Review of the Azamara Journey
Sail date: 6 October 2007
As to some background; we are avid cruise ship travelers, having completed over 50 cruises, of all types, including freighters, river ships, barges and cruise ships. We prefer smaller ships and, thus, were glad when Celebrity acquired the Journey, a 700 passenger vessel.
Embarkation: We used Celebrity air to travel to Newark. The flight, fortunately, was uneventful and our baggage actually arrived with us. We were met by shore representatives and were transported to the port with only slight delays. The actual embarkation was, without doubt, the easiest and least stressful ever experienced. We were on ship within 15 minutes.
Upon embarkation we were directed to the Windows Cafe to have lunch and wait for the cabin preparation to be completed. This was done by about 1:20 pm.
Cabin: We were in a Sky Suite. Overall, the cabin was quite nice and very comfortable. The bath, though small, was adequate. The veranda is small and contains a table and two chairs. The verandas do not offer any privacy due to the transparent frosted glass partitions, which have a large open space surrounding them. HOWEVER, the one glaring error, in the redo of these cabins, is the apparent absolute absence of soundproofing. This is especially noticeable between the cabin and the deck above. The noise of the movement of people, furniture and equipment was overwhelming. During party time, on the pool deck, especially at night, you can forget about relaxing, much less sleeping. In our view, a major mistake, especially considering these are nearly the most expensive cabins, on the vessel.
Dining: The food was outstanding. In fact, we felt this is some of the best cruise ship food we have had in many years. All dining rooms, Discovery, Prime C and Aqualina were very good. Actually, the food in the main dining room, in our view, was the best of the three, although Aqualina was the most attractive. The main dining room tended to be noisy and the tables seemed to be crowded. The Windows Cafe, buffet for breakfast and lunch, was good, but on a par with most other mid level ships. The food was hot, when required and cold when required. Adequate describes it. While the dining areas had disinfecting hand wipes, it seems the liquid dispenser form, like found on other Celebrity ships, would be more effective. As a side note, we would like to see a return to fixed dining as opposed to the open dining concept. Just our preference.
Ship activities: Bermuda is a destination which requires one to spend a great deal of time ashore. As a result, we did not use any of the ships activities. We did note the daily program offered plenty of them. Therefore, for those who chose to stay aboard, I am sure there were lots of options open to them. As with the activities, we did not attend any of the ships shows. That is just our preference. Based on comments from other passengers, it appears the entertainment was standard cruise ship fare, somewhat scaled down due to the ship's size.
Shore excursions: There were pages of options. We chose to use public transportation passes, which were available for sale at guest relations. This because we had been to Bermuda a few times before and knew our way around. Also, this is such a small place that it is very easy to get around. If one wanted to do a tour, however, there were many options and they appeared to be reasonably priced.
General observations: In our view this is a great ship. Comfortable and just the right size. The negatives are few. Cabin noise in the Sky Suites was the greatest complaint. For the life of us, we can not understand Celebrity's insistence on the use of "Butlers". This is an absolute waste. Our "butler" spent the better part of his time assisting the cabin steward. I guess it is just one way of creating another "gratuity" payment.
Would we do this ship again - a resounding yes, but not in a Suite. Would we recommend the ship. Again, yes, but stay away from the Suites.