Okay, Thought to try and give a good well balanced review of a 14 night back to back cruise on Azamara Journey that took me to 10 ports of call. We had booked a inside cabin and had high hopes of getting an upgrade. Immediately upon boarding we went to guest relations and asked about it and got an immediate upgrade to a Veranda cabin...for a small fee that was reasonable beyond words. This was my first veranda and I am now ruined I must say. Nothing better than sitting on the balcony in a scenic port of call at the end of the day.
The Cabin was in very good shape, neatly arranged and all space was sufficient for two women traveling together. I had to have my suitcase stored by the steward and that was taken care of promptly. The bath was tiny...but it was efficient. Not a fan of the shower curtain and the daily lamination, but it was of good quality. Bed linens were VERY comfortable and clean. Absolutely nothing negative to say in this regard. However, in the second week of our trip we had to switch cabins and this cabin(6048) was in need of some TLC which I am sure they are taking care of. The hot water in that shower was unpredictable at best and the shower curtain in that shower was a bit worn and tired. The towels were always luxurious Turkish cotton and I just loved them.
The crew was outstanding and not enough can be said about their professionalism and genuine caring attitudes. I say genuine because it is my feeling that they were not canned responses they gave to the passengers but well thought out meaningful responses. It made everyone feel special.
The food was fantastic. I ate at Prime C and Aqualina and my cruise mate like Aqualina over Prime C, while I proffered Prime C. Regardless, it was a fabulous meal and very quiet and relaxing for both restaurants. The main dining room was equally as good with the usual busy hubbub of the main dining room. Service was always good there and the wine was ALWAYS kept full. Speaking of the wine, the complimentary wine was very good however not what I expected it to be. Alot of Chilean, South African and Australian, New Zealand wines as well as a few Italian wines. I fully expected the wines to have a theme regarding the cruise such as since we were in the Med. there would have been wines only from that region. But, that is not to say this is a complaint(only a suggestion) as only a few of the wines were not to my taste and a bit heavy(I prefer red wines).
The entertainment was great. I typically do not do any shows as I prefer a more intimate surround for socializing. This is why we promptly found Jaqueline, the harpist who performs in the Martini bar nightly and Dan Daly who performs in the Cova Cafe to be a perfect fit for us and not a night went by that we did not listen to their beautiful music. There was also a guitarist that performed in the Windows Cafe nightly and played fabulously, especially Santana among many.
The pool area was very comfortable and even on the busiest days a lounger could be found. What a lounger it is too...soft and cozy and I never wanted to get up once I lay down. They seem to have a running tally of loungers they maintain and so none were in bad repair. The pool was nice if only a bit tired around the tiles...I think a sprucing of the tiles will do wonders for all the negativity regarding the pool area. The hot tubs were not really to my taste...no jets really so a bit disappointing. I imagine it is the next thing on the refurbish list but will have to be done when in dock for several weeks. They had redone the Thalassotherapy pool to our chagrin and so was not available the first week or half the second week. But, when we finally got to see it we were pleased. Beautiful deck furniture of teak and this gorgeous glass tile used on the tub itself...would be fantastic if they did the pool in the same tile.
Did not use the casino except for the cruise critic meet and greet, which is provided regardless if there is only one person or 25...so no worries for those concerned in this area. We got that straight from the Cruise Director and stated as a company policy. The Casino lounge has some very comfy chairs though and being smoke free makes it a good place to sit where it is quiet. Another good quiet spot is Michael's library. Cozy bookshelves and leather chairs with comfy sofas...I fell asleep on the sofa our last day at sea and had to make myself get up when people started floating in.
Laundry service was efficient and what we turned in the afternoon was sent back the next morning. One thing I did note was the two sea days we had one each week. They were chocked full of activities and we did get the chance to take a bridge tour which was fascinating. I was extremely disappointed that there was no guest lecturer and although both weeks were very busy itineraries I do believe there was time for a lecture in there. That is the biggest negative I have regarding the week. They did say the lecturer had been booked for the first week but had to back out. Another great activity was Zorba dancing with captain Theodoru(I just know I spelled that wrong so please forgive me Captain). He is a great fun-loving man who is warm and considerate. We got to eat dinner with him in our second week and also was fortunate enough to have two vice presidents from RCI there as well, one for hotel rest. management and one for refurbishment. They were gracious as well and wanted honest up front answers regarding what needed changing on the ship. At that point it was only the hot tubs and cold showers...We told them that they were doing a great job and to keep it up.
This was our third time to Athens but it was my mother-in-laws first time. We booked a private driver to alleviate any stress and since it was the end of the first half of the cruise my husband and MIL was able to be dropped at their hotel. We saw the new Acropolis museum...which is very well thought out and now is in perfect order for the UK to return those Elgin Marbles:) Honestly, it was a good museum and was our main reason for returning to the city. The Parthenon was great as always and is now free of most of the scaffolding that has been there the past two times we had visited. Our return to our ship was effortless and probably aided by the fact it was a Sunday.
Katakolon was our last port of call for the trip. We booked a ship tour because I wanted to see the acclaimed archeology museum in Olympia. We booked for Olympia, archeology museum and a winery tour/tasting. However, the tour was terribly rushed most of the way through it. We probably should have called into port earlier to allow for these tours. The guide was okay, but frustrated by the rush. We ended on a high note at the winery and some delicious wine. Sang and danced back to the ship on our bus which was great fun. I should note that the Archeology museum was a fairly good one but smaller than I expected it to be. But, I probably did not get to appreciate it as it should have been due to the rush.
First two ports of the next week was Kusadasi Turkey and Bodrum, Turkey. Kusadasi was a beautiful as always and equally as crowded. We did want to return simply because we had neglected to visit the terrace houses when there the first time a few years ago. I highly recommend visiting this ancient site and the Terrace Houses are a MUST DO. We had booked a private guide for this port and was not disappointed. Remember to wear good shoes when going to Kusadasi and good head wear. It was rather warm and the crowds were a bit overpowering at times. There is a show they put on on the site that many seemed to enjoy but we were simply not interested as it seemed a bit tacky.
Bodrum Turkey was fantastic. We opted to walk the mile or so from our ship to the fortress where the underwater archeology museum was. It was a lovely walk and passed beautiful beaches and shops just opening for the day. If you are able to walk it I recommend doing so. The fortress was beautiful and had a gorgeous view of the bay and the sea beyond. The museum was very interesting and well thought out but my friend thought seeing one recovered amphora after another a bit tiring. There were peacocks on the grounds to entertain and peak your interest when you heard them call. There is alot of climbing to do the tour and there is a long tour and short tour marked for the tourists. Although it is not always clearly marked. Can be strenuous if it is too hot I would imagine. However, we had beautiful weather that day. Had a lovely lunch looking at the bay on the way back to the ship.
Rhondes Greece and Mykonos, Greece was our next ports of call. I had been to both before so opted to just wander the village for the day and get off the beat and path a bit. It was a lovely adventure where you could see content Greek ladies peaking out from the shade of their cool homes and saying things to us that we have no idea what it was...but, I am sure it was a nice greeting. We eventually stopped for a lovely Greek beer and eventually a lovely Greek feast...not at all intended. Remember that you should ask how big the portions are as we thought we were ordering a few meses and it turned into a meal of mass proportions. The place we ate was wonderful and I cannot remember the name of the taverna...or I would mention it here. Mykonos is a great port that has Delos which I had visited and my cruise mate was not interested in seeing. We wanted another relaxing day, so just wandered the town and looked in the shops which are many. We had a snack and the highly aclaimed Jimmy's Gyros and it was mouth watering good with a delicious Heineken. Then we wondered some more and relaxed looking at the bay. After awhile we decided we were hungry and ate again at the very restaurant where The Bourne Identity ends.
Santorini...ah, my happy place. I dare anyone to visit there and not come away smiling. The sky is always beautiful and the buildings pristine white. We rented a car(as this was our third time here and knew the island well). Anyone who goes and expects to see the ancient site of akrotiri be warned it is closed until further notice since some people were killed when the roof collapsed on tourists, I think this was just after we saw it too. However, there is plenty to do...we drove to the black sand beaches of Kamari on the opposite side of the island and had a lovely lunch. Then we drove to Santo winery for a tasting with gorgeous views. Then we explored Oia, at a leisurely pace. The day was perfect.
After Santorini we went to Nauplion, Greece. We booked the ships tour to get to see the ancient city of the Mycenae and Agamemnon. It was a good tour and the guide was knowledgeable. We were not rushed in the least and had ample time to see the museum, ruins and even see the bee hive tomb close by. we got back early enough to explore the town of Nauplion a bit and have a lovely lunch. Wandering through these towns is highly recommended to see where your feet will take you.
I only have room for six ports of call so I will combine a few of these that is very easy. Split Croatia was a beautiful town with a beautiful market and the city was built in among the ruins. It was done easily in just a few hours and while it was picturesque I would not recommend going again. Kotor Montenegro was fantastic...absolutely amazing little town that is walled in. Friendly people and tiny streets...made it picturesque. There was a fortress you could walk to, or should I say hike? It was a steep hike up a rough trail. Well worth the walk and highly recommended but make sure you have good walking shoes.