Our sailing aboard the Azamara Journey was one of the best we have ever taken out of our 72 cruises. We sailed as dance instructors on this trip - our category is that of guest enrichment. As such we enjoy full passenger status in exchange for our teaching ballroom dancing. It could not have been a better trip. We were treated exactly the same as any other passenger and enjoyed all of the benefits and amenities as well. Not always the case on other cruise lines we have sailed.
We were assigned an outside obstructed cabin. You probably have read that the cabins on these ships are somewhat small and ours was although beautifully laid out and majestically furnished. The bathroom is small but adequate as long as you don't mind making friends with your shower curtain. The linens are very superior to all other ships we have sailed on. The view - not much - but still bright! Robes, slippers, umbrella, binoculars, and superior bathroom amenities are all provided - equivalent to a suite on other lines. A couple of nights out we received a beautiful passport wallet, very nice heavy duty carry bag, and a gorgeous metal picture frame along with a Holiday card personally signed by the Captain and all senior officers.
Journey does not have the glitz and glamor of the large mega ships. Capacity is 690, but we sailed with only 340. It was more like a floating country club than a cruise ship. The Captain was always around - one fellow passenger described him as a Social Butterfly! But so was the Hotel Manager and other senior officers. This resulted in service far superior to any received on other cruise lines (and we are Princess elite). The staff could not do enough for you.
Azamara has also gone to an all inclusive policy. Our bill after 16 nights was $333. And of that about 1/2 was for internet!! Another $100 was for jewelry in the shop. Bar bill ??? $8 - With free flowing wine at lunch and dinner there is no need to bring or buy any!
Also, there is no effort made to sell anything - a very refreshing change from past cruises. The photo shop is hidden away and depending on your route, you might not even see it. There was a shore excursion sheet the first day, but never again. There are no recommended shopping info sheets, but rather truly interesting print outs for the various ports.
The cruise director, Eric De Gray was the most talented individual we have ever sailed with. His talents defy description and could take an entire review!
There is not much cruise staff and not a lot of activities, but yet still plenty to do for those interested.
We had a top notch duo in the Looking Glass - a beautiful lounge overlooking the front of the ship - think Crow's Nest on HAL. The showroom is small and sight lines are not very good, but there are no production shows so this is not really a problem. There was a variety of guest entertainers and some amazing performances by Eric and the ship's staff.
We go to dance, not eat. The food was very good. Most of the time we ate in Windows (the buffet) and it was great most of the time. Not so much on Indian night as EVERYTHING was Indian. Need to offer some alternatives! The dining room is a beautiful room. Two meals there. First typical of about 2 hours. Second was very bad with nearly 45 min without wine and over an hour before first course! We saw many supervisors in Windows, but apparently none in Discoveries. We ate in the two alternative restaurants and both were absolutely marvelous and well worth the $15. Left a $10 tip each time, but otherwise all tips are included. This was not necessary, but well deserved.
If you like wine, you will love this ship. Wine is free flowing at lunch and dinner. You can take it with you and even drop in Windows to get a glass to go. There does not seem to be any restrictions! The wine changes every day and was always excellent. There is also an interesting 1/2 price deal on bottles of wine that also changes every day. One day Rosemont Merlot was $14 a bottle (Costco price is about $10). Although an amazing deal, we did not see anyone buying wine as the wine being poured was always great!
Embarkation and Disembarkation were unbelievable. We arrived in early afternoon and thought we were the only ones boarding! In San Diego, we were in Windows when our color was called, went to our cabin for our carry on and down one floor to leave and we were the only ones leaving! Reminded us of the Delta Queen!! Could not have been easier.
While there is always room for improvement, Azamara tries harder than any other cruise line we have been on to accommodate passenger wishes. They have an interesting niche market to exploit. On paper they compare with Crystal, Seaborne etc. While we have not sailed on those top lines, we can say that they are far superior to the product on the major cruise lines and comparison might better be made to the best accommodations and highest past passenger amenities provided on those lines.
There are no accommodations made for children so it is not a family cruise line choice.
We are not leaving any Port reviews as we rarely get off the ship. We were amazed at how Cabo San Lucas has changed since we were last there 6-8 years ago. It was delightful.