My wife and I made our first cruise to Europe and our first Azamara experience on the April 25th Barcelona to Venice sailing. We have previously sailed on a number of Royal Caribbean ships(have grown to hate the Windjammer) and the Celebrity Solstice. We can unreservedly say that our experience on the Journey was by far the best yet, and we already have booked for another European cruise next Spring. The small size of the Journey made for a very relaxed vacation without the crowds and stress of the larger ships such as the Freedom, Let me say that my wife and I do not cruise for the glitzy, resort-type activities, i.e. casino, shows, etc., but very much enjoy good food and service. For us sipping a nice cup of coffee at Cafe Cova and enjoying a first-class spa treatment is plenty of excitement. For our needs the Journey was a perfect fit. Our stateroom was plenty large for the two of us, and our cabin steward was first-rate. When we had a problem with our door lock it was promptly attended to. We felt sorry for the first worker who tried to get in by climbing over the balcony in the adjoining cabin. Unfortunately, our sliding glass door was locked.
The food was uniformly excellent. We ate at Prime C twice where Marco provided outstanding service. I particularly enjoyed the Kobe beef sliders, while my wife raved about the mini-cinnamon donuts. Aqualina was also good. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food and presentation in the main dining room, which far exceeded our main dining experience on either RC or Celebrity. The complementary wines were certainly a pleasant addition and it was nice not to have to whip out the Seapass card every time we wanted a refill.
My wife is a massage therapist and quite picky about spa treatments. She signed up for the massage deal offered at the start of the cruise, and also had a hot oil hair treatment. I had the hot oil and a shave, which is one of my special treats. The service provided by the wonderful Tamron and Teegan greatly contributed to our cruise experience and we certainly hope they are still with the Journey next year. I am a competitive bodybuilder so the gym was important to me. The facility was adequate, though the weights could have been heavier. Likewise it could have used either a smith machine or some more leg equipment. However, I made do and for the bulk of the passengers I am sure it was just fine. Maurice the fitness instructor was quite nice and always greeted me with a smile. We enjoyed all the ports.
We flew in to Barcelona a day early, thankfully missing the volcanic ash, and stayed at the Marina Grand Eurostars near the port which was first rate. We spend the day roaming Las Ramblas and, despite all the dire warnings, saw no sign of pickpockets. We did the ships excursion to Pompeii at Sorrento which had an excellent guide. We also did the ships tour of the old city of Taormina which we enjoyed. Taormina with its gorgeous setting overlooking the sea, was probably our favorite port. We also particularly enjoyed walking the walls of the old city in Dubrovnik. We stayed a couple of days post-cruise in Venice which I would highly recommend. Rather than a hotel we stayed at the Al Palazatto bed and breakfast which was quite cozy and centrally located. Once we figured out the water taxis getting around was breeze.
All in all, the Journey was perfect for an adult vacation, and we can't wait to next April to board her in Rome next May.