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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: 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: 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: July 2007
BOARDING - was a breeze! There was a separate area for suite embarkation but everyone was going through rapidly.We were on board in less than 15 minutes. We were told to go up to the Windows Cafe for our lunch-the cafe was nicely appointed ... Read More
BOARDING - was a breeze! There was a separate area for suite embarkation but everyone was going through rapidly.We were on board in less than 15 minutes. We were told to go up to the Windows Cafe for our lunch-the cafe was nicely appointed and the food enjoyable. When we arrived at our suite-we found it very inviting,although not as large as our suite on the Noordam. SAILING- We went up to the pool which had very comfortable chaises but the hot sun on the dark blue cushions just held the heat-definitely a towel required to sit on. Although the pool is too small for the size of the ship, it still is extremely refreshing. Late afternoon we met up with our butler. He turned out to be a wonderful asset to the line but we felt he was overworked in his position of room attendant plus butler. Throughout our trip on the Journey, we found the staff excellent and the restaurants to be top draw. However, we do feel there are some kinks in the running of the hotel part. On our entrance to our suite,our phone had a message for an earlier passenger and for 7 days nobody could fix it. The shower did leak because there wasn't enough enclosure. A shower curtain or an extension of the panel is needed.On our last full day of sailing with a full ship-passengers didn't have enough teak chaises and the older ones had been roped up so people couldn't find chaises. We helped untie some and move them for some of the passengers but no staff was around to assist.A glaring error was made by the Purser -unbelievable that our bill was placed on our door for anyone to read. It was placed that way for our mid-trip bill and our final bill. It wasn't even put in an envelope! In all my times cruising this was a first.Evidently-they feel that your bill can be placed outside your door for anyone to read. It wasn't even in an envelope-in all my cruising I have never seen it done that way! FINAL THOUGHTS- My experience on the Journey with the crew from the delightful Captain to the Maitre' D to the staff in general was excellent. I do believe that with time and maybe more experience by the Hotel Manager and Purser that this will be a ship definitely worth going on. I know I will most likely be on it again and look forward to an wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I have always wanted to visit Bermuda and there is no doubt cruising is the most economical and (IMHO) the best way. We originally booked the Celebrity Zenith in a Category 11 Concierge room. A few months later I was informed of the switch ... Read More
I have always wanted to visit Bermuda and there is no doubt cruising is the most economical and (IMHO) the best way. We originally booked the Celebrity Zenith in a Category 11 Concierge room. A few months later I was informed of the switch to the Celebrity Journey and subsequently the Azamara Journey. I was very happy about this because now I was in a Sky Suite, about 60 sp feet bigger and a nice balcony which the Zenith did not have. Being touted as a step up from Celebrity and on par with the likes of Oceania I was really looking forward to this trip. I traveled with my wife along with my 21 yr old son and his roommate from college (they were in an inside cabin) After reading messages from cruisers on the first 3 sailings I was more amused then concerned since I have NEVER had a bad cruise so here goes: EMBARKATION: In a word EASY. If you are in a suite you bypass the longer line and the photographers! It took us less than five minutes to get on the ship after arrival in the terminal. I also noticed (noon) that the other line was not too long. This is one advantage of a small ship! We also had an extremely smooth ride to Bermuda - smoothest ever out of NYC. CABIN: I was in 8039, one of the new Sky Suites. For me it had plenty of space - the room itself, the closets and the bathroom. I am a big guy and loved the size of the bathroom. The were broken fixtures on the sink that I was told "we know". The bathtub is unnecessary and a little to high to climb in and if you are 6' tall your head will scrape the ceiling. The worst design flaw here is that there is no door or curtain - the floor gets VERY VERY WET ! I showed a couple of senior staff members and all they could do is shake their heads ! They claimed they had no idea. The "BUTLER" was nothing more than the cabin steward in a tux. We did receive fresh fruit a few days and some awful canapes every day but nothing special. SHIP: I love this ship: this is the old R6 from Renaissance and last year I was on the Tahitian Princess which was the R4 so I already knew I would like it. I have to say though that I can't figure out where the $19 million went to refurbish it, a lot was the same as the Princess ship down to the same carpet, fixtures, some paintings and the awfully in need of a refurb pool. Very odd that the front of the ship was much colder than the rear - especially the Cabaret deck 5 forward - many complained it was too cold - I loved it. SERVICE: Mostly excellent. Room service was spotty but is 24 hours, the dining room was mediocre as due to open seating there is no connecting with the same people and the waiters for the most part just go through the motions. There were a couple of exceptions to this. My cabin staff was also quite good. FOOD: Mostly very good. Aqualina and Prime C were excellent, the dining room was very good to excellent (no better than any other cruise I have taken) for lunch and dinner but I found breakfast, both at the buffet and in the dining room to be VERY disappointing. The sushi bar on deck 9 was very good and, on a day that I found odd, on Lobster tail night the buffet had the best Beef Wellington I have EVER had - and no one knew !!! Yes - I did both that night. CASINO: Small but very professional and the best manager I have ever dealt with. No blackjack or slot tourneys and the Texas Hold 'Em machine is a total rip-off. SHOWS: The production shows were only singers and geared toward the over 65 crowd - not my thing. I was disappointed that there were no production shows; I know its a small "stage" but Princess did it really well. The instrumentalist and comic magician were TOP NOTCH. The magician ( Carl Andrews) best I have ever seen on a cruise ! SHORE EXCURSIONS: I did not do any but my son had one cancelled that he ended up doing on his own with the same person! He was told the person cancelled so he called on his own and the person did not even know it was cancelled and was really angry at the cruise line. I do not want to get more into detail but suffice it to say that the shore excursion desk was not truthful. There did seem to be a lot of excursions offered. ART AUCTION: Yes I now the good and the bad but this is a guilty pleasure for my wife and I. I have never seen so little money spent on the auctions this trip. Azamara and Park West thought everyone on board was a millionaire. Ridiculous choices - there should have been much more under $500-1000 I do not want to ramble any further but I was surprised there were no port talks and discussion of how to get around Bermuda. Quite a few old folks in wheelchairs I saw going to Horseshoe Bay Beach(GREAT PLACE) but did not know of the really steep hill to get to it! No midnight buffets or decent food late either. The are some crappy sandwiches by the coffee bar though. Drinks were great but terribly overpriced. I am only trying to be honest. The cruise was excellent and we all had a great time. I think that Azamara will be a deluxe line one day, that day is not today. They need to deliver quickly what they have promised or their credibility will disintegrate quickly. For what they are charging now I would not sail with them again, for what I paid though, I definitely would. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We booked our cruise onboard Mercury last summer then transferred the booking to the online TA that we have used for many cruises. This review was written as a day by day report to give an ongoing perspective to our experiences. Saturday ... Read More
We booked our cruise onboard Mercury last summer then transferred the booking to the online TA that we have used for many cruises. This review was written as a day by day report to give an ongoing perspective to our experiences. Saturday We arranged for a car service to pick us up at 10:30 from the Residence Inn Times Square which we found an excellent place to stay. We used Marriott points and saved a bunch since breakfast and light suppers were included. About 10 minutes after we left the hotel we stopped to pick up Kelly and Lauren from our Roll Call and headed through the Holland Tunnel to Cape Liberty cruise terminal. Traffic was light for a holiday weekend and the trip took less than ½ hour. On arrival at the terminal, we handed over our luggage and checked in easily with our preprinted Express Pass - very easy and fast check-in with friendly personnel. About 5 minutes later we boarded a bus for the short ride to the ship. We were among the first to board (no problem with two bottles of wine we carried on) With champagne in hand, we headed to the buffet for lunch. We had pizza and salad at a table on Deck 9 aft (outside) with Kelly and Lauren. I left to check on our dinner reservations at Aqualina (which I had made via Celebrity's customer service manager from home). This was my first meeting with Dominic who informed me that the reservation was indeed made for the day and time requested, added a reservation for Prime C and informed me that we were not in cabin 7039 as we thought but had been moved to 8049. I was surprised and wondered the cabin had been changed. During lunch, the announcement was made that the cabins were ready (12:45 pm) so we went to explore our new cabin. What a nice surprise. The upgrade fairy is alive and well and lives on Journey! We had been upgraded from a balcony cabin to a lovely Sky Suite (not as large as we've seen on other ships, but lovely nevertheless). The dEcor was elegant and we enjoyed the gold and burnt orange colors. Nice balcony with a rectangular table and 2 chairs on which we enjoyed room service breakfast several times as well as afternoon wine.The bathroom was large with a tub and shower (design looked lovely but caused water on the floor every day - the narrow glass partition probably should have been wider) Elemis toiletries were in containers large enough to last all week with some to take home. Towels were of very good quality and attractive. The Cabin had plenty of drawer and closet space (two tier hanging rods made hanging longer things difficult) and empty suitcases fit easily under bed. Our butler, Nelson, came in to introduce himself (dressed in tux with tails) and tell us a bit about the ship's services. We told him we needed some things laundered/cleaned due to our week in NYC prior to cruise. He opened our first bottle of wine for us and poured us a glass -...we knew that our cruise had begun and it was sublime. We unpacked and did a quick tour of the ship where we found things in good shape, went to muster drill, and then to deck 11 to take pictures as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty and out of NY harbor. A wonderful start to our long awaited cruise. We went to the Martini Tasting in the Looking Glass Lounge - excellent with larger portions than on previous ships. In fact, we split one tasting and I had to ask to have my final of 3 drinks held until the next night - no problem! We enjoyed having fun there with the bride and her wedding party from the wedding that had occurred on the ship prior to sailing from Bayonne). Dinner in Discoveries - there was ½ hour wait at 8 pm. We asked to share a table and had dinner with a lovely couple from the UK (both of the wives were nurses so we had lots to talk about). Our table was in a very noisy location in the center of restaurant - a location that we didn't repeat. Food was good and the service adequate. We ordered a continental breakfast for 8-8:30 AM. and went to bed early. We slept very well on a comfy mattress with lots of pillows. Restaurant descriptions .....All restaurants are quite attractive. Aqualina is, as you might imagine light with sea colors and Prime C has lots of dark wood. Seating is good - lots of windows and not crowded. Discoveries - the main restaurant/dining room - is attractive with tables quite close together. Suggest you ask for a table of size you wish in the back section (right side is a bit quieter) and chose an early or late time. Most crowded during the 7:15-8:15 hour with waits of 30-45 minutes which makes the Martini Bar crowded and noisy. We found having Martinis in the 10th deck Looking Glass Lounge each evening was quiet with lovely views and a wonderful bartender (Marco from north of Dubrovnik) with beautiful eyes - yes, I did like looking at him ? We really enjoyed the Cova Cafe which got crowded pre-dinner and during evening entertainment. We always found seats but some days it was harder than others. Surprise! Justin Roland, our Captain's Club Host on Mercury last summer was the combination CC Host/Future Sales Mgr. He called and we stopped to see him before dinner - friendly, helpful as always AND he invited us to the Captain's Table for dinner. Thanks, Justin...more about that later. Sunday Our room service breakfast (OJ, French Toast, fruit and hot water to make our own 'good' coffee using portable French Press) arrived after phone call at 8:20 AM as requested. Ordering at least coffee and juice is a wonderful way to get a wake-up call and have coffee first thing in the AM - a must for us. We slept well after figuring out how to reset AC since it was very cold in the room. Awoke at 7 so relaxed, read and enjoyed the balcony until food arrived then had it placed on the table on the balcony. Food was not 'set-up' and attendant refused a tip! Weather was warm and breezy with some clouds. After breakfast, Art headed to the Looking Glass Lounge to read and I checked with Justin to see if Connections party invites had been sent - he didn't know but said he would check. Met Art and saw the few children onboard with a counselor playing trivia, cards and games and generally having a good time. We went to return a book to the library and discovered the Connections party in progress - we had not received an invite (due to cabin change apparently) but got in on enough to hear comments from CD John Howell and ask a few questions. John asked for feedback, answered questions and, in general, seemed sincere. I volunteered to collect comments and send to him. Had lunch from sandwich bar in Buffet area (called Windows) with some cold salad selections and again sat outside on deck 9 aft. Then went to ask Justin about Captain's Club activities. Again found that the list never made its way to our new cabin and we had missed the Senior Officers' Party for Select and Elite members. I was bummed and not happy with the nonchalant response I got...but got over it and obtained a list of other activities. Went to Art Auction (Champagne and enjoyed the bidding - one of our Roll Call members did quite well). Then on to Battle of the Sexes Trivia - which is one of the few games we really enjoy - ladies lost but anything can happen in the battle of the sexes - 2 more times to go! Had little sandwiches and listened to the Harpist at Cova Cafe - she plays beautifully and has a very nice voice. Not crowded and pleasant place to relax. Sat on our balcony until time to shower and dress for our evening with the Captain! I was glad I had brought one dressier outfit (not formal but a bit more than country club casual) which was perfect for the evening. We met Justin and the 3 other invited couples at 7:30 in the Martini Lounge. Introduced ourselves and chatted over drinks until the Captain joined us then were led through Discoveries by Justin who had let us know the appropriate protocol. We had our picture taken at the table with the Captain. Dinner was very nice - a congenial group, active conversation and an engaging Captain! Much fun. After dinner we went to the Cabaret for Showtime with Antonio Salci - an amazing pianist and entertainer - and the wonderful Journey orchestra. A truly terrific show. Stopped by the Casino for the raffle of $500 and other gifts (we didn't win but it was fun to see the winners' reactions). We went to bed early to get up to watch the ship go through St. George's cut - a must do activity. Ordered coffee for 6:30 AM so that we could be dressed and on deck for the 7:45 event! Monday Awakened at 6:30 AM by call saying our coffee and OJ were on the way... dressed and on deck by 7:15 to see the approach to St. George's - got some good pictures of the pilot boat transferring the pilot to Journey on a cloudy morning. Going thru the cut was exciting but those who had done it before were disappointed that the town crier in uniform and canon shot were non-existent. After breakfast we walked from ship to King's Square where we began our self-directed walk through St. George (from Frommer's Bermuda 2007 book). Made a few wrong turns due to poor signage but managed to find all of the buildings on the list. We especially enjoyed the Unfinished Church at the top of a hill...great pictures and interesting plaques explaining why the church was not completed. After 2 hours returned to the ship for rest and lunch - sun had come out and it was quite warm so our spot on the aft deck was a welcome site. We had excellent shrimp scampi salad and a sandwich. Note: Art had been searched thoroughly at Bermuda security where a photo ID as well as ship's pass was required. This often happens to him...hmmm; wonder if he's on some kind of list ? After lunch we went back into town to mail some post cards we had bought that morning - post office is a few minutes walk towards the square - large white building on left side (postcard stamps are 70 cents apiece!). Then we hopped on a #11 bus towards Hamilton - up the steps next to Cafe Latte - and used it as a tour bus to see some of the residential sections of the island. Enjoyed the views and the narrow, curving roads. It was fun to see how many locals greeted each other and asked about family members as they got on and off the bus, passed golf courses, hotels, large beautiful homes, etc. We got off at the ferry landing in Hamilton and took the ferry marked Dockyards/St. Georges. Sat on top deck (both covered and uncovered seats available and I had it to myself with one other passenger - Art stayed below). It was a fantastic ride - beautiful scenery, breeze blowing, great picture taking spot. When we stopped at the Dockyards, I ran downstairs to bring Art to the top deck and we enjoyed the longer ride back to St. George's Island. Bought a couple of requisite Tee Shirts on the way back to the ship - no long security stop this time. Art napped while I showered to get ready for dinner at Aqualina. Still no canapEs delivered to the room. Enjoyed the Harpist in Cova Cafe again and our nightly martini in Looking Glass with Marco (who has figured out that Art wants the same Bombay Sapphire each night and I like to try whatever new one he suggests). So far I've enjoyed his Cosmo, Paradise, and Green Apple martinis with more to come. Aqualina - very good food and service and we loved that it was complimentary (one night for all; 2 nights for suites). I wasn't thrilled with the Paella that I ordered since it was not rice-based but rather small kernels of corn (not bad, but not what I expected). And the crème brulee was beautifully presented (as was all of the food) but not the best. Art enjoyed all of his meal! There is a tasting menu that includes wine with each course that adds $50 to bill. We passed and ordered wine by the glass which was an excellent Sangiovese. Only problem with advanced reservations is that you choose the day and time before knowing the activities onboard that might conflict with your chosen time. After dinner we went to the Cabaret for the Hollywood Stars (singing). They were quite good but too much sea air, food and wine sent us to bed before the show was over ? We made great plans to visit several beaches starting early the next morning. Tuesday Awoke early and thought I heard 'rain'...convinced myself that it was a dream and went back to sleep. Work for good at 8:15 AM and the dream was still playing. It was a dreary, rainy, windy day with, at times, torrential rain. We have a rule to never let the weather hold us back and to not 'sweat' the things we can't control. So....off to breakfast and the Captain's announcement that there would be rain/clouds/showers all day! After breakfast in the dining room, we put on the raingear that we had tossed into our duffels at the last minute and grabbed the umbrella that we had taken from our car and the one in our cabin closet and off we went! We walked down Front Street trying to stay on the covered sidewalks as much as possible, wandering in and out of shops and, amazingly, buying nothing! Wandering on some side streets, we asked a local if there was an Internet Cafe nearby - thankfully, there is one just a block or two from the ship (if you're interested in finding it, cross the street in front of the ship, turn left and make a right on a street whose name begins with a B (sorry but I didn't write it down ? ). It's on the left hand side of the street up a hill. Nice place with helpful employees and complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate which we relished in our cold and soggy state. We bought a ½ hour Internet card for $4. Fast connections with an easy to access timer. We left the card with the minutes we didn't use in our cabin hoping one of the crew uses it. We sent a group message to friends and family and posted an early report on CC then went back to the ship soaking wet to mid-thigh! It took 2 days for our jeans to dry! We changed and went to Windows for lunch. We ate with 2 nice couples (one from NJ and one from Pearl River, NY). So far, the tally we've been keeping re: Journey is clearly in favor of larger ships - most people we've talked with had been on Zenith several times and would not have chosen a ship the size of Journey if given a choice. We, on the other hand, although booked on Zenith, love the size of Journey and took the opportunity today to book a Best of Italy cruise on Quest for fall 2008! For us, trips like those in the Med. are so port intensive that having no formal nights and open dining times works much better. And the itinerary is excellent - all Italian with one stop in Split, Croatia and starting and ending in the Rome port. We hope to plan a pre-cruise trip to Tuscany so we were happy campers. After lunch we went to Michael's to enjoy the comfy atmosphere while I wrote in my journal and DH read his book with a nap thrown in! Today we received a survey form from the Hotel Director, David Kelly and we noted the still broken messaging system, public bathroom near main dining room that needed attention, lack of canapEs and almost invisible butler. We made the point that if Azamara wishes to compete with Oceania, these details needed to be addressed quickly. Went for our nightly delicious Martinis by Marco in Looking Glass followed by dinner in Discoveries was good (food and service) but quite noisy. We asked for a table towards the back but we needed to be further back to avoid the noise in the front of the restaurant. Certainly didn't keep us from eating and enjoying dinner. We did not go to hear the piano player, Dan Hodge, as we had heard him lots of times in Cova Cafe. The NewlyWed-Not-So-NewlyWed Game was funny as always with the usual risquE comments by those married the longest. But a fun way to spend a ½ hour. Just relaxed the rest of the evening, chatting with new friends and wishing the Casino was open. The required closing while in port, when you're in port for the bulk of the cruise, left a lot of people with time on their hands in the evening. Wednesday I realized this morning that Alexandra Battery Beach Park was near St. George and not near Hamilton as I had written down. So, after breakfast, we headed to the Ferry Dock to take the ferry back to St. George. We asked for directions from a shop owner in King's Square and she told us she had never heard of the beach. I had gotten the information from a Cruise Critic who had collected beach glass there with his wife (see www.lavasurfer.com/info/bermuda.html for long, interesting and helpful information.) We spent a few minutes looking over two maps and were able to show the local lady where the beach was (she called it Battery Park and told us how to get there). Off we went on a mile long, hilly walk through a lovely residential area to find Cut Road. I was excited to stand near the cut since I had taken pictures of that very spot as we sailed through the cut. I climbed up into the Fort, took a bunch of pictures and we continued on our way down the road. We came upon a rather large fort-like Battery building with a small beach park a bit further down the road. Two women who I had told about the beach the night before had arrived before us (by bus) and told us that since low tide wasn't until the afternoon, there wasn't a whole lot of glass on the beach. There was also a bunch of large jelly fish washed up on the beach so we trod carefully. We collected enough off of the seawall to make me happy and walked to the nearest bus stop to take #11 back to Hamilton. On the way back, I surprised Art with a stop at the Swizzle Inn - highly recommended by lots of guidebooks and posters on Bermuda threads. We had the Rum Swizzles that everyone recommended with a Triple Dip snack plate. We were not impressed. The Swizzles were good but small and the snack just OK....it was quite noisy. We sat on the upper deck and lots of traffic including buses passed frequently. But we have pictures of us drinking there and the bus stop was directly across the street. I wanted to stop at Crystal Caves but we had spent a lot of time getting the glass and I was ready to go back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we took a ferry to the Dockyards. Really enough to do there for several hours, but we just walked around the Crafts Center and watched a few craftswomen showing their crafts. We didn't find anything of interest so we walked over to the Snorkel beach which looked shallow and safe for children. It was cool and windy - we waded into the water, brrrr! It was too late to go into the museum since the last entry was at 4 PM and we thought the $8 admission fee too high for the short time that we would have. So we took the # 7 bus back to Hamilton. It drove along South Road past all of the beaches and some nice hotels and beautiful views crossed the shortest draw bridge and we saw more residential areas. We decided to try to make our last day (we were sailing at 3 PM) a beach day! The bus stopped a short distance from the entrance to the security area to return to the ship. I must include that the Bermudian security people here were the nicest, funniest and most pleasant people I've ever seen in that kind of position. By the time we had left and returned to the ship several times, they were almost our friends - bantering with us and telling funny stories. We went back to the Looking Glass (of course) but I wasn't feeling well (the snack at Swizzle Inn??) so this time I had a Ginger Ale. About an hour later, we headed for our reservation at Prime C. It is a lovely place with very good food (my favorite, though, was Aqualina). Dominic was making his rounds again, stopped to talk to us and was his usual charming self. After dinner, we stopped at the Cova Cafe to listen to the music. Captain Bouzakis walked by and stopped to talk with us. He told us that he would be bringing the Quest online in September. We told him we hoped he was still there when we sailed the following September. I'd guess he will be used to do start ups of other new ships (just my intuition - nothing he said. We then meandered to the Cabaret to see the Comedian/Magician who we really enjoyed. We had seen him (or someone with a similar act) on a previous cruise. He had some very funny interactions with members of the audience. The White Night festivities were later that night but we chose not to participate - masquerade type parties are not our thing. There was a street festival on Front Street and we listened to marching bands and laughter for awhile and then went to bed in hopes of an early start the next day. We had heard that if we got to Horseshoe Bay by 9 AM, the beach would be relatively empty for several hours..... Thursday Last day in Bermuda, so we followed our plan and got up at 6:30, had breakfast at the buffet and hopped a #11 bus to the bus station changing to the #7 bus to Horseshoe Bay. On the way we realized that we had just used expired bus passes. We hadn't used the pass in yesterday's rainy weather and hadn't realized that the 3 days were consecutive. At least we weren't found out and didn't have to spend time in a Bermuda jail?. Only a 10-15 min ride took us to the path down to the beach. There were very few people there as we'd been told. We rented beach chairs ($10 per chair with a $5 returnable deposit) and set them up in the beautiful cove on the right side of the beach that reminded us of Virgin Gordo. I then walked the length of the horseshoe shaped beach - white sand with some red flecks giving the sand a slightly pink tinge. The day was perfect, sunny with puffy white clouds, warm air temperatures but cold water temperature. We spent several hours enjoying the beach, watching the kids play in the shallow water, chatting with others arriving from the Journey and relaxing in the sun on our final day in Bermuda. We waded in the water in the cove - not as cold as in the open ocean - so that we could say that we had been in the water at least once. We packed up to head back to the ship. We had planned to climb back up the hill to get the bus but met a couple going back to Journey and shared a taxi back ($17). We said our final good-byes to our port security friends, dropped our things in the cabin and went to lunch and then started packing. Packing is a chore that I don't like especially when it signals the end of a wonderful vacation. But getting most of it done left me with time to enjoy the last afternoon on board, be on deck for sail away with Kelly and Lauren, and to take final pictures of Hamilton from the top deck. I got back to the cabin in time to watch the pilot boat retrieve the pilot from Journey and to enjoy a glass of wine on our balcony. We went to the Captain's Club party at 6:30 in the Cabaret. We asked for Martinis when the waitress came around to offer wine/champagne/Mai Tais. She was happy to oblige and so we enjoyed our last Martinis of the trip. A couple we met at the Captain's table got the award for the most Celebrity cruises (21) - we were frequently reminded that X and Azamara were part of the same brand. I wonder if this will change as cruisers rack up numbers of Azamara cruises. We had dinner in Discoveries served by our favorite waiter in a quiet area in the back of the dining room. Lobster tails were on the menu tonight - mine was good; Art's was excellent. I found that my appetite was decreasing from too much overindulgence on previous days. We had planned to go to the evening show, but, once again, we were tired from the beach outing and crashed early. Wondered if we're getting old or just relaxed - decided it must be relaxation?. Friday and Saturday Whew...the bitter sweet end of every vacation is upon us...looking forward to picking up our little schnauzer and seeing the family, but sad to leave our relaxing and beautiful Sky Suite and ending our vacation. We decided to be 'served' all day today and asked for and got our favorite waiter and good table locations each time. We had ordered OJ and coffee early so we really had 2 breakfast...but even oatmeal tastes good when it's served with a smile. After breakfast we went to the pool deck, DH in the shade and me in the sun. We read and relaxed until 11 AM when we went to the Martini Bar for the complementary Chardonnay blending seminar for Captain's Club members. The tables were nicely set up with multiple glasses, napkins, etc. Justin, 3 Sommeliers and a Maitre D' and the two of us. After about 10 minutes, when no one else had joined us, Justin gave us the choice of a 'one on one' seminar or a bottle of wine with dinner. We chose the wine and thanked the group. As we were leaving, Justin pointed out that one of the Sommeliers was from Australia. He knew that we are sailing on Mercury in Feb from Sydney and looking forward to a winery tour while there. We asked the Aussie if he could recommend a wine tour and chatted with him for a few minutes. After a light lunch, we went to the Chef's Culinary class which was terrific. The Exec Chef and Dominic had an entertaining repartee going between them; they were very funny. Audience members asked questions and the Chef introduced members of his staff such as the Pastry Chef and Senior Asst Chefs. He demonstrated how to sear and prepare a Filet Mignon, Polenta, veggies and sauce. Then everyone got to sample the food. We really enjoyed this and stayed afterwards to tell them so. Then the final Battle of the Sexes; a large crowd showed us this time with raucous participation from the younger members who had just completed a funfilled karaoke session. Misty was in charge again and kept the momentum going...ended with a tie and a Bonus round with the question being answered correctly by a retired school teacher - a WOMAN! Guess we showed them - by gender and age!! It was a lot of fun and I have a certificate to prove that I get the last word for a year! I spent most of the rest of the afternoon finishing up our packing and leaving out our travel clothes for the AM. We then finished the last of the two bottles of wine we had brought onboard with us and dressed for our last pre-dinner drinks in the Looking Glass. We were supposed to meet fellow cruisers there and have dinner with them, but, unfortunately we didn't have their last names or cabin number, so when they didn't show, we couldn't reach them to see if we had the wrong time. So...we laughed it off, finished our martinis, said good-bye to Mario and Maria (the other bartender/waitress in the Looking Glass) and went to dinner. We stopped for music at Cova and then found that we had a long wait for dinner...which wasn't bad since I wasn't at all hungry. We bumped into the honeymoon couple with whom we had breakfast one morning and offered them one of our 2 bottles of champagne (one in the room when we arrived and the other sent by the CD) since they were driving and we couldn't carry bottles onboard and had no room in our luggage. It was fun to give them a bottle with a Celebrity Label as a momento of their honeymoon cruise. Didn't eat much for dinner...after ordering the Grilled Salmon that is on the menu every night. It was cooked exactly as I liked it, too. After dinner, we wandered around the ship visiting some of our favorite spots and then went back to the cabin and put our luggage tags on and the bags in the hall. Saturday AM Somehow I awoke spontaneously at 5:30 AM -I went out on the balcony just as we passed under the Veranzano Bridge. The sky was pale pink and there was a light mist over the city...breathtaking! I grabbed my camera and woke Art to see the amazing scene. I stayed on the balcony until we were almost at the dock taking some lovely sunrise pictures and enjoying see the Statue of Liberty welcoming us back against a blurred skyline! We dressed and went to breakfast in Discoveries...taking the last bottle of champagne with us to give to someone who was driving home. The majority of our fellow cruisers seemed to be from NJ, PA and NY so a lot of folks drove or had cars drop them at the port. We sat with 2 couples from NJ and they were happy to take our little gift home. Had our final meal with our trusty waiter, retrieved our carry-ons and went to hang out in the Cova Cafe until our 'color' was called. We met our honeymoon couple who thanked us for leaving the champagne outside their cabin door. Disembarkation was a snap...short wait, picked up luggage, short bus ride, quick customs' check and a walk dragging our luggage to the taxi area. We were given a town car for the same price as a taxi and in 15 minutes we were heading to the check-in point for our flight. We had several hours until our flight so were in no hurry...and, of course, getting through security took no time at all ?. Our flight was delayed by 45 minutes but was uneventful. Our shared sandwich of airport food was not what we had come to expect! We spent the waiting time talking about our favorite times on the trip and looking forward to our next cruise in Feb. 2008. In summary,it was a very good cruise for us; not perfect or the deluxe trip we had anticipated, but fine. We look forward to sailing Azamara in the future when all of the kinks are ironed out. The ship was beautiful; we enjoyed Bermuda and we met many very nice people. The people we meet (crew and passengers) always influence our travels more than anything else and they were wonderful! Read Less
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