This cruise on Azamara Journey was, by far, the most enjoyable I've experienced! That does not mean it was problem-free; to the contrary, I had some serious difficulties. However, the good outweighed the bad by far. Embarking at Cape Liberty gets smoother and quicker every year. Port workers know me now and treat me like a returning friend. We arrived at noon; luggage taken promptly; check-in took 15 minutes total including wait time; short bus ride to ship. The cabin was ready so we dropped off our carry-on things and by 1pm we were eating lunch at the buffet! The luggage was there by time the life-boat drill (a real drill) was over. A funny moment occurred at that point All those with mobility impairments waited in a separate area nearby, while the other passengers marched out, single-file, to their assigned lifeboat. The leader held up a large number sign for the particular lifeboat. Looked like kindergarten kids on an outing. There was a head count for each group. Those of us who were separate were told not to worry, that they were well trained to help us. After everyone was with their boat, our group was brought to the elevators and placed on them. Vedia and I were alone on one and looked at each other as it began moving. We went back (from some floor) to the drill floor and said "where are we supposed to go?" Anywhere we want, was the answer. Seems they wanted us to have free elevators before the crowd came back! LOL! Last year I hated my cruise because the ship was too big, too crowded, too many unsupervised children, too many unhappy and over-extended crew members, and mediocre food. Journey is just the opposite. Small, friendly, well appointed, the best and most attentive crew - top to bottom - I've ever experienced. Also, with a passenger total of 700 one gets to know people very easily. In 24 hours passengers and crew were on a first name basis, and it was one big extended family (without the infighting!) The food was wonderful.
CABIN My cabin was big enough. Nice closets, pullout sofa, new furnishings, fridge and minibar, balcony, and real wooden hangers. Also provided at no extra charge were robes, slippers, binoculars, Evian water, Elemis products. There were fresh flowers daily, along with a bowl of fruit, 4p hors d'oeuvres, and different sweets at night (not just mints, but brownies, candies, cookies, and more.) I was not in a suite - they got more!? Note: the 'butlers' are stewards unless you're in a suite! (which is not a putdown because the stewards were immaculate, efficient, and quick.) An Azamara over-sell.
DINING The food is excellent. The only down note is room service breakfast, which is basically continental in nature. MAIN The main dining room is anytime with tables for 4 or more. While you can't necessarily get the same table every time, if you're early, you can get the same section and, therefore, waiter if you want. They serve 3 meals a day. Good variety and multiple choices. At dinner you choose from at least 3 appetizers, 3 soups (2 hot 1 cold,) 3 salads, 6 entrees including pasta, fish, red meat and fowl, in addition to the every day choices of shrimp cocktail, steak, roast chicken, and vegetarian selections. One night I had trouble deciding between 2 that sounded great. After deciding on one, he brought both! Desserts are fabulous, and ice cream handmade. The rolls are not warm, but they are fresh and delicious and varied. I never ate lunch there, but breakfasts were very good, and quick.
BUFFET (pool deck) Standard fare, good but not exceptional. (7a to 11p) No pizza/pasta section and no ice cream or frozen yogurt mid afternoon. Only on the pool deck can you get free, help yourself, coffee and non-soda beverages anytime.
GRILL (pool deck) Nathan's hotdogs, crispy fries, real hand ground steak burgers, and other items. 11a to 4p and VERY popular!
COVA CAFE From 4p to 1a there are all manner of delicious pastries, cookies, scones, brownies, and sandwiches free for the taking. You only pay for drinks including tea and coffee. Busy spot around 11p. The food is replaced frequently. ]
SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS One time free for all guests, but suites get 2x free. We went to chop house once and it was excellent. The other Med/Italian one is highly praised too. No midnight buffets!
LOUNGES There are 5 lounges and bars. Drinks are pricey at $7-12; soda and coffee $2 if without liquor.
ENTERTAINMENT Solid, and very enjoyable. There are no big production shows and no off-color comedians, but there are very talented people in the lounges and cabaret! If not enough, there are 4 in-room first run free movie channels. There is a dj and disco, as well.
MISC The crew is exceptional. Upper level crew are constantly checking to see that passengers are happy and satisfied, and also learn everyone's name. If someone has a complaint - whether or not justified - it is acted upon immediately. The Captain is very friendly and funny. When not busy, he freely mixes with passengers, and answers questions. The cruise director and staff are friendly and good. Standard activities onboard from Bingo to pool games. There is a spa and acupuncturist. I tried neither. I also did not do their shore excursions, Shopping is very limited. One high-end bling shop. One high-end resort wear shop. One sundry shop, but very few souvenirs and tee shirts. Do shopping ashore! They do provide cold cloths and beverages when you return to the ship's gangway. Very small pool. New deck furniture supposed to be in place by mid-July. Some comfy lounges, but most are motel-type pool lounges for now. Large, flat screen tv's, wi-fi, and cell service.
FELLOW PASSENGERS 50+. There were young couples, and some children, but not may of either. This is not a cruise for young people! It is geared toward 50+, and many were very ++! There were young children and a day program for them, but limited. Teenagers and 20-30 something's might be most unhappy. We had few problems with motion. The worst times were crossing the Gulf Stream, and I felt that on the big ships too. Vedia is very subject to motion sickness, but felt fine with just her patch. I, on the other hand, felt sick Friday until 2 Dramamine kicked in! Debarking in NJ was as quick and simple as the embarkation. It took us longer to cross the GW Bridge!! I said in the beginning that there were problems. The ship is not yet finished with the refurbishment. It will be, maybe, by their real season starting October. It was rushed into service much too soon. It is NOT a luxury ship as hyped, at least not yet. It IS a great Celebrity ship, but most Celebrity ships are wonderful! Why are they messing with success? For me, there were serious access issues. It is definitely not wheelchair friendly by design. I understand all R and Oceania ships are the same way. The crew and fellow passengers saw to it that I did as much as possible, but some things I missed like getting out on deck to see my sunsets! I'd send Vedia out with the camera, but it wasn't the same. Still, as I said, the good well outweighed the bad!
SUMMARY This is a terrific ship and crew. It is beautiful inside with real wood, wrought iron, gold leaf, nice artwork, and improving rugs and furniture. It is not a ship I would recommend for young families, but more for people who want to relax and enjoy their surroundings. I have great memories for a lifetime. Cherry on cake: good visits with Bermuda friends.
Journey is not a wheelchair friendly ship. Having said that, however, I would not necessarily let it stop me from a planned cruise.
The access cabins are well laid out. The bathrooms are a good size with a roll-in shower, hand held and fixed shower head; and fold up bench. There are sturdy grab bars appropriately placed. The door to the cabin has a power assist, activated by button inside and out. There are fridges in all handicapped rooms.
Corridors are narrow but do-able. There are difficult ridges on the floor everywhere. It is almost impossible to get out to the decks. The pool does not have a lift nor can you get close to it. I did not see it, but I'm told the spa is not accessible.
The elevators are roomier than many other ships. The gangway in Bayonne and Bermuda are the worst I've encountered!
The Cabaret has ramps to the lower level where you'll have an unobstructed view, but you have to get there early. Once people are starting to sit and the chairs are moved, it is almost impossible to get to the ramps which are in the front.
Bermuda does have wheelchair vans but you have to know someone who knows where and how. I can help you if you need this info.
If you have limited mobility, use a manual chair, scooter, walker etc, you'll encounter relatively few insurmountable problems. The crew is wonderful and very attentive to every tiny and major need.
If you use a powerized wheelchair, it's do-able but I don't recommend this ship. I do use one and can speak from experience, having just been on it.