Our last two cruises were on crystal cruises which we thoroughly enjoyed, but we wanted a different type of cruising experience for our Asian cruise. We took a chance and booked with azamara club cruises on the Journey for a 14 day trip from Hong Kong to Beiijing. This ship is smaller (can navigate down smaller waterways and dock in the cities), there was no tendering at any ports. There are no formal nights on this cruise line so no need to pack extravagant evening wear even though I love to wear really nice outfits, I prefer to decide on my own when I want to wear them. Also prefer nice pants and jackets versus cocktail dresses or gowns. Another pleasant aspect of their cruising style is the dining - everyone can go to the main dining room whenever they want. If you prefer a table for two and one is not available they may ask you to wait but not for very long and time can be spent having a cocktail. They always ask if you would mind sharing a table and many enjoyable dinners were had with different cruisers.
We booked into a suite( first time for us) and this gave us much more space. The passengers booked into the suites also received quite a few extracts such as free dining at the two specialty restaurants which were very good and one could make a set reservation. You also had the services of Ronald our butler and he was very helpful in making reservations.
The people who worked on the cruise were such a pleasure (waiters, waitress, cabin stewards etc.). I have been on many cruises and these were the friendliest people and seemed to actually enjoy their job.. All gratuities were included but we gave extra to all who assisted us in making our trip a success. The cruise director Eric was a true gem-charming personality, honest, and a great entertainer(he sang and danced in the shows). The captain was very skilled and kept us informed through thick and thin (few rough seas).
My only complaints(just so you know) is that the furniture, closets, bathroom etc in the staterooms is a little dated. Not shabby but old -closet doors are creaking and bang. Staterooms are a little dark and could use a spruce up. The beds were super comfy.
The food was very good and the specialty restaurants excellent. My husband loves breakfast and said the best breakfast ever on a ship.
The shore excursions were good but could use a little tweaking. The guides in all ports ( china and Japan) were totally charming and had very good English. The lecturer on the ship was a great speaker and very informative.
We spent four days at the end of our trip in beiijing and had a great time( booked a private tour group called Catherine Lu tours and stayed at the Regent hotel.