I have to say, having had several large cruise ship experiences (Oasis, Voyager, Grand Princess etc) and having some taste of smaller ships (Paul Gauguin), my Azamara Journey experience was the first to warrant my time to write a bit about it.
Entertainment - While the quality did quite not match that of the larger ships, the feeling of entertainer interaction and appreciation was much more apparent and no less enjoyable.
Cruise Director - By far the most talented cruise director of any ship (19 cruises). Erick is talented, versatile, accessible, hilarious, genuine and quite frankly the face of Azamara as far as I am concerned. My wife and I both felt that he is an asset a young company like Azamara if fortunate to have. In fact, a reason to return.
Food - Outstanding, creative and delicious
Punta Del Este: Great place for retail therapy for any price range. Easy to navigate and friendly local interaction
Rio de Janeiro - We actually participated in the parade. We purchased costumes ahead of time and shared a once in a lifetime experience. As part of the Uniao da Ihla samba school with the theme "from London to Rio", the feeling of exhilaration was indescribable.
Buzios: Great local shops, Trolley tour gave us a feel of of the peninsula, Retail Shops along the stone paved streets, along with some nice local restaurants and very friendly people only added to the experience. We would go back for a land vacation to this great spot. Unlike Rio and some of the other ports (almost exclusively Portuguese), a little English and more Spanish can be found here.
Parati: Should be stricken from the itinerary. Reminded me of Fanning Island, near the equator and primitive.
Ihabela: Similar to Buzios but, in my mind, Buzios gets the nod given the local feeling of friendliness.
Ship Staff: Easily among the most competent and friendly we have encountered.
Tips: Internet in Buzios and Ihabela costs about $1.50-$2.00 per 30 minutes vs .42 to .65 per minute on the ship. I purchased 2+ packages on the ship for $100 each (.42 per minute). Skype on ship is not supported given the speed capabilities.
Thank you Erick, Imade, Carlos, Felicidad and the rest of the Azamara Journey family.
George and Lori