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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My fourth cruise on Journey and it won't be my last although my next sailing will be on Quest. Azamara has a lot to offer and the ships crew are very experienced and helpful. You certainly will feel well looked after while on board. ... Read More
My fourth cruise on Journey and it won't be my last although my next sailing will be on Quest. Azamara has a lot to offer and the ships crew are very experienced and helpful. You certainly will feel well looked after while on board. The food options are very good and although you have to pay a supplement to use the speciality restaurants they really are worth it. Take the 3 visit package for $70! The complimentary wines are ok but nothing great, they are supplemented by a reasonable pay as you go wine list The upgrade to the ships furnishings has lifted the ambiance of the public rooms as well as the cabins. That said I'm not sure the lighter colours in the public rooms is going to last the test of time, the red wine stains are already showing!! Cabins are comfortable but the bathrooms are quite small especially the tiny showers with the well dated shower curtain but in truth no worse than many of the mainstream cruise lines. Room service was good and the luxury of a breakfast in bed always welcome. USB points in the bedside lights is a nice and valuable touch. TV choice isn't great but no one is onboard to watch TV. But as a Brit I liked the access to Sky News and BBC News. The entertainment is not a strong feature of the ship and in some ways is disappointing. Others have said the same thing so it's a shame no action has been taken to remedy this as it does drag down the overall scores. I didn't use the shore excursions I'm not able to comment. All in all a good product and I'd be surprised if anyone on the ship didn't enjoy the experience and want to travel again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We chose this cruise for the ports: Venice, Sibenik & Dubrovnik Croatia, Kotor Montenegro, Corfu Greece, Taormina Sicily, Sorrento italy, and Rome. Then we looked at reviews for Azamara, which we had never heard of before, and were ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the ports: Venice, Sibenik & Dubrovnik Croatia, Kotor Montenegro, Corfu Greece, Taormina Sicily, Sorrento italy, and Rome. Then we looked at reviews for Azamara, which we had never heard of before, and were impressed with them, so we booked it. This trip certainly lived up to the reviews. We loved the ship, the crew, the passengers, and the ports. I would highly recommend it. Here's a review of the ship and the ports we saw: Ship: Azamara Journey; Checking in was easy and fast. The safety drill was so civilized! They sat us down in the dining room, in sections and explained the drill, but we didn't need to bring our own life jackets. Staff: Wonderful! Captain was pleasant, visible, and approachable. Concierge was amazing. She helped us to plan some logistics, and even found someone on board to fix the strap of our carry-on (which someone broke in Venice). Acupuncturist on board did a lecture and really impressed us and we each booked 3 session package (one each day), and she was amazing!! Entertainment: Not as good as big ships, but not bad. We enjoyed the shows: Main room - Cabaret Lounge:: Tony, the master of ceremonies was really good and an accomplished singer himself. Male comic was sooo funny, we actually came back for the 2nd show. Dancers/singers were good, and we enjoyed the show with them singing Broadway hits. The female violinist/comic was excellent on the violin, but my husband and I were mixed on the comedy part. Other: The DJ and guitarist in other rooms were ok Bingo: We were VERY upset that we paid $50 total to play ONE game each. In normal ships, you get to play the same card for many games. We wouldn't do the bingo again. Felt it was a rip off. The Pool: Was much smaller than other ships, BUT it was very deep at one end, and not a lot of people went in (because cruise was so port-intensive), so we always felt comfortable in it, and never felt really crowded. Chairs were very comfortable, and staff was great in coming round with drinks, etc. Food: Main restaurant and buffet cafe, and patio on deck - were good. Not much variety in main restaurant, but buffet cafe had more choices, and patio on deck had burgers, hot dogs, etc. Officers’ bar-b-que, with officers serving us one night was excellent. White party was nice. Overall, food was pretty good, not great -- and they did have gluten free choices. Other restaurants ($30 pp): Aqualina - food and service were excellent! and Prime - food very good and service ok, but not as good as Aqualina. Drinks: We had the regular free plan and were satisfied with plenty of free water and soft drinks, and house wines for my husband Fellow passengers: Mostly UK and Australians. Then Americans. Then a smattering from other countries. Very friendly. Like that the setup for meals is many tables for two, all close to each other, so easy to meet and talk to others. They always put you next to at least one other table for two, so fun meeting new people all the time. There were not many kids, but apparently more than usual, because they made a special announcement that the ship had more kids than usual, and to please prevent them from running around the deck or splashing in pool, so others could enjoy their cruise. I was kind of shocked by this (but very grateful), because we're used to big ships where they cater to kids. The Ports: NOTE - when returning to ship/tender after every port, they had cold towels and water/lemonade waiting for us. Very nice! Venice: Beautiful! Went a day early, but could have used another full day. Get a hotel on the Grand Canal, because the view is amazing! Do what everyone says and don't bother with a tour. Just walk the streets and get lost like everyone else, do a gondola ride (even though pricey), and just enjoy!! Sibenik Croatia: We just walked along the water at the port. Not much there. Heard Krka National Park (with waterfalls and swim area) is really good, But I was walking with a cane, and it was not recommended for me, so we skipped it. Maybe next time. Dubrovnik Croatia - Loved it! Morning: We pre-booked a private tour (just us in a car) with Dubrovnik Shore Tours (got great reviews from trip advisor). Tour was "Dubrovnik, panorama & Cavtat Bestseller Tour (4-4.5 hours long)" for a total of only 200 Euros, plus tip. We had to give 50 euro deposit and the rest in cash. Our guide was Ivo and he was fantastic. Evening: We did the free AzAmazing Evening from the ship and it was amazing! Saw Concert by famous Croatian Cellist Ana Rucner, in Old Town Dubrovnik. She plays in front of a movie screen, and accompanies herself on the screen. She is passionate and truly amazing. Kotor Montenegro - did ship's 1/2 day tour of boat ride to church and tour of old city. Was very hot and bus was very crowded and uncomfortable. Tour guide talked in a monotone and had no personality, but the church part was ok. Story of Our Lady of the Rock church, and the visit to the church were interesting. By the time we got back to old city and 2nd part of tour was starting (tour of walled city of Kotor), we were too hot and tired to go, and ship was docked right there, so just went back to ship. In hindsight, if we knew the walled city was a 5 minute walk from where we were docked, we wouldn't have done a tour at all. We just would have walked around the city on our own. Corfu and Taormina - Didn't get off the ship. Just relaxed. Next time... Sorrento, Italy - LOVED the Amalfi coast We booked a private tour with: Sorrento First Choice Car Service – Amalfi Coast Land Tour (Positano, Amalfi, Ravello) (8:30AM – 4:30PM) The tour was wonderful, and the ride from Sorrento to Positano and visiting Positano was the highlight for us. Soooo beautiful. We didn't stay long at Amalfi, because we also wanted to spend some time back in Sorrento at the end of the tour, but drove through and it was nice and views were amazing. In Ravella, our guide recommended a lovely restaurant and booked a table for us, outside on the terrace, overlooking the cliffs and shore. We loved it! The views back and forth to Sorrento were magnificent, and we were glad we were in a private Mercedes, rather than a big bus. Back in Sorrento, we walked around the port city a bit (loved the narrow streets and shops), and had some limoncello, and then we asked him to take us back to ship an hour early, cause I was very tired. But I've always wanted to see Amalfi coast. This tour guide was not as informative as Ivo in Dubrovnik, but he was pleasant and a great driver (which you need here), and was accommodating and answered any questions we had. He was laid back and we liked that, and didn't need a lot of history. We just wanted to soak in the amazing scenery and landscape and shore and beauty, and we saw tons of that! The only thing missing was an extra day, so we could have gone to Capri. We also heard from others that Pompeii was amazing, but I knew it was strenuous and would be too difficult for me, and I certainly don't regret what we chose to do, because seeing the coast was my priority. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We are a party of 6 and have just spent a week on Azamara Journey from 02/08/2016, sailing from Venice to Rome via Croatia, Montenegro, Corfu and Sicily. The refurbishment of Azamara Journey in January 2016 does not hide the age of the ... Read More
We are a party of 6 and have just spent a week on Azamara Journey from 02/08/2016, sailing from Venice to Rome via Croatia, Montenegro, Corfu and Sicily. The refurbishment of Azamara Journey in January 2016 does not hide the age of the ship, but it does make it a pleasant combination of nostalgic, old ship elegance and contemporary touches and convenience. Save for one issue (see the cabin review below) we had an enjoyable cruise. The crew were fantastic. They could not have been more helpful or concerned for their passengers. Our group ranged in age from 17 to 79 years. The older (50+) members of our group were representative of the majority of passengers and enjoyed the ship. We would counsel against taking children on this ship. Young children are not really tolerated (there were several reminders issued to keep them in check) and our 17 and 19 year olds found the ship too small and very dull. The itinerary suited us on this occasion. We were expertly tendered into 4 out of 6 ports in the lifeboats. The organised excursions seemed typically expensive and there were not that many of them. That said, we were happy with being tendered into most ports and exploring on or own. The on-board shops are small and are not a big feature of the Journey and whilst they did hold the usual "not-to-be-missed blow out stock clearance" sale, the range and quality of the goods on offer were disappointing. The main evening entertainment takes place in a cabaret lounge and is only OK. The public areas are very quiet indeed after about 10.30pm. However, we made our own fun as a group and enjoyed playing cards by electric candlelight when they switched off the other lighting in the card room at 10.30pm! The cost-inclusive arrangements for food and drink were welcome and refreshing. The food was fine, but not fine dining. We dined in all of the eateries on the ship, including both speciality restaurants. We would recommend Prime C, which was a cut above the rest. A hint in relation to "White Night" on the pool deck - if you go to this, go early, as the barbeque is great, but it is chaotic and there is nothing like enough seating available. So, all in all, for passengers who can either make their own entertainment or for passengers who prefer a gentle, restful experience, the Journey is great. However, see our comments on cabins 6057 and 6059. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I chose this ship as I wanted to be away on these dates and this cruise came up at a very reasonable rate for a solo traveller. I had also heard very good reports is Azamara cruises. The transfer from the airport was not easy. We had to ... Read More
I chose this ship as I wanted to be away on these dates and this cruise came up at a very reasonable rate for a solo traveller. I had also heard very good reports is Azamara cruises. The transfer from the airport was not easy. We had to claim our luggage twice and then had a long walk to the transfer bus in high temperatures. On arrival at the ship we had to claim our luggage again and another walk before a check in. Recommend asking for assistance if walking is not too easy. I was worn out by the time I actually got on Board. My cabin was on deck 4, outside. Very convenient. Excellent large bed. Smaller than some other cabins but ok for me on my own. Bathroom very small with small shower cubicle and shower curtain. Could not be easy for a large person. The main dining room I used every evening. Very good menu with a good choice. Food very well presented and good. Soups excellent. I normally joined the solo group but it worked just as well if you just turned up on your own. Breakfast every day was in the self service restaurant. Would not recommend the fried eggs, rubbery, scrambled eggs the same or the bacon but the other choices were very good. Lunch most days in same restaurant. Good choice of salads every day and same with desserts. Some hot dishes good but not all. Not a lot of room for a large choice. Freshly cooked burghers on pool deck excellent. The service in all was first class and could not be faulted. It seems a happy ship. The amazing evening was superb, visit to a theatre in Monte Carlo with a very good unusual trapeze show. Organisation very good and straightforward. One entertainer comedienne and magician was well worth watching but the rest was mediocre. Not a good choice if you want evening entertainment. Good choice of ports. Excursions expensive. Internet access very expensive. Loved the size of the ship and the friendliness of the staff. Would I go again. Yes if the price was right. It did not live up to my expectations but maybe they were too high. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Never tried it b4. tauted as a luxery cruise with top amenities. not true. cabin/crew service awful. dining room crew awful, poorly trained wait staff. Shore tours were very expensive with poor guides. very little value for the ... Read More
Never tried it b4. tauted as a luxery cruise with top amenities. not true. cabin/crew service awful. dining room crew awful, poorly trained wait staff. Shore tours were very expensive with poor guides. very little value for the money. over all i would have to say the tours were expensive, sloppily run and poorly organized. as you might tell by now, i doubt that i would ever sail on azamara again !!! Embarkation was awful. left standing in the hot sun for over an hour beore any staff showed up. ground staff had no answers as to what was going on with the check in. seriously they didn't know who their customer were. for the cost i feel their should have been more attention to detail and attention to passengers/customers. They didn't understand or care for that matter that their senior cruise customers have special needs...like inability to stand for long periods of time. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this cruise for the dates and the destinations and the fact that we had traveled on the Azamara Quest 6 years previously and had really enjoyed it. We have no desire to cruise on large ships with thousands of passengers, so ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the dates and the destinations and the fact that we had traveled on the Azamara Quest 6 years previously and had really enjoyed it. We have no desire to cruise on large ships with thousands of passengers, so Azamara fits the bill, also the ability to get into smaller ports and not always have to tender appeals to us. In between the two Azamara cruises we have cruised on Ociania Riviera, also in the Med, bigger ship so bigger bathrooms and fabulous food however I have to say Azamara Journey was just as good regarding the food, could not fault it. Best of all the fabulous crew, so very friendly and attentive, nothing was too much trouble. We ate in all the restaurants and all were fabulous, I guess if I had to choose Acqualina would be the favourite, however the food everywhere was superb as was the wine. Once again being a smaller ship you can not expect Broadway productions, but we got them ! the entertainment was superb, the dancers and singers great lead by the Azamazing Eric, what a great entertainer he is so polished and talented and a really friendly man with a great sense of humour ... Loved it all ... nothing to complain about ... Would I cruise with Azamara again ? In a heartbeat, I can't comment on the shore excursions as we did not do any, we just like to get off the boat and do our own thing, then come back to the wonderful haven that the Journey provided. The Azamazing evening that the ship provided in Monaco was incredible, must be the best acrobatic show ever ... what a gift ... Thank you Azamara for it all can't wait to see you again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Loved the service from the staff for which AZAMARA is infamous. They are definitely the best for service by far of any cruise line. The ports of call were brilliant in the Mediterranean, and time in port gave the option to do two ... Read More
Loved the service from the staff for which AZAMARA is infamous. They are definitely the best for service by far of any cruise line. The ports of call were brilliant in the Mediterranean, and time in port gave the option to do two excursions if required. The AZAMAZING EVENINGS were so special in CHANIA and VALLETTA. We did back to back cruises but visited same place twice and managed to see so much more second time around. Loved the concept of The Living Room, improved a mainly unused room to a hive of activity. Tapas and drinks earlier plus tea and coffee brilliant. The favourite meeting place onboard. Loved the whole cruise and will go back to AZAMARA again. The refurbishment was only surface in the cabins. Linen, lovely, bathrooms not so good. Not much changed apart from taking the bathroom cabinet out and installing a shelf over the toilet. Lost a few things to the toilet. Hate the shower curtain with a passion. No clothesline as before and hooks from room wall removed. These were very handy in the past. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
After sailing on the mega new ships, we found the difference on a smaller boutique ship profound. Azamara is owned by Royal Caribbean. We chose the line because of the complimentary beverages (wine and standard cocktail brands), prepaid ... Read More
After sailing on the mega new ships, we found the difference on a smaller boutique ship profound. Azamara is owned by Royal Caribbean. We chose the line because of the complimentary beverages (wine and standard cocktail brands), prepaid gratuities and longer stays in the ports of call. The daily wine selections were fantastic and as a foodie, the culinary cuisine left us craving for more. Whether we dined in the upgraded restaurants, poolside, at the Cafe or room service, the presentations were works of art and the food was 5 star. Kudos to the chefs. Amazing. The service by every single staff member was extraordinary. We loved the intimacy of the ship and did not feel like cattle being corralled to anything. No long lines and no waiting for anything. We loved the longer days in port. It takes all the pressure off of being rushed back to the ship. The excursions were well organized including the Azamara Evening, a complimentary event when all the passengers are escorted to a venue on shore for a private entertainment experience. Ours was in Crete. In the middle of the town's square, we were dazzled by a famous Greek pianist while being served wine and sweets. As the grand finale, the ship shot off fireworks that took our breath away. The line up of the live entertainment on the ship was just as great including performances by the cruise director Erick who was so darn funny and gifted as a performer. Whether we enjoyed acoustic music before dinner, poolside jazz or a broadway performance after dinner, we always found places to enjoy on the ship. We loved our room (#6049). A suite with a large handicap bathroom. Definitely opt for a suite because it comes with all kinds of perks. The room attendant was five star (Roland). We never longed for anything. How does this company offer this level of service? As a business owner, I'm beyond impressed. We booked our next cruise on the same ship to Asia. We pray the crew is the same!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
Wanted to cruise the Adriatic and Croatia.and the Greek Islands on a small capacity luxury ship. Azamara Journey fit the bill. It was wonderful. So now we are picking up the Journey in Aukland New Zealand and cruising for 16 days around ... Read More
Wanted to cruise the Adriatic and Croatia.and the Greek Islands on a small capacity luxury ship. Azamara Journey fit the bill. It was wonderful. So now we are picking up the Journey in Aukland New Zealand and cruising for 16 days around New Zealand and Australia .Can't wait! We booked before we left the ship in Athens. Loved the room service...breakfast served on our Veranda each morning! We ordered the nite before and gave the time we wanted it served. They have a great self service laundry with ironing . Which was so appreciated since we were on an 8 day land tour before boarding the ship. The wonderful blender drinks around the pool.were something we looked forward to each afternoon. The food was teriffic loved the suishi.The White night while anchored in Santorini was magical. Also the special show ashore in Dubrovnik was outstanding and so well organized. The entertainment was wonderful. Our cabin was well appointed and the King bed oh so comfortable.There were no children on board which made for a relaxed atmosphere My husband who did not like cruising is a convert! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Azamara Journey Thursday September 10 Up at 03.30 am and left the house at just gone 04.30 am, and there was a surprising amount of traffic particularly lorries on the M6, but we still got to Manchester airport by 05.05 am. The drop ... Read More
Azamara Journey Thursday September 10 Up at 03.30 am and left the house at just gone 04.30 am, and there was a surprising amount of traffic particularly lorries on the M6, but we still got to Manchester airport by 05.05 am. The drop off point has now changed and we had to walk along the concourse inside the terminal into the lift, downstairs, walk out of the building and back in to the Jet 2 check in! The queue was not that long, about ten people in front of us, it is the main check in for all flights and therefore all desks were manned; it appeared to be organised chaos, but there were staff there to help in the queue. We presented our boarding cards and received luggage tags, and the gate number. Security was more disorganized, initially put in the fast queue, but this then funnelled into just one. Usual state of affairs, men had to take off shoes, belts and watches, also a requirement for the women as well, however I didn't need to take off my shoes. As usual, no consistency. David sailed straight through, but for the second time, I must have triggered something, despite not wearing my Christos. However a cursory wipe over with the security woman’s baton obviously satisfied her and I was free to go. That was, though, not me finished with Security. Once again my hand case was put on the other side of the barrier, so along with a great deal of other people, we went to the end to await the arrival of our case and examination by a security person. So what had triggered it this time? We had both been carrying cameras, David had the stills, but I was carrying the video, which was apparently bigger. Having rummaged as they do through the whole case and disturbed my neat folding, I attempted to take it to a table at the back - but of course the security woman hadn't zipped it, so everything fell out onto the floor, including the camera!! How fortunate we had allowed extra time to catch our flight!! The departure area was really crowded, despite it not being 6 am. We eventually found two spare seats and I went off on a long march for the coffees. Suitably sustained by the addition of a banana which we had brought from home, we went through the gate and straight onto the plane, no walking upstairs on the Tarmac, although of course at Venice, we had to walk down the steps of the plane and be bussed to the terminal building. Choosing seats 3B & C on the plane, we were also lucky that nobody occupied the window seat, although we were told that there were only about six empty seats. Flight was unremarkable, we left on time and touched down at 10.50 am. A short walk to passport control, although the longer queue was for electronic ones, so we gave up and ended up going to the manned desk. Arrival at Venice Moving through Customs, we were pleased to see a woman holding an Azamara sign at the exit from the Customs channel. We were directed to a group of fellow travellers in the arrivals hall which gradually swelled over about 15 minutes or so. With everyone assembled who were expected off various flights, maybe 30 in total, we set off on a 10 minute walk to our coach. This walk was enforced because of construction work at the airport causing the coaches to have to park some distance from the airport terminal. This enforced march was very difficult for a disabled woman. The coach transfer took no more than 30 minutes to reach our ship, which was berthed at the San Basilica pier. This location is as near to the centre of Venice as cruise ships are permitted to dock. Alighting from the coach, our luggage was unloaded but the porters wouldn’t come to collect the bags; we had to carry these for about 30 feet to their trolleys. This was frustrating, to say the least! We had to walk around the entire perimeter of the embarkation hall, and inside the check-in process was well under way, having started at 11.30 am. The process was pretty efficient, with only a short wait. Clearing Italian Customs/security, a minibus was waiting to avoid the long walk to the aft gangway of the ship. We were surprised to see no ship’s staff were present to offer assistance with carry-on bags up the gangway steps, a service that would count as routine on a luxury line, but Azamara Journey has insufficient staff to do this; indeed, severe staff shortages were evident later. Entering the ship on Deck 4, we had our picture taken and skirted the melee of passengers milling round the lobby and went to deposit our carry-on bags before heading to the pool grill for a burger and accompaniments. This was excellent and much needed because we had been up since 3.30 am, hadn’t eaten apart from the banana, and it was now about 1.00 pm. We know the former Renaissance Cruise Line ‘R’ Class ships, of which Azamara’s Quest and Journey are two, very well, having sailed on five of the eight vessels whilst operated by five lines. There was therefore no particular need to explore our home for the next nineteen nights. It was, though, interesting to observe those new to these ships, many seemingly trying out Azamara after cruising on RCCL and Celebrity, which are all owned by RCI. The Cruise Critic meet & mingle party followed the mandatory safety drill, which was at 5 pm, but it had fewer attendees than the roll call had suggested but did produce a strong showing from the senior officers, including Captain Johannes, Hotel Director (HD) Ryzard and Cruise Director (CD) Tony. We had sailed with Ryzard several times previously and it was good to be reacquainted. Tony’s mother also embarked in Venice and we got to know this delightful lady very well during our voyage and have kept in touch by email since returning home. During unpacking, the limited space in the standard balcony cabin became evident again, with the profusion of small drawers being no substitute for decent hanging space. Azamara’s decision to opt for a casual dress code certainly helped cut down on evening clothes. Still feeling the afterglow of the late lunch, we opted to pick at the buffet in the Windows café – or ‘caff’ as the Activities Manager referred to it, oh dear! (‘a caff’ in the UK is a sleazy, downmarket version of a café!); and secured a table next to the rail outside beside the Sunset Bar. Here we snacked in the warmth of a balmy Venice evening, watching the water traffic pass along the Fucine canal, the main maritime thoroughfare into and out of the city. We remained docked in Venice the following day until sailing away at 6.00 pm, passing the key waterfront buildings at a height above roof level. Calm seas and, with the exception of one day, fine weather were the hallmark of the cruise. Split Cruise ships docking in Split use the ferry port and, once outside the terminal building, one is on the edge of the old city and we arrived on time at 1 pm. A few cafes and stalls are available in the terminal, which services the ferry traffic, one of which goes as far as Italy. Having visited Split previously, we decided to make the half hour public bus journey north, along the coast to Trogir. This is like a small version of Split, with beautiful walls and a harbour. Its clean, narrow, traffic-free streets offer a different view on turning each corner. Being small, Trogir’s secrets do not take long to explore. We made our way from Split’s port across the road to the long-distance bus station. Attempts to locate a water taxi to make the journey to Trogir proved fruitless because no one had heard of the operator. Coaches leave the bus station for a range of destinations, not least Split airport, and Trogir is but a stop on the way to destinations such as Zadar or Zagreb. The waiting room includes booking kiosks and a money exchange. We had no difficulty in ascertaining the times of coaches to Trogir, the staff speaking English. Having ascertained the fare, we changed sufficient money at the money exchange at a respectable rate into Kuna to pay for both the outbound ticket and also the return, which could only be bought in Trogir. The next departure at 2 pm was full but we secured front seats on the 2.30 pm. Our coach appeared to start its journey in Split and stopped right at the bay to which we had been directed outside the waiting room. We departed punctually and made good, fast progress along the main highway until we turned off for the short section into Trogir’s bus station. We made enquiries at the booking office as to departures back to Split but the staff were only interested in selling tickets for their local service, which reputedly takes over an hour. We found a timetable on a wall and noted coaches departed at irregular intervals of between 30 to 45 minutes. We then made the pleasant short walk into Trogir itself. Whilst on the Trogir harbour front, we asked about the water taxi service to Split. We were told that the operator was based over the bridge that links Zedno Island to the mainland. We returned in ample time for our coach back to Split, which would be arriving from either Zadar of Zagreb. Unfortunately, coaches do not carry any indication as a rule as to their destination. So when one arrived, we asked the driver if he was going to Split. The coach we wanted arrived about 10 minutes before the timetabled departure and we boarded, paying the driver’s assistant. An uneventful journey brought us back to the bus station and we walked back across the road and into the ferry terminal to join the Journey. Dubrovnik Next day found the Journey at anchor in the bay opposite Dubrovnik old town. This was a switch from the original arrangement to dock in the cruise port several miles away, where up to three other ships were due to also be present during some part of the day. The “Azamazing” evening was to take place in the cathedral square just behind the old harbour and on-board management judged it was better to anchor and take people ashore throughout the day by tender, rather than use coaches from the cruise port to the main entrance to Dubrovnik but at the opposite side of the town from the harbour. With calm seas, the decision worked well. Azamara’s organisation for the evening event was excellent. Dinner was scheduled early so that passengers could be ferried ashore in deck order. Temporary seating had been placed in the cathedral square, which was barriered off from general public access. A large screen and speakers had been set up behind a small stage and everything was set for a performance by Croatian cellist Ana Rucner. She plays modern classical tunes, with a video of her in various Croatian settings on the screen behind her. The performance was superb and quite a crowd of locals had gathered outside the barriers to watch too. Lokrum During the day in Dubrovnik we went ashore and the ship’s tender deposited us in the old harbour from where a local company operates a ferry to Lokrum Island. Our ship was actually at anchor close to the mid-point between Dubrovnik and Lokrum. We were able to pay by credit card on the quayside and board an already well-filled ferry, which was close to departure time when we boarded. Lokrum is popular for locals because, unlike Dubrovnik, there are beach areas and concrete sun terraces and the day of our visit was a Sunday. A modern, small jetty offers ease of access from the ferry and then comes a fairly steep short climb to the central part of the island. The plateau has a picturesque monastery and café/restaurants are scattered around the area between here and the ferry jetty. We by no means toured the whole island, though this would be quite easy on the maintained paths, which were mainly made of crushed stone. With its variety of beach and pool options, and well-maintained grounds and wooded spaces, it was easy to see why Lokrum is popular, though its size meant there was no sense of crowds. Kotor Kotor is in a fjord-like setting, some miles in from Montenegro’s Adriatic coast. The location at the head of Kotor bay is very picturesque and thus now very popular with cruise ships. To cater for these, the waterfront moorings for pleasure craft has been extended to create a long dock, with a wide area of concrete hard-standing to accommodate road vehicles servicing the vessels. Azamara Journey was tied alongside but the later arrival of Costa Mediterranae, four times the size, saw the latter at anchor and thus bringing its passengers ashore by tender; it departed several hours before the Journey. Cruise ship passengers have a short walk to enter Kotor’s walls and then lose themselves in the winding streets of the traffic-free old town. Whilst the character of Kotor old town remains unspoilt by virtue of it being a UNESCO world heritage site, a significant proportion of the shops are geared to the tourist trade and the fruit, vegetable and fish markets are outside in the direction of the new town. Continuing out of town beyond the market is a small supermarket and other shops. It is possible to walk round the walls. It is also possible to walk up the 1,000+ steps to the San Giovanni fort for views over the town. Part-way up this climb is the Church of Our Lady of Health or Remedy. All cruise ships have to pass by the man-made island on which stands Our Lady of the Rocks church and the neighbouring St George’s Island. This is opposite Perast, a village 8 miles along Kotor Bay from Kotor. The island attracts hundreds of cruisers when large ships visit Kotor and the site is swamped, with Perast ferry boats doing a roaring trade. Perast Knowing that the huge Costa ship was due to depart Kotor at 2 pm and pass Perast soon afterwards, we decided to make our own way to Perast. We had ascertained locally that we could reach Perast on a local bus and made our way to the bus station. This is about a 10 minute walk beyond the old town area of Kotor but within the limits of the new town and is served by long-distance coaches. We bought our tickets before boarding a coach that departed around 1 pm. The journey took about 20 minutes and we were dropped off on the main road behind and above Perast, which offered rooftop high vistas across Kotor bay and to the islands. Once, traffic drove through Perast but it is now one thoroughfare along the sea wall which is narrow and, with a bypass built, barriers control vehicular access. The village was quite quiet, with boatmen keen for custom to the islands but we declined. Artists were busy recording the scene as we walked along the waterfront. Everything was peaceful and so different to how it would have been hours earlier with the hordes of cruisers. We patronised a restaurant and sat on our own at one of its waterfront tables, admiring the view. The restaurant called a taxi and we enjoyed an informative drive back to Kotor with our English-speaking driver for under Euro 12. Chania Chania (pronounced “Harnia”) in Crete (Greece) was due to be a tender port but a decision was made to change the port to Souda, and from here Azamara was obliged to put on a shuttle into the town, a transit of some 15 minutes. Little Train The shuttle drop-off point was outside the central market, which had a range of produce and goods available, as well as cafes. We wanted to get to the starting point of the “Little Train”, which offers several different tours round the island. The one we chose was one of the longer, a half-day tour of part of the north-western area of Crete. The roads in the centre of Chania are unsuitable for the train’s operation, and instead the point of origin and other pick-up points are along the coast road that serves the main hotel strip. Purely by chance, agents for the open-top hop-on, hop-off Red Bus were outside the market and two of the agents were the wife and daughter of a driver of the train. They were able to direct us where to go to find the train and we made a hasty taxi ride to the train’s departure point. The train comprised a diesel-powered vehicle with a steam locomotive superstructure, which towed three carriages that had roofs, but no windows and were divided into about five compartments which could accommodate up to four people. A public address system facilitated an English commentary. We were due to visit Kolimbari, a fishing village, but with no boats in port, we carried on to a monastery at Gonia. By now, we were on the little byroads that link the villages of this part of Crete. Leaving the monastery, we continued within sight of the coast but began climbing into the hills until we reached the small village of Afrata. A stop here allowed an exploration of the village and the opportunity to patronise the retailers and we bought some honey from the shop-keeper, who was also the producer. From here, we cut inland through several hamlets before eventually arriving at the centuries old estate of theTerra Creta family which is located between the Samaria Gorge and the beaches of Kolymvari, one of the many olive oil producers in Crete. The production facility was toured, spotless but out of use because the new season of olive harvesting had yet to start. Having had the process and different types of olive oil explained, we were taken to the shop to taste different olive oils and, with no pressure, given the opportunity to buy what we had tasted. From here it was back to the starting point and, being on the main road into town, we caught a local bus back into Chania. Santorini Santorini was the next port on the following day. There were so many ships due that, initially, the port authorities required us to arrive around 10.00 am, rather than 08.00 am, our original time, to avoid congestion at the foot of the cable car. In the event, one of two Costa ships, which was scheduled to call, aborted its visit and we anchored in the bay around 08.00 am as scheduled. The locals now operate a tender service to take passengers to the foot of the cable car, no doubt charging a high price to cruise ships for the service. Having been previously, we stayed on board and had the run of the ship. People who visited Akrotiri, the excavated ancient settlement which has been preserved for millennia by volcanic debris, reported that virtually all the artefacts had been transferred to museums elsewhere, reducing significantly the amenity of the site. Hydra Hydra (pronounced surprisingly as Heedra), is one of the smallest inhabited Greek islands and has no motorised transport. A short tender ride from the anchorage in the bay brought us to the town’s harbour, where we came ashore at the dock used by the fast ferry from Athens. The harbour had a mixture of fishing and leisure craft either tied alongside or at anchor. Bars, cafes and restaurants extended along the waterfront, with some shops and a small supermarket, the latter being possibly the only venue that locals would patronise regularly. All the narrow, cobbled streets that led away from the harbour climbed steeply and it was interesting to wander along the alleyways, with any heading steeply down taking you back to the harbour. Even hereabouts, the retail outlets generally targeted tourists, and were extremely expensive, some items could have been purchased for considerably less elsewhere. Restaurant menus advertised main courses starting at 13 Euro, so Hydra was no bargain basement on the food front either, a point we noted on all the Greek islands we visited; whatever happened to the meal for two and wine for under 20 Euro? Although we did not venture that far around the headland, we were told there was a small beach area and some passengers enjoyed this amenity. Wandering back to the ferry dock, we watched the catamaran arrive noisily from Athens and observed those leaving and joining, a motley mix but without obvious signs of any overt great affluence. We were a bit disappointed with Hydra, which lacked the character its rustic lifestyle should have oozed. Nafplion Nafplion is the nearest port for Mycenae, which was one of the major centres of Greek civilization from 1,600 BC for around 500 years. En route we stopped at Agamemnon’s tomb, which dates from the same period. The tomb is the best-preserved of the so-called ‘beehive’ tombs found in this area. The term derives from its domed roof over the main chamber, which is approached by a passageway under an arch. Being unprotected, there are no artefacts in the tomb and, like Mycenae, it has been made as accessible as possible. Before visiting Mycenae, we toured the museum, which was well laid out and extensive. Then we walked through the Lion’s Gate, the main entrance to the site. From here one tours the results of the archaeological excavations. The half-day tour concluded back at the tender jetty before 1.00 pm. Piraeus Port, Athens Next day brought the conclusion of the cruise for all bar about 40, who were staying on for the next one. We went ashore to the terminal building, where the café has pretty good Wi-Fi. Several shops in the terminal offer a range of items, ranging from food and drink to souvenirs. We returned on-board and spent the afternoon on pool deck. Mykonos Made famous by its windmills, Mykonos is not only the name of the island but also the main town on it. The ship should have docked, but set up a tender operation instead. This dropped passengers on the edge of the town, adjacent to the tiny church of St Nicholas, who is the patron saint of fishermen, and meant no shuttle service was required. Like in Dubrovnik on the previous cruise, this saved Azamara the cost of a shuttle and dropped passengers at a convenient location, but made more work for the crew. A Seabourn ship was docked. The town is known for its narrow streets that were built specifically to have a maze of alleys, supposedly to make it difficult for pirates. It also has the effect of making it difficult for tourists to get their bearings! Many of the shops were clearly geared to tourist traffic, be it the usual low-priced ‘tat’ or clothes offered at a price that would probably deter local residents. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable wandering through the town, watching delivery drivers practising the art of threading their vehicles around the streets. We made our way in the general direction of where we thought the line of windmills atop the town were sited and our guess proved accurate. Since a first visit some long time ago, houses that fronted the windmills have been demolished. One can surmise this was done to make the latter more visible, but demolition to the rear and alongside has made space for vehicle and motor bike parking. Such is the price of tourism! With rain in the air and storm clouds on the horizon, we headed back to the ship, breaking our journey to have a drink at a waterfront café that had a lovely view of the windmills. Patmos The port for Patmos is Skala, a pleasant town, well-provided with shops that seem to primarily serve residents, who come down from the village of Patmos to buy food. We caught the local bus – actually a coach) to Patmos itself (like Mykonos and Hydra, the main town bears the name of the island), along with many others from the ship. The fare was a few Euros. By now, it was raining heavily as we climbed steadily, a journey it took two passengers an hour to walk. Patmos in the rain was no fun, not least due to the lack of shelter. It is very hilly and there is very little to see beyond the monastery dedicated to the apostle John, which sits atop the town. Not too far away is the cave where John reputedly produced the Biblical passage - Revelations. The return bus to Skala was not for well over an hour and such empty taxis that did arrive were collecting passengers who had engaged them in Skala for the ride to Patmos. We asked one driver to send a taxi from Skala for us and, eventually, one did arrive but not before other passengers had ‘stolen’ the taxi that should have been ours! From memory, the fare was 10 Euro, worth it to get out of the rain, but for the distance was quite expensive. Perplexingly, taxi drivers seeking custom were lined up at Skala on our return, disinterested in securing trade from passengers, like us, not prepared to wait for the bus back from Patmos; Greek enterprise? With the rain abated, we perused the merchandise on offer in Skala before getting the tender back to the ship. Bodrum Turkey The ship docked at a purpose-built jetty, at the south end of the bay on which Bodrum sits and a boat shuttle ferries cruise passengers to the main part of the waterfront. We did not have to pay for this shuttle. The waterfront was lined with cafes and vendors’ stalls and was thronging with people, creating a vibrant feel. The previous day, the town had been hit by a most severe storm, part of which we had experienced in Patmos and had been approaching during our earlier visit to Mykonos. The volume of water deposited on the area had caused a flood tide of Biblical proportions through the town’s streets. Cars had been washed away and some still sat, damaged and abandoned. Far worse was the loss of life. One report said five had died as a five feet deep torrent of water swept down the streets. Everywhere was coated in mud and shop premises were still pumping water and debris out as we walked up the main road. The shops which were open had no electricity, therefore no lighting and no facility for accepting credit cards, so purchases had to be in cash only. Indeed, some shops hadn’t opened and one retailer in a small precinct said the owner of the outlet opposite him had disappeared the day before and had not been seen since. Bodrum’s beaches further along the coast have been jumping-off points for migrants from the east heading for the neighbouring Greek islands, notably Lesbos. We saw some migrants in the town, a few begging but being ignored by the locals, save for one café owner who provided some sustenance. It was most unfortunate that the filthy state of everywhere rather deterred our exploration but we did patronise a shoe shop and a waterfront café. We headed back to the pick-up point for another pleasant sea shuttle across the harbour to enable us to clean our soiled footwear. Kas Turkey All the Turkish ports we visited on this cruise form part of what is called the Turquoise coast. The land fronting the sea is largely unspoilt by modern development and the settlements of varying size, ranging from Bodrum and Marmaris down to Fethiye and Kas, owe their existence in the main, to the sea. The coastline is rolling with many small bays and coves but few sandy beaches. Recreational sailing on board a traditional gulet boat is very popular. The gulet is a traditional Turkish sailing yacht constructed out of lacquered pinewood. Prior to leaving home we had contacted the Dennis Boat operator, which offers day long cruises at a cheaper rate than our cruise line. It was a bit of a rush to disembark Azamara Journey by tender and then make our way right round the harbour to the location of the Dennis Boat in time for departure. We had agreed that credit card payment was accepted but when we arrived at the quayside kiosk, we were told this was not now possible. After some discussion, it was agreed we would pay at the end of the trip at a local restaurant, not then open, which had a credit card facility. Others from our ship had booked via an agency in Kas. By virtue of the number of patrons, we actually travelled on a second boat which sailed with Dennis Boat. Those on board were a league of nations! The weather was perfect, cloudless and with a slight sea breeze that hardly disturbed the water. Our boat offered both indoor and outdoor seating and was well staffed. We headed south and made a swimming stop on Inonu, a small town in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey in a sheltered bay. Then we sailed to Tersane Island, the largest in the Gulf of Fethiye, which has a deep 100 metre wide channel that provides easy entry into the inlet bay, where the remains of an old settlement are located, which had become submerged due to earthquakes. Swimming here is not allowed but we did observe another gulet allowing its patrons into the water. Nevertheless it was possible to see the sunken remains from our gulet because the water was so clear and shallow. The crew on board had worked hard to prepare and serve an excellent lunch, with food left over because more than sufficient had been offered. Ucagiz, or Kekova, is the location of tombs of Lycian kings and we docked here, along with many other gulets, for an hour’s visit to the shop and hotel here. A final swimming stop was made in Limanagzi bay, with walkers visible on the cliff-top coastal path called the Lycian Way, which was once part of the Silk Road, from Europe to China. From here we sailed side-by-side with Dennis Boat back to Kas. We thought how trusting this company was, to let us sail without payment, particularly as we sailed on another boat and we disembarked before them and had to wait for a crew member off the latter to escort us to a nearby restaurant to pay for our trip by credit card. All in all, a wonderful day. Passengers off our cruise who chose to spend the day in Kas itself said it was a very attractive place, but unfortunately we had no time to linger and had to return to the Journey just before sailing. Fethiye Turkey In Fethiye we had booked a ship’s excursion that also featured a gulet trip along the Turquoise coast. This gulet was twice the size of the one in Kas, with probably 50 on board. It was a short walk along the quay from where our tender deposited us to the gulet and we opted to sit outside at the front. As in Kas the day before, the weather was perfect. This cruise was advertised as the “12 islands cruise” and is an extremely popular day tour, and there are several local operators who offer this trip. All leave from Fethiye harbour and cruise around the waters of Gocek Bay. You actually only stop at six, and cruise past the others. Some of the islands we had seen in Kas, and we stopped for a swim and snorkel on one island where it is possible to swim to the shore. The water is crystal clear, resembling a lake, and from the boat we were fortunate to see two turtles, but unfortunately they had disappeared by the time we got into the water. The problem with this trip is that as there are several boats plying the same waters, it was more crowded than it otherwise would have been. The highlight of this tour was advertised as visiting and swimming in Cleopatra’ Bath. According to myth, in a visit from Cleopatra to the Anatolian coast, her close friends decided to build a Roman Bath for her, as a present where they had found a hot water spring. The mineral-rich water here has very beneficial properties for the skin, some claiming it to be the mystery behind the beauty of Cleopatra. As the water is not only shallow but so clear, it is possible to see the ruins of the Bath, only a few feet under the water. Unfortunately, we only sailed past. The day was enjoyable, but not nearly as good as the trip we did in Kas and certainly a good deal more expensive than the latter! After disembarking the gulet, we made the half-mile walk into Fethiye, though the large turtle sighted earlier on the edge of the harbour had gone. The first shops we found were high-end jewellery but walking through a small precinct brought us into the town’s main market, with the usual variety of retailers. Local herbs and spices caught our attention and Euros were accepted in payment. At the far side of the market there were a couple of café/restaurants and beyond a side street was where the residential district began, with a mosque nearby calling worshippers to prayer. Marmaris Turkey Marmaris, like Bodrum, is now firmly established on the Western European package holiday map. Our ship docked at a new quay, like the one at Bodrum, probably constructed to attract cruise ships. The quay was ‘L’-shaped, with our ship on one side and ferries on the other leg of the ‘L’ that then led through a small Customs hall and onto the road. On the opposite side of the quay to where we were docked was part of Marmaris’ large harbour, occupied mainly by yachts. The mooring therefore entailed quite a long walk to exit the port and taxis were waiting to offer expensive rides into town for those not wishing to walk, a distance on foot of well under a mile. The walk skirted the opposite side of the harbour to our ship and then cut across a relatively new waterfront, which brought us to the edge of the town’s shopping district. Continuing about 100 yards and we were in a large market hall, with mainly clothes and jewellery stores. Having bought two leather coasts in a shop here, we were taken by the owner to a street-front café for lamb kebabs with salad, whilst the shop owner made a minor alteration to one jacket. The route to the café included a short-cut through a jewellery shop, whose owner was unperturbed by our transit! The lamb kebab was carved off a large piece of meat on a spit that rotated continually and flamed as fat was burned off, leaving superb meat. We paid the modest bill in euros, and returned to collect our two leather jackets. Rhodes Although the original itinerary said we would be calling at Lindos on Rhodes, we actually, happily, docked at the ferry terminal at Rhodes Town. It was therefore a short walk into the old walled town, which was replete with shops for tourists, especially jewellery, and cafes offering all-day English breakfasts! The streets inside the town walls were pedestrianised, apart from delivery vehicles, and were quite crowded. Once inside the walls, we turned right and, for no particular reason after about 50 yards, turned left up a narrow side street. The objective was to get off the tourist parts so we could find some of the old town. Purely by chance, this brought us to the old Jewish synagogue, which was open and interesting to see. Of course, there had been a Jewish presence on Rhodes for hundreds of years. Returning to the main thoroughfare, we passed the street of the Knights Hospitalers, who were among the most famous of the Roman Catholic military orders during the Middle Ages, a group that assisted Christians on pilgrimage. After being evicted from Jerusalem following the Islamic takeover of the city, the Knights set up a base on Rhodes and the street has separate properties that offered accommodation for each denomination of the Knights. As we walked deeper into the town we came across a Taverna whose staff enticed us to stop, the inclusion of free Wi-Fi sealing the deal. In addition to two beers, we ordered Greek yoghurt (which we love) with local honey. All this whiled away over an hour and we ambled back in the direction of the ship. We would have had an ice cream, but baulked at the price, which was three times that of the same ice cream we had bought the day before in Turkey and more than we would pay in the UK. Who said the Greek islands are cheap! The next day saw us back in Santorini and we stayed on board, commencing packing for disembarkation in Athens the next day. The Ship Azamara Journey is one of eight ships built between 1998 and 2000 for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruise line and is effectively identical to Azamara Quest. Other ships, in what we call the ‘R’ Class (because they were all originally called R1 through to R8) are now operated by Oceania (4), P&O (1) and Princess (1). At 30,000 tons and offering accommodation for around 685 to 710 passengers (the number of cabins varies), these ships offer a good amount of space per passenger overall. There is accommodation for 402 crew, though whether this is usually the case on the Azamara ships is a moot point. Where the ships do now appear dated for the target market is the size of the standard cabin, which, at 215 square feet including a 40 square feet balcony, is small. This is most marked with the bathroom, which is tiny. Whilst the wardrobe doors might look nice, these would be better if they slid, rather than hinged because of the lack of space. Even worse, the ceiling light in this part of the cabin is badly sited because it fails to illuminate inside the large wardrobe unless one door is held open fully. The ship is due for a refit early in 2016 and it’s to be hoped that shortcomings are addressed where possible. Azamara looks after the ship well and it is showing fewer signs of age than might be expected, especially so close to a dry dock. Some of the comments in the Berlitz Guide To Cruise Ships are erroneous, a general feature of that publication. For example, the decks are teak, not Bollit. On our last Azamara cruise on the Quest in 2013, there were teak sun loungers with cushion pads. The Journey has metal loungers with thick cushion pads that were very comfortable. The main dining room is open seating for breakfast and dinner but closed for lunch on port days. The breakfast menu was extensive as one might want, and the kippers were surprisingly good. Service was relaxed and attentive. By contrast, service at dinner was frantic. An Azamara restaurant manager once admitted he never had the full complement of waiter staff and this certainly appeared to be the case on our cruise. Apart from some long waits during meal time, on several nights, shop and casino staff were drafted in to assist, whilst head waiters also got involved in meal service, which should not be needed if there was a correct staff complement. The staff did their best and worked really, really hard. This is a fault which should be corrected by HQ, as the wait staff are rushed off their feet. The self-service café is called Windows. Azamara has taken away a significant part of the table and seating area outside to the rear in order to install a drinks bar, despite Windows already having one at the entrance. This meant securing an outdoor table was frequently impossible. Reports suggest that Azamara plans to convert the whole of this outdoor area into a pay-for dining venue during the forthcoming refit but this idea has attracted adverse comment on Cruise Critic. We hardly used Windows for breakfast or dinner. Part of the reason for not dining here is that the food stations cannot keep items hot and we called over the head waiter one evening to ask for our main course to be heated in the galley, which it was. At this point we should say that all the staff in all departments went out of their way to assist and fulfil our requirements wherever possible. We often lunched at the pool grill, located between the pool area and Windows. The cooked-to-order burgers and fish, combined with a build-your-own salad, was a convenient option for us during days on pool deck. One of the pool grill chefs cooked our meal on the first time we dined in the Deck 10 steak restaurant. When we didn’t see him on the second occasion we dined in the steak restaurant, we asked him next day where he had been. He said he had been sent to the main dining room galley because of staff shortages. The evidence about not having a full staff complement mounts! There are two pay-for speciality restaurants, one offering primarily steak. During our cruise the charge was $25 per person. The menu is more up-market than offered in the MDR and we judged it worth the cost for one night on each of our back-to-back cruises. Service was much more relaxed than in the MDR and there was also no long gaps in the progress of the meal. Some of the tables for two are along the walkway from front to the rear of the restaurant and diners and wait staff pass by frequently and very close to anyone eating at these tables, making for a less-than-private experience. Fortunately, on both occasions we ate here, we had a table overlooking the stern. For a ship of this size, the evening entertainment in the show lounge was generally very good. It seemed that most of the acts ‘do the rounds’ on Royal Caribbean group ships. Cruise Director Tony Markey put on a one-man vocal show that we enjoyed. The late-evening disco on Deck 10 was well attended when we went on Abba night. Perhaps the passenger demographic helped because the average age was low for a cruise of this cost. Sadly, too many passengers don’t seem to understand what Azamara’s ‘smart casual’ dress code means. Whilst on the subject of passenger demographic, it was clear that many, but by no means all, people opted to dine early, the MDR opening at 6.00 pm. Evidence in support of this was the timing of the past-passenger cocktail party – 5.30 pm, perhaps the phrase “tea party” might be more apposite! For several years now, Azamara has included a wide selection of drinks within the cruise fare. Most of the wines are satisfactory or good but the reds tend to be very young. On the spirits front, whilst white rum is in the list of inclusive drinks, the nominally-cheaper dark rum is not. The Azamara website refers to ‘your luxury cruise’. Is it a luxury cruise line, as it aspires to be? On basic stats, it compares well enough with Crystal in terms of the overall passenger space ratio (ship weight divided by number of passengers) and passenger/crew ratio well, the theoretical number of crew. The Azamara figures do not, though, stand comparison to the accepted 5* lines of Seabourn and Silversea. The standard cabin is small by modern luxury line benchmarks, the standard Crystal cabins are 20% larger and at least 40% larger on Seabourn and Silversea. Cabin stewards and assistants have 20 cabins to look after, which is quite excessive, and certainly a good deal more than on Seabourn and Silversea. Food quality is a subjective issue. The breakfast selection in the MDR was as extensive and the food as good as one might find anywhere. Of course, the MDR is usually closed for lunch service, not acceptable for a luxury line. Is this yet another sign of lack of staff? The dinner menus and food served was, overall, not ‘luxury’ standard. The staff/crew were as obliging as they could be and couldn’t have done more. One exception worth remarking concerns the deck attendants. When asked about the location of pool towels, the answer was ‘over there’; on Silversea the answer is ‘I’ll get one for you’. Taking back-to-back cruises exposed a weakness in the Azamara (and seemingly all RCI Group lines) on-board IT system. Basically, the system requires a full refresh at the start of each voyage. During one long charter, the system locked up because it had not been refreshed for a number of days and this brought hotel-side operations to a halt. Thus the system cannot hold details of passenger doing back-to-back voyages. Therefore such passengers need to re-register as a new arrival during embarkation day for each successive cruise. This is a mark-down point for an aspirant luxury line, an unnecessary burden for the staff, who are extremely busy on a turn-round day, and a nuisance and waste of time for passengers. In conclusion, Azamara is not a luxury line but offers a premium cruise experience, with accommodation, food and service reflecting the price paid. However their price is no longer as competitive as previously and their fare increases are now becoming comparable with the luxury lines, without giving their 5* service. It is also not acceptable that Azamara expects passengers to carry their own hand luggage up the gangway on embarkation. Management need to concentrate on providing a definitive cruise line, with less emphasis on Internet blogs, and putting messages on Facebook etc. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my fifth time on Azamara and it did not disappoint. My only issue is it is becoming more popular and the good deals are running out. The secret of the wonderful life on Azamara is being let out especially by those that travel ... Read More
This was my fifth time on Azamara and it did not disappoint. My only issue is it is becoming more popular and the good deals are running out. The secret of the wonderful life on Azamara is being let out especially by those that travel without ankle biters. Starting at Venice and cruising out with a wonderful commentary was fantastic. Dubrovnik was a treat and the easy shuttle ride made the site seeing easy. Around the Greek Islands the ship docked in great locations and it was only in Santorini that there was a conflict with the number of ships. The stop Kusadasi gave us plenty of time to take the Effes tour of 6 hours as well as go to the Azamazing evening back at Effes at night. The Captain changed the birth location from Lesvos to Lemnos because of the illegal immigration issues on the Island and that was a good move as far as we were concerned. Finally the sail into Istanbul was magnificent and with full commentary. The staff and food was excellent and there was no health issues at all on board you did not hear one person cough. The shows were good fun but there were so many things to do especially when we visited the many ports that items on the itinerary got left behind. If I could I would do this trip again tomorrow. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
As first time cruisers we had no idea what to expect or how "you cruise". We deliberately chose the Azamara Journey because of its size. We didn't want to be on one of those larger liners and after seeing a couple in ports, ... Read More
As first time cruisers we had no idea what to expect or how "you cruise". We deliberately chose the Azamara Journey because of its size. We didn't want to be on one of those larger liners and after seeing a couple in ports, we were glad we chose the Azamara. The organization of EVERYTHING was great, the staff were super friendly, the food met our needs and was tasty, the ports we visited were well chosen, the entertainment was a bit cheesy but served its purposes and we met some great people that we had a lot of laughs with. We didn't book any of the shore excursions as we just did our own thing. The complimentary drinks list was more than adequate and we didn't feel the need to up-grade. We also didn't book any nights in either of the special restaurants. We could not fault a single thing, except perhaps a bigger self service laundry is needed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my sixth Azamara cruise (four on the Journey plus two on the Quest), but it had been four years since the last. We were six in all, including two who had never cruised before. I fell in love with this line from the get-go. Of ... Read More
This was my sixth Azamara cruise (four on the Journey plus two on the Quest), but it had been four years since the last. We were six in all, including two who had never cruised before. I fell in love with this line from the get-go. Of course I had read some reviews saying the brand had been slightly diluted of late, and was, if not apprehensive, just plain curious. We felt welcomed and happy the moment we checked in. Heike recognized us, as did our cabin steward Alexis. Check-in at the San Basilio port (next to Zattere) in Venice was quick (even for those of us who thought there was no need to print the express pass - a la airline check-in, where everything is electronic) and friendly. Rooms were ready immediately - how do they do it? It was about 1PM. On the small Seabourn Spirit two years ago (same port in Venice) we were all hearded into a crowded lounge for about an hour waiting for our rooms. And only 1/3 the number of passengers...... The ship is spotless, and the new color palettes are lovely. There will be a huge renovation next winter, focusing on the cabins - but ours was just as comfy as ever. Huge amount of storage for two people - and the new beds are fantastic. As comfy as Oceania, for sure. Bigger TV's will be nice - but I rarely stay in the cabin. The Elemis products in the bathroom are missed - - but I did much of my showering at the fitness center after working out. Towels are plush and large. The food in the Discoveries Dining Room was always top-notch. The "boutique" wines that were included were generally just fine. We never felt pressured to upgrade to a different wine package. Service was prompt too. We bought a package of three specialty dining, and ate twice in Aqualina (delicious) and once in Prime C. The latter was the one experience that could be improved: our server seemed hassled and had no assistant. (It took one hour before even the appetizers appeared.) He even did some eye-rolling when one of us asked which main course to order (okay, this is subjective and who asks the waiter anyway.....?). His snippy response: "Madam, this is a steak house. Order the steak." Will give him the benefit of the doubt, as he was much friendlier after the first hour, and the food arrived promptly. I thought I would miss the teak loungers around the pool and on Deck 5, but the new ones are just as comfy and attractive. And easier to move! We only got to a few of the shows, as the Journey was in port late. By the time dinner was over, the show had already started. Two specialty entertainers I saw were good: The Comedy and Magic of Mel Mellers (hilarious in a panto/Dame Edna sort of way) and singer David Shannon, who managed to eschew the usual ship singer persona. (Word to all of them: Must EVERY singer include "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis????) The core entertainers on board were fine; their material less so. A shout out to the two Ukrainian dancers: Alina and Alex. Stunning and talented. The itinerary was chock full of wonderful stops. Even the chaos of arriving by tender in Santorini, with four HUGE ships arriving before us, was mitigated by our late departure: those ships were all gone by 5PM, and we had six more hours to enjoy this magnificent island hassle-free. That evening was the White Night party: what a treat to see the necklace of illuminated towns hugging the Santorini cliffs as we departed. The only shore excursion we did was the included Azamazing Evening in Ephesus. We had spent the whole day there - even the third time was astounding. Returning at night for an evening classical concert by the Camerata Izmir Orchestra, in the Odeon Theatre, was a special and moving experience: when Azamara started using the Odeon for these concerts (in 2012) it was the first time this venue had been used in 2000 years. We ended up with an overnight in one of the greatest ports in the world: Istanbul. Disembarkation was swift. (We missed Heike and Eric, alas....) Four of us stayed two extra days at the wonderful Hotel Seraglio in Sultanhamet, giving time to fall in love with this city all over again. Did I mention that I loved this cruise? Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We are just back from a wonderful cruise on the Azamara Journey from Venice to Venice cruising Croatia, leaving Venice on the 5th June. It was our second cruise with Azamara Journey and was thoroughly enjoyed, staff and service excellent ... Read More
We are just back from a wonderful cruise on the Azamara Journey from Venice to Venice cruising Croatia, leaving Venice on the 5th June. It was our second cruise with Azamara Journey and was thoroughly enjoyed, staff and service excellent and places visited wonderful. Two things I would like to draw your attention to and would like some feedback on are: the first cruise we did (Greece 2013) we had an internal cabin and decided to spend the extra this time and have an ocean view – it was a total lifeboat view and a much smaller room and bathroom than we’d had with the internal cabin. So disappointing and I really felt I’d been ripped off – you cannot advertise and charge extra for an ocean view and large window when the whole window is totally blocked by a bright orange life boat. I understand that you need the lifeboats but then those cabins must be categorized as internal as you have no light or view anyway so it’s the same as an internal cabin. Or categorized as lifeboat view cabins. You really are cheating people by charging them extra for an ocean view and all they see for seven days is an ugly orange lifeboat. We really felt we’d been duped and heard a few other people complaining about the same thing when we went to the safety talk on the first day. Our other complaint was the charges for the internet – really a ship of this caliber should offer free wi fi – if not in the cabins then definitely in one or two communal areas. To have to pay 9 USD for 15 minutes of weak, slow internet was ridiculous and not what you’d expect on a ship like this when even 3 star hotels in Italy offer good fast free wi fi. The majority of the clientele are older and probably wouldn’t even use it anyway – you didn’t see many people walking around with phones or I pads. One seriously expects free internet on a ship like this. All in all food wonderful, staff outstanding, organization fantastic and a great cruise – we will definitely be back but not to pay extra for a life boat view!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We thought this would be a lovely start to an 8 week trip to Europe and help us relax and unwind at the beginning. How wrong can you be. From start to finish this itinerary is full of wonderful ports, sometimes 2 in a day, so you ... Read More
We thought this would be a lovely start to an 8 week trip to Europe and help us relax and unwind at the beginning. How wrong can you be. From start to finish this itinerary is full of wonderful ports, sometimes 2 in a day, so you never get a chance to unwind and relax! This said we loved it but thought if it was spread over 9-10 days it would be much more enjoyable especially in the heat of summer. This was our second cruise on Journey and our third on Azamara but the first in the Med. We were exploring the beautiful Adriatic coast with ports of Zadar, Split, Hvar, Kotor and Dubrovnik with an overnight in Venice on the last night. All ports were fabulous and even though we had visited three before we enjoyed revisiting them. We were in a Club Continent Suite 8056 which is just aft of the aft elevators/stairs midships and on port side. We love the large balcony for breakfasts and drinks at night. We had several meals in the Speciality restaurants and they were all enjoyable and well presented and cooked as was the service. The Azamazing evening with Ana Rucner a wonderful cellist, held in the Mestrovic Gallery in Split, was fabulous. We didnt get to eat at the White Nights deck BBQ this cruise as it was scheduled on the same night as Lobster night in the MDR. Shame, as we usually get to experience both and enjoy both of them, so we were very disappointed with this change and poor planning. Another money saver we guessed. Wine served with meals was terrific in quality and variety and if one was not to our liking you can request the previous days or one we had preferred. Service was exceptional, except for room service breakfast which first morning came cold, so we resorted to cold breakfast after this and our butler was obviously new and untrained and was very disappointing after fabulous butlers we have had before. We thought the entertainment onboard was some of the best we have ever seen on an Azamara ship and Eric and the singers and dancers were outstanding. Also brilliant were Beverley Davison, a combination of violinist and comedienne, very funny, Max di Faz a wonderful singer and an english Magician/Comedian who was excellent. Overall, a wonderful cruise, but we will be giving other lines a try for awhile, as we think a comparism to this size of ship is necessary to gain a real overview. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This is our second cruise with Azamara, the first was 5 years ago on the Quest and we felt that there was a noticable deterioration in the service offering; this was especially noticeable in the quality of the food. On our previous cruise ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Azamara, the first was 5 years ago on the Quest and we felt that there was a noticable deterioration in the service offering; this was especially noticeable in the quality of the food. On our previous cruise we ate in Aqualina 2 nights and Prime C for one. We made the terrible mistake of booking Aqualina without first checking the menu: 2 of the 4 choices were veal (something that is not terribly popular in the US these days), one was a fried dish and the specialty menu item was spaghetti. The wine list has been so severely reduced that even the somollier seemed embarrased when one of the Pinot Grigios on the wine list was "too old to be served", the second was not on board..which left us with the one that the waitress said "was the most popular"..wonder why! To pay a $25 surcharge for this restaurant was insulting. The food in the main dining room was adequate, but also of lesser quality that we had previously experienced and in general the wait staff seems to want to push you to "eat and get out". While dining with friends we had to be blunt and simply tell them to go away while we enjoyed our wine and coffees. The WiFi on the ship is an embarrassment. We do understand that internet connections while at sea can be slow, but the application they use has a less than desireable interface and unless you expressly type in "logout" you may remain connected and your precious, and expensive minutes will disappear. There is an e connections lounge but it is only staffed minimally and when the officer in charge shows up there is typically a line of people with complaints and needing assistance. Other cruise lines simply offer free wifi. Whatever money RCL thinks they make on selling internet time is more than lost on passenger ill will. The guest services desk is staffed with people who are not well trained, but fortunately overseen by some knowledgeable individuals. We had pre-reserved our "Amazing" evening several months ago, and it was "confirmed" for Hvar. On the ship the promotion of the evening was for Split (which was indeed a spectacular and amazing evening). When I asked the guest services person if our reservation had automatically been moved from the Hvar evening to the Split evening, her first response was that "we had to go to....."; before she could complete the sentence a more experienced person stepped in and simply added us to the Hvar list, although we never got an answer to my question. Similarly when I asked about where we would find the location of the rental car desks (which are "at the port), we were initially told that they were in the same building where we disembarked. Fortunately an officer was nearby and corrected the young man's very incorrect information. Previously, on the Quest, we felt that the guest services staff was very well trained and informed. Self service laundry is a very important feature for most guests. The laundry room contained 4 washing machines, and from the time we embarked to the time we disembarked 25% of the machines wer broken. We wondered how long it had been broken and how long RCL would allow it to remain so, and assumed that they will just ignore the situation until the ship is pulled out for refurbishing (MUCH needed) in February. Overall we were disappointed to experience the diminution of the level of services provided, while overall the staff is very helpful (with the exception of the guest services staff). We did make an appointment with the cruise sales desk to get information on 2017 cruises, as we had been advised by friends who are repeat cruises on other cruise lines, that booking on board provided substantial savings, savings similarly promoted to us on the Journey. The sales person offered us a whopping 3% discount....the final, insulting straw. We will cruise in the future, but will think long and hard before we would select a ship that is owned by RCL. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
This cruise left from Venice and sailed through Croatia and Montenegro. Service was very good but the ship itself needs major refurbishment which I know will happen next year. The food in the specialty restaurants was good but the main ... Read More
This cruise left from Venice and sailed through Croatia and Montenegro. Service was very good but the ship itself needs major refurbishment which I know will happen next year. The food in the specialty restaurants was good but the main dinning room was average at best. The officers are very visible which is nice to see. We did one excursion through the the ship in Split which was not very good. After leaving Split, we made a stop on the way to Trogir and had wine and some snacks. There were several buses and it was very crowded and enough seating for about a third of the guests. In Montenegro, we booked our own excursion on the boat Monty B for a half day sail and highly recommend doing this. In Hvar, we also did a private tour that was amazing. The email of the company is privateguidesteam@gmail.com. Our guide's name was Ana and she was delightful and informative. We did a cruise on the Quest to Greece a few years ago and thought it was better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
How disappointing to pay extra and book an ocean view cabin and have a totally orange lifeboat to look at for 7 days. Our first cruise we had an internal cabin and decided to upgrade on our second cruise to an ocean view, very misleading ... Read More
How disappointing to pay extra and book an ocean view cabin and have a totally orange lifeboat to look at for 7 days. Our first cruise we had an internal cabin and decided to upgrade on our second cruise to an ocean view, very misleading charging extra when it was smaller than our internal cabin and had absolutely no view at all - even if you stood on tip toe all you could see was an orange lifeboat! to top it all I have written twice to Azamara and received a computer generated response and now, three months alter, have still not had a reply. Internet also ridiculously overpriced - a a ship of this caliber should be offering free wi fi. service excellent, entertainment good, facilities great. still had a great trip but annoying to be mislead regarding our cabin choice. a cabin with total window blockage can only be classed as internal and not sold as ocean view. we heard a few complaints about this at our first safety meeting from other people as well. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks ... Read More
We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks is more than great. The longer stays on port were nice but in comparison with the private tours offered by local guides in ports Azamara offers a little more expensive. Publik room very comfortable and nice. Staff is super friendly. Staff is very courteous and ready to help at any time. Service is professional. Definitely see you again! Thank u to all! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
I was concerned at the start of this cruise that, unlike all my past cruises, there were no days at sea and it would be a series of tedious touristy ports where trinkets are sold along side of Rolexes. It has turned out to be the most ... Read More
I was concerned at the start of this cruise that, unlike all my past cruises, there were no days at sea and it would be a series of tedious touristy ports where trinkets are sold along side of Rolexes. It has turned out to be the most interesting and rewarding fun-filled ten days my wife and I have ever spent on a cruise ship. This was our first cruise on a 'luxury' ship, as well as a ship with less than 2000 passengers. We traveled with 5 others. We had a suite, others in our party had verandahs, and one couple had an interior cabin, and no one had any complaints about their cabins. This cruise costs about $350 per day per person for a suite. On cruises on other lines we averaged 200-250$ per day for a superior verandah. If you do not drink a lot of hard drinks during the day, you can save $50-100$ a day on soft drinks, wine (lunch and dinner), coffees and all the pastries, grill food, snacks and savories that are free on this ship, but not on others. Other than bar bills, we had no other charges. What a perfectly-sized ship. We were dwarfed by the other MCS/Carnival and especially one of those 6000 passenger 'ghetto of the seas' that passed by (we looked like a tug boat next to it.) When you get lost on this ship it is a short walk to your destination. All of us left New York City on November 1 on what would be the first flights out for the airlines after Hurricane Sandy hit the region. We were all very lucky. Everything went well on the travel front (once we got to the airport) and all connections were made. We were more than fortunate that the weather was just incredible -- cool and clear most of the time. So much for the naysayers about traveling in this region in November. We spent three days in Venice staying two nights at an interesting B&B, the Palazzeto Pisani in Venice on the Grand Canal. The water taxi from the airport to the hotel was a great introduction to Venice. The weather was in Venice was really excellent -- cool and clear -- we had just missed a rainy spell of alta acqua which had flooded the downstairs of the hotel. And then we missed the weather that followed -- the worst in history. Embarkation onto Journey was very easy for all and everyone's cabins were to their liking. We had a suite which was much better appointed than similar sized verandas on other ships. First impressions were that this ship was better fitted, more beautiful and more intimate than anything we had experienced before (HOL/RCL/Carnival/Princess and QM2). Definitely up-class and well worth it. This cruise was a port intensive itinerary, which is good (keeps you busy) and bad (none of those lazy days at sea). We did meet some folks who mostly stayed on the ship. Many of the ports visited could only accommodate a ship this small, therefore the destinations were not heavily visited and you get to see lots of what's there without crowds. So different than what there to see in the Caribbean tourist stops. We did not take advantage of any of the ships tour's and had a great time exploring on our own. Those that did were pleased. Next time we shall. Venice --We lucked out on the weather. Venice is intensely touristy in the extreme, but is still a beautiful city just to be in, but many areas were packed with tourists....hard to believe that it can be worse in the summer. Fortunately, the area near the hotel (Campo Santo Stefano) was more residential and calm. Trieste -- Bright and sunny day, very residential/urban look to it with many fine clothing shops; otherwise, not much to see and not touristy at all; we felt like we were just passing through. Spent more time on the boat. Some good walks through the Romanesque ruins. Ravenna -- Bright and sunny day, again, a less touristy, but worth the bus ride to town. A good walking city. We ate lunch in a fabulous restaurant in a beautiful old building in the heart of the old town -- the Ca' de' Ven Ravenna -- you should try to fit this bistro in. Split -- Bright and sunny day. This wonderful town is a short walk from the ship and is made up of largely of an old Roman Palace which is well worth the visit. Great outdoor markets. We stopped at one the many outside cafes on the main waterfront promenade for a terrific lunch of local seafood and savories. Split was a great port for smaller ships like the Journey. Dubrovnik -- Bright and sunny day. I guess one could spend days exploring this place. We walked the walls -- a strenuous exercise for some of us -- and had a pleasant seafood lunch on the pier. This port accommodates the largest of the cruise ships and there were three in port ahead of us, which filled the major tourist sites. Fortunately for us, most of them were gone by 1:00 leaving the Old Town for us for a few hours. Kotor, Montenegro -- Bright and sunny day. This city is at the end of a long fjord, which took 90 minutes to travel and that was half the fun of this port. Incredibly picturesque and again, only ships this small can maneuver here. Again, more old Romanesque walls and churches with a few shops and plenty of good cafes. Can only handle ships this size. Brindisi, Italy -- Mixed overcast but pleasant day -- Brindisi is not the most picturesque place in Italy but it did have some interesting ruins, history and pastries. We all took the tour train. Good day to spend more time back on board on the sun deck. Corfu -- Clear skies and a bit warmer -- Another charming little city with several attractions one could walk to. Katakalon -- Bright sunny day -- this place was really special -- a true sleepy Greek island community of 600 folks; had some interesting local museums and several waterside cafes. This place really felt like a tropical vacation beach spot. The trip to Athens - we left Katakalon at 1:00 and it was a gloriously sunny day that felt like an 'at sea' day on a Caribbean cruise. We spent the afternoon on our up until then little used verandahs. What a great way to end this trip. Some really nice things/Pros: - All the cappuccino, BBQ, pastries, cookies, ice cream, endless carts of savories, and wine and soda were all free. - Alcohol in your cabin was allowed and free in the suites - Professional and friendly service everywhere - Superior buffet food - Breakfast on the Cafe deck - Free laundry - Room service that always delivered hot toast. - Although the weather was too cool for the pool, the hot tubs were just what we needed and were never crowded - Very happy older crowd (60+) -- seemed mostly English; on a ship this size it is easy to meet folks and get close to them. - Great room appointments and toys including bathrobes that were too thick to fit into your suitcase. - Great deck chairs with wool blankets. - The best DIY cappuccino machine ever invented. - Our butler was fabulous. Some minor cons: - There were some ventilation issues (they acknowledged) with the center suites on deck eight and we had to be moved from 8058 (really bad) to 8061 (OK) due to cooking smells leaking into the AC ducts. - One of our guest's cabins was under the cabaret (noisy) and they were moved to an aft cabin. Interesting that they had extra cabins to address these issues. - Being a party of 7 proved problematic in the main dining room (they use open dining type of plan) unless you wanted to dine at 6:30 or 8:30 -- we arrived at 7:30 three times and twice weren't seated till after 8:00 and were the last to leave at 10:30. Also a tricky in the buffet rooms. Apparently, unlike the bigger ships, they cannot dynamically merge tables. There was no problem in the specialty restaurants and outdoors. Food - Overall much better than our other cruises. Great room service if you like that. - Breakfast buffet -- excellent and suited both English and American tastes. - Lunch buffet -- very good but we ate ashore most of the time - Teatime -- excellent service with free pastries, cookies, sandwiches, and savories. Fabulous scones. - Dinner -- main dining room -- a bit better than HAL, but similar menus - All soups were delicious. - Great selection of desserts. - Prime -- a beautiful room with a good meat menu...but my rib eye was disappointing. Other courses were excellent. Loved the lamb and NY strips - Aqualina -- Another beautiful room with excellent service and seafood. When ordering lobster, stay with simpler preparations. We hope to book another Azamara cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We cruised the Adriatic Sea from Venice to Athens for 10 days, November 4-14th and generally had a lovely time. It was our second AZ cruise--we had been on the Quest last year--and our 8th cruise overall. Embarkation: Smooth and ... Read More
We cruised the Adriatic Sea from Venice to Athens for 10 days, November 4-14th and generally had a lovely time. It was our second AZ cruise--we had been on the Quest last year--and our 8th cruise overall. Embarkation: Smooth and straightforward. We got off the ship nearly as soon as we got on since we wanted to continue to explore Venice to the max. Dropped our luggage and headed back out. Unfortunately, we were overlooked on the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle list, didn't get the invitation, and missed it altogether. (We didn't even know it had taken place until the next day when we met some people form our roll-call by happenstance.) Dining: Breakfasts in the buffet were fine, perhaps a little bit difficult to get a table since it was generally not outdoor-weather so the inside-buffet area was tight and it was a full sailing. But the food quality and service were certainly acceptable. We ate most of our lunches in port so I can't comment on that. Dinner in the main dining room was generally good, although I did find it a bit too hectic for my taste. The food and wine were both very nice, although not outstanding. We dined in Aqualina twice and Prime C once and all of those meals were wonderful. Service: AZ service is as good as everyone says. People are just so nice and accommodating. A pleasure. State of the ship: We knew the ship was due to go into drydock soon and we could see that it was necessary. Nothing was ratty-looking but it could use the spruce-up that it will soon be getting. Fellow passengers: We were surprised at the number and variety of British and other Commonwealth accents we heard and people we met. A significant major of the ship, it seemed. Very nice people. Ports: This was surely the best part of this cruise. We were in port every day and took advantage of it to the max. The ports were: Venice, Italy--We came a day early and the ship stayed in Venice for 2 days so we had 3 days here in total. We walked and rode the vaporetto everywhere and felt like we saw much of what we wanted to see. Due to the overnight in port, we ate dinner off the ship and missed both the Cruise Critic get-together and the muster drill. The ship was surprisingly laid back about that! Trieste, Italy--A welcome surprise, and a nice, laid back day after our 3 days of rushing around Venice. We rented an acoustiguide form the tourist office and it took us around the major sites at our own speed. There's a surprising variety of architecture and history to observe, from Roman to 19the Century buildings. Trieste was a lovely, harmonious city that we really enjoyed. Ravenna, Italy--There was a short AZ-provided shuttle bus into town and then we used a walking tour that I had found online to take us from site to site. The Byzantine mosaics were just amazing. Our lunch at Ca de Ven was wonderful. It was a great day. Split, Croatia--We spent the morning wandering around this charming city on our own, had a lovely lunch on a "Venetian" piazza, and then met up with a private guide for a 2 hour walking tour. She was great and we learned so much about Split and Croatian history from her. (We got her name from a Rick Steves' book.) Dubrovnik, Croatia--Our travel agent is part of a consortium of travel agencies, and they provided a nearly full-day excursion for us in and around Dubrovnik. It was a disappointing excursion, no fault of AZ. We went off on our own in early afternoon and were able to walk the city walls, see the Synagogue Museum, wander the old town, and finally, watched the sunset from the "Hole in the Wall/Buza" bar. So it turned out to be a nice day despite our slow start. Kotor, Montenegro--Through a recommendation on CC, we booked a taxi driver to take us around Montenegro. We spent the day going hither and yon all around the countryside, from one scenic vantage point to another. It was fabulous. Montenegro is an unbelievably pretty country, from what we saw. Unfortunately, we were out so long that it was dark by the time we got back to Kotor, so we didn't see that much of Kotor itself. Brindisi, Italy--Kind of a nothing town. Don't know why AZ calls on this port. We booked the ship's excursion to Lecce, a town rich in Baroque architecture, about 45 minutes away. It was the first ship's tour we'd done--one of the few ship's tour we'd ever done on all our cruises--and that had its pluses and minuses. The guide was fairly good, the bus ride was quite slow, and the group moved very slowly. All in all, I really prefer to be on our own but there's very little tourist infrastructure to speak of in this port. Brindisi itself was quiet and boring. Corfu, Greece--We booked a private tour with one of the taxi companies and spent a lovely day driving all over seeing Corfu island. We had a nice stop for bread and fresh olive oil, olives and wine. We barely saw a tour bus all day long so we felt like we had the place to ourselves. One strategic mistake we made was that after lunch in Corfu Town, nearly all the stores were closing up so we didn't get to see as much of Corfu Town as we would have liked. Katakalon, Greece--Katakalon is the entry port for Olympia, the site of the first Olympics. We used the ship's transportation to get us to Olympia (transportation only) and then met up with a guide whom we had hired based on a Rick Steves' recommendation. She really brought the place to life for us. Athens, Greece--On disembarkation, we had hired one of the Athens taxi companies to meet us at the port, take us around for the day and then bring us to the airport hotel so that we'd be there for our very early flight the next morning. They did a fabulous job of keeping us ahead of the crowds and away from the protests. It was a pleasure, albeit a hectic way of ending the trip. All in all, it was a really nice cruise. Comparing it to our previous AZ cruise (Quest, September 2011, Istanbul to Athens), I'd have to say that the first one was marginally better than this one. Perhaps that can be attributed to the weather, which allowed for people to spread out more on the ship. Perhaps it can be attributed to the ship's being ready for drydock. Having said that, I'd sail either of the ships again in an instant if the right itinerary came along at the right time and the right price. I'll be watching reviews to see how the post drydock, new pricing model comes out. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2010
Hi to all. My wife and I are both 64, live in West Michigan, and have travelled extensively for both business and pleasure. We went on this cruise with another couple of the same age for Fall trip. This was our sixth cruise - having been ... Read More
Hi to all. My wife and I are both 64, live in West Michigan, and have travelled extensively for both business and pleasure. We went on this cruise with another couple of the same age for Fall trip. This was our sixth cruise - having been on Royal Caribbean, Costa, Renaissance, Oceania, and NCL before. None of us are overly picky but all appreciate nice touches and good, not overly attentive, service. Food is important but it's not the end-all/be-all for us. It's more about the variety of ports being visited and doing different things without having to pack and repack or deal with transportation over a week or so. We chose Azamara for three primary reasons - first and foremost was the size and character of the ship. We don't like mega ships, long lines or waiting for about anything. The Journey is the same size and configuration as the Oceania ship and the Renaissance IV(in fact it was a former Renaissance ship) we had sailed on before and enjoyed. Second, and almost as important to us as the ship, was the itinerary. We wanted to see most of the places the Journey was going. Lastly - time considerations. Azamara offered a seven-night cruise that fit well with our schedules. None of us are retired and taking two weeks or more off for vacation just doesn't work for us yet. With the Azamara cruise, we could spend two nights in a hotel in Venice before sailing and a final night in a hotel in Istanbul before returning. Cost was also a factor - albeit not an overriding one. We didn't want to spend the money that a true luxury cruise (SilverSea, OceanDream, Seabourn) requires mainly because we didn't want the amenities that the premium dollar gets you. We really don't need or want a butler - we had one on Oceania (due to a last minute upgrade) - and we really never felt it was needed or even desirable. We booked the cruise directly from Azamara - their quoted prices were a bit higher than ones I found on the Internet but Azamara offered us a shipboard credit that was almost 50% more than the difference in prices. We booked our airfare and hotels separately to be sure that we had flight times that suited our schedules and hotels that we knew we would enjoy (based on past experience or recommendations from others). Transfers were not an issue - although they are quite expensive in Venice, especially if you opt for a door-to-door water taxi from the airport to your hotel (€110) which we did - and it was totally worth it!!!! PRE-CRUISE COMMUNICATION (2 out of 5) Communication with Azamara before the cruise was not very good - there was not much communication and what little there was came only via email. I did have some questions and a call to the call center answered them quickly and efficiently. But, it would have been nice to have a cruise booklet prepared for us with Q&A, port information, etc. There was also some confusion about where to board the ship in Venice. The Port of Venice website clearly said one place but the Azamara people apparently told others (based on threads seen in the Forum) it was to be boarded at the other terminal. There's no excuse for that - the Venice Port people were, of course, right. EMBARKATION & BOARDING (5 out of 5) Boarding was handled very efficiently and smoothly by the cruise line personnel. It was quick, painless and very much appreciated by us. We boarded at about 2:00 PM and our bags had been delivered to our room by 3:00 PM. SERVICE (3 out of 5) Service on the Journey was extremely spotty. The crew was very friendly but they just didn't attend to things as well as they could have - especially in the dining venues on deck 9, i.e., Windows and Breezes. Many times the wait staff would be standing around rather than clearing tables or getting passengers silverware, napkins or placemats. Other times, even when crowded, we had great service. Bar service was almost non-existent while lounging around the pool. Go figure. The materials published and distributed at the end of our cruise showed that the passenger to crew ratio was 2:1. When I asked my wife and friends to guess the ratio, two said 3:1 and one said 4:1. It sure didn't seem like 2:1 to us. THE SHIP ITSELF (4 out of 5) We like the English men's club dEcor that was originally outfitted by Renaissance when the ship was built, but my guess is that we are in the minority. The public areas are nice and very well maintained. The on-board shopping in the 4th deck shops was pretty bad according to my wife - who bought nothing. Same with the 'art' that was for sale. In the Azamara publications I read (at least the ones I read online since I never saw anything in real print), the dress required or requested of passengers was "country club causal." Apparently, lots of the folks on our cruise had never been to a country club because they showed up at Discoveries for dinner wearing jeans, t-shirts, hats, shorts and flip-flops. Although most people did dress appropriately, there were lots of people that looked like they should be eating at the Old County Buffet rather than at a nice restaurant on a supposedly upscale cruise. If Azamara DOES want a country club atmosphere on the ship, it needs to let people know what that phrase means and politely suggest to people who are not dressed appropriately that they might prefer to dine at the buffet restaurant. God, I sound like a snob but a lot of people really looked pretty shabby. The casino was well appointed and well attended! The crews manning the tables were friendly even though they conspired to deal me terrible cards throughout the entire cruise. My wife won enough at the slots to almost cover my losses. The pool deck was very nice and there seemed to always be enough deck loungers when we wanted them - even without resorting to getting up early on an "at-sea" day to stash a towel or book on the better seats. Some thoughtless passengers did this and then didn't return for three to four hours. I did have to use the EConnections Internet service a couple of times. The cost of $0.65 per minute would have been OK but the connection speed the first time was so slow that I spent 13 minutes just to read one email and to send out a reply. Yikes! We never used the spa or any of its features so I cannot comment on that. Same with the entertainment. We did not attend any shows so I can't comment. But, the poolside entertainment, the harpist and the piano player were all really good and we enjoyed hearing them. The Oceania cruise we took in 2008 offered a 2-for-one happy hour each night in the bar located at the front of the boat. On the Journey, that was the Looking Glass bar on deck 10. The first time we went there, we were told it was reserved for a private function but that we could have a drink at the side of the room next to the smoking area. No thanks. The next time we went there, there was no furniture by the windows and no service from the people at the bar. So we left Looking Glass again and had drinks on our balcony. Never went back. But our biggest disappointment was the [lack of] outdoor space at the rear of deck nine - more on that later. OUR STATEROOM (4.5 out of 5) We and our friends had adjacent balcony staterooms on deck seven. Being adjacent allowed us to open the glass door on the balcony when we were in port making the extended balcony a wonderful place for us to have cocktails or to merely relax. Also, having tables on the deck were a nice idea and allowed outdoor dining with room service! The stateroom was very nice and comfortably furnished. Many posters here have complained about the mattresses being unsatisfactory. Maybe they were a little hard but they weren't worth complaining about. We certainly didn't have any trouble sleeping. Linens used on the bed were very nice. The bathroom was small but perfectly suitable for our needs. The furnished toiletries were OK but nothing special. Towels were plentiful, large and very soft. Closet space was ample. The primary TV channels offered were awful. The only news channel was Fox News - no CNN or BBC - and very limited other offerings. There were a couple of generic port information channels but nothing specific about the port that was coming up or what you might want to do there (other than to take an Azamara shore excursion). This could really be improved upon. Our stateroom steward - Rosalie - was the best! Never was our stateroom not clean and made up when we returned from any meal. I don't know how she did it but she was great. She also made sure that we had ice and snacks when we asked for them. PORTS OF CALL (2 out of 5) Venice, Santorini, Kusadasi and Istanbul were all fantastic - albeit overly crowded - but that's not the fault of the cruise line. Great places draw big crowds. Also, the island of Korcula in Croatia was a wonderful surprise. It was a very quaint and interesting port town to visit and was probably a good choice over Dubrovnik - which can get very crowded at this time of year. But now let's talk about Koper, Slovenia. I know that Slovenia is a beautiful country with beautiful mountains. But Koper is not. It is the worst port we have ever visited in our cruising experiences. Sure, there were shore excursions but the only two that were remotely interesting, i.e., Lake Bled and Ljubljana, required two+ hour bus rides each way and cost almost $300 per couple. We had ZERO desire to spend five hours on a bus. Instead, we spent about an hour wandering through the streets of Koper's 'old town.' The old town was that - old. It also very gray and totally devoid of charm, joy or anything of interest other than lots of cats. There was nothing to buy, nothing to see and nothing to do. The most interesting thing we saw was a worker cleaning the town fountain with what smelled like hydrochloric acid. I have no problem with Slovenia wanting to develop tourism through Koper - but this is not yet a developed port for a 'top rate' cruise line to visit unless and until more is developed for passengers to do. I feel I almost deserve 1/7 of our cruise price back from Azamara for making me stop here for some unknown reason. There were other ports that could have been substituted for this one. Bottom line, I would not recommend any cruise that stops at Koper unless the itinerary for what was to be done there was fully explained and organized - a day at sea would have been preferable to our time spent there. OVERALL DINING (4 out of 5) Included Wine and Soft Drinks (5 out of 5) We do like wine and the choices that Azamara provided each day for lunch and dinner were very interesting. The wines ranged from California to South Africa and it was nice to try differing varieties with your meals. Some were really excellent and some were just OK. We sure didn't send any back. We understand that wine preference is a purely personal choice and that others may feel that the included wines were not worth the effort. We thought it was a really nice touch. Same with the soft drinks - they were included and they should be. Discoveries - Main Dining Room (4 out of 5) The dEcor and atmosphere of the main dining room, Discoveries, was very nice. We only waited once to get a table for four. Most of the entrees and accompaniments at Discoveries were excellent. The appetizer courses were well done. The soups all were excellent - especially the chilled soups (we actually thought of having the Pear soup again for dessert!). The beef - prime rib and steaks - were better than I expected. However, many of the fish dishes seemed to be bland and without much flavor. Desserts were just OK. Requests for levels of doneness of tuna and beef were usually just as ordered. Acqualina (5 out of 5) This is a great restaurant that really is worth the extra $15 per person. The menu, as well as the service, were wonderful. All of us had lobster in some fashion and it was not at all rubbery as it frequently can be in large scale dining facilities. The soufflEs were also great - especially the chocolate one! We really liked Acqualina - as apparently everyone else did too. We were able to only get one reservation there. Prime C (4.5 out of 5) Prime C was almost as nice an experience as Acqualina but .... The menu was really beef driven and that's what you would expect from a restaurant called Prime C. The portions of beef were really large - too large actually - and could have easily been split. The sauces provided were very good as well. They only served one type of bread that had lots of onion flavoring. I liked it but not everyone may. The service was very nice. But, Acqualina had better service and a better overall menu. Still, Prime C was worth the extra cost and is highly recommended. It just wasn't that special. Breezes poolside cafe (3 out of 5) The problem with the poolside grill was that very long lines tended to form right when you wanted to eat and there were not enough cooks or servers to address the desires of the people waiting in line. Again - spotty service. The burgers, wings and hot dogs were tasty but it took forever to get them. Windows (2 out of 5) Dining at Windows for breakfast was pretty much a disaster every day. Very long lines and slow wait times to get an omelet or a fried egg. Just four stations for 700 passengers. They needed more. We finally gave up and ate at the Discoveries restaurant or had room service for breakfast. Same thing with lunch - Discoveries was overly crowded due to the restaurant's design. The layout of the restaurant makes no sense requiring all diners to converge in a narrow space between two parallel buffet lines. The thing we liked most about our dining on Oceania and NCL was having the ability to eat breakfast and lunch on the rear deck in the open air. On the Journey, the rear deck area was taken up by a huge, and mostly unused, wraparound bar rather than being used as space for dining. On the Oceania ship, the rear deck had three to four rows of tables that are available for outdoor dining. On the Journey, there was one row of about eight tables with umbrellas and the rest were stuffed to the sides under the overhang of deck 10. The eight or so bar stools mounted to the deck were the most uncomfortable stools I have ever sat upon and were rarely used. Every morning, passengers grabbed a cup of coffee and perched like vultures over the few tables that had an outdoor venue hoping that the current users would quickly end their meals so that their table could be snarfed up before another passenger swooped in to claim it for their own. Buffet Nights (????) We didn't do any theme buffets so I can't comment on them. I would note, though, that the ship did depart Santorini, Greece at 8:00 PM. And, on that night, the ship chose to have an Indian themed buffet around the pool area. WHY NOT GREEK FOOD WHEN IN GREECE???? I like Indian food but not when I'm in Greece. Apparently, everybody else thought the same thing because the other dining rooms were overwhelmed by diners that night apparently opting to have their curries another time. Room Service Dining (4 out of 5) We only had breakfast delivered to our room - and then only once. The orders were all correct, delivered right on time and were nice and hot. However, we didn't get any salt or pepper and the orange juice tasted more like Tang than being fresh-squeezed. Oh well. DEBARKATION (5 out of 5) Worked like a charm. We were out of the ship, with our account cleared and gathering our luggage within five minutes of our designated time. OVERALL (3.5 out of 5) We had high hopes for this cruise - some were realized and others were not. First off, Azamara has a ways to go in terms of service and ambiance to match Oceania. It just didn't feel as good as did the Oceania experience. There needs to be more attention to detail to get to the next level - except for our steward, Rosalie, who was the best we have ever had on any cruise line. I'd guess that the average passenger age was about 65. This cruise had more passengers in the 35-45 range that I would have suspected - many of which seemed to be with a corporate group that might have skewed things a bit. Also, the passengers were more internationally diverse than the Oceania cruise that seemed to cater almost exclusively to Americans. There were a lot of Brits, Germans, and other Europeans on the Azamara cruise. Food quality was very good but not quite up to par with Oceania - except for Acqualina and Prime C. Ports of call (with the exception of Koper) were fine and what we wanted to see. Shore excursions were not very well described or marketed - hence we did ours on our own and had a much better experience. Hope that this is helpful to those who read it. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Our first cruise had taken a year to plan and execute, stacks of homework done on research, ploughing through endless cruise reviews and background information.  Hence it's only right that I include my review for any other potential ... Read More
Our first cruise had taken a year to plan and execute, stacks of homework done on research, ploughing through endless cruise reviews and background information.  Hence it's only right that I include my review for any other potential first timers out there doing the same as we did, I can say in the first instance - we had an awesome time and hope this review will be of some benefit to someone out there. We started by determining the criteria we would use as our basic requirements, eg ship size (passenger numbers), ship's facilities, ports of call, must have good general reviews etc etc - you need to know the answers to these questions to find the right ship and cruise for you. We did this homework and came up with the Azamara Journey, sailing out of Venice in early May 2009. As most people will tell you first impressions mean a lot - and the Journey impressed us from day one - we were pretty much hooked! The embarkation process and staff were great right from the outset, we met our man Johanes (butler) almost immediately and he looked after whatever we needed from that point, including getting some tailoring done during our day at sea!  Our first meal at the Prime C specialty restaurant, on the first night, was sensational with views over Venice as we sailed, all our subsequent meals, at any of the eating venues were great, we did not have a bad meal during the whole cruise - definitely a highlight. The open seating arrangements at meal times allowed us to meet some awesome people, hi to Tom and Nancy (from USA) and Leo and Lillian (from Belgium) if you're reading this, we had no expectations about this aspect of our cruise but it was another definite highlight. We did not partake in any of the shore excursions, (we thought they were a touch too expensive), preferring to make our way around the ports of call, our itinerary:  Koper, Slovenia - as we arrived on a Sunday most of the place was closed, but that was OK too, we had a good look around, including doing some close up and personal shopping at the local flea market. Zadar, Croatia - a really beautiful place, as was the case in all our ports an amazing history of battles won and lost over time, we enjoyed wandering the narrow lane ways here and did some good shopping along the way. sights in and around the harbour the highlight here (for me anyway) Dubrovnik, Croatia - the fantastic walled city, although walking the wall is an effort, it's well worth it - take your time, close your eyes and enjoy. We loved it, we took a break in a cafe outside the wall, on the seaward side, and enjoyed the local wine and beer, yet another highlight! Santorini, Greece - WOW, what a place! The township is perched atop the cliff with the most spectacular views, the only way up is either via cable car, donkey ride or walk (a very steep series of steps - covered in donkey poo). We arrived ashore (using tenders) to find a substantial queue for the cable car, the donkeys were never going to work for us so that's right we legged it up the hill! This was tough but a lot of fun too, dealing with the donkey traffic was a great laugh (after they left!) Anyway, Santorini was (you guessed it) a highlight1 Nauplion, Greece - another relatively quiet place, we took the opportunity to walk around the coast, enjoying the views of the bay Athens, Greece - this was the only place we arranged a tour, we did a half day with a local taxi, which was arranged prior to leaving Australia, once again we were well looked after and I can recommend spyrostaxitours.com if you're looking for a good tour. (Cheaper than ship excursion). The disembarkation process was very well drilled, if possible, too fast! We were enjoying breakfast one minute then gone (and hopefully) not forgotten the next, it was very efficient. Are there any negatives I hear you say??? The only comment I'd say - the size of the shower cubicle in our room, pathetic I know, but it was really small - I did know that prior to arriving but it was still a bit of a surprise. Also, the cost of some of the beverages was a touch rich, but didn't stop us drinking!! I believe the bottom line of any review is would I cruise with this mob again??  Without a doubt I'd love to be on the Azamara Journey again, we loved it, perhaps they could send me through some discounts on the back of this awesome review!! Read Less
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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