We had never cruised with Azamara before and were encouraged to do so by friends who were frequent travelers on Azamara. We can't thank them enough. Having worked in the airline industry my whole career I understand very well the importance of a first impression. We were greeted on our arrival at the port by a representative who helped with our luggage and immediately made us feel welcome. We lined up for max 5 minutes to check in, a process that only took a matter of minutes. When we stepped onboard we were offered champagne or juice and greeted very warmly. Just from the initial contact I knew that the staff were very well selected and it was obvious that they liked their job. After a buffet lunch we were in our cabin by 2:00 and settling in.
Our balcony cabin was an adequate size, of course we would always like larger but we had everything we needed and it was immaculate. Our cabin stewards arrived to greet us and could not have been more friendly or helpful. We felt at home. We have cruised in the past with Cunard and P&O but never felt as though the staff really wanted to be there and thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing. Everywhere we went on board we were greeted with a genuinely friendly smile and nothing was too much trouble. We ate mostly in the Traditions restaurant, initially with others which enabled us to meet lots of other guests, and later sometimes just at a table for 2. I was surprised to read a previous reviewer said that he was coerced into always eating with others. Any night we said we would like to be at a table for 2 it was no problem. Sometimes we had to wait a bit for one to come free and if so we sat in the bar and they came to find us when it was ready. Every effort possible was made to accommodate anything we wanted.
The food was terrific, always. We ate in the specialty restaurants one night each and although the food and service were exceptional we preferred the ambiance of the Traditions Restaurant. By the way, the specialty restaurants are in the stern of the ship, not the bow as was previously stated by a reviewer. We used the gym facility frequently and found everything there that we needed and it was always available. I did not attend any classes but there were often classes in Pilates going on and were very well attended. The entertainment was first class, always. The cruise director, Eric, is an exceptional entertainer with a terrific sense of humour. The shows every night were not to be missed, there was definitely something for everyone. Hours spent in the Looking Glass bar late at night topped off wonderful days with lots of new friends. I cannot say really enough about the Journey and the wonderful time that we had. I struggle to think of one thing that I could criticize. We will definitely be back, many times I hope. We can certainly understand why many we met on board had already traveled with Azamara...you will want to return.