This was our first Azamara cruise; we picked it because of the itinerary, because we like smaller ships, and because of positive reviews we read on Cruise Critic. We will take another cruise on Azamara, given the right itinerary and timing.
We made our own travel arrangements, spending three days at the Copenhagen Marriott prior to the cruise. When we checked in, the desk clerk suggested we upgrade one of our rooms to the Executive level amenities, which included Internet service, unlimited items from the minibar, and access to the lounge with breakfast, snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks for all three of us. We did, and found it well worth the incremental cost. Both of our rooms were clean, quiet, and well-appointed.
On one day, we took the train from the central train station to Helsingor so we could visit Kronberg Castle. It was cold, rainy, and windy-just perfect for wandering around the castle grounds like a brooding Hamlet. We also enjoyed walking around the old part of town.
We spent the other two days exploring Copenhagen, including Tivoli one evening.
One night, we had an excellent dinner at Restaurant Peder Oxe, which is located at Graabroedretorv 11, in a peaceful old square with several restaurants, just steps away from the Stroget. The owner also operates the restaurant directly across the square from Peder Oxe, where we had brunch one day. Both restaurants are worth seeking out.
On embarkation day, we took a taxi from the Marriott to the cruise terminal, arriving around 1:30PM. The line to check in was long, and the port staff we encountered in the terminal appeared to be well-meaning but not well trained. Different staff members gave us conflicting and inaccurate information about forms that we needed to complete, sending us back to the end of the line to fill out papers that we did not need to fill out. When we finally reached the check-in counter, the woman at the counter picked up her handbag and left without a word, presumably to take a break. The man that replaced her did not know how to check us in; eventually, the woman returned from her break and showed him what to do. I did not note the time we started the process, only the time I started to get annoyed, which was about 30 minutes before we completed checking in. We’ve taken many cruises on many lines, including out of Copenhagen, and have never encountered an embarkation remotely like this.
Once we boarded the Journey and were greeted with glasses of sparkling wine, our moods brightened considerably. We were escorted to our rooms, and Pras, the head butler, and Alvin, the assistant butler, dropped by to introduce themselves and to offer their services. Within minutes, Pras had made reservations for us in the specialty restaurants. Both Pras and Alvin were helpful throughout the cruise; whenever we were in the hallway, either Pras or Alvin always seemed to be there, asking if we needed anything. Pras was particularly helpful when we were packing to leave, magically appearing with packaging materials for some delicate items I had purchased.
Our rooms were in good condition and, like the rest of the ship, were kept spotless throughout the cruise. The two problems we reported-a slow tub drain and a difficult-to-open verandah door-were fixed immediately. We were pleased with the quality, variety, and presentation of the food in all the restaurants. We thought that the service everywhere, and especially in Aqualina where Alex and Roman took great care of us, was first rate. We never had a problem getting additional reservations in either specialty restaurant. We never had to wait for a table for three in the main dining room at lunch or at dinner. And, importantly, we never felt as though we were being rushed to make way for another party.
All the staff we encountered were overwhelmingly pleasant and helpful. When our daughter was under the weather on one particularly rocky night, at least half a dozen different staff members approached her, unasked, offering their own surefire remedies for seasickness. (After a few ginger ales, a plate of crackers, and a green apple, the seas calmed down, and she felt fine again.) We loved the mix of large and small ports, all of which we explored on our own. We especially liked it when we were the only cruise ship in port at the smaller ports. The ship provided useful information and maps about each port in advance. Often, someone from the local tourist information board came onboard to provide additional information. It was quite refreshing.
We attended the shows at the beginning of the cruise—in particular, we really enjoyed the performance by Doug Cameron, an incredible violinist. Later on, a combination of exhaustion from touring ports and queasiness from the rough seas kept us away from some of the shows.
Debarkation was simple. We walked off the ship and located our color-coded luggage dock-side. There were plenty of taxis. Port staff directed us to a taxi that would accommodate the three of us and loaded our luggage in the taxi for us. We were at the airport about 25 minutes later and on our way home shortly after that.