Journey was practically identical to Regatta except it looked a little tired and in need of care. The wonderful lounge and Piano Bar on Regatta had a whole extension from the Casino in its place on Journey.This left their midships 'Shopping Mall' as the locale for Trivia, Piano Sing along etc, not enough seats, no bar and limited service. They took away tables that were in place on Regatta on the outdoor area at the stern at the 9th deck buffet and installed a bar on Journey. The bar was rarely open, the seats were chipped and in need of stain and varnish. At night they had a barman but no waiters.
The service level EXCEPT in Discoveries was poor, not enough wait staff in any of the Bar areas. In the Buffet (Windows) they had specialty cooking station but only one chef leading to long line ups for specialized fish, Asian, Indian Entrees. Your dirty plates could sit around for quite a while as there was no help to move them. Water or drinks were your own responsibility. The same criteria applied at the Grill on Deck 9 Poolside, one cook doing custom work. Discoveries was impeccable with a MAitre'D who remembered your name after DAy 1, great service, great selection and perfect cuisine. If Journey could apply the principles of Discoveries to the rest of the ships management they may catch up with Oceania.
CAbin Service was poor. The much touted Butler Service was just a Housekeeper with a Bow Tie. we got Fresh Flowers Day 1 and they were never replaced. The Fresh Fruit was only replacing as and when they felt like it. If you like attention, towel figures and all that forget it. We never saw the Butler after Day 1. When our door lock failed neither they or Customer Relations helped, I had to seek out the Engineering Officer (SAfety) who fixed it for us. Just a lack of commitment and organization. Always polite but it was largely superficial.
The Entertainment Staff were Bizarre. Events on Board were carried out by a very energetic DJ/Trivia King Ron 'Hollywood' a very hard working energetic individual with help from Eric Brohman a would be magician and trivia host. Both friendly and fun. Whenever you asked a question though the answer was "We don't know what we are doing any day until late the evening before" Hence a Presentation was cancelled as they had not done a dry run on their computer. This happened several times with AV equipment, no rehearsal apparent, flying by the seat of their pants! The Pianist, Dan, was brilliant, talented and should have been Cruise Director as he was also so people oriented, the lady harpist was talented and great fun. Both of them said many times that they hadn't a clue what was expected from them on a day to day basis. Seemed a little 'devil may care' despite their great talent. The 'Events Organizer' Kelsey was hard working and very pleasant but was always being overshadowed by her boss.
The Cruise Director Sue Denning was the most incredible example of square peg in a round hole. On most cruises the Cruise Director is thew 'Passengers Friend, Organizer, liaison etc. This lady had an ego the size of the ship itself but without the managerial abilities to match.
Sue had talent, belted out a good song and was quite the Comedienne but didn't know when to switch it off. She was very much a 'Legend in her own mind' and contributed little to events on the cruise.She was aloof, lacking eye contact, running hother and yon but never getting directly involved in anything. All questions were answered with "Sorry, Luv, I'm too busy" Consensus of many I spoke to was she was not really sophisticated for her role but may be good on a lesser class of ship as one of the Acts. Her lack of Motivational skills showed up in the attitudes and planning of the staff reporting to her.
The ship was nice but not as nice as Regatta, the Crew nice but impersonal. To be told to tip an extra $5 for Service in Prime C after already being told to pay a staff gratuity was a bit cheap.
The debarkation started early on the 15th , for the 18th arrival!! First we got our customs forms and instructions 15th, lecture next day by Sue in 'Bossy Boots' mode . The fruit went from the room on the 17th as well as the slippers we were supposed to keep. On the 18th , following Instructions we breakfasted at 6 am, waited till 7.40 for our time for Customs and Immigration. That started at 8 am and it was a free for all, no organizing at all. We then dutifully waited for our 8.50 call for our luggage tag only to get Sue shouting to the crowd in the SHopping Mall area "I know you are in a hurry to get off, try and observe the sequence but if you don't want to just don't shove your way out" Once again another free for all. Eventually we worked our way through a chaotic baggage claim to waiting buses that sat forever it seemed , organized by no one from Azamara. The driver left about 10-15 for the Airport, the driver , Lovell, making a pitch for tips on the intercom.
It was a nice cruise BUT if I have the choice its still Oceania for me.