We only booked this cruise 4 weeks before departure and we were not sure what to expect. Have cruised with Celebrity before, but we were looking for a smaller ship with a more intimate ambiance. This cruise did not disappoint. The Azamara Journey is a fantastic ship. The standard of the staterooms was very high and there was plenty of room for storage of clothes, shoes and other bits and pieces. Our stateroom attendant was very friendly and on arrival explained how everything worked. We are not very demanding, so did not see very much of him during our cruise, but our room was made up twice a day. When we went for breakfast in the morning, the room had been serviced by the time we got back and when we went for dinner in the evening, again the room had been serviced by the time we returned.
Food was first class throughout the ship. We had breakfast in the buffet restaurant every day and the choice was excellent with lovely fresh fruit, cooked food and pastries. Plenty of choice for those who prefer a less traditional breakfast. We had lunch in the buffet restaurant every lunchtime and again the food was plentiful and of excellent quality. Complimentary boutique wines served at lunchtime, with choice of red, white or rose - different wines served each day of our cruise and they were good quality wines, not plonk! In the evenings we ate in the main restaurant with waiter service. Again the food was first class with several choices for each course. The waiters were very attentive and knowledgeable about the various dishes. Again complimentary boutique wines were served. Free soft drinks, bottled water, speciality teas and coffees are available 24 hours a day.
Entertainment was superb. The cruise director, Eric, was wonderful. He must be one of the only cruise directors on the seas who is also a first class entertainer - his voice is magic. We had shows every night with various different entertainers, including a comedian, singer & pianist. We also had a great resident group of dancers and singers who produced wonderful mini Broadway type shows. A couple of evenings there were barbecues around the pool with entertainment and dancing.
We usually prefer to do our own thing when on shore. However, we did book three tours from Azamara. We pre-booked these before we left home and got a 50% discount off the on-board price. The tours were very good value and of a high quality with excellent tour guides.
The Azamara Journey is a fairly small ship (690 passengers max) so we were able to visit smaller destinations than the big ships go to, but unfortunately we did not 'dock' at most of our destinations. The ship anchored offshore and we had to transfer to land using the ship's own tenders (lifeboats). The sea was quite rough and choppy and it was difficult to get into the tenders. Several elderly people on our cruise were not able to get to shore because of this. Also on some occasions the tenders had to wait for the previous tender to leave port, or leave the ship, before coming alongside. This meant we were bobbing up and down in quite rough seas for quite a long time. I felt seasick on several occasions and by the end of our cruise I was dreading getting into the tenders. Next time I will look for a cruise where the ship is able to dock at more destinations.
Overall, this was a wonderful cruise and apart from having to use the tenders, we had no complaints at all. Would definitely book Azamara Club Cruises again.