Azamara Journey Cruise-- April 8 to April 25, 2008 AZAMARA is rather a catchy name. We like Atlantic crossings with the great and many days at sea. So, we decided to take the Azamara Journey from Miami the 9th of April.. Being from California, we had to fly in the day before and had a nice day in Miami. On the 9th we headed for the ship about 12:30 pm to check in. The people at the check-in counters were very pleasant and it took just a few minutes and we were on the ship. We could get our cabins at 2 pm, so we went up top for lunch. They had three names for the various eating spots up there--Breeza, Windows-and I can't remember the other one, so I just call it the Lido. The food didn't look too great at the buffet, so we had a hot dog outside, with wonderful French-fries and fresh fruit. At 1:30 pm, somebody announced that the cabins were ready for occupancy, so down we went.
We had a cabin with balcony on the 7th deck and right in the middle of the ship--a perfect location. When we walked in, we found our cabin to be medium size, nicely decorated but with a very small bathroom. The brochure promised us fresh fruit and fresh flowers. There were neither, but about the third day of the cruise the flowers appeared followed by an orange, an apple and a very hard pear. A young lady from Eastern Europe popped in and announced that she was our BUTLER!, which was about the last we saw of her except when she would deliver the ship's newspaper about 10:30 pm. I finally made her understand that putting the paper under the door was more desirable than pounding on the door and coming into the cabin.
In addition to this "Butler" there was a male attendant, who was far from the brightest bulb on the tree, and they worked in teams. He told me they had up to 34 cabins to attend to every day. So you can see that the ship was very understaffed, not only in cabin attendants but waiters and deck persons as well. The second morning we went to breakfast in the main dining room at 7:45 am and no waiter approached us, so after waiting 45 minutes we left. Anyway, we asked if it was possible to have our cabin made up between 8:30 am and 10 am. Sometimes it was cleaned in those times, but most often it was as late as noon. Several days we just told them to skip it and give us clean towels The cabin was comfortable. However, the lights, after dark, were very dim so there was no reading in bed.
After unpacking and cleaning up for dinner, we thought a before dinner cocktail sounded like a good idea, so we went down to look for a nice cocktail hour spot. There were none. What I call the "Crow's Nest" was usually taken up with bingo, games for the passengers, small group meetings or some such. The Casino bar was not yet open (it was very uncomfortable, noisy, and brassy anyway), so we headed for the little bar next to the dining room. It was the best. of the lot. We met some very nice Canadians there and we dined with them a few nights and because the dining room was closed for lunch every day while in port, we usually got together for a hamburger or a hot dog near the pool (their French fries were wonderful and the two cooks were very affable). Anyway, after having our drink, we decided we'd have dinner about 6:30.
Standing in line for dinner took a few minutes. I much prefer assigned tables rather than the helter skelter manner in which you are seated in this dining room. The dining room itself is quite dark, noisy and jammed together, but it was worth all the inconvenience. We had the best food I've ever had at sea!!! And this was my 157th cruise. The two specialty restaurants on Deck 10were excellent, but we preferred the over the "Prime C". The menu selection was much better as were the waiters and the maitre d whose name was . He was so accommodating, always gave us one of the nicest table, best waiter and a genuine welcome. We had dinner in the five nights. It was much easier than going into the big dining room.
After dinner, we usually played the slots in the Casino until the show started. The show was the usual Variety Act thing--ventriloquists, jugglers, comedian, violinist and pianist. None were very good. It seems to m e with all the talent competition we see and hear on television that it would not be so difficult to find talent for a ship. So we usually stayed about ten minutes and then, there was nothing to do but go to your cabin, and since the lights were too dim for reading, you could watch television--mostly CNN from Britain, which was repeats, over and over again. They had about 6 movies on the ship, which they also kept repeating, repeating and repeating.
We love days at sea and there were many on this nice itinerary. The weather was beautiful except for a morning in Lisbon. Thank God for a balcony. We just think that we like a slightly larger ship, or maybe go at a time when the ship is not so jam-packed. We were on the Oceania Regatta for 28 days before the Christmas cruise. They're really the same ships. But also, the cruise companies have bragged too much in their brochures and literature about what great ships these are, with the wonderful service, the wonderful shows, the wonderful food and the wonderful BUTLER service. It makes for a very different cruise when very few of these wonderful "comforts" are really available.