It's no secret that the brand-new Azamara Cruises got off to a rocky start. After the cruise line's surprise launch last week, the inaugural sailing of its flagship Azamara Journey was delayed a day because it simply wasn't ready. On the originally scheduled departure date, for example, Journey had yet to be cleared of boxes and packaging materials (shipping containers on the pool deck, for example); passengers were, however, given a full refund for the shortened cruise (minus onboard purchases).
Now that the first crop of passengers has returned to terra firma, we want to know what Azamara and this just-redone ship are all about. The verdict according to Cruise Critic members? It's not smooth sailing -- yet.
One reader writes in via e-mail, "The pool area only became available to us on Saturday morning as we were disembarking. Workers stripping the deck floor, sanding, and painting made it totally impossible to have any kind of access ... the ship was so not ready or equipped to handle the passengers it had to undertake, especially for the older people who used wheelchairs or walkers to get around."
Joanne Jones tell us via e-mail, "There were three days during the trip that in the afternoon I could not stay in my stateroom because it was occupied by four to five workmen; cords to their tools plugged into my vanity while they put up balcony partitions. My things were pushed aside to provide access to the outlet. The door to my stateroom was left open while this work was being done, and no one even noticed that I had entered.
"While standing on one of the decks, I just barely missed being hit by a large bag of trash that was hurled down from the deck above where again, work was being done," she continues. "A fellow passenger was sitting on her balcony and had water thrown on her unintentionally from workmen on the deck above ... the decision to sail this ship was unfair to both passengers and crew. [One] crewmember told us that when he reported a complaint by a passenger that he was told, 'Don't worry about it, they're getting this cruise free.' We spent a lot of money on the ship -- let the cruise line return that, and then the cruise was free. They still made out."
"Cruise lines always cram these dry-docks into such a short period of time," member apfra. posts on our Azamara forum. "Cruises after dry-docks are usually worse than when the ship is first launched … I hope they get things sorted out by my June 2 cruise."
However, for apfra. and other future passengers, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Joanna Jones also told us that "Azamara's restaurants were lovely" and that the "food was Celebrity quality ... great. The staff went above and beyond to accommodate us, and that is where the good part ends." davejnkntwn posts, "There were positives during the cruise. All waiters, bartenders, cooks and room attendants I met were excellent. Everyone I spoke with was pleasant and understanding. (Some were apologetic for the conditions we were enduring.) We found the food to be great, if not excellent.
"Journey will probably be a great cruise vessel. It has an excellent crew, great restaurants and bars, and wonderful possibilities."
Have your own comments about Azamara Journey? Send them to Melissa@cruisecritic.com
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor
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Azamara Journey Inaugural: Member Response Mixed
May 14, 2007