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17 Azamara New York (Manhattan) Cruise Reviews

I just enjoy getting away on my own from time to time and cruising is my favorite way to escape. It is always more fun to have my travel buddies with me but it’s not always possible and cruising is a way to make new friends or hang out ... Read More
I just enjoy getting away on my own from time to time and cruising is my favorite way to escape. It is always more fun to have my travel buddies with me but it’s not always possible and cruising is a way to make new friends or hang out alone, if you prefer. For some reason, “all in the same boat” seems to be the perfect motto for single travelers and the reason to travel that way. Azamara ships are the perfect size for me. Small enough to navigate easily, super friendly staff and management and this last trip, GREAT entertainment! I know you can get bigger shows on bigger ships (with bigger audiences) but this group were out of New York and outstanding! There was a particular young singer/dancer that I believe will be Broadway bound name Michael Bradley. Not only can he perform, he helped Marcio with our iPad classes. Those were so much fun and I learned a LOT! I hope they have them on all their cruises in the future. Of course, the ship is ready for a “face lift” and having been on the Persuit this summer after its rehab, it’s going to be a big improvement. Yes, the showers are still small and will be after the renovation but some big men showered in the spa shower...just a hint. The “White NIght” was, as always, a highlight of any Azamara cruise. Everyone had a grand time and our cruise director who is also outstanding kept everyone on their feet.Eric deGray is one HUGE talent! The Chef’s table dinner with another special evening..additional, naturally. All in all, I believe I got my moneys worth and will certainly be back with Azamara soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We were cruising across the Atlantic between Bermuda and Portugal when we decided to get married. We had thought about it before but didn't make plans to get married at sea. When we talked of our project to Tiago, the concierge, he ... Read More
We were cruising across the Atlantic between Bermuda and Portugal when we decided to get married. We had thought about it before but didn't make plans to get married at sea. When we talked of our project to Tiago, the concierge, he told us that people generally don't get married on cruise ships; they just renew their vows. Furthurmore, people generally make their request and the arrangements before the beginning of the cruise not during. But Tiago said that he would make his best to accomodate us. Not only was Azamara able to arrange everything for our wedding with only a few days notice but it was done in the most amazing way that went beyond our expectations. The ceremony was performed by the captain in a private room, we had flowers that Tiago ordered from a flower shop in the Azores, a pianist, a wonderful cake, champagne and a dinner in one of the specialized restaurants. Our guest, about ten friends that we had made during the cruise, were well looked after. While all of that was done in a very professional way, it was also done very seriously and with great respect in a warm and friendly atmosphere. It couldn't have been any better. We'd also like to thank Eric, the director, who directed the ceremony and made everybody feel, even the groom, relaxed and comfortable, and, of course, Captain Sanguineti who performed the wedding in a way that we'll never forget. Thank you Azamara! Maria Nguyen and Pierre Bujold, Ottawa, Canada Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and ... Read More
We wanted to sail again on a small ship. Since this cruise was NY to NY it made sense. This was the best cruise we have been on. Every thing was excellent. The ship, the food, the shows and the service. The Captain was very visible and personable. The Cruise Director Eric was a hoot and very talented. Food in the main dining room and the best with at least a dozen selections every night. Food in the Steak House and Italian rest. was excellent with terrific service. They could not do more for you. the shows were great, Singers and dancers were great. Eric CD had a great voice. The Amazing Night aboard the Yorktown was the tops and something we never experienced before. The White Night in Bermuda was also a one of a kind. Everyone of the Staff and crew were extremely friendly and always said hello and how are you. Even the passengers were great. Having a Bridge Director pushed it over the top. 53% of the passengers were past Azamara guests. We became one as we booked another Amazing Cruise on board. It would be great to see more Azamara cruise out of NY. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Just completed an 11 night cruise on Azamara Club Cruises Journey from New York to Rouen France. It was a very enjoyable transatlantic crossing where I met many very nice people, both passengers and staff. It was my first time with ... Read More
Just completed an 11 night cruise on Azamara Club Cruises Journey from New York to Rouen France. It was a very enjoyable transatlantic crossing where I met many very nice people, both passengers and staff. It was my first time with Azamara. Ship: Journey is a very nice ship that provides an intimate environment for cruising. When I'm on a ship, I am there to enjoy the sea so loved many of the rooms that gave nice views, especially the sunset Bar, the Looking Glass Lounge, and Discoveries Dining Room with windows in three directions. I hadn't been on a small ship before and certainly enjoyed the ease of getting around and the nice flow. The pool area is very nice and sheltered from the wind. We had great weather for a crossing and I managed to spend many hours outside, in the sun deck on deck 11. It was very quiet which was perfect for getting some sun and reading. I enjoy exercising daily so took advantage of the running track as well as the fitness center. The running track is short so it's really best suited for walking. The ship doesn't have a promenade deck which was unfortunate. The fitness center is very nice with great views of the ocean. I never found it crowded. The ship was full but only felt crowded to me at breakfast and lunch in the Windows cafe, but never enough to cause any kind of waiting. The staff did a great job of assisting people with food, or helping them find a table. We had some rough weather for a day. The ship performed well but it did have more movement than I expected on the smooth days. I guess that comes with a smaller ship. But thanks to the Captain and crew who took a longer, and more expensive route, to avoid the bad weather. It was greatly appreciated! Stateroom. I had a cabin with a balcony, midships on deck 6. The room was small but comfortable with a decent TV on the wall. The bathroom was quite small and a bit dated but worked out fine. The bed was a little uncomfortable, probably time to replace it. The bed linens were fantastic which made it more comfortable. The room was well taken care of the steward and his team who kept the room stocked with bottled water, ice and soft drinks. The balcony was nice and with the weather I was able to sit out several times on the trip. One word about this room: It is above the piano that is played in the Mosaic Lounge through the day and in the evening. It's not loud but the speakers are in the ceiling so you will hear it. If you go to bed early, as I tried to one or two nights, it could keep you awake. My mistake, I knew better and should have booked a room with staterooms above and below. Food: Excellent! I loved every meal I had. Ate all but one dinner in Discoveries. It was so good I didn't have a need to go elsewhere. I found the menu varied and still, once I asked for a change to the pasta dish and they did it no questions asked. Food was always served hot which some larger ships don't seem able to do. It also helps to have wine included with lunch and dinner. I found the wines to be better than expected. They change them daily keeping it interesting. I always had their wine with dinner. Also ate one meal in Prime C. It too was very good and I'm glad I tried it. Try the Stilton Bread souffle as a side dish: wow! The casual atmosphere for dining was fine, though I do like to dress up for dinner from time to time. And the discoveries restaurant has a more formal feel to me with the wood walls, it would have been nice to be formal for a night. Most people I talked to greatly preferred the casual dress code. Bars: Enjoyed the Sunset bar outside and the Discoveries lounge. Nice location and nicer staff. Activities: Lots to do, but not really to my liking. I found there were a lot of games, trivia etc., which I don't play. In fact, I found they would play these games, or have events in all the rooms, making it difficult to find a quiet place, say in the afternoon, to sit and read. This was one of the negatives for me. Eg. I would have a wonderful spot in the Looking Glass lounge reading and watching for dolphins only to have games or talks take place. There were even talks/meetings in the library from time to time. I did like Tony the cruise director. He was friendly and very approachable. He hosted a dinner for solo travelers which I attended and had a great time. It was nice of him and Azamara to do that. Entertainment: I really liked the comedian and magician. Some of the shows were average but I think that's what you get on cruise ships. I found the ship musicians average at best. Lectures: didn't find the topics interesting but I did attend some, though I didn't enjoy them very much. Passengers: on this cruise they were definitely a well-traveled, friendly crowd. I met many nice people and it truly makes a difference when you enjoy the people you are on board with for 10 days! Staff: Fantastic. Professional but also approachable. I do think they enjoy what they do for the most part. In summary: the big pluses for me with Azamara are: - Extras that are included: wine with meals, specialty coffees, water etc. - Food was excellent - Wonderful service everywhere, all the time. - Seems to attract friendly, well traveled, adult passengers. - Azamara really listens to passengers. I met people that had asked for some changes/additions to the daily program and they were made. Only negatives for me: - Noise in my stateroom from the Mosaic musicians (I should have known better, my fault on that) - Enrichment and music on board could be better - Too many activities crowding into rooms that would otherwise be great to sit and read. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We are grreat fans of TA cruises and, having attained Captain's Club top level on Celebrity, this was a natural for us. Check-in in N.Y.C. was an absolute breeze, we arrived at the pier, extremely conveniently located in mid-town ... Read More
We are grreat fans of TA cruises and, having attained Captain's Club top level on Celebrity, this was a natural for us. Check-in in N.Y.C. was an absolute breeze, we arrived at the pier, extremely conveniently located in mid-town Manhattan around 3:30, found noone ahead of us in line, and were aboard within ten minutes and were directed to the Windows Cafe, glass of Champagne in hand, for a late lunch. By the time we went to our cabin our luggage was waiting for us. Our cabin, 8040, although designated a suite, was not really that, as sleeping and living areas were not separated. But it was wider, by three feet or so, than a standard cabin, and the extra room made it much eas ier for the two of us to move around simultaneously. The balcony was also that much longer, which provided room for a lounger, two chairs and a table; unfortunately the weather was never quite mild enough for us to sit outside. The bathroom was of adequate size, had both a tub and a shower, and more than sufficiennt storage space. Storage space in the cabin was ample, our three suitcases all fitted under the bed. Our two cabin attendants were oustanding, giving the room thorough cleanings twice a day. After the first day they had learned our movements so that they were never in the way when we wanted to use the room. Our butler, Sanjiv, was absolutely first rate. He made our reservations in the specialty restaurants for us, brought us breakfast in the cabin on the minute on the days we had it there, and served it with considerable grace, kept our refrigerator stocked with the items we requested on the first day, and always had a snack waiting for us in the late afternoon when we'd return to the cabin. The food: We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room twice, found the choice of dished adequate, the food quite good but certainly nothing to rave about. The breakfasts there offered a wide choice but took rather too long to serve, so that we mostly breakfasted in the Windows cafe which offered a similar choice of dishes along with waiters to carry older passengers' (a category that included me) plates to their tables. The only problem was that, at peak hours (at lunch as well), there weren't enough tables to go around. Not really a problem as, without exception, seated guests were only too happy to share their tables when we asked if we might join them. The lunch buffet at Windows was hit and misss. The cold cuts were always inadequate, the hot dishes were mostly good, but not always, the offerings of the carvery varied in quality, the ice cream was very good indeed. We had the themed dinners at windows on two evenings, when the tables are covered with white linen. The Indian evevning was a big success, the French not so much. The pool lunches, on the occasions when we craved a simpler fare, were very good, with excellent hamburgers, fries and a choice of beef, lamb and chicken kebabs and nice, crisp fries. But by far the best food was to be had in the specialty restaurants where, as suite pessengers, we could eat as often as we liked at no additional charge. Prime C was excellent, with a superb fillet of beef, a lovely saddle of lamb and, since perfection is hard to achieve, a beautiful veal chop which was, however, a bit stringy and certainly badly oversalted. I can offer nothing but raves about Aqualina. Particularly memorable were two different pate de foie gras versions as starters, a splendid osso bucco and a marvelously tender broiled lobster. As for the free house wines (one had a choice of a different red or white each day both at lunch and at dinner at all the venues) they went from barely acceptable to pretty good. (Why, by the way, free wine and not free beer? And I would add that the same wines served in the bars at non-meal times were going for truly ridiculous prices, $11 for a glass of garden variety Pinot Grigio?)) In the specialty restaurants we chose to order from the wine list, it was possible to find good reds and whites for around $30, although only a few. I should mention that we were presented with four half bottles of assorted spirits (which we chose to exchange for four half bottles of a very good Scotch) in our suite, along with two bottles of bubbly and a bottle of wine. We were never in imminent danger of dying of thirst. The free specialty coffees and pastries, available at Mosaics Cafe at all hours, were excellent as well. As our Celebrity Elite Status translated into Le Club Voyage membership we enjoyed a number of additional percs. These included a more than generous free internet allotment a bag of laundry done free and one garment dry cleaned free. Additionally, there were four cocktail hours fo club members, with any drinks you wanted offered free a volonte, and two evenings of "happy hours" with drinks available at half price. The quality of the service throughout was extremely friendly and genuinely helpful. The one exception was a server who refused to honor our Club status at one of the happy hours and was overbearing and deliberately unhelpful in addition. After I reported the incident to the Customer Relations desk I was sought out by no less than three ship's officers who offered their profuse apologies and assured me that they would make it their personal responsibility to see to it that such an incident would not happen again. Apart from this very minor occurrence we had only the most pleasant of interchanges with the personnel aboard and found all the ship's officers, from the Captain on down, to be most friendly and approachable. On the one day that there were rough seas the captain changed course and reduced speed to minimize the discomfort caused to his passengers. The down side of this was that this cost him several hours and that he consequently missed the tide at Honfleur, causing the excursions from Rouen to be scrubbed, but from all I heard, most people were quite happy having been spared a day of utter misery, and from our perspective, it was a real bonus to be able to make the beautiful passage up the Seine in daylight rather than in the night. The quality of the entertainment, especially considering the size of the vessel, was excellent throughout. On the first evening a string quartet from the Julliard Music School, performed and this proved to be a special treat. Eliot Finkel was marvelous, both in his incarnation as presiding musician of the ship's orchestra and in his two classical piano recitals, both of which were truly delightful. How heartening that a cruise line can make the assumption that its guests are not necessarily musical illiterates, to be fobbed off with only the most glaring of schmaltz.The dance company proved to be very good indeed, we much enjoyed that evening. Nancy greatly enjoyed the dance lessons offered most days. Several passengers put together a series of question and answer sessions for the benefit of passengers not feeling entirely comfortable in the use of the French language once ashore and I had the impression that these were well received--they were certainly well attended. Azamara graciously not merely assigned a daily time in the observation lounge for this purpose but also publicized the sessions in the daily newspaper. Even though there were no port stops and that consequently this was not cruising in the generally understood meaning of the word, we were both delighted with our experience and enjoyed it as an extremely pleasant Atlantic crossing. In our opinion Azamara has come up with a most useful and pleasing formula. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Embarkation We arrived by cab from JFK at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and were on the ship within 10 minutes. It went very smoothly with the baggage handlers taking our luggage in front of the terminal, no line at security, and we ... Read More
Embarkation We arrived by cab from JFK at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and were on the ship within 10 minutes. It went very smoothly with the baggage handlers taking our luggage in front of the terminal, no line at security, and we were at the ship's entrance. The welcome by staff was less than what I had expected based on others' reviews, but perhaps they had had a long day. They seemed more interested in talking to one another than dealing with us. The Ship She is a beautiful ship. The public spaces are tasteful and comfortable. The library is very attractive. The Looking Glass bar was one of our favorite spots on board. The chaises lounges by the pool and looking to the sea were covered with lots of padding and blankets. The cafe was also quite nice, although located in a busy spot between the shops and the main staircase to the purser's desk. We loved the ability to get lattes and espressos at any time for no charge. Cabin The cabin was excellent, with more storage space than we actually used. Not having to pack formal clothes helped! A flat-screen TV was a welcome sight after the clunky old TV on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 in 2010. The balcony was lovely and there were enough electrical outlets for our gadgets. We found it well designed. The Ports Azamara's practice of having the ship serve as the hotel the first night, with departure late on the following day is an excellent idea. We were able to enjoy company of friends in New York the evening we arrived and for most of the next day. Once arriving in Rouen, where once again the ship serves as a hotel the last night. It was nice to come home to after dinner and we had none of the usual horrible disembarkation experience we've had with other lines. Passengers The passengers trended older, mostly American with a few Europeans and a few more Canadians, but it was a varied group politically, if not ethnically/racially as much. A good number of passengers had been to university. With a maximum of 695 passengers, on this trip the Journey carried 635. Food and Wine I live in the "foodie" San Francisco Bay Area and I'd say that the food was very good. The wines included with the fare were absolutely acceptable and well chosen. The main dining room is classic and comfortable. There was a problem getting a table one evening at 8 pm and the adjacent bar was packed, so it seemed a little disorganized, but it was only that one time. Otherwise, you almost never had to wait for a table. The buffet area was almost always a challenge for finding seating. Had the weather not been chilly, the open air tables would have been fine, but given the wind and the temperature, sitting outside wasn't very comfortable so everyone tried to squeeze inside. The food in the buffet was surprisingly good. Due to Azamara's having raised the price for eating in Aqualina and Prime C, we didn't feel any incentive to dine outside the main dining room or at the buffet. We received a complimentary visit to Aqualina before the end of the crossing and we felt confirmed in our judgment about paying extra. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't justify the extra cost in our opinion. We aren't big steak eaters, so Prime C was less of a draw. Challenges of a Small Ship On such a small ship, the problems I observed were 1) finding places to sit in the informal buffet at lunch and 2) the problem posed to readers by the takeover of all (and I mean all) public spaces by amplified trivia contests. If you like reading books, which we do, especially on a crossing, we were often forced either to go to our room or to go to the Library; and frankly, some folks even mistook the library for a place to have loud conversations. That remains my biggest complaint. The fact that a bunch of mature adults can only entertain themselves with trivia for 11 days is mind-boggling to me. Can't Azamara encourage other types of less intrusive entertainment or at least not use microphones, and limit the use of public spaces for that purpose? It seems like one of those cheap choices for the company, probably dreamed up in the accounting department. Staff I did not have the experience others have reported of staff being especially welcoming and enthusiastic. We had one very good server in the restaurant from ?le Maurice. No one ever remembered our names or seemed particularly welcoming otherwise; not unfriendly at all, just not going out of their way to make us feel welcome in the way others have reported. I would make one exception: our cabin staff was very warm and friendly. It probably helps that both were Brazilian! Entertainment Apart from the issue I've already addressed regarding amplified trivia games, the entertainment staff were quite good. One evening there was a jazz concert in the cafe that I found extraordinarily good. The shows were fine--not fantastic--but fine. There was a passenger choir that I really enjoyed (and tried to become part of, but oh, my voice...). The company had done no programming that was specific to Rouen, Paris, or France. A lot of passengers were taking their first--and perhaps only--trip to Paris (given their age) and had booked four-day package tours. Unfortunately, we were arriving on a holiday weekend when many things are closed and one of the four days was Monday when many museums are closed. On top of that, it had been raining quite a bit. We proposed to do a little session on the French language that turned into a 150-person class on pronunciation, phrases, customs, stereotypes, typical misunderstandings, practical considerations given the holiday and the weather, and a bit about the history of the city. We called it a "people's class" and we just asked what folks wanted and roped a couple of Francophone passengers into the mix to help. We did five classes in all. A couple of kind travel agents on board told the cruise director that we should be compensated (and it was work). When asked what I would like, I asked for free Internet. That request was turned down a couple of days later. The CD reported that it wasn't in his authority and that the accountants in Miami had emailed a negative response. He was able to provide two $25 meals at Aqualina. In the end, he was also able to provide me with one days' worth of Internet after a bit of a hassle. I don't know the inside and outside of this issue with the Internet, but it was a modest request and I am still shocked at the company's unwillingness to do it. Captain Due to a rather large storm in the North Atlantic, the captain chose to navigate in a straight line from NYC to the NW tip of Spain, then make a sharp left turn at the Bay of Biscay up to the Channel and on to the Seine River. As he said when he told us, "Our first duty is the safety of our passengers, and frankly, the safety of the ship as well." I respect that kind of thinking! We hit a few large swells on the way and a couple of people fell, but no serious damage was done. The ship performed amazingly well I thought, for her size. His decision was not popular with many people because it meant that instead of arriving in Rouen around 10 am, we arrived just after 6 pm, so tours people had planned to Giverny or around Rouen were cancelled. I felt it was a shame but it still allowed us an evening in Rouen. We went to a medieval inn for dinner with another couple of passengers where Julia Child ate her first sole meunière, so we were content. Disembarkation Disembarkation (and embarkation) was much, much better than our last experience on Cunard's Queen Victoria at Los Angles during the 2011 Christmas holidays. Although we had to stand in line for a little while due to the narrow landing staircase, it wasn't too difficult. Captain and crew lined up to thank us and to say goodbye. Buses for those with packages were available. It was raining quite a bit. Luggage was inside a tent and cabs pulled up fairly regularly to pick up those headed for the train station. We noted that because many people didn't speak French and the cabbies didn't speak English, many folks remained standing in the rain in confusion. I would recommend to Azamara that they station a French- speaking staff person to handle instructions to the cabbies for the passengers, like any boutique hotel would do. It would have been a considerate touch. Since we speak French, we just popped on in the cab and went on our way but I felt bad for so many other passengers who weren't being helped. Other The captain said this NYC to Rouen trip was a one-off due to the ship's having been chartered for a trip out of Rouen. That's a real shame. Currently, virtually everyone goes to Spain, Britain, or Holland. For those of us who travel often to France and would prefer to do so by ship, it's frustrating. I hope Azamara or someone will do a regular non-stop to France at some point. We'd be their most regular passengers! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was the Journey's first proper cruise after spending the summer in ferry and floating hotel mode on the Bermuda run. The itinerary was the major attraction, Bermuda followed by repositioning to the Caribbean and ending in Miami. ... Read More
This was the Journey's first proper cruise after spending the summer in ferry and floating hotel mode on the Bermuda run. The itinerary was the major attraction, Bermuda followed by repositioning to the Caribbean and ending in Miami. Having sailed six times before with Celebrity we felt very comfortable with the booking. This cruise was booked as the Celebrity Journey but we were later advised that it had become Azamara. The major change was that it was now open seating with no set evening dress code and the cruise experience was to be at a much higher level than Celebrity. A week before sailing we received notice that we would no longer visit the Turks and Caicos, this was a complete loss because all that changed was departing Bermuda at 8:30am rather that 4:30pm the previous day. No kind of compensation was offered. Boarding was trouble free and very fast. The initial impression on boarding was that the ship had a gentleman's club atmosphere, it didn't last. Once a couple of days had been spent on board the rough edges became very apparent in most ship areas, including the staterooms. If Azamara spent $17.5 million on this ship they must have fitted gold propellers because there is not too much sign of it above the water line. During the cruise the window catches round the pool area were faulty so they riveted them permanently closed allowing no air to circulate, very uncomfortable when the temperature rises. Maintenance crews were still on board doing renovation work after several months on the Bermuda run. There is still a great amount of work that should be done and it is not acceptable while passengers are on board. We went to our cabin, reasonable condition but too small to be the foundation of a luxury cruise experience. Because we travel with friends and have never seen a balcony that seats more than two we only book an outside cabin. The lack of attention to detail was apparent with badly finished carpeting and some wood trim missing. We met our 'butler', if this farce is to continue they could at least get them tuxedos that fit. This addition has replaced the standard cabin attendant and an assistant to a butler and cabin attendant, absolutely no gain but a doubling of gratuities. Our cabin staff had been given cabins spread over both sides of the ship, this meant we could never find him. Why not give him a continuous block of cabins so he could be a more visible presence. Get rid of the butlers, we failed to find a single passenger who found any value whatsoever in this, so called, luxury feature. When the first drink was served it was seen that, from the first day of this cruise, they increased the service charge from 15% to 18%. No notice had been given of this and many drinks price lists still showed the 15%. With the already very high drinks prices this did nothing to encourage bar and wine sales. We had arranged to dine late each night with the same waiting staff, we always like to see the same waiters during a cruise. The main problem we found with the open seating was that service was slow, trying to serve all courses at the same time throughout the dining room, especially on port days when the early diners tended to go later. Our personal preference is for fixed sittings. We missed the evening dress code, it's rare to have an opportunity to dress up at home and it makes a cruise special. Even the more relaxed dress code was not enforced with jeans, tee-shirts and shorts being seen in the dining room in the evening, another failure if trying to create the 'luxury' image. Dinner during the first week at Discoveries was very good and well presented. The first seven menus had been well tried and tested during the seven day Bermuda run. Once day eight came things changed. The menus were overcomplicated with some rather strange combinations being presented. We were approached each night by our assistant head waiter for comments, this passenger input must have done some good because the last two nights were back to the first week standard. These new menus should have been fully tested before being presented to guests. Windows buffet was good quality with adequate choices but became very congested and great difficulty finding a table. The buffet layout could be modified to gain a more structured flow and help stop people wandering around aimlessly and making it difficult to move through the serving area. A couple of times we gave up and went to Discoveries for breakfast or lunch. During the first week we went to Aqualina and had the first poorer quality meal of the cruise. It was very quiet and service slow. I ordered Osso Bucco, it bore no resemblance to what was expected with an over-rich collection of chopped vegetables in a very thick, sticky sauce and no rice. If you use a classic dish name it should use a classic recipe. Coincidentally, the next evening it was on the main dining menu, I had it again and it was very good. The experience of Aqualina meant that we did not try Prime C which we had intended to do before sailing. The speciality restaurants were very underused, their waiting staff showed up in Discoveries each night helping out because it was so busy. These venues must be filled every night to reduce the pressure on the Discoveries main dining, which does not have enough capacity, if the open seating policy is to continue. Very few passengers could see any value in paying a surcharge when the main dining is good, a no cost alternate restaurant may be the only way it can work. These restaurants should also be used to cut down the numbers in Windows at lunch time. In all dining locations the staff were excellent. There is a severe lack of activities on board and only one lounge where there could be any dancing. This ship is destined for distant waters and long days at sea, this will be a problem. Because there are no set time dining room sittings, if two shows were planned in the theatre it was common for both times to be unsuitable. The theatre is not tiered and therefor if you are not in the front row of seats your view will be obscured. The few organized late evening events seemed to have been designed more for the entertainment of cruise staff than the passengers. In common with all previous Celebrity cruises the weakest link was guest relations. The job applicants who fail to make the grade in all other positions must be given guest relations. No attempt was made to give guests any port information. On Celebrity cruises a port information sheet was always provided with maps and details about taxis, buses, beach and shopping recommendations etc. On this cruise - nothing, maybe trying to encourage bookings on their own very expensive trips. There is a lot of work needing to be done to bring Azamara up to Celebrity standards and I do not think it is possible to aim any higher with this ship. When we were in Santa Marta, Colombia we were berthed next to the Quest and were able to visit. This ship is identical to the Journey and, after talking to a few passengers, looking at similar problems. If Azamara was a passenger's first experience of Celebrity and they have been told, by Celebrity, this was the luxury end of the brand I doubt if they would risk the 'lower' standards of a Celebrity ship. Would we cruise Azamara again, the right itinerary at a give-away price, maybe. Would we recommend them to anyone, definitely not, friends are hard to find! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
First off, if you are not older than 60 yrs of age this is not the boat for you. They were maybe 10 couples younger than 60.We got shhhh'd everywhere for laughing and having a good time. We embarked out of Newyork harbor on 9/29/07. ... Read More
First off, if you are not older than 60 yrs of age this is not the boat for you. They were maybe 10 couples younger than 60.We got shhhh'd everywhere for laughing and having a good time. We embarked out of Newyork harbor on 9/29/07. Extremely smooth getting on board. When entering the ship you were greeted with champagne and orange juice. We stayed in a Sky Suite. Very roomy with plenty of closet space. The bathroom was pretty big however the tub was smaller than I expected.The balcony could have had nicer chairs, too hard. We did find it hard to get in touch with our butler. Many times the phone just rang. Which led me to believe he had too many rooms to deal with. The room however was very clean at all times. The food was very good both at the buffet and regular diningroom. We only ate at one specialty restaurant. Prime C was excellent. However I do not like open dining. The personal service is lacking and I always enjoyed getting to know all of the wait servers at the old style of dining. We did get to know some staff, however it took longer to develop that. I also find it insulting having to pay a cover charge for the specialty restaurants. I feel you should not have to pay any extra for a product and service that should already be in place through out the boat. Plus it was hard to make a reservation. No one answered the phone or the head waiter was unavailable and he was the only one who could take a reservation. I tried to get help from our butler but as I said before we could not find him. This cruise was sold to me as a luxury higher end cruise with all the upgrades. However I Found dead flowers through out this boat. VERY DEAD flowers. Pictures of Chandeliers on the walls are not my idea of art. They looked like they were bought at a garage sale. The beautiful china closets by the Martini Bar did not have real items in them but real tacky pictures of plates and vases.CHEAP!!!!! and very tacky. The pool deck was redone and the lounge chairs were wonderful, however the pool and it's tile looked older than the boat. They was hardly any music pool side and when there was it was only on one side and too low for anyone else to hear. When asked to make the music louder people complained. It was like sitting all the old aunts and uncles by the DJ at a wedding. Nothing but complaining. Keep in mind I was there for my 20th wedding anniversary and I am not a youngster. The entertainment was the worst. Other than the comedian which I might add no one over 60 laughed at, it was lacking and really bad. The band had no energy and the members looked bored. Not to mention the audience seemed to rather watch them like a tv news program than dance. I was not impressed with this 35 million dollar upgrade. The service needs work and the butler service did not live up to what was expected. When I asked for a Azamara bag I received a bag that clearly had been used. (sand and a receipt inside ) I did use the spa twice and was pleased with treatments. However I left my gold chain on the sink and in less than minute it was hidden behind a fixture. If I had not immediately come back it would have been taken. Clearly someone moved it out of sight waiting for me to leave. The only people there were Myself and the girl who changed the towels. I was not pleased at all. Though I did enjoy our trip. We met a great couple that we had a lot of fun with. Without them we would have been bored to death. I will not cruise Azamara ever again. I hope this is not the standard for this cruiseline and it's parent company. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Here goes with my stream of consciousness review, and it may be ridiculously long and chock-full of positives and negatives. I call 'em like I see 'em. Agree or disagree at your leisure. When I read reviews of a ship, before I ... Read More
Here goes with my stream of consciousness review, and it may be ridiculously long and chock-full of positives and negatives. I call 'em like I see 'em. Agree or disagree at your leisure. When I read reviews of a ship, before I sail her, I always prefer the cheerleading mega-positive reviews. But this isn't that. And, obviously, these are just my experiences. Your experiences may/will be completely different. Embarkation stress (this obviously isn't the norm, but it happened to us). Had air with Azamara and arrived in Newark at 1:20 - granted, a bit later than ideal, but Azamara had approved the flight so we didn't think there'd be any problem. As soon as we arrived, on time, and were waiting for luggage, the guy shows up with the "Celebrity" card (they might want to put Azamara on the card too, as I'm not sure everyone knows Azamara is owned by Celebrity). So it's like quarter til two, got the luggage, good to go. The guy says they're waiting for two more people. Fine. We wait, and wait and wait. Now it's 3:15. Uhm, excuse me, I believe the ship sails at 4:00. He says not to worry. Finally, after all this time, he figures out that the two people had taken an earlier flight and were already on the ship. So, we finally get on the shuttle and make our way to the terminal (yes we have to carry our bags to the ship, because the porters are long gone). They're about to close the doors at the terminal. There was a bit of an attitude from the check-in people, as if it was our fault we were woefully late. We get shuttled to the ship. We look up to see all the other passengers in the middle of muster drill. Well, at least we missed that. We finally get on the ship. I was only mildly annoyed. I was on vacation and I was on the ship. I thought about saying something to the front desk people, but decided it wouldn't really serve any purpose. First impressions of the ship. Beautiful. Dark and elegant woods and fine fabrics. Clearly much nicer, and warmer, than some of the newer, overwrought plasticy ships I've sailed. There are some really beat-up areas though, where big chunks of the veneered wood missing and not replaced. Some newly-done upholstery that wasn't finished (staples sticking out and untrimmed fabric), guess they ran out of time. As someone on an earlier post mentioned, they replaced pictures on the walls with smaller pictures in the main dining room, so there are these unsightly holes and scarring where the larger pictures were. Okay, I know what you're thinking, his glass if half empty! But I'm really not the kind of person to sit around and look for imperfections, I know every ship will have some issues, but some of these were really obvious and should have been addressed during the refurbishment. And about the pictures/art. Again, I know this was mentioned before, but they've used all of these modern prints everywhere. Kinda corporate generic stuff. Mostly, they don't work and are in complete conflict with the style of the ship. Just some really odd choices, it seems to me. It's not that modern, per se, wouldn't work. In fact, I think the big glass necklace sculpture on the main staircase is very cool. But, to sum up, despite these issues, the ship is beautiful. Pretty much gorgeous, I'd say. And the size of the ship, for me, is perfect. Also the layout. This was my tenth cruise and by far the smallest ship. I would prefer to be on this size of ship, or smaller, from now on. Just really easy to get around. We had a verandah stateroom on 6. The decor was lovely. There was plenty of storage, I thought. The bathroom was tiny but quite useable. The "butler" did his job well, but please please please Azamara, stop calling them butlers, simply using the term "butler" isn't fooling anyone. I really loved the room, despite its relative smallness. Except the television. Okay, complain, complain. But they put the tv about eye level when standing. And plasma, or LCD tv's (I don't know which it was), need a direct line of sight to see the picture clearly. It was impossible, when sitting on the bed or the couch, to see the tv clearly without craning your neck. To really see the picture, you have to stand up and watch, not ideal. And I do think a television is important on a cruise, for me anyway. Sometimes I want to relax in the stateroom and watch a movie. I thought the food ran the gamut from decent to outstanding. Too wide a range, I believe. We ate at Prime C the first night and it was fantastic. About as good as anywhere. Service was serviceable. We ate in the main dining room the second night, and it was probably the worst dining experience of any of my ten cruises. First of all, there are simply too many tables in the main dining room. They have lots of tables for two lined up, so it's not like eating alone at all. But I think we were in the worst table for two, which was right in an aisle. So it was a bombardment of waiters rushing madly back and forth. It was very loud and stressful in there. The engine noise/vibration doesn't help, though that's clearly something that can't be fixed. The service was honestly about what you'd expect in a Chili's. But I can't blame the servers for this. They obviously do not have time to give good service, like, you know, getting you something to drink. Azamara has simply not figured out how to do this open seating concept. They can't handle the glut of people that show up from seven to eight-thirty. They must fix this. The food was okay, although my fillet, which I wanted medium-rare, was completely overcooked, uniformly brown. I might have sent it back but the waiter, and his assistant, were nowhere to be found. Other courses were typical cruiseline fare, nothing special. Should I expect better than typical cruiseline fare? I think so, at least with how this new cruiseline seems to be positioning itself. Ate at Aqualina the third night, and again, wonderful food, nice service. But if you sit in the back area of the restaurant, you may wonder why it's so bright. Our waiter said they knew this but couldn't fix this problem(?), so I'd request a table in the front for more atmospheric (darker) dining. Actually, we ended up eating at the specialty restaurants on four nights. It was definitely worth the cost to have a nice, relaxing, excellent meal. The other nights in the main dining room we ended up going really early, around six-fifteen, to avoid the chaos. It was much better, in terms of service. Food was fine, though again nothing really memorable. We ate in the buffet thing several times, which we usually do not do. They actually close the dining room, much to my chagrin, at lunch during the two Hamilton days, so we had to eat the buffet. Full disclosure: I hate the buffet thing. Though granted, I think this was better than most. But the food was never hot. Don't know why, it was just always lukewarm. And the food was just okay. But the sushi at night was much better than I've had on any other line. The dining room lunches were much better. The service was much better than at night, as well, simply because there are so many fewer guests to serve. But why do they have the same lunch desert menu every day? The bananas foster and the apple tart were both excellent, but couldn't they try something else? Just askin'. I think I'm being, perhaps, pickier here than I would be on, say, Royal Caribbean, or Holland America, or Princess, because I have the sense that Azamara is trying to be, at least, a little step above these lines. I'm not sure they are, yet. I'll just interject here that the best cruise food I've ever had was on the Celebrity Mercury, ten years ago, before Celebrity was acquired by RCCL. I wish that cruise line still existed... Another whining complaint: I was hoping beyond hope that I wouldn't have to see the "sale" tables of goods every night at the shops. It's just so dang tacky, and, if I remember, every line I've been on does it. Purses and close out perfume and costume jewelry lined up on a folding table. Do all the more upscale lines (Crystal, Seabourne, Oceania, etc.) do this? And the ubiquitous art auctions. I've seen the same "art" being sold on every cruise I've ever been on. But clearly they make money for everyone involved (except the purchaser), so they're not going away. Yikes, I'm getting too negative here, I know, but here's some more good stuff: the gym, terrific, especially for the size of the ship. It was never crowded and they had excellent equipment. The martinis were well-made and HUGE (maybe a bit too huge). The beds and pillows and sheets and towels and robes, all very good. The bed-time treats in the room, a lovely touch. The cruise director seemed very good, I mean, he was actually around and talking to people all the time. He seemed very friendly and helpful. The poolside loungers were the best, amazingly comfortable, and usually easy to get. The pool, though small, was nice, though I think some of the tiling surrounding it looked kind of sad, and probably should have been replaced. Oh, and Bermuda is a fantastic island. Lots to do, easy to get around, amazingly friendly people, not in your face trying to sell you junk you don't want (St. Thomas, anyone?) I'd love to go to Bermuda again. Entertainment: Hmmm. I don't know, nothing really appealed to me (and here I'm referring only to the musicians around the ship, not to the main shows). I wish more lines would start employing some quality jazz ensembles, or classical musicians, or interesting singers. I suppose the entertainment on Holland America is more to my personal liking. But whenever I see a musician, like the guitarist on this ship, with a laptop computer in front of them churning out some electronic drumbeat, I want to run the other way. And he seemed to be pretty good too, despite the computer generated music. As far as the bigger shows, I only watched a few minutes of the five singers cabaret thing, so I can't judge the other shows. So, to sum up: overall I enjoyed the cruise, lots of the food, size and beauty of the ship, Bermuda, the special little amenities, like fruit, and flowers, and goodies. What didn't work so well for me? Mainly the service. Overall, it was no better or worse than any other line. There were excellent employees, and others who didn't seem interested. I believe this is the most important element for this new cruiseline to address. That and the main dining room. Though I've gotten used to the eat-when-you-want concept on Princess, etc., I think maybe this ship would run much better with old-fashioned assigned dining times and tables. Would I sail them again? Sure. But if I found an Oceania cruise with similar pricing, I would definitely do that. And no, I've never been on Oceania. But if I had to rank this cruise, it would be below all of my Celebrity cruises, and above everything else. So a solid second. But I think Azamara is pointed in the right direction, though, and I'm glad I went. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
On September 15 a lady friend and I ( aged 50) sailed on The Azamara Journey to Bermuda. The journey is a beautiful ship and we loved her. Getting on the ship was very quick and we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Everything on the ... Read More
On September 15 a lady friend and I ( aged 50) sailed on The Azamara Journey to Bermuda. The journey is a beautiful ship and we loved her. Getting on the ship was very quick and we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Everything on the ship was very clean and well decorated. Our room was very nice and we had a picture window. Our room steward did a great job of cleaning and replacing linens.We had fresh fruit and flowers also. (This was done twice a day.0 \The food was wonderful from the buffet, to the main dining room, to both of the specialty restaurants. I especially liked Prime C. The steak was one of the best ones I have ever had. The service was especially good in both of the specialty restaurants, but wonderful in the main dining room. It was a lot easier to get a table quickly if you would sit with others. We had to wait 10-15 minutes a couple of nights for a table for two. Go before 7 or after 8 if you don't want to wait. It is less crowded then.Ahmet was a great waiter and we asked to be served by him each night. We did not take any of the tours so I can not evaluate them. We bought a bus and ferry pass for 3 days which was $28.00. ( at guest relations deck 4.)We enjoyed Bermuda very much and had wonderful weather. Be sure to go to Horseshoe Bay in Hamilton and Tobacco Bay in St. George. The entertainment was good although unlike a large cruise ship.There was a harpist, a comedian, magician, steel band,cabaret music and a combo. They also had an art auction, bingo, dance contest, dancing, and the usual cruise activities. We enjoyed them all. The staff was very friendly and tried very hard to please. They work so hard and want everyone to have a wonderful vacation. The pool and pool area was lovely. People spent a lot of time there on sea days. Drinks were good and not watered down. They were priced reasonably. Wine is cheaper by the bottle as they will cork any unfinished wine. Dress code was dressy casual at dinner.Although there were some suits and sport jackets, many men wore nice pants with long sleeved shirts. Dress pants with a nice jacket or sweater set was the norm for women. Although there were no long gowns, some women did wear short dressy dresses. The only complaint we had is that the chef did not seem to be able to do a vegetarian fare for dinner. My friend seemed to be served pasta most nights. A little variety would have helped, but we also realize the Azamara is new and very few vegetarians on board so far. Overall, we had a wonderful cruise. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We are a couple in our early 40's (on this sailing putting us into the "younger" category), and this was our second "modern-era" cruise. I hesitate to go to the effort of a review since the Journey experience will ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 40's (on this sailing putting us into the "younger" category), and this was our second "modern-era" cruise. I hesitate to go to the effort of a review since the Journey experience will doubtless change in a post-Bermuda context, but I want to get my 5-rating into the mix. This was my first cruise as a CC member, and onboard I quickly experienced two drawbacks to cruising in the CC context; 1) my initial experiences and impressions were colored by the prior weeks of research and discussion about the ship, and 2) I spent much of the first days on the Journey writing mental sentences to be included in my post-sailing review, not simply enjoying the increasingly wonderful experience. I feel we experienced the essence of some of the apparent discrepancies between prior reviews: the Journey offers both a "sum of the parts" experience (which in our case would have put it in a 4+ rating zone) and a "whole", which we found to be magic. In assembling notes for this review, at the end I was surprised to see quite a number of minor quibbles, which didn't seem consistent with how we felt leaving the ship, waving goodbye as though leaving a loved one. Perhaps the difference for each traveler is how well his/her experience captures that magic. For the sake of a balanced review, the following are the quibbles I noted, in no logical order: -Sailaway from Bayonne in the fog had all the excitement of a mule barge send-off, as the band was a no-show. -We found the flat screen TV to be low resolution and of poor contrast. -Silverware at Windows buffet was placed on cleared tables, and not typically available in the food areas. While this seemed initially more upscale, it made for real issues when the table was bussed between trips for food. I ate numerous courses with borrowed spare silver, and had several bowls of cereal using a fork. -The scarcity of announcements from the bridge was actually refreshing, but we could have sometimes used a bit more sailing or weather information. -The ship does show some minor scuffs, etc. commensurate with seven years of use. -Our room's alarm clock was a joke, with no setting instructions and no light other than the one that would come on with an irritating beep when a particular button was pressed. -Likewise, our telephone had no visible instructions, and there was nothing intuitive about reaching the front desk, room service, etc. -One evening's experience in the main dining room was consistent with previous complaints: crowded, inconsistent service, passengers and crew figuratively tripping over each other. -Towels for the beach were delivered one evening, but both obtaining and returning additional towels was a "no clue" experience. -The AC in our room was too cold at the warmest setting, and despite a towel (we) stuffed in a vent for the remainder of the trip, never got better. -As discussed often, the shower water got all over the bathroom floor. In the same vein, a random list of positives: -The intimacy of the ship led to more friendships forming between us and other passengers and crew. -We were extremely impressed with the five young singer/performers and backing band -Becky, the cruise director, is a wonderful person with a delightful public address voice. -Our room's bedding, towels and toiletries were great. -Our stateroom's subtly tinted windows were a pleasant surprise, enhancing the vista. -Seas were smooth one way and moderate the other, yet despite my small ship concerns, she sailed amazingly smooth and gracefully. -We enjoyed the little ship-side treats and beverages at both Bayonne and Bermuda. -Our room attendant was just our style: everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time, and the room was impeccably maintained. -We had no dinner waits at Discoveries (on the later side, table for two) -Dinner fashion was somewhat dressier than I expected, which added to the evening's elegance. Now, as far as we're concerned, take the above two lists and throw them out the window. They are only incidental to our experience. We spent an incredible week on a beautiful ship with a great crew and special fellow passengers, eating delicious food and visiting one of civilization's loveliest spots. What more do I have to say? Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
EMBARKATION—Prior reviews have pretty much covered this. I will add a couple of details, however. Don't be at the port until 11 AM. This is when the staff come out to start embarkation paperwork. We were told we could not board ... Read More
EMBARKATION—Prior reviews have pretty much covered this. I will add a couple of details, however. Don't be at the port until 11 AM. This is when the staff come out to start embarkation paperwork. We were told we could not board until noon but we actually were allowed on about 20 minutes before noon. Staterooms were ready right at 1 PM. Luggage was a little later than I've experienced on other cruises. I ended up wearing my travel clothes to dinner that night. I saw several others in jeans and shorts that night. STATEROOM COMMENTS—We were in a Sky Suite on Deck 8, 8054, which is a perfect location for anyone with mobility issues. It is right outside of the elevator/stair corridor and only one deck below the Windows Cafe and pool deck. The stateroom was a good size with an equivalent balcony. I was concerned, based on prior reviews, that it would be small. It was not. The bathroom was a perfect size, but I now understand some of the drainage comments from previous reviews. When the ship was out to sea, rougher seas caused the drain to flow back up a bit. We are not talking sewer here but some moldy water settled on the bathroom floor. In our suite at arrival was a chilled bottle of champagne. This started the trip off right! In the evening we received some type of goody. One night chocolate covered strawberries, one night fancy chocolates, and other comparable treats. I thought this was a simple but special touch. SHIP SIZE—This is a really nice size ship. Normally I feel rushed and crushed at breakfast with people hovering for clean tables. On the Journey we sat on our first sea day (Sunday) for about an hour, enjoying coffee and several trips to the buffet. POOL AREA—I was concerned that the pool would be too tiny for the ship based on prior reviews. It was a fine size. However, on Saturday our first day the pool was closed for maintenance. This didn't seem to concern anyone. We were too busy doing other first day things. There was no issue with number of chaise lounges despite the usual "reserving" of chairs first thing in the morning. FOOD—The food is where Azamara shines. At breakfast, don't miss the waffle and pancake station stuck in the corner behind the luncheon meat/cheese area. In the buffet at dinner, there are two sections. The first is the normal Windows cafe if you want to go really casual. If you'd like one step less casual, make a reservation for the Breeza section of the Windows Cafe. Same place but with service and the ability to eat outside. I can't vouch for the food or service because I didn't know this opportunity existed until the last day of the cruise. In the main dining room, Discoveries, we never had a wait for dinner for two, even at prime times. I did see some people waiting in Michael's in front of the dining room but these were larger groups. PRIME C (Specialty Restaurant)—This is the only experience we had that was not up to snuff. We made a reservation for 6 PM Sunday night, our first sea day and the first reservation of the night. We sat until about 6:30 PM before we received any service and were told it was because everyone came at once. "Isn't that normal?" we asked. "Well, yes," was the answer. So in our opinion they should have been more prepared. It seemed as if the restaurant staff was overwhelmed. The next night at the Discoveries main dining room, we sat next to another couple who had the same experience with a reservation at 8 PM. Suggestion—eat at Prime C later in the cruise when others have already used their one night at a specialty restaurant. My meal was very good. No problems. However, my companion ordered a medium rare NY strip steak which came in well done. She was offered a new steak but at this point we had been in the restaurant for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes so we didn't want to wait another 30 or so minutes for a new steak. Later, the assistant maitre'd brought the head chef of Prime C, Anthony, to our table to apologize. When asked what he could do, we asked for a free glass of wine when we ate at the next specialty restaurant, Aqualina, a couple of days later. (This request was granted, by the way.) I will say that if I were in a regular restaurant, I would have had the steak taken off of the bill. You don't have this leverage on a cruise line. AQUALINA—This was the best meal we had on our cruise. The service was impeccable also. It was Thursday, Lobster night, so if you went on a cruise just for the lobster, eat at Aqualina on another night. However, there is lobster bisque and lobster Thermador on the Aqualina menu every day. I wanted to try the tasting menu, with 7 courses and wine, of course, but I didn't think I could do it. They might want to lessen that to 5 courses. Be sure to try the chocolate souffle. GYM—I work out normally every day so I was looking forward to doing so onboard. The gym is a decent size. I didn't see anyone waiting for cardio or weight machines any morning I was there. I would recommend that they spend money on a second trainer or perhaps a more gregarious trainer. Most of the time I saw the trainer at the front desk for the spa, not in the gym area. My companion took both a spinning and a pilates class with the trainer and was underwhelmed. SPA—My companion and I both had massages. These were good. However, my massage therapist started before my companion's did and finished after. So I guess I got the better value. It's a decent spa for the size of the ship with an adjoining salon (whose services I did not use). If you want a hot tub, behind the spa is the place to go. I saw few people out there. ACUPUNCTURE—Acupuncture at sea seems to be the new thing. I convinced my companion to go to Fran after I attended one of her information sessions in Michael's. My companion, who has knee pain, said she appreciated understanding the acupuncture concepts and thought it might have given her some immediate, short term relief. If you want to know more about the process, this would be good, non-threatening exposure. Maybe they should do chiropractic sessions also? ENTERTAINMENT AND ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES—Again, for a ship this size, I was surprised that they had the same basic activities as a big ship. Trivia contests, bingo, exercise classes, afternoon high tea, Friends of Bill & Dorothy, wine tastings, you name it. The Azamara folks must have been reading the prior criticisms of the entertainment on board. The outside band was very good with a wide range of songs and genres. There was always someone playing at the Cova bar, either the harpist or the pianist. Both suited the area in which they played—low key, not obtrusive, but entertaining. The evening entertainment was better than I had expected given prior reviews. There was a troupe of 5 singers who did a cabaret style act on two of the nights. They were suitable for the stage size and the crowd on board. Two other nights a pianist/signer performed. His style was a little too low key for me, so I have to admit I didn't stick around. I was hoping for a comedienne or magician somewhere on board but didn't find either if there. EXCURSIONS—We did two excursions. One was a scuba trip; the other a biking and beach trip. Both were great fun. However, we found out that the cruise line padded the scuba fee by about $55. I don't mind paying for the convenience but I think $55 is a bit much. I recommend working directly with the local businesses unless you have a tight deadline to meet returning to the ship. Then it makes sense to use the cruise line vendors because the ship becomes responsible for your return, theoretically. On a somewhat related issue, take advantage of the ferries and buses in Bermuda. Both systems are great and affordable. Get a recommendation for a beach and ask the bus driver to stop there for you. It's easy. Also, we pulled walking tours off of Frommers.com for Hamilton and St. George. Both were worth the time. GENERAL COMMENTS—The Journey could use another 2 months or so of drydock time to fix minor, mostly cosmetic things. Examples—Locks and other hardware loosening off doors, external painting and rust eradication. A good clean up job. I suggest they dump two things—the whole tuxedoed butler concept and the afternoon "canapEs". Save the money and spend it elsewhere. We don't want uncomfortable stewards and we certainly don't need more food. I really enjoyed the cruise but do feel that Azamara is missing the mark on being a class above its sister, Celebrity, and any of the other comparable cruise lines. The only place I really saw the upgrade is in the food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Background: We took our first cruise last year on the Celebrity Zenith and thoroughly enjoyed the "Celebrity" experience and our time in Bermuda. So we rebooked for July '07, expecting yet another fine cruise on a mature ... Read More
Background: We took our first cruise last year on the Celebrity Zenith and thoroughly enjoyed the "Celebrity" experience and our time in Bermuda. So we rebooked for July '07, expecting yet another fine cruise on a mature ship with a seasoned crew. However. The Zenith was sold off and replaced with Celebrity's purchase of a former Renaissance ship: newer but about half the size, promising only 700 fellow passengers. For our trouble, we found we were upgraded from a standard ocean-view room, to a luxury veranda room (room with balcony) on the new ship. So bear in mind, our review is based on a relatively low price for our accommodations; those who pay top dollar may differ. There was a rushed $35-million refit in April, 2007 and then, just (barely) in time for the May sailings, Celebrity announced the smaller ships would be a split-off cruise line named "Azamara". Hm. We won't go into the unfortunate details of the ship's first sailings that are already reviewed here in grim detail. But long story short: by the July 14th sailing, the Azamara "Journey" appears to have turned the corner, and, as far as we are concerned, the view is beautiful! With several sailings under their belt, Azamara had time to get their act together. Although not quite as advertised, Journey was pretty much what we had come to expect with one big exception: it is not a pretty ship...it is knock you over gorgeous. Just our two cents of course. Boarding- We arrived at Cape Liberty at 11:45 am, our luggage was taken quickly (more about this later). For those that have left from Bayonne before, they have moved the long-term parking just up the pier from the check-in baggage area, so don't drive all the way back out again (Ahem, as I did). We were boarded right away, had the complementary bubbles and went up to lunch at the buffet. The buffet was tasty and the staff at all times was extremely friendly, and helpful beyond call. The pool area was closed when we came on as they were finally loading the new, long-awaited deck loungers. But walking around we found a beautiful ship with lots of dark wood, warm tones, artwork, etc. Lovely. Cabin/Staff: We were able to go to our cabin right after lunch (6062 - a regular veranda room) and immediately met Godofredo our butler. Now: we have never had butler service, but despite previous postings about butler service, "G" showed every bit of the professional attitude, attention and service I would expect from one. As far as we can tell he worked our area with only one other steward who is equally pleasant and attentive. Our room was straightened several times a day, new towels, ice water, fruit refreshed, evening candies or cookies, flowers on the pillows etc. We did later speak with other passengers that were expecting more from their butler and received less...maybe we had good luck or we're just lower maintenance. It is what it is; we loved it. Cabin wise, if you are new to cruising, be prepared for compact. Unless you want to pay for a suite, even the "luxury" cabins are small. But they are beautiful w/ similar dark wood and warm tones. On Journey, they are about 175 sq ft, plus the outside balcony(~40sqft). As you walk in, a full-length closet, and then half-length closets and drawer spaces are on one side; short of Cher's wardrobe, it is more than adequate for a week's cruise. However, possibly due to our early arrival (first loaded = last unloaded), our last large piece of our luggage didn't arrive until 5:00 pm or so (with the camera inside-oops); so I missed some nice departure shots. I know: always carry your camera. D'oh! The bathroom is the other side of the hallway. The toilet and shower (w/curtain) are standard size but very close together, so if you are not "standard" size, you may have some issues. After much dancing, we figured out there are really few things two people can do here at the same time. If you want to change your mind or anything else, you have to stand outside. The bed sits cross-wise in the room; small tables/lamps on each side and your basic pillow-top queen with very plush, comfy bedding. Beyond this on one wall is a smallish couch (foldout?) and coffee table, and a desk/dresser on the other wall with phone, mirror and lots of sockets. Beyond are thick curtains, both sheers and blackout drapes, over the sliding glass door that lead to the balcony. Enough room out there for a table and two chairs and two people to relax and stare into the horizon. If you like your "horizons" flat, a flatscreen TV is on the wall facing the sitting area and bed, and has the ship info-channels, as well as CNN, TNT, CSPAN and a few 24 hr movies. In another controversy, despite the advertising, the rumor mill says there may or may not eventually be microfrigs in all rooms. I understand you can request a portable unit however. Dining: The main restaurant for breakfasts and (most)lunches, and all dinners on Journey is Discoveries; we only had breakfast there once which was excellent, but their dinners were extraordinary. Rychard (?), the Maitre'd (from Poland), is beyond excellent. While having cocktails in the Martini Bar just outside, I watched him maintain an air of professionalism and calm patience in a couple of situations (read as unreasonable patrons with bad attitudes) that would have sent most folks screaming into the night. Outstanding. The open seating is a controversial point on this cruise, but we did enjoy being able to chat with various folks at adjacent tables without being locked into one time, one table. You may request a certain server or area if available. Now: being wave-motion challenged, I always asked for seating as far forward (the stern of the ship moves around quite a bit when at sea) so we ended up with Edwin (from the Philippines) three times which was a treat. (He even remembered my discomfort two nights later and asked how I was feeling!) We had reservations at "Prime C," (one of the specialty restaurants w/steak and seafood), and cancelled them because the experience was so beyond the par at Discoveries! Specialty Restaurant - We did keep our reservations at the other "Mediterranean" specialty restaurant "Aqualina" our first night in St George. The menu is listed elsewhere on Cruise Critic and is even better than it appears. Yes, as other folks have posted, Dominique the M'd there is a joy to meet as well. We were seated with a beautiful view of the harbor. Extraordinary experience doesn't cover it. As just as we were basking in all this, the Captain and first officer (?) walked up and introduced themselves; they asked how we were enjoying our trip - no, not pleasantries either - they wanted to hear all we had to say. Feeling very royal at the moment, thank you. As an aside, Captain Lekkas makes regular announcements to welcome you to each phase of the trip, detail weather and location, etc. all of which end with a thank you, and "Bye for now..." a little expression everyone grew to love. Getting the impression we are enjoying this?? Ship size: With the size of the ship, you might expect to see all the passengers all the time. Actually we were surprised - we frequently commented, "It's busy, but where is everybody?" It is nice to greet familiar faces on board and on the islands, but oddly, it seldom appears there are even 700 people on board! The Ride: As advertised, this is a small ship and it does move around a good deal - especially up top and in the stern - nothing horrible in relatively calm seas, or for most folks. But. If you are susceptible to motion sickness as I am, prepare in whatever fashion suits you. Various people all espoused the ear patch, wrist band, ginger pills, ferret fur, or whatever works for you. I wore a Transcope patch (Rx) this cruise and on Zenith last year. Works fine except for side effects - sometimes the cure is as bad as the illness. Hm. I might try meclizine next time. Just my two cents. Casino: After some comments here, we were expecting a micro-casino compared to Zenith. It's certainly no AC, and the layout is not as open as Zenith, but as I recall it's not that much smaller. There are four blackjack tables ($5,$10,$25 min), a large roulette table, a three card Poker table, as well as an electronic poker table and the ever-present rows of slots. I did enjoy the Zenith casino better: I won there...sigh. The Crew: Put simply, one of the joys of cruising is experiencing the diversity offered by an international crew; most cruisers have stories of wonderful conversations with the crew about their background and their countries. There is a down side: communication. For all the efforts by cruise lines and the crew members themselves, with a new crew, sometimes there is still a language barrier. Usually you are understood and the service is great; sometimes it's more difficult. If you are patient, it is worth the effort. As an aside, we saw few Americans on staff; one casual consensus has it you won't find an American staff to be as patient and professional as the Journey crew (sorry - just sharing what we heard!). Pool/Hot Tubs - As the ship's photos show, the pool area is smallish. Now perhaps I was there at all the right times, but I seldom saw the pool close to crowded and if you're patient, you can even have a hot tub to yourself. The new teak deck loungers are beautiful and comfy - wood w/ navy blue cushions and head rests. Hm - I wonder if they would have minded if I tried to fold one into my garment bag... Entertainment - We didn't see all the entertainment, but here's a sampling: the Cabaret shows, while perhaps not as large as other ships, were very polished. With blackjack back up the hall, sorry, I didn't see the whole show, but I thought several of the performers were top notch; I spent 25 years as an audio engineer - I found the production excellent. My wife did see the whole show, and said the singers were fabulous. The comedian/magician Bob Brizendine performed two nights, and was very, very funny. If he is on your trip, don't miss him. The standard Newlywed/Not so Newlywed Game is fun enough to watch; however, as the only "20 Yearers" in the room, my bride volunteered us to participate - ah, sweet embarrassment. And I thought there weren't many people watching ... until afterward, when several folks smiled when they saw us and made it clear they were there. Nuff said. The Party Band: Okay, for comparison sake, the band on the Zenith was able to segue easily from reggae with a Jamaican patois' to a Jimmy Buffet impersonation - yes, frightening, but still relaxing to listen to either by the pool or late at night. I suspect the Journey's casual music trio, AKA Mirage, was a last minute addition to this cruise. The band were good musicians no doubt, but as a cruise band? Not so inspiring. Shore Excursions: This year we purchased the three day bus/ferry pass for $28 per person, well worth it if you want to explore the island to any degree. Now. About the Island buses: the ride to your destination can be an event in itself: Bermuda roads are narrow - I mean narrow; the bus drivers are skilled - and fearless. Sit in front if you can - it is as close as you can get to an amusement park ride without rails. Weatherwise, we enjoyed two gorgeous "partly cloudy w/scattered showers" days (they don't seem to get the weather right here either). If you have the opportunity, take a good look at online reviews of the excursions before you get to the island - some are ho-hum, some are great. St George: Unfortunately, we had only one day in St George (my favorite town); it is much more quaint than Hamilton, and beyond the cute shops, there is more Bermuda history there, particularly if you dig under the "visitor" layer. This year, we did try the touristy route and went to the Caverns. At $16 per cave I thought tickets a little pricey, but the estate above the caves is gorgeous and well-maintained, and though brief, the cavern visit is quite something (stalagmites go up right?). A group of a gazillion nine-year olds were waiting to enter Crystal Cave, so the staff pointed us to Fantasy Cave instead. Just remember: for all the steps you walk down you have to climb back up... For those who are utterly exhausted after all this, the famous Swizzle Inn just happens to sit back at the intersection by the bus stop... Hamilton: We visited most of the shops and walked up to Fort Hamilton last year, so this time, we got out of Dodge and caught a bus to "The Flatts" (north center of the island); beyond the little town, the clear blue of the water where the ocean enters Harrington Bay is beyond words and just across the bridge is one of the pleasant surprises of the Island: the Bermuda Aquarium/Zoo. I was half-expecting bored fish, miserable animals, and jaded exhibits. Quite the opposite: the exhibits are well-interpreted for all ages; the fish are stunning, and the zoo appears very well cared-for: seals, birds, monkeys, snakes, the occasional bat, really quite something. Now the flamingo yard (swamp?) is a bit funky - but I understand that comes with the territory. Beautiful ocean overlooks to boot. We spent almost two hours on our visit there. Beaches: From St George, if you want amenities, Tobacco Bay is a good choice. This year we went to Alexandra Battery Beach on the northeast shore. A short taxi ride, or if you want some exercise, it is just over a mile to walk - a good part of it uphill, but a nice view of the town from the top. And worth it: a beautiful spot right next to the old fort with calm waters and lots of sea glass; sorry, no amenities, but the trade off? There were only four other people there. Shhh! Don't tell anyone... From Hamilton, you can go to Horseshoe Bay on the South Shore. It is larger and more crowded especially after mid-day, but if you're willing to walk a ways in either direction you can find your own spot with great waves and pink sand. BTW, last year we walked back up the hill to the bus stop; this year we took the $1 shuttle ride. We endorse the ride... Disembarkation: Two nights before your return, the ship asks for your return plans, i.e., pick-up, flight-info, parked at port; your eventual disembarkation times are set-up accordingly. No surprisingly, on your return, if you don't need a flight or a pick-up, you will leave the ship later. All that said, our official time to end the party was 9:15 am and we left the ship at 9:45 am. Not too bad all things considered! Summary: As stated at the beginning, despite the substantial problems reported with the early sailings, Azamara seems to have done a good job catching up with themselves. Many small problems still, largely in terms of how the line communicates with its customers, how this line is advertised, and as a result, cruisers' high expectations for the ship. In our view, take a cruise to Bermuda on this beautiful ship while you can; is worth that small leap of faith. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Background This was our 13th cruise and our second one with Celebrity. We've always been on the larger ships. We've been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and now Azamara. Embarkation It was wonderfully easy and quick ... Read More
Background This was our 13th cruise and our second one with Celebrity. We've always been on the larger ships. We've been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and now Azamara. Embarkation It was wonderfully easy and quick and very organized. We arrived at the port about 11:30 and were in our cabin by 12:15. Parking at the port was $112.00 per week and you paid that amount when you left your car before the cruise. Ship info We were not sure we would be happy on a small ship as we were used to cruising on the large ones. We were pleasantly pleased however at the beauty and elegance of it. It had a dEcor that was very much a reminder of the ships of yesteryear with all the beautiful woods and upholsteries. Upon embarking, we were served a glass of champagne (it was very good and not watered down as we've had on some cruises.) We were impressed with our veranda cabin at the bow. We had fantastic views at sea and also in Bermuda and it alleviated our concerns of being at the front of the ship. We would definitely book a bow cabin again on deck seven. We had a first hand view of entering and leaving the ports and watching the crew dock the boat. Service The service was splendid. The crew on the ship was definitely the most friendly and seemed to be the happiest that we have ever encountered. I believe they are the cream of the crop. They would always say hello and ask how our day was. When we walked past them and they were busy at a task, they would turn from their work to greet us. I wish all cruise lines had such a great crew. Dining What can I say about the food, other than it was fantastic !!!!! I'd been watching my weight for the last 3 years but gave up when I tasted it. There was so much variety that I tried everything and I mean everything. Now I have to work off the weight that I gained. It was worth it though !! Entertainment The shows are the cabaret type. They are not the big production ones that the large ships offer. They had a comedian, a comedian magician and singers and dancers on the small stage. If you enjoy the large shows that are offered on larger ships, then you might be disappointed. I found that these cabaret ones fit the character of the Journey and were very personalized. It was never difficult to find a seat which was refreshing. Shore excursions We had been to Bermuda before and so we decided not to book any excursions. You can purchase a bus/ferry pass which is great for getting around the island. The bus ride in itself is entertaining. The roads are VERY narrow and the bus drivers seem to think they're on a race course. It was rather thrilling. St. George and Hamilton each have an evening when they close their main street to traffic for a street festival with food and vendors. The stores stay open late that evening as well so there is plenty of time to shop. Disembarkation We were a little later getting off than the time that our color tags stated but it wasn't a problem. We found our luggage easily and got through customs quickly. We went to the parking lot which was an easy walk (a shuttle is available) and we were in our car and on the road back home. Summary This was one of the best cruises that we have been on. If anyone asks if we would sail Azamara again, our answer would be a definite YES !!! The other couple that we traveled with were already getting information on the ship's cruise to the British Isles next year. I hope that the Journey and Quest are successful. I believe that Celebrity has made a wise choice in creating this new line. If you try Azamara, I hope that you have as much an enjoyable and memorable time as we had. HAPPY SAILING ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
AZAMARA JOURNEY - MY THOUGHTS Azamara Cruises, a branch of the Celebrity family goes `freestyle` cruising. We had originally booked to travel on the Zenith from New York to Bermuda and return, but recently Celebrity Cruises sold the ... Read More
AZAMARA JOURNEY - MY THOUGHTS Azamara Cruises, a branch of the Celebrity family goes `freestyle` cruising. We had originally booked to travel on the Zenith from New York to Bermuda and return, but recently Celebrity Cruises sold the Zenith and acquired Azamara Journey, which now sails on this cruise. We had previously travelled on this cruise on board the Zenith and thoroughly enjoyed the service, entertainment and ambience of the Celebrity Brand, thus the reason for the repeat cruise. When we were advised that the Azamara Journey would be of a higher standard of service etc than the Celebrity, so we were really looking forward to this trip, but we were disappointed On board the Journey - "Attire - Azamara Journey's ambience is always elegant casual; there aren't any formal nights. However, please note that jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes and bare feet are not permitted in restaurants and indoor bars at any time" All meals are taken open seating in the Discoveries Dining Room - dinner is served between 6.00pm and 9.30pm. The ship sails from Bayonne, New Jersey. The port of Bayonne is in a very isolated area - great if you plan to drive to the ship and park your car on the pier during the cruise, but difficult and somewhat expensive to get to, if travelling independently. On arrival at the pier, and even before we were able to get out of the taxi (USA$35.00 from Newark Penn Street Station), we were approached by a porter who was aggressive and somewhat intimidatory in respect of tips. He reminded us that he was responsible to ensure that our bags were placed on he ship. Having suitably rewarded him for his services, our suitcases were placed in a crate for delivery on board. Check-in was efficient, professional and courteous. We were handed a letter at check-in advising us that Azamara Journey was a non-smoking ship - " Azamara Journey has two designated smoking areas. They are located in the aft section of the Looking Glass Lounge, port side, and on the starboard section of the pool deck. Smoking areas have signs (no they don't) indicating that smoking is permitted there Cigar and pipe smoking are restricted to Pool Deck 9 forward starboard section. All other areas of the ship are non-smoking. This includes Public Rooms, Restaurants, Pool Deck, Staterooms and Suits, Verandas and Halls. Unfortunately this was the first we were advised of this policy. We understand that some guests were advised of this policy prior to embarkation but most were not. As a smoker this caused concern. The `corners` allocated were seldom cleaned, ashtrays were overflowing and rarely emptied and there was not enough room for the number of smokers onboard. The ship and furnishings are however beautiful with exquisite flower arrangements throughout. However on some of the stairways and bedroom corridors, where there is thinner carpeting, there is a `tinny` feel to the floor. Being a smaller vessel, the `motion of the ocean` even in the slightest swell is noticeable. We were occupying an `inside cabin` or stateroom on Deck 8. All Staterooms have their own Butler. Another name for your stateroom steward only dressed with tails. Unfortunately he did not provide or offer Butler Services as defined on other Premier Cruise Lines. The cabins too are well presented and comfortable, although there is limited storage facility, though enough for a 7 -day cruise. Unlike Celebrity Cruises, there is writing paper, pens or postcards of the ship in the cabin information folder, and no Totes bags are provided. There is supposed to be a pillow menu, which we were never offered. The cabin directory indicated that there was an in-cabin bar - this was not the case, nor was there a refrigerator. There was a television, though not an `Interactive Service` as on other Celebrity Ships. Bath robes and slippers are provided, together with heavenly toiletries. The telephone messaging system was non-functional throughout the cruise, even though we reported it twice as not working. Occasionally we were able to hear the conversations of the guests occupying the next cabin. The Main Dining Room - the Discoveries Dining Room was excellent in all regards - food, variety and service. A feeling of warmth and friendliness abounded. The buffet - Windows Cafe is very small in size and thus selection was limited. The food was of reasonable standard and quality. There are no trays and no waiters to assist guests with their food to their tables. There are two speciality restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C Restaurants (supplementary charges apply) - though guests are offered one complimentary dinner per guest per voyage (beverage charges apply). The dining experience in each of these restaurants is truly outstanding. There are no `elegant afternoon teas` served on board, nor are there any tableside flambres in the Discoveries Dining Room (Crepes and Cherry Jubilees are pre-pared behind the scene). There is a luxurious spa on board, offering a full range of exotic and relaxing treatments. There is one small - very small swimming pool on board and two whirlpools. Other usual services were available - shopping, photography, shore-excursions and Internet access. Entertainment was good but not all that good. There were no professional Las Vegas style floor shows featuring singers and dancers - apparently there is not enough room on the stage - a major disappointment for us, as we always enjoyed this type of entertainment provided by Celebrity. Evening entertainment consisted of singers and comedians. The Celebrity Cabaret Lounge, the main venue for evening entertainment has poor visibility of the stage from some of the seating. There were no enchantment lectures. All bands and music provided throughout the ships was excellent - there was something for everyone. All the crew on board were pleasant, helpful and wanting to oblige and assist in anyway possible. For us, Celebrity Journey was a disappointment. We missed the little Celebrity touches, the lavish style entertainment and of course the non-smoking policy - but that is just us? Maybe, as this was only the 2nd or 3rd voyage for the Journey that time is needed for things to settle down. There is no doubt a market for this type and style of cruising in specialist areas. I do believe that a mainline Celebrity ship would be more suited on this route. Time will no doubt tell. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Azamara Journey Review June 9-16, 2007 The port of Bayonne, New Jersey is about ½ hour from the Newark Airport (a $45 cab ride). Upon arriving at the port, there is a sense of desolation, as this particular dock has fallen into disuse. ... Read More
Azamara Journey Review June 9-16, 2007 The port of Bayonne, New Jersey is about ½ hour from the Newark Airport (a $45 cab ride). Upon arriving at the port, there is a sense of desolation, as this particular dock has fallen into disuse. Apparently, Celebrity/Azamara is using the port for the summer in the inaugural season to go to Bermuda. Embarkation was easy and organized although two of our bags were lost in the hold for several hours. We boarded the ship around 1:00 p.m., ahead of the scheduled 4 p.m. sailing. We went straight up to the two 'fine dining' restaurants, the Prime C and the Aqualina, to make reservations for dinners. We were given one complimentary seating by the ship and paid an additional $25 per person for the other reservations. More on this later, but the restaurants are on a par with New York dining and service. From this point, we ventured into the very nicely appointed exercise facility where we booked into spinning classes that were offered 3 times per week at 8 a.m. NOTE: reset your clocks on the first night out, as we missed the first session because we had not advanced our room clock. The cabin: we originally booked a Sky Suite but received a call two days before sailing that the suites were overbooked. We were offered a 'sweet' deal to downsize to a veranda cabin. $1500 credit and $300 on board credit later, we were in a veranda cabin one deck below the suites. The A-1 category cabins were just fine and very similar to other Celebrity veranda cabins: ample space for luggage, king bed, a desk with a chair, lighted vanity, drawers on one side, cabinet on the other, flat screen TV with CNN, ESPN, 4 movie channels, veranda (the same size as the Sky Suites) with a table and two chairs, a small sofa and table, triple closet and drawers, room safe and corner cabinet which would presumably someday contain the mini bar which was absent in our cabin. The in-room amenities: toiletries were all ample quantity and quality: Elemis brand. Towels were refreshed twice daily, plenty of supplies. One bottle of Evian was provided at the outset, but there was a charge for additional water, which staff told us was 'very expensive'. Including a bottle of water each day would have been a nice touch, adding to the elite status being sought by the ship. In port, 2 liters of water cost around $2.50. Bedding was very nice, new, comfortable, and refreshed every day. The butler service: The cruise line advertises one butler shared between two cabins unless you are in a suite where you have your own butler. Our butler was excellent, but he was training room stewards so he was responsible for much more than just our cabin. He delivered fresh fruit twice to our cabin, fresh flowers once, 2 canapés on two different nights, and he oversaw the placement of towels, turndown, newsletters, etc. in our cabin. The idea of a butler is very appealing, but for all other purposes, it was difficult to see a difference between butler service and the service of a room steward or cabin attendant. The cruise staff: This is where the cruise line shines. They have gathered the brightest, most congenial group of cruise members that we have ever seen. Each person, from the cocktail server, casino workers, room stewards, line waiters, sommeliers, maitre’d, activities personnel, harpist, piano player…whomever we spoke with…they LOVED their jobs and it showed. What a great crew! Entertainment: A gracious and talented harpist played daily on the mezzanine level. Also, a pianist who covered everything from jazz to the ‘one hit wonders’ shared the same space or traveled to Michael’s Club on the 10th floor. He was a terrific talent. The ship had a small orchestra and a pool band, neither of which played often enough during the daytime. The Cabaret, where the main entertainment occurred, hosted a very funny comedian/magician who made $20 bills move from envelopes into grapefruits, and cards float through space, as he included the audience in participation and told clever jokes. Another night a low-key humorist enlivened the audience with home grown humor. Two nights held no show time entertainment. Two nights gave us the typical cruise ship shows with ‘That’s Hollywood” and “Swing” type songs and dance done by attractive 20-somethings. The final night was a conglomeration of all of the above, without the comedian/magician from the first night. Overall, the entertainment was good, but not great. Three nights offered two seatings but the remaining two nights offered only one seating. On board entertainment: This is probably the weakest area of the cruise. The old stand-bys of pool games such as pass the hula hoop or pass the orange under the chin, King of the Cruise, Bingo, and Trivia are just overdone. A truly upscale cruise should be able to come up with something a little more innovative and “status” appropriate. Excursions: BEST of the lot! Everything from carriage rides, motorized bikes, snorkeling, ‘snuba’-diving, walks, and taxi tours was included. Look over the offerings and make your plans accordingly as it seems that EVERYONE leaves the ship when in port. The beaches in Bermuda are excellent and it is easy to grab a cab in port and go to the beach. Dining: The Prime C is billed as a steak restaurant and it does have excellent cuts of steak as well as great fish, veal, and pasta. Most folks seemed to think the Aqualina was a seafood restaurant but it has a strong French/Mediterranean influence. Service in both restaurants was impeccable! The menu changes so you can dine more than once, as we did, and get a good variety. Save room for the food, though…servings are ample and upscale, so you will truly want to ‘dine’ while in these venues. Desserts are to die for…and change frequently. The soufflés are well worth the experience. The ship: This particular ship was commissioned in 2000 or 2001 as the former Renaissance Cruise line. The furnishings are completely new in the suites and most of the veranda rooms have new carpet, bedding, etc. Yet there is evidence of the age of the ship in many areas where rust can be seen at the joints of balconies, poles, and stairs as well as bubbles on the finish of the teak railings. The pool looks like an antique compared to the newer ships. The tile is aging and the grout is discolored. The surface is actually quite slippery as there were two ‘slip and falls’ that required surgical care during the week. Crossing the Gulf Stream, this ship had a lot of movement. Several voyagers were ill on the going over and the return due to movement. The waves did not reach over 9 feet, but it could be felt everywhere. Four crew members told us that this was the calmest crossing to date. Our air conditioning went out twice while we were in port for a total of about 15 hours. It was restored both times, but there was no comment made by the guest services. We had to initiate all of the questions and did not receive any explanations or apologies. The Azamara Journey is seeking to establish itself as a ‘cut above’ the rest of the line as an adult venue with class and taste that pampers its guests. The daily papers note that jeans or shorts are not permitted in the dining rooms, yet every day we saw evidence of many diners in jeans and shorts. When we asked the staff about this, no one seemed to be aware that we were being told that there was a dress code for dining. Customer service had called each person before boarding and informed us that there would not be a formal night, yet on the third or fourth night, we were encouraged to wear our ‘gowns and tuxedoes’ and “make it a night at the Ritz”. Azamara Journey has not yet found its niche, but it is making a lot of strides in the right direction by hiring brilliant staff. We look forward to seeing the improvements to be made to make this into a true ‘first class’ journey. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Extreme disappointment is how we would describe our "Celebrity turned Azamara Journey cruise". We arrived at Port Liberty to find it was The Azamara" not the Celebrity, classic bait and switch. After day two we dubbed our ... Read More
Extreme disappointment is how we would describe our "Celebrity turned Azamara Journey cruise". We arrived at Port Liberty to find it was The Azamara" not the Celebrity, classic bait and switch. After day two we dubbed our ship" Azamara Surprise". There was no "early or late" seating as stated. We awoke many mornings to the sound of welding going on outside of our room because the ship was still under renovations. And we're not talking the general touch up paint that one may see while cruising. We're talking having to walk around the partitions that were lined up in the hallway that were eventually installed as separations for our "verandas". One morning one of the workers actually walked into our cabin after knocking very lightly on the door, which we didn't even get a chance to answer before he walked right in! He was looking for the workers outside of our cabin! Many of the wait staff was inexperienced. They told us that they were previously busboys on the last cruise ship and had no experience as waiters but were offered this job. The cafeteria style dining was horrible! Often times there were no coffee cups, juice machines w/no juice and the floors in the area constantly were wet! I feared for the older passengers! We often waited in line to be seated in the dining room. You had to ASK for coffee/tea, the salt and peppershakers didn't work and the server's uniforms were in terrible shape! . The complimentary dinner was very good but these were the types of meals we had on previous cruises at no extra cost! Getting food after 10pm was impossible as there were no little stand type eateries. Hot tub and pools often closed. The best entertainment was the few great karaoke passengers! The best part of the cruise was getting OFF the ship to wander beautiful Bermuda! Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
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