Both of us are seasoned cruisers-w/myself having just completed a 16 day Hawaiian cruise in Aug. 2007. We wanted a shorter cruise&research lead us to Azamara Journey. Their website touted LUXURY, SERVICE, SPACIOUS Accommodations, BUTLER SERVICE, ETC. I RESEARCHED iNTERNET AND FOUND NICE PRICE, lower than booking direct w/ cruise line. They did a great job w/ all arrangements, to & from, transfers, etc. No complaints in that regard.
Upon arrival @ Newark airport, we were met (not greeted) by cruise rep. Unlike our previous cruise experiences, no effort was made to assist us w/luggage to curbside for transfer bus, but instead, the rep went into lengthy detail about her not wanting to get injured by assisting w/heavy luggage & only provided info when questioned. The bus was so over crowded, both of us had heavy golf bags wedged on and against our legs and feet. The bus driver had picked up 6 "paying" passengers & those of w/prepaid transfers were wedged in like sardines. Terminal check in went pretty smoothly, but it was obvious that staff needed more training, ours had to get assistance 3 times. Bus transfer to ship was ok, but there was no staff to help w/carryon up the steps to the ship, which were rather steep. The security photo station was crowded, small and ship staff just stood around, more in the way than helpful---we received assistance to elevators and stateroom (?) only when requested.
When the stateroom room door opened, I was shocked to say the least. SPACIOUS, IF WAS NOT, WELL APPOINTED, IT WAS NOT! iF THE CLOSET DOOR WAS OPEN, NO ENTRY TO BATH OR EXIT THE CABIN. Unpacking was one at a time, we did finally realize that by lifting the foot of the bed, we could stow our empty luggage so we could walk around the cabin--can't call it a Stateroom, anymore. The "BUTLER" introduced himself -ok-. Fruit & flowers in cabin, both either rotted or died, only a couple bananas and grapes were added--on 4th night I put some of the rotten fruit out in the hallway. The thermostat never worked in the cabin---it stayed COLD!
tHE FOOD, OVERALL WAS GOOD, ONLY ONE MEAL WAS EXCELLENT, DINING SERVICE IN ALL VENUES was lackluster. There would be 8-10 servers standing around, but if you needed coffee or water refills, you either asked or in Windows got up and got it yourself. The beverage area in Windows was located in the walkway and the floor was always wet, slippery & sticky. On more than one occasion, we picked up dishes in the buffet line that were not properly cleaned, and always had to check our flatware. Sanitation was lacking and not pro-active as I have been accustomed to.
The buffet layout was somewhat confusing, but all in all the food choices were good. Removal of dirty dishes was not prompt, even tho' there was more than sufficient staff. Discoveries dining service was poor and if word got around you had complained, it was obvious. We finally gave up and just at in Windows. Lobster night was joke!, By the way, don't put your appetizer fork down, or the appetizer will disappear--we always felt rushed. Don't expect prompt water refills, nor coffee served on time. The mandatory daily gratuity is 20%+ higher than other ships, the cocktail & wine prices much higher +gratuity, wine pours are, if you are lucky 1/2 glass--unless you balk.
Activities were lackluster, lacking enthusiasm, except for Becky the director.
Boutiques and prices were the worst I have ever experienced! Layout of Cabaret for shows is the worst design for enjoying shows ever, making it difficult for most to even see the performance. The only lounge w/good service was the Looking Glass and Antonio by the smoking area on the pool deck did a great job & was so outgoing.
4th deck disembark area was like a disaster shelter--w/people sitting on stairs & floor. We just waited on 10th deck for 2nd color tag call to let it clear out since we had a 4+hr. flight window.
Access at ports was very good, Bermuda great--we did our own execursions with much less confusion.
All in all, we would never sail Azamara again--they need to be more accurate about their amenities.. Also, this definitely is not a young couple or family w/children experience---I would also question the comfort for passengers w/ physical limitations being very comfortable, especially in the bathrooms---I'm 5ft. tall & weigh 100 lbs, and the bath was small.