Just completed an 11 night cruise on Azamara Club Cruises Journey from New York to Rouen France. It was a very enjoyable transatlantic crossing where I met many very nice people, both passengers and staff. It was my first time with Azamara.
Ship: Journey is a very nice ship that provides an intimate environment for cruising. When I'm on a ship, I am there to enjoy the sea so loved many of the rooms that gave nice views, especially the sunset Bar, the Looking Glass Lounge, and Discoveries Dining Room with windows in three directions. I hadn't been on a small ship before and certainly enjoyed the ease of getting around and the nice flow. The pool area is very nice and sheltered from the wind. We had great weather for a crossing and I managed to spend many hours outside, in the sun deck on deck 11. It was very quiet which was perfect for getting some sun and reading.
I enjoy exercising daily so took advantage of the running track as well as the fitness center. The running track is short so it's really best suited for walking. The ship doesn't have a promenade deck which was unfortunate. The fitness center is very nice with great views of the ocean. I never found it crowded.
The ship was full but only felt crowded to me at breakfast and lunch in the Windows cafe, but never enough to cause any kind of waiting. The staff did a great job of assisting people with food, or helping them find a table.
We had some rough weather for a day. The ship performed well but it did have more movement than I expected on the smooth days. I guess that comes with a smaller ship. But thanks to the Captain and crew who took a longer, and more expensive route, to avoid the bad weather. It was greatly appreciated!
Stateroom. I had a cabin with a balcony, midships on deck 6. The room was small but comfortable with a decent TV on the wall. The bathroom was quite small and a bit dated but worked out fine. The bed was a little uncomfortable, probably time to replace it. The bed linens were fantastic which made it more comfortable. The room was well taken care of the steward and his team who kept the room stocked with bottled water, ice and soft drinks. The balcony was nice and with the weather I was able to sit out several times on the trip.
One word about this room: It is above the piano that is played in the Mosaic Lounge through the day and in the evening. It's not loud but the speakers are in the ceiling so you will hear it. If you go to bed early, as I tried to one or two nights, it could keep you awake. My mistake, I knew better and should have booked a room with staterooms above and below.
Food: Excellent! I loved every meal I had. Ate all but one dinner in Discoveries. It was so good I didn't have a need to go elsewhere. I found the menu varied and still, once I asked for a change to the pasta dish and they did it no questions asked. Food was always served hot which some larger ships don't seem able to do. It also helps to have wine included with lunch and dinner. I found the wines to be better than expected. They change them daily keeping it interesting. I always had their wine with dinner. Also ate one meal in Prime C. It too was very good and I'm glad I tried it. Try the Stilton Bread souffle as a side dish: wow!
The casual atmosphere for dining was fine, though I do like to dress up for dinner from time to time. And the discoveries restaurant has a more formal feel to me with the wood walls, it would have been nice to be formal for a night. Most people I talked to greatly preferred the casual dress code.
Bars: Enjoyed the Sunset bar outside and the Discoveries lounge. Nice location and nicer staff.
Activities: Lots to do, but not really to my liking. I found there were a lot of games, trivia etc., which I don't play. In fact, I found they would play these games, or have events in all the rooms, making it difficult to find a quiet place, say in the afternoon, to sit and read. This was one of the negatives for me. Eg. I would have a wonderful spot in the Looking Glass lounge reading and watching for dolphins only to have games or talks take place. There were even talks/meetings in the library from time to time.
I did like Tony the cruise director. He was friendly and very approachable. He hosted a dinner for solo travelers which I attended and had a great time. It was nice of him and Azamara to do that.
Entertainment: I really liked the comedian and magician. Some of the shows were average but I think that's what you get on cruise ships. I found the ship musicians average at best. Lectures: didn't find the topics interesting but I did attend some, though I didn't enjoy them very much.
Passengers: on this cruise they were definitely a well-traveled, friendly crowd. I met many nice people and it truly makes a difference when you enjoy the people you are on board with for 10 days!
Staff: Fantastic. Professional but also approachable. I do think they enjoy what they do for the most part.
In summary: the big pluses for me with Azamara are:
- Extras that are included: wine with meals, specialty coffees, water etc.
- Food was excellent
- Wonderful service everywhere, all the time.
- Seems to attract friendly, well traveled, adult passengers.
- Azamara really listens to passengers. I met people that had asked for some changes/additions to the daily program and they were made.
Only negatives for me:
- Noise in my stateroom from the Mosaic musicians (I should have known better, my fault on that)
- Enrichment and music on board could be better
- Too many activities crowding into rooms that would otherwise be great to sit and read.