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Azamara Journey Review

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Why Choose Azamara Journey?

  • Pro: Unique programming, friendly service and impressive commitment to destination cruising
  • Con: Limited entertainment options at night, making the atmosphere overly quiet
  • Bottom Line: Great choice for a truly grown-up getaway with more time in port

Azamara Journey Overview

By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor
Editor Rating

The smallest line within Royal Caribbean's stable, Azamara Club Cruises has made destination cruising its focus, offering longer port stays and overnights, interesting shore excursions and programming that encourages passengers to take advantage of local cuisine. Carrying just 686 passengers, Azamara Journey is well designed to deliver on these promises. The small ship can go to smaller, lesser-known ports -- and usually does. On our Greece and Turkey itinerary, for example, we not only stopped in the island standards of Mykonos and Santorini, but also Skiathos and Hydra.

The culmination of Azamara's destination focus is the complimentary Azamazing Evening that's held at least once per voyage. These events are billed as one-of-a-kind and, at least on our trip, it was true with a classical music concert among the ruins of Ephesus. Another special evening that's held every cruise, the White Night Party, was also a rousing success, judging by passenger participation.

Azamara Journey is one of the former Renaissance cruise ships -- known as "R class" vessels -- and while the ships are loved for their coziness and classic style, they are beginning to show signs of age. Along with sister vessel Azamara Quest, Journey will be undergoing a complete refurbishment in January 2016. The update will include a change in public space decor to appear more modern, along with significant upgrades to the cabins and suites, the expansion of the Pool Grill and a massive spa redo that will include the addition of two spa suites.

These changes were announced before we boarded, so we were a little surprised by how great the ship looked already. In its current incarnation, Azamara Journey resembles a classic hotel, with cream walls and molding in the public spaces and traditional wood in the library. While the ship's current look might not have the "wow" factor of a new-build, it does invite you to relax and feel secure that you're in good hands. Azamara loyalists are divided on the changes, but since most of the upgrades -- especially in the cabins -- are being driven by passenger research, they will likely be satisfied in the end.

Speaking of passengers, Azamara Journey attracts a regular supply of repeat visitors; on our cruise, nearly 40 percent had sailed on either Journey or Quest previously. One feature of Azamara is its friendly service, and the staff makes an effort to greet returning passengers by name from the first day.

If Azamara Journey has one fault, it's the lack of nightlife. Its Cabaret Lounge feels cramped, and with no real stage, the types of shows the ship can put on are limited. As part of Royal Caribbean, the line does have access to the company's outstanding theatrical production center in Miami, and Voices, a multimedia show that was clearly dreamed up there, was exceptionally entertaining. Other acts we saw were less successful, and the musicians around the ship were lackluster. With few live music options, passengers tended to congregate in the casino, which is nonsmoking.

But this is a minor quibble for a ship that has so many other unique features. From the upscale specialty restaurants to the calm pool environment, Azamara Journey is a ship for grown-ups who want to cruise the world with more of an independent frame of mind, without sacrificing amenities.

Azamara Journey Fellow Passengers

Because the ship has no set homeport, the passenger makeup changes on every cruise. Expect to see an equal number of Americans and Brits when Journey is in Europe, with Australians becoming predominant when the ship moves to Asia.

The average passenger age also varies, depending on the sailing. Shorter cruises of less than two weeks tend to draw mostly older professionals, ages 51 to 65. Longer sailings have more retirees. Expect to see lots of couples or friends traveling together; family groups are primarily limited to parents sailing with their adult children. There are few kids younger than age 10.

Azamara Journey Dress Code

Azamara calls its dress code "resort casual"; there are no scheduled formal nights. The line does ask passengers to refrain from wearing blue jeans in the main dining room and specialty restaurants after 6 p.m., and tank tops, ball caps, bathing suits and shorts are also frowned upon.

In general, most women wear sundresses and capri pants during the day, changing to nicer maxi-dresses or pants in the evening. While you'll see men wearing T-shirts during the day, collared shirts are the rule at night.

Azamara Journey Gratuity

Tips are included in your fare, a factor that makes the line particularly popular with passengers from non-tipping cultures like Europe and Australia. An 18 percent surcharge is levied on spa treatments. The U.S. dollar is the onboard currency.

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Azamara Journey Member Reviews

This was our third cruise an Journey the last being about 3 years ago. Embarkation was brilliant, we only paused long enough for them to register our credit card then up to the café for lunch and wine. We had a last minute upgrade (we are ... Read more
We are in our late 50's and have cruised a fair amount (maybe 15 cruises?). Most of our cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, although we initially cruised on NCL with our teenage daughters (the entertainment was better for them). We ... Read more
We have sailed on Azamara before, so its clear that they offer a product that we value. 1/ An example of their service: at embarkation in Istanbul it was raining. Evaluating the next day's forecast, Captain Magnus decided, I'm certain with ... Read more
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Azamara Journey Ratings

Editor Rating 4.5 Member Rating
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Spa & Fitness
Family & Children
Shore Excursions

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