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40 Azamara Journey Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks ... Read More
We toughtly enjoyed it!!! Azamara Journey cruise ship is beautiful! Emberkation was brilliant. Disemberkation was good enough. Lounges are very comfortable. The food is excellent vlwith lots of choises. The free drinks is more than great. The longer stays on port were nice but in comparison with the private tours offered by local guides in ports Azamara offers a little more expensive. Publik room very comfortable and nice. Staff is super friendly. Staff is very courteous and ready to help at any time. Service is professional. Definitely see you again! Thank u to all! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We sailed from Piraeus on the Journey to Paros, Patmos, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Rhodes, Cyprus and Israel. I could only come up with one little complaint! Only one! The internet connection was so slow that I was unable to complete any ... Read More
We sailed from Piraeus on the Journey to Paros, Patmos, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Rhodes, Cyprus and Israel. I could only come up with one little complaint! Only one! The internet connection was so slow that I was unable to complete any communications or connect with my personal email in 15 min. I mentioned it and they gave me 15 minutes complimentary. This was unexpected and a pleasant surprise. This was by far the happiest cruise experience of my life. I have taken many cruises and none can compare. A majority of the waitstaff were very friendly, always smiling and all were extremely attentive. The Capt. Johannes was seen daily, always out and about making sure things were going well for his passengers. We were so pleased with the food choices in the Discoveries (buffet) dining room that we only ate in the formal dining room twice. They featured a different cuisine each night. We loved sitting outside on the back deck of the ship enjoying the fantastic and delicious assortment of the daily fare. The entertainment was very good in spite of the small cast. Eric de Grey, the cruise director, was a hoot...I won't spoil the surprise for you....(stilletos!). His hairstyle looked like he used a Cuisinart hand blender to style it! And it never even blew in the wind...LOL! There was hand sanitizer at the entrance to all restaurants and they almost MADE you use it! You were squirted with it upon embarkation from every port. Great idea! But it got to be a little tiresome when your hands are full and you need two hands to rub the stuff in. Oh well, it's better than having a ship full of sick people. The beds were super comfortable. Felt so good to sink into and feel the motion of the ocean lull you to sleep. The cabin had plenty of storage with space under the bed for the empty luggage. The bathrobes provided were super heavy. I could barely wear it without breaking a sweat. Need to provide something a little lighter for us lightweights! We used the free laundry machines about halfway through the cruise which turned out to be what everybody else had in mind. Need to plan that a little better next time. They had a guest hypnotist who was pretty average. They had a cellist perform and we really enjoyed him. The vocalist, Anne, who is married to the drum player in the band is so talented. Having free drinks is a nice feature to this cruise line. They offered different wines each day, so you had the opportunity to sample many wines from around the world. I only gained two pounds on this cruise because of the healthy choices that were always available. I only visited the gym once, but my husband frequented the gym and actually lost a few pounds on the cruise....guess I'm the one who found them! The Azamazing Evening in Ephesus was spendid! We sat in an ancient amphitheatre and listened to a stringed orchestra as the sun went down and the lights came on to illuminate the fantastic ruins of the ancient city. What an evening..I had a very hard time getting on the bus to go back to the ship. The thing I appreciated the most about this ship was the size. Because it is smaller, it can go to places off of the beaten path. I will surely book another cruise on Azamara in the future. It was pretty near PERFECT! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
How can you not love Azamara? If you can afford it, just do it.  Sure it's not cheap, but (for us at least) even the MDR (I'm picking up cruise terminology!) was excellent, and a very good quality. The size of the ship meant we ... Read More
How can you not love Azamara? If you can afford it, just do it.  Sure it's not cheap, but (for us at least) even the MDR (I'm picking up cruise terminology!) was excellent, and a very good quality. The size of the ship meant we would see the same passengers, and crew, quite often, which was nice, but we could still get away and do our own thing if we wanted. The service was fabulous, and the crew went out of their way to please. As tips are already in the fare, that was a pleasant surprise. Captain Johannes was everywhere, we thought at one point he must be triplets, always with a smile and a fist-pump; Eric de Gray was often with him, (twins stick together), even early morning despite entertaining everyone until late each night. The cabins weren't big but perfectly fine, and well looked after, as were we. The shore visits, many by tender, were operated efficiently and we hardly ever had a wait. Being all inclusive, we weren't given the airport security ritual every time we returned to ship, just a smile, a "welcome home", and a cold bottle of water. As the title says, we've already booked a longer trip on Journey, Istanbul to Venice, a couple of years hence, and hope the same people are in charge when we go - can't wait to find out which is the "Azamazing evening". I'm going to guess Dubrovnik.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This is our 2nd cruise ever both on the Azamara Journey. The staff, food, boat is superb. What shocked me is how bad the Azamara evening in Crete was. To my understanding, this was the 2nd time Azamara had help this event in Crete. ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise ever both on the Azamara Journey. The staff, food, boat is superb. What shocked me is how bad the Azamara evening in Crete was. To my understanding, this was the 2nd time Azamara had help this event in Crete. Logistics were poor as the first group of people were tendered in around 5pm and the last group which I was in was at 6:15pm. The food and show did not start till 6:30ish which meant everybody before use had to sit around on hard plastic chairs for 1.5 hours plus with nothing to do. The food was something that you would find in a cheap cafeteria. The wine was sitting on the table when we got there, and appeared to have been cooking under the sun for 1.5 hours, though one could really not call it wine as it smell more like paint thinner. The entertainers were very skilled dances, but I don't know how many times I can see one group of people go around in a circle on stage. Azamara said that if you confirmed that you were going and didn't show, you would be charged $150 each. I would have rather had $75 each and I could have had a much better time and dinner looking over the seaside. Sorry Azamara, you really need to rethink this one. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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
My wife and I just got back from the 10/10/10 sailing of the Journey and I have to say that we had an amazing time. The ship size was perfect, suites were immaculate, and the staff was friendly (we wanted to adopt a few of them ;-) ). ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from the 10/10/10 sailing of the Journey and I have to say that we had an amazing time. The ship size was perfect, suites were immaculate, and the staff was friendly (we wanted to adopt a few of them ;-) ). The facilities on board were very good, particularly the spa and health club. Working out was a pleasure and the machines were very well maintained compared to on-shore fitness clubs. Check-in and check-out was very efficient and the handling of shore excursions was really great. At no time did I feel impatient to get off the ship nor did we have to wait very long to debark or for tendering. Up to this point, I give the ship 5 well earned stars. If I have one major gripe about the cruise is the kitchen. The presentation was very good, but the food preparation in the main and Aqualina restaurants left a whole lot to be desired. Inconsistency seemed to be the name of the game for those two. For Aqualina, my lamb came cold and then was reheated instead of being re-fired, lobster came overdone and underdone at the same service in Aqualina. For the main dining room, my wife was served raw salmon, and I had numerous issues with allergies. With regret, I have to fail the ship relating to food. If your goal is a truly exceptional fine dining experience, look elsewhere, like a restaurant. If you have allergies, as I do, you might want to consider another ship until improvements are made. Of the top 5 meals we had during the cruise, all of them were on-shore in family (4) and hotel (1) restaurants. The ships kitchen simply didn't do it for me. I had high hopes for this ship and if the food preparation processes had been up to a decent standard (as we experienced on Celebrity on the previous cruise), the experience would have been the best we ever had. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our Azamara experience was quite good, and while we did experience some of the elements other cruisers had mentioned (the less positive aspects), overall we really enjoyed the cruise. First of all, we loved our cabin. While the cabin is ... Read More
Our Azamara experience was quite good, and while we did experience some of the elements other cruisers had mentioned (the less positive aspects), overall we really enjoyed the cruise. First of all, we loved our cabin. While the cabin is right below the dining room, we thought it had a perfect balcony, and we really enjoyed the size of the room. (Room 8070). The bathroom had plenty of space, and the bed was comfortable enough. The service on the ship was pretty good - absolutely loved the spa (definitely ask for Samantha if you're on the ship now - absolutely the best massage I've ever had). The service in the specialty restaurants was excellent - in the main dining room, somewhat spotty (by spotty, I mean that one time my husband didn't get what he ordered and another time we had to wait over 45 minutes for our entrees - and it wasn't that crowded, but other times, it was good. I will say one thing - if you point out an issue, they do jump on it right away. Our room attendant was outstanding, our butler was okay. The entertainment was pretty good (we didn't make all the shows, but the ones we did go to) - and the Cruise Director was really great. He's different from any other one we've had on any other cruise, but he was on one of our tours, and he was just a really nice guy - and really focused on helping all the passengers in any way he could. He was also a very talented performer (Eric DeGray). The enrichment presentations were pretty good - very knowledgeable speaker. Our tours - and we took mostly ship tours - were pretty good. They were long, and if I did this itinerary again, I might do it a bit differently.. We had one bad weather day (it was a Sea day), and I was quite seasick, but that is certainly not the cruise lines fault. The thing I really loved about this cruise (aside from our room), was the fact that since it was a smaller group of passengers, you really got to know a lot of them. It was really easy to meet people (starting with the Mix and Mingle), and that made this cruise really enjoyable - Very friendly group of passengers. Also, since the ship was a bit smaller, it was certainly easy to find your way around (our last cruise was the Oasis - so it was quite a bit different). While the ship was an older ship, it was very clean and well taken care of. It is time for new carpeting and some other updates, but what they had wasn't bad. The Mosaic Cafe had outstanding Cappucinos and Lattes - one of my favorite places to go, but the coffee in the dining room was not that great.... The food was good, and I really can't think of anything that I had that wasn't good..... My only negative comment on the entire cruise was communication - starting from booking the cruise, getting on the ship and communication throughout the cruise. In getting on the ship, they had a line specifically for Suite guests (we thought that was a good thing). Unfortunately, it was only one line, so people in the regular line had the option of going to about 10 agents, while the Suite guests only had 1 check-in person, and they seemed to be having system problems. Many, many people were checked in before us that arrived well after we did for getting signed in. Once signed in, you just walked on in, but it was a bit of a wait. Again - signage was not as strong as it could have been. During the cruise, they sometimes put out multiple letters on changes, and it did get confusing on which was the correct one, and several times you got the word about what was going on through the rumor mill versus from formal communication. I'm not sure if there was a staff change and they just hadn't figured out how to work together, but the quality of getting out information was the worst of any cruise I have been on. I liked this cruise, and might cruise this line again, but the service was not as good as I had heard it was - maybe my expectations were too high. I didn't expect it to be as good as Crystal, but I did expect it to be as good as on RCCL (Oasis) and Celebrity Summit - and it wasn't. Just somehow, it missed. A few people we met said that the service was better (on the same ship) before the tips were included, and it could be something that simple. So - I would cruise them again, but would look at all other options as well. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Comparisons with other cruises are always difficult to quantify accurately. Overall, this was a great vacation experience. The balcony room was just great, lots of room and kept immaculate by our attentive room staff. The food at ... Read More
Comparisons with other cruises are always difficult to quantify accurately. Overall, this was a great vacation experience. The balcony room was just great, lots of room and kept immaculate by our attentive room staff. The food at the three dining rooms was well done, but is not at the level experienced on Crystal Cruises. The casual eating places were full of variety and if you didn't like the food, there was something wrong with you because the range of choices were huge. The room service for breakfast arrived earlier than planned and that was great for the early morning departures that we had in some ports. We took only one shore excursion from the ship (Delos) and it was top notch and actually better than Crystal Cruise experiences. The spa and health facilities were perfectly matched to the guests needs. The food service staff was really good. The staff in every category of the ship's performance was excellent, except the bartenders would get a C minus for their skills. They were clumsy amatuers who barely knew how to handle mixing. Their handling of the bar suggested that they may have been from the maintenance department rather than a professional bartending background. We tried all the bars to find one that actually had a competent person and none were found. The guest services and concierge were good, except they did not know accurately at two ports whether or not there was a shuttle supplied by the ship. This was most disconcerting to be told that there was no shuttle only to find one was there when we departed the ship. That seems to be a weakness in their communications before and during the cruise. Whoever organizes the shuttles should get the word out earlier before the cruise and during the cruise. The officers of the ship were always around and frequently joining with the guests at meals. They were much more visible and accessible than the Crystal Cruise officers. This was a nice touch and provided a chance to learn more about the ship and life on the sea. It was billed as a casual cruise with no formal dress nights, but there are always a few people who have to strut around with diamond tiaras and designer suits just to make up for their insecurities. Everyone was welcome in all venues if they just wore casual. The captain had to make a difficult decision twice during the cruise. Once was holding the ship in port because some misbehaving and self-centered cruisers delayed the return of one of the land excursion buses by more than two hours. We thought he should have left the bus at Port Said to provide a lesson to the fools who thought their lifestyle more important that 600 other people. The other was changing ports when the seas and winds were too high to provide for safe anchoring at Sorrento. Both times he gave the ship a full explanation and was available for guests to approach him and the staff for needed clarification of the impact on the schedule. Overall, the Journey 10/10/10 cruise is a real good reason to select Azamara as your next cruise company - we will. Alexandria It was a surprisingly clean and modern city. It had it's old section as well. Lots of very interesting sites. Liked it more than Cairo. Naples Pig sty. Garbage everywhere. Sour people on the streets. Business owners were rude. Stay away. Jerusalem Wow, wow, wow What a place for a walking tour. We spent nine hours walking and had our feet not given out, we would have loved to go for more. Cairo If there were no Pyramids - I don't think they could draw one visitor. Crowded and chaotic - uncivilized. Mykonos Great place and the trip to Delos is awesome. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Hi to all. My wife and I are both 64, live in West Michigan, and have travelled extensively for both business and pleasure. We went on this cruise with another couple of the same age for Fall trip. This was our sixth cruise - having been ... Read More
Hi to all. My wife and I are both 64, live in West Michigan, and have travelled extensively for both business and pleasure. We went on this cruise with another couple of the same age for Fall trip. This was our sixth cruise - having been on Royal Caribbean, Costa, Renaissance, Oceania, and NCL before. None of us are overly picky but all appreciate nice touches and good, not overly attentive, service. Food is important but it's not the end-all/be-all for us. It's more about the variety of ports being visited and doing different things without having to pack and repack or deal with transportation over a week or so. We chose Azamara for three primary reasons - first and foremost was the size and character of the ship. We don't like mega ships, long lines or waiting for about anything. The Journey is the same size and configuration as the Oceania ship and the Renaissance IV(in fact it was a former Renaissance ship) we had sailed on before and enjoyed. Second, and almost as important to us as the ship, was the itinerary. We wanted to see most of the places the Journey was going. Lastly - time considerations. Azamara offered a seven-night cruise that fit well with our schedules. None of us are retired and taking two weeks or more off for vacation just doesn't work for us yet. With the Azamara cruise, we could spend two nights in a hotel in Venice before sailing and a final night in a hotel in Istanbul before returning. Cost was also a factor - albeit not an overriding one. We didn't want to spend the money that a true luxury cruise (SilverSea, OceanDream, Seabourn) requires mainly because we didn't want the amenities that the premium dollar gets you. We really don't need or want a butler - we had one on Oceania (due to a last minute upgrade) - and we really never felt it was needed or even desirable. We booked the cruise directly from Azamara - their quoted prices were a bit higher than ones I found on the Internet but Azamara offered us a shipboard credit that was almost 50% more than the difference in prices. We booked our airfare and hotels separately to be sure that we had flight times that suited our schedules and hotels that we knew we would enjoy (based on past experience or recommendations from others). Transfers were not an issue - although they are quite expensive in Venice, especially if you opt for a door-to-door water taxi from the airport to your hotel (€110) which we did - and it was totally worth it!!!! PRE-CRUISE COMMUNICATION (2 out of 5) Communication with Azamara before the cruise was not very good - there was not much communication and what little there was came only via email. I did have some questions and a call to the call center answered them quickly and efficiently. But, it would have been nice to have a cruise booklet prepared for us with Q&A, port information, etc. There was also some confusion about where to board the ship in Venice. The Port of Venice website clearly said one place but the Azamara people apparently told others (based on threads seen in the Forum) it was to be boarded at the other terminal. There's no excuse for that - the Venice Port people were, of course, right. EMBARKATION & BOARDING (5 out of 5) Boarding was handled very efficiently and smoothly by the cruise line personnel. It was quick, painless and very much appreciated by us. We boarded at about 2:00 PM and our bags had been delivered to our room by 3:00 PM. SERVICE (3 out of 5) Service on the Journey was extremely spotty. The crew was very friendly but they just didn't attend to things as well as they could have - especially in the dining venues on deck 9, i.e., Windows and Breezes. Many times the wait staff would be standing around rather than clearing tables or getting passengers silverware, napkins or placemats. Other times, even when crowded, we had great service. Bar service was almost non-existent while lounging around the pool. Go figure. The materials published and distributed at the end of our cruise showed that the passenger to crew ratio was 2:1. When I asked my wife and friends to guess the ratio, two said 3:1 and one said 4:1. It sure didn't seem like 2:1 to us. THE SHIP ITSELF (4 out of 5) We like the English men's club dEcor that was originally outfitted by Renaissance when the ship was built, but my guess is that we are in the minority. The public areas are nice and very well maintained. The on-board shopping in the 4th deck shops was pretty bad according to my wife - who bought nothing. Same with the 'art' that was for sale. In the Azamara publications I read (at least the ones I read online since I never saw anything in real print), the dress required or requested of passengers was "country club causal." Apparently, lots of the folks on our cruise had never been to a country club because they showed up at Discoveries for dinner wearing jeans, t-shirts, hats, shorts and flip-flops. Although most people did dress appropriately, there were lots of people that looked like they should be eating at the Old County Buffet rather than at a nice restaurant on a supposedly upscale cruise. If Azamara DOES want a country club atmosphere on the ship, it needs to let people know what that phrase means and politely suggest to people who are not dressed appropriately that they might prefer to dine at the buffet restaurant. God, I sound like a snob but a lot of people really looked pretty shabby. The casino was well appointed and well attended! The crews manning the tables were friendly even though they conspired to deal me terrible cards throughout the entire cruise. My wife won enough at the slots to almost cover my losses. The pool deck was very nice and there seemed to always be enough deck loungers when we wanted them - even without resorting to getting up early on an "at-sea" day to stash a towel or book on the better seats. Some thoughtless passengers did this and then didn't return for three to four hours. I did have to use the EConnections Internet service a couple of times. The cost of $0.65 per minute would have been OK but the connection speed the first time was so slow that I spent 13 minutes just to read one email and to send out a reply. Yikes! We never used the spa or any of its features so I cannot comment on that. Same with the entertainment. We did not attend any shows so I can't comment. But, the poolside entertainment, the harpist and the piano player were all really good and we enjoyed hearing them. The Oceania cruise we took in 2008 offered a 2-for-one happy hour each night in the bar located at the front of the boat. On the Journey, that was the Looking Glass bar on deck 10. The first time we went there, we were told it was reserved for a private function but that we could have a drink at the side of the room next to the smoking area. No thanks. The next time we went there, there was no furniture by the windows and no service from the people at the bar. So we left Looking Glass again and had drinks on our balcony. Never went back. But our biggest disappointment was the [lack of] outdoor space at the rear of deck nine - more on that later. OUR STATEROOM (4.5 out of 5) We and our friends had adjacent balcony staterooms on deck seven. Being adjacent allowed us to open the glass door on the balcony when we were in port making the extended balcony a wonderful place for us to have cocktails or to merely relax. Also, having tables on the deck were a nice idea and allowed outdoor dining with room service! The stateroom was very nice and comfortably furnished. Many posters here have complained about the mattresses being unsatisfactory. Maybe they were a little hard but they weren't worth complaining about. We certainly didn't have any trouble sleeping. Linens used on the bed were very nice. The bathroom was small but perfectly suitable for our needs. The furnished toiletries were OK but nothing special. Towels were plentiful, large and very soft. Closet space was ample. The primary TV channels offered were awful. The only news channel was Fox News - no CNN or BBC - and very limited other offerings. There were a couple of generic port information channels but nothing specific about the port that was coming up or what you might want to do there (other than to take an Azamara shore excursion). This could really be improved upon. Our stateroom steward - Rosalie - was the best! Never was our stateroom not clean and made up when we returned from any meal. I don't know how she did it but she was great. She also made sure that we had ice and snacks when we asked for them. PORTS OF CALL (2 out of 5) Venice, Santorini, Kusadasi and Istanbul were all fantastic - albeit overly crowded - but that's not the fault of the cruise line. Great places draw big crowds. Also, the island of Korcula in Croatia was a wonderful surprise. It was a very quaint and interesting port town to visit and was probably a good choice over Dubrovnik - which can get very crowded at this time of year. But now let's talk about Koper, Slovenia. I know that Slovenia is a beautiful country with beautiful mountains. But Koper is not. It is the worst port we have ever visited in our cruising experiences. Sure, there were shore excursions but the only two that were remotely interesting, i.e., Lake Bled and Ljubljana, required two+ hour bus rides each way and cost almost $300 per couple. We had ZERO desire to spend five hours on a bus. Instead, we spent about an hour wandering through the streets of Koper's 'old town.' The old town was that - old. It also very gray and totally devoid of charm, joy or anything of interest other than lots of cats. There was nothing to buy, nothing to see and nothing to do. The most interesting thing we saw was a worker cleaning the town fountain with what smelled like hydrochloric acid. I have no problem with Slovenia wanting to develop tourism through Koper - but this is not yet a developed port for a 'top rate' cruise line to visit unless and until more is developed for passengers to do. I feel I almost deserve 1/7 of our cruise price back from Azamara for making me stop here for some unknown reason. There were other ports that could have been substituted for this one. Bottom line, I would not recommend any cruise that stops at Koper unless the itinerary for what was to be done there was fully explained and organized - a day at sea would have been preferable to our time spent there. OVERALL DINING (4 out of 5) Included Wine and Soft Drinks (5 out of 5) We do like wine and the choices that Azamara provided each day for lunch and dinner were very interesting. The wines ranged from California to South Africa and it was nice to try differing varieties with your meals. Some were really excellent and some were just OK. We sure didn't send any back. We understand that wine preference is a purely personal choice and that others may feel that the included wines were not worth the effort. We thought it was a really nice touch. Same with the soft drinks - they were included and they should be. Discoveries - Main Dining Room (4 out of 5) The dEcor and atmosphere of the main dining room, Discoveries, was very nice. We only waited once to get a table for four. Most of the entrees and accompaniments at Discoveries were excellent. The appetizer courses were well done. The soups all were excellent - especially the chilled soups (we actually thought of having the Pear soup again for dessert!). The beef - prime rib and steaks - were better than I expected. However, many of the fish dishes seemed to be bland and without much flavor. Desserts were just OK. Requests for levels of doneness of tuna and beef were usually just as ordered. Acqualina (5 out of 5) This is a great restaurant that really is worth the extra $15 per person. The menu, as well as the service, were wonderful. All of us had lobster in some fashion and it was not at all rubbery as it frequently can be in large scale dining facilities. The soufflEs were also great - especially the chocolate one! We really liked Acqualina - as apparently everyone else did too. We were able to only get one reservation there. Prime C (4.5 out of 5) Prime C was almost as nice an experience as Acqualina but .... The menu was really beef driven and that's what you would expect from a restaurant called Prime C. The portions of beef were really large - too large actually - and could have easily been split. The sauces provided were very good as well. They only served one type of bread that had lots of onion flavoring. I liked it but not everyone may. The service was very nice. But, Acqualina had better service and a better overall menu. Still, Prime C was worth the extra cost and is highly recommended. It just wasn't that special. Breezes poolside cafe (3 out of 5) The problem with the poolside grill was that very long lines tended to form right when you wanted to eat and there were not enough cooks or servers to address the desires of the people waiting in line. Again - spotty service. The burgers, wings and hot dogs were tasty but it took forever to get them. Windows (2 out of 5) Dining at Windows for breakfast was pretty much a disaster every day. Very long lines and slow wait times to get an omelet or a fried egg. Just four stations for 700 passengers. They needed more. We finally gave up and ate at the Discoveries restaurant or had room service for breakfast. Same thing with lunch - Discoveries was overly crowded due to the restaurant's design. The layout of the restaurant makes no sense requiring all diners to converge in a narrow space between two parallel buffet lines. The thing we liked most about our dining on Oceania and NCL was having the ability to eat breakfast and lunch on the rear deck in the open air. On the Journey, the rear deck area was taken up by a huge, and mostly unused, wraparound bar rather than being used as space for dining. On the Oceania ship, the rear deck had three to four rows of tables that are available for outdoor dining. On the Journey, there was one row of about eight tables with umbrellas and the rest were stuffed to the sides under the overhang of deck 10. The eight or so bar stools mounted to the deck were the most uncomfortable stools I have ever sat upon and were rarely used. Every morning, passengers grabbed a cup of coffee and perched like vultures over the few tables that had an outdoor venue hoping that the current users would quickly end their meals so that their table could be snarfed up before another passenger swooped in to claim it for their own. Buffet Nights (????) We didn't do any theme buffets so I can't comment on them. I would note, though, that the ship did depart Santorini, Greece at 8:00 PM. And, on that night, the ship chose to have an Indian themed buffet around the pool area. WHY NOT GREEK FOOD WHEN IN GREECE???? I like Indian food but not when I'm in Greece. Apparently, everybody else thought the same thing because the other dining rooms were overwhelmed by diners that night apparently opting to have their curries another time. Room Service Dining (4 out of 5) We only had breakfast delivered to our room - and then only once. The orders were all correct, delivered right on time and were nice and hot. However, we didn't get any salt or pepper and the orange juice tasted more like Tang than being fresh-squeezed. Oh well. DEBARKATION (5 out of 5) Worked like a charm. We were out of the ship, with our account cleared and gathering our luggage within five minutes of our designated time. OVERALL (3.5 out of 5) We had high hopes for this cruise - some were realized and others were not. First off, Azamara has a ways to go in terms of service and ambiance to match Oceania. It just didn't feel as good as did the Oceania experience. There needs to be more attention to detail to get to the next level - except for our steward, Rosalie, who was the best we have ever had on any cruise line. I'd guess that the average passenger age was about 65. This cruise had more passengers in the 35-45 range that I would have suspected - many of which seemed to be with a corporate group that might have skewed things a bit. Also, the passengers were more internationally diverse than the Oceania cruise that seemed to cater almost exclusively to Americans. There were a lot of Brits, Germans, and other Europeans on the Azamara cruise. Food quality was very good but not quite up to par with Oceania - except for Acqualina and Prime C. Ports of call (with the exception of Koper) were fine and what we wanted to see. Shore excursions were not very well described or marketed - hence we did ours on our own and had a much better experience. Hope that this is helpful to those who read it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Azamara Journey Sept 19 - Oct 3 b2b. We are veteran ( 20+) cruisers with a wide range of lines from NCL to Regent. Our favorite has become Azamara Club Cruises. This was our 4th and 5th week on The Journey and in our opinion they are ... Read More
Azamara Journey Sept 19 - Oct 3 b2b. We are veteran ( 20+) cruisers with a wide range of lines from NCL to Regent. Our favorite has become Azamara Club Cruises. This was our 4th and 5th week on The Journey and in our opinion they are really getting it down. Our pre cruise involved a too lengthy UAL flight from Chicago to Rome. Too lengthy Due to the poor and unfriendly sky service of some flight attendants that either need to Find a happy face or retire. This was true on our return flight from Munich as well. When we arrived in Rome FCO, we discovered we were missing one of our 2 bags. It turned out it never made it on the plane in Chicago even though we had a 4 hour connection there. Our one night pre-cruise hotel was the hotel Borgo Del Mare, it used to be the Bramante in Chivitivechia. The same friendly staff greeted us there as on our previous stay. It's an excellent option for pre cruisers that do not want to tour Rome. I was on the phone with the airline a number of time along with the hotel trying to get our bag delivered before we embarked but to no avail. Alitalia was handling the lost baggage for UAL and they really did not want to admit that our bag was arriving Sunday morning on the next UAL flight. They said I should go to the airport and look for it. NOT!! They also wanted to try to deliver it to Naples and on to Sorrento. Sunday the hotel provided a free shuttle to the pier and embarkation was very quick and easy (still minus our bag) We were welcomed onboard by Monico one of the waiters We remembered from our previous voyages on the Journey. As soon as we boarded, I went to guest services where they told me to see the concierge about our bag. Well she took this job on and got it done. An hour before sailing we received a call saying our bag would be delivered shortly. No more stress so off to Aqualina the first night and Ivo and his fine staff did their usual great job. Dining overall was very good to Excellent with preparation, variety and presentation all top notch. I've read some reviews commenting on crowds in Windows cafe and not liking the themed buffets. Well there were some crowds at peak times but we never had a problem Finding a table and many offered to share. Breakfast had good variety and about the only thing I avoided were their pre made scramble eggs. It was worth a short wait at the egg station to get fresh cooked to order. The breads, cheeses, fruit etc were fresh and of high quality. Windows cafe in the evening was a great option always with sushi, stir fry's, Pasta, etc. White tablecloths good included wines, casual with a flair. I'm not sure how they can keep offering such a variety with such fresh ingredients. Discoveries restaurant in the evening was always good, sometimes very good to Excellent depening on what was ordered. Hint listen to the waiters, they know what to recommend. The veal chop there was as good as any I've had. After one night of not so quick service we had a table Philbert's section and after that always requested him. He is so friendly, quick and efficient. Big gold star for him. Specialty dining was just that, very special, Both Ivo and Mario took such good care of us and our group the second week. You cannot get a better meal on any ship at any price. Many gold stars for Azamara Specialty dining areas Aqualina and Prime C. Favorites were of course the sea bass, veal chop, rack of lamb and the filet in Prime C with a double order of foie gras on top. The $15 cover charge was well worth the price!!! Pool grill was a good option for a quick off meal time snack. The burgers were great, The cooks there so friendly and helpful. Poolside BBQ's ... what a fun option with high quality and great variety. Bar service for the most part was very good, we had some favorite bartenders that took very good care of us. Drinks were fairly priced except for a $10 glass of KJ wine. This was poured about 15 minutes before the included wines came out that were far superior. Included beverages, wines mostly good to very good. Cabin service especially the first week was excellent, moved to a different cabin the second week and unfortunately our steward was pretty new and just did not quite get it. Room service was good, items came as ordered and in a reasonable amt of time. We liked the option that after 6 you can order off the dinner menu. Shrimp cocktails came almost every day while we were getting ready for dinner.... Entertainment was much better than our January trip on the Journey. My only negative is the female half of the Diamond Heart Duo appeared to be in pain as she struggled to hold a note. She had a limited number of songs where she was ok, The rest seemed agonizing. Her male counterpart was very good but he needs a new partner. The rest of the entertainment was quite good. The ship's DJ had his own agenda and program and did not like any requests, I'd have booted him off at the next port if I could. Casino staff excellent as always, even had a good run one night at the blackjack table. Ships officers were always accessible and friendly. We were honored to dine with the Captain one night and it was a very class act coordinated by Juliana the future cruise sales specialist. (we even booked a future cruise with her while onboard) Ships condition was very good, even better than I remembered in January. Le Club Voyage perks really kicked things up a notch with free internet minutes, laundry, cocktail parties, wife even had a mini spa treatment comped. Ports of call..... Sorrento with the overnight stay, it gave us time to do a day trip to Capri, while very crowded still a fun day. We just bought ferry tickets near the tender pier. Quick and easy. Kotor, do not miss the sail in our out! What a gem, our second time there and this is one of our all time favorites. We hired a taxi for 6 hours and saw the countryside, visited some pretty upscale areas near the town of Budva. With the extended time in port, (midnight sailing) we went back into town and found a cafe where we had some wine and very fresh and tasty mussels and pasta. Dubrovnik, took the ships shuttle bus to the old town and walked the wall with the other thousands of tourist there for the day. Even though it was crowded it was quite a sight especially looking at all the new roofs on the renovated buildings after the war. Venice, well, its Venice what more can one say. We got off the ship right away and Toured on our own buying a 24 hr vaporetto pass. Venice day 2 when all our new friends from the first week had to leave, we Painlessly move to our different cabin with the assistance of guest services. We then did some more touring and shopping. Koper... We took the ships bike riding tour which was a good thing since others on their Own said not much too do. We were served a lunch of calamari, fresh bread, fries and wine after a 2 ½ hr ride thru the Countryside. Korcula We wandered the old town on our own, the ladies shopped and we had a very poor lunch at a local place where the entire staff appeared to be hungover. Kusadasi, we hired a local taxi for 6 people that cost us only 50 euro per couple for a 6 hour tour to the ruins, then a carpet factory stop (of course), a visit to a Mosque and a trip to the local bazaar for a last minute frenzy of leather shopping before the ship sailed. The taxi was a great value, our driver spoke good English and was very enjoyable. Santorini ... We rode the donkeys up the hill, hired an overpriced taxi, for a short tour, shopped and had one of the best lunches ashore on the entire trip. Try an authentic Greek pizza, WOW. Istanbul... well, you know its Istanbul we over-nighted on the ship then stayed 3 more nights at the White House Hotel in the old town. We really could have had more time there but It was pretty amazing. We hired a local guide for a walking tour of the old town, Took the "touristo" boat tour of the bosphorus hit the bazaars and even tried The Turkish waterpipes... (tobacco only of course). A couple words of caution, when we left the ship the first day we wanted to go to The spice bazaar for a while. A local taxi tried to sell us (6 of us) a mini tour That would drop us off there and then take us to the Grand Bazaar for a little while. He quoted us 120 euro which we refused. We walked down the road a bit flagged down A couple taxis who then charged us 10 Turkish Lira for both to get to the bazaar. This converted to about $7. We avoided the big rip YAY....Until a few hours later When we ventured out again, heard some music and checked out a bar with a Live band. We asked if we could come in for a drink and were warmly welcomed. We ordered a total of 4 Efes light beers, decided to move on and asked for the bill. Well, the waiter told me 160 Turkish Lira which converted to $106.00 for 4 beers. I questioned this and he said it included the cover charge that was never mentioned. He did say any additional beers would only be 15 Lira each. We then always asked!!! 2 weeks on the Journey went way too fast. Message to the the ships staff, you are what makes Azamara so special. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN -- My wife is a veteran of 14 cruises and I have taken 11 so while we are not grizzled cruise old-timers, we are no strangers to the sea either. She has more trips under her belt because she takes our daughters on ... Read More
EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN -- My wife is a veteran of 14 cruises and I have taken 11 so while we are not grizzled cruise old-timers, we are no strangers to the sea either. She has more trips under her belt because she takes our daughters on one-on-on outings. September 27, 2009 my wife and I took a 14 day cruise of the Med from Barcelona to Athens with stops in Monaco, Italy and Turkey aboard the Azamara Journey. We want to make it clear we are not affiliated with the cruise industry in any way and this is the first review we have ever written. In any event we enjoyed the cruise so much, my wife and I wish to share a few reflections on the trip, the crew and the Journey. EXTENDING—When one travels across the sea it is always good to spend a little extra time on each end which we did in Barcelona before boarding and in Athens at the conclusion of the cruise. These were very nice respites and really helped us to get acclimated. We would highly recommend the practice to others. TREATED LIKE FAMILY--First the term family really does apply. Having sailed on 3,000 plus passenger ships and on some with around 2,000 and then the Azamara Journey we are hooked on small ship sailings, especially if other ships are anything like the Azamara Journey. On the advice of our travel agent Leslie Kraus (Cruise Club of America), who has booked all of our previous trips, we first tried out the Journey last spring sailing Trans-Atlantic from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona and liked it so much we decided to see if this was a fluke. On the spring TA voyage we enjoyed the downtime, re-learning to play bridge, the educational lectures and we each read half a dozen books. This was our first taste of the Mediterranean and we wanted more. Our fall return to the Journey was everything we expected and more. Many of the same crew were still on board and remembered us. It was like going home again and seeing old friends. Hotel Director Heike Cramer was new to us and delightful. (We had become friends with Phillip who was director on the Spring TA.) Don't know how Heike manages wearing high heels every day. Captain Georgios Teodorou was proud to be showing us his home islands. Food and Beverage Manager Ryszard Gusmann did an outstanding job and Tony Markey was full of himself as usual and we mean that in the best possible way. It takes lots and lots of energy to do the job Tony does so well. By the same token, this Azamara family, down to the passengers, is composed of adults. We love children and have raised three daughters and took them cruising with us as young adults. But if you have younger children and want to cruise with them the Journey might not be your cup of tea—at least in the Med or TA. Might be different in the Caribbean but the ship does not really offer that much for youngsters. CRUISE CRITIC GATHERING—Like on the TA in the spring the officers of the Journey hosted a gathering of about 30 of us Cruise Critics. It was a very nice reception and the crew lingered far longer than any of us expected. Although we had gotten to know Tony on the last trip, this time we had an in-depth conversation. This was great way to start the adventure. ENTERTAINMENT--If you like big glitzy shows then small ships like the Journey are not for you. But for intimate quality entertainment the venue is just right, the shows are not crowded, there are no bad seats, and you even get to personally know the entertainers. At least we did. We enjoyed all the shows we attended although we did not make them all because after a full day on the excursions one often was ready for bed after dinner. In Istanbul they even brought a local band and a belly dancer on board—quite enjoyable. SHORE EXCURSIONS--The excursions were good values and were well equipped. We felt like we were reliving 3000 plus years of history on fast forward. We especially enjoyed the sit-down lunches in Florence and Rome. Riding in Mercedes buses was a treat and although we thought we would never be one of those people with a listening device following a paddle-holding guide through the Coliseum, museums and ancient ruins there we were. And the system really does work reasonably well as it keeps the guide from having to serve as a mother hen/or father rooster. Just stay in range of the transmitter. Some with limited mobility might find many of the tours a bit taxing. "Read and follow the guidance describing the activity level" is our best advice. Another added benefit was the unexpected goodie bags in the buses relating to the tour of the day along with the usual bottle water. The tour operators go the extra mile for the comfort of those touring. For instance, in Istanbul when touring the mosques we were not near public restrooms. The tour operators had rented mobile restroom trailers and stationed them strategically which were very nicely appointed and much appreciated. We do not know how the bus drivers manage to maneuver the huge buses on the small streets in many of the towns, villages and in Rome, Florence and Istanbul. We cannot say enough about the professionalism of all drivers. All the guides had a great command of English and knew their subject matter and their enthusiasm was contagious. Some had lived in the U.S. and even understood American idioms. All the guides seemed to enjoy what they did. It was not "just a job" but they were proud to show visitors their country. Following is another example of how accommodating the tour operators were. By the second day in Istanbul my wife had seen enough mosques and palaces and really wanted to shop so mid-way were able to get on with another of the tour outings so we could take the time needed to buy those hand-made Turkish rugs that are getting so expensive these days. We took personal delivery last month of the rugs we bought and were so impressed we bought another off the delivery truck. EMBARCATION/DEBARCATION--Having stood in lines with some cruises to board and to go-ashore, we can report things are definitely not that way on the Journey. There are no lines. Maybe that is a quality for smaller ships but in any event, crowd control is handled well. When first entering the ship we never really stopped moving only pausing slightly to sign our name and receive our cruise card. We were delayed only slightly, and delightfully so, by a crew member offering us reservations for the specialty restaurants (no charge). This was a nice touch and we signed up. We think most cruises have gotten better at handling check in now that most things are all pre-arranged on the web. Same with going ashore for the tours—again, there were no lines. Although if everyone would have shown up when they were supposed to for tours then even this would have gone even smoother. It is always bad when you have to wait for people so everyone can leave together. Not sure there is a better way since we are all human beings and for some 7:30 a.m. means 7:45 or whenever one wants to arrive. Even so everyone did get back on the ship on time and we did not have those dreaded and repeated calls at every stop for "Sheila in Baja 4067" to please check in if you are on-board. We believe that is partly due to the maturity of the passengers aboard the Journey and that the majority are well-travelled. DINNING-As always there was more than enough great food. The specialty restaurants were just a cut above, but the regular Discoveries dining room was good and service was prompt and friendly. The appetizers in the specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, were quite good, maybe better than the main courses. The large windows in Discoveries allow for some outside viewing while you are underway. And if you want something special, like escargot, just let your waiter know the night before and it will be prepared for you the next evening. We ate well but did not gain weight although we certainly enjoyed the outstanding desserts. Probably because we walked more than two miles each day on our excursions and up on deck when we had time. Thirteen times around equals one mile. On other cruises we have found the desserts "look" good, but they all taste the same. Apparently they just color and flavor the sugar differently and call it something else. Not the Journey though, flavors were crisp and balanced and even the ice cream selections were excellent and varied. Windows Cafe is the buffet adjacent to the pool deck area and has very passable food. Not gourmet, but not bad and you can get something other than loads of carbs. Some nice fish dishes for lunch and the made-to-order omelets at breakfast are good as well as the pancakes or waffles...and lots of good fresh fruit. The buffet was not of the massive caliber of some of the bigger ships and that's O.K. because the lines are not there either. Food at Discoveries was adequate and selection was just varied enough. But one could live on the fruit smoothies we had for breakfast every morning and the fresh breads at all meals were outstanding. After learning the secrets of making them from watching the staff make ours every morning, fresh breakfast smoothies are a practice we have continued every weekend since returning home. SPA—I did not use the gym as we walked instead but it appeared to be well appointed. However, my wife did attend yoga classes (no charge) and felt the instructor was very qualified. She did not have to sign up but was just able to attend as she was able. And of course my wife had her usually spa treatments and enjoyed them. As noted earlier we did walk a lot and there was ice water and juice available on the track in the mornings. This was just another nice gesture. DRESS CODE--No ratty T-shirts and obscene hats on this cruise. Dress was casual elegant with polo shirts for the men while the women wore skirts or pants. There was not a formal night on this cruise but some, including me, did wear a coat and tie to the alternate dining venues or to the Captain's welcome party and my wife does like to wear long dresses to show off the new sparklers she seems to find where ever we travel. CASINO--Was small and limited but people seemed to enjoy it. Was much more crowded when we did the Trans -Atlantic last spring than on this trip as there were so many stops and it was go-go-go while docked. We were in port a lot so the casino hours were limited. CABINS--We had our usual balcony which was great but we were never in the room long enough to really sit out and sun as we seemed to be always on tour. Though we did enjoy our morning room service coffee on the balcony, which was very relaxing. There is one thing on which both my wife and I agree--this is a relaxing ship, a friendly ship. In the cabin there was fresh fruit daily, mini-fridge and min-bar as well as voice mail on the phone, in-room safe and a small flat screen TV which carried GPS navigation information where you could order room service and keep track of your account. The bath products (Elemis) were excellent and robes and slippers are standard. The butler service was much appreciated. BEVERAGE SERVICE--One of the things were really like about the Journey was the fact the bars and waiters are not in your face pushing alcohol. The cocktail servers are there but they are pleasant and not pushy. We have been on other cruises where you could not turn around without a cocktail server asking you if you wanted a drink. There also seemed to be a lot more wine served than hard liquor which may also say something about the age or sophistication of the passengers. IMPROVEMENTS--Although as noted the television interactive feature has been added to allow you to keep track of your bill and to take other actions, the ship's internet operation still has problems even after new servers were installed. We had the same sort of problems last spring on the TA trip. It was better this time, but not great. We know you go away to relax but we have become too dependent on the net as a means of communication--just like this posting. And in the past we have enjoyed the art-at-sea program. The art director (not an Azamara employee but a private contractor) disappeared mid-cruise which led to some speculation that he was not retained. OVERALL--The cruise was relaxing for the most part even with the fact in the first 7 days we had 7 shore excursions--each of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The standing joke among the passengers was "if this is Tuesday it must be Rome"—a line from some old movie. There were only two sea days on this trip. We like sea days to recover. We must be getting older. All the crew was great. We did not have one unpleasant experience. We believe the strength of the Journey is the crew of caring, friendly staff who want to make sure ever thing is right for the passengers. And it appears to be a lot of "management by walking around the ship." We always saw the ship's officers around. With one notable exception even the passengers were fantastic. There is always one in every crowd and we had ours. If there are others who took this trip and read this review you will know to whom we refer, but even she became a cause for a laugh. "You will never believe what she has done now," was the opening of many conversations with fellow passengers. But Tony the Cruise Director was generally able to politely keep her under control. GOING AGAIN—Perhaps the most telling part of our review is this--before the 14 days were over we had made friends with new crew members and new fellow passengers with whom we continue to communicate and we have again booked Azamara though our on-board friend Liesl Smit, Manager Captain's Club Cruise Sales. Not sure when and where but we will decide to go but we have lots of time to decide that. Linda and Ron Maryland Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We have cruised "off and on" for the last 35 years but much more recently on Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Oceania and now Azamara. We had a Sunset View Balcony at the front of the ship on Deck 7 - has the advantage of no cover over so ... Read More
We have cruised "off and on" for the last 35 years but much more recently on Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Oceania and now Azamara. We had a Sunset View Balcony at the front of the ship on Deck 7 - has the advantage of no cover over so you can breakfast in the sun with room service. Great to see the crew at work on docking and leaving and first glimpses of a new port memorable. Bathrooms are small but adequate and there is enough cupboard space as on fly cruises 23kg of luggage is all you can take. There is an excellent self service laundromat on board with American washers and dryers but the ironing boards are a bit small!!The ship is extremely well maintained nothing "tacky" or too bright and the staff constantly cleaning. Santizing before all meals and reboarding was mandatory and a good thing too. Open Dining is a big plus as is not having to pack a dinner jacket for formal nights The staff were excellent and after four days the maitre'd of Discovery dining room knew our name and room number! Nathan in the Martini bar, on my second visit, said "your usual sir!" Food first class and Aqualina is certainly to the same standard as Michelin star restaurants in London. Downsides - Brits are a bit aghast at 18% service charge on all drinks and the bar prices are quite high. As there is open dining $12.25 per person per night for gratuities is added to accounts to cover all staff. Shore excursions are very expensive and there is either $10 or $15 for the shuttle bus into town. The internet is a better source for much cheaper shore excursions and with perhaps 6 people joining up through Cruise Critic get much more individual attention and not hanging around for someone on a coach load of 50 people who has disappeard at the last minute to use the toilet. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Cruise to the Holy Land 2009 "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the ... Read More
Cruise to the Holy Land 2009 "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." We decided to fly from our home in Greece, via Athens airport, the night before our cruise and stayed at Hotel Bramante. This had been recommended by a range of cruisers, mostly because they offered a taxi transfer from Fiumicino at a better rate than cab and limo companies I'd researched and they also provided free transfers to the ship the next morning. It was a very pleasant hotel indeed and we were thrilled with our choice. The breakfast room the next morning was full of people, mostly Americans, off on various cruises, though only one other couple were travelling on Azamara Journey with us and these two soon became good friends on board. Once at the cruise terminal we were checked in incredibly quickly, however and once on board and provided with champagne we began to relax in the gorgeous surroundings of the Journey. It's a small ship but wonderfully fitted out, with many features reminiscent of a gentlemen's club, with tasteful artworks and trompe l'oeil effects in various places. Inside our stateroom we were very pleased to find a bigger room than some of the reviews had led us to expect, with an excellent balcony. This was wonderful for us, since it had a good sized table at which we enjoyed breakfast most mornings. I was pleased to find room-service breakfast on Azamara is much than on Celebrity (and certainly better than the concierge menu), with lots of well-cooked and innovative 'set' dishes as well as a good choice of individual items. Breakfast always came within the requested time, heralded as usual by a phone call The 'butler' of which Azamara make a great fuss is only a flashy stateroom attendant (the butlers wear tailcoats!), but our man Manish was very good, providing an unobtrusive yet efficient service and keeping our room and bathroom scrupulously clean and ensuring we had plenty of water, ice, fruit and chocolates (the night-time pillow treats on Azamara are hand-made, served on a plate and not on your pillow and include such things as chocolate-dipped strawberries, hand-made chocolates and truffles.) Now, I've eaten in some very good restaurants in Britain and can honestly say that the food on Journey competes with the best of those restaurants. We ate twice in Aqualina and once in Prime C , originally intending to go back for more times (you're entitled to two visits but they'll let you have more if there are spaces) but decided that the main dining room, Discoveries, was extraordinarily good. I like the room itself very much and very much appreciated the way the maitre 'd understood quickly which table we liked best and managed to keep it for us every night, so that we could be served by the lovely and very funny Alex. It was in Discoveries that I had what I think might rank as the best meal of my entire life. The lobster main course was even better than the one we had on the Orient Express a few years ago and the dessert involved what I can only describe as a giant Belgian chocolate on my plate, together with a pot made of white and dark chocolate filled with chocolate mousse. What's not to like? Entertainment on Journey is mostly cabaret style, which suited us down to the ground. Musicians around the ship included an excellent harpist, a guitarist and a pianist/singer. Activities staff organised a range of events and both the guest lecturer Jon and excursions manager Jean-Michel gave excellent talks on ports of call. It was good to find that these talks did not include any of the usual 'here are the shops we want you to go to' and concentrated instead on what there was to see and the history and culture behind it. Much of what we liked about Azamara - and what made it a definite cut above Celebrity, is current sister company (though, apparently, Azamara will soon float on its own, though still as part of the RCI family) - were the little 'touches' that were provided at various times. All cabin grades get what amounts to concierge class, but with better extras, such as the two much better quality tote bags. Go for an early morning run round the jogging track and you'll find a table laden with jugs of cold juice and iced water; whilst you wait in the cabaret lounge to go on your excursion there's a table with coffee, tea and pastries, just in case you're still peckish so soon after breakfast. Good quality Elemis 'proper' bottles of toiletries are provided in the stateroom bathroom. Azamara are rightly proud that they don't hound you for every cent they can squeeze out of you like other ships. Like many fellow guests, especially our American, Canadian and Australian friends, we booked this cruise for its itinerary - we had two nights in Israel and two in Egypt, as well as stops in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey - and we were not disappointed. The pyramids are awesome, absolutely breathtaking and I have no idea what those who complain about their proximity to the modern city of Cairo are on about. We did some very aggressive haggling with the peddlers at the pyramids and got some great prices on the items we'd set out hearts on buying. Perhaps our greatest coup was achieved by talking to the bloke in both Greek and Italian, neither of which he could speak, resulting in getting a fine table cloth for 2 Euros. 3 t shirts for 10 Euros was another good buy - 14 years previously I'd paid 1 British pound for a t shirt I still have (despite all the warnings from guides not to trust the stuff they sell on the streets) and expected some degree of inflation, but felt 3 for 10E was a good price. We opted to take the ship's tours in Egypt and Israel as we were nervous about booking private tours, perhaps with good reason - on the Egyptian tours there was a fully armed security guard on every bus. There were two passengers who did their own thing in Alexandria and didn't make it back for the sail-away, I'm sorry to say - but I'm glad it wasn't me. On our other stops we mostly did our own thing, having a splendid time on our first day in Sorrento where we bought some good quality Italian wines to bring home (as Greek wine is execrable) and scored some outstanding Xmas shopping bargains. In Rhodes, which we've visited before but never tire of (we were only there in September, in fact, as we have Greek family there) we went back into gorgeous Rhodes town for a wander and a spot of Xmas shopping before re-boarding the ship, which docks right outside the medieval city gates. Chios was a big surprise. It was the last day of the cruise and nobody felt much like doing any sightseeing, so nearly everyone just wandered ashore (the ship docked alongside the waterfront) and walked round the town. It turned out to be lovely - Chios is quite a well-to-do place and has a very lively, untouristy harbour town, which absolutely buzzed on a Saturday morning. We definitely plan to return, hire a car and see what we missed on the island. Disembarkation on Azamara is completely pain-free, civilised and easy; we were off the ship twenty minutes earlier than forecast, in our booked taxi and heading for the Corinth canal by 9.30am, reaching home within two hours. We left the ship at the end of the cruise feeling bereft - we made a lot of new friends aboard - it being a relatively small ship, it's so much easier to meet and get along with fellow cruisers - and greatly enjoyed meeting crew and officers regularly around the ship. We're back on Azamara Journey in a year's time to do the repositioning to Miami, but who knows if we'll hold out that long! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Azamara Journey - Southeastern Mediterranean (October 11, 2009 - October 25, 2009) "The Pursuit of Excellence" Reflecting on the voyage, I would characterize the ethos of the ship's officers, staff, and crew as ... Read More
Azamara Journey - Southeastern Mediterranean (October 11, 2009 - October 25, 2009) "The Pursuit of Excellence" Reflecting on the voyage, I would characterize the ethos of the ship's officers, staff, and crew as having a focus on this motivation by demonstrated behavior and actions. For the record, we are in no way connected to the cruise company or any travel business - we are experienced cruisers - on the Azamara Journey and mostly on Celebrity ships but also with Royal Caribbean and Holland America. Now, on to some specific observations and reflections: Azamara - The Product is Cruise Experiences - the Strength is its People After completing our second voyage on the Azamara Journey, our conclusion is that we had two outstanding cruise experiences due to the wonderful people who serve on this ship. This time, the top leadership setting a tone of excellence were Captain Georgios Theodorou, Staff Captain Manos Aposkitis, Hotel Director Heike Cramer, and Food and Beverage Manager Ryszard Gusmann, It can be said that all the crew and staff 'have got it' - they consistently provide great customer service with a smile and go out of their way to please and 'do what needs to be done and do it well'. It was especially heartwarming to renew the friendships with many of the staff whom we had met on previous voyages. Embarkation and Sailing The embarkation process at the port of Piraeus was terribly delayed by the Port's Government officer responsible for passport control. He took 'his sweet time' to get into his station, simply to demonstrate that 'all were beholden to him' - how frustrating for the ship's management who were ready to receive passengers on board but couldn't proceed with the embarkation. The Onboard Experience Eating/Dining Having dined at Three-Star Michelin restaurants in Europe and at other fine dining establishments, leads one to have certain perspectives and expectations with respect to dining out. On the other hand, it is important to keep situations and circumstances in perspective, when it comes to eating and dining at sea. Based on our experience on the Azamara Journey, execution in everyday details is guided and exemplified by great leadership - service with excellence is provided under the direction of Heike Cramer (Hotel Director), assisted by Food and Beverage Manager, Ryszard and his team. The leadership is constantly practicing MBWA—Management By Walking Around, checking and correcting and perfecting. It is indeed a great pleasure to eat and dine great food selections beautifully presented, in a variety of settings: 'Open Seating' main dining in Discoveries Dining Room, various daily buffet selections in Windows Cafe, and the upscale Specialty Dining Restaurants (Aqualina and Prime C). Some special features to be highlighted are the Sushi Bar, the fresh juice and smoothie bar, very good selections of appetizers, main course dishes, and a fabulous baking and dessert presentation. Evening dinners in the Dining Room were always a wonderful experience - being welcomed with a friendly greeting by Maitre'd Moustafa - having great food with great presentation served by several outstanding waiters, Mario, Darren, Philbert. Everyone, at every level, is tuned to providing excellent service with attention to details - the prevailing attitude is 'listening and following up' on any suggestions that are provided. Serving staff and all ship service personnel always greet cruisers in friendly ways and offer assistance at every turn. Stateroom and Service On the R-8 Class of ships, a long voyage is much more comfortable in one of the Sky Suites - more space in every sense - a large amount of storage space, a larger bathroom with a bathtub/shower, excellent products (Elemis) - really a nice way to 'clean up' and perform the 'beautification routines'. The towels are nice and thick and very absorbent and the bedding is great. How were we looked after by our stateroom attendants (butler and assistant)? Let's say it straight - "the team of Arvind, Alvin, and Kevin were terrific". We don't look to a butler to unpack or pack but we expect service with excellence and that is what it has been. These guys aimed to please in every way: extra champagne glasses and a cheese tray and a plate of prawns to host some guests were delivered; soiled shoes after visiting Egyptian cities were cleaned in short order; any small requests were looked after expeditiously - all in all, the stateroom service team performed very well and showed great disposition. Entertainment and Programming The efforts of Cruise Director Tony Markey are recognized. Although the stage entertainment was not always to our liking (obviously, a subjective assessment), we appreciated the high quality of classical and vocal talent being featured. Some of the social gathering areas like the Cova Cafe and the entrance area to the Main Dining Room, became very popular whenever the pianist and harpist performed. Other Amenities Thalassotherapy Pool at the front of the ship, accessed from the Spa area, is overpriced. The T-Pool is fine but not nearly as wonderful as in other Celebrity ships (disregarding the size aspect) - the seating rails are not a comfortable configuration. The Steam rooms (male and female rooms) are really good - marble benches and good space for six people of so. The ship's Internet Communication Service needs to be significantly improved - it works with one of the worst Login and Time-tracking scripts I have experienced on ships. Guest Relations is blessed with some wonderful people with great disposition and patience - Yasemin deserves special mention. Ports and Tours This southeastern Mediterranean cruise was a very port-intensive voyage with extensive tour packages offered. Orientations to ports and tours were provided by the Shore Excursions Director and the outstanding and highly stimulating onboard Destination Lecturer, Jon Fleming. Overall - this was an outstanding cruise experience - reassuring us, that Azamara is continuing its 'pursuit of perfection'. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
As mentioned in the introduction, we are both seniors and this was our first cruise. We read every cruise review we could find and found the Cruise Critic site to be extremely helpful. Before selecting a cruise, we developed a ... Read More
As mentioned in the introduction, we are both seniors and this was our first cruise. We read every cruise review we could find and found the Cruise Critic site to be extremely helpful. Before selecting a cruise, we developed a "wish list" of expectations. First, we wanted to see as much of Europe as possible. We were interested in a relaxing atmosphere which ruled out children of all ages. (We're not anti-children, but there's a time and a place). We didn't want Las Vegas type glitz, but we also didn't want a strictly "seniors cruise." We wanted to avoid having to mingle with huge gaggles of humanity, and while we preferred to avoid the rigidity of a very formal atmosphere, we did not want to go too far in the direction of "casual" which all-to-frequently degenerates to "grungy." Finally, we hoped for some interesting dining experiences. We are very pleased to say that the Azamara Journey fulfilled all our expectations. The ship's capacity was 700 passengers which was perfect in every way. We never felt crowded, never had to wait to be seated in a restaurant, nor when leaving or returning to the ship. This cruise did not offer babysitting services nor did it have a "game room." Combine that with the time of year, and it was an all-adult passenger list. We experienced 10 ports with one day at sea. Because we were not familiar with any of the ports and did not feel comfortable touring on our own, we availed ourselves of many of the ship excursions. We were not disappointed. We were very pleased with the food preparation and choices as well as the wide selection of beverages. We had a choice of restaurants ranging from a casual buffet and pool-side grill to a main restaurant and two specialty restaurants. We also used room service on occasion. We were amazed at the quick response time for room service. We frequented the main restaurant for dinner. We always asked to be seated in an area served by one head waiter and his assistant. They were a real "dynamic duo" who not only provided excellent service, but entertainment as well. The ship's staff and crew were very friendly and helpful. We had arranged for a room with a balcony which was well worth the additional cost. We used the balcony frequently when we were arriving at or departing from ports, and occasionally we ate breakfast there as well. Since this was our first cruise we were fascinated watching the pilot boat bring the harbor master out to the ship at each port to guide the ship into port. We were able to view this process each morning from our balcony. The ship was maintained beautifully. It was clean, neat, and nicely appointed. The service staff was excellent and made your comfort their priority. The entertainment was good and varied. The variety of excursions offered at each port was more than adequate. They ranged from mild to strenuous, and on two occasions we selected "strenuous" excursions which were still manageble for us. On a scale of 1 to 10, our tour guides ranked between 7 and 10 with a preponderence falling in the range of 9 and 10. We were able to tune to video introductions to each excursion from our rooms each evening so we had some idea of what to expect during the tour. We pre-arranged with private car services for tours of Rome and Sorrento and we were very pleased with our choices. In Rome we used Fabrizio Melaragno's "All Around Italy" car service that can be accessed at allarounditaly.net. Fabrizio was extremely animated, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. We saw more of Rome than we had ever imagined possible in one day. He also arranged for us a to have a personal guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica and Square. In Sorrento we used Renato Cuomo's Limousine Service which can be accessed at www.carsorrento.it. Our driver, Paolo, was wonderful. He knew everyone everywhere we went. We learned a great deal of information about Sorrento, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast that he shared with us from his personal knowledgebase. He made us feel very comfortable and welcome. We would strongly recommend both of these car services. We had such a wonderful experience on this cruise that we are already starting to plan our next one. Read Less
Sail Date October 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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