We boarded the ship a little after noon without any wait at all. Greeted with a glass of champaign and the chance to store our carry-ons.
Exploring the ship we found it to be reminiscent of the old cruise ships. Modern, but decorated in heavy wood with photos, paintings and other artwork throughout. I guess you could say it had the elegant look.
An hour or two later we were in our cabin. It was an inside cabin, somewhat small but perfect for our needs. Mainly to change, shower and sleep.
Since the ship is smaller than most, all the public rooms are to scale. Elevators are small, but we never waited long for one. Pool was small, but it was never crowded. The lounge chairs all had heavy conformable cushions. There was never a wait at the bar and waiter service was readily available. No one was pushing drinks. The poolside "diner" had great burgers, chicken wings, tacos and other food. My only More
complaint was that there was usually only one cook and even with two, service was slow. This was mostly due to the fact that they only have one fryolator. So if you wanted chicken wings or onion rings, you had to wait until the fries were finished.
I found the buffet area to have a large variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. Omelets, waffles & pancakes made to your specifications. Many people took advantage of the smoothies. All kinds, and with fresh fruit. The coffee wasn't bad but the machines were very, very slow. Then I noticed a pot of coffee off the the side and it was full. Waiters were always available to fill or refill your cup.
Lunch had a large variety and we loved their made to order sandwiches. At dinner there was plenty of variety, including sushi, and made to order pasta or stir-fry. Ice cream, cookies and other deserts were always available and are party responsible for the six pounds I gained.
The main dining room was elegant and food very good. We always enjoyed drinks at the martini bar before dinner. Prime C was excellent but we canceled our reservation to Aqualina because we just weren't hungry. One day there was a pork roast put on by the officers.
The shows were entertaining and never a problem getting a seat. The house orchestra, a trio that played at various parts of the ship, and a guitarist were all excellent. There was a guest lecturer who gave four lectures during sea days. They were on hurricanes, tides and tsunamis, sea exploration (who has rights to mine for minerals) and sea lore & fables. All were well attended and extremely interesting.
The art auction was very poorly attended. The works available were interesting but only a few (less then a dozen) people ever attended and only a couple of buyers.
The casino was to scale and I didn't have any complaints.
I used the gym a few times and it was never crowded. I liked the outdoor walking/jogging track albeit it is 13 times around for a mile. I just wish people would learn jogging track "etiquette." You walk or jog in a counter-clockwise direction (all track & field events as well as car races go in that direction), stay to the inside to allow passing on the outside and please, please, don't just stop short or walk onto the track in front of a jogger.
Tony, the cruise director did a fine job and he is one talented individual. Excellent singer. The officers were always around and available. Tours were given to the bridge, engine room and galley. I didn't go on the galley tour because I saw the movie Ben Hur and didn't want to get "recruited" to row.
With the exception of Guadeloupe, we got off at all the islands. From the reports of fellow travelers, Guadeloupe was dirty and dangerous. Many people walked about a block or two, saw what it was like and returned to the ship. During a "Cruise Critic" reception everyone complained about that port and advised Azamara not to return.
We took the Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran from St. Kitts to Nevis and had a wonderful time. Errol, one of the crew members from the tour department, went along and he is a riot. So was the crew. I am somewhat timid when it comes to snorkeling, but they gave me good instructions and put me at ease. We had an excellent barbecue on Nevis.
We took a Virgin Gorda tour but wish we had just gone to the baths. We had only an hour there and it was so crowded we never had the opportunity to explore the grottos.
St. Barts was really nice, of course, but expensive, of course. If you like to collect shells. They appropriately named Shell Beach and there are tons of them there. Here is a tip. Most people tell you you have to walk up a steep hill to get there. Go up Victor Hugo Rue till you get to the base of the hill. Turn right, follow that street to the end and left to the beach. No hill to climb.
On St. Martin we took the Orient Beach tour and loved it. This is out third time on that tour and find it convenient. However, next time we will take a taxi, pay about $10 euro for a chair and umbrella and get to stay longer. Some of our friends went to Sunset Beach Bar to watch the planes come in. You can almost touch the big jets landing there.
Also, regarding Orient Beach, there is an all nude section. Unfortunately, I again confirmed this year that there should be a law about some people taking their clothes off in public.
On St. Lucia were booked a private tour and got to see a portion of the island. The cruise port is NOT a short walk to town, but it is a nice port and the city/town seemed cleaner than most islands.
Disembarkation was quick and easy.
In summary, this was a fantastic cruise. We met some wonderful people, had lots of laughs and felt the food and service were excellent. Although the drink prices tended to be higher than other cruise lines.
Unlike many others who were on this cruise, we have never been on a "high end," "luxury" type vessel. We managed to get an excellent "deal" on the cost of this cruise and are grateful for the experience. However, it appears Azamara is raising its prices to a level beyond our means. I understand why they have to so it, but we are disappointed that we will be unable to cruise on this wonderful line.
I highly recommend a Caribbean cruise on the Journey. Less