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10 Azamara Journey Holiday Cruise Reviews

Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet ... Read More
Just to be clear at the start of this review. I AM AN AZAMARA LOYALIST so the fact that there are some criticisms should be seen as hopefully constructive criticism. I have been critical of H Office actions such as laundry /internet access but would go to the stake supporting the on board experience. In summary for those who may not wish to read further. Good cruise not great. Tango evening in Buenos Aries very good. Ship entertainment good although English female magician was a cross between Jo Brand and Tommy Cooper but good in the end.. I think some allusions may have passed the USA /Canadian audience by. Eric is as Eric does and was good as usual. White night party better than usual but not surprising as it was New years Eve with fantastic fireworks display (20 minutes long) from prime position in front line off Copacabana beach. Food fair Morale on ship appeared to be poor with little leadership shown by Captain. Passenger mix good with no predominant group. I was surprised to see so many non-Christian people on board but maybe they want to escape Christmas as a festival although Christmas decorations were confined to 1 Christmas tree and fake snow on band area in cabaret lounge. We were led astray by bad group in casino lounge most nights so had good time. Now to review/comments Flew down from Newcastle and spent pleasant 3 hours in Exec lounge with a glass or 4 of Champagne before boarding flight to Buenos Aries. Good meal and lie flat bed made the journey faultless. We then emerged into chaos of arrivals at BA . Found rep eventually with one of the smallest arrivals signs I have seen for a long time. Simple transfer to hotel and met people on bus who we had sailed with previously. Hotel fine and had lazy day around pool. Tried to organise taxi for next morning and knowing state of Argentinean peso offered to pay in dollars. Evening concierge was quoting $35/40 plus tip for what appeared to be only a 10 minute journey on Google but was quite insistent we should book now through him. We had transfers booked through hotel so did not make decision. Next morning approached day concierge and was quoted $10 which we took. Advised rep so that bus was not waiting for us. We prefer taxi as it enables us to go when we want and no scrum re bus and baggage. We had a friend who lost hand baggage case which was placed in bus hold but was removed by a thief before bus set off. We always wait now until baggage doors are shut before one of us boards bus. Straight on board at 11.00 to be greeted by Heike and proceeded to make our Prime C reservations. Rather than do a blow by blow account I intend to split review into sep sections. I am fully aware that a lot of people may not like what I write and will say I am nitpicking but how many coincidences/ failures create a trend, All I would ask is read and consider if these were your experiences what would you think? Safety. At one port we were advised of a 30 minute tender journey so therefore a probable 1 Hour 20 turn round. Of the first tender boats the first had an engine failure on the water. Life happens BUT the second ran out of fuel and also had to be recovered with consequent chaos to tender times. Far more serious was if there had actually been an emergency we would have had only half the number of boats available. Totally unacceptable. Comfort. Aircon We commented on cabin air con and despite curtains closed all day and running on maximum cooling it was practically impossible to tell difference between corridors/outside and room. Complained for 4 days but no differences made. Accepted it in the end even though other parts of ship were kept cool. Toilets. Had blockages /overflows on at least 5 days in both toilets as well as elsewhere in public toilets in deck 9. I realise that these are probably client inflicted but not by us as we are scrupulous about items. I can tell you that one of the worst experiences is when (as you do) you get up in the dark to go to the toilet at 3am you most definitely wake up when you enter toilet and your feet get wet. Fortunately clean water but still a horrible moment. I do not consider that a pot plant in dressing area is equivalent to “fresh cut flowers in suite” but probably a Larry cutback. Morale on board Having sailed at least 10 times with Azamara we look forward to returning and seeing regular staff and had even brought Christmas presents for people like Heike, Alex and other favourite waiters etc. It appears that unlike previous times staff are now rotated between Journey and Quest and we therefore saw far fewer staff that we knew. Missing staff included Adel restaurant manager and Dale and Victor head barmen. It was alleged problems with visas was the reason for this but efficiency suffered because of lack of experienced staff. We also had new F & B manager as well as executive chef Iwan. Staff were certainly not as happy or smiling as on previous trips and officers were hardly ever seen on deck or as previous eating in the Windows Cafe. Food We are early risers 7.45 a.m. and were able to dine in Windows outside deck every morning. At no time did we see the fresh orange machine working and after a few days it had disappeared completely. On asking I was informed “Brazilian authorities do not like you to see it” Hey, I am on Azamaras finest not one of Mr Fyffe’s boats. Smoothies were as good as ever and made as you waited. I was not impressed when waiting for smoothie when Captain walked in, was served before me and did not even say “Good Morning, are you enjoying your cruise?” Maybe he thought the vote of thanks I gave at the Captains dinner in the library 2 days before was not fulsome enough. Rest of food fine with fresh eggs made as requested but there did not appear to be as many staff to carry food to your table if required or requested. I do npt expect for myself as able bodied. 2 days running they ran out of English muffins? It appeared they were on ration as on third day it was like Cpl Jones in Dads Army. If you asked for them they were produced from a cloth covered basket behind the counter!!!! It was great if you liked peach yogurt as this was the only flavoured offered. Surely somewhere in Argentina sells other flavours. Lunch Not great lunchers but soups were fine although the hot dishes could surely have looked better and maybe fresher if they only used half the hot area. Mainly ate freshly made sandwiches and it is the first time I have had an egg mayonnaise toastie as it was whipped into toaster before I could say thank you. Also has on 3 occasions the “room service burger “which according to folk lore is made from tail end of fillets from Prime C. In no way was it the same as on previous cruises. On cutting into it it simply split into pieces rather like mince. Not good. Burger bar at pool area Changes here in that now instead of burgers/hot dogs being prepared as required they are cooked en masse and placed in chafing dishes for self selection. Result is you get a Mcdonalds type bun instead of toasted bun fresh from grill also French fries are kept in same dishes resulting in cool fries. Answer: Cook less per fry and they will be fresh and hot. I would rather wait a minute than have cold/luke warm fries. No extra cost but customer satisfaction. Afternoon tea Had served in suite and I notice now only 5 prawns instead of 6 for 2 people (17 per cent saving) I think they could do away with bits on sticks as they are rarely fresh Whilst on subject the English tea bags are useless and I am NOT a strong teas drinker. Dinner Mainly ate in Prime C and again there is no doubt that the quality of steak has changed dramatically as well as general food standards. It was obvious that they do a good job with pre prepared items i.e. soups, salads, crab cakes and desserts but the fresh items like steaks were often poor. This may be my fault but initially ordered well done fillet steak (major mistake for Americans) but It was like shoe leather. Next time ordered medium which was indeed pink in middle but still completely dry with no juices. Had it sat too long under the lamps? Moved onto halibut which was great but unbelievably they ran out of later in the cruise. How can that happen? They know their passenger load and it must come frozen. Later on they also ran out of Dover sole and one night they ran out between ordering and service. I reordered their daily special of pork steak which was great and came hot and juicy so it is possible. Lamb was not much better and they had no mint sauce except that provided from a bottle which you shook like vinegar over your meal. Mint jelly was so fluorescent it should be in Doctor Who. They provide Marmite and Vegemite for us foreigners surely they could get some Colmans proper stuff? Captains dinner was completely unremarkable as I cannot even remember what we had apart from a Margarita Sorbet which had melted and had to be drunk from the glass. I remember being advised by Chef Iwan whose first Captains dinner this was that we would be served with “Lettuce emulsion “ also “potato spaghetti” . The descriptions were better than the reality as most hot courses were warm/cold. I did not spot the truffels although they were on the printed menu Drinks As previous cruisers we were aware that they normally carry 2 Rieslings which are our preferred choice. Usually a discreet request to restaurant manager would enable us to have this from day 1. This time was advised you could only have the 2 on offer. After 5 days one waiter was bold or stupid enough to comment that there was a Riesling on menu in Discoveries restaurant that night so they then provided the Chilean Riesling. It appeared that the German Diennhard one was no longer stocked although a far better quality. The following comments are from other passengers so cannot vouch for absolute veracity but no reason to doubt them. One couple had friends on previous cruise that raved about a particular daily wine and emailed them about it. They asked if they could have this wine but were advised that it was not possible as it was a free daily wine and not until it was on daily list. No problem they said “Can we pay for it?. Answer “We cannot sell it as it is an inclusive wine.” Also suite members get 4 half bottles of spirits but are not allowed to drink them other than in your room. I understand that Azamara may not want you to drink your own shop bought alcohol but it seems bizarre that if you are sitting in a bar with the provided bottles and using Azamara mixers. You would actually be saving them money as you would not be using their alcohol. Unless my memory is failing I thought that pool bar served draught beer but no longer and the “International selection of beers” is Becks, Bud and Heineken Surely with Inbev reach Azamara could take on board a limited amount of local bottled beer at each replenishment point and use as limited edition. Perhaps our final room service breakfast was a useful metaphor for Azamara on board service. Bacon good, potatoes good, muffin were no bigger than thumb/forefinger circle with an extra inch in circumference, poached eggs bigger than muffins and the weakest orange juice I have ever drunk. Final conclusions The peer of the realm with a party of 16 most certainly will not return and Francis a German lady we have met on 2 previous cruises who received the LCV award on ship for most cruises at 25 will not be returning either. Disembarkation the usual shambles with 3 ships at the same time and 1 hour to check in at Windsor atlantica hotel on Copacabana beach. We were finally dumped at airport 4 hours before departure time with checkout not due to open for another hour. We were all flying on same flight so why was it not possible to delay departure by at least 1 hour.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and ... Read More
We have just finished our first ever cruise on the Azamara Journey and it was truly an amazing experience. Right from the very start where we were met outside the cruise terminal, it didn't take long for us to go through customs and were on board with a glass of bubbly and lunch waiting. Our balcony cabin was spacious enough and although we didn't use our balcony a lot it was lovely to have. The service on board was outstanding, Raymond and Hilda who looked after our room were fantastic and on my husband birthday they had gone in and put balloons and a Happy Birthday banner up, a nice touch. The food on board was very good, we ate in the Window cafe for breakfast and lunch and the discovery restaurant for dinner where we had excellent food and service. The entertainment that we went to was very enjoyable. There is nothing that I can fault about the cruise and I look forward to doing another one. Thank you Azamara Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to ... Read More
Another Azamarazing Journey Cruise From Monte Carlo to Rome 1 Sept 2012 Decent journey from Newcastle to Monte Carlo via LHR/ Nice and BA T5 lounge. Very civilised although having arrived just too late for bacon rolls was able to have snacks, drinks and Internet access. Club Europe full but meal on board perfectly acceptable. Met at Nice by Azamara rep (6 of us) and escorted to 50 seater coach. We had to wait approx 1 hour for delayed flight from Manchester. This did not please one passenger who after half an hour was demanding either A: Coach set off immediately B: A taxi be procured for him and his partner. We other 2 couples refused to be drawn into this discussion and on arrival of other passengers set of for Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo. Unfortunately this was the day of match between Real and Chelsea so traffic was horrendous and hotel was full of gravy trainers (UEFA delegates). Room was fantastic and overlooked F1 circuit hairpin. Adequate breakfast next day and then taxied to port. On arrival greeted by several staff we knew including Hotel director Heijke Berdos. On board by 12 00 and having dropped hand baggage for later delivery went to Windows cafe for lunch where met other old friends /crew members Adele / Alex and Jose. After lunch with complimentary wine and soft drinks went down to suite to meet butler? Suite was fine with bath as well as shower. Went to lifeboat muster drill to be advised that because of French (not Monegasque )dock workers and itinerary being set for 18 months the workers would not turn up at 5.00am to untie the ship with the result we had to leave early at midnight. Not great for one couple who had stayed in Monte Carlo for 2 days before hand and had planned a night out in Monte Carlo to arrive at ship at 2.00am. Imagine their surprise when they turned up to an empty dock. They were able to be reaccomadated and transferred to ship at St Tropez next day. This was totally NOT Azamaras fault and of course with such late notice they were unable to advise guests. In addition because of Lufthansa strike action some 37 other passengers also missed departure. Great advert for NOT making your own arrangements for arrival that day. Good night sleep and down for breakfast to Azamara specialities Freshly squeezed orange juice /cranberry juice /freshly made eggs of all varieties including poached as well as boiled as well as freshly made toast bagels muffins . Not bad to be sitting in open air watching the ships wake in the sun. Onto sundeck with Azamara signature proper wooden loungers with full thickly padded loungers with white slip covers and towels. Repeat as needed for 10 days. Food As suite guests we had complimentary dining in Aqualina and Prime C as standard and happy to report my favourites of Goats cheese souffle /French onion soup and Grand Marnier souffle are alive and well. If you ask they will serve almost any dish between the 2 restaurants and given 24 hours notice will prepare any dish of your request (subject to ingredient availability.) Probably no ostrich meat but we had a most beautiful salmon Wellington that the executive chef said had given him a new idea for possible menu changes The only let down for food was the windows cafe lunch offering which was very repetitive i.e. 1 hot carved meat/chicken with some spicing/fish in sauce and some other bits. They did have a good range of meat fish cheese to make fresh sandwiches or panini and if you were still desperate there was burger bar that did have good meat choices burgers hot dogs brochettes and speciality daily sausage i.e. German /Italian etc. On galley tour saw prep areas etc. and 24-hour room service is available together with in room dining if required. Drink All soft drinks free at all times 24 hours daily and wines 3 choices at lunch /dinner times free flowing (average 4 glasses at lunchtime.!!) All adequate quality including Roses and Rieslings for lighter drinking.. As suite guests we had 4 half bottles of spirits gin vodka whisky and rum as well as 2 bottles of champagne which took some drinking . Service This is amazing and a great advert for compulsory tipping as staff are guaranteed a decent wage and are desperate to return and indeed approx 80% of front facing staff return after their initial contract and some have been working for Azamara for 5 years You really feel humble when you realise these people are away from home for 6 months on 2 months off for 7 days a week yet they are still so friendly and remember your preferences re tea coffee etc. On Azamara you get a questionnaire after 3 days to see if there is ANYTHING wrong so that they can fix rather than have a complaint later. I simply commented on my card that for cruises with a fair percentage of Brits on board it might be nice to have Marmite sachets for guests at breakfast. Within 2 hours I had a call from Executive chef stating they would try to obtain some at next port of call Livorno. Imagine my surprise when at breakfast 2 days later waiter produced a jar for me. Azamara had gone to the trouble of obtaining some via port agent and had sought me out at breakfast. Embarrassing to say it was produced on a tray each breakfast for me. SERVICE SERVICE!!! Tendering Good with plenty of help on and off except Capri where Captain Johannes explained that they HAVE to use local tenders which are small craft seating about 20 on open boats. These are really quite unsatisfactory, as you have to step onto boat side then boat seat and finally deck. We are not old or infirm but we did not enjoy this at all. Captain explained that they had offered to pay for ferries but use their own lifeboats but this option is always refused by boatmen. Not sure why as I will quite happily be paid to do nothing or even go and earn some money elsewhere. We also had unfortunate experience at St Tropez where we tendered in on Azamara boats and were deciding whether to go to Port Grimaud but decided it looked too choppy for the small boats. We returned to tender back to ship. As soon as we had left harbour it was decided it was too dangerous to disembark until ship was swung to make a lee for safer disembarkation. We were therefore stuck on tender for an hour whilst ship was swung. Whilst not in danger it was very uncomfortable as life boat was pitching and rolling outside harbour walls. Captain explained that French weather forecast had been for 15 knot winds whereas in reality it became 30 knots and he considered it dangerous to continue until ship was moved. Excursions Did not do any Azamara as have been to ports already although if you book early you get 50% off pricing. Some American guests did 8 excursions and they must need a holiday to recover. Entertainment The cruise director Eric De Gray is fantastic as appearances in Hairspray /Elvis impersonator and in Abba in final show. Those who have seen it will agree it is amazing but do not want to spoil the surprise for others. He is always around and approachable yet so self deprecating although he says one of passengers favourite sayings is "you should do this Professionally" English comedian very good and his fiancee the singer also but pickpocket and Rat Pack impersonator less so and quite a few walked out of both shows. Guests A good mixture of nationalities Brits, Americans, Germans, Australians even including some Russians who wanted to gamble and eat in restaurants in bath robes. Thankfully refused admission by Addel restaurant manager. Disembarkation. Always the Achilles heel of any ship although if you have a later flight you can stay on board until 11.30 with early lunch. Unfortunately our flight did not qualify so we were dropped at airport approx 90 mins before desk opened. On check inn up to Exec lounge which does not compare with LHR with a few croissants and cold sandwiches. . A useful tip is if you book an open cruise you pay £150 deposit to get £400 off your next cruise and this is in addition to any TA discount as this is transferable once you have decided on cruise. You get best of both worlds. A loyalty discount as well as any best price you can get from travel agent. Overall a great holiday and we are looking forward to next one on 15 November Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and ... Read More
Wonderful experience overall. Staff were lovely, approachable and present, but discrete. Embarkation / disembarkation was seamless. The cabin was small, the bathroom and shower area very small. Elevators easy to obtain and moving around the ship is easy. You hardly feel there are 650 passengers on board and it is easy to mingle and meet people. We chose to dress up everynight, but dressy casual is sufficient. Loved the open dining policy - it really meant not having to look at a watch! The open wine served (although is limited to a glass) is rarely enforced, very nice wines. Food is amazing and often a hard choice on what to select! Or do as I did and eat 2 desserts every night - the velvety cappuccino is wonderful! We throughly enjoyed the Prime C restaurant. The open pool bar has great hamburgers and tacos and the coffee at the Italian cafe is divine, as well as the afternoon nibbles! The lovely THICK mattress poolside coupled with the warm pool made it hard to leave the pool everyday! HIGHLY recommend this cruise line. A nice size ship, without feeling lost. Facilites and food excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, ... Read More
Having heard so many positive things about Azamara we were anticipating nothing but the best when we embarked for our first cruise. We have never considered a cruise before and have always made our own holidays with flights, hotels/apartments and rental cars. This year one of our trips were cancelled and suddenly we found our self with 2 weeks of spare time to use at "anything". By pure coincidence we stumbled upon a cruise with Azamara and within a few days everything was arranged thru a TA in Oslo. We were going on our first cruise. We read many reviews before we decided and in line with some recommendations we opted for the interior cabin. It's true what they said. We never spent much time there and the money saved could be used on the beverage package,- among other things. Next time we might go for a balcony, but for the first cruise it was quite OK to just do the interior cabin. We got a great reception embarking in Nice and the Meet and Mingle Party was held later the same evening. A fine opportunity to meet some fellow cruisers that you only had some contact with via cruise critic. First port of call was Saint-Tropez. We had plans for lunch at Plage L'Esquinade and had a great day in port. The Saint-Tropez Sailing Week was in progress and it was fantastic to watch all the yachts and large sail boats passing by the Journey as we were tendered close to the port. Sanary Sur Mer was next port and it was really a quaint little village with a beautiful port. The only negative side to it was that they practice siesta and basically that meant that almost all the shops were closed from 12-3p.m. If you don't have a port excursion in a place like Sanary Sur Mer is a bit too quiet. IMHO they should do a bit more when they get cruise ships,- I rather feel a bit stranded in a beautiful town when everything is closed. If they don't want tourists I can suggest many places that would be better options, Saintes Maries de la Mer for example. Barcelona was fantastic- so were the other ports, not going into details, but the excursions we had was very nicely performed by Azamara and their agents. Very professional and surprisingly efficient. We would recommend excursions if you find them interesting because Azamara really make an effort to give you a supreme product. On board the Azamara Journey everything was pure excellence. The crew, from the maintenance staff to the officers, really seemed to enjoy working for Azamara. That was the first thing that struck me,- these people actually enjoy what they are doing. The restaurants were very good. we dined in all of them and can say that all the options are well worth a visit. The main dining room, Discoveries, was a bit more noisy than the speciality restaurants, but nothing to be bothered with. The food was equally as good, and that is what's important. We found the on board entertainment to be very good. Some very nice performances by artists flown in for a few days only and some performances from the Azamara artists. They all were high level performers and could easily work in the West End or on Broadway. We had a fabulous time on the Azamara Journey and will definately go again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Our sailing aboard the Azamara Journey was one of the best we have ever taken out of our 72 cruises. We sailed as dance instructors on this trip - our category is that of guest enrichment. As such we enjoy full passenger status in exchange ... Read More
Our sailing aboard the Azamara Journey was one of the best we have ever taken out of our 72 cruises. We sailed as dance instructors on this trip - our category is that of guest enrichment. As such we enjoy full passenger status in exchange for our teaching ballroom dancing. It could not have been a better trip. We were treated exactly the same as any other passenger and enjoyed all of the benefits and amenities as well. Not always the case on other cruise lines we have sailed. We were assigned an outside obstructed cabin. You probably have read that the cabins on these ships are somewhat small and ours was although beautifully laid out and majestically furnished. The bathroom is small but adequate as long as you don't mind making friends with your shower curtain. The linens are very superior to all other ships we have sailed on. The view - not much - but still bright! Robes, slippers, umbrella, binoculars, and superior bathroom amenities are all provided - equivalent to a suite on other lines. A couple of nights out we received a beautiful passport wallet, very nice heavy duty carry bag, and a gorgeous metal picture frame along with a Holiday card personally signed by the Captain and all senior officers. Journey does not have the glitz and glamor of the large mega ships. Capacity is 690, but we sailed with only 340. It was more like a floating country club than a cruise ship. The Captain was always around - one fellow passenger described him as a Social Butterfly! But so was the Hotel Manager and other senior officers. This resulted in service far superior to any received on other cruise lines (and we are Princess elite). The staff could not do enough for you. Azamara has also gone to an all inclusive policy. Our bill after 16 nights was $333. And of that about 1/2 was for internet!! Another $100 was for jewelry in the shop. Bar bill ??? $8 - With free flowing wine at lunch and dinner there is no need to bring or buy any! Also, there is no effort made to sell anything - a very refreshing change from past cruises. The photo shop is hidden away and depending on your route, you might not even see it. There was a shore excursion sheet the first day, but never again. There are no recommended shopping info sheets, but rather truly interesting print outs for the various ports. The cruise director, Eric De Gray was the most talented individual we have ever sailed with. His talents defy description and could take an entire review! There is not much cruise staff and not a lot of activities, but yet still plenty to do for those interested. We had a top notch duo in the Looking Glass - a beautiful lounge overlooking the front of the ship - think Crow's Nest on HAL. The showroom is small and sight lines are not very good, but there are no production shows so this is not really a problem. There was a variety of guest entertainers and some amazing performances by Eric and the ship's staff. We go to dance, not eat. The food was very good. Most of the time we ate in Windows (the buffet) and it was great most of the time. Not so much on Indian night as EVERYTHING was Indian. Need to offer some alternatives! The dining room is a beautiful room. Two meals there. First typical of about 2 hours. Second was very bad with nearly 45 min without wine and over an hour before first course! We saw many supervisors in Windows, but apparently none in Discoveries. We ate in the two alternative restaurants and both were absolutely marvelous and well worth the $15. Left a $10 tip each time, but otherwise all tips are included. This was not necessary, but well deserved. If you like wine, you will love this ship. Wine is free flowing at lunch and dinner. You can take it with you and even drop in Windows to get a glass to go. There does not seem to be any restrictions! The wine changes every day and was always excellent. There is also an interesting 1/2 price deal on bottles of wine that also changes every day. One day Rosemont Merlot was $14 a bottle (Costco price is about $10). Although an amazing deal, we did not see anyone buying wine as the wine being poured was always great! Embarkation and Disembarkation were unbelievable. We arrived in early afternoon and thought we were the only ones boarding! In San Diego, we were in Windows when our color was called, went to our cabin for our carry on and down one floor to leave and we were the only ones leaving! Reminded us of the Delta Queen!! Could not have been easier. While there is always room for improvement, Azamara tries harder than any other cruise line we have been on to accommodate passenger wishes. They have an interesting niche market to exploit. On paper they compare with Crystal, Seaborne etc. While we have not sailed on those top lines, we can say that they are far superior to the product on the major cruise lines and comparison might better be made to the best accommodations and highest past passenger amenities provided on those lines. There are no accommodations made for children so it is not a family cruise line choice. We are not leaving any Port reviews as we rarely get off the ship. We were amazed at how Cabo San Lucas has changed since we were last there 6-8 years ago. It was delightful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Panama Canal Cruise - 12/18/09 to 1/3/10 This was the best vacation we have ever taken in our 20 years of marriage!!! It was the perfect combination of casual and upscale. I felt like we were newcomers on the ship having only taken 5 ... Read More
Panama Canal Cruise - 12/18/09 to 1/3/10 This was the best vacation we have ever taken in our 20 years of marriage!!! It was the perfect combination of casual and upscale. I felt like we were newcomers on the ship having only taken 5 cruises. The clientele was from all over the world and had cruised to many ports of call. We picked this cruise since it was through the Panama Canal and was from 12/18 to 1/3. If you have never been through the Panama Canal, we thought this portion of the trip was worth taking the vacation for. We sprung for a room with a balcony and it was worth every penny as we often sat out there to read or take in a sunset or slept with the door open to hear the sea. Ports of Call Port Antonio, Jamaica - We have been to Jamaica before and didn't like in the past on this cruise. Wish it would be replaced by another stop. Cartagena, Columbia - We took the Fortress tour which was interesting. The street vendors in Columbia are pretty pushy! Panama Canal, Panama - It is hard to describe going through the locks, especially seeing enormous vessels with only 1-2' to spare on either side.....Amazing! Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We went on the Cloud Forest tour. This started with a 2 hour bus ride from sea level to 4500' elevation to the Cloud Forest. The ride scenery was great and once you get to the top, we went on the Suspension Bridge tour over the rain forest. A wonderful tour and one of the highlights of the trip. San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - We decided not to take another 8 hour tour and took the shuttle to the town. After we got there we took off our shoes and walked the beach for about an hour before we decided to have a few beers at a local place. Lots of fun. Hautulco, Mexico - This is a made up Mexican city for cruise boats. Given that, it is small and quaint and a good place to spend a few hours. Acapulco, Mexico - Best tour for us....Releasing baby turtles to the wild. We had about 30 folks on the tour and we got to learn about sea turtles. The baby turtles we released were hatched that morning and we placed them on the beach so they could get to the ocean. By the way, make sure you have them make you a corn tortilla from their small restaurant, it was great. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - We spent a week in Cabo about 7 years ago. It has changed greatly and is way too commercialized. If you can, try and avoid the downtown area....too many tourist shops. We were there with 3 other ships and the downtown was mobbed. We did have a nice lunch in a small cafe later in the day after many of the other tourists had left. Azamara Highlights: 1. Casual relaxed atmosphere throughout the ship. 2. Staff was friendly. 3. Prime C and Aqualina were much better than the Discovery Dining Room. Service and food were definitely worth the time to get a reservation and you can easily go more than the two allotted times. 4. New Years celebration was fantastic! They sure know how to throw a party. 5. Loved the morning/lunch/dinner buffet for the variety and especially the outdoor seating area. 6. We noticed that given 24 hours notice the chef would make any request as was seen by an Indian feast at the table next to us that was not on the menu. 7. Healthy eating options. We both spent 18 days away from home and did not gain an ounce! It was equal parts exercise and healthy eating. You can see how we did it on my wife's blog at Foodsforlonglife.com. 8. Tony, their cruise director, was amazing. He also was an incredible professional singer. They are lucky to have him. Azamara items to improve: 1. Ship galley and bridge tours should be limited to fewer guests even if that means giving more tours. Our galley tour had around 35 people and if you were not near the chef you could not hear anything. 2. There should be more of a selection of herbal teas. They had flavored black teas instead of pure herbal blends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Nothing in the last thirty years of cruising could have prepared me for the let down of this 16 night Panama Canal Cruise. Celebrity Cruise line should refund every passenger on this trip, their money, immediately. This trip was organized ... Read More
Nothing in the last thirty years of cruising could have prepared me for the let down of this 16 night Panama Canal Cruise. Celebrity Cruise line should refund every passenger on this trip, their money, immediately. This trip was organized by my friends for my 50th Birthday, and was researched very carefully... what follows will make you think twice about boarding either of the Azamara ships. What you are about to read has not been embellished one iota, and can all be substantiated by other guests. The good news is... the boarding process was seamless. We went directly to our "Sky Suite" to unpack. The press on this ship had stated the Azamara Journey had undergone a major remodel eighteen months previously. There was no indication of this upon entering our suite. Yes, the suite was rather small, and the bathroom miniscule, but it did appear to be clean, although extremely dated. There was no way this room had been fully remodeled eighteen months ago. Immediately the "Butler" (he is nothing more than a housekeeper with a bowtie) showed up introduced himself, and told us that if we needed anything, to just pick up the phone. He had a smile on his face throughout the entire cruise and did a great job keeping our room clean. After unpacking we caught up with our friends and we did a tour of the ship. We were expecting the five- star ship the Celebrity Cruise line was touting. We expected the ship to look just as it did in the advertising photos. Even an untrained eye could see the rust, the cracks, the dirt, the scratches, drapery rods with no draperies, lounge chairs that desperately needed to be varnished, I could go on, but why bother, we have bigger fish to fry. No one could explain why, but we set sail almost an hour and a half late. We missed the sunset and the fanfare that one normally looks forward to when you set sail. We should have known this was the start of a very long "Journey" to say the least. The open seating in the Discovery Dining Room is a great idea, and the fact that you do not have to dress up if you do not want to is an added bonus. However, do not expect dinner to take anything less than two-and- a- half hours in any restaurant on this ship. That is unless you have a desire to eat average cafeteria food, if so you can eat the buffet dinner in the "Windows Cafe". The menus in the Discovery restaurant create such mouth watering expectations that when you taste the food, you are in shock. What happened to the savory food that was described so elegantly in the menu? Why was it taking so long between courses? Why when we specifically told our waiter that one of our guests was deathly allergic to Bell Pepper would he continue to put dishes that contained bell pepper in front of her? The food was so bad in this restaurant that after four days of torture we made contact with the Food and Beverage Manager who kindly and graciously arranged for all of our meals to be upstairs in the two "Specialty Restaurants." More on this later. The first day, we were at sea, and we went to the gym. It was very clean, a great view of the water, and had all the right equipment one would expect. After about fifteen minutes on the treadmill we kept hearing some loud screaming coming from down a hallway and figured there was an aerobic class in progress. The screaming became more piercing and desperate to the point that many of us got off the lifecycle and went towards the door to see what the commotion was, but before we could get to the door a security guard closed the door. We were a bit confused as to what was going on, so we went through the spa and came out the other side of the hallway to an encounter that do not think any of us shall soon forget. It was almost as if we had stepped into a CSI crime scene. A security guard was telling us to "be careful" as we passed. There were bloody handprints and blood splattering on the outside of the first white paneled elevator doors. As we moved further along we could see that four or five other security guards had what sounded like two maniacs trapped in the other open elevator. It was totally surreal. Whoever was trapped in the elevator was screaming inappropriate racial remarks against the security guards who were from varying nations. In all the years we have travelled on ships we have never seen anything like this. We found it all deeply disturbing and went down to our rooms. Later we discovered that it was a father and son who had been drinking, and the son, who supposedly had never had any alcohol before, reacted badly to drinking and temporarily lost his mind. Everyone was expecting these two to be thrown off the ship at the first port, but surprisingly, they remained. And no surprise to any of us, a few ports later the drunken father was screaming at the drunken son outside of the ship, "I don't care if you walk home!" And with that he got on the boat leaving his intoxicated son to figure out what to do next. Passengers should not be subjected to this kind of behavior. Ever. There is no excuse for this. What more could I say about the itinerary except that on Christmas the cruise line had us in Costa Rica, and on and New Year's eve had us in Cabo San Lucas. All of the shopping was closed in Costa Rica. Whereas we were in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, on December 26th, where there is absolutely nothing to buy, and truly no reason to ever visit. This port should be taken off the itinerary, but is probably much cheaper for the cruise line to land in, because you end up staying there longer than you do when you dock in Acapulco, which is a shame, because in Acapulco you truly could use two days to see the scenery. None of the itinerary makes any sense, except maybe to the corporate office. As the cruise wore on, so did everyone's nerves. People were complaining left and right about the food, the accommodations, and the horrific third rate vaudeville performers. It appeared to everyone on the ship that one hand did not know what the other hand was doing. It was quite confusing, because all in all the staff was wonderful in their attitude. It was not until later in the cruise that we discovered that over fifty percent of the staff had never been on this ship before we sailed out of Miami. Most of them had never been on a cruise ship before. What was the head office of Celebrity thinking? The two high end restaurants "Prime C" and "Aqualina" did deliver better food than the other sources on the ship. However, this quality of food is what should have been delivered in the Dining Room to all of the guests on a daily basis. The high end restaurants on the "Journey" should be providing a higher quality product than what they have presented here. The staff was much more knowledgeable and attentive in these venues. It was a consensus on the ship that the Head Chef should be fired. In the daily activity program that is slipped under your door every night there was an article about the new head chef that had decided to change all of the round plates to square plates, and in doing so, Azamara was happy to announce they were incurring a major extra expense because square covers did not exist! Who is this chef? We have a news flash for you. How about keeping the round plates; and with the money you are saving hire proper chefs and purchase better quality food. In all of the years we have cruised, everyone in our party agreed, none of us could remember having such horrific food. If Azamara is going to advertise the "Journey" and the "Quest" as "Five Star" ships then they should hire someone to walk stern to bow and point out the obvious issues. Why are the coffee machines breaking down? Why are the Juice machines malfunctioning? Why are the water machines not working? Why is there not a menu on the wall at the Pool Side Grill? Why is the staff allowing glass items to be served anywhere around the pool area? Why have you run out of honey? Why have you run out of Butter? Why have you run out of Peanut Butter? Why did you run out of steaks, and why would you purchase them from Panama? Why have you run out of vegetables? Why are running out of desserts? Why would you leave port without all of the obvious provisions necessary? You want to know why? We will tell you what the cruise ship employees told us. The reason we were late leaving Miami was because the provisions were late being boarded and the Captain finally said, "Enough is Enough!" And off we went in the dark without enough provisions. You are kidding us right? This is a joke, right? Sadly it was not. We were asked to fill out response cards at the end of cruise and to drop them personally in the boxes located on the fourth floor @ "Guest Relations" Everyone we spoke to yesterday said they marked their response card saying they would never take another cruise on Azamara, and they would definitely never recommend Azamara to anyone in the future. It will be very interesting to see how many of those response cards end up in corporate hands. I can honestly say our party was never so happy to see land, as it was today when we finished my 50th birthday party cruise! PS... As other reviews have pointed out... This ship is not handicap friendly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We had booked a air/cruise through a local agency. Our flight was out of Terminal 5, Heathrow to Miami. We were met at Miami International by a rep from Azamara and as we were the last ones thru customs, we left the airport immediately. ... Read More
We had booked a air/cruise through a local agency. Our flight was out of Terminal 5, Heathrow to Miami. We were met at Miami International by a rep from Azamara and as we were the last ones thru customs, we left the airport immediately. A swift and smooth transfer to the Miami Wyndham airport - my only crit of that is that it is far from anything, so were confined to the hotel. The next morning buses were arranged for our transport to the ship, our checking in went smooth and in no time boarded the ship, to be greeted by someone handing out drinks. We were told our rooms were not ready, would be shortly and if we desired could leave our hand luggage to be delivered to our rooms, which we declined. We were told that dinner first night would be at a set time, which we were asked what time suited us etc. we took 8 p.m. for our convenience. We went upstairs to Windows for lunch, which at the time was pretty busy, not surprising as Discoveries dinging room was not open. Even tho, it was no problem to find a table and already meet new "cruisers". it was time for us to go to our stateroom, we were more or less off center forward and found the rooms as we expected. We were aware that the bathrooms were a tad small, but over the 16 days had no problem with the size of the shower space etc. Did find that the carpets looked tired, but for us everything was clean, neat & tidy. When we walked in discovered that the beds had not been made up into a double, but we soon met our assistant "Ever" who said no problem, which we found was always the case, and when we returned after dinner, all sorted. out. Found the ship very easy to navigate We had a problem with the Aircon, realizing on the first day sailing it was not working "properly", we complained to our Butler, who said would report it, in a few hours it wasn't so we then at the CC cocktail party met Philip Herbert,Hotel Director, and within a short while he had everyone running around. Our main reason for doing this cruise was to sail thru the Panama and to be away for the festive season, Our only gripe was that we had two days one was Xmas Day and one Sunday,when we were in ports, which we felt was a waste, do realize that itineraries are difficult at the best of times. We were pleased with the different venues for eating, even tho they say only twice at the Speciality Rests. We had no problem in booking 2 more for Prime C which we loved. We also alternated between Breeze /Windows and the Main Dining Room. My hubby loved the sushi upstairs and I had one of my best pan fried salmon there. We did in the main eat our Breakfast and lUnch out on the "aft" of Windows and when we ate there in the evenings, we were under the stars. Yes there were problems with the hot water and for us from the UK, we do like our Tea Hot and in a Tea Pot - another minor gripe. Towards the end they "ran" out of Butter, that should not happen, I also found had trouble getting honey , used to look for the little pots, but then realized there were always glass jugs by the Tea/Coffee - so that was no problem. We knew that the entertainment was going to by Cabaret Style - only one did we think was a waste. Loved listening to Dan in the Cova Cafe, and found his show good as we did Sue's, the Cruise Director. Joined in a few times in the trivia quizzes in Cova Cafe, which always made me laugh. The sun beds on decks were wonderful. Yes at the beginning some people reserved seats, which to me is ridiculous, if no one ever did, one would always get a bed!!! We personally, found the officers and crew friendly and chatty, they have job to do and do it as best as they can. Not all passengers see things the same and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Did on the odd occasion feel the ships movement, when I did, ate some Ginger, which I took aboard with me - I am normally not a great sea traveller, but had no problems on the Journey. There is quite lot more I could write, if anyone wants to know something from our perspective, please don't hesitate to ask. We would definitely cruise again on the Journey and her sister Quest (which we have not yet been on). We go cruising for the ports and if the itinerary suited us would not hesitate to book Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and ... Read More
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and our flight didn't change that view. Everything was OK though as the flight was on time. It was a $22 flat rate taxi ride from the airport to the cruise dock. We arrived early for boarding (around 11 am) and found registration to be quite easy with no waiting what so ever. Unfortunately, not within the cruise lines responsibility, we could not board immediately. The ship was undergoing inspections by both the Coast Guard and Immigration so we were asked to take a seat and wait for official clearance. Less than an hour later they were cleared and we could board. Again, an easy process and quite quick. We had our photo taken for the Sea Pass and were given a glass of Rose Champagne. The rooms were not ready but that was to be expected since we boarded two hours before the suggested time. It gave us time to explore the ship and it's common areas. We had never sailed with Azamara and this was also our first small ship adventure. My first impression upon entering the ship was the ceilings were standard eight foot heights. If you love the soaring atriums and massive open spaces, a small ship like this is not for you. I quickly acclimated though and grew to love the smallness. One of our first visits was to Michael's Club which is on the tenth deck aft. On Celebrity, Michael's Club is a very nice bar with live entertainment. On the Journey Michael's Club is a very nice library but no bar. There was a grand piano which was occasionally used by passengers and as practice by one of the performers. This room was simply lovely with seating in club chairs and sofas and tables upon which you could play games. The book selection was great and the books were filed alphabetically by author. Best selection and best organization I have ever encountered on a ship. There was always a good selection of books available. Very impressive! Michael's Club was also used for various meetings like the Cruise Critic party, the Officer's Cocktail party, some religious gatherings (it was Christmas), and a meeting place for the Connoisseur Dinners (more on those functions later). Windows Cafe is the name of the buffet area located on deck nine aft. It was open for open for lunch and had the only operating bar at that time. We took a break, had a light lunch and a glass of wine while we waited for our room to be ready. The buffet is small but very adequate for a small ship. No trays, simply stacks of plates which you loaded from various stations. It worked on the scramble system where you pick the food station you desire. For the entire trip there were never more than three people in front of me. The food selection was fairly broad and I thought the quality was quite good. There was always a salad station, a cheese station, a dessert station, and a carving station. At breakfast there was cereal, fruits, eggs, a toasting station, an omelet station, and a waffle/french toast station. Full breakfast service lasted until 10 am and a Continental breakfast continued until 11. One of the great things was their coffee machines. There were four of them all located on deck nine. You could choose from regular or decaf coffee, double coffee (cafe american), or expresso from six different buttons. We always had the regular double coffee and it was excellent. The coffee machine also had a spigot for hot water for preparing tea with a selection of bagged teas with milk and lemon available. Next to the coffee machine was another machine with ice and water. And a third machine which had four spigots dispensing iced tea, orange juice, lemonade, apple juice, fruit punch and a tropical blend fruit drink. Only four spigots, so the choices varied with iced tea the only one which was always available. All these machines were available 24 hours a day. By the time we finished lunch, an announcement was made that cabins were now ready. Azamara follows the good policy of very few announcements. Once a day (at noon) was the Captain's report followed by the Cruise Director reporting on the days activities. Our cabin was on the seventh deck forward very near the forward elevators. We were worried about noise from people gathering at the elevators but were never bothered. The cabin was 172 sq ft with a 42 sq ft balcony which is a pretty standard size. It was well furnished and comfortable. The bathroom was quite small with limited counter space but with enough cabinet space to hold our various necessities. There were bottles of Elemis shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for our use. I have had small verandahs before but this one was made smaller because the furniture took up most of the floor space. There were two chairs and a 2' x 3' table which was just too large for the space. To stand at the railing you had to move a chair to make room. The furniture would have been perfect had the verandah been twice the size. Azamara advertises every room comes with a butler. After a while, ours came by to introduce himself and cover some information on our ship. We found the service to be excellent but the butler concept is really just a cabin steward in a better uniform. He was easy to reach via his cell phone and any time we needed something it was quick and easy to call. Our luggage was delivered in stages over several hours. There was more than enough storage space for our needs. The closets come with removable hangers and there was drawer storage in one closet and also in the desk. Azamara runs their dining room on open seating, no reservations required, and country club attire. We were tired after our red eye flight so we skipped the dining room and went to one of their speciality restaurants for a glass of wine and an appetizer. We didn't have a reservation but they gave us a seat at an upright table which worked perfectly. The speciality restaurants are side by side on the tenth deck aft. Prime C is a steakhouse; Aqualina is Mediterranean. The food in both was excellent and we had several meals there throughout the cruise. Because the ship is small, it is easy to get around. The ship's lounges were also miniature versions of the Cova Cafe and the Martini Bar but perfectly adequate for the smaller number of passengers. The Cova Cafe always had snacks available when open. The Martini Bar was an evening operation only. Both had live entertainment at various hours via a guitarist, a harpist, and a pianist who rotated between venues. The ship's main showroom was called the Cabaret and it too was small but nicely furnished and comfortable. It was basically one level with a show floor that doubled as a dance floor. Entertainers were good but limited by the size with no sets or costume changes for the performers. All together the entertainment was just good not being any where near the variety or extravaganza of the larger ships. So if you desire high level entertainment, the Journey is not for you. We were happy because we more enjoy the entertainment in the small lounges where you can converse over beverages. The main dining room is a single story, prettily furnished room which is supposed to hold the entire passenger load in a single seating. I thought the food and service was anywhere from good to excellent. But the room just seemed to be too busy and not conducive to relaxed dining. The food variety was quite good but I felt they needed more wine servers. Being open seating, you walk up to the maitre de and tell him the type of table you want, i.e., a single, table for six, etc. There was never more than a ten minute wait and that was only once at the popular 8 pm. The Martini Bar was at the entrance to the dining room and was a good spot to either wait for a table or for dining partners. As Elite members of the Captain's Club we received a schedule of events in our room. I was impressed as we attended the Captain's reception, the Officer's cocktail party, the Cruise Critic party, and the Captain's Club reception that each event had waiters with trays of hors'douevers and servers with cocktails and an open bar. Very nice. Plus the hors'douevers were excellent. Also excellent were the daily savories provided by our butler. We had this service previously on Celebrity and were totally unimpressed. So we delayed ordering thinking it would be the same. Big mistake. The savories were actually small servings of appetizers from the speciality restaurants and included things like tiger prawns, foie gras, grilled salmon, pate, and even slices of lobster. We will order every day next time. There were ten sea days on this cruise and each sea day there were two events we loved. Each sea day at 10 am there was a cooking demonstration and at 1:30 there was a wine tasting. The cooking demonstration was done in the Cabaret show lounge by the head chef from the speciality restaurants and mainly featured items from those menus. Delicious samples were served at the end. The wine tasting was done by the cellar master and consisted of five tastes from a specific region. We covered France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Pacific Northwest, and other regions. An excellent idea well presented and informative. In conclusion we loved the ship and the cruise. It was an upscale cruise for the food, wine, and a very nice group of passengers. We will certainly be looking for more sailing opportunities with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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