Azamara Journey, January 31, 2010 This was the cruise that almost did not happen due to my wifes unexpected back Surgery just over 2 weeks prior to departure. We are normally very active and our normal cruising is go go go.... This trip was different, as it was a recovery time for my wife.
We flew Delta first class the day prior from Milwaukee, via Detroit. All I can say is Deltas "first class" is worst class. The planes were dirty, worn and the food served in First class was comparable to what you would buy in the week old sandwich section of A "C" store. Our night prior to boarding was spent at the FLL airport Hilton. I booked this room in November on Orbitz at a reasonable rate. When we finally arrived After a Delta delay, the front desk told us they had limited rooms available and put us in #701 Why do I give the room number? Never accept this room or #801 as they are directly below all the elevator motors and equipment. I went to the front desk and asked for a different room, all they gave me was a comment you booked thru Orbitz and this is what you get. They actually gave us earplugs too. I can sleep thru anything, but did not thru the elevator noises.
Sunday we were picked up by a private limo well worth the $75 charge to the port of Miami, Especially with my wife's back situation. Boarding was a breeze, and we were having lunch by 12:45 in the windows cafe. I have to say the Azamara staff went out of their way to accommodate my wifes in-abiltity to sit for any length of time. They got our balcony stateroom ready early for us so she could lay down, they brought different chairs to the dining areas for her and were very fast at serving us per our requests.
This was our second trip on the Journey, the staff was as we remembered, kind, helpful and genuinely caring about their passengers. The captain was new and not nearly as Personable as the one we had last April He did like the specialty restaurants as he was there a lot. (His belly looked like it too!) I really think the quality of food was better on our previous trip in April, We had tough Steaks without much flavor in prime c. The food in Aqualina was quite good, Wife had the Sea bass and it was excellent. I had the lamb, it too was very good. Main dining food was very hit and miss. We made a habit of ordering apps via room service before we went to dinner. Normally we ordered 2 shrimp cocktails and one other "App. of the day". This made our dining room time much shorter with only a soup or salad and entrEe ordered. I think windows cafe needs a bit of a food upgrade, lunches were much the same cafeteria type food and after a few days it was hard to find something appetizing. Azamara must have gotten a deal on chicken as it was served in abundance! Two nights they had bbq buffets, both were very good, Pedro, the morning egg cook, Noon sandwich maker and evening grillmaster did an excellent job manning the charcoal grills. The shrimp and lamb were very good. I felt very sorry for him a number of times as a some passengers were rude, a please and thank you goes a long way!
One observation we made was a cutback in quantity not quality of staff. There were times where they just seemed rushed and overworked. Ports were a non issue with us, especially the tender ones, we stayed on the ship, and relaxed. We did get off and do some shopping damage and have a few Piton beers in St Lucia. By the last few days of the trip, my wife made it to the casino a few times for some short spells at the blackjack table. All the dealers were friendly and helpful.. I have to comment on one bartender in particular. Angelburt is his name, he works the casino bar evenings. What a great asset you have Azamara! Angeburt, The "drainers and their friends miss you!! Overall, it was a relaxing time, The Caribbean may not be the best for the Journey as the sea days seemed overcrowded by the pool area with the chair hogs that Stake out a chair but rarely show up to us them making it worse.
Entertainment was non existent in my opinion, the piano player by the cova cafe had a following but I suspect most of them were deaf. Since it was a Caribbean cruise, I did expect to hear some Caribbean Music, but all we got was one or two Jimmy Buffet songs. I was also surprised at the median age of the passengers which was ancient, in the Med It was a much more balanced age group. Condition of the ship was good, not as bad as some posts in the boards area, they do need some new furniture within the next year or so but overall the ship looked well maintained.
I think we will try something different in the Caribbean in the future, however We do have 2 weeks booked in September on the Journey and a 2 week Asia cruise on the Quest January of 11 that we are looking forward to. We will then see how the "new Azamara " Stacks up to the old one. Hopefully the main dining room and windows get a bit of a needed food upgrade.