Regular readers will know I have a bias against writing anecdotal reviews, even though I love reading them when others write them. So, here is the A to Z of our AZamara Journey cruise on the Sea of Cortez itinerary.
A is for a five star dinner in Aqualina one of two specialty restaurants which are a bargain for just $15pp. A is for the Appetizers in the main Discoveries Restaurant. They were often so tempting, perfect in size and presentation I ordered two.
B is for the Benefits for Le Club Voyage Discoverer level. Have to love the internet minutes, the laundry voucher and the complimentary drinks at parties. B is for Bar Service [Sham, Sladjana, Metrizal, Michael, Cesar, Rea were all stars! - just to name a few]. B is for my Beef with Bottled water. Research has shown that this is less healthy and less environmentally sound than good tap water.... time to re-think this complimentary service and at least offer a choice in staterooms.
C is for Cleanliness. Journey may just be the cleanest ship we have sailed upon so far. C is also for Complimentary wines and coffees; no complaints here. C is also for Cruise Critics roll call which led us to a privately operated Whale Watching cruise in Cabo. What a day; what pctures!
D is for Dinner in Discoveries Restaurant where the new menus are delightful. D is for Doctor Elif, a wonderful friendly officer. D is for a very smooth Disembarkation; also for Daniel who was everywhere supervising restaurant service.
E is for Early Embarkation; we arrived at 11.30 and were sipping wine with lunch at noon; stateroom ready announcement at 12.35; luggage by 1.30. E is for Eric. He is quite obviously the best Cruise Director yet [the queen outfit on rollerblades has to be seen to be believed - he is not paid enough!]. E is for Erwin who with Darwin provided super service in our stateroom; a “winning” team.
F is for Free Shuttles in ports where needed. F is for Fifty per cent off wine choices each day and off drinks at Discoverer benefit Happy Hour. We thoroughly enjoyed spending a little more to match wine with food in Aqualina and Discoveries from time to time.
G is for Guest Relations. The team was witty, patient, efficient at all times. G is for Guaymas camarones. Chef Lisa went shopping ashore and brought back the most gigantic shrimp of all time. They were pan fried in Windows Cafe that night and we just happened to dine there!
H is for Heike the Hotel Manager with the mostest [with great support from F and B Scott and Chief Housekeeper Dace, this ‘hotel’ is five star]. H is for the High Five walk of the waiters around deck 10; an illustration of the happy bunch of servers who enjoy their work.
I is for Ibrahim who along with Dogan provided exemplary service in Discoveries and anywhere else we met them. I is for Inaccurate sunset and sunrise times in the Daily which some days had this photographer on deck ready to take pictures .... at the wrong time.
J is for Johannes Tysse; the drollest and wittiest Captain ever to steer a ship when we cruised. Those noon announcements should be available on CDs. J is for Jacqueline whose playing of the harp and singing were amongst our favourite events. J is for the Jolly dolphins who appeared on cue and played alongside [when Johannes said we were purposely 47km off course to find them].
K is for Kudos for the low Key sales approach on Journey. Much appreciated. Glad the art auction has gone.
L is for Lisa. Imagine being the only female out of 60 working in the various galleys and being the boss of the other 59. Her shopping trips ashore for local seafood produced highlight dishes. L is for Laurentia, a sommelier with a smile and informative service. We feel so lucky to be two of the nine to participate in her Connoisseur dinner [six courses, five wines, $60] with Chef Hector presiding in the galley of Prime C.
M is for Mexican entertainers who were invited on board to perform in the Cabaret and on the pool deck whenever we were in port long enough. Loved those 7 year old dancers and the Mariachi brass players. M is for Mario and his skill placing us in Discoveries for dinner.
N is for Nathalia and her charming hosting of Le Club Voyage [and selling us our next Azamara cruise - tough to wait till 2012].
O is for Open Air buffets [and the buffet brunch too]. A well oiled machine of staff convert the pool area or a restaurant into an unrecognizable buffet area; tables and chairs even on the jogging track, with blankets provided too. And the decor and fruit and ice carvings provide the atmosphere.
P is for the Poor lighting in Prime C which made it difficult to see the wines and food presentation during the Connoisseur dinner at the high tables by the cellar.
Q is for Quintet; the group of the Journey Orchestra who played standards in the Mosaic Cafe one afternoon [come to think of it, any combination of these fine musicians was a delight to listen to at any time]. Q is for Quality of food offered. We had difficulty choosing between specialty restaurant, Discoveries and Windows Cafe for dinner. And those bites in Mosaic were moreish.
R is for the Rotation of complimentary wines. The wines changed daily with at least 8 countries represented, then began repeating on day 8. Always pleasant, sometimes very good. The whites are served too cold for my taste, but my palm soon warmed the glass[es].
R is also for Re-unions with staff who were on Quest in Oct 2009 and other Celebrity ships, and with CCs who go further back than that to trans-Atlantic on Century and Alaska on Summit.
S is for the Short promenade deck where my compulsive deck walking took place when the jogging track was too windy. Less than 100m long, but the view is great.
T is for Typos. The Daily and the graphics on channel 14 need more careful proof-reading [overnight low of 1C? Jamilla is ‘shinning’?]. T is also for Trays; of which there are none. That makes the line in Windows at meal times move more quickly [and perhaps reduces too much food being taken and then wasted].
U is for Ultra healthy. For a change we did not hear the too frequent coughing start on day 4 or 5 which happens on other ships; we did not need Immodium or Tums. The attention to cleanliness is very serious.
U is for Unfortunately this is the last of the Sea of Cortez itineraries for 2011 and 2012. We could easily [and often?] repeat this cruise with its ideal length and varied ports.
V is for Volume on the TV in the stateroom. The Variation from channel to channel means switching can result in a blast of noise. Really annoying when there is a channel surfer in the neighbouring stateroom .
W is for Windows Cafe smoothies; which are complimentary on Journey. And W is for waiters who will take an order for one from me at the table and do the standing in line to wait for it to be made. W is also for weather on this itinerary at this time - outstanding.
X is for the XL jacket my wife bought for me in the shop. It fits even though I am normally an M. I will proudly wear it with its discreet Azamara Journey embroidered on it.
Y is for the Yellow Fin Tuna Chef Lisa bought ashore and served at the International Buffet!
Z is for the Zingers that the Captain worked into his speeches and announcements. AAA map indeed; identical twin brother Eric.... and many more.
I will leave it to the reader of this oddball review to decide whether we enjoyed our cruise. Weigh the compliments and criticisms and it should be obvious?