Our trip to the Antarctic on the Azamara Journey was by far the best criuse we have ever done. The Captain set the tone of the voyage as he was friendly and visible throughout and this attidude went for the whole crew from the Cruise Director (Eric) to the waiters and the room stewards. Nothing was too much for them.
Embarkation in Buenos Airies was fast and stress free with the Captain at the end of the steps to welcome each passenger (as he was at the end of the cruise to say farewell). We were welcomed with Champagne and taken to our stateroom where there was fresh flowers and a bowl of fruit. It was immaculate and kept that way throughout the trip by Aldo. In fact we had fresh flowers and fruit on a daily basis - not a mean feat in the Antarctic Ice.
The voyage was fantastic. Out first port of call on day four was the Falkland Islands - a place we never thought was would get to. We took a trip to Bluff Cove to see the penguins (Gentoo, King and Magellenic) then discovered Port Stantley on our own. It was good to see that most of the crew were able to get ashore and also go on the tours - treated by the Captain. We later saw our room stewards photographs as he was very excited by this particular cruise.
After this we headed out over the Drake Passage and into the Antarctic Peninsula. The passage down was very kind to us and day six saw us passing Elephant Island and heading into Iceberg Alley. Incedibly scenic. Later we carried on Southwards and day seven brought us into Paradise Bay having spent the morning at the Chilean Research base. Researchers were invited on board to chat to the passengers about their work - very interesting. Later the crew took on a small piece of an iceberg which was used for our drinks - it was quite safe to do so. We saw several further research stations over the course of the next couple of days including the British one. Day seven and we were off Deception Island. Unfortunately the weather had changed and it was too windy to negotiate the narrow passage to enter the crater - a little disappointing. The following day we turned back into the Drake passage - not so calm this time so we could appreciate what the sailors went through in the pioneering days.
Our next port of call was Ushaia where we spent the day at the National Park of Terra Del Fuego then we sailed for Cape Horn which we circumnavigated in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately the weather was still not kind as it was both cold and misty but it was good to have done this. Then it was two days of sailing to reach Puerto Madryn and the Peninsula Valdez National Park then again further sailing days to get back to Buenos Airies and our flight home.
Entertainment was very good indeed and in keeping with the age range of the passengers. A lot better than we had been expecting given the size of the ship.
The whole voyage was fantastic and the little touches made it better than expected such as certificates for going to Antarctica and rounding Cape Horn (individually named for each passenger and signed by the Captain)together with a voyage map, the chats with the Chilean researchers, the iceberg ice in our drinks, the lectures by a retired astronaut and others and the lack of the culture of trying to get more cash from the passengers for all extras. We had only a very small (less than $100) account at the end of the cruise - and this was mostly for the CD of the photographs taken by the ships photographer.
All in all this cruise was fantastic and we will definitely cruise with Azamara again.