..the trip to the "German town" was a bust. Montevideo, Uruguay and B.A. Argentina were our favorite ports after Rio. (None of which did we use Azamara excursions. (They were very much over-priced and very limited. I'm never seen such poor choices before!) I have recently been told that Azamara will not be returning to South America for some time so I will now divert to speaking only of our "on-board" experience. We were led to believe we should expect "over the top" service and it wasn't even as good as we are accustomed to. We are very easy to please and certainly not "high maintenance" type folks. Had we not cruised many times on different cruiselines we would think we had very good service. AND>>>it wasn't bad per se...just not near what we have experienced on RCL and Princess. So for the extra $$ in tips per day..we didn't see the extra value. For example; we had to request things several times before they materialized..ice, dinner menu, etc. On most cruises our cabin steward introduces him/herself and remembers us by name. They will also rush to open our door for us when we see them in the hall. This cruise, none of the above was present. Maybe because we were in a lower cabin category (OV deck 6)...however on previous cruises in a inside cabin we were given much more customer service. The worst customer service was the front desk. "Albert P." (helped?) me for the first FOUR days of the cruise as our on-board credits had not showed up on our account. Each day he assured me he would take care of it and phone me with the results. NEVER ONCE did he call our cabin! Not even to say he was still working on it etc. Finally, on the FOURTH day, I asked him if he remembered me. He replied affirmative and even knew my name! He gave no explanation as to why he hadn't gotten back to me and even had a surely attitude. On this occasion, he started out telling me we had a total of $300 credit, then corrected himself and said it was $500...another few minutes passed and he had "found" more credit. I had told him 4 days in a row (and even produced written proof) that we were due $800 in credit. He ended up "finding" a total of $920 in credit at which point I told him to print it out. When my mom ended up with credit on her account at the end of the cruise she asked Alfred to transfer it to my account. He assured her he would..this was the last night of the cruise. The next morning, our final statement did not reflect this transfer. Once again, we had to call and request it be handled. "Alfred" was the poorest example of customer service representatives I have ever dealt with on a cruise ship. I cannot believe they have him at the Cust. Relations desk. Okay...on to the good things. The ship layout was great...we fell in love with this style/size ship. Our room was outstanding. Terrific layout and plenty of storage space w/o feeling crowded. Open seating and no charge speciality restaurants - WONDERFUL. Also used room service several times and it was OUTSTANDING, both the service and the variety available. Beds & Linen were OUTSTANDING! NO need for an egg-crate here...perfect! Less than Great - Television offerings - worst of any ship we've been on. They don't even offer videos of previous entertainment as they do on most ships. Entertainment - nothing really enticed me to attend. My mom attended some and described it as "so-so"...note..she is very easy to please. Casino - if you can call it that. Two BJ tables and slow if not nonexistent bar service. Whirlpools & pool - shut down at 8pm if not earlier. Age Demographics for this cruise - Although most cruisers were older than myself (40's) I found that the vast majority were very active if not older passengers. There weren't many wheelchairs or walkers..most everyone was very ambulatory and active. All in all, I would sail the Journey again given a great itinerary and price but would not pay premium prices for the pleasure as I didn't see the added value they advertise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
I am a CRUISE SPECIALIST and terribly critical when I cruise because I am looking for the best for my passengers .... this cruise did not disappoint! My biggest concern was actually getting to the cruise on time as a huge storm had moved ... Read More
I am a CRUISE SPECIALIST and terribly critical when I cruise because I am looking for the best for my passengers .... this cruise did not disappoint! My biggest concern was actually getting to the cruise on time as a huge storm had moved through Arizona on Monday, we actually had blizzard conditions, and then moved into the mid-west causing all kinds of cancelled flights and travel delays that extended over the weekend I was traveling. My original flight from Phoenix was cancelled but I was rescheduled onto an earlier flight which actually worked out better for me and my flight to Sao Paulo, while leaving an hour late actually made it in at our scheduled time of 9:30am on the 22nd. I was amazed to fly over the forests of Brazil and even more amazed at the size of Sao Paulo. My trip through the airport was uneventful and the AZAMARA ambassadors were waiting for us just outside the customs gate with big smiles and within minutes we were on our bus for our 2 hour transfer to the pier. I would love to tell you that I saw a bit of Sao Paulo but I was exhausted and had no trouble falling asleep during the ride. We arrived a the pier and within minutes I was checking onto the ship and was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had been upgraded from an ocean view to a balcony cabin. AZAMARA kept my passport and visa and provided me a receipt. I find this practice a little disconcerting but then when you realize that some of the immigration authorities board the ship at 4,5, 6 AM, I am happy not to have to participate in the passport checks. Cruise card in hand and a short walk directly into a most beautiful, comfortable, friendly and intimate main lobby where I was presented with a glass of champagne and an apology for the fact that my cabin was not quite ready, but, if I wanted, someone would take me there so that I could leave my carryon. OK, I am already impressed with the service. I go to my cabin, my card key doesn't work, my escort takes it back to the front desk and returns within a couple of minutes with a working card and tells me that the cabin is ready after all. Fantastic! I promptly put out the do not disturb sign and jump in the shower to freshen up and change into those spare clothes I had packed. (Isn't my TA good?) Just as I reach out the door to change the do not disturb sign I meet my cabin steward, "WEEKLY" and of course we laugh about hoping the service is more like 2 x daily, a joke I am sure he has heard many times and my butler SOOKIMAN. Sookiman asks me if he can unpack for me when my bags arrive, but of course, the one chore I really hate and he WANTS to do it, my smile is getting wider all the time. Up to deck 9 and the Windows Cafe for a quick luncheon ... what a great buffet, salads, carving station, breads galore, very comfortable padded chairs and beautiful tables with quite and gracious servers trying to meet your every need. To the Pool Bar for my first umbrella drink and then it is off to explore. This is a "small" ship but very well designed and it seems to be larger than it really is. The beautiful mahogany and teak walls and floors and the subtle colors immediately made me feel comfortable and at home. Everywhere I encountered staff or crew there was a genuine smile and offer of assistance and whenever I encountered other guests they all seemed happy and excited to be there. The ship is quite easy to find your way around and all the public rooms easily lead from one to another. There is entertainment just about everywhere you look and due to the ship layout one "sound" does not overlay the other. For instance, there is a harpist at the Cova Cafe and less than 100ft. away there is a guitarist in the Martini bar playing at the same time and you only hear the one you are in close proximity of. Fantastic! This also holds true of the passenger noise, it is quite well buffered and makes the cruise even more relaxing. While all the cabins were sold on this sailing there were only 600 passengers instead of the 700+ the ship is designed to hold. Some of the crew cabins have been turned into guest cabins but this may be changing as there were a couple of times that it did seem they were short staffed. This was most noticeable at the buffet area. The pool area is beautiful with a small pool and two hot tubs surrounded by teak loungers covered in thick padding and toweled covers. The Pool Grill area has beautiful wicker tables and padded chairs, a fabulous grill with everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to lamb and ribs and fish and grilled veggies as well as a salad bar, soft serve and drink station that always had lemonade, fruit punch, ice tea and water available. Smoking areas are extremely limited on this ship as AZAMARA promotes themselves as a non-smoking line and I don't believe that I saw anyone breaking the smoking rules. The theatre on this ship is small and intimate but the acoustics are extremely good, to the point that some of the stronger voiced singers almost out sang the room. There were some very good shows and some really fine performers, vocalists from England and Russia, violinists, pianists and the members of the AZAMARA Cabaret group; funny show TWISTED TV mostly aimed at Americans so we had to explain to quite a few people who Martha Stewart is and why her ending up in jail was so funny ya would've had to be there. I took advantage of the small but well equipped spa for manicure, pedicure, hair cut and acupuncture. The gym is very well equipped and had classes of every description. There is a small Thelassotherapy pool with loungers on the bow of the ship and it appeared to be constantly in use. Cruise Director Paul Grant is funny and subtle and quite at ease with all the passengers. His talks and introductions were never over the top and he was truly enjoyable to watch and seemed to remember everyone on the ship. There were fabulous enrichment programs available from art classes, beading, knitting and lectures on history and current events. There were great ballroom dance lessons and language lessons. The mix of passengers was wonderful and the ages were mostly from 40 - 80. I only met 4 children onboard and they were 13, 14, 15, 17 and from Canada. The educational mix was fantastic and the career cruisers made up most of the passengers. There were several couples that were on their 4th sailing of this ship which says a lot since it is so new. Many couples were also on the middle leg of a 3 or 4 leg cruise and were thinking of signing on for additional cruises. Almost every single person I spoke with had top ratings for this ship. Of course there are always people that will never be satisfied and you will find them everywhere. I tried to consider their complaints, which were usually about something that had nothing to do with the actual cruise line or staff, in an objective manner and never found them to have any basis that would make me change my mind. (Things like, why can't the captain out run the wind and rain to ... they should warn us that the ship will be running late when there was a problem that kept us from leaving Recife on time ... something to do with the pilot boat... and one woman complained when she could not get the bartender she wanted ... he had broken his leg while on shore that afternoon and she took it as a personal offense ... go figure people). I will say that I was very disappointed in Brazil as a whole. It is extremely expensive, dirty and graffiti seems to cover every building from the ground to as high as can be reached, historic buildings included and there doesn't seem to be any effort to curtail it. I was traveling by myself and it cost $250 for a Rio by night dinner show (Brazilian bar-b-que and Samba historical dance show) and ½ day city tour (the best part being Corcovado with the misty clouds moving in and out over the Sainto de Christo) and another $108 for ½ day Ilheus (Il-hoos) rain forest tour. In the rest of the towns and cities, a bunch of us just got off the ship and hired taxis and small vans and had just as much fun. The most beautiful parts of Brazil are the forests and plantations; we went to a private native animal reserve that is open to the public and runs on donations there were more tortoise than I have ever seen and green monkeys and an animal that looks like a rabbit in the face but had the body of a large rodent that was really quite cute, lots of fabulous birds and a private Orchid plantation with flowers like I have never seen before. We were treated to a luncheon on one of our tours with amazing rum punch that had a base of passion fruit yum, I can still taste it. AZAMARA feels that the Brazilian government really makes it hard for cruise ships and I was told that they won't be going back there next year. The weather was not as cooperative as I had hoped it would be but it was the end of the summer down there and the days were cloudy and misty and some had very heavy rain so you just made sure you had your umbrella and a cover up. Unfortunately from the 26th of March through the 3rd of April the seas were very high (12 - 15 ft) and it was very windy (28 - 40knots) so navigating the decks was a challenge. I swear there was one night that I became air born and another that I experienced weightlessness ... but as I don¿t ever get motion sick I took it as a challenge and still did as much as possible. Dinner in the Discoveries restaurant was outstanding and I did not have a single meal that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I also tried Aqualina and Prime-C. Aqualina was my absolute favorite (5 times) and I found the service in all the restaurants to be top notch in every way. By the way, anything special you want for dinner you can let the dining room know and they will accommodate you. You can order from the main dining menu in your cabin as well. The signature Celebrity bread sticks were in abundance and the crème brulee in the Discoveries is only outdone by the crème brulee in Aqualina ... different kitchens. The foie gras with candied oranges in Aqualina is sublime and their seafood platter appetizer is a great meal in itself. Seating in the main dining room is open after the first night and tables range from 2 - 12 or more if you wish. The Martini Bar is beautiful and a wonderful gathering place before dinner and they will accommodate your every whim when it comes to drinks. When I know how much the ship was heaving and moving about it is amazing that there were no guests with dinner or drinks in their laps ... one night we did see a stack of glasses come tumbling down but no one was injured. I was invited to dinner with the Captain, Leif Karlsson, and I must say he is the most approachable, available and involved captain that I have ever had the pleasure of sailing with. The meal was in the main dining room where he dines every evening and the food was off the regular menu, the wines were outstanding and so was the company. I met a very lovely woman from Japan that is a free lance travel writer and she is doing a story on this ship and the Captain. He was really a good sport when we had the Crossing of the Equator ceremony and he was tossed in the pool ... he took 3 other officers along with him! The ship was always clean and the staff was always accommodating. The announcements were few and far between but it was always easy to find information if you required it. There is interactive TV in each cabin that allows for everything from booking shore excursions to daily activities planning to room service and monitoring you expenses. There are first run movies with one being shown daily in the theatre. I also received the ship copy of the NY times in my cabin every evening along with the Daily AZAMARA Pursuits. Additionally there was a hospitality desk available as a courtesy in every port. AZAMARA makes it clear that it is a courtesy only and they are not responsible for the accuracy of the information and it is provided AS IS but it was nice to have someone familiar with each area to talk with. Whenever I needed to contact the customer service desk the phones were always answered quickly and politely. I LOST my glasses in Barbados (left them at a cafe/bar) and someone actually brought them to the ship and when I noticed them missing (10 minutes after having left the pier) they actually volunteered to bring the lost and found box to my cabin so I could see if they were there. I went down and there they were but .... what a nice gesture. I would rate this a 11 out of 10 cruise and will tell my prospective clients that it is understated elegance. No formal nights is a definite plus but it didn't keep many from dressing for the evening I didn't see any tux clad men but lost of nice jackets and ties. I will have no problem fully recommending this cruise line and this ship to anyone. AND I AM MOST DEFINITELY GOING ON THEM AGAIN!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This is a personal view and may not reflect the views of other passengers Azamara Journey Santos to Miami Balcony cabin on deck 8 We boarded Azamara Journey after queuing for about 30 minutes, and after a quick snack on deck we found ... Read More
This is a personal view and may not reflect the views of other passengers Azamara Journey Santos to Miami Balcony cabin on deck 8 We boarded Azamara Journey after queuing for about 30 minutes, and after a quick snack on deck we found that our cabin ready for occupancy. The cabin was not as big as I thought it would be, with two beds and a settee, a flat screen TV on the wall which I kept banging my shoulder on when squeezing between it and the bed end, a large table on the balcony accentuated the narrowness of the balcony and cabin, the wardrobes were adequate for what clothes we had brought for a freestyle cruise, and drawer space was ok, but two of the drawers were broken and would not slide freely in or out, and there must have been 7yrs accumulation of muck and fluff heaped under the bottom drawer. After putting away our clothes a knock on the door produced the (butler?)in trousers that were 4 inches to long, and his help, introduced themselves. The cabin staff were cheerful and polite and worked well, but no better or worse than cabin staff on other ships we have traveled on. A day later as we were leaving for dinner a fitter came to repair the broken drawers that had been reported by the cabin staff, the drawers were repaired but I'm not sure if the muck was vacuumed up, as the drawers would not lift out after the repair. The bathroom was very small and the shower cubicle in this cabin was miniscule, and due to cost cutting there is no shower gel in the shower (not much luxury there) and when showering the shower curtain sucks itself in and sticks itself to you, and whatever you do: do not drop the soap for if you bend over you will hit your head on the taps/faucet handles. Later in the cruise I had to lift the bed settee to find some tweezers that had fallen through, I don't think this settee had been lifted for years as we found from amongst the mass of accumulated muck and fluff, a pencil and a pair of ladies jogging pants. Once at sea the ship seemed to have a funny motion and a shake that could be mostly felt when lying down in bed, perhaps its because it is a narrow beamed ship and gives me the impression that this ship is lively on anything but a very calm sea. As our cruise progressed it became apparent that the crew ratio was not 2 to 1, as multi tasking was evident in certain areas and the towel boy went behind the bar to serve me drinks on one occasion, also the waiter service in the Pool Grill dinning area was sporadic at best, it was much quicker to go into the adjacent Windows Cafe buffet and give your request to a table waiter than wait for the very occasional waiter patrol, food service and the food quality in the pool grill was excellent and the Prime ribs were divine. Juices coffee and iced tea were freely available, although on sea days glasses and cups were sometimes hard to find as many were on left out on deck. Bar waiter service on the Sun Deck was poor and very occasional, and staff only came around occasionally to pick up those empties which were within arms length, indeed glasses and cups amassed not far from my sun bed were still there the day after when I used the same sun bed, and they were still there when we left at 16:10pm. The breakfast buffet at the Windows Cafe and Breeza was also excellent with plenty of choice including porridge cereal yoghurt and fresh fruit Continental breakfast, pancakes and waffles, to several hot dishes including a hot ham carving joint, but the very popular smoothie bar which was only open at breakfast, was painfully slow and with just one waiter serving, was in my view extremely understaffed. Inside, the ship is tastefully appointed, using rich dark woods with browns bronzes and other materials to match. Dinner in the Discoveries restaurant was always a pleasant affair as we were asked on entering by the Maitre'D if we would like to be seated on our own, or with others, and we met some very nice people each evening. The food in the restaurant was very good, although I have had food equally as good on many other ships, what I have not had as good, on "any" other ship was meat as good as this, the meat on Journey was in a class of its own, and it was truly excellent. Wine was expensive starting around $50 dollars a bottle, and I think hit the hundreds, not being a wine buff I only glanced at the list. Aqualina restaurant was as nice as you would expect, the food again was excellent and nicely presented, the Prime C Restaurant was just as pleasant, and the food as you would expect equally as good. Towels were put out on the big wooden sun beds in the morning by the crew, and when it rained they were left out in the rain so that when passengers went out to sun bathe after the rain the mattresses were like a wet sponge, and the towels were being dried out down below, although eventually everybody received dry towels, there was never any attendant help on the sun deck to help with the normal type of plastic sun beds, and passengers had to help each other in lifting sun beds from the stack, and bar waiter service on the sun deck was also very occasional at best. Entertainment on the ship was reasonable although being a small ship the Celebrity Cabaret theatre was on the level with just one step up for the back half dozen rows, viewing was adequate rather than good, and as the ships orchestra took up most of the stage there was no room for dancers, so all entertainment was of the single performance type, (singers, instrumentalists, and a so called comedian ???) the ships singers a troupe of two boys and three girls who I enjoyed, only sang three times during in the 18 nights cruise. Tenders ashore when standing off were regular and efficient, although other than the daily navigational position report, little or no information was offered over the tannoy, indeed we only found out about the shuttle bus into Bridge Town at Barbados when the local traffic marshal informed us of it. The timing and placing of the entertainment seems a little out, for after the 2nd Cabaret show we went to the Looking Glass lounge for more entertainment, where within 10 minutes the Latin American Band had finished its last spot, and a dance instruction class was started, Why?? In the evening the Cova Cafe was the liveliest place on the ship, an excellent pianist played there nightly, but alas it was not the place to drink, sing, and be merry, as it is in a narrow, and very busy thoroughfare with very limited seating between the Celebrity restaurant and the shops where every man and his dog passed through thrice nightly. Michael's Club also gives the impression that it is a Gents club and bar, but it is not, it is a library The ship did not have much atmosphere and was usually very quiet by 23:30 and even the casino was quiet by midnight, the expensive drink prices topped with an added 18% gratuity (which we were told is going up to 20% in the Med) and the $12.50 pp per day added gratuities make sure that most passengers are tucked up by midnight. For photographers this is not a good ship to take photos from, the highest point the sun deck is surrounded by tinted glass and there is no other vantage point above it to take photos from looking forward, and to take photos astern the only vantage point is to squeeze through the tables in the Breeza cafe on deck 9 aft. After nine or ten days most of the more popular English canned beers ran out, and in the last few days some juices were also missing from the drinks machine. So to sum up, Azamara Journey is not a luxury cruise ship, and falls down in many areas, the butler is just a gimmick, and most cabins and bathrooms are to small for a luxury ship, poor service in some areas (possibly due to a shortage of staff) expensive bar prices, and the inflated and enforced gratuities which some people were told by staff at the front desk (that on orders from head office) they could not adjust do not make Azamara Journey a luxury cruise ship. I just can not understand what market owners Royal Caribbean and Azamara are aiming at, the more affluent customers will not put up with the shortcomings of this ship, or its indifferent service, the ship I am told was very heavily discounted in America, and it looks to me like the company are trying to make back profit on the high bar prices etc. The good points are the good food and excellent meat, and Captain Leif Carlson who was high profile and mixed with his customers most nights, and as a very nice gesture the Captain was also at the gangplank in Miami to say goodbyes to all his passengers that were leaving the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We were looking forward to a great cruise experience on the newly created Azamara Line. This was my 20th cruise so I was anxious to experience an upscale cruise. I couldn't quite tell what made the cruise "upscale" our ... Read More
We were looking forward to a great cruise experience on the newly created Azamara Line. This was my 20th cruise so I was anxious to experience an upscale cruise. I couldn't quite tell what made the cruise "upscale" our butler was merely a room steward in a tux. The dining room food was good but not as good as some other ships and comparable to most. The size of the ship was very nice and the open seating dining with no dressup nights was very nice. I had sailed on the Paul Gaugain the previous year and had expected a similar experience. But this did not compare. Cabins are small, the first cabin we were in the bathroom was moldy. I complained and it was cleaned somewhat but the dirty toothbrush was left on the sink. We were moved to a different cabin. The restaurant service was excellent at times and poor at times. The buffet was never crowded and the food was quite good but the concept of no trays was something I did not like. Carrying your coffee cup to the table, then getting your first course, then getting up to refill your coffee, hoping your dishes wouldn't be cleared (which did happen), while you were getting something else was a problem. Toward the end of the cruise carafes of coffee were placed on the table which was a help. The small pool bar which was open during the afternoon would become very crowded and usually only one person manned it, the crowd became very aggressive. The public rooms were lovely and pool area was very nice. Almost never a problem finding a lounge. The entertainment was OK but the seating arrangement made it extremely difficult to see the stage. We had booked a prepackage which included airport transfers. We, as well as many others whom we met outside the airport, were not met and had to arrange our own transfers to the hotel. In our case our luggage did not arrive with us and we really needed the cruise representative to make sure that when they did arrive they would be sent to the ship. The concierge at the hotel tried to contact the local representative for cruise line all day with no one answering. We also originally purchased transfers to the airport from the ship with our original booking. When we were sent the information regarding shore excursions, we booked the one day trip to the Falls and the Full day in Buenos Aries with airport drop off. The Falls trip was cancelled and when I went to Guest services the tell them I had paid for a transfer which I wouldn't be using because the excursion included airport drop off I was told to turn in my voucher and they would reimburse me, but they did not know how much because the price would be less than I paid because they received a group discount. I didn't care, but when I contacted Royal Caribbean after I arrived home I was told that without the voucher they could do nothing. All in all it was nice to get away and had I not had high expectations it would have been a good cruise. One thing that made the cruise unpleasant was the majority of passengers we encountered were very disappointed and were extremely vocal with their complaints. I do feel that by the end of the 12 days the experience was improving. I just felt like I was on a training cruise and they were learning as they went along. But they did listen to complaints. Not sure I would do it again at least at the current prices. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Let's start with if there were problems, they have been or will shortly be addressed. From my Previous Post from the SHIP on the last day (used up the last of our minutes): It was an excellent trip. We made a few new friends and ... Read More
Let's start with if there were problems, they have been or will shortly be addressed. From my Previous Post from the SHIP on the last day (used up the last of our minutes): It was an excellent trip. We made a few new friends and truly enjoyed our cruise. The staff is outstanding, I mean really outstanding, they are friendly and go out of their way to ensure everyone is having a good time. The personal attention we received on this trip far exceeds anything we have experienced on our 6 previous cruises. I, like many of you, have been reading the comments on cruise critic for insight into our cruise. Well, I have to say I was very much relieved once we started cruising. I feel like I am reporting on a completely different ship and experience then some of the previous cruise critic reports. First of all, the dining experience was outstanding. Starting with the embarkation process, Azamara has added a new feature in which they ask you what time you would like to dine at, on the first night only. This seems to have resolved any previous issues with line-ups especially on the first night. We rarely saw anyone waiting, if they did it was not more then a few minutes. For us we chose to be at the same table each night and it was always available and the staff seemed to know we would eventually be there. We dined at Aqualina one night and really enjoyed it, one recommendation, make sure you try the soufflE, it is out of this world! Domenique was on this voyage and he is excellent as some previous critics have reported. We very much enjoyed afternoon tea in Aqualina, again a highlight, the Harpist is very talented. The entertainment staff and the Cruise director Andrea and his staff were all excellent! The Cabaret is very intimate and gave us a feeling of being part of the show for each performance. We enjoyed all of the shows. The performers are very friendly and are often at other events off hours and interact with the passengers on a regular basis, much more then we have ever seen. Special mention to the following crew which we very much appreciated their personal attention: in the Dinning Room, Czjka (hard worker and always upbeat), Nitish, Ghanowa, Mario, and Maria the bar waitress from Columbia, our butleress, Maria Franco, George the officer who I was lucky enough to dance with we even won 4th prize!! SOME SPECIFICS: BACKGROUND Myself, my husband and my in-laws traveled together on this trip. We have all been on 6 other cruises, not the same ones, with a number of different cruise companies between all of us. All of our previous cruises were on bigger ships, the closest to this size ship was the Nordic Prince and the Song of America, otherwise larger ships with about 2,000 to 2,500 passengers. I was particularly worried this ship would rock & roll, but it didn't, not on our trip and we did have some rain days. I was worried about my mother-in-law, she had been a sick on the Nordic Prince a number of years ago and if anyone would feel it would be her, she was fine the entire trip. EMBARKATION The was painless, however one of the bus rides from one terminal building to the other seemed a little over kill we could have walked in one or two minutes, if that. As reported previously they have this process under control, even at the New Port of Santos, for Azamara, everything was quick and orderly. We were given Champaign as we entered the Ship and has some food which was welcome by this time even though we did have a big breakfast in Sao Paulo at our Hotel before leaving for Santos. CABINS The Cabins were a real treat for us as this was the first time we had a balcony, so worth it and someone told me you can't go back once you've had one, that might be true... In any case on this ship I would absolutely recommend it, especially for the difference in price from a window cabin, it's worth it! The bathroom while not big was fine and the shower was fine and not the smallest I've seen. The bath products are actually excellent as reported and they certainly give you plenty. The robes and slippers a real treat, never had that before either. POOL AREA While yes the Pool is small, this is the smallest I've seen, it works well enough and is not crowded. The area around the pool is very nice and chairs were a dream. The Grill has excellent food and while we only ate there twice it was very fresh and the fries are very good. BUFFET Windows was excellent for Breakfast! The blueberry pancakes and omelets are very tasty, The juice bar seems to be an under utilized area, they make any combination of juices to order, I would suggest trying this out. CASINO The is a great area, not very big and it felt friendly, I can say I should have won but I forgot "know when to walk away", maybe next time. I won a free Casino T-Shirt on a raffle so it wasn't a complete loss. ACTIVITIES We especially enjoyed the lecture on The Beauty of Mathematics in Nature, well worth attending. I liked the Food Demo and the talk about Gems. ENTERTAINMENT No there are no BIG PRODUCTIONS but with the space and number of entertainers on board they do a really good job of making each night interesting and fun. We really did like all the shows, some more than others but we never left completely disappointed. As I mentioned above the Ship entertainers are very good and because they are so personable and friendly with the passengers it gives the shows at night a different feel. SHORE EXCURSIONS We actually only booked one with the Ship but it was really good in Parati we went on a "Party Ship" to two different beaches and they sold "Cipirina's" on board which were the best I tasted in all of Brazil. Otherwise we did our own thing in a few Ports, no problem with getting a Taxi and were part a larger group in Rio and Itajai. Loved Argentina, Camboriu and Parati, plus Rio is Rio, loved it too. Speaking the language does help but I don't think it's a must have, not at all. DINING Completely enjoyed this, the portion sizes are just right so you can actually try more different courses. The presentation was excellent. The only issue for me personally is a seafood allergy, so much of the shrimp, scallops were off limits, but they did look really good and my husband loved it. The staff was very attentive to ensure I didn't have anything I shouldn't. My absolute favorite was the soufflE at Aqualina. AFTERNOON TEA This I have never experienced on a ship, we went a number of days while at sea to Aqualina for tea and treats and to listen to the Harpist play, it was every relaxing. DISEMBARKATION I thought this would have taken longer and was surprised how quickly we got off the ship. We had a Taxi waiting for us so it was all like clock work getting off the ship and back to Sao Paulo. I can tell you we loved our Cruise and would recommend it to all! I hope your cruise is as wonderful as ours! A little about our stay in Sao Paulo after the Cruise. SAO PAULO POST CRUISE We stayed one additional night and day in Sao Paulo and even though it rained the second day we had a wonderful time and saw many more interesting spots. For those wondering about prices, the taxi trip from the ship to our Hotel Downtown was $185Reals (Divide by 4 very reasonable). We had arranged with the taxi driver who originally drove us to the ship from Sao Paulo to pick us up, like clock work he was there. Once in Sao Paulo we wondered on foot and took one local cab the first day. If you do stay in Sao Paulo, a hotel near Ave. Paulista is a good location; you can wonder on this massive street and feel very safe, we did. It's a business district and the locals are dressed to the nines. There was a Christmas Show with a group of about 60 kids singing Nutcracker songs the evening we arrived at 6:30 outside of one of the banks. The banks also have their lobbies decorated with Christmas themes like I have never seen before, all free for everyone to wonder through and enjoy. We saw about 30 or so Santa Claus' wishing Christmas Cheer to everyone walking and driving by, this was a really good photo. Speaking of which I took many pictures on this street and again felt very safe. It reminds me of Time Square or Yonge Street a little. We saw a few helicopters making roof top landings to pickup executives at the end of the day. We stayed at the Maksoud Plaza, it was in a great location and very safe. I have to say the city view from the 19th floor from the odd numbered rooms is incredible. We hired the same driver for the second day for $300Reals, this included tip and drop off at the Airport later, (which alone is a standard $100Reals), he was with us from 11 am to 6:30 pm. We went to a number of places, the open market on (15th of Nov St, I think) it was amazing with only people on the street. The Train Station is impressive from the inside, the old churches and buildings are wonderful and the mix of architecture is well... very unique. We tried a local restaurant which serves food by the weight, or the Kilo the first night (just make sure you eat somewhere over $2.50 Reals for 100 grams, you get much more variety and better food, so said our Taxi driver, I think we paid $2.89, the entire meal was less then $40Reals for two with drinks. The second day we tried this deboned grilled chicken that was to die for, again the Taxi drivers recommendation. We went to a shop that only sold hot sauces and teas, I mean really hot sauce, we'll see if we can actually eat it or cook with it.... Too much more to mention, lets just say it was our first trip to Brazil but it won't be the last....I hope not. I should mention we speak Portuguese which in Brazil does come in very handy and now that we have been once, we feel much more comfortable about returning. But if you don't speak the language, downtown you will find many people do, also the Hotels have tours in many languages. Glad we stayed the extra time in Sao Paulo. 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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