This was our second Azamara Cruise and first time on Journey, the identical twin of the Quest. In fact, we had the same exact cabin (7005 - Club Ocean Suite) as we did on the Quest, and imagine our surprise to have the same Butler, Alwyn! There were many familiar faces on board from the Quest, so we felt at home right away.
The Journey is well-maintained and our suite was just as we remembered on the Quest. Tons of closet space, plenty of outlets, and the wonderful huge forward facing veranda.
The highlight of staying in a top-category suite on the Journey for us was certainly the "Best of the Best" dinner. Held once per voyage, this formal dinner is set in the Drawing Room with background music provided by the excellent harpist, Jacqueline Dolan. Guests are welcomed with a flute of champagne. Candles, white linens, long table set with fine china - this is right out of the days of classic steamships and is a special perk only for guests in the four Club Ocean Suites on the front of the ship, and the six Club World Owner's Suites located aft. Dinner was hosted by Johannes Tysse (Master of the Vessel), Magnus Davidson (Staff Captain), Nikolaos Baltsavias (Chief Engineer), and Heike Berdos (Hotel Director). Couples are seated together at formal place settings complete with name cards, and the officers are interspersed, making for easy conversation. Interestingly, there were 8 couples in attendance, suggesting that 2 suites may be empty or those guests opted for less formal dining. (There are about 480 total passengers on board.)
Service is a classic "Ballet of Service" provided by the ship's white-gloved butlers who were keen to show off their training. Executive Chef Fabio D'Agosta prepared the meal, and wine pairings were orchestrated by Angelbert Macalinao, the Sommelier.
After a toast by the Ship's Master, the culinary magic began. Last night's first course was called "Royal Dome" and consisted of jumbo shrimp on salmon, avocado, and crab tartare with chives and smoked mousseline this was paired with a Bollini Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy.
The second course was decadent. Seared foie gras on honey walnut raisin bread with hazelnut roasted figs and black current syrup. The bright acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Bois in Geyserville, California was the perfect foil for the richness of the foie.
To cleanse the palate, chef offered a delightful lemon and basil sorbet, which delighted in both taste and aroma.
The main course was a choice of parmesan crusted Chilean sea bass with saffron risotto, sun-dried tomato pesto, and basil infused oil matched with a Pouilly-Fuisse from Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France or a "contemporary Tournedos Rossini" of veal tenderloin, Madeira jus, truffle oil, and yes, more foie gras - paired with a dark and luscious Merryvale, Starmont, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.
Dinner conversation revolved mainly around the world travels of guests and officers - Heike shared her tip for the best Tango show in Buenos Aries. (This morning we found she had slipped a brochure under our door!)
To top things off, Chef Fabio created a "surprise" for dessert - and indeed it was a bit of culinary sleight of hand. I'll keep it a surprise for the next guest!
After dinner, a bit of Warre's 2003 LBV porto was offered, along with coffee and tea. Ladies were offered lovely long-stemmed red roses as we said our thank-yous and good-nights to the officers.
Dinner ran from 7 pm to just about 20 minutes til 10 pm, so we missed the start of the show.
Others have commented before about the friendliness of the crew, the intimacy of the ship (without feeling crowded), and other highlights. Suffice it say, my take is that anyone who loves food and wine will very much love the "suite life" on an Azamara Club Cruise.