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155 Azamara Senior Cruise Reviews

Azamara Journey - Southeastern Mediterranean (October 11, 2009 - October 25, 2009) "The Pursuit of Excellence" Reflecting on the voyage, I would characterize the ethos of the ship's officers, staff, and crew as ... Read More
Azamara Journey - Southeastern Mediterranean (October 11, 2009 - October 25, 2009) "The Pursuit of Excellence" Reflecting on the voyage, I would characterize the ethos of the ship's officers, staff, and crew as having a focus on this motivation by demonstrated behavior and actions. For the record, we are in no way connected to the cruise company or any travel business - we are experienced cruisers - on the Azamara Journey and mostly on Celebrity ships but also with Royal Caribbean and Holland America. Now, on to some specific observations and reflections: Azamara - The Product is Cruise Experiences - the Strength is its People After completing our second voyage on the Azamara Journey, our conclusion is that we had two outstanding cruise experiences due to the wonderful people who serve on this ship. This time, the top leadership setting a tone of excellence were Captain Georgios Theodorou, Staff Captain Manos Aposkitis, Hotel Director Heike Cramer, and Food and Beverage Manager Ryszard Gusmann, It can be said that all the crew and staff 'have got it' - they consistently provide great customer service with a smile and go out of their way to please and 'do what needs to be done and do it well'. It was especially heartwarming to renew the friendships with many of the staff whom we had met on previous voyages. Embarkation and Sailing The embarkation process at the port of Piraeus was terribly delayed by the Port's Government officer responsible for passport control. He took 'his sweet time' to get into his station, simply to demonstrate that 'all were beholden to him' - how frustrating for the ship's management who were ready to receive passengers on board but couldn't proceed with the embarkation. The Onboard Experience Eating/Dining Having dined at Three-Star Michelin restaurants in Europe and at other fine dining establishments, leads one to have certain perspectives and expectations with respect to dining out. On the other hand, it is important to keep situations and circumstances in perspective, when it comes to eating and dining at sea. Based on our experience on the Azamara Journey, execution in everyday details is guided and exemplified by great leadership - service with excellence is provided under the direction of Heike Cramer (Hotel Director), assisted by Food and Beverage Manager, Ryszard and his team. The leadership is constantly practicing MBWA—Management By Walking Around, checking and correcting and perfecting. It is indeed a great pleasure to eat and dine great food selections beautifully presented, in a variety of settings: 'Open Seating' main dining in Discoveries Dining Room, various daily buffet selections in Windows Cafe, and the upscale Specialty Dining Restaurants (Aqualina and Prime C). Some special features to be highlighted are the Sushi Bar, the fresh juice and smoothie bar, very good selections of appetizers, main course dishes, and a fabulous baking and dessert presentation. Evening dinners in the Dining Room were always a wonderful experience - being welcomed with a friendly greeting by Maitre'd Moustafa - having great food with great presentation served by several outstanding waiters, Mario, Darren, Philbert. Everyone, at every level, is tuned to providing excellent service with attention to details - the prevailing attitude is 'listening and following up' on any suggestions that are provided. Serving staff and all ship service personnel always greet cruisers in friendly ways and offer assistance at every turn. Stateroom and Service On the R-8 Class of ships, a long voyage is much more comfortable in one of the Sky Suites - more space in every sense - a large amount of storage space, a larger bathroom with a bathtub/shower, excellent products (Elemis) - really a nice way to 'clean up' and perform the 'beautification routines'. The towels are nice and thick and very absorbent and the bedding is great. How were we looked after by our stateroom attendants (butler and assistant)? Let's say it straight - "the team of Arvind, Alvin, and Kevin were terrific". We don't look to a butler to unpack or pack but we expect service with excellence and that is what it has been. These guys aimed to please in every way: extra champagne glasses and a cheese tray and a plate of prawns to host some guests were delivered; soiled shoes after visiting Egyptian cities were cleaned in short order; any small requests were looked after expeditiously - all in all, the stateroom service team performed very well and showed great disposition. Entertainment and Programming The efforts of Cruise Director Tony Markey are recognized. Although the stage entertainment was not always to our liking (obviously, a subjective assessment), we appreciated the high quality of classical and vocal talent being featured. Some of the social gathering areas like the Cova Cafe and the entrance area to the Main Dining Room, became very popular whenever the pianist and harpist performed. Other Amenities Thalassotherapy Pool at the front of the ship, accessed from the Spa area, is overpriced. The T-Pool is fine but not nearly as wonderful as in other Celebrity ships (disregarding the size aspect) - the seating rails are not a comfortable configuration. The Steam rooms (male and female rooms) are really good - marble benches and good space for six people of so. The ship's Internet Communication Service needs to be significantly improved - it works with one of the worst Login and Time-tracking scripts I have experienced on ships. Guest Relations is blessed with some wonderful people with great disposition and patience - Yasemin deserves special mention. Ports and Tours This southeastern Mediterranean cruise was a very port-intensive voyage with extensive tour packages offered. Orientations to ports and tours were provided by the Shore Excursions Director and the outstanding and highly stimulating onboard Destination Lecturer, Jon Fleming. Overall - this was an outstanding cruise experience - reassuring us, that Azamara is continuing its 'pursuit of perfection'. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Azamara was easy to book.  I booked direct because they promised to match any prices decreases. Booked our own air directly with USAirways.  We also booked our own hotels for our stays before and after the cruise.  We took taxis to/from ... Read More
Azamara was easy to book.  I booked direct because they promised to match any prices decreases. Booked our own air directly with USAirways.  We also booked our own hotels for our stays before and after the cruise.  We took taxis to/from the ship.  The cruise line charges for these services seemed too high for us.  For example, we stayed at Le Meridien in Barcelona for 179E including breakfast.  They even threw in museum passes and coupons for coffee. I got a great deal and I knew it.  I booked an guarantee cabin on the ship.  I got an assigned cabin about 2 months prior to sailing.  It did not include an upgrade.  I was a bit dissappointed that we did not get any upgrade.  Not even one cat.  Captains Club advanced standing got us nothing.  However, our balcony cabin was fine.  Certainly enough space for storage.  Our butler stored out larger luggage.  We put our carryons under the beds. The storage space was good.  The bathroom was a bit small, but okay.  We got used to taking showers sideways.  The shampoo/conditioner/soap were excellent quality.  Towels were big and heavy.Hairdryer was good. Bathrobes and slippers were provided.  Also, a cloth totebag, umbrella, binoculars, hairdryer were in the cabin. We brought a plastic waterbottle which we had our butler fill with ice and water.  It was great on excursions. Beds were okay. We really enjoyed the deck area  when we were able to use it.What we did in ports:  Gibraltar  ....took a shared taxi to town.  Took a taxi to top of the rock, went inside the caves, saw the  apes.    La Coruna...walked in the old town  St. Malo.....walked the ramparts, enjoyed the stores and quaint streets, ate lunch at a cafe  Rouen........took the express train to Paris (1 hr), ate lunch at Pompeii ( a nice cafe near Madeline which we had found a previous trip), took the metro to Muse D'Orsay, walked in the Tulleries gardens, metro to St. Lazarre train station where we went back to Rouen, ate dinner at a cafe in the old market square in Rouen  Antwerp..... took the ship excursion to Ghent for a canal ride and tour (very good tour)  London.......took the ship excursion London Panorama and Pub Lunch( very good tour)  Amsterdam.... tram to flower market, tram to Riijksmuseum, walked to the Van Loon House ( a find), walked through the antique district, tram to ship  Kiel Canal.....enjoyed watching the process of going through the locks.  The scenery along the canal was beautiful.  We wanted to sit on our balcony and enjoy.  However, on that day we were shocked to find 2 Azamara workers on our deck scraping, painting, etc.  We had not been told that this was to happen.  The smell was awful and we were not able to enjoy our balcony that day.  Be aware that the cabins balconies connect ..a key is needed to open them.  We were not happy.  Copenhagen...disembarkment was a breeze.  Taxis were easy to get.  Taxis took credit cards.  Stayed at Hilton.  It was an excellent hotel and a short walk to the airport.   I liked the open seating, the casual dress, no lines.  The food was good, but not gourmet.  The coffee was poor.  The choices could have been better. On a 14 night cruise, the desserts were repeated too often.  Most entrees were good, but portions were very large. Specialty restaurants were a nice option.  Liked Prime C better than Aquilina.  Service was excellent. I missed the therapy pools on Celebrity....the outdoor pool on the front deck of the spa wasn't very good. Would I cruise again on Azamara?  Most likely....if I like the intinery and the price was right.  The service was very good. Philip, the hotel director seems to really care.  John Howell makes the cruise fun.  Everyone smiles.  People are happy.  Sign up for the CruiseCritcs party.  We had 4 get togthers with our group.       Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Several priorities led us to select this particular cruise: 1. TIMING was to coincide with our 40th anniversary. 2. DURATION since we prefer cruises of ten or more days. 3. COST, or perhaps I should say value. 4. ITINERARY, which proved to ... Read More
Several priorities led us to select this particular cruise: 1. TIMING was to coincide with our 40th anniversary. 2. DURATION since we prefer cruises of ten or more days. 3. COST, or perhaps I should say value. 4. ITINERARY, which proved to be the bonus element for this cruise.  5. CLIMATE, we would be escaping summer heat and wanted moderate to cool weather.This particular sailing of AZAMARA Journey fulfilled all of our requirements in a spectacular fashion.  The only thing I would change about this entire trip would be to allow another day in Barcelona. Flying in from California only one day ahead was not really sufficient. We had to choose to either see Barcelona or catch up on sleep. Sadly, sleep won. After nearly falling off the top level of the hop on hop off bus, we gave in and returned to Hotel Colon for a "nap" that lasted until the next morning. If you want a hotel that puts you in the middle of the Cathedral square, adjacent to shopping and at the hub of the city, Hotel Colon will fit your criteria. Their strength is the premier location and the very nice breakfast that is included with your room. If you need the comfort of a plush room with high end bedding, you might want to look elsewhere, but we would choose this hotel again based entirely on location. Embarkation was a complete breeze. We waltzed through the whole process without lines or delay. The ship is lovely. Public rooms are comfortable and the veranda suite seemed very similar to the same category suite on the Celebrity ships we've used in the past. ***AFTER THE ROOM SWITCH... More storage than we could possibly fill. We started the cruise in a standard veranda suite, and moved on the second day to the sky suite. I would estimate that the sky suite provides approximately triple the closet space, drawers and cupboards, and there is no comparison of the counter space, both in the suite and in the bathroom. The shower over the bathtub provides a generous amount of space compared to the tiny stall shower (with its clinging shower curtain) of our original suite. Simply cannot say enough about the luxury of having such a large suite, especially for a cruise as long as this one. The Sky Suite provided space and storage comparable to the Marriott Hotel we used in Copenhagen and it was larger than the Hotel Colon, which we used in Barcelona for the night before embarkation. In the dining room on the first evening, we ordered a couple of bottles of wine; a white and a red. I'd read from previous reviews that the bottles would be stored and returned to our table on the following night. Since we had demonstrated an interest in the wine list, we were immediately introduced to Boris, the very capable sommelier. He mentioned a wine tasting event being planned on board the ship and inquired about our interest. We were enthusiastic about adding that to our agenda and Boris promised to let us know about the details. I have to tell you, attending that first wine tasting was to be one of our best, all time decisions! Subsequent to that first event, we were privileged to enjoy two entire wine dinners, with specialty dishes and individually paired wines served in an intimate setting for eight to ten guests and attended by ship's officers, Ryszard Gusmann, and Philip Herbert. These proved to be a highlight of the cruise. During the second dinner, which was held in a beautifully adorned Michaels Club, each course was prepared and presented with table side comments from Chef Kyle. We were absolutely treated like royalty at these dinners, and the friendships forged, plus the wonderful company of Ryszard and Philip, all enriched our whole experience. Specialty dining experiences were, as intended, superior to the dining room, though the dining room was quite good. We generally had excellent service and, as promised, any left over wine was promptly delivered to our table each night, regardless where we dined. We did notice that the main dining room seemed to consistently cook a little "to the done" so for you who prefer your beef or lamb on the rare side, don't hesitate to ask for RARE.Another note about the wine and corkage issue, we did take a couple of special birthday and anniversary bottles on board. We knew we would be charged $25. corkage but what we didn't know was how it would be received... The wine staff could not have been more accomodating. They were gracious about accepting our private bottles and even complimentary of our choices. No hint of a negative attitude from anyone. If you have special bottles you really want to take with you, something you care enough about to drag it half way around the world in your luggage, don't worry about being given the cold shoulder from the wine staff. Ports of call and stateroom details are covered separately, but if you are "big people" like we are, and you can afford the extra money, pay for the upgrade to the sky suite. Overall, this was a wonderful itinerary. We were blessed with fabulous weather at each port. Paris and London were both enjoying extraordinarily fine, sunny days during our visit. The alternating sea days and exhausting port excursions proved a perfect balance. The cities like La Coruna, or St Malo, which were meaningless to us before this trip, are now cherished memories with fun stories to accompany our photos. You are reading this review to make a determination of whether you would like to travel on this ship or this itinerary. If you have children traveling with you, you should probably select a different ship. The AZAMARA line does not pretend to cater to children, though there was one family with teenage children on our ship and they seemed to have a great time. If you are a fan of the great big stage shows, you should probably select a different ship. If you need a golf simulator or a climbing wall, this is obviously not your ship. But if you enjoy exceptional service, fine dining, comfortable accomodations and not being faced with standing in line for everything you want to do, by all means, book AZAMARA as soon as you can.As for itinerary, this trip served as a great introduction to Western Europe. We saw places we'd always dreamed of visiting and we also discovered places we'd never heard of before. Sort of a "box of assorted chocolates" approach to visiting Europe.We can't say enough good things about the staff on this ship. As mentioned before, the wait staff, Boris and the entire wine staff, and the chefs were all first rate. We were impressed with a tour of the kitchens and recognize the "unsung heros" who do all the prep work to keep those meals coming endlessly throughout the days and nights. Butler, Soobash, kept our ice bucket filled and learned our preferences. He also decorated for my birthday (without being tipped off by anyone). The tone of hospitality is set by Philip Herbert, Ryszard Gusmann and Boris. They went to great lengths to do anything and everything possible to enhance our experience. We will look forward to sailing with this ship again, partially to renew friendships with these wonderful men. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We had cruised Oceania twice and loved the experiences but was anxious to see if Azamara could raise the bar.  We definitely feel they did!  Although after reading several reviews on this site this past winter I was a little skeptical.  ... Read More
We had cruised Oceania twice and loved the experiences but was anxious to see if Azamara could raise the bar.  We definitely feel they did!  Although after reading several reviews on this site this past winter I was a little skeptical.  There were definitely some negative comments posted here that made me question booking the April 15 Sorrento Stopover but I am glad we did!  Azamara is definitely listening to their clientele and acting upon their comments.  We booked our cruise through Largray Travel (Mary Peptides) who I found online.  I did our own air through Orbitz as we are committed to Delta!  This was the only downer on the trip as Delta left Atlanta an hour late due to boarding a lot of standbys and finding their luggage.  We therefore missed our connection to Venice and because we are talking only a couple days past Easter the first 2 subsequent flights were sold out so we arrived in Venice 9 hours late.  Fortunately, Azamara picked up on our delay and had a private driver there to meet us.(even though their literature said transfers ended at 4 PM)  We left the airport at 5:35 pm and sped to the dock as we were informed the Port Authority closed at 6:00.  This was quite an experience as the Italians shouted at each other as to whether or not we could board as they were closedbut ultimately we did get on and everything went much smoother after that!Azamara hosted a meet and mingle for about 30 of us and did a good job of listening to everyone's comments.  It was the first time we have ever had a group large enough for one of these parties.  They had a least 5 senior officers there to listen to our comments.The itinerary of this cruise was awesome and our main reason for booking.  The dining experiences in all 4 venues were wonderful.  We even thought the Breeza experience much better than on Oceania.  I didn't have a bad meal the whole 10 days and even some very memorable ones.  One dessert (a Pavlovano, not chocolate) was outstandingtasty and very artistic!  I am only sorry I did not get a picture of it!The shore excursion staff did a nice job!  We only booked 3 excursions through them and chose to book others independently in Split and Kotor.  I felt the ones we did were a decent value for the money.Capri and Sorrento we did totally on our own.The crew was outstanding and very friendly.  Captain "Theo" was very approachable and seem to care very much about pleasing his quests. I loved the evening appetizers which were quite tasty and artistic and the night time pillow treats were awesome I always tried at least one before bedtime and stashed the rest in the minibar for later.  Who doesn't love a chocolate covered strawberry with their roomservice coffee in the morning!Azamara you did a fantastic job we will be back! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
The Azamara Journey is a great ship. Beautiful, stately, small. All the things we like. Attentive service from a multi-national crew. Our bar service guys, Jose Jaimes and Alin were the best!!! Our butler, Angela (Alin's wife, I ... Read More
The Azamara Journey is a great ship. Beautiful, stately, small. All the things we like. Attentive service from a multi-national crew. Our bar service guys, Jose Jaimes and Alin were the best!!! Our butler, Angela (Alin's wife, I understand!) and her assistant Jose (whose wife just had twins!!) could not have done any better for us. As it is open seating in the dining rooms, we had many different servers. Roman and Daniel were superb. Hooray to the head Maitre 'de Marius. He kept me from any allergic reactions and his suggestions were spot on! Our hats off to Mags and her aunt Maria for their invaluable wine selection help. Victor and Bernard in the Looking Glass made the best drinks and took great care of us! Ron Hollywood, the DJ, was always open to our suggestions for dance music. Thank you for all the wonderful NEW music!!! Kudos to you all. The sea days intensive itinerary was just what we needed after a hectic holiday season. The pool was always a welcome diversion. We purchased the thalassotherapy pass for the trip ($175 per couple, $99 single), but had to have them refund us around day 10 due to the pool never being warm. It WAS warm once...at 6pm!!!!! Also there was no service there. It's not very relaxing to have to get up and go to the pool bar when you want something. Why there wasn't anyone coming by regularly is beyond me. The spa was nice tho. Steam room, two different showers, lockers, etc. All included and available to every passenger. Didn't use the gym, the stairs did me just fine. Ate all I wanted and didn't gain any weight!!! Might have lost a pound or two actually. Hmmmm. The shows were cheesy, but in a good way. Geared to an older crowd than we. Juggler, ventriloquist, magic show, group show (singers), etc. YES, this ship does tend towards an over 65 crowd. Not a problem for us tho. (I'm 46, my DH is 39) Sue Denning (cruise director)was a joy!!! Such a trouper, and always entertaining. Her "sidekick" Kelsie was a hoot. The orchestra was always great, and the ship's band entertained us many a day and night at the pool and Looking Glass. There was a pianist in Cova most nights that everyone loved, a wonderful harpist at the martini lounge in Discoveries that was just delightful, and a guitarist who was very entertaining. A great cruise on a lovely small ship. Perfect for those who like long voyages with an entertaining mix from the Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, and the USA. No children's facilities, and that's just fine by me! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
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