We did a 12 night Baltic Cruise on the Azamara Journey and would like to provide a review. Our travel agent told us she would like us to try Azamara as Celebrity was trying to target the Oceania and Silverseas crowd. She was incorrect on both counts. Azamara is for the crowd who have done Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, Holland Americian,NCL,and others in that genre. Having said that, if you have done these lines you will probably like or love this line. It has a long way to catch up with Oceania and as for Silverseas there can be no comparison as it is like comparing apples with oranges. Azamara is a "poor man's Oceania." If you can get the same price on Oceania then go with Oceania as you will see the difference in every department e.g. maintenance, service, amenities, food,bedding and so on.
One disturbing quality we observed on Azamara was the total absence of cleaning of public places e.g staircase railings, rest rooms, elevator panel and railings. On Oceania this is a constant and reassuring sight.
We paid $11,000 US for our Sky Suite and met a lovely young man who paid $900.00 for his cabin. When there is this disparity in pricing the company has not defined its target customer and it shows!!
Upon arrival there was no one at the bottom of the gangplank to assist us with our luggage we were expected to haul it up ourselves. When disembarking in ports of call there was a crew member dressed up as a rabbit or other infantile character to greet you as you disembarked. There were no children on the ship, this was the tone set for the cruise. The cruise director and crew spoke down to us and overall treated us in a very infantile way. It became old very quickly! The cruise director and staff constantly told the customers how wonderful the crew were in their capacity to provide outstanding service. They did this either in person, over the public address system or at gatherings.
Approximately 2 days before the end of the cruise a questionaire was sent to each cabin to assess the cruise. From that point on we were beaten into submission to complete that questionaire. There were constant reminders over the TV, at any entertainment gathering, at dinner by your waitstaff. They were relentless, and finally offered a raffel of a free dinner at one of the speciality restaurants to get people to complete the form. The butler service was a joke. He was a cabin attendant dressed up in a tuxedo and we rarely saw him, and when we did ask for afternoon tea he told us we had to fill out a form the morning of or the day before and be physically present in our cabin when it arrived the next day...yes! he was serious! Breakfast in our room was cold so we didn't do it again after the second try.The beds were not exceedingly uncomfortable but by no means would I say luxury bedding or exceedingly comfortable.
The food was good but there was no cuisine in sight. The staff were very friendly and did what was required for their positions, but there was no service on this ship. On our contract (which I had with me) it stated ,"gratuities included". When our final bill arrived, the gratuities had been added, so I spoke to a senior person in the guest relations department. This is the "service" I received: I had to make multiple trips to that department and often the person was not there, even though we had made an appointment. Never once did the person say she would come to our suite! The friendly persona disappeared when they saw my contract, however, they would not honor it and said there "had been a mix-up," but were still charging my credit card.
Our departing flight left early and we had booked the ship's transport to the airport. We were notified a few days before the end of the cruise they could not accomodate us due to our early flight and were cancelling our booking . No apologies, just a message in our suite. No offer to provide an alternative. When I did ask if they could order me a taxi when we arrived, they said no, but there would probably be taxi's at the port. There was no offer to assist or organize our luggage upon departure. I saw our "butler" in the hallway and told him to assist me, he did so reluctantly. I hope this review is helpful to you in choosing your cruise line. In a nutshell, if you can afford Oceania go with it as Azamara is not in the same league. If you can't afford Oceania and have cruised with the above stated lines you will probably enjoy this experience. If you have done Silverseas you will be totally dissatisfied with the Azamara experience.