This was our second cruise on Azamara Journey, and as I love the little ship so much, I want to share some my experiences on this cruise - both good and bad.
Luggage drop off was easy, but port side documentation processing was a shambles. I believe that the computer systems were down, so that couldn't have helped matters. That was quickly forgotten though with the warm welcome from the crew and the cold glass of champagne that appeared in my hand as my husband and I stepped onto the ship,
The rooms weren't ready until around 1.30, but lunch was being served so we popped up to the Windows Cafe on Deck 9 for a bite to eat. As a precaution against norovirus and other nasty bugs, food in the buffet was served by staff for the first couple of days. This is the first time I have come across this procedure and was impressed by the care taken to avoid any outbreaks of disease.
We occupied a verandah cabin on Deck 7 aft. It was identical to the other balcony cabins with the exception that the balcony was a little larger. We loved watching the sunrises and as my husband put it 'being able to see where the ship had been'. I wouldn't hesitate to book this room again if the scenery warranted it.
Our cabin attendants Jimmy and Julius couldn't have been more friendly and attendant to our needs. They got to know our quirks very quickly and made sure that we would have a towel to take ashore, or give us advice, from their own experience, on what to do in port.
We had similar experiences from the food service and drink staff. I have to compliment Cesar for bringing up bottled water to our ballroom dance class when he saw that we were all beginning to look parched. That is the type of service I haven't experienced on the larger ships.
It was good to see Heike, the Hotel Director, around the ship talking to guests, serving up ice cream and generally making herself visible to everyone. She was always happy to take on board suggestions and would pass them on to other crew members where appropriate.
The food everywhere on the ship was wonderful. If a wine of the day wasn't to my liking, the staff were happy to find another of the 'included wines' for me to share with meals.
And if we missed one of the meals, there was always something to nibble on available at the Mosaic Cafe on level 5.
My husband and I, together with friends, dined at each Prime C and Aqualina once. there was not one course that the four of us would not have ordered again. And, you can never go past the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert!
Our dance teachers Alina and Alex were not only truly professional entertainers, but very patient and caring teachers. Azamara, please always have trained dancers teaching us - it makes the experience so much more meaningful.
DJ Marcio was absolutely fantastic. After a couple of nights he had the crowd worked out and played music that seemed to appeal to nearly everyone. Not only that he was up on the floor salsaing or rocking it out with the best of them. He took the Azamara 'inclusive' policy to another level.
Speaking of taking things to another level, Eric De Gray as Cruise Director does just that. Like Heike, he was always visible around ship, when he wasn't hosting an event, appearing in one of the fabulous productions with his astounding voice, donning a pair of heels that would take his 5 foot 18 inch height to nearly 7 foot, or giving Captain Johannes a hard time. He is the best of the best.
Captain Johannes from the very beginning of the cruise made sure that he was accessible to everyone. You could see him ask to join a table at the Windows Cafe for breakfast, or stop and have a chat to everyone as he passed by on the pool deck.
He also took the ribbing of his 'little brother Eric', and gave it back in spades. The atmosphere created could only be described as warm and welcoming for everyone. I couldh't have had a better designated driver. Thank you.
Even though there were some young children on board, this is not really a ship for children as there are no specific facilities set aside for them. I would imagine that teenagers could also become bored with the lack of entertainment directed at their age group. Then again, if you are travelling in a family group the childcentric activities may not be important.
I feel that the Azamara is suited to fit (or fitish) people who want to spend a fair amount of time off ship exploring each new destination.
Maybe I should have put this under Entertainment, as it created the greatest source of amusement to me during the cruise. We would get back from a day out and my husband would head for the laundry while I would rustle up the dirty washing. It became quite a game making sure you got your washing machine/dryer rights! It was a common sight to see someone sitting on the laundry floor, as the few seats were taken, sipping on a glass of sauv. blanc while waiting for a load finish. Lucky most people on the cruise had a sense of humour, or it could have got ugly sometimes. My husband and I made some of our best friends in that tiny room.
Oh, the laundry and its facilities are all free!
There were very few things I would criticize about the 14 days we spent on board and they were so minor they are not worth mentioning,.
If you have been hesitant to try a smaller cruise line, please give my little ship a try. I am sure you won't be disappointed.
Oh, and did I mention we will be back on her in 2015? Well, I will be!!!