This was our first cruise on Azamara Club Cruises after 10 voyages on Celebrity (we've been on all of the M class ships, with Constellation being our favorite) and traveled last year on the Equinox. We are two sisters, aged 41 and 48, and we cruise with our mother who is 70. Overall, we liked the intimate feel of the ship and the interesting ports of call. We appreciated the visible presence of the senior officers, especially when they served gelato on the pool deck. We enjoyed the delicious food and the flexible open seating - more like eating at a restaurant than eating with 2,000 of your nearest and dearest friends at once. With the caveat that these are one person's opinions, here is a review of our journey on Journey.
We arrived just after 1:00 p.m. to an empty terminal. After a quick few minutes of processing and sea pass making, we were up the gangway and to our stateroom.
We chose cabin 7041 - midship and close to the elevator. Our attendant was Wayan and his assistant was Maxim - both were excellent in keeping our stateroom clean and full of fresh towels, lotion, and hair products. This stateroom is very quiet with rooms both above and below. The bathroom is a bit smaller than we are accustomed to, especially compared to Celebrity's S class ships and we didn't care for the shower curtain that seemed to stick to all the parts you are trying to wash. The best way we found to shave our legs was to sit on the toilet and use the sink as a washbasin. The Elemis soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner are excellent.
We were disappointed in the entertainment - the offerings were just not our cup of tea and we did not care for the cruise director (Tony) or his flamboyant singing. We went to three of the production shows (left early from two of them) and found the singing and music selection to be not to our taste. The singers, for the most part, are talented, but we did not care for the pool band (Carla and Ray). While we were disappointed in the main stage entertainment, there were plenty of pockets of lovely music to be found all over the ship and we never lacked for anything to do.
We enjoyed the MDR very much and especially enjoyed when we were seated at one of Boris's tables. He picked up on our preferences right away and was a friendly helper at breakfast and lunch, too. Some menu highlights - French onion soup, apple trio of desserts, all of the beef dishes, goat cheese and potato appetizer, and the veal.
We ate once each in Prime C and Aqualina. While we enjoyed both, we particularly enjoyed Prime C and extra attentive service from Jose. The goat cheese soufflE is all that everyone has written about - light, fluffy, and rich at the same time. The filet was cooked perfectly - four different ways for four different people. And, we especially enjoyed the donuts with the dipping sauces.
We appreciated the extra effort chef Lisa and her team took to plan several outdoor barbecues. Between the fresh fish brought on in St. Marteen, to the escargot, to the prepared just for you meats, to the many desserts, both our eyes and our bellies were well fed. It was hard to find seating, but Boris and his assistant, Terrence, were always helpful in that regard.
Ports of Call:
It's a bit less convenient to take tenders rather than dock, but with less than 700 people aboard, the lines were never long. We like to snuba dive and snorkel. With relatively few "active" excursions offered, it suited us to plan our own days rather than purchase ship excursions. Here's what we did.
St. John - We took a taxi to Trunk Bay. Rental chairs cost $7. We used our own snorkel equipment for the snorkel trail. Though the signs identifying the fish were fun and useful, we've enjoyed snorkeling a bit more at other locations.
St. Martin - We browsed town for a bit of shopping and then we took a taxi to Orient Beach. We hit a bit of inclement, rainy and windy weather, but we persisted. On a sunny day, this would be a very active beach.
St. Kitts - We took a taxi to the Marriott and purchased a day pass. For $35 each we enjoyed use of the facilities and stored our belongings in a locker in the spa. The day pass offered a complimentary drink and 10% off at the restaurant. We took advantage of both. After a full day of swimming, we had the best shower of our entire trip at the Marriott spa.
Antigua - We purchased the ship excursion to Crusoe Island. After a short bus ride and a short boat ride, approximately 50 passengers enjoyed this island all to ourselves. Each person was given a beach chair and umbrella. Ample snacks were passed around and the guides arranged for snorkeling, though you can explore on your own, too. The lunch was delicious - curry, chicken, fish, green salad, macaroni and cheese, and more. Though we enjoyed this excursion, we would try something different next time. Variety is the spice of life.
St. Barths - With an overnight stay on this island, we enjoyed the opportunity to slow down a bit and enjoy the scenery featuring multi-million dollar yachts. We shopped in the very expensive boutiques in the morning and went to St. Jean beach by taxi ($25 each way) in the afternoon. We found some excellent, unescorted snorkeling on the far right side of the beach close to the rocks. The next day we walked to Shell Beach and rented two chairs and an umbrella ($56) from the Do Brazil restaurant. While we didn't bring our snorkel equipment, we wish we had. It looks like there might have been some snorkeling near the rocks here, too.
Virgin Gorda (Tortola) - We were to have anchored in Virgin Gordon, but windy weather prevented us from doing so. With some much appreciated shuffling and very difficult docking, the captain arranged for port time 12 miles away in Tortola. The guest relations crew had maps and beach suggestions readily available. We took a brief taxi to Cane Bay beach where chair rental cost $5 each, a nice break from St. Barth's prices. Not the best beach for snorkeling, but we enjoyed our day. It was fun to watch the pelicans diving for their lunch.
We each used the salon and spa for several treatments, including Thai poultice massage, seaweed wrap massage, manicures, and pedicures. I was a bit annoyed by the masseuse who asked if I planned to have any other treatments before she even touched me. Turned out that I enjoyed her services and booked another, but don't ask me before. Manicure and pedicures were okay, but the polish was put on too thickly. We both ruined our manicures and pedicures - after three hours you'd think the polish was dry, but it wasn't.
We very much enjoyed the little touches on Azamara, especially towels and bottled water available at the gangway, mobile spa treatments at the pool, interesting passengers and ports, and very attentive service. With no departures from Florida next year, it is likely that we will return to Celebrity, but would be open to returning to Azamara as long as mom doesn't have to get on an airplane.