This was our first cruise on Azamara, and only our second cruise ever. The first was on the Virgo out of Singapore several years ago. We chose the Spice Route cruise because of the itinerary, as it was always a dream to visit India. This seemed a good way to combine a relaxing holiday, with that dream. We knew nothing about Azamara,just the basics ( I jokingly said it could of been a canoe - it was all about the destination) but after booking I started to look into what and who we were sailing with. I discovered CC and was really impressed with the wonderful reviews, and even more impressed with the loyalty that Azamara had among previous cruisers.I figured I might of stumbled onto something pretty good, and this increased our sense of excitement in the lead up to the cruise.
Our embarkation in Singapore was a dream. No waiting and friendly, helpful people to greet us. Before we actually boarded we had our drink packages sorted
(this was somethng that had concerned me before the cruise, as I couldn't get any clear information about them)and the lovely glass of bubbles was handed to us upon arrival on board. While waiting to go to our cabins, we wandered around and had a bite to eat. We were in our cabin in next to no time with both our bags already there. Emmanual, our steward, soon came to introduce himself and make sure everything was ok and point out all we needed to know. A really nice guy, and though we didn't need him much throughout the cruise, he was always there when we did.
Our cabin was lovely. The bed was one of the most comfortable we had ever had on a holiday. For us there was plenty of room, as we didn't spend a lot of time in there. It was always spotless when we came back from breakfast, and always ready in the evening.Yep the bathroom was on the small side, but it met all our basic needs, and I guess that's what a bathroom is for. What I did like was that every evening, there was the next days schedule for the ship, and an Australian news sheet for us to keep up with the important things at home - like the footy. Nice touch. Had some laundry done, and it came back beautifully clean and hanging in the cupboard. This was reasonably priced too.
For the 14 days we were on the Journey, I don't believe we had one disappointing or bad meal. We probably ate the majority of them in Windows, as we enjoyed the more casual way we could dine, and the variety of food that we were served. Enjoyed how they had a theme each night, but that you could still eat other food if you didn't like that particular cuisine. My favourite food in the whole world are chilli/garlic prawns and had them freshly cooked one evening. Absolutely delicious. My 2nd favourite food is duck, (something I very rarely get in real life),but I was also able to have this a couple of times, so I was a very happy cruiser. Our 'up market' forays into the main dining room weren't a let down either. Everything we had was cooked just right, and we never left there unhappy (maybe that was the wine???) One night we were asked if we would share a table with other diners, and I'm glad we said yes. That was really enjoyable and very entertaining. We thought about going to the speciality restaurants, but upon looking at the menu, we figured we were getting as good in the other two restaurants, so gave it a miss. Liked how they put the menus up, so we could decided where we would eat before we got there. Also got a couple of snacks from the grill on deck and these were great. So as you can probably tell we loved the food on Journey, that's probably why we came back a little heavier than when we left home.
We only went to one show, that being the last night at sea, farewell performance. It was a blast, but I don't think I could have gone there every night. Most of our evenings were spent talking to fellow cruisers and then ending up in Looking Glass, for the dancing and fun at the end of the night. Marco always tried to keep us happy with the choice of music he played, but if I don't hear Barry White, Rhianna or 'I will survive' for a while, I won't miss them. It wasn't that well utilised, except for the ABBA evening and Karaoke night. I went to a couple of trivia games, but those guys were playing for sheep stations, and I found some fellow trivia teammates a little bit too intense which made it unenjoyable for me. No problems, I just didn't go. Really we went to realx and meet people and that is was we did. Loved lying around the pool, swimming in the pool and drinking at the pool bar. Great places to strike up a conversation and pass the time away. Didn't do any Azamara shore excusions, as we did our own things in the ports, but appreciated that we weren't made to feel bad about this, or that we would have to be last off after all the excusion passengers had left. The ''welcome homes' and cold bottles of water made you feel special too.
We spent a lot of time at the bars. (well it was hot you know!!) and I have to say these were our favourite spots on the ship. We felt we had great value from our drink packages, and it was a relaxing way to meet fellow passengers. It wasn't long before the fellows behind the bar knew our favorite drinks, and almost had them made and poured before we had sat down. I had a drink for each bar. Cosmo in the Discoveries Bar, Long Island Iced Tea at the Pool Bar (Mariano), Gin & Tonic at the Sunset Bar (Katut) and Baileys up in Looking Glass (Dimitri). It wasn't just the drinks that made you want to stay and talk....it was also the men serving you. These guys were probably the nicest young men you could ever meet. Friendly, caring and funny it was always a pleasure to sit there and talk to them. We learnt so much about the wider world and where they come from, they were fabulous ambassadors for Azamara. It
was disappointing how some fellow passengers would talk to them, as they worked really hard to give excellent service, and didn't deserve the rudeness. (SHAME ON YOU) If something wasn't right, they would have it fixed in a flash.Our favourite spot was the pool bar, and every night we were disappointed when it closed at 7pm.
It really was the crew that made this cruise so special. Everyone was so nice. Enjoyed the Captain speaking to us everyday and telling us what was happening. I even had the Captain help pick out a couple of pictures that we had taken. Little old me, with the Captain! All the staff made this cruise special. The dining waiters were always attentive and helpful. Same at guest relations. Our cabin people did a wonderful job, especially when we got a bit messy on busy days (sorry guys), the security staff always made us feel welcome and safe when we got back to ship. And lets not forget those who fed us, and to those who got us to where we were going safely. And you know my feeling about the Bar staff 10/10!! The crew always looked liked they enjoyed doing what they were doing and were happy to be there, which made for a very enjoyable cruise.
There were a couple of things that we found a little disappointing:
The laundry was the pits, well the passengers using the laundry were.Too many of us trying to use them, and too many of us forgetting our manners. I don't know how to fix this, but it was one scary place to step into. The fridge in the cabin, just didn't get drinks cold. Cool, but not cold. We would chill them with the ice provided, but it would be nice if we could get them cold. For a ship with an older demographic, I found it funny that the TV music channel had mostly modern music, of the sort that wouldn't appeal to most. I know there was a big problem with lounge hogging at the pool, and this was addressed several times in the handout we got in the cabin at night, but it never really seemed to work. It was so hot, if only some sort of shade could be erected over the lounges in the sun, more people could enjoy. They were only little things, and certainly didn't detract from the fabulous cruise we had, but there people who really really whinged about them.
We had the best time on our Azamara cruise. I enjoyed the smaller ship experience, and don't believe I would want to cruise with many more than 700, as was the case this cruise. It was everything, and more, that we had wanted it to be. We would recommend Azamara to people, and would cruise with them again- if the itinerary and price is right. I will always check what Azamara is offering first, and see if it will work for me, before looking at their competition and what they are offering.
Thanks for giving us such a wonderful holiday, and terrific memories.