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6 Athens (Piraeus) to Greece Azamara Journey Cruise Reviews

We arrived in Athens the day before departure and were taken to the Athens Gate Hotel by Welcomepickups. We would recommend both the hotel and the car service. Welcomepickups also brought us to the port the next day - timely, clean car, ... Read More
We arrived in Athens the day before departure and were taken to the Athens Gate Hotel by Welcomepickups. We would recommend both the hotel and the car service. Welcomepickups also brought us to the port the next day - timely, clean car, polite driver, easy to reserve on-line. Athens Gate Hotel is in a wonderful location for exploring the Acropolis and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We dined in the rooftop restaurant of the hotel which has a fabulous view of the lighted Acropolis. Our room rate (205euros) also included a nice breakfast. Embarkation was a breeze. Journey is a lovely ship. Everything was clean and efficient. Our cabin (balcony, midship) was fine with the exception of the tiniest shower I have ever used. It serves the purpose and had great water pressure but you won't linger. Robes and slippers were in the closet and tons of hangers. Our cabin was beautifully kept the whole trip. We would put out the little sign indicating that we wanted the cabin cleaned when we went to breakfast and it was always completed upon our return. The food was really very good and the included wines and drink selections were fine. We sat with the same waiter every night who was fun and efficient. There was a very nice jazz brunch, officers barbecue, White Nights celebration on deck. We dined in both specialty restaurants and did not find them to be worth the extra charge. This may be because the food in the regular dining room was so good. Entertainment was okay but this is a small ship so don't have big expectations. Cruise director did a great job. The Captain was everywhere! He made you feel like you were in his home. We only did 2 excursions from the ship - Delos and Burano/Murano - both were well worth the money. That said, we did arrange for private tours in 4 other ports. We enjoy the intimacy of a small group and the cost is much more reasonable. We have only been on two other cruises(Alaska and Panama Canal)both on Princess so our experience is limited but we really enjoyed this ship. We liked the longer days in ports, the all inclusiveness (almost) of the fare pricing, the friendliness of the crew, the presence of the Captain, the quality of the food, and the general quietness of the atmosphere. There is no constant loud music or loud DJ around the pool. We liked it so much that we booked another for next year while on board. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was our first Azamara cruise. Wanted to see if we liked the small ship experience as we tend to favour Celebrity's Solstice class ships. There are pluses and minuses. Loved the fact that you never had to fight for a sunbed and no ... Read More
This was our first Azamara cruise. Wanted to see if we liked the small ship experience as we tend to favour Celebrity's Solstice class ships. There are pluses and minuses. Loved the fact that you never had to fight for a sunbed and no loud music by the pool. Also thought the nightly entertainment in the show lounge was surprisingly good. I so didn't want to like the cruise director Eric de Gray because he was so cheesy, but I couldn't help myself. He's a gem multi talented and funny. I was told that the food was superior to Celebrity, but honestly it was on a par and many times there was less choice. Also liked the fact that a smaller ship can pull into smaller ports. Nice. Captain also very visible and approachable. What I think Azamara need to do is decide where it wants to be in the pecking order of cruise lines. It advertises itself as a premium six star line and charges accordingly but in reality it is only on a par with Celebrity or Holland America. I would only be tempted to re visit at if a bargain came up. I think it's too expensive as it stands. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Had a fantastic time with Ernie sailing aboard the Azamara Journey’s Turquoise Coast voyage through islands of Greece and Turkey. Impeccable service aboard the Journey was a delightful experience. Chatting with several staff members ... Read More
Had a fantastic time with Ernie sailing aboard the Azamara Journey’s Turquoise Coast voyage through islands of Greece and Turkey. Impeccable service aboard the Journey was a delightful experience. Chatting with several staff members and learning about their back ground and where they are from was a great international feeling. The 700 passenger ship size was a perfect balance for personal service. We never felt crowded. One of our most memorable experiences was Chefs table a nine course elevated dining experience which included a wine pairing and lovely conversation with a table of international travelers mainly from Great Britain. The land scape of each island was a completely different experience in Alayna on the Turkish Rivera we chose to experience exotic water falls in Kursunlu and then traveled on a Manavgat wooden river boat to the sea. We wondered through the cobble stone streets in Chania and tasted island favorites including cheese, olives and wine. We discovered many Turkish flavors on Kas, Turkey. Rhodes was a picturesque coastline of gorgeous beaches, vineyards and Hamlets. Stopping at the Acropolis and ancient monastery was a memorable experience. We enjoyed exquisite views as we drove around the island by taxi. We completely enjoyed our Azamara experience for its wonderful atmosphere, personal service and exceptional choice of islands. We were the only cruise ship in every port we visited and we took advantage of the ports in the evening. Overall, we loved the cruise and would definitely sail again on this traditional ship setting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Our recent cruise actually started with a flight from Heathrow to Athens via British Airways. We were offered a couple of flights which were not direct but this was not an option we wanted to take. Fortunately there was an option to go ... Read More
Our recent cruise actually started with a flight from Heathrow to Athens via British Airways. We were offered a couple of flights which were not direct but this was not an option we wanted to take. Fortunately there was an option to go from London Heathrow direct, and at very reasonable times. Although this means that we had to drive down to stay overnight at the Comfort Hotel, (where they offer cruise-parking and have a regular shuttle bus service to the airport) this is preferable to flying to Paris or elsewhere to catch a connection. The hotel also offer to print Boarding Cards for anyone checking in online, but if you take advantage of that you perhaps need to check that the whole of the barcode is printed (ours wasn't, but the very nice Bag Drop man just printed us a new ones, with no charge). It had been a while since we flew with BA, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. We had a surprising good complementary meal, with wine to go with it and other drinks were also available. The seats we had were very comfortable, although we did pay the extra cost to select our seats early. Our flight was delayed by almost an hour, but we seemed to make up most of this and we arrived in Athens only a little later than we expected. We were met very efficiently by the Azamara staff, who accompanied us to our waiting coaches and we were soon on our way. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Athens and had dinner on the rooftop garden terrace Galaxy Restaurant, which we booked online before we left home. Even though we felt that the food and drinks were expensive, it did set the holiday mood as we ate our meal looking out over Athens and the Acropolis. Our cruise package included the option of a free Athens tour, including a visit to the Acropolis, ending at the ship, but we didn't take advantage of this as it would have been too much of a rush for us. We were scheduled to leave the hotel at 12.00 noon, and the transfers to Piraeus, which took about 35 minutes were very efficient and punctual with plenty of room on the coach. Our luggage had been collected after breakfast and the next time we saw our cases was when they arrived at the cabin. We were notified that they would probably be delivered early evening but they were delivered within an hour of us boarding. We were welcomed on board with champagne and plenty of smiles and informed that lunch was being served in the Windows Cafe. The cabins/staterooms were due to be ready for everyone at 13.30 and just before this time it was announced that they were indeed available. The cabin was plenty big enough with a king-sized bed, a double and single wardrobe, dressing table, corner cupboard containing the safe and fridge as well as shelf space for the ice bucket and glasses, double settee and coffee table. The cases fitted very easily under the bed, and the storage space was perfectly fine. We also had a balcony with a square dining table and two chairs. As has already been mentioned in many other posts, the shower cubicle is quite small, but it is possible to have a shower without being attacked by the dreaded shower curtain. The Emergency Lifeboat drill was carried out at 17.00, but it did not necessitate carrying or wearing our life jackets, although the correct procedure for putting these on was covered. At 18.00 we joined our fellow Cruise Critic 'Meet and Greet' guests, which was hosted by Eric, the Cruise Director and attended also by the Captain, Johannesburg Tysse, and some of his crew. There were drinks and nibbles provided and it was very well attended. At Eric's suggestion, we identified ourselves with our 'handles' and introduced ourselves. This was a very good ice-breaker and after this had been done people mingled much more than we had experienced on other Meet and Greets. What became very noticeable at this time was that there were quite a number of returning guests who had established a great rapport with Eric and this friendly atmosphere continued throughout the week, encompassing new guests along the way. As this is a small ship, there was usually only one show in the evening, but the Entertainment team were very professional, each one an excellent dancer and singer. The first evening was actually a surprise to me, as the entertainment was an evening with the extremely talented Cellist, Andrew Skrimshire, from England. He played music from Bach to the Beatles, but punctuated his fabulous playing with typical British humour -an excellent start to the cruise. Other guest appearances included Soprana, Italia Fiorentino and Tenor, Mario Todisco (another magical evening) and Siobhan Phillips from England, who gave us 'an evening of song, comedy and general frivolity'. The dining alternatives were the Discoveries Main Dining Room, the Windows Cafe which provided the buffet option, the Mosaics Cafe which served speciality coffees and the most delicious Danish Pasties and cakes and the two speciality restaurants, which I can't comment on as we didn't visit either of them. We enjoyed the food in Discoveries in the evening and Windows during the day, including the Pool deck offering of Beefburgers, Hotdogs, Chicken Wings etc, which were delicious. Breakfast in Discoveries was also very special, and I would personally recommend the omelettes cooked with your favourites, as ordered. The Looking Glass Bar, on deck 10, offered a quiet place to chat and look out over the Bow during the day and early evening. However, at about 10.30 on most evenings it became the hub of the ship, with great music and dancing, and a full dance floor and fantastic atmosphere. I don't know if this is usually the case, but on this cruise the passengers certainly seemed ready to enjoy themselves to the full. We took advantage of the basic Inclusive drinks offer and didn't ever feel the necessity to partake from the Premium brands also available, but this is obviously our personal choice. So far I have spoken mostly about the ship itself, so I should perhaps give a summary of the Itinerary. The cruise covered the journey between Athens and Rome, calling in at some of the most beautiful places. The first call after Piraeus was at Santorini, which was a tendered port and the town was accessed mostly via the cable-car, although there are other options as well. Our next call was Malta, one of my favourite ports as it is accessed by entering the beautiful Grand Harbour. While we were here, we took the Hop On, Hop Off bus, which was a journey of about 2 hours 20 minutes. This trip took in Valletta Waterfront, the Blue Grotto, the auberge de Castille, the War Museum and Fort St Elmo in Valletta, as well as the Knights Hospital before returning to the Port of Valetta and the ship. Also included in the ticket price of €15 was a second trip which we didn't do, but this also visited Mdina, Rabat and Ta Qali, where the bus stops at the Aviation Museum, the Crafts Village and Mdina Glass. Sicily was our next destination, tendering at Giardini Naxos for Taomini. As we left this port, the Captain decided to give us an extra treat. He took the ship around the Island to the east coast to give us an opportunity to see Mount Etna silhouetted against the night sky and to see how active the volcano was. As we watched, we were treated to some intermittent activity as small eruptions could be seen very clearly - another first for me! And so we carried on, along the beautiful Amalfi coast to Sorrento, where we anchored overnight, giving us two days to spend time in this lovely city. Our final leg was to Civitiveccia, where we left the Journey for our flight home from Rome Airport. This review would not be complete without telling you a little about the Azamazing Evening, which took place in the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Malta. This building, constructed in the late 16th Century was for over two centuries the 'Holy Infirmary of the Order of St. John, but had taken on different guises as circumstances dictated at the time. Just over 600 passengers were coached from the ship to the venue, a journey of about 10-15 minutes only. Each coach arrived at spaced intervals so at the time of arrival there was no crowds outside which meant that everyone had the same experience of being met with trumpets and drummers as they walked indoors on the red carpet. Without going into any more detail about this evening, I can only say that the evening fully lived up to expectations and in some ways exceeded them. Overall, this cruise was probably one of our best - the service we had from all the staff was exceptional, the cabin was extremely comfortable, the food was delicious, the evenings were always entertaining and we would take another cruise with Azamara without hesitation.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise with Azamara, and just our second overall. We don't consider ourselves to be "cruise people" since we enjoy peace and quiet when we step away from busy lives. And that's what we got. There were ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara, and just our second overall. We don't consider ourselves to be "cruise people" since we enjoy peace and quiet when we step away from busy lives. And that's what we got. There were a bunch of things to do, but if you chose not to, the ship was never crowded or had a hurried feel. Every interaction with the staff reflected a very high standard of service, just so relaxing. We never saw the deck chairs full, never had a problem getting a table at meals, and never felt like we were with 600 other passengers. Lots of nice touches, too; fresh flowers in our room each day as well as a fruit bowl and small treats each night. We came to refer to the cabin attendants as our elves, it seemed every time we left our cabin, even for a short time, they knew and came in to straighten up. Just a feeling of being pampered all the time. We also enjoyed the inclusion of drinks and tips in the fare, another relaxing aspect. Bar brands and wine offered were not bottom of the list either. Food was also superior to our expectation. This was a Greek Isles cruise and for whatever reason, you should be aware that the demographic is pretty senior. That was fine for us, but if you're under 40 you may find yourself with few companions in your age group. That said, there were plenty of party hardy folks aboard, not a boring crowd at all. Azamara does a complimentary event for all passengers on each cruise and ours was a trip to Ephesus where we were serenaded by a string classical concert followed by a fun show of singers and dancers dressed as ancient greeks with a mock fight to the death. The idea of sitting in the Odean, almost 2500 years old, with beautiful music surrounding us was truly awesome. We were all loaded onto buses with no waiting, left at the entrace to ancient Ephasus where we were greated with champagne and mezes served by staff if period costume. As with everything we saw, this event was so beautifully coordinated. I've had some experience with event planning and I'm saying hats off to the group that put this event together, it was a near perfect as it could have been. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was my fourth cruise and first on Azamara. After reading reviews for months, finally adding my own. Was a really good trip overall but in many ways I just don't understand the hype that surrounds this brand. Not a complaint just ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise and first on Azamara. After reading reviews for months, finally adding my own. Was a really good trip overall but in many ways I just don't understand the hype that surrounds this brand. Not a complaint just my thoughts. Saved my gripes for the end. Cruise was round trip departing out of Athens from Oct 19 thru Oct 26th: Pre cruise Hilton Athens: Gorgeous wide open bright lobby, lots of glass and marble. Quick check in and I got a room with an Acropolis view. Very cool! Room was large and spotlessly clean. I'd like to have the shower and bathtub in my home! Rooftop bar/restaurant had stunning nighttime views of the Acropolis. Hotel bars and restaurant good but not great food and very pricey. 55 euros for two glasses of wine and a skewer of chicken souvalaki for dinner. Included breakfast was adequate, standard stuff. Transfer to Pier: Letter at check-in at Hilton indicated what time to meet the bus in lobby. Pretty large group of about 75 people went in two buses at 12:00 and 12:30. Azamara rep was on site at the hotel in the morning for questions and directing people to the bus. Call me a privacy freak but I was not really cool with the bulletin board by the Azamara table with everybody's name on it. Saw no need for that at all. Aprox. 30 mins to pier, lot of Azamara people directing where to go inside. Check in was pretty quick, aprox. 15-20 mins in line and I had my cabin card and was on the ship at about 1:30. Greeted with champagne/juice. Able to get in cabins at about 2:00. Luggage showed up within about an hour which was nice (well it was in the hall being lined up ready to be delivered and I took it in my self), poor guy working there was mortified! Ship: Interiors were spotless everywhere. Looks pretty much just like the pictures in the brochure/online. Very elegant, lots of marble/granite, metal scrollwork, lots of cream, green and gold colors with an old world vibe. Good signage everywhere. Bars and pool grill and buffet restaurant were open at time of boarding. Modest effort made to upsell people on the drinks package but nothing annoying on first day. Cabin: Small but fairly standard size with balcony compared to prior cruises. Spotless, nice touches with fresh flowers and a fruit plate and included drinks section in minibar which was replenished throughout the week. Complimentary tote bag in room at check in (pretty nice bag actually). Bathroom, spotless and small. Standard stuff. Cabin attendant very efficient all week. Food/Beverages: Breakfast buffet was pretty average overall. The omelet station was disappointing both times I tried it. Sit down restaurant was "closing" 20 mins before posted hours both times I went so I never got to try that for breakfast. With early starts for most of the excursions I needed to be in and out quickly. Never went hungry but never impressed. Pool Grill/lunch buffet was a bit mixed. Some of the offerings in the buffet were quite good such as the made to order sandwiches and salads. (Nice that only staff vs a couple hundred people with likely grubby hands touching the serving utensils). Buffet is not my favorite to say the least. The bright spot at lunch was really the Pool Grill. They had a menu, it was all cooked to order and they would find you where ever you were seating. Wings, burgers, grilled sausages, 4 or 5 different kinds of kebobs, club sandwiches, ribs, tacos etc. Dinners. Discoveries and Prime C Restaurant Ate in main restaurant Discoveries all but one night when I went the "specialty" restaurant Prime C. Overall my thoughts on dinners were again, mixed. The main dining room was gorgeous in its interior, although stiflingly hot every evening. Discoveries menu had the "always available" section and then the "daily specials". Many nights the two were not that different. Can't complain about the quality but portions were small and in some cases really tiny. Some of their food descriptions left a lot to be desired, for example "cheese and onion soup" was really French onion soup and "rack of lamb" was a tiny lamb chop. Many of the meat portion size descriptors on the meat cuts were way way off in terms of what the menu stated vs what showed up on the plate. Frankly the menu was pretty basic, was hoping for something a bit more. Again, never went hungry but was never wowed either. Prime C was also gorgeous in its interior and looked out over the bow of the ship with floor to ceiling windows. Menu a bit more mixed but in my opinion still pretty basic. I ordered the filet rare and it came to the table medium. I sent it back and the re-fire was perfect like it should have been the first time. Was actually the best dinner I had all week. Overall service in both restaurants Have mixed thoughts on the service. While the service received was always good, it was frequently slow and drawn out. Dinner easily took two+ hours most nights. While tables for 2-6 were frequently empty in the dining room, they definitely pushed you to sit with other people at the large tables which I truly resented. (Luckily I met some really cool people to share with but if I had not I would have had a real issue with that) Bar staff were uniformly great everywhere throughout the ship the entire cruise. All the included alcohol and wines worked well for me. Good to very good quality on the wines. Excursions: With the exception of the ungodly early start times (8:30AM) for most of them, all of the excursions I booked thru the ship were great. Shuttle buses right by the pier, extremely knowledgeable guides and nicely paced. Ultimate Ephesus and Rhodes walking tour in particular were superb. Ports: With the exception of Kos they were all very enjoyable. Not sure what the draw was on Kos. Santorini, Rhodes and Ephesus were all outstanding in very different ways each of them. Mykonos and Marmaris both very pretty and enjoyable as well. My gripes: My poor thoughts on ChoiceAir have been further amplified. Finding a suitable flight home on Sat was made impossible due to the direction of "absolutely no flights before 1:00PM" causing me to have to stay over another night in Athens. Imagine my surprise when the captain announces that "due the volume of early flight departures they will be anchoring at 4:30AM with initial disembarking beginning at 5:30AM". Could have easily made a 12:30 flight that I had found that ChoiceAir refused to book and saved myself a couple hundred bucks! Transfer to post cruise Hilton from ship This falls into the it's never too late to make a bad impression category. There were two buses at the 8:30 disembarkation one for the Hilton and one for the Bretagne Hotel and Hilton hotels. I am sitting on the first Hilton bus when a man and a woman approaches and says "we'll need you to come with us". I asked what was wrong and they just herded me off the bus. They then hustle a couple onto the bus to sit where I was sitting. When I asked what was going on they said as I was alone they wanted to get the couple onto the other bus first. Excuse me but that was a huge WTF moment for me. It was seriously more important for a couple to get on a bus that was going to the same place arriving maybe 15 mins apart?? And the driver had attitude when I insisted they take my luggage off the first bus and put it on the second. He made a snotty comment about "keeping people waiting". What were they going to do with my luggage leave it at the curb?? I really had to restrain myself from saying something. I made it almost a whole trip without experiencing solo discrimination but as I pointed out earlier it is never to late to leave a really bad impression. Post cruise Hilton From prior travel I had a vague memory of Europe ending daylight savings time a week earlier than the USA. (This did not occur to me prior to leaving to check out myself, go figure!) When I asked two different people at the desk they knew nothing about it. Bought a newspaper and didn't see anything either and thought I was mistaken. Next morning sure enough there was a flyer at the desk alerting people to change clocks back, would have been nice to know the day before when you are getting up at 3:30AM the next morning! And no "included breakfast " that early either. Random thoughts: Did I have a great time, absolutely! Did it live up to some of the hype I have read, some ways yes and others sadly no. Loved the size of the ship and the service was really good albeit slow overall. I was impressed by the number of repeat cruisers and the fact that in many cases the crew recognized people. Saw many instances of smiles/handshakes and hugs all around. That transfer experience really left me on a very flat note though. Will I cruise Azamara again, for a great itinerary and pricing absolutely would.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.6
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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