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47 Azamara Bermuda Cruise Reviews

We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and ... Read More
We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and personable. The Cruise Director Eric was a hoot and very talented. Food in the main dining room and the best with at least a dozen selections every night. Food in the Steak House and Italian rest. was excellent with terrific service. They could not do more for you. the shows were great, Singers and dancers were great. Eric CD had a great voice. The Amazing Night aboard the Yorktown was the tops and something we never experienced before. The White Night in Bermuda was also a one of a kind. Everyone of the Staff and crew were extremely friendly and always said hello and how are you. Even the passengers were great. Having a Bridge Director pushed it over the top. 53% of the passengers were past Azamara guests. We became one as we booked another Amazing Cruise on board. It would be great to see more Azamara cruise out of NY. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Having been on many cruises with various companies we decided to try Azamara Journey as the itinerary (which is usually how we choose a cruise)was a bit unusual.We had looked at some reviews and seen they were very good and we would ... Read More
Having been on many cruises with various companies we decided to try Azamara Journey as the itinerary (which is usually how we choose a cruise)was a bit unusual.We had looked at some reviews and seen they were very good and we would definitely agree. We booked the cruise through a very good cruise agent and booked our flights and pre-cruise hotel separately(which we have done quite a few times)and there was no problems,apart from the tiring journey to pick up the cruise in San Juan,which was no different than anybody else travelling from the uk.After a night in a hotel in the old town we took a cab to the ship. We had no wait at all at the cruise check in and were quickly on the lovely ship. The ship and our cabin was lovely and yes the bathroom is very small but it did not cause a problem at all.The balcony was small but again it was nice to have the extra space.As mentioned in other reviews the staff are very friendly and seem to be genuinely happy in their work.We had a great captain (Jason) and a great cruise director Tony who seemed to be loving every minute of his working day and he was not at all overbearing and false as others we have met.He was backed up by a great team(alex especially),who provided hours of trivia and games,and along with some good professional entertainment we were kept amused. The food was generally very good and both the windows cafe and the restaurant had good decor and ambiance(all under the control of the lovely Heike),and the free wine when eating went down well(my husband had a beer package but said he would not do it again as the wine was good).The mosaic cafe was a good place to relax and meet people,with great waiters.We loved our time aboard and also enjoyed the ports of call(we had booked a couple of ship excursions at half price before we left)and found them to be good.We did our own thing in St Thomas,Bermuda and New York and also enjoyed that. Disembarkation was easy and relatively quick and we caught a taxi to a bag drop place in New York and went shopping before catching the train to Newark for our flight home. We will definitely travel with Azamara again as they offer friendly ships with what seems to be happy staff,and as an extra we feel that we have met some new friend in some of our fellow passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We booked the Azamara package so our flights were organised for us. It was a long journey to San Juan from the UK, made worse by a 6 hour stop over in Atlanta. If we cruise from San Juan again, we would consider stopping over after the ... Read More
We booked the Azamara package so our flights were organised for us. It was a long journey to San Juan from the UK, made worse by a 6 hour stop over in Atlanta. If we cruise from San Juan again, we would consider stopping over after the first flight and taking the second flight the next day. The Conrad Hilton in San Juan was lovely - Azamara chose well and everything about it was excellent. Transfer to the ship and embarkation was also very well organised. Our room was ready quickly and was immaculate. It was kept this way throughout by Mannish and Ever. From the moment we joined the ship we felt relaxed. Senior Officers and all staff were very friendly and welcoming. We were very impressed with staff at every level - nothing was too much trouble. Louise on Guest Relations is also a credit to Azamara and was always very helpful. Food was excellent everywhere on the ship. Room service was the best we have ever experienced and so too was the buffet in Windows. All credit to Heike and her team. Captain Jason must feel proud to lead such a wonderful team. Entertainment was fun - lots to do for those who wanted to join in. Tony worked hard and it showed. We liked the banter between him and Activities Manager Chris on the daily TV reports. The itinerary was special and didn't disappoint. Virgin Gorda, Bermuda and New York were the highlights for us. We didn't do any organised excursions but still managed to see everything that we wanted. The other thing that struck us was how friendly other guests were. We enjoyed making new friends and meeting many lovely people. This was our 10th cruise and so far has been our favourite. We will definitely cruise with Azamara again - you really do feel like part of an extended family. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Both of us are seasoned cruisers-w/myself having just completed a 16 day Hawaiian cruise in Aug. 2007. We wanted a shorter cruise&research lead us to Azamara Journey. Their website touted LUXURY, SERVICE, SPACIOUS Accommodations, ... Read More
Both of us are seasoned cruisers-w/myself having just completed a 16 day Hawaiian cruise in Aug. 2007. We wanted a shorter cruise&research lead us to Azamara Journey. Their website touted LUXURY, SERVICE, SPACIOUS Accommodations, BUTLER SERVICE, ETC. I RESEARCHED iNTERNET AND FOUND NICE PRICE, lower than booking direct w/ cruise line. They did a great job w/ all arrangements, to & from, transfers, etc. No complaints in that regard. Upon arrival @ Newark airport, we were met (not greeted) by cruise rep. Unlike our previous cruise experiences, no effort was made to assist us w/luggage to curbside for transfer bus, but instead, the rep went into lengthy detail about her not wanting to get injured by assisting w/heavy luggage & only provided info when questioned. The bus was so over crowded, both of us had heavy golf bags wedged on and against our legs and feet. The bus driver had picked up 6 "paying" passengers & those of w/prepaid transfers were wedged in like sardines. Terminal check in went pretty smoothly, but it was obvious that staff needed more training, ours had to get assistance 3 times. Bus transfer to ship was ok, but there was no staff to help w/carryon up the steps to the ship, which were rather steep. The security photo station was crowded, small and ship staff just stood around, more in the way than helpful---we received assistance to elevators and stateroom (?) only when requested. When the stateroom room door opened, I was shocked to say the least. SPACIOUS, IF WAS NOT, WELL APPOINTED, IT WAS NOT! iF THE CLOSET DOOR WAS OPEN, NO ENTRY TO BATH OR EXIT THE CABIN. Unpacking was one at a time, we did finally realize that by lifting the foot of the bed, we could stow our empty luggage so we could walk around the cabin--can't call it a Stateroom, anymore. The "BUTLER" introduced himself -ok-. Fruit & flowers in cabin, both either rotted or died, only a couple bananas and grapes were added--on 4th night I put some of the rotten fruit out in the hallway. The thermostat never worked in the cabin---it stayed COLD! tHE FOOD, OVERALL WAS GOOD, ONLY ONE MEAL WAS EXCELLENT, DINING SERVICE IN ALL VENUES was lackluster. There would be 8-10 servers standing around, but if you needed coffee or water refills, you either asked or in Windows got up and got it yourself. The beverage area in Windows was located in the walkway and the floor was always wet, slippery & sticky. On more than one occasion, we picked up dishes in the buffet line that were not properly cleaned, and always had to check our flatware. Sanitation was lacking and not pro-active as I have been accustomed to. The buffet layout was somewhat confusing, but all in all the food choices were good. Removal of dirty dishes was not prompt, even tho' there was more than sufficient staff. Discoveries dining service was poor and if word got around you had complained, it was obvious. We finally gave up and just at in Windows. Lobster night was joke!, By the way, don't put your appetizer fork down, or the appetizer will disappear--we always felt rushed. Don't expect prompt water refills, nor coffee served on time. The mandatory daily gratuity is 20%+ higher than other ships, the cocktail & wine prices much higher +gratuity, wine pours are, if you are lucky 1/2 glass--unless you balk. Activities were lackluster, lacking enthusiasm, except for Becky the director. Boutiques and prices were the worst I have ever experienced! Layout of Cabaret for shows is the worst design for enjoying shows ever, making it difficult for most to even see the performance. The only lounge w/good service was the Looking Glass and Antonio by the smoking area on the pool deck did a great job & was so outgoing. 4th deck disembark area was like a disaster shelter--w/people sitting on stairs & floor. We just waited on 10th deck for 2nd color tag call to let it clear out since we had a 4+hr. flight window. Access at ports was very good, Bermuda great--we did our own execursions with much less confusion. All in all, we would never sail Azamara again--they need to be more accurate about their amenities.. Also, this definitely is not a young couple or family w/children experience---I would also question the comfort for passengers w/ physical limitations being very comfortable, especially in the bathrooms---I'm 5ft. tall & weigh 100 lbs, and the bath was small. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We departed on the Oct 20 departure of the Azamara Journey from Bayonne, NJ. The first step after checking in was a short bus ride to ship. After the easy and fast check-in, things went rapidly downhill. Azamara is trying to position ... Read More
We departed on the Oct 20 departure of the Azamara Journey from Bayonne, NJ. The first step after checking in was a short bus ride to ship. After the easy and fast check-in, things went rapidly downhill. Azamara is trying to position itself as an upscale brand with upscale amenities. It doesn't quite measure up. The touted "Butlers" are nothing more than overworked cabin attendants in bow ties. This is deceptive advertising. The ship is old, the doors between inside and outside on all decks are heavy swinging wood. The majority of passengers were elderly and had trouble opening and closing them. In addition, the wheel chair ramps that were put in between doors were very high and I saw several in wheel chairs and their companions struggling to get from inside to out. I would NOT recommend this ship for anyone who is handicapped. As the ship is 10 years old, so is it's technology. We hit some rough seas on the return from Bermuda, and the 10 year old stabilizers didn't perform as well as newer ships. The best thing about Azamara are it's crew and staff. They try to be helpful and are always friendly. Unfortunately, after six months, they still have more than their share of problems and communication among themselves. Meals were good, not great, and certainly not quite as touted. The flowers died and were not replaced during the cruise, the fruit got old and was not replaced. In addition, the cabins are quite small, there were filled holes in the wall, and the bathrooms were miniscule and the showers a joke. While using the commode, one literally must have one foot in the title. Azamara has a long, long way to go to get even close to their Celebrity brand. We are not overly critical, but this was the worst of the 12+ cruises we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Background Information: We were recruited by Azamara directly. We had sailed Celebrity in the past but had stopped to sail on Holland America for our 4 previous cruises. Azamara had offered us a SkySuite for the price of a veranda ... Read More
Background Information: We were recruited by Azamara directly. We had sailed Celebrity in the past but had stopped to sail on Holland America for our 4 previous cruises. Azamara had offered us a SkySuite for the price of a veranda stateroom. The online brochure was convincing enough to believe that the line would live up to the expectations. Ship Info: Azamara Journey-- formerly a Renaissance ship. The ship is not new as stated but is new to Azamara-- the ship is in relatively good condition, however it is in need of refurbishment in some areas. Common areas have holes in the walls where there were previous art installations and displays. These holes are visible and not repaired. Chairs in the dining room were severely scratched, dust on decorative areas and art in the dining room. The Sky Suite although larger than most staterooms is still small for the class of this ship. The bathroom has a quirky setup and able bodied people will find it difficult getting in and out of the bath tub. The television is a plasma, however it's rather small for the room-- it is difficult to be viewed from the bed. The thermostat in the room didn't work and the temperature was often too cold. Activities: While the staff tried to make every effort to make the cruise enjoyable-- they were clueless in how to motivate the passengers to participate. Unfortunately the activities were not suited for the people on board. Service: The service on the ship was adequate however-- the issue is that many of the staff were new and unfamiliar with the expectations of service. Unfortunately the staff was not prepared to deliver the level of service that is to be equated with a line of this caliber. Issues included failure to clear dirty dishes, unemptied ashtrays, failure to anticipate needs. Searching for people to wait on you in the cocktail lounges--Butler service was sorely lacking, luggage service was non-existent and most of all the dining room was run like the keystone cops. Shore Excursions: Really were mundane and didn't live up to the expectations set forth by the brochure or the online descriptions. We opted to go elsewhere and had better time doing so. Staterooms were not of the size or caliber of the comparable lines. Dining the specialty dining rooms were impeccable and the actual dining room needed work. Entertainment was better than other lines but if you're seeking the big production shows of the larger liners-- you'll need to go elsewhere. Disembarkation was chaotic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Journey Review The Journey is a beautiful ship which although smaller has a more spacious feel than many larger ships. This was our 5th trip on Celebrity and we will be making comparisons between Celebrity and Azamara. We are a 50ish ... Read More
Journey Review The Journey is a beautiful ship which although smaller has a more spacious feel than many larger ships. This was our 5th trip on Celebrity and we will be making comparisons between Celebrity and Azamara. We are a 50ish couple and were travelling with our 3 children in their 20s. Embarkation Never been to Cape Liberty and, while I wouldn't want to wander around there at night, it was an easy location to get to and through. Long term parking is adjacent to the terminal. There was no shuttle running from the parking lot when we arrived, but there was one when we returned. The parking lot is huge so a shuttle is a good idea. An alternative is to leave someone with all the bags and have one person park the car. Ironically, there was an attractive waiting area with snacks and beverages even though there was no wait. (We could have used that in Ft. Lauderdale.) Arrival Onboard We were greeted with the customary champagne, but hadn't realized that we wouldn't have an escort to our room. Even though it is a smaller ship, some directions would have been appreciated. We dropped our bags in the room and went to the buffet where we meet our children who had boarded separately. Stateroom We had booked one 1A and one 2A on deck 7. Both veranda cabins were nicely furnished with frigs and flat TV which was easy to see. The flowers and fruit were a welcoming touch. There was a nice table on the balcony perfect for breakfast. The bedding was the nicest we have had and mattresses the most comfortable - no need for an egg crate. The bathroom was small but not a problem for us. (Perhaps because I loved the showers at the Spa.) Our rooms were quiet and well situated. The only drawback to 7103 was that when we left the room, we walked right into the cart with refuse from other staterooms. Our "butler" offered to make our specialty reservations but we had already taken care of it. She did later change a reservation for us to a later time; otherwise, besides the delivery of "savories" twice, the services were those of a stateroom attendant. I think the term "concierge" is more appropriate and less misleading than" butler" and that the descriptions in the Azamara literature should reflect the reality. It is not that I feel more services are needed, rather that they should not be overstated. One minor change was that we needed to place a card on our door to have our room made up. It seems that open seating made it difficult for staff to plan their cleaning (even though we ate at the same time each night and told our butler this.) One night our room was turned down before we left for dinner Restaurants This is where Azamara really shined. We had consistently very good food in all venues -beautifully presented with some real gems. Our first night we ate in Aqualina which was outstanding - perfect rack of lamb, foie gras appetizer, excellent sea bass, and chocolate souffle. The setting and service (we requested Carla) were both first rate. (Carla also supervised the room service orders and we would get little notes from her throughout the week.) We had dinner at Prime C on our last night when we were fighting 12 foot swells. It's a beautiful room and the service was excellent. Much less crowded than MDR. The lobster bisque was superlative as was the chocolate lava cake. Perhaps because of the waves or the fact that we had had such good food in the MDR, I found that I preferred Aqualina. Others in my family would disagree. Both are excellent We were delighted with the room service breakfast menu (it included waffles and French toast - two favorites) and ordered that the first few mornings. As a rule I prefer not to go to the buffet in the morning. However, I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter encouraged me to venture down. Not only were the selections excellent and attractive, there was none of the chaos I had feared. We were always able to get a table (with an ocean view yet). The only time I had to wait for waffles there were only a couple people ahead of me. Even on disembarkation morning, I walked right up to the waffle and smoothie bars. The absence of lines throughout the ship was a big plus. The breakfast selection was vast with some unusual additions like shrimp hash. Fruit and berries were plentiful. Smoked salmon was always included along with a choice of cream cheese. The smoothie bar and espresso machine were appreciated. In addition to the pancake, waffle, French toast station, there were also made to order omelets. For lunch the buffet was also great. There were so many choices it is easy to miss some special dishes. Look for the salmon cerviche and Thai vegetable curry. I found the Thai dishes at the buffet and in the MDR to be excellent. There were many international dishes such as moussaka, quesadillas which I didn't try. We didn't eat at the buffer for dinner other than the very good sushi and some cheeses as hors d'oeuvres. (Table service at Breeza had been discontinued on our sailing which we would have liked to try.) The grill. A favorite of the rest of my family, I had never been a fan. (I used to go to the Aqua Spa Cafe available on M ships). However, one day we returned from the beach after lunch and I was delighted to find excellent gyros at the grill. Also, the fries (which I don't usually eat) are amazing and in great demand. This may be the only thing you have to wait for on the ship. The grill also had fruit kabobs one day. Cova Cafe was a mainstay for snacks. It had the longest hours and featured tea sandwiches and pastry. Their almond and two varieties of chocolate croissants are wonderful. Discoveries, the main dining room. As long time Celebrity cruisers, we were skeptical about open seating. We didn't miss the formal nights, but liked the consistency of the same table and wait staff. Since we were a party of five, sitting with others was not an issue. The restaurant manager Richard (wrong spelling) was a gracious and welcoming presence. He seated us at a window table with a very pleasant and efficient team, Jaysingh and Elena. Please tell them "hi" from the family at Table 20. We ate at 8:15 every night. The appetizers on the menu were excellent and there were often many which appealed. We missed some of the old dinner choices but found most new selections to be sophisticated and well prepared. Some of the labor intensive touches have been restored like wrapping the lemon as Celebrity did in the old days. Favorite entrees were the duck, prawns, lamb chops, salmon, NY strip steak. There was always a good Caesar salad which you could order with chicken or shrimp. While many dishes were innovative, the ingredients high quality and presentation beautiful, the seasoning on some dishes could have been more assertive. This was only the second week for the new menus; the dishes are very good now and can only get better with some fine tuning. Desserts were strong. I was surprised that my favorites were not my usual chocolate choices which were also good, but rather an apple tart, bananas foster, and crepe suzette. We ate lunch in the MDR twice and had good service and food. Once we went primarily for the apple tart, bananas foster and brownie sundae which are always on the lunch menu. Overall our service was amazing including being speedy when we once requested that. The one drawback is that the dining room seems to have too many tables. This might explain the absence of the dessert cart - it could not maneuver between tables. The wait staff were friendly but were obviously working very hard. They had to reset the tables after diners left which was distracting to those still eating. We can not evaluate open seating since we asked to be assigned to the same table every night; this greatly enhanced our experience. Tea and Savories. We went to tea at Aqualina once for tea and it was lovely with harp music and table service. We found that stopping by Cova worked out better with our schedules. We didn't order tea in the room but had savories twice and they were excellent. Being tied down to a time didn't seem worth it except for sea days. Activities My favorite activity was the T pool on the spa deck. (It took one day to heat up). While on Celebrity I gravitated to the T pool to escape the noise of the main pool; this was not necessary on Journey. I actually went into the main pool for the first time on a cruise and had the pool to myself. The Celebrity Cabaret was nicer that I expected and we had no problem with sight lines. The performers were good, but the material was not exciting. The magician had left and we had a piano player instead. The comedian was diverting as was the show about Hollywood. The nice thing was that attending was not a must but was pleasant if you could make it. The guitar player on board was very good. The piano player outside Cova was not my taste. The harp music was lovely. The pool band was fine. There were the usual activities - we participated in the Broadway name that tune, martini and wine tastings, and culinary demonstration. We also attended the Captains Club reception. We missed the Captain's toast because we were at dinner. There were also some very distinctive events. There was a very nice cruise critic get together in Michael's Club which was well attended by senior staff who were eager to talk and listen. The ship arranged for Shabbat services. The soon to be Captain held a star gazing talk. There were performances by a noted local musician and the Goombay dancers which was outstanding. Port Experience We were docked in very convenient locations in both St. Georges and Hamilton. It was very easy to get on and off the ship. Bermuda was wonderful but won't go into here -particularly since only one more sailing. Return Trip After having had perfect weather in Bermuda, we returned with winds over 40 mph and 12 foot waves. The Captain made an announcement asking women not to wear heels and for everyone to stay off of the open decks. We had a very enjoyable day anyway. Our rooms were aft and it seems the motion was worse in front of the ship. Disembarkation We had a very nice breakfast at the buffet. We were scheduled to leave at 9:10 and weren't called until almost 10 which was fine with us since we got to have some more time on the deck. (Have I mentioned how comfortable the deck chairs are?) Once we were called, we went quickly through customs and to car. Comparison with Celebrity Although it seems that Azamara is trying to differentiate itself from Celebrity, there are enough similarities to ensure a comfort level. The main differences from Celebrity are the lack of formal nights and open seating. What you don't have: midnight buffet, baked Alaska night, informal elegant tea, production shows, Aqua spa cafe, children's program, Captain's club gift. What you do have: shorter or no lines, senior staff accessible, less crowding, a very low key atmosphere, different pillow treats every night, tea available in room, more artistry in food presentation. For instance, instead of just plain broiled lobster tails, lobster was prepared four different ways; instead of baked Alaska we were served a dessert sampler. Also, the Journey is non-smoking except for two areas. The bedding and robes were of higher quality and concierge class amenities were in all cabins. We have always enjoyed Celebrity and also enjoyed Azamara very much. I feel the two lines complement one another and would sail either with pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Arriving at the dock and checking in was flawless and quick. Probably the best check-in experience I've had. Upon boarding, we were greeted and offered a glass of champagne which was just slighly cooler than room temperature. Yuk!! ... Read More
Arriving at the dock and checking in was flawless and quick. Probably the best check-in experience I've had. Upon boarding, we were greeted and offered a glass of champagne which was just slighly cooler than room temperature. Yuk!! Since the rooms are not ready until after 1 PM we went to the buffet. After big ship buffets, this one seems very small with few selections, but all selections were excellent. I'm always grateful to Celebrity for their breads and pastries---they fall way below most ship lines in quality and taste and I can therefore resist them. The Journey's breads and pastries were no exception. Desserts were also boring--again, I thank them, although the presentations was always wonderful. Cabins are small---175 sq feet--bathrooms are tiny. Nice table and chairs on the balcony. Decor is scrumptious, new and fresh. The cabin service was just wonderful--we almost never saw our "butler" but everything was always clean and neat. One thing the "butler service" did for me was to convience me that these were services I don't need. I can--and prefer to, pack and unpack myself. My shoes don't need shining. I don't need tea deliver to my door between 4-5PM (especially since I have to order it by 11 AM--come on now, I'm on vacation--I don't want to plan my day that far in advance). Tea is available in a lovely restaurant on deck 10 at the same time. I also don't need tiny sandwiches deliver to my room between 4-5PM--same reasons as above. Other butler services like full breakfast room service was available thru room service. I had room service twice. Once for the breakfast that I order the night before--it arrived ten minutes early and lukewarm. The second time we ordered hamburgers from room service about 3:30PM after returning from shore and they arrived hot and yummy in about 15 minutes. We ate at both speciality restaurants---Prime C on departure night was only half full---it took almost three hours to eat--way too long. The food was very good. Wednesday was Aqualina--much better service--only half full--good food. Neither of the speciality restaurants had exceptional food. The food in the main dining room, Discoveries, was very good and I would have skipped the specialty restaurants if I would have known that the quality difference was so small between speciality and regualr dining. Discoveries has way too many tables set way too close together to give you a fine dining experience. It's a shame because the overcrowding takes away from the experience. I'm sorry that I waited until the last evening to partake in evening buffet--pasta station, stir fry station---much more--they even put white table cloths on the tables. The ice cream is made onboard and very good---sugar free vanilla is exceptional. Shows were good--we didn't see the comedian. Lectures were good and interesting. If you are a Martini fan, don't miss the Martini bar right outside of Discoveries. Mr Martini, AKA Rusti, makes the world's best. The "bar" vodka is Grey Goose. The Martini cost $10.00 but it's worth it. It's so huge that partner & I asked Mr. Martini to split it between two glasses--which he graciously did. Each was the size of a usual restaurant martini. Only funny thing is these tiny little olives--not the kind you'd expect in a quality martini. To show you what a great guy Mr. Martini is, we complained about the size of the olives and the lack of our favorite blue cheese stuffed olives. The next evening we had blue cheese stuffed olives. He had taken these tiny olives and stuffed them with blue cheese himself---not an easy task when they're so tiny. Smoking may cause some problems on Azamara---we traveled with a couple of people who smoke and they were surprised to find that they could not smoke on their balcony--they did anyway-- and got a terse letter from the captain. They will not travel this line again and since we travel with them frequently, we will honor their preference to be able to smoke outside on their own balcony. Without exception, the service is wonderful throughout the ship. This was my first small ship experience and it told me that I'm a "big ship" kinda gal. I found it too small, not enough choices in things to do or places to eat--the ceilings alway felt that they were caving in on me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Review of the Azamara Journey Sail date: 6 October 2007 As to some background; we are avid cruise ship travelers, having completed over 50 cruises, of all types, including freighters, river ships, barges and cruise ships. We prefer ... Read More
Review of the Azamara Journey Sail date: 6 October 2007 As to some background; we are avid cruise ship travelers, having completed over 50 cruises, of all types, including freighters, river ships, barges and cruise ships. We prefer smaller ships and, thus, were glad when Celebrity acquired the Journey, a 700 passenger vessel. Embarkation: We used Celebrity air to travel to Newark. The flight, fortunately, was uneventful and our baggage actually arrived with us. We were met by shore representatives and were transported to the port with only slight delays. The actual embarkation was, without doubt, the easiest and least stressful ever experienced. We were on ship within 15 minutes. Upon embarkation we were directed to the Windows Cafe to have lunch and wait for the cabin preparation to be completed. This was done by about 1:20 pm. Cabin: We were in a Sky Suite. Overall, the cabin was quite nice and very comfortable. The bath, though small, was adequate. The veranda is small and contains a table and two chairs. The verandas do not offer any privacy due to the transparent frosted glass partitions, which have a large open space surrounding them. HOWEVER, the one glaring error, in the redo of these cabins, is the apparent absolute absence of soundproofing. This is especially noticeable between the cabin and the deck above. The noise of the movement of people, furniture and equipment was overwhelming. During party time, on the pool deck, especially at night, you can forget about relaxing, much less sleeping. In our view, a major mistake, especially considering these are nearly the most expensive cabins, on the vessel. Dining: The food was outstanding. In fact, we felt this is some of the best cruise ship food we have had in many years. All dining rooms, Discovery, Prime C and Aqualina were very good. Actually, the food in the main dining room, in our view, was the best of the three, although Aqualina was the most attractive. The main dining room tended to be noisy and the tables seemed to be crowded. The Windows Cafe, buffet for breakfast and lunch, was good, but on a par with most other mid level ships. The food was hot, when required and cold when required. Adequate describes it. While the dining areas had disinfecting hand wipes, it seems the liquid dispenser form, like found on other Celebrity ships, would be more effective. As a side note, we would like to see a return to fixed dining as opposed to the open dining concept. Just our preference. Ship activities: Bermuda is a destination which requires one to spend a great deal of time ashore. As a result, we did not use any of the ships activities. We did note the daily program offered plenty of them. Therefore, for those who chose to stay aboard, I am sure there were lots of options open to them. As with the activities, we did not attend any of the ships shows. That is just our preference. Based on comments from other passengers, it appears the entertainment was standard cruise ship fare, somewhat scaled down due to the ship's size. Shore excursions: There were pages of options. We chose to use public transportation passes, which were available for sale at guest relations. This because we had been to Bermuda a few times before and knew our way around. Also, this is such a small place that it is very easy to get around. If one wanted to do a tour, however, there were many options and they appeared to be reasonably priced. General observations: In our view this is a great ship. Comfortable and just the right size. The negatives are few. Cabin noise in the Sky Suites was the greatest complaint. For the life of us, we can not understand Celebrity's insistence on the use of "Butlers". This is an absolute waste. Our "butler" spent the better part of his time assisting the cabin steward. I guess it is just one way of creating another "gratuity" payment. Would we do this ship again - a resounding yes, but not in a Suite. Would we recommend the ship. Again, yes, but stay away from the Suites. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Arriving at Cape Liberty was as easy as it could get and embarkation was also fast and orderly. We arrived about 1:30 pm. Room was ready and luggage arrived shortly. We found the butler and cabin steward to be friendly and always aware ... Read More
Arriving at Cape Liberty was as easy as it could get and embarkation was also fast and orderly. We arrived about 1:30 pm. Room was ready and luggage arrived shortly. We found the butler and cabin steward to be friendly and always aware of your needs. Cabin was located at the back of the ship and had a more than ample balcony with a table and chairs and lounge. A little noise from the props served to put one to sleep. The vibration was soothing. The air conditioning was fine, not to cold or too hot in the room. Room was impeccable and the bedding awesome. The bathroom was tiny but no complaints. Towels were thick and fluffy and plenty big. We enjoyed the elemis products also. Only complaint about the room was the television. Nice enough, but needs to be tilted down so that you can see the screen better. The picture was distorted with how they have it hung. Food on this ship was outstanding. All restaurants were great and service was fine. Coffee was way too strong and not hot enough. The coffee from Cova was fine and the selection of treats as Cova was wonderful. The casino was small but never found it to be overcrowded. Actually the ship paid out more money that I have ever received on any cruise ship. It was fun and enjoyable. Visiting Bermuda was a first for us, and we found it to be beautiful. Rental of scooters was easy and driving around, although a little scary at first, (due to driving on the left) became easy the more you did it. I would recommend the Journey to any of my friends. The staff was wonderful, the passengers were mostly over 50, and the lack of kids and babies made for a quiet and upscale time. Met some lovely people and would certainly sail on Journey again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
After reading a couple of 'complainers', I decided to write and say how much we enjoyed the Journey. We have only sailed five times, so perhaps we aren't as 'picky' as some of the previous reviewers. We traveled to ... Read More
After reading a couple of 'complainers', I decided to write and say how much we enjoyed the Journey. We have only sailed five times, so perhaps we aren't as 'picky' as some of the previous reviewers. We traveled to Cape Liberty the day before and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near the airport and took a van to the port on embarkation day, arriving about 11:30. We thought the embarkation was extremely easy, especially after standing in line for over an hour last July when we cruised on the Mariner of the Seas. We had no problem with the stairs and were greeted with a glass of champagne when we got aboard. We looked around the ship - which we had sailed on when it was Renaissance - and is the reason we chose this particular ship to sail to Bermuda. Since we knew it to have a smaller passenger capacity, we were definitely interested in sailing it again. We were on board in time for the welcome lunch, which was very good and found a table easily. We had coffee and juice delivered by room service each morning, promptly when requested. The only complaint that I had was that I thought the coffee was terribly strong - but it was hot, and the juice was good. Later we would go for breakfast and always found a good selection of fruit, cereal, eggs, breads, waffles, etc. We played golf at St. George's - and while it was a short course, it provided many scenic views which we enjoyed. The course wasn't crowded and was less expensive than some of the other options. We had lunch at the White Horse Tavern after playing....and spent some time in the shops before going back to the ship - which was docked near the center of town. We especially enjoyed the pianist - Antonio ? - who was outstanding, and made a point of going to his second show a couple of nights later. We also liked the comedian - Fred Klett (?) who appeared two nights and had lots of laughs with him. We went to one of the Journey shows - which was just okay...but missed a couple of nights when we ate at the specialty restaurant, somewhat later than normal. We ate at the Aquafina restaurant twice and thought the food was especially good - my husband thought the rack of lamb was one of the best he had ever had (and he's had lots of them!). We both enjoyed the chocolate souffle one night and had the chocolate lava cake the other night....of course, by the time dessert arrived, we were so stuffed that we barely had 'space available' for it! We also enjoyed the food in the Discoveries dining room - and never had the feeling that it was crowded or that the wait staff was frazzled as some have stated. Thought the food was excellently prepared and very tasty - especially as compared to our last cruise on the Mariner. We didn't go on any of the shore excursions but went by ourselves to most of the island - we purchased a three day bus/ferry pass from Guest Relations and used it extensively - we took a ferry to the Dockyards one day and rode the bus back, stopping at a couple of interesting places. Also took the bus northward one day and saw many beautiful homes and golf courses - we felt like we had 'seen' Bermuda and still had lots of free time on board. Unfortunately, it was raining on the day of disembarkation, which slowed the process some - but it was still relatively easy and quick. The main problem was people not being prepared with their seapasses, etc. which they needed to exit the ship. We took a shuttle bus to the airport which delivered us promptly. All in all, I would say this was a wonderful cruise and I'm sorry that the Journey is going to South America for the winter, as I would love to go on her again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My husband and I cruised on the Journey's first 14-day sailing on October 27th. It was a great cruise and the Journey is a wonderful ship though they do have some work to do to become what I feel they are trying to market Azamara to ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the Journey's first 14-day sailing on October 27th. It was a great cruise and the Journey is a wonderful ship though they do have some work to do to become what I feel they are trying to market Azamara to be in comparison to the other cruise lines. The boat is still in need of renovations, repairs and updates; this would not be the expectation on the upscale, luxury lines. But what Azamara is currently doing right, is done with 5-star class, style and service. The check in was a breeze; we were on board within minutes and eating a fabulous lunch. Though the check in was great, we would get a taxi the next time versus arranging for transfers. We waited in the airport 2 hours for a bus full of passengers to arrive before we could leave for the ship. We were not a happy crowd! A constant theme throughout the trip with one fabulous meal after another fabulous meal. All other passengers commented on the amazing quality and presentation of the food, which certainly includes the service of the personnel. In addition, both of us thought the buffet area and the dining room were very clean. We are also happy to report no known cases of any viruses on board. We had an inside cabin and encountered very few people in other inside rooms; the majority of the rooms on board are ocean view and balcony rooms. We felt the room was perfect. We had no problems with seeing the TV as others have reported however there are very few channels to chose from but there were 2 movies running each day. Since we were cruising during Halloween, one of the movies was a horror movie/thriller (Frankenstein, Halloween, The Birds, etc). This did get a little old; maybe a day or two with horror movies but enough was enough! The bedding is as wonderful as others have reported; a very comfortable nights sleep every night while on board. The bathroom is very small for sitting on the toilet and for taking a shower. The Elemis toiletries in the bathroom are great - no need to bring shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bar soap, cotton balls, shower caps, or Q-tips. We opted for evening showers in the spa using the shower with 7 heads on many nights...it was very relaxing. It was rumored that our cruise was the last free cruise to have use of the T-pool, the showers and the changing rooms however I am not certain if that is true. On our first day, the manager of the spa gave us a tour and she did say this was the last free cruise but it was her first day on board and she could have been uninformed at that point. The gym area was never crowded and there was no wait for machines. The T-pool was very hot on most evenings but we still found it a relaxing and very underutilized area. The hot tubs by the pool were not working properly the whole cruise; we did mention this at the front desk and they acted as if this was new information to them. You can ask for berries and grapes in your fruit bowl instead of apples, etc and they will comply unless/until they run out. The flowers were never dead as others have reported. We did not utilize the "butler" service but we are pretty low maintenance. Dinner was a wonderful experience each night. The first night was very crowded and we were escorted upstairs to Prime C for a free meal...a very nice surprise...but we did want a table for 2 only so this was their quick solution. The Prime C meal was perfection in all regards - sea bass for me; surf and turf for my DH. We knew it was going to be a great vacation with a beginning like this! Since we enjoyed Prime C, we opted for Aqualina on our "free" night (inside rooms get only 1 free night). Though we read many reviews noting that Aqualina was their preference, we found our meals lacking in quality, interest and presentation. Lobster for me and a filet for my DH; we both commented that the dining room meals were consistently superior to Aqualina (even the desserts). A table for 2 in the dining room was never an issue though most of the tables for 2 are very close together (a long line of small tables) therefore you feel as if you are dining with other couples but you do not have the obligation of making small talk. We did hear comments from others that they experienced frustration being seated at the larger tables - if someone was having wine(s), was a slower eater, or a talker, dinner could take 2 hours. Even though we agree that vacation is time to relax, we don't have the patience or the interest for this; we opted for a table for 2 every night. We tried Breeza (the evening name for the buffet area) 2 nights so we could enjoy the stir fry one night and the pasta the other; we read many positive reviews and had to agree that this was a nice option after a long day in the sun. The guitar player/singer in the evening added a nice ambience. The morning buffet seemed fairly consistent the days we ate there as was the menu in the main dining room; some breakfast variety would have been nice. Room service was excellent and arrived hot and as ordered. You receive a card each evening to make your selections; you chose your time of delivery. It is an excellent system and it does work! Lunch was varied in the dining room and in the buffet. The floor in the buffet area was very slick (esp in the mornings) - this is a problem that needs to be remedied quickly as it is quite a hazard. The soft serve ice cream machine was working well and was used quite often; chocolate and vanilla were most common but they whipped up some strawberry on some days (it was the best!). The grill was a hot spot in the afternoons; great fries; good hamburger and steak sandwich choices; the veggie burger was perfect. Entertainment...well, sometimes not so entertaining! The Journey cast was great and everyone turned out for their shows; the 2 comedians were awesome; the international guitar player was exceptional. One entertainer, Loretta Holloway, forgot the words to her song twice and we eventually left. We heard the next day that she was singing to an empty room by the time her show was over. Hopefully she won't be invited back. There was also a steel drum player that was probably very good but his background music drowned out his instrument; I think the crowd dwindled down to a few people by the time his show was over also. The evening party on deck for Dancing under the Stars and the local Bermuda dancers was extremely fun; wish they had done more things like this; great turn out and lots of drinks being sold. We were disappointed that they only had a movie showing once in the theater during the whole 14-day cruise; this is usually a favorite of ours to enjoy a few movies in the theater but we may have been spoiled on Holland America with this option. Bermuda was as good as reported by everyone; very safe and very easy to navigate by bus. The original itinerary included Grand Turk. Azamara sent letters to some passengers to note that Grand Turk had been removed from the itinerary though we were not aware of this until we were 1 day into the journey. This was a big disappointment to us and to others. We get tons of mail and email from Celebrity, Azamara and all the other cruise lines so we are not sure the problem with us not getting a letter or email notification. Labadee is a great place and very relaxing; we heard too many awful stories about the market so we didn't even venture in. Seemed like most people brought back the usual trinkets so I don't think we missed much. We tendered as early as we could and got a great spot; DH snorkeled and had a great time. They do require you to wear a vest if you chose to snorkel. The meal on the island was awesome but the locals eating with us was very odd. They took food with their hands and really piled it on their plates. A lot of locals were on this private part of the island but no one really seemed to be doing anything unless they knew they would be readily tipped for their service. No need to book a tour for Santa Marta. Once you get off the ship, you will be in an area to take a van tour for $20 each. Definitely a better option than going to the beach or walking around on your own. You see some nice sights, great views, do a little shopping, see the "resort" area; you will definitely leave feeling that these are very happy people that welcome the tourists. We arranged a private tour in Cartagena through Lee a.k.a. "Mister Emerald"; he was very responsive by email and provided a wonderful tour guide and driver. We were a group of 7 Cruise Critic members; $20 each for the tour and $25 for entrance fees to the museums. It was a good deal for what were able to see. Cartagena is a great place to see; plenty of history. Much better to see with a guide than to attempt this on your own; it did not look unsafe but just too expansive to really see effectively without a plan. You won't go wrong contacting Lee and you will feel very safe. On our last cruise, we went through the Panama Canal so we opted for the City Tour offered through Azamara. The majority of people on our bus felt the tour lacking in any substance or quality; I met several at the tour desk the next day filing a complaint form. We did also and received a letter reply (obviously mass produced) that we should have read our Terms and Conditions. I responded to their letter by sending a note stating that we only wanted to get what we paid for and what was advertised. They again responded with a letter that they would bring our complaints to the tour operators attention and they attached a copy of the Terms and Conditions. This was the greatest disappointment of the trip. Don't trust Azamara on the tours; thinking back through the committed itinerary and the product we received, it was not even realistic time wise. Our tour guide even told us he did not like doing tours with the cruise companies; it was obvious to us!! The San Blas Island stop confirmed that we were finished with cruising in the Caribbean for a while. It was just another stop to see the beach and be offered lots of trinkets by the locals. Many took very over priced cabs ($40 each) to see the island but we jumped on the bus for 25 (or 50) cent each - we saw enough of the island; went to the beach and went to the main shopping/tourist area. They take the 1-3 siesta time seriously and all shops were closed then. The most interesting part of the stop was watching the cars, buses, and scooters (with 3 and 4 people on them) go by; seeing the military people; and talking with a few of the locals. Definitely not a place to return to but not unsafe or scary enough to stay on the boat as many did. This was a long tender ride but with such gorgeous water, that was fine with us. Disembarking was a problem...the boat was not cleared for a few hours for some reason. Then they let everyone get off at once as people were really getting loud about the delay; the luggage area was a zoo and there were only 2 immigration agents to check everyone out; I don't think we can blame Azamara for this but we were not concerned with the details at that point, we were ready to begin our 2 days in Miami. If you opt to stay over, check out the Indian River Hotel...very affordable nostalgic "south Beach style" hotel one block over from the beach and the boardwalk with a wonderful Cuban cafe across the street (Tropical something Cafe - so good we ate their twice - $13 total for dinner for 2). Just a few blocks walk on the boardwalk and you are in the heart of the South Beach excitement. The boat handles well for its size; we loved the size of this boat! The smaller casino did not appeal to some but it was fine for us since we only spent about $3 in it. There are only 2 shops on board; they pull out the gold by the inch table and the boxed jewelry tables as usual. The art show was priced quite high and people were buying (much to our constant amazement!). Bring some extra wire hangers if you are on a 14-day sailing. We hung a dollar store shoe organizer on the closet door for toiletries, meds, etc that kept us organized since the bathroom was so small; we trashed it instead of bringing it home for a future trip but it was a well spent $1 before we left. They don't do a great job clearly listing all of the times and places to dance/watch others dance with the band. The band is wonderful and there were some very entertaining dancers on our sailing though we encountered them by surprise. The program has a list of activities and then a list of the musical offerings in a different location. Try breakfast in your room a few days; a very relaxing treat for us! Afternoon Tea in Aqualina is formal so they bring the cart around and serve each person; very time consuming so we only did this once. However, when it was offered in Michael's, it was on a cart where you could make your own selections; much quicker. Michael's had a great library and was a relaxing place that was consistently quiet. Michael's, the dining room, the theater, etc were well air conditioned so pack a sweater/wrap esp for evenings. Most took the resort casual theme a step too far but they were on vacation so it was no big deal to us; we did hear a few nasty comments about it from others. A few nights into the trip, resort casual turned into t-shirts; this is obviously offensive to some. There was one little boy on board; no other children; this is definitely not a kid's boat though even in the summer time. We were in port with the Quest and received a pass to go on board and check it out; exactly the same as the Journey though it seemed to be in slightly better repair from our limited surveillance. Your butler will empty your fridge so you can store your wine brought from home or other items as you see fit. We received choc covered strawberries 2 evenings and very tasty treats on the other evenings (some items seemed to be left over from tea time); it was odd that these treats left in your room were not covered in plastic wrap so they would be stale by morning if you chose not to eat them that night (covering food could be a personal preference I suppose!). If an itinerary and price came along that fit our needs, we would definitely sail with Azamara again (though we would not book any of their excursions). It was an overall great cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
First off, if you are not older than 60 yrs of age this is not the boat for you. They were maybe 10 couples younger than 60.We got shhhh'd everywhere for laughing and having a good time. We embarked out of Newyork harbor on 9/29/07. ... Read More
First off, if you are not older than 60 yrs of age this is not the boat for you. They were maybe 10 couples younger than 60.We got shhhh'd everywhere for laughing and having a good time. We embarked out of Newyork harbor on 9/29/07. Extremely smooth getting on board. When entering the ship you were greeted with champagne and orange juice. We stayed in a Sky Suite. Very roomy with plenty of closet space. The bathroom was pretty big however the tub was smaller than I expected.The balcony could have had nicer chairs, too hard. We did find it hard to get in touch with our butler. Many times the phone just rang. Which led me to believe he had too many rooms to deal with. The room however was very clean at all times. The food was very good both at the buffet and regular diningroom. We only ate at one specialty restaurant. Prime C was excellent. However I do not like open dining. The personal service is lacking and I always enjoyed getting to know all of the wait servers at the old style of dining. We did get to know some staff, however it took longer to develop that. I also find it insulting having to pay a cover charge for the specialty restaurants. I feel you should not have to pay any extra for a product and service that should already be in place through out the boat. Plus it was hard to make a reservation. No one answered the phone or the head waiter was unavailable and he was the only one who could take a reservation. I tried to get help from our butler but as I said before we could not find him. This cruise was sold to me as a luxury higher end cruise with all the upgrades. However I Found dead flowers through out this boat. VERY DEAD flowers. Pictures of Chandeliers on the walls are not my idea of art. They looked like they were bought at a garage sale. The beautiful china closets by the Martini Bar did not have real items in them but real tacky pictures of plates and vases.CHEAP!!!!! and very tacky. The pool deck was redone and the lounge chairs were wonderful, however the pool and it's tile looked older than the boat. They was hardly any music pool side and when there was it was only on one side and too low for anyone else to hear. When asked to make the music louder people complained. It was like sitting all the old aunts and uncles by the DJ at a wedding. Nothing but complaining. Keep in mind I was there for my 20th wedding anniversary and I am not a youngster. The entertainment was the worst. Other than the comedian which I might add no one over 60 laughed at, it was lacking and really bad. The band had no energy and the members looked bored. Not to mention the audience seemed to rather watch them like a tv news program than dance. I was not impressed with this 35 million dollar upgrade. The service needs work and the butler service did not live up to what was expected. When I asked for a Azamara bag I received a bag that clearly had been used. (sand and a receipt inside ) I did use the spa twice and was pleased with treatments. However I left my gold chain on the sink and in less than minute it was hidden behind a fixture. If I had not immediately come back it would have been taken. Clearly someone moved it out of sight waiting for me to leave. The only people there were Myself and the girl who changed the towels. I was not pleased at all. Though I did enjoy our trip. We met a great couple that we had a lot of fun with. Without them we would have been bored to death. I will not cruise Azamara ever again. I hope this is not the standard for this cruiseline and it's parent company. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Here goes with my stream of consciousness review, and it may be ridiculously long and chock-full of positives and negatives. I call 'em like I see 'em. Agree or disagree at your leisure. When I read reviews of a ship, before I ... Read More
Here goes with my stream of consciousness review, and it may be ridiculously long and chock-full of positives and negatives. I call 'em like I see 'em. Agree or disagree at your leisure. When I read reviews of a ship, before I sail her, I always prefer the cheerleading mega-positive reviews. But this isn't that. And, obviously, these are just my experiences. Your experiences may/will be completely different. Embarkation stress (this obviously isn't the norm, but it happened to us). Had air with Azamara and arrived in Newark at 1:20 - granted, a bit later than ideal, but Azamara had approved the flight so we didn't think there'd be any problem. As soon as we arrived, on time, and were waiting for luggage, the guy shows up with the "Celebrity" card (they might want to put Azamara on the card too, as I'm not sure everyone knows Azamara is owned by Celebrity). So it's like quarter til two, got the luggage, good to go. The guy says they're waiting for two more people. Fine. We wait, and wait and wait. Now it's 3:15. Uhm, excuse me, I believe the ship sails at 4:00. He says not to worry. Finally, after all this time, he figures out that the two people had taken an earlier flight and were already on the ship. So, we finally get on the shuttle and make our way to the terminal (yes we have to carry our bags to the ship, because the porters are long gone). They're about to close the doors at the terminal. There was a bit of an attitude from the check-in people, as if it was our fault we were woefully late. We get shuttled to the ship. We look up to see all the other passengers in the middle of muster drill. Well, at least we missed that. We finally get on the ship. I was only mildly annoyed. I was on vacation and I was on the ship. I thought about saying something to the front desk people, but decided it wouldn't really serve any purpose. First impressions of the ship. Beautiful. Dark and elegant woods and fine fabrics. Clearly much nicer, and warmer, than some of the newer, overwrought plasticy ships I've sailed. There are some really beat-up areas though, where big chunks of the veneered wood missing and not replaced. Some newly-done upholstery that wasn't finished (staples sticking out and untrimmed fabric), guess they ran out of time. As someone on an earlier post mentioned, they replaced pictures on the walls with smaller pictures in the main dining room, so there are these unsightly holes and scarring where the larger pictures were. Okay, I know what you're thinking, his glass if half empty! But I'm really not the kind of person to sit around and look for imperfections, I know every ship will have some issues, but some of these were really obvious and should have been addressed during the refurbishment. And about the pictures/art. Again, I know this was mentioned before, but they've used all of these modern prints everywhere. Kinda corporate generic stuff. Mostly, they don't work and are in complete conflict with the style of the ship. Just some really odd choices, it seems to me. It's not that modern, per se, wouldn't work. In fact, I think the big glass necklace sculpture on the main staircase is very cool. But, to sum up, despite these issues, the ship is beautiful. Pretty much gorgeous, I'd say. And the size of the ship, for me, is perfect. Also the layout. This was my tenth cruise and by far the smallest ship. I would prefer to be on this size of ship, or smaller, from now on. Just really easy to get around. We had a verandah stateroom on 6. The decor was lovely. There was plenty of storage, I thought. The bathroom was tiny but quite useable. The "butler" did his job well, but please please please Azamara, stop calling them butlers, simply using the term "butler" isn't fooling anyone. I really loved the room, despite its relative smallness. Except the television. Okay, complain, complain. But they put the tv about eye level when standing. And plasma, or LCD tv's (I don't know which it was), need a direct line of sight to see the picture clearly. It was impossible, when sitting on the bed or the couch, to see the tv clearly without craning your neck. To really see the picture, you have to stand up and watch, not ideal. And I do think a television is important on a cruise, for me anyway. Sometimes I want to relax in the stateroom and watch a movie. I thought the food ran the gamut from decent to outstanding. Too wide a range, I believe. We ate at Prime C the first night and it was fantastic. About as good as anywhere. Service was serviceable. We ate in the main dining room the second night, and it was probably the worst dining experience of any of my ten cruises. First of all, there are simply too many tables in the main dining room. They have lots of tables for two lined up, so it's not like eating alone at all. But I think we were in the worst table for two, which was right in an aisle. So it was a bombardment of waiters rushing madly back and forth. It was very loud and stressful in there. The engine noise/vibration doesn't help, though that's clearly something that can't be fixed. The service was honestly about what you'd expect in a Chili's. But I can't blame the servers for this. They obviously do not have time to give good service, like, you know, getting you something to drink. Azamara has simply not figured out how to do this open seating concept. They can't handle the glut of people that show up from seven to eight-thirty. They must fix this. The food was okay, although my fillet, which I wanted medium-rare, was completely overcooked, uniformly brown. I might have sent it back but the waiter, and his assistant, were nowhere to be found. Other courses were typical cruiseline fare, nothing special. Should I expect better than typical cruiseline fare? I think so, at least with how this new cruiseline seems to be positioning itself. Ate at Aqualina the third night, and again, wonderful food, nice service. But if you sit in the back area of the restaurant, you may wonder why it's so bright. Our waiter said they knew this but couldn't fix this problem(?), so I'd request a table in the front for more atmospheric (darker) dining. Actually, we ended up eating at the specialty restaurants on four nights. It was definitely worth the cost to have a nice, relaxing, excellent meal. The other nights in the main dining room we ended up going really early, around six-fifteen, to avoid the chaos. It was much better, in terms of service. Food was fine, though again nothing really memorable. We ate in the buffet thing several times, which we usually do not do. They actually close the dining room, much to my chagrin, at lunch during the two Hamilton days, so we had to eat the buffet. Full disclosure: I hate the buffet thing. Though granted, I think this was better than most. But the food was never hot. Don't know why, it was just always lukewarm. And the food was just okay. But the sushi at night was much better than I've had on any other line. The dining room lunches were much better. The service was much better than at night, as well, simply because there are so many fewer guests to serve. But why do they have the same lunch desert menu every day? The bananas foster and the apple tart were both excellent, but couldn't they try something else? Just askin'. I think I'm being, perhaps, pickier here than I would be on, say, Royal Caribbean, or Holland America, or Princess, because I have the sense that Azamara is trying to be, at least, a little step above these lines. I'm not sure they are, yet. I'll just interject here that the best cruise food I've ever had was on the Celebrity Mercury, ten years ago, before Celebrity was acquired by RCCL. I wish that cruise line still existed... Another whining complaint: I was hoping beyond hope that I wouldn't have to see the "sale" tables of goods every night at the shops. It's just so dang tacky, and, if I remember, every line I've been on does it. Purses and close out perfume and costume jewelry lined up on a folding table. Do all the more upscale lines (Crystal, Seabourne, Oceania, etc.) do this? And the ubiquitous art auctions. I've seen the same "art" being sold on every cruise I've ever been on. But clearly they make money for everyone involved (except the purchaser), so they're not going away. Yikes, I'm getting too negative here, I know, but here's some more good stuff: the gym, terrific, especially for the size of the ship. It was never crowded and they had excellent equipment. The martinis were well-made and HUGE (maybe a bit too huge). The beds and pillows and sheets and towels and robes, all very good. The bed-time treats in the room, a lovely touch. The cruise director seemed very good, I mean, he was actually around and talking to people all the time. He seemed very friendly and helpful. The poolside loungers were the best, amazingly comfortable, and usually easy to get. The pool, though small, was nice, though I think some of the tiling surrounding it looked kind of sad, and probably should have been replaced. Oh, and Bermuda is a fantastic island. Lots to do, easy to get around, amazingly friendly people, not in your face trying to sell you junk you don't want (St. Thomas, anyone?) I'd love to go to Bermuda again. Entertainment: Hmmm. I don't know, nothing really appealed to me (and here I'm referring only to the musicians around the ship, not to the main shows). I wish more lines would start employing some quality jazz ensembles, or classical musicians, or interesting singers. I suppose the entertainment on Holland America is more to my personal liking. But whenever I see a musician, like the guitarist on this ship, with a laptop computer in front of them churning out some electronic drumbeat, I want to run the other way. And he seemed to be pretty good too, despite the computer generated music. As far as the bigger shows, I only watched a few minutes of the five singers cabaret thing, so I can't judge the other shows. So, to sum up: overall I enjoyed the cruise, lots of the food, size and beauty of the ship, Bermuda, the special little amenities, like fruit, and flowers, and goodies. What didn't work so well for me? Mainly the service. Overall, it was no better or worse than any other line. There were excellent employees, and others who didn't seem interested. I believe this is the most important element for this new cruiseline to address. That and the main dining room. Though I've gotten used to the eat-when-you-want concept on Princess, etc., I think maybe this ship would run much better with old-fashioned assigned dining times and tables. Would I sail them again? Sure. But if I found an Oceania cruise with similar pricing, I would definitely do that. And no, I've never been on Oceania. But if I had to rank this cruise, it would be below all of my Celebrity cruises, and above everything else. So a solid second. But I think Azamara is pointed in the right direction, though, and I'm glad I went. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
On September 15 a lady friend and I ( aged 50) sailed on The Azamara Journey to Bermuda. The journey is a beautiful ship and we loved her. Getting on the ship was very quick and we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Everything on the ... Read More
On September 15 a lady friend and I ( aged 50) sailed on The Azamara Journey to Bermuda. The journey is a beautiful ship and we loved her. Getting on the ship was very quick and we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Everything on the ship was very clean and well decorated. Our room was very nice and we had a picture window. Our room steward did a great job of cleaning and replacing linens.We had fresh fruit and flowers also. (This was done twice a day.0 \The food was wonderful from the buffet, to the main dining room, to both of the specialty restaurants. I especially liked Prime C. The steak was one of the best ones I have ever had. The service was especially good in both of the specialty restaurants, but wonderful in the main dining room. It was a lot easier to get a table quickly if you would sit with others. We had to wait 10-15 minutes a couple of nights for a table for two. Go before 7 or after 8 if you don't want to wait. It is less crowded then.Ahmet was a great waiter and we asked to be served by him each night. We did not take any of the tours so I can not evaluate them. We bought a bus and ferry pass for 3 days which was $28.00. ( at guest relations deck 4.)We enjoyed Bermuda very much and had wonderful weather. Be sure to go to Horseshoe Bay in Hamilton and Tobacco Bay in St. George. The entertainment was good although unlike a large cruise ship.There was a harpist, a comedian, magician, steel band,cabaret music and a combo. They also had an art auction, bingo, dance contest, dancing, and the usual cruise activities. We enjoyed them all. The staff was very friendly and tried very hard to please. They work so hard and want everyone to have a wonderful vacation. The pool and pool area was lovely. People spent a lot of time there on sea days. Drinks were good and not watered down. They were priced reasonably. Wine is cheaper by the bottle as they will cork any unfinished wine. Dress code was dressy casual at dinner.Although there were some suits and sport jackets, many men wore nice pants with long sleeved shirts. Dress pants with a nice jacket or sweater set was the norm for women. Although there were no long gowns, some women did wear short dressy dresses. The only complaint we had is that the chef did not seem to be able to do a vegetarian fare for dinner. My friend seemed to be served pasta most nights. A little variety would have helped, but we also realize the Azamara is new and very few vegetarians on board so far. Overall, we had a wonderful cruise. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We are a couple in our early 40's (on this sailing putting us into the "younger" category), and this was our second "modern-era" cruise. I hesitate to go to the effort of a review since the Journey experience will ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 40's (on this sailing putting us into the "younger" category), and this was our second "modern-era" cruise. I hesitate to go to the effort of a review since the Journey experience will doubtless change in a post-Bermuda context, but I want to get my 5-rating into the mix. This was my first cruise as a CC member, and onboard I quickly experienced two drawbacks to cruising in the CC context; 1) my initial experiences and impressions were colored by the prior weeks of research and discussion about the ship, and 2) I spent much of the first days on the Journey writing mental sentences to be included in my post-sailing review, not simply enjoying the increasingly wonderful experience. I feel we experienced the essence of some of the apparent discrepancies between prior reviews: the Journey offers both a "sum of the parts" experience (which in our case would have put it in a 4+ rating zone) and a "whole", which we found to be magic. In assembling notes for this review, at the end I was surprised to see quite a number of minor quibbles, which didn't seem consistent with how we felt leaving the ship, waving goodbye as though leaving a loved one. Perhaps the difference for each traveler is how well his/her experience captures that magic. For the sake of a balanced review, the following are the quibbles I noted, in no logical order: -Sailaway from Bayonne in the fog had all the excitement of a mule barge send-off, as the band was a no-show. -We found the flat screen TV to be low resolution and of poor contrast. -Silverware at Windows buffet was placed on cleared tables, and not typically available in the food areas. While this seemed initially more upscale, it made for real issues when the table was bussed between trips for food. I ate numerous courses with borrowed spare silver, and had several bowls of cereal using a fork. -The scarcity of announcements from the bridge was actually refreshing, but we could have sometimes used a bit more sailing or weather information. -The ship does show some minor scuffs, etc. commensurate with seven years of use. -Our room's alarm clock was a joke, with no setting instructions and no light other than the one that would come on with an irritating beep when a particular button was pressed. -Likewise, our telephone had no visible instructions, and there was nothing intuitive about reaching the front desk, room service, etc. -One evening's experience in the main dining room was consistent with previous complaints: crowded, inconsistent service, passengers and crew figuratively tripping over each other. -Towels for the beach were delivered one evening, but both obtaining and returning additional towels was a "no clue" experience. -The AC in our room was too cold at the warmest setting, and despite a towel (we) stuffed in a vent for the remainder of the trip, never got better. -As discussed often, the shower water got all over the bathroom floor. In the same vein, a random list of positives: -The intimacy of the ship led to more friendships forming between us and other passengers and crew. -We were extremely impressed with the five young singer/performers and backing band -Becky, the cruise director, is a wonderful person with a delightful public address voice. -Our room's bedding, towels and toiletries were great. -Our stateroom's subtly tinted windows were a pleasant surprise, enhancing the vista. -Seas were smooth one way and moderate the other, yet despite my small ship concerns, she sailed amazingly smooth and gracefully. -We enjoyed the little ship-side treats and beverages at both Bayonne and Bermuda. -Our room attendant was just our style: everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time, and the room was impeccably maintained. -We had no dinner waits at Discoveries (on the later side, table for two) -Dinner fashion was somewhat dressier than I expected, which added to the evening's elegance. Now, as far as we're concerned, take the above two lists and throw them out the window. They are only incidental to our experience. We spent an incredible week on a beautiful ship with a great crew and special fellow passengers, eating delicious food and visiting one of civilization's loveliest spots. What more do I have to say? Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We very much enjoyed our cruise on the Azamara Journey to Bermuda. I would not categorize this as a luxury cruise line but saying that it is a premium cruise line would be appropriate. Boarding at Cape Liberty in NJ could not have been ... Read More
We very much enjoyed our cruise on the Azamara Journey to Bermuda. I would not categorize this as a luxury cruise line but saying that it is a premium cruise line would be appropriate. Boarding at Cape Liberty in NJ could not have been easier. Once aboard you are greeted with a glass of Champagne and directed to the buffet area at the stern of the ship. The Journey is a smaller vessel with a much more intimate and laid back atmosphere than you'll find on the larger ships. We really enjoyed the smaller more intimate atmosphere aboard the Journey. We liked the fact that there were few, if any, children on board. We found it very easy to meet people on board, everyone including the crew was very friendly. Let me start with what Journey does right. The food in the Main Dining Room and the Premium Restaurants is very good and in some cases exceptional. Sometimes the kitchen in the Main Dining Room gets overwhelmed with a rush because of freestyle seating but we much prefer freestyle seating because we could choose who to dine with. If there was a wait in the Main Dining Room we'd just have a drink at the bar and meet new people. The Journey is beautifully decorated and has a classic interior design. This ship also has a modern spa facility and a gym with brand new work out equipment. I was impressed. My wife enjoyed their small casino area which had enough games to keep her amused. They also had some shops on board that looked interesting but shopping is not our thing when on a cruise. Our cabin was nicely appointed and our balcony was furnished with a new table and two chairs. Our bed was very comfortable and the linens were soft. Our flat screen television was interactive and offered many entertainment choices, it even included a few free channels with new movie releases. Our butler/room attendant was very nice and usually quite attentive. If you want afternoon tea in your room you'll have to request it, it's not automatic. We did not go to see any of the live entertainment on board but our friends who did go to see the cabaret enjoyed it very much. Things that need improvement on the Azamara Journey. The in-room wet bars have not been installed yet, so all we had was a small refrigerator that sat on the floor of our cabin, taking up precious space. The bathroom in our Deluxe Ocean View Room w/Veranda was very tight. Sitting on the toilet, I'm 6'4", was a bit of a challenge because you could not square off your legs because it was on an angle to the bathroom door. Overall service at the front desk needs improvement, it was difficult to get answers to basic questions from some of the attendants until they consulted a manager. Perhaps this is a language issue because you'll find that English is not the first language of most of the crew. The pool on board Journey is very small but if you are going on a cruise just for the pool than this is not your ship. Overall, we would sail with Azamara again. We'd probably go with the bigger room (Sky Suite) next time though. We're disappointed that the Azamara Journey will not be sailing to Bermuda anymore though because we love Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We sailed on the AZAMARA JOURNEY from Cape Liberty on September 29th. We booked our air travel through the cruise line and were very disappointed with our air schedule both going to Newark and returning to Dallas/Fort Worth after the ... Read More
We sailed on the AZAMARA JOURNEY from Cape Liberty on September 29th. We booked our air travel through the cruise line and were very disappointed with our air schedule both going to Newark and returning to Dallas/Fort Worth after the cruise. The schedule was horrible because of the routing and connections and we were one of the last to arrive at the ship for embarkation. Embarkation went smoothly, as almost everyone else was already on board. The embarkation photographer was no longer taking pictures. Our stateroom on deck 6 was nice and of average size with a very small bathroom. The balcony was fairly small with a large table and 2 chairs. The balcony was covered which is nice for privacy and when it rains. Storage in the stateroom was good with plenty of drawers and closet hanging space. Our "Butler" greeted us soon after we arrived in our stateroom. He agreed to make reservations for 4 in the AQUALINA restaurant for the night of our choice. We were traveling with another couple who were also on deck 6. There were fresh flowers in our room and a plate of fruit. The flowers were changed once or twice during the duration of the cruise and fresh fruit was added as needed. The "Butler", however, is only a glorified term for the usual stateroom steward or attendant. He was not particularly friendly and we did not develop much of a rapport with him during the cruise....just an occasional "hello" or response to a request. Room service on the JOURNEY was very good and very prompt. The breakfast menu is extensive and you can order from the dining room menu during the hours that the dining room is open. The Discoveries Dining Room was quite nice, but there is a lot of vibration at the very rear. The food was good....not exceptional, but good....and the presentation of the food was excellent and very artistic. The WINDOWS buffet had good food, but it needs improvement in the manner of serving. Many of the foods on the back of the serving stations were hard to reach. We did not experience long waits in being seated in the main dining room. We usually had a glass of wine in the MARTINI BAR after making our reservation and waited there for our table. We also enjoyed the guitar player who entertained most evenings there. The service in AQUALINA was very good, but we did not consider the food to be special enough to warrant a surcharge. The LOOKING GLASS BAR with its panoramic view was one of our favorite spots for relaxing during the day when no other activities were going on there....also a nice place to have a drink when the bar is open. We only attended one "show"...the HOLLYWOOD show...and it was enjoyable, but nothing like the entertainment we have seen on larger ships. While we have been on many cruises, the JOURNEY was the smallest ship on which we have cruised. It never seemed crowded. We experienced some very rough seas on our crossing to Bermuda and many people became sea-sick or had difficulty walking as the ship "rocked and rolled". Probably there would have been less motion on one of the larger ships with effective stabilizers. The rest of the cruise was "smooth sailing" with most of the time being spent in the ports of St. Georges and Hamilton. This ship would not appeal to the younger and more active cruiser as the onboard activities are limited, but it is relaxing and nice for the older crowd. The daily program delivered each evening could use some improvement too. All in all, it was a nice cruise, but we would not repeat it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Azamara Journey Sept. 1-8, 2007 I want to preface this review by saying that this is my opinion (obviously) and coming from an Interior Designer who loves the look and style of the Celebrity fleet. Some of this may seem picky but they ... Read More
Azamara Journey Sept. 1-8, 2007 I want to preface this review by saying that this is my opinion (obviously) and coming from an Interior Designer who loves the look and style of the Celebrity fleet. Some of this may seem picky but they are things that are important to me and hopefully others will get something out of my observations. We had booked this cruise in 2006, as soon as we heard about the new ship. This was long before anyone had ever heard the name Azamara so we were expecting a Celebrity experience. We think that we proceeded with excitement but with open minds. We had an uneventful drive to the port from DC. We didn't want to get there too early and arrived about 12:15. Everyone was right about the breeze of a check-in. In all of our 11 cruises this was by far the easiest. We had checked in on-line and we were ready to go within 5 minutes. A short bus ride and we were at the ship. We were greeted by no one as we entered the ship. A bored looking waiter asked if we would like some champagne. His tray was sharing a niche with an art glass vase. We declined and headed up the stairs. We checked out our cabin, 7103, and found it ready to go. It was smallish but attractive and had the promised flowers (none in bathroom however) and binoculars. No fruit but it arrived the following day and was freshened up every day after. As I said, the cabin was attractive but nothing more. The linens were of high quality and the carpet and drapes had a nice updated pattern. The headboard on the bed had a quilted vinyl insert that looked cheap and had seen better days. The cabin artworks were inoffensive botanical prints. The closets, shelves and desk were a handsome dark wood. Unfortunately, the stool and table in front of the sofa were a lighter, cheap looking wood. The table particularly looked like something you might find in a flea market or yard sale and was quite beat up. As others have noted the bathroom was small but well appointed. Our luggage was delivered 2 bags at 3:15 and one at 6PM. Knowing that we needed to get up to the Alternative dining venues to make our reservations we headed on up. There was a short line (you can make reservations at either the Aqualina or Prime C for either or both restaurants) and we didn't have to wait long. When it was our turn they mostly had only 6PM and 9PM slots available. Since this was 12:30PM on embarkation day we were surprised. We were able to make an 8:30 PM reservation for sailing night in Aqualina and Thursday night for Prime C. This was OK for us but we had originally thought we would do it 3 nights but in the end, 2 nights was fine. Next we decided to get some lunch in Windows Cafe. I wasn't surprised that it was quite crowded at 12:45 PM on embarkation day and we had to wait around for a table to open up. Another couple joined us since seating was so tight. They were delightful and we had a great lunch, the food was very good. Also, the coffee is fabulous, you can get espresso or regular coffee. The beans are ground as it is made and as good as many coffee shops around the US. Windows cafe, in my opinion, needs the most work of any space on board the ship. The chairs and tables are nice enough but the chairs looked a little worn. My main problem with the space was the bad design, both in traffic flow and dEcor. Although never a real problem, the food service areas seemed awfully crowded into the rear of the restaurant creating small but unnecessary bottlenecks. I thought the carpeting was OK but found the tile on the floor ugly (sort of a fake slate) and the trim color on the walls was an unappealing flesh tone. There were also many extremely tired murals of what looked like scenes in rural England or Ireland. I'm sure that these must have been left over from the "R" ship days. There are some nice tables and a bar behind the Windows cafe that looked over the aft. This area was very pleasant and said "Celebrity" to me. In every dining venue they had jumbo sized containers of anti-bacterial wipes. While I guess these are a good idea, they look extremely tacky. About halfway through the cruise they started to get a lot more aggressive with handing them out in the Windows Cafe. Although we heard nothing about it, it made us think that there was perhaps an outbreak of something on the ship. We certainly saw no sign of this however. After lunch we toured the rest of the ship and found it quite attractive. As usual for Celebrity, there was a lot of interesting art. Some of it worked better than others as a juxtaposition to the formal tone of the ship. The Titanic staircase, the Cova cafe and all the area adjoining it were lovely and were quite popular areas to relax during the cruise. The harpist played often in this area but as my partner pointed out, there should be a law against singing while playing the harp. The lower lobby area had some furniture that reminded you that it was a Celebrity product and was quite stylish. The Casino was very tasteful and worked well. It was always popular when open and the slots didn't seem to be as "tight" as others I have encountered on cruises. The show lounge had a beautiful entrance on both the starboard and port sides and led you to think that you were about to enter a fabulous space. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The room was furnished in comfortable but not exciting furniture and the ceiling seemed oppressively low. The stage was backed by a flimsy black curtain with white Christmas lights poked through. The size of the room worked well for a ship of this size though but the entertainment (what little we saw) was not of a high caliber. The main dining room was also on this deck, 5, and had a nicely traditionally decorated Martini Bar in the waiting area. The waiting area was essential as we found out. If you didn't dine at 6PM or after 8:30PM, there was indeed a wait. This was not surprising since this is prime time but on our second night we arrived at the dining room at 7:50 PM and were not seated until 8:25 PM. We were told we could leave and come back and we did since there wasn't a single spot to sit in the Martini Bar. We had a drink in the Casino and came back after 20 minutes or so to wait for our table. They do put your name on a list and seem to stick to it. I thought the dining room was lovely if a bit crowded and the waiters had a time maneuvering between the tables. The chairs were extremely comfortable though and the food and service were excellent. We ate three dinners in the main dining room, two breakfasts and one lunch. Everything was wonderful with the exception of our lunch which was disappointing. The room is quite beautiful though and there are lots of windows all around. I guess that since it has been so long since we have been on such a small ship I had forgotten how low the ceilings can seem though. The Specialty restaurants on deck 10 are both lovely with a slight nod in dEcor to Prime C. We ate in Aqualina on the first night and had a wonderful meal. We had the rack of lamb and the veal osso bucco, both delicious. The service was so-so though and we had to finally stand up to leave (after waiting for 15 minutes for someone to come by) in order to get our check. The restaurant was at least ½ empty though so not sure why they said they were so booked up. There was a bit of excitement in Aqualina that night though and we thought we must have made reservations there on "Food Allergy Night". The couple at the next table made a huge deal over the wife being allergic to Beef, Pork and Dairy. She finally settled on the scallops after being assured by the wait staff and even the chef that it didn't contain Beef, Pork or Dairy. She seemed to get concerned though while eating it (I had it too) and ate what she thought were sun-dried tomatoes but after getting the chef back out there, discovered that it was some dried meat product. At the table on the other side of us one of the diners was presented with something with a walnut on it. She said "I told you I was allergic to walnuts!" The waiter quickly took it away. "Don't just pick it off and bring it back" she yelled as they walked away. I assume that they didn't because she was able to finish her meal without further incident. We ate at Prime C on Thursday night and it was lovely too. The service was great and attentive. I had the Kobe steak and loved it. Everything was perfect but I would have to say that we liked the food a little better at Aqualina. We had extremely rough seas the night in Prime C though so that might have accounted for the half empty restaurant. The Looking glass lounge was perfect for Bingo and other activities. Again, a pretty room but nothing special. The new teak loungers on the pool deck, deck 11 and the promenade were wonderful. Really comfortable and there seemed to be almost enough of them. They did have to break out the old chairs on deck 11 on days at sea though. I did notice a number of the new chairs were broken though so not sure of how long they will last. I didn't think that the public restrooms were anywhere near as nice as on other Celebrity ships. The maintenance in them seemed lacking also. There were often no cloth towels and they needed to be cleaned more often. It really was nice being on a smaller ship, hardly any lines anywhere, plenty of deck space and room in all the venues. The service was nice but nothing exceptional. We did enjoy our "Butler" but didn't use many of her services. She was very nice though and always ran ahead to our cabin to unlock it if she saw us coming. The different treats every night were a delicious change too. It was also great to always have ice in the cabin too. I thought the wait staff was wonderful and didn't see any lack of service since going to open seating. There didn't seem to be much cleaning and maintenance going on during the cruise though. There were lots of places with fingerprints and scratched and worn surfaces. The ship did not seem to be up to the standards of the 4 other Celebrity cruises we have gone on, either in dEcor or cleanliness. For example, the first day we noticed 4 coffee cups wedged in the railing on the deck outside Aqualina. One of the cups had a cigar butt in it. I walked by this several times and was quite surprised to see that it was still there the next day, over 24 hours after first seeing it! We also saw remnants from a private party in Michaels Club over 6 hours after the event. The heavy teak chairs on the promenade deck were stacked up for the muster drill and never put back in place. We and other passengers had to move them ourselves. All of the negatives on this cruise were minor. They in no way kept us from having a wonderful time and it being one of our favorite cruises. That said, this is not a "step up" from Celebrity (except in the wonderful food) and we were disappointed. We also felt that for such a large staff there were several times where all you could think was "Where is everyone?" I think that if Celebrity wanted to create a new brand that was nicer than what they already have, they should have built new ships with all the things that we love about Celebrity and taken it to the next level. I would have to say of all the ships I have sailed on Celebrity, this was my least favorite. I liked the small size but to me that was the only (although very nice) advantage. We are planning to sail on Quest a year from December and hope that they have things up to snuff by then. We enjoyed meeting some of the Cruise Critic folks, especially Jan and her three lovely daughters. Her daughter Marcy is extremely lucky though, winning hundreds of dollars on the penny slots and even winning Bingo too! My luck declined if I was even near her. Fortunately, she was nowhere to be seen late on the last night at sea and I managed to win $139.00 on a penny slot machine! There were almost no children on board and that was a plus. It was nice to be able to use the hot tubs and pool without kids in the way. The crowd was well behaved and seemed to be seasoned travelers for the most part. I only saw 2 men in shorts in the dining room at dinner and one really gross man walked through the Cova Cafe shirtless, sporting the hairiest back I have ever seen. He didn't just stroll through though but stopped to pick up some tasty treats from the cart in Cova. He then proceeded to walk down the grand staircase and I assume on to his cabin on deck 3 or possibly steerage where he belonged. These were the exceptions though and it was nice to have such a civilized crowd to cruise with. I'm not sure if these ships will ever be what they are advertising but they are still lovely little ships with interesting itineraries. With a little work on the dEcor and maintenance they will be a nice addition to the Celebrity family. Andy Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Azamara Journey, Sept. 1, 2007 My wife and I just returned from what was one of the best cruises we've ever been on. We are Kevin and Sue, both 64, and this was our 18th cruise and our 4th to Bermuda. The adventure began in early ... Read More
Azamara Journey, Sept. 1, 2007 My wife and I just returned from what was one of the best cruises we've ever been on. We are Kevin and Sue, both 64, and this was our 18th cruise and our 4th to Bermuda. The adventure began in early 2007, when we decided that we wanted another cruise to Bermuda. At the time there were no Azamara Cruises and no Journey cruise ship. Our original plan was to cruise on the NCL Crown. We soon had a small group of us, ready to sign up. Our group consisted of some cruise friends from the net and a couple who are long time friends of ours. For our long time friends, this would be the wife's first cruise in an electric wheelchair. Our cruise was to be the week before Labor Day. A few months later, Celebrity announced that they had acquired two Renaissance ships, to be named the Journey and Quest, and that the Journey would be doing the Bermuda run, replacing the Zenith. Sue and I had always wanted to do a Renaissance ship, so we talked it up in our group, and we agreed to switch. The decision was further prompted when our travel agent was able to get us some great fares. Our departure was pushed out a week to Sep 1 2007. Finally, the day came. We packed up the car, and were off to Cape Liberty in Bayonne NJ. This was the first time we departed from this port, so we did not know what to expect. Well, the experience was the smoothest and easiest embarkation we've experienced. It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get to the port, arriving at approximately 11:30 AM. We pulled directly up to the unloading zone, and a porter immediately took our bags. Sue stayed at the terminal, while I parked our car, in a lot adjacent to the terminal. . The parking is $105 plus tax for the week. They had shuttle buses to take one back to the terminal. We were guided to a check in counter, turned over our Express Passes, and were processed in under five minutes. On a side note, our experience is based on boarding the Journey, which has about 750 passengers. I would imagine that the process would be more hectic for the RCI Voyager class ship. This was corroborated by one of the porters in the terminal. After we checked in we went to the passenger lounge, to wait for our fellow travelers. Within a half hour our merry band of 10 was all there. Some had boarded earlier than Sue and me, since we were waiting for our long term friends. We just wanted to be sure that all went well for her boarding in her wheelchair. Once our friends arrived we boarded a bus that took us to the ship. The bus had a ramp that they lowered for Peg to use. When we got to the ship we found that the gangway has steps and Peg had to board where they bring the luggage on board. Even for that she had to be transferred to a manual chair and the crew brought her aboard while her husband brought her electric wheelchair onto the ship. This was the first of many problems on the Journey for someone in an electric wheelchair. From this point forward I will switch to a description of the Azamara experience. Also I will not provide much on Bermuda itself, since we've been there many times and written of our previous adventures. This review is more about the ship, itself. Buffet: As is traditional, we proceeded to the buffet lunch, after depositing our carryons in our cabin. The buffet lunch was quite excellent; in fact, probably the best we've had. We had all but one breakfasts and most of our lunches in the buffet. The breakfasts were superb, with a waffle/pancake/French toast station, omelet station, and a variety of typical, but well prepared choices. There is a juice/smoothie bar where they prepare drinks to order. One comment we all made was that this station is only used during breakfast. We felt it would make better sense if they utilized the space at other times also, maybe as a cookie bar, There are two sources for coffee: the typical ship's coffee, and a coffee machine that makes expresso, cafe Americano, etc. The latter machine makes much better coffee and was self service. The buffet lunch is very similar to most ships, except that the quality is much better. The service is outstanding. The staff assists passengers, as needed, for example, with Peg. because she is in an electric wheel chair, they would help her get her food and carry it to the table. The crew also came around and served juice, coffee, ice tea etc. Cabin: After our initial buffet lunch, we went to our cabin, to check it out, and see if our bags had arrived. We had booked a balcony cabin on deck seven, concierge class. Not quite sure what concierge class gave you, since all cabins aboard provided butler service. The cabin was a reasonable size. The storage space was ample, if oddly set up. The verandah was very small compared to other ships we had been on; but it had a nice table with two comfortable chairs. The bathroom is tiny. The sink top space was barely large enough to place a few essentials. The shower was also small. There are bathrobes, slippers, and a pair of binoculars in each cabin. There are also two hair dryers, one wall mounted in. the bathroom and the other in a cabinet. The TV is a wall mounted flat screen, with a bizarre remote. The bed was comfortable (a bit hard), and the linens very comfortable. The duvet was rather heavy, so it was warm at night, even with the AC fully cranked. Aqualina Specialty Restaurant: Although we had originally booked our Aqualina reservation for later in the voyage, we rearranged for a seating on the first night out. We had a very early seating, at 6 PM. That was rather early for the first day on board, especially so soon after the required drill, and the sail away party on the pool deck, but that was the only time we could get which we could all agree upon. Despite the early hour, it was well worth the experience. The restaurant is relatively small, with primarily tables for four, with some for two or six. They were able to seat our party of 10 at adjacent tables of four and six. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our server was a woman we had met on the Celebrity Infinity in 2006. The service was excellent, if a bit slow. That did not detract from enjoying the meal, as we appreciated the time spent with good friends. The food was also excellent. The menu was limited, but the choices were all quite good, primarily of a Mediterranean variety. Prime C Specialty Restaurant: We had made arrangements for our Prime C reservation in advance through the Celebrity Captions Club. It was originally set for the 10 of us to dine together at 8:20 on Tue evening; however one family did not want to eat that late. When we got on board we changed ours to 6:30 PM. We agreed to arrive a little early, to enjoy a drink before dinner in the Prime C bar. We were soon seated at a nice table for seven in the corner, overlooking the stern. Prime C is mainly a steakhouse. Again the menu is relatively limited, but the choices are varied. All the various appetizers and entrees were very good, and the service was excellent. In a bizarre twist, our central NJ friends, who were seated about a half hour later, and who had the same servers, complained that the service was very slow. All in all, the experience was worth the $30 per person charge. Main Dining Room: The Journey features open seating in all their dining room. Personally, Sue and I prefer traditional seating, in order to enjoy sitting with the same people, and being served by the same wait staff; however, we wanted to sail the Journey. We made arrangements on our first meal in the main dining room to have a table for the entire group, every evening at approximately the same tome. We were lucky to get the only table for ten in the dining room. This way we were able to emulate traditional seating. This enabled us to enjoy the company of our fellow travelers and have a wait staff that got to know us. The menus were quite good, with interesting variations on the typical cruise fare. The quality of the food and its presentation was the best we've experienced on any of our cruises. There was not a single dish that any of us had ordered that was not excellent. Although we were able to emulate traditional dining, it must be pointed out that, in our view, open seating does not work well. The wait staff was serving different courses at different tables, and the traffic flow of the passengers constantly coming and going, made for a very chaotic atmosphere in the dining room. Further, the arrangement of the tables throughout the room was to cramped. They could have easily reduced the number of table by as much as a third, and greatly improved the overall experience, for both the diners and the wait staff. It should be noted that one of the servers (our friend from the Aqualina) had indicated that when the Journey starts its longer runs in South America, that they most likely revert to traditional dining. Lounges: The Journey, being a small ship, had only a few lounges; however, the few that they had provided good gathering places, with very good bars and bar staff. The bars did not have a particularly good selection of single malt scotches, but did have top shelf vodkas. This is a good point to mention that with the exception of two areas on the ship, there is no smoking allowed. This made for a much more enjoyable experience in the lounges and the casino. There was entertainment in each lounge, e.g. a very talented harpist near the Cova, and a pianist in another. Casino: The casino was surprisingly large for a smaller ship. There were quite a few slots, craps, roulette, and several card tables. Being a Bermuda cruise, the casino was only open for the time when were not in Bermuda, which only amounted to the equivalent of less than three days. Sue spent more time in the casino than I did. I guess I'm getting a little tired of the slots; although this time I did finally walk away with a small profit overall. Entertainment: We really didn't expect there to be much of the type of shows one sees on the mega ships. We were surprised to see that they did have production shows, albeit on a smaller scale. There were only 5 singer/dancers. They were good but not great. They also had a magician/comedian whose comedy was only marginally better than his magic, which was fairly transparent. One night they had the Goombay dancers from the island up in the Looking Glass lounge. They were very good, but their performance was only about 15-20 minutes. Another night, up on the pool deck, there was a local Bermudian steel pan player, who was very good. He performed both traditional Caribbean tunes as well as jazz. (We also ran into him at the Dockyard, and bought one of his CDs.) There was also a lecture series, given by Dr. Joel Klass, a psychotherapist. His talks included "expert witnesses and hired guns", "stress management" and "dream interpretation". We only attended and thoroughly enjoyed the dream lecture; however other members of our group attended all three and said they were all good. As a side note, our group met Dr. Klass on the Promenade deck one evening and during the conversation, the son of one of our group had indicated that he played chess. Joel suggested that they meet later to play. As a result, the two of them played a few times, and Joel was able to teach our friend's son some advanced pointers. The Shops: Again, being a small ship, there were only three shops. Two were the typical shops one expects, a general store and a jewelry shop. The third was a higher priced luxury jewelry shop. Not a very large selection, but that was to be expected on a small ship. Art Auction: As with most cruises, Park West Galleries was on the ship. Their presentation was quite different than any other ship we had been on. There was only one actual auction session. The other sessions were lectures by the Park West rep, discussing various artists' styles, etc. When they did the auction itself, it was all originals, mostly in the mid to upper four figures, and several in the five figure range. Needless to say, there was not much artwork sold. Perhaps this strategy will work better when they do the longer South America itineraries. Bermuda: As I said earlier, I will not report on the island itself, as we have done so in detail in previous reviews. However, I wish to say that we are very disturbed by what appears to be a move by the government to shut down the cruise piers in Hamilton (2008) and St George (2009). This will leave only Kings Wharf for the cruise ships. We personally believe this is a serious mistake. Although they are shifting to becoming a major Re-insurance company and banking center, much like Grand Cayman, the tourist business is still a major economic factor for the island. We spoke with many business people, particularly along Front Street, and they agree. Unfortunately, their concerns are being ignored, so far. Here is the link to our pictures of the Azamara Journey: http://travel.webshots.com/album/560670104YluDWa Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My husband and I just returned from a 7-day September 22nd Bermuda cruise roundtrip Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey on the Azamara Journey. We are frequent cruisers, and found the Journey to be a beautiful, small vessel providing a very ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 7-day September 22nd Bermuda cruise roundtrip Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey on the Azamara Journey. We are frequent cruisers, and found the Journey to be a beautiful, small vessel providing a very good experience with excellent food and solid service throughout the week. The 700-passenger Azamara Journey is new to Celebrity as of this Spring, having finished a stint with Pullmantours in Spain after beginning life as a Renaissance vessel. She retains the physical beauty of the Renaissance design, with the black and gold iron staircases and trompe d'oil paintings on several ceilings creating a unique setting for sailing within this new cruise niche of 'premium plus' or deluxe category. The cabins are very comfortable, with soft hues and up-to-date bedding; the public spaces feature pleasant reds, golds and blues. We were in a Sky Suite, which was very spacious and well-appointed. Complimentary amenities in the suite included a bon voyage bottle of champagne, sodas and two Specialty Restaurant meals. The butler service was attentive overall - we especially enjoyed afternoon tea service brought to the cabin (with a plate of cookies left behind if we were absent). The ship's staff was very friendly throughout the vessel, and always offered warm greetings. Our only disappointment was with the Activities Staff, which was a bit disorganized and hard to hear when running events such as Team Trivia - it was impossible to tell what was going on from the audience. We were delighted with the Catholic priest onboard, who also offered daily Mass - Azamara's website notes that this feature will go away once the ship leaves the Bermuda itinerary, which would be very unfortunate - passenger attendance was high at every Mass. The waitstaff service onboard Azamara Journey was excellent in the main Dining Room as well as the Windows Cafe. The Specialty Dining experience in both the Aqualina and Prime C restaurants was superb - with the clubby atmosphere a terrific backdrop to Prime C. My advice to future passengers on Journey would be to make the alternative dining reservations onboard immediately after embarkation as space filled up quickly in both venues. There was also a nice array of bars available onboard - there was never a sense of being crowded on this ship, even during sea days. Entertainment was an eclectic mix which worked well for this small ship. The 5-person song and dance troupe was very good at presenting a new 'stripped down' themed medley concept unique to Azamara. It worked both due to the same-level/small stage in the lounge as well as the intimate, cabaret-like experience they conveyed. A traditional production show simply wouldn't have fit this ship. Other acts were more typical of cruise ships - i.e., magician and comedian, which were fine on the small stage. We took a car service to and from the Port of Bayonne. While embarkation was seamless, disembarkation proved more chaotic. There appeared to be a dearth of US Customs & Immigration personnel at the pier, which made for a long line. The main problem, however, was the 'dead zone' for cell phone signals at the terminal entrance. Since cars can't wait in front and there are no public phones, we endured a frantic time period of trying to dial our car service before finding a spot where the signal was successful. Royal Caribbean / Celebrity should offer a Passenger Service Desk at the terminal's main door which would include a staffer with a working cell phone for this purpose - it would be greatly appreciated by older passengers and those who have difficulty walking. As Azamara Journey (and the new sister ship Azamara Quest) will feature more exotic itineraries of longer length, the crowd on future sailings is likely to be slightly older cruisers who have traveled frequently and are looking for a smaller, low-key ship with interesting ports of call. This audience will be delighted with the Azamara Journey. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My thoughts on the 9/29 sailing on Azamara Journey Background: Mid 40's, I have cruise on Rccl, Ncl, Carnival and Princess Embarkation: Drove to Cape Liberty - check-in and embarkation a breeze Ship Info: Beautiful ship...very ... Read More
My thoughts on the 9/29 sailing on Azamara Journey Background: Mid 40's, I have cruise on Rccl, Ncl, Carnival and Princess Embarkation: Drove to Cape Liberty - check-in and embarkation a breeze Ship Info: Beautiful ship...very clean and well-maintained...not as tiny as i thought it would be, easy to navigate..never too far away from where you want to go-it offered as much as possible for a ship that size...great for the bermuda run with a lot of time in port..personally i would need a larger ship with a few more options for anything longer...especially if the pool deck was not an option due to weather on sea days.. Never felt crowded...except in the tiny smoking areas...there were many of us...standing room only- met some great fellow passengers here! Found it more restrictive than i anticipated...missed having cocktails on the balcony and relaxing there...found we were always hanging out there instead Good mix of ages of passengers...expected a much older crowd...the ship was a very early to bed one...not much happening at night Pool was great and really never too crowded to cool off in- we only got to use it the last sea day...way too much to do in bermuda and usually got back too late to hang out there....happy we had a beautiful last day Lots of motion on the way down...to be expected with the rough seas we had...smooth on the way home...could hardly tell you were moving Staff: Awesome crew...always had a smile and seemed happy to be there and to see you- we were especially impressed by our assistant cabin steward...always called down the hallway to us to wish us a nice day when he saw us leaving the cabin...the captain and officers were the most accessible of any of the cruises i have been on State Room: Sky Suite was very large, pretty, comfortable- plenty of storage, great bathroom, comfy bed, nice sized fridge, beautiful furnishings. Balcony was wonderful and large- reclining chairs would be nice..the frosted glass dividers were pretty but allowed light from neighbors balconies/rooms to intrude on the quiet ocean darkness... Dining: Food in main dining room...the appetizers were awesome, main courses were varied and good, desserts were very good, service was great- one kind of frenzied experience but definitely not the norm for us...not a big deal Open seating worked just fine for us- we ate late...9'ish never a wait...told a couple of times by the waiters that it was a good time because the dining room was crazy earlier. Both Prime C and Aqualina were fantastic dining experiences- the food was outrageous, the service professional and friendly- as good as any of the upscale restaurants as I have been to onshore Buffets were great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plenty of variety...lobster tails were much better and bigger there than the "lobster four ways" in the dining room....we would sometimes go just to snack a little bit before going to a late dinner... The pool grill was a nice option for burgers, dogs, nachos, pretzels if you came back to the ship too late for lunch and needed a little something before dinner..Cova cafe had little finger sandwiches and sweets...until 1am...nothing available after that other than room service....but the ship was pretty much asleep by then anyway...maybe a tray of something near the 24 hour self service coffee/drinks station would be a nice option.. Activities: Casino was a nice size for a small ship...often empty...maybe a correlation between drinking, gambling and smoking? I play video poker slots...did pretty well but found it annoying to have to cash out to go to the ladies room, get a drink, go up 4/5 decks to have a smoke...i like to machines that pay you out with a coupon...just easier... People LOVE to share their opinions about totally subjective matters with anyone who will listen.....for every positive there was someone else who would view it negatively...just go and form your own opinion...facts are one thing...opinions are just that...they're nice to hear beforehand for sure...but try not to let those things jade your view until you experience it for yourself...just my opinion! Enjoy this quaint, intimate and beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My husband and I are avid cruisers and have sailed more than 30 times on various cruise lines mostly on Royal Caribbean during the last 12 years. On Saturday, we had a smooth and on-time flight from Indianapolis and arrived early in ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers and have sailed more than 30 times on various cruise lines mostly on Royal Caribbean during the last 12 years. On Saturday, we had a smooth and on-time flight from Indianapolis and arrived early in Newark. EMBARKATION We took the cruise line's ground transportation and arriving at the pier before check-in had begun, we were directed to a waiting area where we were offered fruit punch and cookies. The check-in process started at 11:00. We boarded the ship at 11:30, dropped off our carry-on luggage in our stateroom, and went to Windows Cafe for the welcome aboard buffet lunch. The presentation and variety of choices were plentiful, and the food was delicious. As the ship sailed away from Bayonne, we enjoyed watching the New York skyline disappear in the distance from the panoramic Looking Glass lounge which is the highest vantage point on the ship. During our day at sea on Sunday, we experienced some 8-foot waves, but being experienced cruisers who love the relaxing days at sea, the motion was not a problem. THE PORTS What a beautiful paradise Bermuda is with over 80 islands, all connected by bridges! Our first stop was St. George's which is a quaint interesting little town. We were docked from 10:00AM on Monday, until 6:00AM on Tuesday. We then cruised to Hamilton and docked at 9:00AM. Transportation from either port is convenient since a 1-day or multi-day pass can be purchased for the ferries and buses which we used to visit Horseshoe Beach and Kings Wharf. Hamilton is a great place to shop. We were docked at Hamilton until 3:00PM on Thursday. THE SHIP Overall, I would recommend this ship and cruise line for couples without children unless they are less than 3 years old. The ambiance on this ship reminded me of a fine European hotel with comfortable, traditional furniture and dark wood veneers. It definitely is not for multigenerational family cruising since there are no organized children's/teenagers' activities. It never took us long to get where we wanted to go on this size ship (30,000 tons), and that is a benefit for port-intensive itineraries which this ship is scheduled to do. STATEROOM Our stateroom had an obstructed view window, but we were fortunate that our window was between lifeboats so that we had a nice view. We would sale on Azamara again although on our cruise the Journey was still a work in progress. The mattresses in the staterooms on our deck had not yet been upgraded although the linens were of high quality. Fresh flowers, robes, and slippers were provided as well as daily replenishment of fruit. All staterooms have a "butler" with an assistant who makes up the rooms. We didn't really notice any difference in their service from other ships we've been on other than he offered to make our reservations at the specialty dining room. DINING The Discoveries Dining Room servers (most of who had previously worked on Celebrity ships) were still trying to adjust to any-time dining with all guests not arriving at one specific time. We experienced both great service from some the dining staff and poor service from others. Menus in the dining room and buffet had a nice variety, and the food was excellent. Seating in the Windows Cafe was always available as were deck chairs at the pool and promenade deck. When we arrived at the dining room before 6:45, there was no delay in getting seated. One evening, we arrived at 7:30 and only had to wait about 10 minutes. One nice perk is that all guests can dine once in one of the specialty restaurants (Aqualina or Prime C) at no charge. Guests in suites get two complimentary dinners in the specialty restaurants where reservations are required. For additional dinings, the charge is $20-25 per person. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Entertainment was cabaret style with four singers/dancers and two really entertaining comedians. Although bingo, trivia, the quest, etc., activities were available, there were no intrusive in-room announcements made. The ambiance on this ship was more upscale than Royal Caribbean. I didn't feel that it was more upscale than Holland America or Celebrity, the only difference being that it was a small, intimate ship. It was wonderful that it wasn't necessary to stand in line for anything. As Diamond members of Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, we were recognized as Elite members of Celebrity/Azamara's Captain's Club. We enjoyed the following benefits: - Champagne brunch for Select & Elite members - Captain's Club cocktail party - Tour of the bridge - Elite status coupon booklets - Use of the Select/Elite debarkation lounge DISEMBARKATION On disembarkation morning, we could utilize our stateroom until 8:00AM. After that time, we went to the Select/Elite debarkation lounge and waited for our color luggage tag to be announced. This process was very well organized. It was a great cruise, and I highly recommend a visit to Bermuda. As I was told by a shore excursion crew member, when comparing Bermuda to the Caribbean, "Bermuda is all that is good about the Caribbean with none of the bad"--meaning that Bermuda has beautiful tropical scenery and great weather but doesn't have poverty or crime. We will look forward to finding out about itineraries that Azamara will offer in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My husband and I just returned from a week in Bermuda on the Azamara Journey. We are very seasoned cruisers and are Elite Members with Celebrity Cruise lines. We have been to Bermuda several times in the past so the real reason for going ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a week in Bermuda on the Azamara Journey. We are very seasoned cruisers and are Elite Members with Celebrity Cruise lines. We have been to Bermuda several times in the past so the real reason for going on the cruise was just to experience the Azamara Journey. What an experience it was! I would like to take a few minutes of your time to let you know how I feel about this new ship. I was so impressed it is hard to put it in words. The minute I walked unto the ship you could see by the smiling faces of the staff that there was going to be a difference in this cruise to the more then 30 others that we have been on in the past. As the first gentleman walked up to us and took our bags out of our hands and escorted us to our cabin we knew we were in for a treat. He seemed so pleased and proud to show us the way and show off the different things on the ship as we passed them. The cabin was beautiful with the dark wood and the very pleasing colors of the bedding. The room looked so inviting with the huge pillows and the fabulous extra soft robes, then the slippers arrived that night! What a nice thoughtful touch. A few days into the cruise we got a form to fill out that asked us what we thought would make the cruise better. Well, we had to think long and hard. Really we did and then we came up with only three things. We thought that the cabin should have a love seat in it and the other was that the Windows Cafe should have trays to make it easier to carry your plate of food and beverage to the table and your glasses should be at least 10 oz glasses and I believe they were more like 5 oz ones. Now that is pretty good when that is all we could come up with. The Cruise Director was perfect! Andrea was just wonderful. He made everyone feel so special and was a perfect match for the ship. I know he was leaving to bring the Quest over in a few weeks and it will be their fortune to have him aboard. He is the best I have ever seen on any ship. He danced with all the ladies, ate lunch with so many of the guests, walked up and down the decks greeting people and just talking with them on a friendly basis. He loved his star gazing and so did everyone else. He just made the cruise special in so many ways, what Italian charm he has! The food on the Journey is beyond description! Every day we were amazed at how things were prepared and presented at each meal. Nothing looked like the food we have had on other ships. It was in a class of it's own. The food in the Windows Cafe was wonderful and so different from other Cafes. The selection at the Deli was outstanding. The Discovery dining room food was so good we didn't really need to go to the Prime C specialty restaurant. However, the presentation there was magnificent. I do think the name should be changed to "Prime Sea" to match the Aqualina since then they would both have to do with the ocean. At lunch when we commented to the men serving us on the back sun deck about how they are always smiling, one of them said, "it is because of people like you that we smile, you people make it easy to smile because you are always smiling!" It was easy to be always smiling on the Journey because it was a great ship to be on and the service was so out of the ordinary. We would ask different ones we sat with at each meal how they felt about the ship and it was always the same answer, " We love it!" If you have not booked a cruise on the Journey yet you need to as it is to me the best of the best. I would give this ship a 6 star rating. -- Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
EMBARKATION—Prior reviews have pretty much covered this. I will add a couple of details, however. Don't be at the port until 11 AM. This is when the staff come out to start embarkation paperwork. We were told we could not board ... Read More
EMBARKATION—Prior reviews have pretty much covered this. I will add a couple of details, however. Don't be at the port until 11 AM. This is when the staff come out to start embarkation paperwork. We were told we could not board until noon but we actually were allowed on about 20 minutes before noon. Staterooms were ready right at 1 PM. Luggage was a little later than I've experienced on other cruises. I ended up wearing my travel clothes to dinner that night. I saw several others in jeans and shorts that night. STATEROOM COMMENTS—We were in a Sky Suite on Deck 8, 8054, which is a perfect location for anyone with mobility issues. It is right outside of the elevator/stair corridor and only one deck below the Windows Cafe and pool deck. The stateroom was a good size with an equivalent balcony. I was concerned, based on prior reviews, that it would be small. It was not. The bathroom was a perfect size, but I now understand some of the drainage comments from previous reviews. When the ship was out to sea, rougher seas caused the drain to flow back up a bit. We are not talking sewer here but some moldy water settled on the bathroom floor. In our suite at arrival was a chilled bottle of champagne. This started the trip off right! In the evening we received some type of goody. One night chocolate covered strawberries, one night fancy chocolates, and other comparable treats. I thought this was a simple but special touch. SHIP SIZE—This is a really nice size ship. Normally I feel rushed and crushed at breakfast with people hovering for clean tables. On the Journey we sat on our first sea day (Sunday) for about an hour, enjoying coffee and several trips to the buffet. POOL AREA—I was concerned that the pool would be too tiny for the ship based on prior reviews. It was a fine size. However, on Saturday our first day the pool was closed for maintenance. This didn't seem to concern anyone. We were too busy doing other first day things. There was no issue with number of chaise lounges despite the usual "reserving" of chairs first thing in the morning. FOOD—The food is where Azamara shines. At breakfast, don't miss the waffle and pancake station stuck in the corner behind the luncheon meat/cheese area. In the buffet at dinner, there are two sections. The first is the normal Windows cafe if you want to go really casual. If you'd like one step less casual, make a reservation for the Breeza section of the Windows Cafe. Same place but with service and the ability to eat outside. I can't vouch for the food or service because I didn't know this opportunity existed until the last day of the cruise. In the main dining room, Discoveries, we never had a wait for dinner for two, even at prime times. I did see some people waiting in Michael's in front of the dining room but these were larger groups. PRIME C (Specialty Restaurant)—This is the only experience we had that was not up to snuff. We made a reservation for 6 PM Sunday night, our first sea day and the first reservation of the night. We sat until about 6:30 PM before we received any service and were told it was because everyone came at once. "Isn't that normal?" we asked. "Well, yes," was the answer. So in our opinion they should have been more prepared. It seemed as if the restaurant staff was overwhelmed. The next night at the Discoveries main dining room, we sat next to another couple who had the same experience with a reservation at 8 PM. Suggestion—eat at Prime C later in the cruise when others have already used their one night at a specialty restaurant. My meal was very good. No problems. However, my companion ordered a medium rare NY strip steak which came in well done. She was offered a new steak but at this point we had been in the restaurant for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes so we didn't want to wait another 30 or so minutes for a new steak. Later, the assistant maitre'd brought the head chef of Prime C, Anthony, to our table to apologize. When asked what he could do, we asked for a free glass of wine when we ate at the next specialty restaurant, Aqualina, a couple of days later. (This request was granted, by the way.) I will say that if I were in a regular restaurant, I would have had the steak taken off of the bill. You don't have this leverage on a cruise line. AQUALINA—This was the best meal we had on our cruise. The service was impeccable also. It was Thursday, Lobster night, so if you went on a cruise just for the lobster, eat at Aqualina on another night. However, there is lobster bisque and lobster Thermador on the Aqualina menu every day. I wanted to try the tasting menu, with 7 courses and wine, of course, but I didn't think I could do it. They might want to lessen that to 5 courses. Be sure to try the chocolate souffle. GYM—I work out normally every day so I was looking forward to doing so onboard. The gym is a decent size. I didn't see anyone waiting for cardio or weight machines any morning I was there. I would recommend that they spend money on a second trainer or perhaps a more gregarious trainer. Most of the time I saw the trainer at the front desk for the spa, not in the gym area. My companion took both a spinning and a pilates class with the trainer and was underwhelmed. SPA—My companion and I both had massages. These were good. However, my massage therapist started before my companion's did and finished after. So I guess I got the better value. It's a decent spa for the size of the ship with an adjoining salon (whose services I did not use). If you want a hot tub, behind the spa is the place to go. I saw few people out there. ACUPUNCTURE—Acupuncture at sea seems to be the new thing. I convinced my companion to go to Fran after I attended one of her information sessions in Michael's. My companion, who has knee pain, said she appreciated understanding the acupuncture concepts and thought it might have given her some immediate, short term relief. If you want to know more about the process, this would be good, non-threatening exposure. Maybe they should do chiropractic sessions also? ENTERTAINMENT AND ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES—Again, for a ship this size, I was surprised that they had the same basic activities as a big ship. Trivia contests, bingo, exercise classes, afternoon high tea, Friends of Bill & Dorothy, wine tastings, you name it. The Azamara folks must have been reading the prior criticisms of the entertainment on board. The outside band was very good with a wide range of songs and genres. There was always someone playing at the Cova bar, either the harpist or the pianist. Both suited the area in which they played—low key, not obtrusive, but entertaining. The evening entertainment was better than I had expected given prior reviews. There was a troupe of 5 singers who did a cabaret style act on two of the nights. They were suitable for the stage size and the crowd on board. Two other nights a pianist/signer performed. His style was a little too low key for me, so I have to admit I didn't stick around. I was hoping for a comedienne or magician somewhere on board but didn't find either if there. EXCURSIONS—We did two excursions. One was a scuba trip; the other a biking and beach trip. Both were great fun. However, we found out that the cruise line padded the scuba fee by about $55. I don't mind paying for the convenience but I think $55 is a bit much. I recommend working directly with the local businesses unless you have a tight deadline to meet returning to the ship. Then it makes sense to use the cruise line vendors because the ship becomes responsible for your return, theoretically. On a somewhat related issue, take advantage of the ferries and buses in Bermuda. Both systems are great and affordable. Get a recommendation for a beach and ask the bus driver to stop there for you. It's easy. Also, we pulled walking tours off of Frommers.com for Hamilton and St. George. Both were worth the time. GENERAL COMMENTS—The Journey could use another 2 months or so of drydock time to fix minor, mostly cosmetic things. Examples—Locks and other hardware loosening off doors, external painting and rust eradication. A good clean up job. I suggest they dump two things—the whole tuxedoed butler concept and the afternoon "canapEs". Save the money and spend it elsewhere. We don't want uncomfortable stewards and we certainly don't need more food. I really enjoyed the cruise but do feel that Azamara is missing the mark on being a class above its sister, Celebrity, and any of the other comparable cruise lines. The only place I really saw the upgrade is in the food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
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