Married, 60 and 62 yrs. old, numerous recent cruises including a very similar cruise last fall on Oceania's Insignia. Note: the cost and value ratings are based on Azamara'a standard rates looking at the rate average over the next 12 months, not the promotional rate on this particular trip.
Pre-cruise and embarkation: Fairly standard, but don't look for Oceania's blue leather document folder. Pre and post trip air arrangements were very poor and I would strongly recommend making your own travel plans.
Ship: We are very partial to the "R-Ships" so we are biased toward the ship. The Journey shows wear and little evidence of the remodeling that presumably was in mechanical areas of this ship. Also, it does not have desalinization equipment, so it takes on local water at ports (sometimes quite brown).
Stateroom: R-ships have slightly smaller rooms, but very nice and the Journey decor and bedding were excellent as was the cabin service. We ever met the "butler", but I suspect he was around somewhere if we knew what he was supposed to do for us.
Entertainment: No one ever agrees on ship entertainment, but I can tell you that the five show performers on this boat all have outstanding talent, even by cruise ship standards. Unfortunately, they were bored form lack of utilization. The enrichment series speaker was the highlight; although, the very inexperience cruise entertainment director did everything she could to disrupt his series. But he was so good and patient, it was still the highlight.
Food Service: This was hopeless to the point of being comical at times. A few waiters were experienced and many learned during the cruise, but it never met the lowest performance we have encountered on any line. But they tried their very hard, and most everyone was quite patient. Some waiting encounters were so bizarre that all we could do was chuckle.
Food: This was well below Celebrity standards. Very average preparation by any restaurant standard. I had the same Ahi tuna 3 times on the cruise. Once it came medium rare, once it was well done and the third time tan and dry. No meal was special or creative; although, the soup chef is superb and should be retained. Presentation is poor with excessive portions of carbohydrates on the main entree. Menus repeated. The lunch dessert menu was unchanged for 18 days! The dinner desserts have very limited variety and are quite average. I lost a pound on the trip. I think I can safely say from many years experience and interest in fine foods that the current chef simply lacks the basic skills to ever compete with Oceania. OH, you should know: No lobster tail night. I would say if you go for the fine dining room meals and service, take almost any other line. Specialty restaurants have excellent service and the lobster bisque is the truly one exceptional preparation on the ship. We had planned 3 or 4 nights in these restaurants, but they were mostly empty which distracts from the atmosphere, so we cancelled most of these.
Disembark: They had never been to this port before and there were special issues that they tried to correct, but I doubt they will repeat this disembark port. I will say they made great efforts to make it go well.
Summary: Mostly average staff and managers are trying very hard to be something special. We were scheduled to go to Antarctica on the Journey in February and had our own air reservations to correct that problem, but in the end, we cancelled our trip at some cost to us just because we do not want to get on this ship again, but if you are a Royal Caribbean client that has never been on Celebrity or Oceania, you may want to try this.