I went on the Azamara Journey from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires with a cruise through the CHilean Fjords and 3 islands in Antarctica. It was an absolute pleasure....with few exceptions. I am a seasoned traveler and have done 15 or so cruises, most of them in the extended "exotic" category. Azamara was one of the best:
Staff: Was simply outstanding - every attempt to please the passengers was made from every level. Captain Smith was a very special leader and his staff has made the trips fun, educational, interesting and adventurous. He was enthusiastic about the trip and it was infectious for all aboard. I know the passengers will try to book a trip with him again - a new filter for the travel agencies will be captain. He is personable and informative about what he was going to do and was upfront about the weather, the seas, etc that we might encounter. I think that was not well received by everyone, but I certainly appreciated it.
Itinerary: Antarctica and the Chilean Fjords were outstanding. Captain Smith changed the itinerary slightly so that we could see Garibaldi Glacier and the big Icebergs in Antarctica Sound. I have never been in such awesome country. We also had wonderful weather which helped. The ports were all good -
Shore excursions: The excursions were professionally run, the meals on the excursions were good, but there were little details about the excursions and the prices were outrageous. The staff was as helpful as they could be, but since many of the ports were new to them, they didn't have experience to discuss them.
Disembarkation and embarkation were fairly quick and uneventful.
Food: The food and service surrounding the food was great overall. The absence of some cruise standards like a lobster night (not lobster cakes, pot pie...real lobster tails), caviar and specialty desserts was hard, but overall the beef was the best I have ever had and the entrees were great. The salads were weak and the desserts were just okay. The buffet at breakfast and lunch was good except for the 6 days we were at sea. The freshness of fruits and vegetables was good except for the sea days.
Activities: They planned a lot of activities for when we were at sea - more than most of the cruises I have been on...and, they were pretty interesting. Lecturers were good - dance classes a lot of fun - casino and tournaments were good - entertainment was okay...Andreas was outstanding...very knowledgeable, personable and seemed to always be working. We attended wine tasting with Stephania which was outstanding. We had a number of sea days and she improved the wine tasting over those days to include food pairings and specialty wines...was outstanding...and, she and her team were delightful. In fact, all of the staff and service people were delightful and really interested in making you happy.
Free style eating - we did not have any problems in getting a table eat the best times an we ate in the specialty restaurants a couple of times. Service and food in the specialty restaurants was a step above, but the menu could be changed a little more often on a long trip.
Things that could be improved:The gym could have more classes at a time that people could participate, and perhaps another treadmill or two. An additional laundromat would be good - the one we had was mobbed most of the time. Need to buy a few more programs and movies for TV but apparently it has improved a bit. A wine card like some of the other cruises would be nice.
Overall it was a special cruise with seasoned travelers who knew what to appreciate and what to ignore. The teak handrails were not even something I noticed, no less inspected. I was more interested in how I was treated.