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Sail Date: October 2007
Both of us are seasoned cruisers-w/myself having just completed a 16 day Hawaiian cruise in Aug. 2007. We wanted a shorter cruise&research lead us to Azamara Journey. Their website touted LUXURY, SERVICE, SPACIOUS Accommodations, ... Read More
Both of us are seasoned cruisers-w/myself having just completed a 16 day Hawaiian cruise in Aug. 2007. We wanted a shorter cruise&research lead us to Azamara Journey. Their website touted LUXURY, SERVICE, SPACIOUS Accommodations, BUTLER SERVICE, ETC. I RESEARCHED iNTERNET AND FOUND NICE PRICE, lower than booking direct w/ cruise line. They did a great job w/ all arrangements, to & from, transfers, etc. No complaints in that regard. Upon arrival @ Newark airport, we were met (not greeted) by cruise rep. Unlike our previous cruise experiences, no effort was made to assist us w/luggage to curbside for transfer bus, but instead, the rep went into lengthy detail about her not wanting to get injured by assisting w/heavy luggage & only provided info when questioned. The bus was so over crowded, both of us had heavy golf bags wedged on and against our legs and feet. The bus driver had picked up 6 "paying" passengers & those of w/prepaid transfers were wedged in like sardines. Terminal check in went pretty smoothly, but it was obvious that staff needed more training, ours had to get assistance 3 times. Bus transfer to ship was ok, but there was no staff to help w/carryon up the steps to the ship, which were rather steep. The security photo station was crowded, small and ship staff just stood around, more in the way than helpful---we received assistance to elevators and stateroom (?) only when requested. When the stateroom room door opened, I was shocked to say the least. SPACIOUS, IF WAS NOT, WELL APPOINTED, IT WAS NOT! iF THE CLOSET DOOR WAS OPEN, NO ENTRY TO BATH OR EXIT THE CABIN. Unpacking was one at a time, we did finally realize that by lifting the foot of the bed, we could stow our empty luggage so we could walk around the cabin--can't call it a Stateroom, anymore. The "BUTLER" introduced himself -ok-. Fruit & flowers in cabin, both either rotted or died, only a couple bananas and grapes were added--on 4th night I put some of the rotten fruit out in the hallway. The thermostat never worked in the cabin---it stayed COLD! tHE FOOD, OVERALL WAS GOOD, ONLY ONE MEAL WAS EXCELLENT, DINING SERVICE IN ALL VENUES was lackluster. There would be 8-10 servers standing around, but if you needed coffee or water refills, you either asked or in Windows got up and got it yourself. The beverage area in Windows was located in the walkway and the floor was always wet, slippery & sticky. On more than one occasion, we picked up dishes in the buffet line that were not properly cleaned, and always had to check our flatware. Sanitation was lacking and not pro-active as I have been accustomed to. The buffet layout was somewhat confusing, but all in all the food choices were good. Removal of dirty dishes was not prompt, even tho' there was more than sufficient staff. Discoveries dining service was poor and if word got around you had complained, it was obvious. We finally gave up and just at in Windows. Lobster night was joke!, By the way, don't put your appetizer fork down, or the appetizer will disappear--we always felt rushed. Don't expect prompt water refills, nor coffee served on time. The mandatory daily gratuity is 20%+ higher than other ships, the cocktail & wine prices much higher +gratuity, wine pours are, if you are lucky 1/2 glass--unless you balk. Activities were lackluster, lacking enthusiasm, except for Becky the director. Boutiques and prices were the worst I have ever experienced! Layout of Cabaret for shows is the worst design for enjoying shows ever, making it difficult for most to even see the performance. The only lounge w/good service was the Looking Glass and Antonio by the smoking area on the pool deck did a great job & was so outgoing. 4th deck disembark area was like a disaster shelter--w/people sitting on stairs & floor. We just waited on 10th deck for 2nd color tag call to let it clear out since we had a 4+hr. flight window. Access at ports was very good, Bermuda great--we did our own execursions with much less confusion. All in all, we would never sail Azamara again--they need to be more accurate about their amenities.. Also, this definitely is not a young couple or family w/children experience---I would also question the comfort for passengers w/ physical limitations being very comfortable, especially in the bathrooms---I'm 5ft. tall & weigh 100 lbs, and the bath was small. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
We departed on the Oct 20 departure of the Azamara Journey from Bayonne, NJ. The first step after checking in was a short bus ride to ship. After the easy and fast check-in, things went rapidly downhill. Azamara is trying to position ... Read More
We departed on the Oct 20 departure of the Azamara Journey from Bayonne, NJ. The first step after checking in was a short bus ride to ship. After the easy and fast check-in, things went rapidly downhill. Azamara is trying to position itself as an upscale brand with upscale amenities. It doesn't quite measure up. The touted "Butlers" are nothing more than overworked cabin attendants in bow ties. This is deceptive advertising. The ship is old, the doors between inside and outside on all decks are heavy swinging wood. The majority of passengers were elderly and had trouble opening and closing them. In addition, the wheel chair ramps that were put in between doors were very high and I saw several in wheel chairs and their companions struggling to get from inside to out. I would NOT recommend this ship for anyone who is handicapped. As the ship is 10 years old, so is it's technology. We hit some rough seas on the return from Bermuda, and the 10 year old stabilizers didn't perform as well as newer ships. The best thing about Azamara are it's crew and staff. They try to be helpful and are always friendly. Unfortunately, after six months, they still have more than their share of problems and communication among themselves. Meals were good, not great, and certainly not quite as touted. The flowers died and were not replaced during the cruise, the fruit got old and was not replaced. In addition, the cabins are quite small, there were filled holes in the wall, and the bathrooms were miniscule and the showers a joke. While using the commode, one literally must have one foot in the title. Azamara has a long, long way to go to get even close to their Celebrity brand. We are not overly critical, but this was the worst of the 12+ cruises we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Background Information: We were recruited by Azamara directly. We had sailed Celebrity in the past but had stopped to sail on Holland America for our 4 previous cruises. Azamara had offered us a SkySuite for the price of a veranda ... Read More
Background Information: We were recruited by Azamara directly. We had sailed Celebrity in the past but had stopped to sail on Holland America for our 4 previous cruises. Azamara had offered us a SkySuite for the price of a veranda stateroom. The online brochure was convincing enough to believe that the line would live up to the expectations. Ship Info: Azamara Journey-- formerly a Renaissance ship. The ship is not new as stated but is new to Azamara-- the ship is in relatively good condition, however it is in need of refurbishment in some areas. Common areas have holes in the walls where there were previous art installations and displays. These holes are visible and not repaired. Chairs in the dining room were severely scratched, dust on decorative areas and art in the dining room. The Sky Suite although larger than most staterooms is still small for the class of this ship. The bathroom has a quirky setup and able bodied people will find it difficult getting in and out of the bath tub. The television is a plasma, however it's rather small for the room-- it is difficult to be viewed from the bed. The thermostat in the room didn't work and the temperature was often too cold. Activities: While the staff tried to make every effort to make the cruise enjoyable-- they were clueless in how to motivate the passengers to participate. Unfortunately the activities were not suited for the people on board. Service: The service on the ship was adequate however-- the issue is that many of the staff were new and unfamiliar with the expectations of service. Unfortunately the staff was not prepared to deliver the level of service that is to be equated with a line of this caliber. Issues included failure to clear dirty dishes, unemptied ashtrays, failure to anticipate needs. Searching for people to wait on you in the cocktail lounges--Butler service was sorely lacking, luggage service was non-existent and most of all the dining room was run like the keystone cops. Shore Excursions: Really were mundane and didn't live up to the expectations set forth by the brochure or the online descriptions. We opted to go elsewhere and had better time doing so. Staterooms were not of the size or caliber of the comparable lines. Dining the specialty dining rooms were impeccable and the actual dining room needed work. Entertainment was better than other lines but if you're seeking the big production shows of the larger liners-- you'll need to go elsewhere. Disembarkation was chaotic. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Journey Review The Journey is a beautiful ship which although smaller has a more spacious feel than many larger ships. This was our 5th trip on Celebrity and we will be making comparisons between Celebrity and Azamara. We are a 50ish ... Read More
Journey Review The Journey is a beautiful ship which although smaller has a more spacious feel than many larger ships. This was our 5th trip on Celebrity and we will be making comparisons between Celebrity and Azamara. We are a 50ish couple and were travelling with our 3 children in their 20s. Embarkation Never been to Cape Liberty and, while I wouldn't want to wander around there at night, it was an easy location to get to and through. Long term parking is adjacent to the terminal. There was no shuttle running from the parking lot when we arrived, but there was one when we returned. The parking lot is huge so a shuttle is a good idea. An alternative is to leave someone with all the bags and have one person park the car. Ironically, there was an attractive waiting area with snacks and beverages even though there was no wait. (We could have used that in Ft. Lauderdale.) Arrival Onboard We were greeted with the customary champagne, but hadn't realized that we wouldn't have an escort to our room. Even though it is a smaller ship, some directions would have been appreciated. We dropped our bags in the room and went to the buffet where we meet our children who had boarded separately. Stateroom We had booked one 1A and one 2A on deck 7. Both veranda cabins were nicely furnished with frigs and flat TV which was easy to see. The flowers and fruit were a welcoming touch. There was a nice table on the balcony perfect for breakfast. The bedding was the nicest we have had and mattresses the most comfortable - no need for an egg crate. The bathroom was small but not a problem for us. (Perhaps because I loved the showers at the Spa.) Our rooms were quiet and well situated. The only drawback to 7103 was that when we left the room, we walked right into the cart with refuse from other staterooms. Our "butler" offered to make our specialty reservations but we had already taken care of it. She did later change a reservation for us to a later time; otherwise, besides the delivery of "savories" twice, the services were those of a stateroom attendant. I think the term "concierge" is more appropriate and less misleading than" butler" and that the descriptions in the Azamara literature should reflect the reality. It is not that I feel more services are needed, rather that they should not be overstated. One minor change was that we needed to place a card on our door to have our room made up. It seems that open seating made it difficult for staff to plan their cleaning (even though we ate at the same time each night and told our butler this.) One night our room was turned down before we left for dinner Restaurants This is where Azamara really shined. We had consistently very good food in all venues -beautifully presented with some real gems. Our first night we ate in Aqualina which was outstanding - perfect rack of lamb, foie gras appetizer, excellent sea bass, and chocolate souffle. The setting and service (we requested Carla) were both first rate. (Carla also supervised the room service orders and we would get little notes from her throughout the week.) We had dinner at Prime C on our last night when we were fighting 12 foot swells. It's a beautiful room and the service was excellent. Much less crowded than MDR. The lobster bisque was superlative as was the chocolate lava cake. Perhaps because of the waves or the fact that we had had such good food in the MDR, I found that I preferred Aqualina. Others in my family would disagree. Both are excellent We were delighted with the room service breakfast menu (it included waffles and French toast - two favorites) and ordered that the first few mornings. As a rule I prefer not to go to the buffet in the morning. However, I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter encouraged me to venture down. Not only were the selections excellent and attractive, there was none of the chaos I had feared. We were always able to get a table (with an ocean view yet). The only time I had to wait for waffles there were only a couple people ahead of me. Even on disembarkation morning, I walked right up to the waffle and smoothie bars. The absence of lines throughout the ship was a big plus. The breakfast selection was vast with some unusual additions like shrimp hash. Fruit and berries were plentiful. Smoked salmon was always included along with a choice of cream cheese. The smoothie bar and espresso machine were appreciated. In addition to the pancake, waffle, French toast station, there were also made to order omelets. For lunch the buffet was also great. There were so many choices it is easy to miss some special dishes. Look for the salmon cerviche and Thai vegetable curry. I found the Thai dishes at the buffet and in the MDR to be excellent. There were many international dishes such as moussaka, quesadillas which I didn't try. We didn't eat at the buffer for dinner other than the very good sushi and some cheeses as hors d'oeuvres. (Table service at Breeza had been discontinued on our sailing which we would have liked to try.) The grill. A favorite of the rest of my family, I had never been a fan. (I used to go to the Aqua Spa Cafe available on M ships). However, one day we returned from the beach after lunch and I was delighted to find excellent gyros at the grill. Also, the fries (which I don't usually eat) are amazing and in great demand. This may be the only thing you have to wait for on the ship. The grill also had fruit kabobs one day. Cova Cafe was a mainstay for snacks. It had the longest hours and featured tea sandwiches and pastry. Their almond and two varieties of chocolate croissants are wonderful. Discoveries, the main dining room. As long time Celebrity cruisers, we were skeptical about open seating. We didn't miss the formal nights, but liked the consistency of the same table and wait staff. Since we were a party of five, sitting with others was not an issue. The restaurant manager Richard (wrong spelling) was a gracious and welcoming presence. He seated us at a window table with a very pleasant and efficient team, Jaysingh and Elena. Please tell them "hi" from the family at Table 20. We ate at 8:15 every night. The appetizers on the menu were excellent and there were often many which appealed. We missed some of the old dinner choices but found most new selections to be sophisticated and well prepared. Some of the labor intensive touches have been restored like wrapping the lemon as Celebrity did in the old days. Favorite entrees were the duck, prawns, lamb chops, salmon, NY strip steak. There was always a good Caesar salad which you could order with chicken or shrimp. While many dishes were innovative, the ingredients high quality and presentation beautiful, the seasoning on some dishes could have been more assertive. This was only the second week for the new menus; the dishes are very good now and can only get better with some fine tuning. Desserts were strong. I was surprised that my favorites were not my usual chocolate choices which were also good, but rather an apple tart, bananas foster, and crepe suzette. We ate lunch in the MDR twice and had good service and food. Once we went primarily for the apple tart, bananas foster and brownie sundae which are always on the lunch menu. Overall our service was amazing including being speedy when we once requested that. The one drawback is that the dining room seems to have too many tables. This might explain the absence of the dessert cart - it could not maneuver between tables. The wait staff were friendly but were obviously working very hard. They had to reset the tables after diners left which was distracting to those still eating. We can not evaluate open seating since we asked to be assigned to the same table every night; this greatly enhanced our experience. Tea and Savories. We went to tea at Aqualina once for tea and it was lovely with harp music and table service. We found that stopping by Cova worked out better with our schedules. We didn't order tea in the room but had savories twice and they were excellent. Being tied down to a time didn't seem worth it except for sea days. Activities My favorite activity was the T pool on the spa deck. (It took one day to heat up). While on Celebrity I gravitated to the T pool to escape the noise of the main pool; this was not necessary on Journey. I actually went into the main pool for the first time on a cruise and had the pool to myself. The Celebrity Cabaret was nicer that I expected and we had no problem with sight lines. The performers were good, but the material was not exciting. The magician had left and we had a piano player instead. The comedian was diverting as was the show about Hollywood. The nice thing was that attending was not a must but was pleasant if you could make it. The guitar player on board was very good. The piano player outside Cova was not my taste. The harp music was lovely. The pool band was fine. There were the usual activities - we participated in the Broadway name that tune, martini and wine tastings, and culinary demonstration. We also attended the Captains Club reception. We missed the Captain's toast because we were at dinner. There were also some very distinctive events. There was a very nice cruise critic get together in Michael's Club which was well attended by senior staff who were eager to talk and listen. The ship arranged for Shabbat services. The soon to be Captain held a star gazing talk. There were performances by a noted local musician and the Goombay dancers which was outstanding. Port Experience We were docked in very convenient locations in both St. Georges and Hamilton. It was very easy to get on and off the ship. Bermuda was wonderful but won't go into here -particularly since only one more sailing. Return Trip After having had perfect weather in Bermuda, we returned with winds over 40 mph and 12 foot waves. The Captain made an announcement asking women not to wear heels and for everyone to stay off of the open decks. We had a very enjoyable day anyway. Our rooms were aft and it seems the motion was worse in front of the ship. Disembarkation We had a very nice breakfast at the buffet. We were scheduled to leave at 9:10 and weren't called until almost 10 which was fine with us since we got to have some more time on the deck. (Have I mentioned how comfortable the deck chairs are?) Once we were called, we went quickly through customs and to car. Comparison with Celebrity Although it seems that Azamara is trying to differentiate itself from Celebrity, there are enough similarities to ensure a comfort level. The main differences from Celebrity are the lack of formal nights and open seating. What you don't have: midnight buffet, baked Alaska night, informal elegant tea, production shows, Aqua spa cafe, children's program, Captain's club gift. What you do have: shorter or no lines, senior staff accessible, less crowding, a very low key atmosphere, different pillow treats every night, tea available in room, more artistry in food presentation. For instance, instead of just plain broiled lobster tails, lobster was prepared four different ways; instead of baked Alaska we were served a dessert sampler. Also, the Journey is non-smoking except for two areas. The bedding and robes were of higher quality and concierge class amenities were in all cabins. We have always enjoyed Celebrity and also enjoyed Azamara very much. I feel the two lines complement one another and would sail either with pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Arriving at the dock and checking in was flawless and quick. Probably the best check-in experience I've had. Upon boarding, we were greeted and offered a glass of champagne which was just slighly cooler than room temperature. Yuk!! ... Read More
Arriving at the dock and checking in was flawless and quick. Probably the best check-in experience I've had. Upon boarding, we were greeted and offered a glass of champagne which was just slighly cooler than room temperature. Yuk!! Since the rooms are not ready until after 1 PM we went to the buffet. After big ship buffets, this one seems very small with few selections, but all selections were excellent. I'm always grateful to Celebrity for their breads and pastries---they fall way below most ship lines in quality and taste and I can therefore resist them. The Journey's breads and pastries were no exception. Desserts were also boring--again, I thank them, although the presentations was always wonderful. Cabins are small---175 sq feet--bathrooms are tiny. Nice table and chairs on the balcony. Decor is scrumptious, new and fresh. The cabin service was just wonderful--we almost never saw our "butler" but everything was always clean and neat. One thing the "butler service" did for me was to convience me that these were services I don't need. I can--and prefer to, pack and unpack myself. My shoes don't need shining. I don't need tea deliver to my door between 4-5PM (especially since I have to order it by 11 AM--come on now, I'm on vacation--I don't want to plan my day that far in advance). Tea is available in a lovely restaurant on deck 10 at the same time. I also don't need tiny sandwiches deliver to my room between 4-5PM--same reasons as above. Other butler services like full breakfast room service was available thru room service. I had room service twice. Once for the breakfast that I order the night before--it arrived ten minutes early and lukewarm. The second time we ordered hamburgers from room service about 3:30PM after returning from shore and they arrived hot and yummy in about 15 minutes. We ate at both speciality restaurants---Prime C on departure night was only half full---it took almost three hours to eat--way too long. The food was very good. Wednesday was Aqualina--much better service--only half full--good food. Neither of the speciality restaurants had exceptional food. The food in the main dining room, Discoveries, was very good and I would have skipped the specialty restaurants if I would have known that the quality difference was so small between speciality and regualr dining. Discoveries has way too many tables set way too close together to give you a fine dining experience. It's a shame because the overcrowding takes away from the experience. I'm sorry that I waited until the last evening to partake in evening buffet--pasta station, stir fry station---much more--they even put white table cloths on the tables. The ice cream is made onboard and very good---sugar free vanilla is exceptional. Shows were good--we didn't see the comedian. Lectures were good and interesting. If you are a Martini fan, don't miss the Martini bar right outside of Discoveries. Mr Martini, AKA Rusti, makes the world's best. The "bar" vodka is Grey Goose. The Martini cost $10.00 but it's worth it. It's so huge that partner & I asked Mr. Martini to split it between two glasses--which he graciously did. Each was the size of a usual restaurant martini. Only funny thing is these tiny little olives--not the kind you'd expect in a quality martini. To show you what a great guy Mr. Martini is, we complained about the size of the olives and the lack of our favorite blue cheese stuffed olives. The next evening we had blue cheese stuffed olives. He had taken these tiny olives and stuffed them with blue cheese himself---not an easy task when they're so tiny. Smoking may cause some problems on Azamara---we traveled with a couple of people who smoke and they were surprised to find that they could not smoke on their balcony--they did anyway-- and got a terse letter from the captain. They will not travel this line again and since we travel with them frequently, we will honor their preference to be able to smoke outside on their own balcony. Without exception, the service is wonderful throughout the ship. This was my first small ship experience and it told me that I'm a "big ship" kinda gal. I found it too small, not enough choices in things to do or places to eat--the ceilings alway felt that they were caving in on me. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Review of the Azamara Journey Sail date: 6 October 2007 As to some background; we are avid cruise ship travelers, having completed over 50 cruises, of all types, including freighters, river ships, barges and cruise ships. We prefer ... Read More
Review of the Azamara Journey Sail date: 6 October 2007 As to some background; we are avid cruise ship travelers, having completed over 50 cruises, of all types, including freighters, river ships, barges and cruise ships. We prefer smaller ships and, thus, were glad when Celebrity acquired the Journey, a 700 passenger vessel. Embarkation: We used Celebrity air to travel to Newark. The flight, fortunately, was uneventful and our baggage actually arrived with us. We were met by shore representatives and were transported to the port with only slight delays. The actual embarkation was, without doubt, the easiest and least stressful ever experienced. We were on ship within 15 minutes. Upon embarkation we were directed to the Windows Cafe to have lunch and wait for the cabin preparation to be completed. This was done by about 1:20 pm. Cabin: We were in a Sky Suite. Overall, the cabin was quite nice and very comfortable. The bath, though small, was adequate. The veranda is small and contains a table and two chairs. The verandas do not offer any privacy due to the transparent frosted glass partitions, which have a large open space surrounding them. HOWEVER, the one glaring error, in the redo of these cabins, is the apparent absolute absence of soundproofing. This is especially noticeable between the cabin and the deck above. The noise of the movement of people, furniture and equipment was overwhelming. During party time, on the pool deck, especially at night, you can forget about relaxing, much less sleeping. In our view, a major mistake, especially considering these are nearly the most expensive cabins, on the vessel. Dining: The food was outstanding. In fact, we felt this is some of the best cruise ship food we have had in many years. All dining rooms, Discovery, Prime C and Aqualina were very good. Actually, the food in the main dining room, in our view, was the best of the three, although Aqualina was the most attractive. The main dining room tended to be noisy and the tables seemed to be crowded. The Windows Cafe, buffet for breakfast and lunch, was good, but on a par with most other mid level ships. The food was hot, when required and cold when required. Adequate describes it. While the dining areas had disinfecting hand wipes, it seems the liquid dispenser form, like found on other Celebrity ships, would be more effective. As a side note, we would like to see a return to fixed dining as opposed to the open dining concept. Just our preference. Ship activities: Bermuda is a destination which requires one to spend a great deal of time ashore. As a result, we did not use any of the ships activities. We did note the daily program offered plenty of them. Therefore, for those who chose to stay aboard, I am sure there were lots of options open to them. As with the activities, we did not attend any of the ships shows. That is just our preference. Based on comments from other passengers, it appears the entertainment was standard cruise ship fare, somewhat scaled down due to the ship's size. Shore excursions: There were pages of options. We chose to use public transportation passes, which were available for sale at guest relations. This because we had been to Bermuda a few times before and knew our way around. Also, this is such a small place that it is very easy to get around. If one wanted to do a tour, however, there were many options and they appeared to be reasonably priced. General observations: In our view this is a great ship. Comfortable and just the right size. The negatives are few. Cabin noise in the Sky Suites was the greatest complaint. For the life of us, we can not understand Celebrity's insistence on the use of "Butlers". This is an absolute waste. Our "butler" spent the better part of his time assisting the cabin steward. I guess it is just one way of creating another "gratuity" payment. Would we do this ship again - a resounding yes, but not in a Suite. Would we recommend the ship. Again, yes, but stay away from the Suites. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Arriving at Cape Liberty was as easy as it could get and embarkation was also fast and orderly. We arrived about 1:30 pm. Room was ready and luggage arrived shortly. We found the butler and cabin steward to be friendly and always aware ... Read More
Arriving at Cape Liberty was as easy as it could get and embarkation was also fast and orderly. We arrived about 1:30 pm. Room was ready and luggage arrived shortly. We found the butler and cabin steward to be friendly and always aware of your needs. Cabin was located at the back of the ship and had a more than ample balcony with a table and chairs and lounge. A little noise from the props served to put one to sleep. The vibration was soothing. The air conditioning was fine, not to cold or too hot in the room. Room was impeccable and the bedding awesome. The bathroom was tiny but no complaints. Towels were thick and fluffy and plenty big. We enjoyed the elemis products also. Only complaint about the room was the television. Nice enough, but needs to be tilted down so that you can see the screen better. The picture was distorted with how they have it hung. Food on this ship was outstanding. All restaurants were great and service was fine. Coffee was way too strong and not hot enough. The coffee from Cova was fine and the selection of treats as Cova was wonderful. The casino was small but never found it to be overcrowded. Actually the ship paid out more money that I have ever received on any cruise ship. It was fun and enjoyable. Visiting Bermuda was a first for us, and we found it to be beautiful. Rental of scooters was easy and driving around, although a little scary at first, (due to driving on the left) became easy the more you did it. I would recommend the Journey to any of my friends. The staff was wonderful, the passengers were mostly over 50, and the lack of kids and babies made for a quiet and upscale time. Met some lovely people and would certainly sail on Journey again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
After reading a couple of 'complainers', I decided to write and say how much we enjoyed the Journey. We have only sailed five times, so perhaps we aren't as 'picky' as some of the previous reviewers. We traveled to ... Read More
After reading a couple of 'complainers', I decided to write and say how much we enjoyed the Journey. We have only sailed five times, so perhaps we aren't as 'picky' as some of the previous reviewers. We traveled to Cape Liberty the day before and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near the airport and took a van to the port on embarkation day, arriving about 11:30. We thought the embarkation was extremely easy, especially after standing in line for over an hour last July when we cruised on the Mariner of the Seas. We had no problem with the stairs and were greeted with a glass of champagne when we got aboard. We looked around the ship - which we had sailed on when it was Renaissance - and is the reason we chose this particular ship to sail to Bermuda. Since we knew it to have a smaller passenger capacity, we were definitely interested in sailing it again. We were on board in time for the welcome lunch, which was very good and found a table easily. We had coffee and juice delivered by room service each morning, promptly when requested. The only complaint that I had was that I thought the coffee was terribly strong - but it was hot, and the juice was good. Later we would go for breakfast and always found a good selection of fruit, cereal, eggs, breads, waffles, etc. We played golf at St. George's - and while it was a short course, it provided many scenic views which we enjoyed. The course wasn't crowded and was less expensive than some of the other options. We had lunch at the White Horse Tavern after playing....and spent some time in the shops before going back to the ship - which was docked near the center of town. We especially enjoyed the pianist - Antonio ? - who was outstanding, and made a point of going to his second show a couple of nights later. We also liked the comedian - Fred Klett (?) who appeared two nights and had lots of laughs with him. We went to one of the Journey shows - which was just okay...but missed a couple of nights when we ate at the specialty restaurant, somewhat later than normal. We ate at the Aquafina restaurant twice and thought the food was especially good - my husband thought the rack of lamb was one of the best he had ever had (and he's had lots of them!). We both enjoyed the chocolate souffle one night and had the chocolate lava cake the other night....of course, by the time dessert arrived, we were so stuffed that we barely had 'space available' for it! We also enjoyed the food in the Discoveries dining room - and never had the feeling that it was crowded or that the wait staff was frazzled as some have stated. Thought the food was excellently prepared and very tasty - especially as compared to our last cruise on the Mariner. We didn't go on any of the shore excursions but went by ourselves to most of the island - we purchased a three day bus/ferry pass from Guest Relations and used it extensively - we took a ferry to the Dockyards one day and rode the bus back, stopping at a couple of interesting places. Also took the bus northward one day and saw many beautiful homes and golf courses - we felt like we had 'seen' Bermuda and still had lots of free time on board. Unfortunately, it was raining on the day of disembarkation, which slowed the process some - but it was still relatively easy and quick. The main problem was people not being prepared with their seapasses, etc. which they needed to exit the ship. We took a shuttle bus to the airport which delivered us promptly. All in all, I would say this was a wonderful cruise and I'm sorry that the Journey is going to South America for the winter, as I would love to go on her again! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
My husband and I cruised on the Journey's first 14-day sailing on October 27th. It was a great cruise and the Journey is a wonderful ship though they do have some work to do to become what I feel they are trying to market Azamara to ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the Journey's first 14-day sailing on October 27th. It was a great cruise and the Journey is a wonderful ship though they do have some work to do to become what I feel they are trying to market Azamara to be in comparison to the other cruise lines. The boat is still in need of renovations, repairs and updates; this would not be the expectation on the upscale, luxury lines. But what Azamara is currently doing right, is done with 5-star class, style and service. The check in was a breeze; we were on board within minutes and eating a fabulous lunch. Though the check in was great, we would get a taxi the next time versus arranging for transfers. We waited in the airport 2 hours for a bus full of passengers to arrive before we could leave for the ship. We were not a happy crowd! A constant theme throughout the trip with one fabulous meal after another fabulous meal. All other passengers commented on the amazing quality and presentation of the food, which certainly includes the service of the personnel. In addition, both of us thought the buffet area and the dining room were very clean. We are also happy to report no known cases of any viruses on board. We had an inside cabin and encountered very few people in other inside rooms; the majority of the rooms on board are ocean view and balcony rooms. We felt the room was perfect. We had no problems with seeing the TV as others have reported however there are very few channels to chose from but there were 2 movies running each day. Since we were cruising during Halloween, one of the movies was a horror movie/thriller (Frankenstein, Halloween, The Birds, etc). This did get a little old; maybe a day or two with horror movies but enough was enough! The bedding is as wonderful as others have reported; a very comfortable nights sleep every night while on board. The bathroom is very small for sitting on the toilet and for taking a shower. The Elemis toiletries in the bathroom are great - no need to bring shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bar soap, cotton balls, shower caps, or Q-tips. We opted for evening showers in the spa using the shower with 7 heads on many nights...it was very relaxing. It was rumored that our cruise was the last free cruise to have use of the T-pool, the showers and the changing rooms however I am not certain if that is true. On our first day, the manager of the spa gave us a tour and she did say this was the last free cruise but it was her first day on board and she could have been uninformed at that point. The gym area was never crowded and there was no wait for machines. The T-pool was very hot on most evenings but we still found it a relaxing and very underutilized area. The hot tubs by the pool were not working properly the whole cruise; we did mention this at the front desk and they acted as if this was new information to them. You can ask for berries and grapes in your fruit bowl instead of apples, etc and they will comply unless/until they run out. The flowers were never dead as others have reported. We did not utilize the "butler" service but we are pretty low maintenance. Dinner was a wonderful experience each night. The first night was very crowded and we were escorted upstairs to Prime C for a free meal...a very nice surprise...but we did want a table for 2 only so this was their quick solution. The Prime C meal was perfection in all regards - sea bass for me; surf and turf for my DH. We knew it was going to be a great vacation with a beginning like this! Since we enjoyed Prime C, we opted for Aqualina on our "free" night (inside rooms get only 1 free night). Though we read many reviews noting that Aqualina was their preference, we found our meals lacking in quality, interest and presentation. Lobster for me and a filet for my DH; we both commented that the dining room meals were consistently superior to Aqualina (even the desserts). A table for 2 in the dining room was never an issue though most of the tables for 2 are very close together (a long line of small tables) therefore you feel as if you are dining with other couples but you do not have the obligation of making small talk. We did hear comments from others that they experienced frustration being seated at the larger tables - if someone was having wine(s), was a slower eater, or a talker, dinner could take 2 hours. Even though we agree that vacation is time to relax, we don't have the patience or the interest for this; we opted for a table for 2 every night. We tried Breeza (the evening name for the buffet area) 2 nights so we could enjoy the stir fry one night and the pasta the other; we read many positive reviews and had to agree that this was a nice option after a long day in the sun. The guitar player/singer in the evening added a nice ambience. The morning buffet seemed fairly consistent the days we ate there as was the menu in the main dining room; some breakfast variety would have been nice. Room service was excellent and arrived hot and as ordered. You receive a card each evening to make your selections; you chose your time of delivery. It is an excellent system and it does work! Lunch was varied in the dining room and in the buffet. The floor in the buffet area was very slick (esp in the mornings) - this is a problem that needs to be remedied quickly as it is quite a hazard. The soft serve ice cream machine was working well and was used quite often; chocolate and vanilla were most common but they whipped up some strawberry on some days (it was the best!). The grill was a hot spot in the afternoons; great fries; good hamburger and steak sandwich choices; the veggie burger was perfect. Entertainment...well, sometimes not so entertaining! The Journey cast was great and everyone turned out for their shows; the 2 comedians were awesome; the international guitar player was exceptional. One entertainer, Loretta Holloway, forgot the words to her song twice and we eventually left. We heard the next day that she was singing to an empty room by the time her show was over. Hopefully she won't be invited back. There was also a steel drum player that was probably very good but his background music drowned out his instrument; I think the crowd dwindled down to a few people by the time his show was over also. The evening party on deck for Dancing under the Stars and the local Bermuda dancers was extremely fun; wish they had done more things like this; great turn out and lots of drinks being sold. We were disappointed that they only had a movie showing once in the theater during the whole 14-day cruise; this is usually a favorite of ours to enjoy a few movies in the theater but we may have been spoiled on Holland America with this option. Bermuda was as good as reported by everyone; very safe and very easy to navigate by bus. The original itinerary included Grand Turk. Azamara sent letters to some passengers to note that Grand Turk had been removed from the itinerary though we were not aware of this until we were 1 day into the journey. This was a big disappointment to us and to others. We get tons of mail and email from Celebrity, Azamara and all the other cruise lines so we are not sure the problem with us not getting a letter or email notification. Labadee is a great place and very relaxing; we heard too many awful stories about the market so we didn't even venture in. Seemed like most people brought back the usual trinkets so I don't think we missed much. We tendered as early as we could and got a great spot; DH snorkeled and had a great time. They do require you to wear a vest if you chose to snorkel. The meal on the island was awesome but the locals eating with us was very odd. They took food with their hands and really piled it on their plates. A lot of locals were on this private part of the island but no one really seemed to be doing anything unless they knew they would be readily tipped for their service. No need to book a tour for Santa Marta. Once you get off the ship, you will be in an area to take a van tour for $20 each. Definitely a better option than going to the beach or walking around on your own. You see some nice sights, great views, do a little shopping, see the "resort" area; you will definitely leave feeling that these are very happy people that welcome the tourists. We arranged a private tour in Cartagena through Lee a.k.a. "Mister Emerald"; he was very responsive by email and provided a wonderful tour guide and driver. We were a group of 7 Cruise Critic members; $20 each for the tour and $25 for entrance fees to the museums. It was a good deal for what were able to see. Cartagena is a great place to see; plenty of history. Much better to see with a guide than to attempt this on your own; it did not look unsafe but just too expansive to really see effectively without a plan. You won't go wrong contacting Lee and you will feel very safe. On our last cruise, we went through the Panama Canal so we opted for the City Tour offered through Azamara. The majority of people on our bus felt the tour lacking in any substance or quality; I met several at the tour desk the next day filing a complaint form. We did also and received a letter reply (obviously mass produced) that we should have read our Terms and Conditions. I responded to their letter by sending a note stating that we only wanted to get what we paid for and what was advertised. They again responded with a letter that they would bring our complaints to the tour operators attention and they attached a copy of the Terms and Conditions. This was the greatest disappointment of the trip. Don't trust Azamara on the tours; thinking back through the committed itinerary and the product we received, it was not even realistic time wise. Our tour guide even told us he did not like doing tours with the cruise companies; it was obvious to us!! The San Blas Island stop confirmed that we were finished with cruising in the Caribbean for a while. It was just another stop to see the beach and be offered lots of trinkets by the locals. Many took very over priced cabs ($40 each) to see the island but we jumped on the bus for 25 (or 50) cent each - we saw enough of the island; went to the beach and went to the main shopping/tourist area. They take the 1-3 siesta time seriously and all shops were closed then. The most interesting part of the stop was watching the cars, buses, and scooters (with 3 and 4 people on them) go by; seeing the military people; and talking with a few of the locals. Definitely not a place to return to but not unsafe or scary enough to stay on the boat as many did. This was a long tender ride but with such gorgeous water, that was fine with us. Disembarking was a problem...the boat was not cleared for a few hours for some reason. Then they let everyone get off at once as people were really getting loud about the delay; the luggage area was a zoo and there were only 2 immigration agents to check everyone out; I don't think we can blame Azamara for this but we were not concerned with the details at that point, we were ready to begin our 2 days in Miami. If you opt to stay over, check out the Indian River Hotel...very affordable nostalgic "south Beach style" hotel one block over from the beach and the boardwalk with a wonderful Cuban cafe across the street (Tropical something Cafe - so good we ate their twice - $13 total for dinner for 2). Just a few blocks walk on the boardwalk and you are in the heart of the South Beach excitement. The boat handles well for its size; we loved the size of this boat! The smaller casino did not appeal to some but it was fine for us since we only spent about $3 in it. There are only 2 shops on board; they pull out the gold by the inch table and the boxed jewelry tables as usual. The art show was priced quite high and people were buying (much to our constant amazement!). Bring some extra wire hangers if you are on a 14-day sailing. We hung a dollar store shoe organizer on the closet door for toiletries, meds, etc that kept us organized since the bathroom was so small; we trashed it instead of bringing it home for a future trip but it was a well spent $1 before we left. They don't do a great job clearly listing all of the times and places to dance/watch others dance with the band. The band is wonderful and there were some very entertaining dancers on our sailing though we encountered them by surprise. The program has a list of activities and then a list of the musical offerings in a different location. Try breakfast in your room a few days; a very relaxing treat for us! Afternoon Tea in Aqualina is formal so they bring the cart around and serve each person; very time consuming so we only did this once. However, when it was offered in Michael's, it was on a cart where you could make your own selections; much quicker. Michael's had a great library and was a relaxing place that was consistently quiet. Michael's, the dining room, the theater, etc were well air conditioned so pack a sweater/wrap esp for evenings. Most took the resort casual theme a step too far but they were on vacation so it was no big deal to us; we did hear a few nasty comments about it from others. A few nights into the trip, resort casual turned into t-shirts; this is obviously offensive to some. There was one little boy on board; no other children; this is definitely not a kid's boat though even in the summer time. We were in port with the Quest and received a pass to go on board and check it out; exactly the same as the Journey though it seemed to be in slightly better repair from our limited surveillance. Your butler will empty your fridge so you can store your wine brought from home or other items as you see fit. We received choc covered strawberries 2 evenings and very tasty treats on the other evenings (some items seemed to be left over from tea time); it was odd that these treats left in your room were not covered in plastic wrap so they would be stale by morning if you chose not to eat them that night (covering food could be a personal preference I suppose!). If an itinerary and price came along that fit our needs, we would definitely sail with Azamara again (though we would not book any of their excursions). It was an overall great cruise!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
We booked the new Azamara Journey as soon as the announcement was made that Celebrity had acquired one of the "R" ships and was going to invest in a new "Upscale" line. We had just come off the Tahitian Princess where ... Read More
We booked the new Azamara Journey as soon as the announcement was made that Celebrity had acquired one of the "R" ships and was going to invest in a new "Upscale" line. We had just come off the Tahitian Princess where we were pampered to no end in their Owners Suite and were sure that the new Celebrity product was going beat the Princess "re-do" hands down. And of course they did in many ways. The cova cafe,their signature pastry and cappuccino bar, is always a treat. Azamara like Celebrity has the most incredible staff that seems to be able to anticipate your every need and is extremely friendly. The new pool chairs and the buffet area for breakfast and lunch are beautiful. The alternative dining areas are also beautifully redone as is the main dining room and the casino. However, our suite left much to be desired. It looked the same as it did when the ship was built. We walked into our quite expensive suite, and I almost cried. There was a small white dorm refrigerator with its wires sticking out sitting on the floor right in front of the little table that you put your keys on. There were only 2 chairs at the scarred day-one dining table,the deck had two miss-matched white plastic deck chairs that barely fit on it- and no cushions. The furniture was original, torn, and had the original accent pillows, the carpet was original and stained, the curtains I think were new because the were badly hung and dragged on the floor. There was no desk or vanity chair and the "new console" that held the "new" flat screen tv with all its wires sticking out did not fit the wall it was on, so you could not reach the curtain to close the drapes. All they had done to the room basically, was change the bedding! The lamps were old and tipped sideways and one was broken. Then we were informed that there was no formal night, our butler was the butler for the entire floor, he was also the cabin steward, so he was so busy, you didn't dare ask him to serve an in- room meal, something you book a Royal Suite for! Halfway through the cruise the "Hotel Manager" sent out a questionnaire asking guests how they were doing. We had heard many passengers grumbling about the open seating, the expensive drinks, and the lack of a formal night. I wrote all this on my comment card along with my disenchantment with my room...we were invited down for a little conference. It seemed that his main concern was with the water on the carpet that I had mentioned on the questionnaire!(something I almost didn't put down, it had been there as a result of a storm) I asked him who his target customer was. His reply was -the Renaissance customer. Well---If they want that customer, they had better start including wine with dinner and stop adding 18% to all the bar tabs along with the little line under it for an extra tip! They also will need to serve the food that they offer in their Specialty restaurants in their main dining room and they will have to stop gouging their passengers $50.00 per couple to eat a decent meal in the specialty restaurant! In response to the "Hotel Manager-I asked him to take a look at our cruise folio- we had spent quite a considerable amount of money on board- not to mention how much we had spent in the casino- we had paid in full for our cabin, no questions asked, are we not the kind of cruiser he wanted on board? Are our opinions or thoughts not valid? He simply did not care- I wrote a letter to the President of Celebrity, including photos of our cabin, in November-Again, there has been no response. I am worried that the changes we saw on the Azamara are going to spread across the Celebrity line. We are booked on Royal for Spring and Celebrity for Fall. We will See. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We very much enjoyed our cruise on the Azamara Journey to Bermuda. I would not categorize this as a luxury cruise line but saying that it is a premium cruise line would be appropriate. Boarding at Cape Liberty in NJ could not have been ... Read More
We very much enjoyed our cruise on the Azamara Journey to Bermuda. I would not categorize this as a luxury cruise line but saying that it is a premium cruise line would be appropriate. Boarding at Cape Liberty in NJ could not have been easier. Once aboard you are greeted with a glass of Champagne and directed to the buffet area at the stern of the ship. The Journey is a smaller vessel with a much more intimate and laid back atmosphere than you'll find on the larger ships. We really enjoyed the smaller more intimate atmosphere aboard the Journey. We liked the fact that there were few, if any, children on board. We found it very easy to meet people on board, everyone including the crew was very friendly. Let me start with what Journey does right. The food in the Main Dining Room and the Premium Restaurants is very good and in some cases exceptional. Sometimes the kitchen in the Main Dining Room gets overwhelmed with a rush because of freestyle seating but we much prefer freestyle seating because we could choose who to dine with. If there was a wait in the Main Dining Room we'd just have a drink at the bar and meet new people. The Journey is beautifully decorated and has a classic interior design. This ship also has a modern spa facility and a gym with brand new work out equipment. I was impressed. My wife enjoyed their small casino area which had enough games to keep her amused. They also had some shops on board that looked interesting but shopping is not our thing when on a cruise. Our cabin was nicely appointed and our balcony was furnished with a new table and two chairs. Our bed was very comfortable and the linens were soft. Our flat screen television was interactive and offered many entertainment choices, it even included a few free channels with new movie releases. Our butler/room attendant was very nice and usually quite attentive. If you want afternoon tea in your room you'll have to request it, it's not automatic. We did not go to see any of the live entertainment on board but our friends who did go to see the cabaret enjoyed it very much. Things that need improvement on the Azamara Journey. The in-room wet bars have not been installed yet, so all we had was a small refrigerator that sat on the floor of our cabin, taking up precious space. The bathroom in our Deluxe Ocean View Room w/Veranda was very tight. Sitting on the toilet, I'm 6'4", was a bit of a challenge because you could not square off your legs because it was on an angle to the bathroom door. Overall service at the front desk needs improvement, it was difficult to get answers to basic questions from some of the attendants until they consulted a manager. Perhaps this is a language issue because you'll find that English is not the first language of most of the crew. The pool on board Journey is very small but if you are going on a cruise just for the pool than this is not your ship. Overall, we would sail with Azamara again. We'd probably go with the bigger room (Sky Suite) next time though. We're disappointed that the Azamara Journey will not be sailing to Bermuda anymore though because we love Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We sailed on the AZAMARA JOURNEY from Cape Liberty on September 29th. We booked our air travel through the cruise line and were very disappointed with our air schedule both going to Newark and returning to Dallas/Fort Worth after the ... Read More
We sailed on the AZAMARA JOURNEY from Cape Liberty on September 29th. We booked our air travel through the cruise line and were very disappointed with our air schedule both going to Newark and returning to Dallas/Fort Worth after the cruise. The schedule was horrible because of the routing and connections and we were one of the last to arrive at the ship for embarkation. Embarkation went smoothly, as almost everyone else was already on board. The embarkation photographer was no longer taking pictures. Our stateroom on deck 6 was nice and of average size with a very small bathroom. The balcony was fairly small with a large table and 2 chairs. The balcony was covered which is nice for privacy and when it rains. Storage in the stateroom was good with plenty of drawers and closet hanging space. Our "Butler" greeted us soon after we arrived in our stateroom. He agreed to make reservations for 4 in the AQUALINA restaurant for the night of our choice. We were traveling with another couple who were also on deck 6. There were fresh flowers in our room and a plate of fruit. The flowers were changed once or twice during the duration of the cruise and fresh fruit was added as needed. The "Butler", however, is only a glorified term for the usual stateroom steward or attendant. He was not particularly friendly and we did not develop much of a rapport with him during the cruise....just an occasional "hello" or response to a request. Room service on the JOURNEY was very good and very prompt. The breakfast menu is extensive and you can order from the dining room menu during the hours that the dining room is open. The Discoveries Dining Room was quite nice, but there is a lot of vibration at the very rear. The food was good....not exceptional, but good....and the presentation of the food was excellent and very artistic. The WINDOWS buffet had good food, but it needs improvement in the manner of serving. Many of the foods on the back of the serving stations were hard to reach. We did not experience long waits in being seated in the main dining room. We usually had a glass of wine in the MARTINI BAR after making our reservation and waited there for our table. We also enjoyed the guitar player who entertained most evenings there. The service in AQUALINA was very good, but we did not consider the food to be special enough to warrant a surcharge. The LOOKING GLASS BAR with its panoramic view was one of our favorite spots for relaxing during the day when no other activities were going on there....also a nice place to have a drink when the bar is open. We only attended one "show"...the HOLLYWOOD show...and it was enjoyable, but nothing like the entertainment we have seen on larger ships. While we have been on many cruises, the JOURNEY was the smallest ship on which we have cruised. It never seemed crowded. We experienced some very rough seas on our crossing to Bermuda and many people became sea-sick or had difficulty walking as the ship "rocked and rolled". Probably there would have been less motion on one of the larger ships with effective stabilizers. The rest of the cruise was "smooth sailing" with most of the time being spent in the ports of St. Georges and Hamilton. This ship would not appeal to the younger and more active cruiser as the onboard activities are limited, but it is relaxing and nice for the older crowd. The daily program delivered each evening could use some improvement too. All in all, it was a nice cruise, but we would not repeat it. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Azamara Journey Sept. 1-8, 2007 I want to preface this review by saying that this is my opinion (obviously) and coming from an Interior Designer who loves the look and style of the Celebrity fleet. Some of this may seem picky but they ... Read More
Azamara Journey Sept. 1-8, 2007 I want to preface this review by saying that this is my opinion (obviously) and coming from an Interior Designer who loves the look and style of the Celebrity fleet. Some of this may seem picky but they are things that are important to me and hopefully others will get something out of my observations. We had booked this cruise in 2006, as soon as we heard about the new ship. This was long before anyone had ever heard the name Azamara so we were expecting a Celebrity experience. We think that we proceeded with excitement but with open minds. We had an uneventful drive to the port from DC. We didn't want to get there too early and arrived about 12:15. Everyone was right about the breeze of a check-in. In all of our 11 cruises this was by far the easiest. We had checked in on-line and we were ready to go within 5 minutes. A short bus ride and we were at the ship. We were greeted by no one as we entered the ship. A bored looking waiter asked if we would like some champagne. His tray was sharing a niche with an art glass vase. We declined and headed up the stairs. We checked out our cabin, 7103, and found it ready to go. It was smallish but attractive and had the promised flowers (none in bathroom however) and binoculars. No fruit but it arrived the following day and was freshened up every day after. As I said, the cabin was attractive but nothing more. The linens were of high quality and the carpet and drapes had a nice updated pattern. The headboard on the bed had a quilted vinyl insert that looked cheap and had seen better days. The cabin artworks were inoffensive botanical prints. The closets, shelves and desk were a handsome dark wood. Unfortunately, the stool and table in front of the sofa were a lighter, cheap looking wood. The table particularly looked like something you might find in a flea market or yard sale and was quite beat up. As others have noted the bathroom was small but well appointed. Our luggage was delivered 2 bags at 3:15 and one at 6PM. Knowing that we needed to get up to the Alternative dining venues to make our reservations we headed on up. There was a short line (you can make reservations at either the Aqualina or Prime C for either or both restaurants) and we didn't have to wait long. When it was our turn they mostly had only 6PM and 9PM slots available. Since this was 12:30PM on embarkation day we were surprised. We were able to make an 8:30 PM reservation for sailing night in Aqualina and Thursday night for Prime C. This was OK for us but we had originally thought we would do it 3 nights but in the end, 2 nights was fine. Next we decided to get some lunch in Windows Cafe. I wasn't surprised that it was quite crowded at 12:45 PM on embarkation day and we had to wait around for a table to open up. Another couple joined us since seating was so tight. They were delightful and we had a great lunch, the food was very good. Also, the coffee is fabulous, you can get espresso or regular coffee. The beans are ground as it is made and as good as many coffee shops around the US. Windows cafe, in my opinion, needs the most work of any space on board the ship. The chairs and tables are nice enough but the chairs looked a little worn. My main problem with the space was the bad design, both in traffic flow and dEcor. Although never a real problem, the food service areas seemed awfully crowded into the rear of the restaurant creating small but unnecessary bottlenecks. I thought the carpeting was OK but found the tile on the floor ugly (sort of a fake slate) and the trim color on the walls was an unappealing flesh tone. There were also many extremely tired murals of what looked like scenes in rural England or Ireland. I'm sure that these must have been left over from the "R" ship days. There are some nice tables and a bar behind the Windows cafe that looked over the aft. This area was very pleasant and said "Celebrity" to me. In every dining venue they had jumbo sized containers of anti-bacterial wipes. While I guess these are a good idea, they look extremely tacky. About halfway through the cruise they started to get a lot more aggressive with handing them out in the Windows Cafe. Although we heard nothing about it, it made us think that there was perhaps an outbreak of something on the ship. We certainly saw no sign of this however. After lunch we toured the rest of the ship and found it quite attractive. As usual for Celebrity, there was a lot of interesting art. Some of it worked better than others as a juxtaposition to the formal tone of the ship. The Titanic staircase, the Cova cafe and all the area adjoining it were lovely and were quite popular areas to relax during the cruise. The harpist played often in this area but as my partner pointed out, there should be a law against singing while playing the harp. The lower lobby area had some furniture that reminded you that it was a Celebrity product and was quite stylish. The Casino was very tasteful and worked well. It was always popular when open and the slots didn't seem to be as "tight" as others I have encountered on cruises. The show lounge had a beautiful entrance on both the starboard and port sides and led you to think that you were about to enter a fabulous space. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The room was furnished in comfortable but not exciting furniture and the ceiling seemed oppressively low. The stage was backed by a flimsy black curtain with white Christmas lights poked through. The size of the room worked well for a ship of this size though but the entertainment (what little we saw) was not of a high caliber. The main dining room was also on this deck, 5, and had a nicely traditionally decorated Martini Bar in the waiting area. The waiting area was essential as we found out. If you didn't dine at 6PM or after 8:30PM, there was indeed a wait. This was not surprising since this is prime time but on our second night we arrived at the dining room at 7:50 PM and were not seated until 8:25 PM. We were told we could leave and come back and we did since there wasn't a single spot to sit in the Martini Bar. We had a drink in the Casino and came back after 20 minutes or so to wait for our table. They do put your name on a list and seem to stick to it. I thought the dining room was lovely if a bit crowded and the waiters had a time maneuvering between the tables. The chairs were extremely comfortable though and the food and service were excellent. We ate three dinners in the main dining room, two breakfasts and one lunch. Everything was wonderful with the exception of our lunch which was disappointing. The room is quite beautiful though and there are lots of windows all around. I guess that since it has been so long since we have been on such a small ship I had forgotten how low the ceilings can seem though. The Specialty restaurants on deck 10 are both lovely with a slight nod in dEcor to Prime C. We ate in Aqualina on the first night and had a wonderful meal. We had the rack of lamb and the veal osso bucco, both delicious. The service was so-so though and we had to finally stand up to leave (after waiting for 15 minutes for someone to come by) in order to get our check. The restaurant was at least ½ empty though so not sure why they said they were so booked up. There was a bit of excitement in Aqualina that night though and we thought we must have made reservations there on "Food Allergy Night". The couple at the next table made a huge deal over the wife being allergic to Beef, Pork and Dairy. She finally settled on the scallops after being assured by the wait staff and even the chef that it didn't contain Beef, Pork or Dairy. She seemed to get concerned though while eating it (I had it too) and ate what she thought were sun-dried tomatoes but after getting the chef back out there, discovered that it was some dried meat product. At the table on the other side of us one of the diners was presented with something with a walnut on it. She said "I told you I was allergic to walnuts!" The waiter quickly took it away. "Don't just pick it off and bring it back" she yelled as they walked away. I assume that they didn't because she was able to finish her meal without further incident. We ate at Prime C on Thursday night and it was lovely too. The service was great and attentive. I had the Kobe steak and loved it. Everything was perfect but I would have to say that we liked the food a little better at Aqualina. We had extremely rough seas the night in Prime C though so that might have accounted for the half empty restaurant. The Looking glass lounge was perfect for Bingo and other activities. Again, a pretty room but nothing special. The new teak loungers on the pool deck, deck 11 and the promenade were wonderful. Really comfortable and there seemed to be almost enough of them. They did have to break out the old chairs on deck 11 on days at sea though. I did notice a number of the new chairs were broken though so not sure of how long they will last. I didn't think that the public restrooms were anywhere near as nice as on other Celebrity ships. The maintenance in them seemed lacking also. There were often no cloth towels and they needed to be cleaned more often. It really was nice being on a smaller ship, hardly any lines anywhere, plenty of deck space and room in all the venues. The service was nice but nothing exceptional. We did enjoy our "Butler" but didn't use many of her services. She was very nice though and always ran ahead to our cabin to unlock it if she saw us coming. The different treats every night were a delicious change too. It was also great to always have ice in the cabin too. I thought the wait staff was wonderful and didn't see any lack of service since going to open seating. There didn't seem to be much cleaning and maintenance going on during the cruise though. There were lots of places with fingerprints and scratched and worn surfaces. The ship did not seem to be up to the standards of the 4 other Celebrity cruises we have gone on, either in dEcor or cleanliness. For example, the first day we noticed 4 coffee cups wedged in the railing on the deck outside Aqualina. One of the cups had a cigar butt in it. I walked by this several times and was quite surprised to see that it was still there the next day, over 24 hours after first seeing it! We also saw remnants from a private party in Michaels Club over 6 hours after the event. The heavy teak chairs on the promenade deck were stacked up for the muster drill and never put back in place. We and other passengers had to move them ourselves. All of the negatives on this cruise were minor. They in no way kept us from having a wonderful time and it being one of our favorite cruises. That said, this is not a "step up" from Celebrity (except in the wonderful food) and we were disappointed. We also felt that for such a large staff there were several times where all you could think was "Where is everyone?" I think that if Celebrity wanted to create a new brand that was nicer than what they already have, they should have built new ships with all the things that we love about Celebrity and taken it to the next level. I would have to say of all the ships I have sailed on Celebrity, this was my least favorite. I liked the small size but to me that was the only (although very nice) advantage. We are planning to sail on Quest a year from December and hope that they have things up to snuff by then. We enjoyed meeting some of the Cruise Critic folks, especially Jan and her three lovely daughters. Her daughter Marcy is extremely lucky though, winning hundreds of dollars on the penny slots and even winning Bingo too! My luck declined if I was even near her. Fortunately, she was nowhere to be seen late on the last night at sea and I managed to win $139.00 on a penny slot machine! There were almost no children on board and that was a plus. It was nice to be able to use the hot tubs and pool without kids in the way. The crowd was well behaved and seemed to be seasoned travelers for the most part. I only saw 2 men in shorts in the dining room at dinner and one really gross man walked through the Cova Cafe shirtless, sporting the hairiest back I have ever seen. He didn't just stroll through though but stopped to pick up some tasty treats from the cart in Cova. He then proceeded to walk down the grand staircase and I assume on to his cabin on deck 3 or possibly steerage where he belonged. These were the exceptions though and it was nice to have such a civilized crowd to cruise with. I'm not sure if these ships will ever be what they are advertising but they are still lovely little ships with interesting itineraries. With a little work on the dEcor and maintenance they will be a nice addition to the Celebrity family. Andy Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Azamara Journey, Sept. 1, 2007 My wife and I just returned from what was one of the best cruises we've ever been on. We are Kevin and Sue, both 64, and this was our 18th cruise and our 4th to Bermuda. The adventure began in early ... Read More
Azamara Journey, Sept. 1, 2007 My wife and I just returned from what was one of the best cruises we've ever been on. We are Kevin and Sue, both 64, and this was our 18th cruise and our 4th to Bermuda. The adventure began in early 2007, when we decided that we wanted another cruise to Bermuda. At the time there were no Azamara Cruises and no Journey cruise ship. Our original plan was to cruise on the NCL Crown. We soon had a small group of us, ready to sign up. Our group consisted of some cruise friends from the net and a couple who are long time friends of ours. For our long time friends, this would be the wife's first cruise in an electric wheelchair. Our cruise was to be the week before Labor Day. A few months later, Celebrity announced that they had acquired two Renaissance ships, to be named the Journey and Quest, and that the Journey would be doing the Bermuda run, replacing the Zenith. Sue and I had always wanted to do a Renaissance ship, so we talked it up in our group, and we agreed to switch. The decision was further prompted when our travel agent was able to get us some great fares. Our departure was pushed out a week to Sep 1 2007. Finally, the day came. We packed up the car, and were off to Cape Liberty in Bayonne NJ. This was the first time we departed from this port, so we did not know what to expect. Well, the experience was the smoothest and easiest embarkation we've experienced. It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get to the port, arriving at approximately 11:30 AM. We pulled directly up to the unloading zone, and a porter immediately took our bags. Sue stayed at the terminal, while I parked our car, in a lot adjacent to the terminal. . The parking is $105 plus tax for the week. They had shuttle buses to take one back to the terminal. We were guided to a check in counter, turned over our Express Passes, and were processed in under five minutes. On a side note, our experience is based on boarding the Journey, which has about 750 passengers. I would imagine that the process would be more hectic for the RCI Voyager class ship. This was corroborated by one of the porters in the terminal. After we checked in we went to the passenger lounge, to wait for our fellow travelers. Within a half hour our merry band of 10 was all there. Some had boarded earlier than Sue and me, since we were waiting for our long term friends. We just wanted to be sure that all went well for her boarding in her wheelchair. Once our friends arrived we boarded a bus that took us to the ship. The bus had a ramp that they lowered for Peg to use. When we got to the ship we found that the gangway has steps and Peg had to board where they bring the luggage on board. Even for that she had to be transferred to a manual chair and the crew brought her aboard while her husband brought her electric wheelchair onto the ship. This was the first of many problems on the Journey for someone in an electric wheelchair. From this point forward I will switch to a description of the Azamara experience. Also I will not provide much on Bermuda itself, since we've been there many times and written of our previous adventures. This review is more about the ship, itself. Buffet: As is traditional, we proceeded to the buffet lunch, after depositing our carryons in our cabin. The buffet lunch was quite excellent; in fact, probably the best we've had. We had all but one breakfasts and most of our lunches in the buffet. The breakfasts were superb, with a waffle/pancake/French toast station, omelet station, and a variety of typical, but well prepared choices. There is a juice/smoothie bar where they prepare drinks to order. One comment we all made was that this station is only used during breakfast. We felt it would make better sense if they utilized the space at other times also, maybe as a cookie bar, There are two sources for coffee: the typical ship's coffee, and a coffee machine that makes expresso, cafe Americano, etc. The latter machine makes much better coffee and was self service. The buffet lunch is very similar to most ships, except that the quality is much better. The service is outstanding. The staff assists passengers, as needed, for example, with Peg. because she is in an electric wheel chair, they would help her get her food and carry it to the table. The crew also came around and served juice, coffee, ice tea etc. Cabin: After our initial buffet lunch, we went to our cabin, to check it out, and see if our bags had arrived. We had booked a balcony cabin on deck seven, concierge class. Not quite sure what concierge class gave you, since all cabins aboard provided butler service. The cabin was a reasonable size. The storage space was ample, if oddly set up. The verandah was very small compared to other ships we had been on; but it had a nice table with two comfortable chairs. The bathroom is tiny. The sink top space was barely large enough to place a few essentials. The shower was also small. There are bathrobes, slippers, and a pair of binoculars in each cabin. There are also two hair dryers, one wall mounted in. the bathroom and the other in a cabinet. The TV is a wall mounted flat screen, with a bizarre remote. The bed was comfortable (a bit hard), and the linens very comfortable. The duvet was rather heavy, so it was warm at night, even with the AC fully cranked. Aqualina Specialty Restaurant: Although we had originally booked our Aqualina reservation for later in the voyage, we rearranged for a seating on the first night out. We had a very early seating, at 6 PM. That was rather early for the first day on board, especially so soon after the required drill, and the sail away party on the pool deck, but that was the only time we could get which we could all agree upon. Despite the early hour, it was well worth the experience. The restaurant is relatively small, with primarily tables for four, with some for two or six. They were able to seat our party of 10 at adjacent tables of four and six. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our server was a woman we had met on the Celebrity Infinity in 2006. The service was excellent, if a bit slow. That did not detract from enjoying the meal, as we appreciated the time spent with good friends. The food was also excellent. The menu was limited, but the choices were all quite good, primarily of a Mediterranean variety. Prime C Specialty Restaurant: We had made arrangements for our Prime C reservation in advance through the Celebrity Captions Club. It was originally set for the 10 of us to dine together at 8:20 on Tue evening; however one family did not want to eat that late. When we got on board we changed ours to 6:30 PM. We agreed to arrive a little early, to enjoy a drink before dinner in the Prime C bar. We were soon seated at a nice table for seven in the corner, overlooking the stern. Prime C is mainly a steakhouse. Again the menu is relatively limited, but the choices are varied. All the various appetizers and entrees were very good, and the service was excellent. In a bizarre twist, our central NJ friends, who were seated about a half hour later, and who had the same servers, complained that the service was very slow. All in all, the experience was worth the $30 per person charge. Main Dining Room: The Journey features open seating in all their dining room. Personally, Sue and I prefer traditional seating, in order to enjoy sitting with the same people, and being served by the same wait staff; however, we wanted to sail the Journey. We made arrangements on our first meal in the main dining room to have a table for the entire group, every evening at approximately the same tome. We were lucky to get the only table for ten in the dining room. This way we were able to emulate traditional seating. This enabled us to enjoy the company of our fellow travelers and have a wait staff that got to know us. The menus were quite good, with interesting variations on the typical cruise fare. The quality of the food and its presentation was the best we've experienced on any of our cruises. There was not a single dish that any of us had ordered that was not excellent. Although we were able to emulate traditional dining, it must be pointed out that, in our view, open seating does not work well. The wait staff was serving different courses at different tables, and the traffic flow of the passengers constantly coming and going, made for a very chaotic atmosphere in the dining room. Further, the arrangement of the tables throughout the room was to cramped. They could have easily reduced the number of table by as much as a third, and greatly improved the overall experience, for both the diners and the wait staff. It should be noted that one of the servers (our friend from the Aqualina) had indicated that when the Journey starts its longer runs in South America, that they most likely revert to traditional dining. Lounges: The Journey, being a small ship, had only a few lounges; however, the few that they had provided good gathering places, with very good bars and bar staff. The bars did not have a particularly good selection of single malt scotches, but did have top shelf vodkas. This is a good point to mention that with the exception of two areas on the ship, there is no smoking allowed. This made for a much more enjoyable experience in the lounges and the casino. There was entertainment in each lounge, e.g. a very talented harpist near the Cova, and a pianist in another. Casino: The casino was surprisingly large for a smaller ship. There were quite a few slots, craps, roulette, and several card tables. Being a Bermuda cruise, the casino was only open for the time when were not in Bermuda, which only amounted to the equivalent of less than three days. Sue spent more time in the casino than I did. I guess I'm getting a little tired of the slots; although this time I did finally walk away with a small profit overall. Entertainment: We really didn't expect there to be much of the type of shows one sees on the mega ships. We were surprised to see that they did have production shows, albeit on a smaller scale. There were only 5 singer/dancers. They were good but not great. They also had a magician/comedian whose comedy was only marginally better than his magic, which was fairly transparent. One night they had the Goombay dancers from the island up in the Looking Glass lounge. They were very good, but their performance was only about 15-20 minutes. Another night, up on the pool deck, there was a local Bermudian steel pan player, who was very good. He performed both traditional Caribbean tunes as well as jazz. (We also ran into him at the Dockyard, and bought one of his CDs.) There was also a lecture series, given by Dr. Joel Klass, a psychotherapist. His talks included "expert witnesses and hired guns", "stress management" and "dream interpretation". We only attended and thoroughly enjoyed the dream lecture; however other members of our group attended all three and said they were all good. As a side note, our group met Dr. Klass on the Promenade deck one evening and during the conversation, the son of one of our group had indicated that he played chess. Joel suggested that they meet later to play. As a result, the two of them played a few times, and Joel was able to teach our friend's son some advanced pointers. The Shops: Again, being a small ship, there were only three shops. Two were the typical shops one expects, a general store and a jewelry shop. The third was a higher priced luxury jewelry shop. Not a very large selection, but that was to be expected on a small ship. Art Auction: As with most cruises, Park West Galleries was on the ship. Their presentation was quite different than any other ship we had been on. There was only one actual auction session. The other sessions were lectures by the Park West rep, discussing various artists' styles, etc. When they did the auction itself, it was all originals, mostly in the mid to upper four figures, and several in the five figure range. Needless to say, there was not much artwork sold. Perhaps this strategy will work better when they do the longer South America itineraries. Bermuda: As I said earlier, I will not report on the island itself, as we have done so in detail in previous reviews. However, I wish to say that we are very disturbed by what appears to be a move by the government to shut down the cruise piers in Hamilton (2008) and St George (2009). This will leave only Kings Wharf for the cruise ships. We personally believe this is a serious mistake. Although they are shifting to becoming a major Re-insurance company and banking center, much like Grand Cayman, the tourist business is still a major economic factor for the island. We spoke with many business people, particularly along Front Street, and they agree. Unfortunately, their concerns are being ignored, so far. Here is the link to our pictures of the Azamara Journey: http://travel.webshots.com/album/560670104YluDWa Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I just returned from a 7-day September 22nd Bermuda cruise roundtrip Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey on the Azamara Journey. We are frequent cruisers, and found the Journey to be a beautiful, small vessel providing a very ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 7-day September 22nd Bermuda cruise roundtrip Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey on the Azamara Journey. We are frequent cruisers, and found the Journey to be a beautiful, small vessel providing a very good experience with excellent food and solid service throughout the week. The 700-passenger Azamara Journey is new to Celebrity as of this Spring, having finished a stint with Pullmantours in Spain after beginning life as a Renaissance vessel. She retains the physical beauty of the Renaissance design, with the black and gold iron staircases and trompe d'oil paintings on several ceilings creating a unique setting for sailing within this new cruise niche of 'premium plus' or deluxe category. The cabins are very comfortable, with soft hues and up-to-date bedding; the public spaces feature pleasant reds, golds and blues. We were in a Sky Suite, which was very spacious and well-appointed. Complimentary amenities in the suite included a bon voyage bottle of champagne, sodas and two Specialty Restaurant meals. The butler service was attentive overall - we especially enjoyed afternoon tea service brought to the cabin (with a plate of cookies left behind if we were absent). The ship's staff was very friendly throughout the vessel, and always offered warm greetings. Our only disappointment was with the Activities Staff, which was a bit disorganized and hard to hear when running events such as Team Trivia - it was impossible to tell what was going on from the audience. We were delighted with the Catholic priest onboard, who also offered daily Mass - Azamara's website notes that this feature will go away once the ship leaves the Bermuda itinerary, which would be very unfortunate - passenger attendance was high at every Mass. The waitstaff service onboard Azamara Journey was excellent in the main Dining Room as well as the Windows Cafe. The Specialty Dining experience in both the Aqualina and Prime C restaurants was superb - with the clubby atmosphere a terrific backdrop to Prime C. My advice to future passengers on Journey would be to make the alternative dining reservations onboard immediately after embarkation as space filled up quickly in both venues. There was also a nice array of bars available onboard - there was never a sense of being crowded on this ship, even during sea days. Entertainment was an eclectic mix which worked well for this small ship. The 5-person song and dance troupe was very good at presenting a new 'stripped down' themed medley concept unique to Azamara. It worked both due to the same-level/small stage in the lounge as well as the intimate, cabaret-like experience they conveyed. A traditional production show simply wouldn't have fit this ship. Other acts were more typical of cruise ships - i.e., magician and comedian, which were fine on the small stage. We took a car service to and from the Port of Bayonne. While embarkation was seamless, disembarkation proved more chaotic. There appeared to be a dearth of US Customs & Immigration personnel at the pier, which made for a long line. The main problem, however, was the 'dead zone' for cell phone signals at the terminal entrance. Since cars can't wait in front and there are no public phones, we endured a frantic time period of trying to dial our car service before finding a spot where the signal was successful. Royal Caribbean / Celebrity should offer a Passenger Service Desk at the terminal's main door which would include a staffer with a working cell phone for this purpose - it would be greatly appreciated by older passengers and those who have difficulty walking. As Azamara Journey (and the new sister ship Azamara Quest) will feature more exotic itineraries of longer length, the crowd on future sailings is likely to be slightly older cruisers who have traveled frequently and are looking for a smaller, low-key ship with interesting ports of call. This audience will be delighted with the Azamara Journey. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My thoughts on the 9/29 sailing on Azamara Journey Background: Mid 40's, I have cruise on Rccl, Ncl, Carnival and Princess Embarkation: Drove to Cape Liberty - check-in and embarkation a breeze Ship Info: Beautiful ship...very ... Read More
My thoughts on the 9/29 sailing on Azamara Journey Background: Mid 40's, I have cruise on Rccl, Ncl, Carnival and Princess Embarkation: Drove to Cape Liberty - check-in and embarkation a breeze Ship Info: Beautiful ship...very clean and well-maintained...not as tiny as i thought it would be, easy to navigate..never too far away from where you want to go-it offered as much as possible for a ship that size...great for the bermuda run with a lot of time in port..personally i would need a larger ship with a few more options for anything longer...especially if the pool deck was not an option due to weather on sea days.. Never felt crowded...except in the tiny smoking areas...there were many of us...standing room only- met some great fellow passengers here! Found it more restrictive than i anticipated...missed having cocktails on the balcony and relaxing there...found we were always hanging out there instead Good mix of ages of passengers...expected a much older crowd...the ship was a very early to bed one...not much happening at night Pool was great and really never too crowded to cool off in- we only got to use it the last sea day...way too much to do in bermuda and usually got back too late to hang out there....happy we had a beautiful last day Lots of motion on the way down...to be expected with the rough seas we had...smooth on the way home...could hardly tell you were moving Staff: Awesome crew...always had a smile and seemed happy to be there and to see you- we were especially impressed by our assistant cabin steward...always called down the hallway to us to wish us a nice day when he saw us leaving the cabin...the captain and officers were the most accessible of any of the cruises i have been on State Room: Sky Suite was very large, pretty, comfortable- plenty of storage, great bathroom, comfy bed, nice sized fridge, beautiful furnishings. Balcony was wonderful and large- reclining chairs would be nice..the frosted glass dividers were pretty but allowed light from neighbors balconies/rooms to intrude on the quiet ocean darkness... Dining: Food in main dining room...the appetizers were awesome, main courses were varied and good, desserts were very good, service was great- one kind of frenzied experience but definitely not the norm for us...not a big deal Open seating worked just fine for us- we ate late...9'ish never a wait...told a couple of times by the waiters that it was a good time because the dining room was crazy earlier. Both Prime C and Aqualina were fantastic dining experiences- the food was outrageous, the service professional and friendly- as good as any of the upscale restaurants as I have been to onshore Buffets were great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plenty of variety...lobster tails were much better and bigger there than the "lobster four ways" in the dining room....we would sometimes go just to snack a little bit before going to a late dinner... The pool grill was a nice option for burgers, dogs, nachos, pretzels if you came back to the ship too late for lunch and needed a little something before dinner..Cova cafe had little finger sandwiches and sweets...until 1am...nothing available after that other than room service....but the ship was pretty much asleep by then anyway...maybe a tray of something near the 24 hour self service coffee/drinks station would be a nice option.. Activities: Casino was a nice size for a small ship...often empty...maybe a correlation between drinking, gambling and smoking? I play video poker slots...did pretty well but found it annoying to have to cash out to go to the ladies room, get a drink, go up 4/5 decks to have a smoke...i like to machines that pay you out with a coupon...just easier... People LOVE to share their opinions about totally subjective matters with anyone who will listen.....for every positive there was someone else who would view it negatively...just go and form your own opinion...facts are one thing...opinions are just that...they're nice to hear beforehand for sure...but try not to let those things jade your view until you experience it for yourself...just my opinion! Enjoy this quaint, intimate and beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I are avid cruisers and have sailed more than 30 times on various cruise lines mostly on Royal Caribbean during the last 12 years. On Saturday, we had a smooth and on-time flight from Indianapolis and arrived early in ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers and have sailed more than 30 times on various cruise lines mostly on Royal Caribbean during the last 12 years. On Saturday, we had a smooth and on-time flight from Indianapolis and arrived early in Newark. EMBARKATION We took the cruise line's ground transportation and arriving at the pier before check-in had begun, we were directed to a waiting area where we were offered fruit punch and cookies. The check-in process started at 11:00. We boarded the ship at 11:30, dropped off our carry-on luggage in our stateroom, and went to Windows Cafe for the welcome aboard buffet lunch. The presentation and variety of choices were plentiful, and the food was delicious. As the ship sailed away from Bayonne, we enjoyed watching the New York skyline disappear in the distance from the panoramic Looking Glass lounge which is the highest vantage point on the ship. During our day at sea on Sunday, we experienced some 8-foot waves, but being experienced cruisers who love the relaxing days at sea, the motion was not a problem. THE PORTS What a beautiful paradise Bermuda is with over 80 islands, all connected by bridges! Our first stop was St. George's which is a quaint interesting little town. We were docked from 10:00AM on Monday, until 6:00AM on Tuesday. We then cruised to Hamilton and docked at 9:00AM. Transportation from either port is convenient since a 1-day or multi-day pass can be purchased for the ferries and buses which we used to visit Horseshoe Beach and Kings Wharf. Hamilton is a great place to shop. We were docked at Hamilton until 3:00PM on Thursday. THE SHIP Overall, I would recommend this ship and cruise line for couples without children unless they are less than 3 years old. The ambiance on this ship reminded me of a fine European hotel with comfortable, traditional furniture and dark wood veneers. It definitely is not for multigenerational family cruising since there are no organized children's/teenagers' activities. It never took us long to get where we wanted to go on this size ship (30,000 tons), and that is a benefit for port-intensive itineraries which this ship is scheduled to do. STATEROOM Our stateroom had an obstructed view window, but we were fortunate that our window was between lifeboats so that we had a nice view. We would sale on Azamara again although on our cruise the Journey was still a work in progress. The mattresses in the staterooms on our deck had not yet been upgraded although the linens were of high quality. Fresh flowers, robes, and slippers were provided as well as daily replenishment of fruit. All staterooms have a "butler" with an assistant who makes up the rooms. We didn't really notice any difference in their service from other ships we've been on other than he offered to make our reservations at the specialty dining room. DINING The Discoveries Dining Room servers (most of who had previously worked on Celebrity ships) were still trying to adjust to any-time dining with all guests not arriving at one specific time. We experienced both great service from some the dining staff and poor service from others. Menus in the dining room and buffet had a nice variety, and the food was excellent. Seating in the Windows Cafe was always available as were deck chairs at the pool and promenade deck. When we arrived at the dining room before 6:45, there was no delay in getting seated. One evening, we arrived at 7:30 and only had to wait about 10 minutes. One nice perk is that all guests can dine once in one of the specialty restaurants (Aqualina or Prime C) at no charge. Guests in suites get two complimentary dinners in the specialty restaurants where reservations are required. For additional dinings, the charge is $20-25 per person. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Entertainment was cabaret style with four singers/dancers and two really entertaining comedians. Although bingo, trivia, the quest, etc., activities were available, there were no intrusive in-room announcements made. The ambiance on this ship was more upscale than Royal Caribbean. I didn't feel that it was more upscale than Holland America or Celebrity, the only difference being that it was a small, intimate ship. It was wonderful that it wasn't necessary to stand in line for anything. As Diamond members of Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, we were recognized as Elite members of Celebrity/Azamara's Captain's Club. We enjoyed the following benefits: - Champagne brunch for Select & Elite members - Captain's Club cocktail party - Tour of the bridge - Elite status coupon booklets - Use of the Select/Elite debarkation lounge DISEMBARKATION On disembarkation morning, we could utilize our stateroom until 8:00AM. After that time, we went to the Select/Elite debarkation lounge and waited for our color luggage tag to be announced. This process was very well organized. It was a great cruise, and I highly recommend a visit to Bermuda. As I was told by a shore excursion crew member, when comparing Bermuda to the Caribbean, "Bermuda is all that is good about the Caribbean with none of the bad"--meaning that Bermuda has beautiful tropical scenery and great weather but doesn't have poverty or crime. We will look forward to finding out about itineraries that Azamara will offer in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I just returned from a week in Bermuda on the Azamara Journey. We are very seasoned cruisers and are Elite Members with Celebrity Cruise lines. We have been to Bermuda several times in the past so the real reason for going ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a week in Bermuda on the Azamara Journey. We are very seasoned cruisers and are Elite Members with Celebrity Cruise lines. We have been to Bermuda several times in the past so the real reason for going on the cruise was just to experience the Azamara Journey. What an experience it was! I would like to take a few minutes of your time to let you know how I feel about this new ship. I was so impressed it is hard to put it in words. The minute I walked unto the ship you could see by the smiling faces of the staff that there was going to be a difference in this cruise to the more then 30 others that we have been on in the past. As the first gentleman walked up to us and took our bags out of our hands and escorted us to our cabin we knew we were in for a treat. He seemed so pleased and proud to show us the way and show off the different things on the ship as we passed them. The cabin was beautiful with the dark wood and the very pleasing colors of the bedding. The room looked so inviting with the huge pillows and the fabulous extra soft robes, then the slippers arrived that night! What a nice thoughtful touch. A few days into the cruise we got a form to fill out that asked us what we thought would make the cruise better. Well, we had to think long and hard. Really we did and then we came up with only three things. We thought that the cabin should have a love seat in it and the other was that the Windows Cafe should have trays to make it easier to carry your plate of food and beverage to the table and your glasses should be at least 10 oz glasses and I believe they were more like 5 oz ones. Now that is pretty good when that is all we could come up with. The Cruise Director was perfect! Andrea was just wonderful. He made everyone feel so special and was a perfect match for the ship. I know he was leaving to bring the Quest over in a few weeks and it will be their fortune to have him aboard. He is the best I have ever seen on any ship. He danced with all the ladies, ate lunch with so many of the guests, walked up and down the decks greeting people and just talking with them on a friendly basis. He loved his star gazing and so did everyone else. He just made the cruise special in so many ways, what Italian charm he has! The food on the Journey is beyond description! Every day we were amazed at how things were prepared and presented at each meal. Nothing looked like the food we have had on other ships. It was in a class of it's own. The food in the Windows Cafe was wonderful and so different from other Cafes. The selection at the Deli was outstanding. The Discovery dining room food was so good we didn't really need to go to the Prime C specialty restaurant. However, the presentation there was magnificent. I do think the name should be changed to "Prime Sea" to match the Aqualina since then they would both have to do with the ocean. At lunch when we commented to the men serving us on the back sun deck about how they are always smiling, one of them said, "it is because of people like you that we smile, you people make it easy to smile because you are always smiling!" It was easy to be always smiling on the Journey because it was a great ship to be on and the service was so out of the ordinary. We would ask different ones we sat with at each meal how they felt about the ship and it was always the same answer, " We love it!" If you have not booked a cruise on the Journey yet you need to as it is to me the best of the best. I would give this ship a 6 star rating. -- Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
The following is my review of my experience sailing on 08/18/07 Cabin 6000 sunset veranda Let me just start by saying that the following review is not only my opinion but also the opinion of my fiancee and my parents who traveled with ... Read More
The following is my review of my experience sailing on 08/18/07 Cabin 6000 sunset veranda Let me just start by saying that the following review is not only my opinion but also the opinion of my fiancee and my parents who traveled with me on this sailing. With that said, let me begin.... A little background about me... I am a graduate student who has sailed on many ships to different destinations for the past 15 years therefore I have been on over 20 cruises, and have experienced the best cuisines, the best destinations and the best service. I know the bad from the good and from the ugly. I am not a beginner cruiser w/no experience. My first impression of Azamara as stated on the website where very positive and I was very excited to get a chance to sail aboard a "luxury cruiseline". The service from the sales reps at Azamara was awful, as was w/my previous experiences with the Celebrity line. I have requested to have my room done a certain way and when I arrived on the ship my requests were not honored. The boarding experience was one of the best experiences that I have had in the past. It is quick, painless, and very easy. I was on the ship within 10 minutes, there were no lines. I got there around 1 pm. The ship itself is small, but it is well decorated. It lacks a show lounge, it lacks a decent size pool, however the decorations around the ship are well appointed w/dark rich wood colors and fresh flowers through out. Our room was nice, it was well appointed and we always had anything that we requested.. (of course everything had to be requested, nothing was just given to you) Our room had a good view, because we were in the front of the ship. However, if we had bad weather then it would be really bad. It was very windy on our balcony and we couldn't enjoy breakfast there every day. You get a chance to get breakfast, tea, and savories in your room every day. You of course, had to ask for everything. Room service was prompt, but sometimes they would forget to bring you a thing or two that you requested. The service..... Oh..boy... it was lets put it in a nice way.... SAD. The front desk people had a very bad attitude, and couldn't answer one question straight. It was impossible to book a reservation at a specialty dining room.. so do it in advance!!!! Only after we complained about the terrible service we were able to book in the speciality restaurant. They claimed that the restaurant was overbooked, but when we got in, there were approximately 10 empty tables. The food and the service at the main dining room was mediocre. I had much better food in May on the Carnival Miracle... Seriously.. The food and the fish especially in the main dining room was cafeteria grade. I don't think it was anything special. However, the food and the service at the "specialty" restaurants was worth the extra 20-30 bucks extra. IT WAS very good!!! I loved the lobster, and the sea-bass especially. The service was also a lot better than it was in the main dining room area. The shows--- were ok. I mean they were not big production/costumes, etc... but the people were talented and we had an ok time watching them try and amuse us. The cleanliness of the ship.... Our room was always clean and warm and we always had great service. THe butler aka stateroom attendant tried to do his best. Idont know why they call him the butler, but whatever works for them, he is nothing but a room steward w/a nice jacket and gloves. The pool was dirty and disgusting. It had hair in the ducts, and it had hair in the showers. It was the most disgusting thing that I have ever seen in my life. I have never been so grossed out!!! The furniture around the ship was very comfortable. Even by the pool, those chairs are very comfy, and so is the furniture in the dining room and other areas. Oh and they don't give you fresh flowers every day, we had the same flowers for the week. They were not that fresh towards the 5th day. Oh and the fruit basket was all rotten on the first day we had to say something to get a fresh one. Over all.. If its the right price go for it. If not... don't waste your money. THIS IS NOT A LUXURY CRUISELINE!!!!! NO NO NO!!! Its a run of the mill regular cruiseline nothing special or unique!!! I would never go on this ship again, unless I was desperate and the price was low. Well, maybe we were just expecting it to be more than it was.. that is why we were disappointed. I guess we were just used as lab rats for the employees to practice on us, before they sail out to the S.Pacific and become a real "luxury" line... Bye for now Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
A very pretty ship with a very hard working staff. All elements( embarkation, food, exercise etc)of this cruise were as you might expect except the following. They have made three big mistakes. In the redesign, they created their largest ... Read More
A very pretty ship with a very hard working staff. All elements( embarkation, food, exercise etc)of this cruise were as you might expect except the following. They have made three big mistakes. In the redesign, they created their largest suites on the rear of the ship. Large, lovely and expensive. We had 10 rooms including 8091 for my parents 50th Anniversary cruise. The suite was just below the teak decked restaurant on deck nine. Anytime ANYONE moved a table or chair in the restaurant ( which was all the time), it sounded like the inside of a drum in this $7000 suite. The noise was so bad and so persistent, the family had to rotate use on the suite and let my parents sleep in a quiet room on deck four. Repeated attempts at a change of rooms for them yielded nothing as the ship was completely booked. The butler service in this suite could not be called bad, but rather nonexistent. We NEVER saw the man. We finally resorted to gathering our own ice and glasses for our nightly in room cocktails ourselves. Second, while Azamara advertise butler service to all the other rooms, we realized by day 3 that this simply meant the maid wore a tux. It wasn't bad service. It was simply typical Celebrity service and certainly not up to the oversold Brand that has been presented. Third, open seating doesn't work, when your restaurant is neither sized or staffed large enough to accommodate the guests. Every night was met with sour faced people, who couldn't get a table. Every night we would leave the restaurant after our meal and walk by the upset and the cranky (waiters)at the entrance to the restaurant. Bottom line, if you are a low maintenance, deck 4 type cruiser who is sure your will neither want or expect anything other than base level amenities, you will like this lovely ship. As for me, no more Azamara. I'm sticking with the Celebrity model. They truthfully tell you what you can expect and deliver it. Azamara has oversold its brand , which ultimately leads to let down and disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Azamara Journey by Arzz This review is written from the perspective of a frequent Holland America cruiser who has also cruised many other cruise lines. I have never taken a Celebrity cruise. The ship itself is intimate and beautiful. ... Read More
Azamara Journey by Arzz This review is written from the perspective of a frequent Holland America cruiser who has also cruised many other cruise lines. I have never taken a Celebrity cruise. The ship itself is intimate and beautiful. Azamara has done an excellent job of making this ship look almost brand new. The atmosphere everywhere on board is understated, elegant and suggests the ambiance of a fine gentleman's club. We arrived at Cape Liberty around 11:30 am and the embarkation process was really not a process at all. The terminal was configured to handle crowds with many lines all taped off and ready to snake back and forth to move large numbers of cruise passengers -- however, there were no lines. We dropped our luggage with a porter outside the terminal and we quickly passed through all the required check points. Within minutes were on board the Journey. We were greeted with a glass of champaign as we entered Journey's elegant atrium on deck 4. Guest Relations, Shore Excursions and an assortment of comfortable sitting areas wrap around the wide staircase that is featured in so many photos of this ship and her sisters. We sat down, enjoyed our beverage, and met some of the other passengers with whom we would share our week. Since the cabins would not be ready until 1:00 pm and we were a little early to enjoy lunch we self-toured the ship. We previewed the Celebrity Cabaret, the show lounge on board. It is entirely located on a single level of the ship, reminiscent of the lounges used for dancing and shows on the older cruise ships rather than the glitzy, multi-floor theaters of today's behemoths. It has a stage at the front, and for a ship this size we found it to be quite functional and a pleasant change from a large, impersonal, show lounge. We also walked through the classic wood paneled dining room, the Cova Cafe, the casino and past the ship's shops. Throughout the fifth deck the ceilings are adorned with paintings of winged gods, goddesses and cherubs reminiscent of the frescos found on the ceilings of the palaces of Europe. We were often amused, however, when looking at the facial expressions as the cherubs invariably appeared to have a hand buried in the folds of the clothing of some goddess or other. The Cova Cafe is located at the top of the atrium stairs on Deck 5 -- it is not an enclosed space -- it is located between the shops and the dining room so that there is much foot traffic that passes through. As I am not familiar with this area on other Celebrity ships I do not know whether this is an anomaly. We enjoyed afternoons sipping elegant coffees and unusual teas here, as well as evenings relaxing to the music presented by Jacqueline Dolan and her wonderful harp. The on board casino is somewhat small, appropriately sized for the smaller ship's population. It contains several slot machines (penny, quarter and dollar machines) as well as gaming tables. During the few days that the casino was closed during our stay in Bermuda the casino seemed to be completely taken apart and reconfigured. The best that we can tell was that many of the slot machines were moved around, others were removed. The gaming tables were reconfigured and a lounge-like sitting area was created in one corner. The casino was, however, up and running right on schedule as we left the Bermuda coast and headed out into the Atlantic. At the top of the ship is the Looking Glass Lounge, reminiscent of the Crow's Nest on Holland America ships. It is a beautiful space with 270 degree views that I believe was under utilized on this cruise -- but then the four day stay in Bermuda makes a lot of things about this cruise unusual. The only criticism I have of this space was the decision to stage the band at the center of the front windows which effectively uses a large section of what would be, otherwise, prime seating area to enjoy scenic views. As this ship wanders off to places like the Chilean Fjords this deficit will probably be felt dearly by passengers seeking a definitive seat from which to enjoy the sights. Michael's Club is a wood paneled lounge that really looks like the archetypical gentlemen's club. It serves as both a lounge area and a library. We only sampled the cuisine at one of the two specialty restaurants on board, the Prime C -- and it was excellent, but both of these restaurants are elegant and pretty -- they are located on deck 10 so the views from these spaces are as good as the food. The on board spa is again smaller than that found on many ships but they still offered a variety of spa services as well as acupuncture and a small therapy pool. The small gym was well equipped with a variety of exercise machines and free weights. The pool on deck nine is surrounded by incredibly comfy teak lounge chairs covered with thick cushions that during the day are each equipped with a rolled beach towel just waiting to be used (nice touch). Another nice touch is that a few of the lounge chairs are doubles. The Windows Cafe is located on deck 9 and offers a variety of buffet style foods at breakfast and lunch as well as a pretty casual dining venue at dinner time. Our cabin was a deck seven standard verandah cabin. It was a clean, bright exceptionally pleasant space adorned in dark woods, green curtains and a beige paisley print in the carpet. The new carpeting and soft furnishings made it look virtually brand new. The bed was extremely comfortable and was covered by many pillows. The room also had a love seat sized couch across from a small desk. The closets were in the entryway opposite the bathroom. The closets consisted of a double doored space with a clothing rod and a shelf above, a one doored space that had four nice size drawers with a very short hanging space above (we were hard pressed to find garments short enough to hang here -- we would have appreciated more drawers). At the end of the closet was a corner unit that probably used to contain the TV. It now consists of a few open shelves, a cabinet of closed shelves which included a programmable safe, and a bottom cabinet that contains a small, space age looking refrigerator. Not everyone recognized the object in this cabinet immediately as a fridge. It is about the size of a old computer tower but it does have space for a small selection of beverages and liqueurs inside. There was additional storage in the desk -- four small drawers on one side and two shelves on the other. The wall opposite the bed sported a nice sized flat screen TV which was easy to view from both the bed and the love seat -- being wall mounted it was out of traffic patterns and away from potential cabin storage space. Nice feature! Our verandah was small with a table and two chairs that are well set up to enjoy a room service breakfast out of doors. The bathroom is, how shall I say, a tiny, tidy space. We are not particularly large people but we did have to become intimate with the shower wall in order to shower. The sink had a nice sized vanity with a medicine cabinet and a shelf below the vanity for storage. Though small it was very functional and very clean. And, we always had more than enough fluffy towels and face cloths. The food was excellent and well prepared. We had no desire to eat in a specialty restaurant more than once as we were so well taken care of in the Discoveries Dining Room (the main dining venue). The dining room staff could not do enough for us. We are sorry that we did not get to know them better. With the open seating we were served by different people almost every meal. We really did miss assigned dining. We also wonder if the staff will be sufficiently compensated through the auto tipping system. With assigned dining we usually tip extra (above the amount required by the auto tip) at the end of the cruise if we have received excellent service (which we usually do), will the staff miss this additional income? While the food was excellent, we do have suggestions on the food front: We found it very difficult to eat a light and healthy diet on board. We are accustomed to having, on the menu, both a vegetarian selection and a healthy selection among the dining choices. We missed these options while on board. We also found ourselves wishing that there had been more vegetables on our plates. And, we noticed some redundancy on the menus. We would have liked to see more variety. The Oriental duck consomme was on the menu at least three meals in a row (two dinners and one lunch, I think), many of the salads greatly resembled each other and most were garnished with goat cheese (I have nothing against goat cheese, I like it a lot, but it was ubiquitous during the cruise). One day at lunch there was a smoked salmon appetizer that was presented with a dill cream cheese that looked virtually identical to a smoked salmon appetizer that appeared at dinner that same night except that the lunch version was cut into circular shapes and at dinner it was presented as a triangle. For those folks wondering what day the bananas foster is offered for dessert, do not fear that you will miss it as it is on the dessert menu at both lunch and dinner on several days -- and it is excellent. We really truly enjoyed several of the on board amenities such as the fresh flowers all over the ship, but particularly the fresh flowers in our cabin. The in cabin fruit bowl that was replenished and freshened as necessary was very nice to have. We enjoyed both the robe and slippers -- and an amenity that we have not seen before -- the floor mats that were left each night, one on each side of the bed, that said "good morning - good night". We truly appreciated the Elemis products in the larger, 3.4 oz bottles. And, the evening treats that were left in our cabins (cookies, fudge squares, truffles) were a welcome change from the mundane chocolate. Though we did not feel the need to indulge the ability to have afternoon tea daily in the cabin, or receive a plate of savories at mid to late afternoon was really nice. We also enjoyed the use of the binoculars that were provided in each cabin. Things that we missed: The larger cabins that are standard on Holland America. Though Journey's cabins are well designed they are rather tight on space and DH and I had to plan our in room movements to be in concert rather than collision with one another. We question whether the standard cabins have sufficient storage space to properly accommodate the longer voyages that are planned for these ships -- particularly the ones that will require clothes for more than one climate (like South America). We truly missed a self service laundry -- having one on board would have reduced the amount of clothing that we traveled with by about 40%. We do not object to paying for laundry service however for many of our things (especially those that are delicate or prone to shrink) we were unwilling to surrender the control of the temperature settings of the wash and dry cycles to unknown individuals. I really miss the make-up mirrors that Holland America has mounted at the cabin desks. We really miss the wrap around covered promenade deck for walking purposes. We know this is not something that Azamara can fix but due to the small size of the ship, getting exercise on board was very difficult -- the jogging tack on the upper deck is rather small (13 times around equals one mile), and not covered so that it really does not replace the promenade. We would have definitely preferred assigned dining times. The situation was such with dining that if you did not appear at the dining room by about 6:30, you had to wait to be seated at dinner. We do this at restaurants at home and have no desire to do this on a cruise vacation. It is easy to miss shows and other cruise activities when dining times are uncertain. When we have paid a significant daily tariff we consider waiting to dine to be unwelcome, wasted time. I have experienced main stream cruising, budget cruising, and premium cruising. Azamara claims to be a Deluxe cruise line and we believe that the intent is to compete directly with Oceania and other similar cruise lines. If there were no charge in the alternative dining venues and passengers could choose between all of them, I believe that it would relieve the crowding in the main dining room as well as present a more deluxe, overall, cruise experience. Please correct me if I am wrong but I do believe that when this ship was built there were several dining venues from which to choose and the cost of each of them was included. A nice touch that I heard is a Celebrity tradition, is to offer a cold face towels to passengers as they return to the ship. We do applaud this practice as we really enjoyed it -- but on at least two of our in port afternoons the ship, apparently, did not have enough face cloths to go around and therefore our cabins were left without them. I assume that this is a detail that it should be easy for Azamara to correct. We were caused real stress on board when the baggage that we left at the pier at ll:30 am did not appear in our cabins until over an hour and a half after sailing (after 5:30 pm). We were disturbed by this for many reasons. First we had no way to know for sure if it had made it on board until it was too late to initiate a search at the pier. Second, we like to unpack before the muster drill so that when the ship sails, we are really on vacation. Watching the ship leave the harbor in New Jersey was a large priority for us. And third, if at all prone to seasickness, unpacking while at sea is not a pleasant occupation. DH and I do not ever remember being on a cruise where the bags arrived at our cabins after we had actually left the port. We hope that Azamara could make this a priority and improve the baggage delivery service. Other small concerns -- the coffee served in the dining rooms and the specialty restaurant was terrible. Not up to the standards that we would expect of a deluxe (or even premium) cruise line. --We enjoyed the butler service on board, though we are not sure that our butler was any different than a normal cabin attendant. Our cabin service was, by and large, excellent as small things like the need for replacement soaps and kleenex were automatically noticed without us asking for these things. Once we had to ask for an additional bottle of water. What we found disturbing, also easy to fix, was the frequent knock at our door when we were in the cabin to deliver paperwork -- if we delayed getting the door (say to take the small time to put on a robe) the butler would unlock the door and start to walk in. Each door had a mailbox as well as a space beneath the door that could be used to deliver paperwork. We felt it unnecessary to have these things placed on the bed or given to us by hand -- we got annoyed by the intrusion as this seemed to happen several times during the week. This should be another thing that Azamara could easily fix. Despite the minor deficiencies (and we do consider them to be minor) noted in the last several paragraphs we had a very mellow cruise. Though we are Holland America medallion cruisers -- would we sail this line again? The answer in yes. Would we sail this line rather than HAL if all things were equal (price and itinerary)? -- in that case we would probably choose HAL. But if offered a superior or unique itinerary and a fair price, Azamara Cruises will definitely see us again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Having only cruised to Bermuda previously from the West Side of Manhattan, Cape Liberty was stress free by comparison. Picked up by cab in Manhattan, except for a 15 minute jam at the Tunnel to NJ, we breezed to the terminal, arriving at ... Read More
Having only cruised to Bermuda previously from the West Side of Manhattan, Cape Liberty was stress free by comparison. Picked up by cab in Manhattan, except for a 15 minute jam at the Tunnel to NJ, we breezed to the terminal, arriving at 1145. No lines at check-in. Met with champagne, we enjoyed a nice lunch buffet (particularly the sea food salad and carving station). Room was ready at 1 PM. Nice fresh fruit and flowers, robes, slippers,fridge. No alarm clock. No interactive TV yet, nor the Room Selection Menu items, which means for example you can pre-schedule to turn your room into a spa-like sensual atmosphere. At the fire drill, my wife met an old friend who she hadn't seen in 9 years. Took a peek at the Spa, which has a "secret" deck in the back with lounge chairs and the free T Pool. Being our first experience on a smaller ship, we found it easy to get oriented, and it was great that we kept re-meeting people we met during the week. And the musicians, staff, and Cruise Director always made time to chat. We liked the waiter (Filbert) we met the first night, and had no trouble being seated at one of his tables all week. And never a line (we dined around 645) The food was generally excellent, although not in a higher class than Celebrity. I thought that Celebrity has more imaginative desserts. But the Bananas Foster and chocolate chiffon pie were fantastic. The latter I didn't initially order - I sampled my wife's and ordered it the next night - luckily there were surplus. But beware the NY Strip Steak - tasteless and dry. But overall, dinner always left me with a warm afterglow.. The grill hot dogs were great, but pizza tasted like frozen fare, not like the Celebrity fresh slices. Maybe this was due to the lack of volume needed. Since this was our first cruise with a veranda, we quickly fell in love with in-cabin breakfast.. And it saved time because we were up early to hit the beach before crowds and heat set in. We did try the breakfast buffet once - the Smoothie Bar is a welcome addition and a diverse selection on pancakes, waffles, omelettes, etc. to meet anyone's tastes. Despite a scaled down show by large ship standards, the 7 piece orchestra, and most of the acts were enjoyable, particularly the comedienne/singer. And the Hollywood review. Didn't care for the Swing review but that's just my taste in music. The ship band, though, not as versatile as others we've heard. The seating configuration is a bit annoying - you can easily be obstructed..so COME EARLY FOR GOOD SEATS. Went to the first Captain's Club cocktail party, so nice to meet staff who seemed genuinely enjoying the conversation. The Captain is a teddy bear. Its a beautifully furnished ship, lighting, art, furniture, is very tasteful and such a natural look - no glitz and smoke and mirrors needed, thank you. Shops were pretty humdrum; didn't partake in bingo or the art auction. Enjoyed being met upon returning from the beach with cold drinks and cold towels at the gangplank. Being our first all casual cruise, I now want to RETIRE MY TUX. Not too many kids, and only one annoying "pressing all the elevator buttons" experience. People still insist on reserving pool chairs all day with their towels - some things never change. All in all, it was a week of pampering, with a crew and staff wonderfully accommodating. The earlier reported kinks seem to be dissipating. We regret that Celebrity / Azamara will be forsaking Bermuda, and Hamilton will no longer be a port for any ship once redevelopment occurs..but we would not hesitate to return to this ship if the itinerary and price is right. Harry and Carol Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Before setting off on our cruise we were quite skeptical,ie. reviews and lack of pictures of the ship. We were very pleased however, boarding the ship was a breeze. Loved the interior of the ship, reminded me of Titanic, decor. Our room ... Read More
Before setting off on our cruise we were quite skeptical,ie. reviews and lack of pictures of the ship. We were very pleased however, boarding the ship was a breeze. Loved the interior of the ship, reminded me of Titanic, decor. Our room was perfectly adequate in size, we had two twin beds, and a veranda. Beautiful decor, bedding, furnishings etc. Everything we were worried about faded away. Service was exceptional. Food amazing. Our butler Hilda very sweet, but so overworked. Entertainment was very good the first night, didn't really like the magician, he spoke to fast, couldn't understand him. Met some lovely people on deck everyday. Pool very very small, but was fine when you were in the pool. My friend had the massage, was great except for the big sales pitch at the end, not what you want to hear after a relaxing massage. Harpist , jackie dolan, very good, very friendly, great sense of humor. She actually joined us for dinner one night, I'm from Ireland , she's from Ireland, need i say more. Had dinner at Prime C. but dinner at discoveries was much much better.Friday my friend had dinner at Aqulina, I was dying in bed, sea sickness. she said it was the best meal on the cruise. Liked St. George more than Hamilton. All in all i, we , would recommend this cruise. They have really tried to make this a great vacation for all. It took time, but everything was as promised. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
BACKGROUND My husband and I are in our early thirties. We have been on 8 other cruises. We've sailed on RCCL, Carnival and Norwegian. RCCL has always been our favorite, but we loved Azamara just as much! EMBARKATION We had a ride to ... Read More
BACKGROUND My husband and I are in our early thirties. We have been on 8 other cruises. We've sailed on RCCL, Carnival and Norwegian. RCCL has always been our favorite, but we loved Azamara just as much! EMBARKATION We had a ride to the pier so it was very easy for us. As soon as we pulled up a porter was there to take our bags. Check in was a breeze it literally took five minutes. From there we went out to a bus that brought you to the ship. The bus ride was about 2 minutes. We entered mid-ship deck four and were greeted by staff and handed champagne. The whole check in process was the fastest we've ever experienced. Overall we were up at the buffet 15 minutes after arriving at the pier. (The rooms were not going to be ready until 1:00 so they said to go up to the buffet area for lunch.) STATEROOM Having the Sunset Veranda at the back of the ship was great. The balcony was a nice size and it had two chairs and a table big enough to have breakfast on. The room had fresh flowers and fresh fruit everyday. You received one complimentary bottle of water also. There was a refrigerator stocked with soda that you had to pay for if you used anything. The bed was comfortable and you could just tell the linens were new. There was a flat screen TV on the wall so you could watch TV in bed and also if you were sitting on the loveseat. You can also view your account, book excursions, order room service, etc. from the TV. Each room also had robes and slippers, which was a nice touch. The bathroom was a typical cabin bathroom. There was enough storage space. In the evening we received some type of treat. One night chocolate covered strawberries, one night chocolate truffles, etc. That was better than a chocolate left on your pillow! DECK AND POOL AREA The deck had teak lounge chairs with a thick cushion on it. They were so comfortable. We spent a lot of time lounging. You never had trouble finding a chair if you came out early enough. People tend to come out early, put there stuff on a few chairs and then disappear for a couple of hours. It would be nice to see a staff member watching out for this. The pool was quite small, but it was never too crowded. It was just fine to take a dip to refresh yourself from being in the sun. The deck above the pool was used as a track. It was quite small (13 times around equals one mile) and uncovered. There were always servers out there asking if you wanted something from the bar, but not in a harassing way like we've experienced on other ships. On the last day at sea, some of the staff were coming around with cold towels because it was so hot. Later, they went around giving out chocolate covered cheesecake lollipops. FOOD Breakfast: We had room service bring breakfast 3-4 times. You could basically get anything you wanted. Eggs, pancakes, etc. If it wasn't on the breakfast card, you could just write it in and they would bring it. It was always delivered within the timeframe we chose. When we weren't dining on our veranda, we went up to the buffet area, Windows. You never had trouble getting a table and there was never any real wait at the waffle or omelet stations. They always had a variety of things to choose from. Lunch: There is Windows or the Pool Grill for lunch. Windows had your typical buffet: hot entrees, salad station, deli station, dessert station. There was always, a soup, pizza and a carving station too. The Pool Grill had hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, french fries and nachos. This was a good option if you came back from the beach and the buffet was closed. The first evening we ate at the specialty restaurant Prime C, which was complimentary. (Each guest received one complimentary meal.) It was very easy to make a reservation. We just went up to the restaurant that day and had no troubles. The food was excellent and so was the service. Every other night we ate at the main dining room. Even though it was open dining, there was never a wait for a table for two. We even requested the same waiter a couple of times and didn't have to wait to be seated in his section. The food was amazing and the service was just wonderful. There was always so much to choose from and the presentation of each dish was beautiful. The Cova Cafe is a coffee bar serving espressos, cappuccinos lattes and special teas. You paid for these specialty drinks. They also had little sandwiches and cakes to snack on. ENTERTAINMENT We didn't go to every show, but we did see the singers two nights and a comedian on another night. The lounge where the shows were held was small, so the shows didn't have any fancy sets, but the singers were awesome and very entertaining. The comedian, Joe Mulligan was great too. A couple of nights they had local bands from Bermuda come onboard to entertain. During most days, there was a band playing poolside. In the evening near the Cova Cafe you would find either a harpist or a piano player. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES They had the same basic activities as most ships. Trivia contests, bingo, exercise classes, afternoon tea. EXCURSIONS We didn't go on any excursions, but from what I could tell, they were the usual: snorkeling, scuba, dolphin encounter, glass bottom boat, etc. We spent the days in port at the beach. Tobacco Bay while in St. George and two days at Elbow Beach while docked in Hamilton. DEBARKATION Getting off the ship did not take long at all once it was cleared by customs. Once you color was called you exited the ship, took the two minute bus ride to the terminal, retrieved your luggage and went through customs, which was very organized. Overall, the whole process took about 10 minutes from the time your color was called. IN SUMMARY This was one of the best cruises we have taken. The staff was friendly and attentive to your needs. You never felt it to be over crowded in any area of the ship. The food was amazing. If you are looking to go on a cruise that is laid back and relaxing, I highly recommend sailing on the Azamara Journey! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Our cabin was an outside cabin that was located on the 7th level in the center of the ship. We were surprised how big the room was. It was a nice size. The bathroom was very small though. The shower was a challenge each time. We had a ... Read More
Our cabin was an outside cabin that was located on the 7th level in the center of the ship. We were surprised how big the room was. It was a nice size. The bathroom was very small though. The shower was a challenge each time. We had a veranda that we loved. We saw a perfect sunset coming home. There was daily fruit basket, fresh cut flowers, 23" plasma television, complimentary use of binoculars, and plush robes in our room. The bath robes smelled like perfume, so we had them replaced. We did not see the umbrellas which would have been nice since the second day in Hamilton it poured all day. The bedding was nice. They changed our sheets once. We did not have any sweet surprise on our pillow each evening, but rather little desserts on a small plate. We did have butler service as there is a butler for each stateroom and suite. We did make use having a sport coat pressed for an additional fee. We did have 24-hour room service and we made use of this service 3 times. We did not receive a complimentary bottle of champagne even though it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary because we did not have a suite, but it would have been nice to see a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room just the same. Our room was very clean and maintained down to the towels designed into swans one bigger than the other kissing sitting on our bed on our wedding anniversary. Our butler was great! We received cloth travel bags that we used on the beach. I do miss the Ova chocolates! This ship did not have Ova chocolates as did the Celebrity Horizon. We did not participate in the Spa and Wellness Center "Aqua Spa", "Cova cafe" (coffee cafe), or at the piano bar "Michael's Club". We did not participate in the wine and champagne tasting because we did not know of it. I guess we should have read cover to cover the daily schedule. I remember 5 years ago, the Celebrity Horizon that also went to Bermuda gathered all the passengers who were celebrating their anniversary to gather together for an hour and they served champagne on the house. I did enjoy my apple martini's from the "Martini Bar". All alcohol is charged to your pass key. We use the fitness room once. The equipment was great. We tried out the "Lifestyle Fitness" machines before I got a mean sunburn. We looked into the "Computer Center", but we did not make use of it. The patio atmosphere was nice. It has a lot of lounge chairs, 2 spa pools and a pool. The pool was very small. We did not bother to swim in it. The pool bar was nice. The bartender made any kind of drink you wanted. I leaned towards the tropical drinks. Drinks ran from anywhere to 5 to 10 dollars a piece. Also on the pool deck was a smoking area with tables and chairs and ash trays that were emptied often. There was live music mid afternoon that consisted of various songs from reggae, to country, to pop, and also those old classics. Other live entertainment at the "Cabaret" room consisted of comedy and singing. It was geared toward the elder folks of what we heard, so we skipped this part of the entertainment. We did find the casino entertaining. We went twice. I ended the last night winning 450 dollars. I won this money hitting on a 7 and two triples; the last few minutes before the casino closed. We kind of enjoyed the "Looking Glass" nightclub as this was the only place at night to hear music and dance beside the one man guitar player out on the patio at night singing to 2 to 5 people. Back to the Looking Glass, we think the DJ played way too many disco songs. We managed to get the DJ to play two different types of music. We requested Usher and Nickelback to be played just to change things up a bit and the DJ did have it and did play it - just ask. There is a smoking area with tables and cushion chairs. There are ash trays that were emptied often. Main dining for dinner was at the "Discoveries" room. The dining layout was a good size. The problem was if you ate toward the back of the restaurant, your seat vibrated throughout dinner. It was difficult to eat as you felt the engine. You can definitely feel the motion to the ocean. Seating closer to the front of the restaurant was a lot better. Some of the food was good, but the steak dinner we had was not as good; steak was not as tender. The service was excellent. We just love their crème brulee'! "Prime C" was the restaurant that we ate at for our 30th wedding anniversary. We loved the lobster bisque! The filet mignon steak we ordered was very tender. We were very pleased with the food and the excellent service. The cook brought us a chocolate torte that read Happy Anniversary on it. They made our anniversary very special. We had a very nice evening. Since we had dessert already, they asked if they could bring the torte up to our cabin and we agreed. Oddly, it never came. The next day we thought it would show up, but it did not. We asked the butler where our chocolate torte was and she contacted the Prime C restaurant. It ended up that they made us up a fresh new torte and wrote Happy Anniversary on it once again. It was sent up to our cabin late afternoon. We did not eat at the Aqualina restaurant. We were offered as everyone else a free dinner at either the Prime C or Aqualina; otherwise it would be additional fee. We chose the Prime C (steak place). Windows Cafe is where we had breakfast and lunch. There was also dining outside on the "Breeza". For the most part, the food was good. We ate breakfast there only twice as we had room service the other days; no additional charge. At lunch, I loved the manicotti with cheese, beef, and white sauce. I went back for seconds the 2 days that they served it; so delicious. The only thing that bothered me that the glasses were water spotted which appeared to look not clean. The service was excellent. The atrium was beautiful with a wide staircase. There was beautiful art on the walls, and pottery as you walked up the staircase. There was cherry wood trim throughout the ship. The ship was elegantly designed. The ship was not as small as I thought it would be, but still smaller than Celebrity Horizon, the one we cruised on 5 years ago. Motion to the ocean was my biggest issue before boarding this ship. Luckily for me, this happened once at night during the 7 night cruise. We just went back to the room where we did not feel it as much there. The seas calmed down a couple hours later and I was relieved. This cruise was less motion to the ocean than my last one 5 years ago to Bermuda which was Celebrity Horizon. Read Less
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