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28 Azamara Southern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

We've had the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) islands on our radar for quite some time but just never found the right cruise to take. Azamara altered their Fall 2019 itineraries earlier this year after cruises were banned from ... Read More
We've had the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) islands on our radar for quite some time but just never found the right cruise to take. Azamara altered their Fall 2019 itineraries earlier this year after cruises were banned from Cuba, and one of those new itineraries visited the ABCs. The cruise was a late addition to the schedule and I presume wasn't very popular as prices kept dropping. In mid September we found a pricing oddity where it was the same price for a Club Continent Suite as for a Balcony Cabin. We asked friends and family who wanted to join and one nephew and his wife were in. So we booked two adjacent Suites for a bargain fare. We used American Express Platinum card benefits, with each cabin getting $300 in onboard credit; a premium bottle of champagne; and tours of the Bridge, Engine Control Room, and the Galley. So our good deal got even better. The cruise departed and returned to San Juan with stops on St. Maarten, Curacao, Bonair, and Aruba. There were two days at sea on this seven day voyage. We found nice things to do at all of the ports. We've sailed on Azamara once before, visiting the Black Sea and the Crimea peninsula before Russia annexed the Crimea. So we sort of knew what to expect, though we'd never had suite privileges. Our expectations are fairly high. This cruise was good but not great. Cabin -- GOOD Service -- GOOD Specialty Dining -- GREAT Regular Dining -- GOOD Entertainment -- OKAY Shipboard Activities -- GOOD Itinerary -- GREAT Cabins -- We had cabins 8064 and 8066. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom large enough, and there was enough storage for our week's worth of clothes. The room was quiet, and we did spend some time on the respective balconies. The temperature of the room was good, though one cabin was much warmer than the other and maintenance was called to chill down the warmer room. As this was a suite, we had a chilled bottle of Sparkling Wine to welcome us and we were given 4 0.5 liter bottles of Alcohol -- Rum, Vodka, Gin, and Scotch. We were able to trade in 2 0.5 liter bottles for a 1 liter bottle of something else. Suites also include on bag of laundry for each 7 days of cruising. The bags are quite small. We we were able to roll up all of our dirty clothes and fill the bag mid-way through the cruise. Service -- Cabin service was good. We actually had 3 different people serving us in our cabin. First there was the Butler. Apparently 3 butlers are shared between all Azamara suites. The Butler is who we met first, and he offered to help us with anything we might need, like switching out the bottles of alcohol, planning a party in the room, or booking you into a specialty restaurant. He briefed us on our suite privileges, including ability to dine at no charge in specialty restaurants, to have high tea in you suite any afternoon, and to use the Sanctum Spa Terrace -- a quite place to sun and lounge. He was assisted by two cabin stewards. While the service was fine, I didn't get to really know any of the three folks who serviced our room. We did have tea and scones on the first full day of the cruise, and again on the last full day. It's quite a spread they give you, complete with finger sandwiches and a choice of teas; I only wish they had some proper clotted cream to go along with those scones. Specialty Dining -- Both specialty dining restaurants were fantastic. We dined in the steak restaurant twice and in the Italian restaurant once. All of the meats were cooked perfectly in the Steak restaurant. The Italian restaurant had a great succession of starter, pasta course, and meat course. We'd gladly pay to visit these same restaurants where we live. The service in the restaurants matched the food. Regular Dining -- We had a range of experiences, from Fantastic food in the Main Dining Room for dinner to okay lunches in Windows Cafe or The Patio outdoor grill. Breakfast is often my favorite meals, and the food was okay but not great. At breakfast even the made to order items, like sunny-side up eggs, were just okay as the oil the eggs were cooked in just seemed a bit off. Sadly, the sushi was one of my favorite items on the lunch buffet, and the sushi was not nearly as good as I get in my at-home sushi restaurant. The White Nights party/deck buffet was fine....I had hoped for some grilled lobster other cruise lines I've take in the Caribbean (Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Windstar) seem to feature grilled lobster tails; none was served on the Azamara Deck party. One day at sea there was a German Buffet in the Dining Room, complete with a band playing om-pah music; even then the food was just okay. Entertainment -- The entertainment seemed aimed at a different demographic than us. The individual performers were all talented. Other passengers raved about the entertainment. We went to two shows, one of which we left after about 10 minutes. Hopefully those of you reading this will enjoy the entertainment more than we did. Shipboard Activities -- There was enough to do on days at sea, with different activities scheduled just about every hour. We were happy to have our AMEX tours to attend. The galley tour was particularly interesting to me as on this ship the galley is one floor down from the restaurant. Waiters carry trays of food from the galley to the dining room via an escalator. I'm sure it's quite a sight every night when the dining room is full. We did attend the Dollar Origami session and converted Dollar Bills into Peacocks. Itinerary -- the itinerary was great, with long visits to each port. We made the best of each stop. St. Maarten -- we booked a "Cross the Boarder" bike ride with TriSport. It was a 21 mile journey from the Dutch side to the French Side and back. There were several hard climbs with 1,900 ft. elevation change over the journey. We had standard bikes, though were we to do this again, we'd pay for the "assist" bikes to give you some power as you go uphill. All of us walked up one or more of the steepest hills. The guide was on time with nice well maintained equipment. We even stopped by Maho Beach to watch the jets take off and land. Yes, crazy people did hold onto the fence and get sand blasted by those big jet engines. We'd considered visiting Sunset Grill and Bar in the afternoon when the large European flights arrive/depart but we got a taste with the regional jets and there were so many people at the bar and beach we just knew it would be packed when the big planes were arriving/departing. Curacao -- in the morning we'd booked a "free walking tour" with Kevin. It was interesting, insightful, and useful to hear the stores and learn about the island through a local guide. Kevin was there on time, and we had a private tour for 4. He even took us to a local food court and got us samples of two dishes -- one featuring Goat and one featuring Okra. We also hung out on the floating bridge that connects the sides of Curacao. We stayed on the bridge for one of the short openings, when a small boat needs to enter the harbor. and the bridge closes to foot traffic for about 10 minutes. In the afternoon we took a tour with Azamara to see items Made in Curacao. There were 3 stops -- an Aloe Farm, a Brewery, and a Blue Curacao Liquor Distillery. Each were interesting, though three in our group really like beer, so we enjoyed the brewery the most. There were four ships in Curacao this day (apparently there are NEVER four ships in port at the same time), and the downtown area was quite busy. We were the last ship to leave the port that night, after 10pm. Bonaire -- Bonaire is known for its diving. It's one of the few places where you can dive great sites directly off the beach; no need for a boat. We hired two dive masters and equipment so that we could dive Bonaire. We used BonScuba. Two of us are certified divers and two had never taken a dive. BonScuba provided all the equipment and they transported us to the selected dive site. Two of us went with one Dive Master for an hour tour of the local reef, and two had some lessons then did an introductory dive on the same reef. The equipment was well maintained but not new. The diving was good. We found a walking tour online before we traveled to Bonaire and did a short walk around the town in the afternoon. Other passengers on the ship commented that there was nothing to do in Bonaire. We found it small and very laid back. We would have been board without the diving. Aruba -- We booked a half day Landrover Adventure with Azamara. 13 people were seated in something that resembled a safari jeep, but enlarged to seat up to 16 folks. We stopped at several sights, including a (fallen) sea arch, a lighthouse, and a beautiful chapel. The undeveloped part of Aruba is quite beautiful. We were surprised as how many people we saw in that undeveloped part on horses, dune buggies, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, and all sorts of other vehicles. The tour stopped at a beach for about 30 minutes of sun/sand. In the afternoon, we took a 30 minute walk down to the Reflections Beach Bar for some cocktails/beer and free wifi. Reflections is on a quite beach and they provide chairs, umbrellas, food, and drink for a reasonable price. This evening in Aruba, we had our Azamazing Event. On our previous Azamara cruise, the Azamazaing Evening transported us to a Winery in Ukraine, where we dined and tasted their wines while watching local dancers including the awarding winning Russian Sailor Dance; that was amazing. The one in Aruba was not so. The event was held on the ship. There were two shifts -- Eat then see the entertainment, or vice versa. We chose to Eat later. The steel pan band was okay and the dancers were good. But the show just went on too long. When we were finally released, the next shift was lined up all through the ship waiting to get into the theater. I understand the show was shortened for the 2nd shift. The Azamazing Evening Dinner was Caribbean style food, served buffet style in both the Dining Room and in Windows Cafe. The food was unremarkable. San Juan -- we stayed in San Juan the night before the cruise. We also had a full day in San Juan after we disembarked, so we spent some time about town. For dinner the night before the cruise, we visited Lote23. It's sort of like a permanent food truck roundup. We had some great local food there along with nice craft cocktails that feature local ingredients. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for someplace different to eat. On disembarkation day, we did a self guided walking tour and had lunch at Barrachia -- the supposed birthplace of the Pina Colada. Barrachia is also the place where, for the cost of a tip, you can check your bags for the day. So that's our week trip. We particularly liked the ports, the food in the specialty restaurants, and the suite privileges. The ship was in good shape. We'll travel with Azamara again, but only on for a unique itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Azamara Journey 11-30-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean ... Read More
Azamara Journey 11-30-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean Highlights Voyage” followed by the “7-Night Caribbean Breezes Voyage” was available at a terrific price and with nice booking incentives. As we had always wanted to try Azamara, this seemed like the best “Plan B” to use our planned vacation time. This review picks up in San Juan PR as we return to the Journey for this segment of our B2B cruise. The Uber driver returned us to the Journey and other than maybe a ten minute wait to get through security we were soon back on board. Lunch was enjoyed on the patio and we returned to our cabin to store the rest of our things. We had our complementary laundry bag ready for our room steward to pick up and took our laundry bag of “Special items” (mostly lightweight Columbia wear) to the laundry room to do ourselves. We were surprised to find we were not the only back to back cruisers who had this idea that this was a great time to do laundry, but we had no problem getting two washers and then a single dryer to clean everything. This was the first time ever that we were excused from the muster drill. Walking around the ship we just keep telling crew members 'In transit guests' and they smiled and waved us on. The cruise critic meet and greet was set for 6:30 PM. We attended and met the roll call members we will be touring with on a few of the islands. One couple asked if they could join us for dinner so we headed to the dining room and were able to get a four-top in Shaad's area. Arriving late (at 7:00) on a very busy dining room night and with our needed special orders, it took nearly three hours to complete dinner. We did not intend to attend Eric's welcome in the showroom of the show of “Come sail away” which we saw last week, so at this point we wandered past the shops and called it a night. Sunday, December 1 - At Sea A truly beautiful day as sea sums up this Sunday. We slept in until after 7:30. DW took the time to do her PT exercises, and I went to get some tea. There is a dining room brunch today so we waited on breakfast. Eric hosted a non-denominational church service in the Drawing Room. About 20 attended and Eric had some really good stories to tell. We also learned that his father was a Presbyterian minister. Following the service we enjoyed brunch and were able to sit in Shaad's area. We then went up to the pool area and I was only able to find one lounger in the shade. I took that one as DW wanted to look over the shops (nothing new) and sign up for the complimentary afternoon “Ladies Pamper Party” hosted by the spa. Shortly after DW came up the pool deck the couple next to me relinquished their loungers so DW took the one next to me. We stayed there reading and listening to the sounds of Vibz. We had a light lunch at the Patio and also moved lounger seats to stay in the shade. The couple we had dinner with last night told us that the price for the internet package is based on the number of days, and therefore it goes down each day. By tomorrow, if we haven't used our complimentary minutes, those minutes would pay for the package the rest of the cruise. We will certainly check that out! DW attended the 3:00 Ladies Pamper Party and really enjoyed the complimentary mini-facial. I returned to the cabin to clean up and get ready for the evening. I brought my log up to date. We visited the Living Room for the start of the Starlight Trio's set and then went to Discoveries at 6:00 for dinner. Guest Entertainer David Knight, a hypnotist, gave a really good show. Getting audience volunteers took him a while, and then about half the volunteers tested out, but it was a good & 'clean' show. After the show we visited the Living Room and listened to Vibz a while. We also danced. Then it was time to call it a night as we have a full day tomorrow! Monday, December 2 – Bridgetown, Barbados Our tour today booked through the ship is a photography tour with a local professional photographer, but it does not meet until 1:00. So despite at least three previous visits to Barbados, we never went downtown to Bridgetown, so we made that our morning excursion. We began the day with breakfast in Discoveries. About 8:45 or so we made our way outside, walked to and through the cruise terminal (which you have to walk all the way around so as to pass all the vendors who have paid for space there), and out the distant “Independent” doorway. We found a cab and for US$2 each caught a ride into Bridgetown. The driver offered to take those of us going to town to the 'far end' of town so we would walk back along the main shopping street. We did that, and actually found the 'far end' had more sights to see, including Independence Square and the parliament building. There is also a marina with several bridges crossing it, near the main bus station. We enjoyed exploring the town for about 2 hours, having purchased one shirt. We caught a cab back to the port and looked around the outside vendors. At the first one (furthest from the actual terminal building) we found a shirt for me and a nice Caribbean dress for DW. These will make an appearance at tonight's Caribbean party. We then went back to the Journey with just enough time for some lunch before heading out to our tour. There were 18 on the tour and gratefully this was in a bus built for 30 or more. Our guide was excellent and our tour took us far from the port to the rarely visited by cruisers area on the Northeastern coast of Barbados which they call the “Scotland” district. Everything here is very green and lush. We shot a great deal of photos of both man built and natural elements. The last stop of the tour was at the Atlantis hotel where we each enjoyed a superb Jamaican Rum Punch while watching the waves crash of the rocks. We returned to the Journey at about 5:20 and rushed to get ready for the Caribbean party as we were to attend the 6:00 show. This performance was not as enjoyable as the one on the first leg of the cruise. It was totally different but the emphasis here was less our cup of tea. The final segment, featuring a man on stilts in the showroom, was certainly the best part of the show. We had 8:00 reservations at Prime C. We went a little early and were seated all the way aft by the rear windows. Before 9:00 the skies opened up so that certainly showed that the staff made the right decision having the Caribbean event in the Cabaret. Dinner was very enjoyable but after this exhausting day it was a challenge to stay awake. We called it a night after dinner. Tuesday, December 3, Castries, St. Lucia, also DW's birthday. Early start to the day so we had a quick breakfast in the Windows Cafe. We saw our touring friends there and they actually were at our meeting spot before we were! I had already received an e-mail from our tour guide, Kurt of Island Man Taxi & Tours confirming our meeting spot, just outside the terminal building. Two other ships in port with us, the Queen Mary 2 (tendering – a long tender ride) and the Summit. We met Kurt before 8:30 and walked a few blocks to his van, parked in the garage of a Massy supermarket. Off we went with Kurt. First stop was an overlook high up with a great view of Castries and the surrounding area. Next we headed south down the West coast road. Kurt explained that nearly the only sign one sees is the “Hairpin curve ahead” sign. He was sure right about this. Between the windiness and the condition of the road (not the greatest for sure) I believe the average speed was no more than 30 KPH. Kurt did seem to know where the many potholes were and missed 98% of them. The next stop was a slow drive through one of the coastal villages. When climbing the hill on the far side, he stopped at an overlook where someone he obviously knew had a small shop. While there his friend, with a guitar, serenaded DW with a “Happy birthday” song. Back in the van, Kurt said that this fellow is the St. Lucian “Bob Marley” and knows just about any song one can imagine. We continued on driving through the coastal rain forest and another coastal village. We stopped at an overlook of the city of Soulfriere. This was again another great view and was also our first really good view of the famous Pitons. From here we could also see the steam from volcanic hot springs a little inland from the Pitons. We drove through Soulfriere and Kurt pointed out the Hummingbird beach area we would visit later. We then drove up hill from the town to the entrance of the Tet Paul Nature Trail. This trail took us past many native plants including both flowers and fruits. We saw pineapple growing, one per plant. Our guide explained that each plant produces one pineapple per year. There were great overlooks over country villages and we had unbelievable views of the Pitons and surrounding seas. The boats down on the sea looked so small from our vantage point. Just like the Piton trail, going back down was harder than going up. We need to take care on the high steps going down so it took a while. Reaching the ticket booth area we found many mini-buses parked and large groups just starting off, about a dozen per guide. We felt very blessed we were just a group of four! Back in Kurt's van, he gave all of us a Rum Punch made with St. Lucian rum. We next drove to the Toraille waterfall, where the two men went bathing directly under the waterfall. This waterfall was easily 75 feet high, and when standing right under the main part, it really beat up on the skin it was so forceful. From there, we headed to a great restaurant in Soulfriere for a seafood lunch. Lunch was very enjoyable and very reasonable at about $10/pp. From here, we went to the beach. We all went swimming and spent about an hour at the beach. Then it was time for the return to Castries, which took over 90 minutes of twisting and turning road. Kurt dropped us off at the terminal and handed DW a birthday gift, which was much appreciated and unexpected! Back on board, as it was now 4:30, we needed to get ready as quickly as possible for the 5:00 Club Voyage party. Dinner followed in Discoveries and was again very good. The show was “Jump, Jive, and Swing.” Even though we saw this last cruise it was so good we again attended. The staff changed the show some from last week and those changes made it even better. After the show we listed to Vibz in the Living Room for a few songs and called it a night. Oh, and the captain told us at the Club Voyage party (followed by a ship wide announcement) that tomorrow's call at Dominica had been canceled due to violent protests ahead of their Friday elections. We were headed to Martinique instead. I sent an e-mail to our tour guide in Dominica, Nature Isle Explorer Day Tours, asking for a refund of our tour deposit. Wednesday December 4 – Fort-De-France, Martinique (re-routed from Roseau, Dominica) All best laid plans sometimes need to change, and this is one of those days. We were not able to put together a literal 'last minute' tour so with some e-mail hints from our friends who were on last week's cruise, we walked the 3500 steps (each way) to the ferry boat landing. Fortunately we walked with the friends from our St. Lucia tour as my credit card would not work in the ticket machine and they didn't take debit/ATM cards. Tickets purchased we took the ferry across the bay to Anse a l'Ane. In talking with locals they said the beach was normally very nice but recent storms had kicked up a lot of rocks. They assured us the water is tested and safe. Looking back we are not so certain. In any case, we paid $5 each for beach chairs (in the shade) and I did take a swim for about 30 minutes. There is a lot of leaves and stuff in the water until you get quite far out, where the water became more translucent. After about 2 hours we decided to head back as the ship's wine and lunch were calling. Soon enough the ferry appeared, we rode across, and walked the 3500 steps back to the ship. Why so far? Being a last minute port, we were docked at the Tourelles Cruise Terminal rather than the one right downtown. We certainly enjoyed lunch and found the pool looked rather crowded. We ended up retreating to our cabin for a bit of a rest as we want to stay up for Eric's show tonight. We listened to the Starlight Trio a while before dinner. We dropped off the note to the couple we are renting a car with tomorrow, and enjoyed dinner in Discoveries. We opted to see the Piano entertainer, Peter Rossetti, in his main stage show “Rocket Man meets Piano Man.” The music is good but I had a hard time staying awake. I worked on my log between shows, and then Eric de Gray came on with his “Broadway Showstoppers” show. This is a terrific show and was just as good as the prior week. Better in fact as we had better seats this time. This is a 75 minute show and the time flies by – no problem staying awake either! After the show we called it a night. Thursday, December 5, Charlestown, Nevis – St. Nicholas Day (Netherlands) The Journey was right on time and tenders began at about 8:00 heading over to the small island of Nevis. We had arranged through cruise critic to share a rental car with another couple. The main road around Nevis is pretty good and can be driven in about one hour. We decided to drive it counter-clockwise so our first stop would be the Botanical Garden. It took quite some doing to reach the garden as the main route was blocked by road construction. The gardens are very nice, with a decidedly Asian theme. In fact, the restaurant in the gardens is a Thai restaurant. We spent about two hours at the gardens, including about a 5 minute shower. From the gardens we continued on our drive trying to reach the rocky beachfront near the lime kiln we saw on the map. We could not reach it, but did spend about 10 minutes with some local children who seemed transfixed that we had happened on their road! We continued our circuit and stopped by the ruins of a sugar plantation. Much of the equipment was still in place and this is now a historic site. Great views were available from nearly every vantage point on the island. Further along we stopped at a beach immediately 'behind' the airport affording incredible views of nearby St. Kitts. By this point we were getting pretty exhausted and sitting in the back seat bouncing around was taking it's toll. We asked our touring friends if they would mind dropping us back at the tender pier and they were most accommodating. We headed back to Journey and had a late lunch recovering from our circuit adventure of Nevis. That evening was the White Night party. We had our dinner in Discoveries and then proceeded up to the pool deck. We sat with friends and nibbled a little before the entertainment began. This was essentially the same show we had seen on the previous cruise segment however the feeling was quite different being out on the open deck. We truly appreciate the amount of work the crew has to invest in changing over the entire pool deck to have this event! What an incredible time. One of the photographers took our photo dancing and that photo ending up becoming our Christmas card photo – appropriate as it is St. Nicholas day! We called it a night after the party. Friday, December 6 – St. Barts The only repeat port on the two cruises was St. Barts. This time we took our time going over and brought our snorkeling gear. We walked to “Shell beach” and quickly discovered that the snorkeling there was best on the left side, by the rocks. I saw thousands of fish of many types and really enjoyed snorkeling there. After having more than our fill of the water, we cleaned the sand off everything and began walking back to the tenders. We met a number of guests along the way just heading to the beach. We told them what we could to enhance their experience. We had a nice conversation with the crew member handling refreshments at the tender pier while waiting for the tender. Everyone onboard is so friendly. Back on board we found two shaded chairs and relaxed with some soft drinks and wine. We enjoyed a swim in the pool, being the only ones in the pool. We enjoyed a last lunch at the Patio, and relaxed a little more in our chairs. Later that day we packed a good portion of our stuff for the return home the next day. The Discovers Club Voyage event was at the aft bar on deck 9 for sail-away. We had a very nice time at this event. The last dinner of the cruise in Discoveries was terrific, and the chocolate buffet had many items different from the prior cruise. We talked some with the pastry chef about his creations. This last night the entertainment team presented “Just Dance.” We missed this show on the first segment and greatly enjoyed everything about it. We then went back to the cabin to finalize the luggage and put it out for pick up. Saturday, December 6 – Disembarkation and return home We woke before the alarm went off. We left our cabin a little after 7:00 bringing our carry off bags with us to the Windows cafe so the cabin team could ready our room for the embarking guests. We had a nice breakfast with all the crew members thanking us for sailing with them. Shaad stopped by and wished us safe travels home. At about 8:40 we headed out with our carry-off bags to find the captain, hotel manager, and Eric De Gray, along with a few other officers wishing everyone safe travels and come back again! With no rush of guests it was nice to stop and chat for a few moments. We found our luggage with no issue and had no wait at all at customs. So nice not to have a line, and the agent asked how our cruise was. We headed outside and dropped our luggage and got into the bus to transfer to the airport. Our driver was entertaining but dropped us at the wrong spot, assuring us our luggage would arrive. After a few minutes DW noticed luggage down at the other end of the terminal and sure enough all the luggage for those in the van was down there. Summary: We have cruised about 35 times. The majority of cruises are on Celebrity and Holland America, with a few other lines occasionally. Really enjoy the smaller ships. Favorite ship was HAL Prinsendam but it was sold. New favorite is the Journey. A few years ago I wrote in a review “I guess the days of 5-star cruising are history.” Well, that is not true. I feel that Azamara gives a five star experience. When we can, if the price fits into the budget, we would happily cruise on Azamara again. The food and service are great! Love the more inclusiveness of the fare. The thing that was very unexpected is the quality of the entertainment. It is hard to remember a cruise where we enjoyed every bit of the entertainment as much as we have on these two cruises. Some of the shows were repeated during the second segment. They are so good we went to see them a second time! So 5 stars for the good ship Journey. May she and her outstanding crew have a long and happy life! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I would say this is one of the best cruises I've been on, if not THE best. Some background. I traveled with my husband. We have been on about 37 cruises each and this was our first Azamara cruise. We have sailed on Norwegian, ... Read More
I would say this is one of the best cruises I've been on, if not THE best. Some background. I traveled with my husband. We have been on about 37 cruises each and this was our first Azamara cruise. We have sailed on Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. At first, I had concerns about going on a ship this size, having recent been on the gargantuan Allure of the Sea and Anthem of the Sea. I kept saying, "This ship is so small!" But it turned out that what it lacked in size it more than made up for in personal service. I mean, where else do you find a ship where the hotel manager and the food and beverage director personally serve you at the chocoholic buffet? Embarkation was a total breeze. As suite guests we were 3rd and 4th on board. The who check-in was as simple as simple can be -- no lines, no crowds, and the ship's hotel director was even there to supervise. The ship is beautiful and easy to get around. They definitely make the most of what they have. For instance, the showroom is really a cabaret space so there are no props and scenery, which puts more focus on the entertainment. The library (the Drawing Room) is a large and beautiful space with a multitude of books. This ship was never crowded, there were always plenty of tables in the patio and we were usually the only people in the elevator.s. As far as activities, there wasn't really a lot to do onboard, but I had to get used to that. Many of the activities in the daily program were self-led and others were sales pitches from the spa. For those who want gambling, this is not the ship for you and for those who want good shopping onboard, there are only 2 shops. In my mid-cruise customer satisfaction survey, I noted that there was not a lot to do and this was noted by the cruise director, who actually stopped me after one of the shows one evening and told me that he had tried to introduce audience participation events and games you might find on other ships, but this was a different crowd. I appreciated that there was a representative from the port who either came onboard or stayed at the pier to advise us as to where to go in port.Also, the Colors of the Caribbean event (a substitute for the AzaMazing Evening we would have had on the original Cuban itinerary) was phenomenal and truly entertaining! The White Night party was very well done, and the food was beyond delicious! If you love sushi, this cruise is for you. The service on this ship is beyond comparison! Everyone, and I mean everyone, goes out of his or her way to please you! I must give special thanks to our cabin steward, Kusairi, assistant steward Rowell and butler Alfie; and waiter Godson for fabulous service. Alfie brought us room service on time, and every afternoon we would come back to our room to find wine, fresh flowers, cheese and crackers, hors d'oeuvers, and prosciutto and melon. I also want to mention a wonderful encounter I had with a cleaner named named Sam from the island of Kalimantan in Indonesia. Sam was so proud of his country and literally gave me a speech on the geography, nature and tourist spots in Indonesia. We purchased several shore excursions on this cruise since we had a lot of cabin credit. In Barbados, we went to Harrison's Cave -- not the best cave we've been to but fascinating nevertheless. In St. Lucia, we went on a coastal cruise to the Pitons, which was very picturesque and well worth it. In Nevis, we went on a snorkel trip, also very lovely. In San Juan, we had time to kill before heading to the airport so we took the El Yunque rainforest tour, which I highly recommend. Our cabin was beautiful and super-comfortable. We had a Club Continent Suite, which is not a suite per se, but let's say, a cabin with lots of legroom -- almost like a small hotel room. It came with slippers and robes (which we never used) a bathtub, and of course, a butler. We truly felt spoiled. Dining was amazing. The buffet, although quite small, had a wonderful selection. We like the fact that the waiters came around with coffee and juice, unlike other cruise lines where you have to go to a machine to get your own. Everything in the main dining room was delicious and beautifullly plated. The outdoor Patio restaurant was a great place to eat when getting back late from shore excursions. And we loved the food in Aqualina and Prime C, the specialty restaurants. I'd say this ship had some of the most memorable cruise ship meals we have eaten. I give the entertainment very high marks! The singers and dancers are energetic and full of talent. Eric De Gray, the cruise director, is extremely talented. David Knight, a hypnotist, performed and I was in the show. The live music on board is fabulous. I wanted to mention what a pleasure it was to talk with fellow passengers -- all of whom were well traveled and smart -- and very down to earth! In summary, I have to say that it would be difficult for me to go back to a megaship now that I have been on Azamara Journey. I appreciate the smaller size and the warm, gracious, personal service i experienced on my "Azamara Journey"! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I have just returned home from my first but not last Azamara cruise with my husband. We have sailed on a wide number of lines from Royal Caribbean to Silver Seas and this was the best yet. I follow the reviews and was skeptical when ... Read More
I have just returned home from my first but not last Azamara cruise with my husband. We have sailed on a wide number of lines from Royal Caribbean to Silver Seas and this was the best yet. I follow the reviews and was skeptical when reading the Azamara ones. But in all honesty, we can say they exceeded our expectations. The ship is older as reported and the bathroom and balconies are small, however, this is to do with the basic restrictions of an older ship. From the moment we arrived in the cruise ship terminal until the disembarkation with Captain Smith seeing us off and thanking us for coming, we felt at home. The service is excellent and friendly without being snobby. The food was really good and healthy choices could be found everywhere. We did not try the Prime C or Aqualina because we loved the theme buffets each evening on the back deck. A perfect combination of self service and wait staff assistance. Fellow passengers were Brits, Americans and Aussies with a sprinkling of others. Everyone was cheerful and friendly and happy with the cruise. The ports of call were super, all small Caribbean islands without the hubbub of shopping and thousands of other cruisers. The entertainment was terrific with a live orchestra. The dancers were all accomplished and Russ the cruise director was a welcome addition as he is also a professional singer. We enjoyed the lecturers on board and learned more about the history of the Caribbean. The wine which was served in abundance was just fine. If we didn't like one they found us another. It is not billed as a wine cruise so expect decent drinkable wine. All in all we were impressed from start to finish and tips really are included. While we tipped our excellent room attendant be because he was just so good, we never got the feeling from any staff that is was expected. Loved the Azamara Quest Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
694 people signed up for a cruise advertised as New Year's Eve in St. Barts!!!!!!! On every photo it said south beach to st. Barts New Year's Eve!!!! Why didn't they deliver what was promised???? Why don't the ... Read More
694 people signed up for a cruise advertised as New Year's Eve in St. Barts!!!!!!! On every photo it said south beach to st. Barts New Year's Eve!!!! Why didn't they deliver what was promised???? Why don't the passengers have any recourse????? All of us could have taken any cruise line!!!! We signed up because we were going to st barts. The captain knew that the harbor was going to be busy. He knew in advance that we were going to tender! Why weren't the proper provisions made???? My entire 8 day cruise was ruined as was everyone else's!!!! That is all anyone spoke about!!! People came from all over the world to go on this cruise!!! The food was awful, the service wasn't great, they had the casino closed for 3 nights! Who heard of a casino closed on New Year's Eve???? it was beyond boring!!! instead of being in st barts where the casino would of opened at 6pm we were docked in st Maarten where we were the previous day until 12 midnight!!!! We were there for the aza amazing evening!!! We were promised a 16 piece calypso band! I didn't know that we would be seeing 5 year old s playing the drums and women wearing inappropriate costumes dancing around!!!! We tendered in Nevis and virgin gorda where the water was rougher. Two men took your hand and put you in the tenders, no big deal!!! Supposedly in st barts, one or two tenders went out. The president of azamara was on our ship and you know that his wife was on one of those tenders!!!!! We had to wait for 5 hours while the people who had excursions came back!!! They let them go, because they made money on that , but the other people who wanted to explore on their own, were tole that the water was too choppy and couldn't get off!!!! How did the other 154 yachts get their passengers off and into st barts??????? The only nice thing about the cruise was the room was crisp and clean!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
December 2013. We have just returned home from our 2nd Azamara Club Cruise. This time we were aboard the Quest, last fall we were on the Journey. The ships are virtually identical so we felt quite at home. Hospitality is the name of the ... Read More
December 2013. We have just returned home from our 2nd Azamara Club Cruise. This time we were aboard the Quest, last fall we were on the Journey. The ships are virtually identical so we felt quite at home. Hospitality is the name of the game and Azamara does it very well. There have been a few changes to the Azamara line since we travelled in September 2012, the most notable being new carpets and upholstery and the number of beverages that are now included in your ticket price. We didn't buy a beverage card this time; it really was not necessary. For this cruise we upgraded to a suite, and it was well worth it. Suite privileges included priority check in and departure, butler service (Xavier was dressed in tails at all times, and we were in the Caribbean!), a welcome bottle of wine, fresh fruit and flowers in the cabin, 4 bottles of assorted liquor in the cabin (we were able to swap the liquor out for 2 bottles of wine), afternoon hors d'oevres served on our veranda, complimentary seating in the two specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, and complimentary access to the Spa deck and pool. Captain José, the daily "voice from the bridge", was informative and amusing. This was his first voyage as captain with Azamara, and he certainly echoed the Azamara standard of excellence. He was a wonderful host, friendly and sociable. We felt very welcome on board. We saw him everywhere! There was a glitch in the power system on the ship one day, and it was handled very well. We were not among the guests without power in their cabins for a few hours, and I imagine they noticed the lack of air conditioning and toilet flushing, but we were fine. The "voice from the bridge" kept everyone well informed on the state of repairs. The main restaurant, Discoveries, was without power as well, so it was closed for dinner. To compensate, the pool deck was cleared of lounges, and Chef Fabio and his food and beverage team rallied to provide one of the best meals we had on the ship. One can only imagine what went on behind the scenes to provide this seamless conversion from dining room to pool deck buffet. Kudos to the crew for this one. The only disappointment we had on this cruise was the 'Amazing Azamara Evening' that took place at the Fairview Great House on St. Kitts. The logistics of transporting several hundred people to the site in an acceptable amount of time proved to be beyond the capacity of the local bus and taxi service. As a result, the first guests had been at the site for long enough to get restless before the last group arrived, and the last to arrive did not have time to enjoy the venue before the entertainment began. The itinerary for this cruise, the 12 Night West Indies Hideaway Voyage, was very good, with stops at St. John (US Virgin Islands), Marigot (Saint Martin), Roseau (Dominica), Basseterre (St. Kitts), Charlestown (Nevis), Gustavia (St. Barts), and Virgin Gorda (B.V.I.). There were many options for land discoveries, and we enjoyed a catamaran sail and snorkel expedition, although the wind and wave conditions prevented us from visiting the preferred snorkel site. The cruise started and ended with two days at sea, which we also enjoyed. Seminars on jewelry and wine tasting as well as tours of the ship were of special interest. We were as busy as we wanted to be and that made it a wonderful vacation. Maybe the next time we will try to find the putting green and take part in the trivia challenges. The ship is great, the food was great, but the crew is exceptional, and will keep us coming back to Azamara. Vipin and his colleagues in the boutiques, Carlo, Mustafa, Boban, Aileen, and many others in the restaurants, Carlos, Constance, Jade and fellow spa employees, and of course Captain Jose, Cruise Director Tony, Activity manager SaraLou, Nathalia in Future Cruises, Wade, our excursion companion and all the others whose names I have forgotten, you all made us feel like we were more than travelers, but guests in your home. We will be travelling on the Azamara Journey in February, and look forward to another wonderful experience.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Best Things about the Azamara Quest Cruise Non-smoking ship (almost) -- no smoking in rooms, balcony or Casino Free specialty coffee & Hot Chocolate in real Cappuccino Glasses & China Cups. You can talk to the Captain ... Read More
Best Things about the Azamara Quest Cruise Non-smoking ship (almost) -- no smoking in rooms, balcony or Casino Free specialty coffee & Hot Chocolate in real Cappuccino Glasses & China Cups. You can talk to the Captain around the ship. Free cold bottled water & Coke products in staterooms Free Gator Aide in Exercise Room Theme Buffets every night -- Italian, British, German, Spanish, Greek, American, French, Indian, Sea Food, etc Two stations in Buffet making fresh dishes -- one for Pasta and one for meats Fresh made Waffles, Pancakes, Brioche (almond croissant), & Sticky Buns in Buffet International wines with lunch and dinner -- all you want -- Red & White every meal Fresh Energy drink for Br (Pureed Ginger & fruit juices) Freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast (free) Fresh made smoothies in morning (free) Fresh Shushes (tuna, crab, salmon, shrimp, ell & veg) & Seaweed Salad at most Lunches in Buffet Gelatos (Italian Ice Cream) & Sorbets at every Lu & Dn in Buffet Fresh flowers in room Warm, Friendly staff at all levels Free self-service laundry with soap Nice comfortable chairs on balcony Interesting Shows & Musicians Hot Saunas in Spa area 89 minutes of free Internet per person (after first Celebrity or Azamara cruise). No formal nights Shore trips booked in advance of cruise were half-price. Use 3 tenders in morning to get passenger ashore faster. Sandals to wear in Hot Saunas. Free seasick pills from Guest Services. The Buffet operates with waiters like a restaurant, except you get your own food, unless you have something special made, in which case they bring it to you. Free Tote Bag per room Mattress Pad over the 2 single beds that make-up the King-sized bed so there is no "canyon" in the middle of the bed. No blaring live or canned music at the pool. You can bring beer or any other alcoholic drink on the ship (just remember you need and opener). Small Silver canister of bathroom spray Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
14 days from Singapore to Hong Kong was a delight. Azamara did a great thing by providing soft drinks and wine gratis. Our previous Azamara cruise I was still signing for each drink, a nuisance for me and the staff. The overall ... Read More
14 days from Singapore to Hong Kong was a delight. Azamara did a great thing by providing soft drinks and wine gratis. Our previous Azamara cruise I was still signing for each drink, a nuisance for me and the staff. The overall experience was up to their usual excellent standard. Food was quite good at the Windows buffet as well as the Discoveries (MDR). A few signs of cost cutting since our last trip, berries are frozen rather than fresh, and no more Prosciutto appetizer. Sushi was available all evening, a nice touch. Service outstanding as usual, entertainment was "cruise ship" song and dance, which we enjoyed. Sadly the British comedian's accent was difficult for my old ears to decipher, though the many Aussies and UK-ers had no trouble. Wish I knew what they were laughing at sometimes. There was one major disappointment though, the internet service. It's terribly expensive and frustratingly slow. Buying any amount of minutes incurred a 3 minute overhead to log on and another 3 minute overhead to log off. Their usual disclaimer is that satellite service is slow by nature. Perhaps, but when I peeked over the shoulder of the techy guy (in title only, he knew less than I about the technology) in the internet center, his laptop was surfing lightning fast. There's a good signal somewhere on the ship, just not for the passengers. I spent more for internet time than for liquor, and that's wrong for 2 reasons! The internet service was also down for hours at a time. We live in the age of Skype and streaming. Neither of these services were available or even possible. I read other ships with similar complaints. I'd like better internet service, if for no other reason than to supplement their satellite TV channel set. I doubt any cruise company will want to upset the present profit center that selling time provides. Next time I'll load more books on my Kindle. I continue to love Azamara's 2 ships and will travel with them again. Hopefully the technology will improve in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We had traveled on Azamara when it was Renaissance in northern europe.We decided we liked the small ship experience because it offers a child free (and therefore quieter)experience, was geared to our age 66/70 in terms of entertainment ... Read More
We had traveled on Azamara when it was Renaissance in northern europe.We decided we liked the small ship experience because it offers a child free (and therefore quieter)experience, was geared to our age 66/70 in terms of entertainment offers. Casual dressing and no formal seatings was a major draw. The specialty restaurants were superb. We liked the menu at Aqualina better, but both were excellent. Service was elegant. They even prepared escargot for us, which wasn't even on the menu. Service and food at Discoveries was disappointing, no better than Celebrity. Pool grill was fantastic. Excellent quality food. Boarding and disembarking procedures were quick and painless. Good organization. Room was clean and made up often. Service and responsiveness very good. However--we had a terrible mattress, lumpy and sloped which belonged in a low grade motel. It should be thrown out immediately. Room looked like it could use a decorating upgrade. It was showing its wear. Big screen TV was great. Entertainment: Ray and Carla, Carlos and guitarist were very good. Cabaret entertainment was poor. The comedian was good, the other entertainers were sub-par. The Broadway review at the end of the cruise could have been good if they had actually chosen shows and songs that the audience actually knew. They were from bad or unknown shows with the weakest songs. That part of the entertainment could and should be easily fixed. Our only real complaints were about the change in itinerary and the shore excursions: The reason we took this cruise was because it had an overnight in St. Barts. 4 Days before we arrived at St. Barts, the Captain had already cut it to one day in anticipation of possible tendering issues due to swells. However it turned out that we could have stayed both days--he said eventually that we could have come in on a Sunday and a Monday, but since stores were closed on St. Barts on Sunday, he chose to only come in on Monday. Since when does availability of shopping determine the port stay? We were very, very disappointed with that. Also, we could not see the Baths at Virgin Gorda when our port was changed to Tortola, also due to possible high swells. It turned out that the Baths were open, but we were never even offered the option to ferry over to them. Another disappointment was changing the port on St. Martin from Marigot, which is beautiful to Phillipsburg, which is a dump. We should have at least been offered a shuttle over to Marigot to make up for that. Another issue was that all excursions that included a beach stop (including Tortola)ended before 1:00 and no option was given for those people who wanted to stay later. You're on your own was the attitude. Azamara should offer two options when a beach stop is given: Return to ship as scheduled or a second pickup two hours later should be offered for those who which to stay on the beach. In one case, we had to rush off the beach (when we were on our own) to get back to the ship, because it was sailing early to an unscheduled stop on St. Thomas, arriving at St. Thomas in the afternoon, making the day short and worthless, since shopping was already closed when we arrived. St. Thomas should have not been chosen as the alternate port, since it is a big ship stop and not worthy of a luxury ship stop. That hideous stop replaced the missing day at St. Barts -- extremely poor port choice. Note: on days we were at sea--the grill at the pool deck was fantastic. Great quality and service--definitely better than the buffet. To sum it up, the ship, crew and cruising experience were great, but it seems like Azamara could definitely improve the quality and selection of the land tours, which are integral to the cruise experience. I will certainly consider taking another Azamara cruise in the future, but the tours and departure times were certainly be taken into consideration first. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My sister and I chose the Journey for two reasons: first, some new ports of call; and, second, we had sailed on Quest in '08 on a fourteen day western Med cruise and loved the ship's size - much more intimate than any ships we ... Read More
My sister and I chose the Journey for two reasons: first, some new ports of call; and, second, we had sailed on Quest in '08 on a fourteen day western Med cruise and loved the ship's size - much more intimate than any ships we had previously sailed. We were not disappointed on either point. We thoroughly enjoyed most of the seven ports visited with perhaps one exception: Martinique (although it did have its good points, like the local market, the library and the shorefront. We both had previously visited the island and were looking forward to taking the ferry across the bay to the hotel area for some beaching. (Like I said, this was to be a relaxing vacation.) Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Journey did not disappoint us in any way. We love the feel of the smaller ship, the fact that at each turn there is a familiar, friendly face in the passengers and ship's officers. On the larger ships one can go an entire cruise without meeting the same people twice, so being in a position to actually make friends with fellow pax is a plus. Also so very helpful on both Azamara ships is the fact that they have on-board at each port an actual resident of the island du jour armed with maps, info and a head full of answers for whatever questions asked. Very helpful for those islands which were new to us! But, back to the beginning: Embarcation was a BREEZE! We had filled out all our info on-line, so it was a simple case of handing over the paperwork and our passports for confirmation, then board the ship, have our photo taken for the ships pass, grab a glass of bubbly and wander the familiar surroundings till lunch time at Windows. After the mandatory boat drill - sans life vests - we met our fellow Cruise Critics at the bar aft of Windows/Breezas for an intro, matching faces now with screen names. What a wonderful, diverse group we were! Since we were a group of almost 50 pax, the ship hosted a cocktail party for us, which was most gracious of them. Senior officers were in attendance, so you get to meet them on a more personal level than at the Captain's Club cocktail party. Our cabin was adequate. We had booked the SA category this year, knowing how small they are. The balcony just fits a small table and two chairs. The stateroom proper is smaller than most balcony staterooms we have booked on larger ships, as is the bathroom, but we went into it with our eyes open having taken a tour of the Journey while she was in port two years ago. It took a while to get used to the smaller area, but we adjusted. Last year on Oosterdam we were in a deluxe veranda at 580 sq. ft. and a balcony to die for. Even hosted the Cruise Critic party there which OO set up for us and our 40 guests. On Quest, we had booked a Sky suite which was quite comfortable. But as I said, we knew what we were getting, so not disappointed on that account - just spoiled from past accommodations! Our butler, Rosalie, and her assistant, Juan, were happy to serve us for the duration of the trip, although Rosalie at times seemed quite harried - "meetings" going on. Probably about the transition for the next cruise when things would change. We did request extra pillows which were promptly delivered, as well as bed boards for the saggy springs supporting the mattresses. That is something which Azamara must invest in - some good beds! And simply replacing the mattress won't hack it, since they are supported by the old fashioned springs attached to the bed frame. No box spring at all. Perhaps platform beds would do the trick??? We ate at all of the venues, from the pool grille to the specialty restaurants and everywhere in between, including our stateroom where we could order from the main dining room menu. The food was consistently very good, some excellent, and with a good variety. My only complaint was an over-done tough rib steak in the Prime C. And the funny thing was my sister ordered the same and hers was under-done. Guess that was because her steak was about twice the thickness of mine. Talk about consistence here..... And need a quick snack mid-day? Stop by Cova Cafe for a small sandwich or a piece of cake. I recommend the sandwich on the ciabatta bread - the one with pesto and brie on it is to die for! As stated earlier, this was a 'vacation', not 'travel', so we did not do ship's excursions, and only did private excursions on two islands we had not been to before. I highly recommend Challenger Taxi on Bequia (think its challengertaxi@yahoo.com) They gave us a wonderful tour of the island for less than half that offered on the ship and more inclusive. They even took some of us to the beach after dropping off the fellow pax at the port, and picked us up for the same price. Can't beat that deal with a stick! A fellow passenger, CC name Elaynek, had arranged a tour on St Barths which was also great. Don't know who the provider was, but look up postings by Elaynek on the March 20, 2010 cruise and you can pick up the info there. On Dominica, we took a cab to the black sand beach which was recommended by the port representative. We told him we wanted a beach where we could rent lounge chairs, and that was the one he recommended. Our taxi driver was a charming man who was very proud of his island home and kept up quite the chatter during our 20 minute ride to the beach, where he waited for us for two hours (which we had arranged for in advance) for a reasonable rate. In St Barths, we went to Shell Beach, an easy walk from the pier. On inquiring about lounge rentals, were told they did not rent them; however if we bought lunch, we could use them free. Go figure, but that is exactly what we did. On Virgin Gorda, again asking the port rep about renting lounges, he suggested taking a taxi to Fischers Hotel and Beach Club. Leaving the ship, we stopped at the taxi kiosk and asked for one to take us there. The gentleman was truly that: he told us there was no need to waste our moneey on a taxi since the hotel was only about five minutes from where we stood! How often do you think that would happen??? It was a first for me, I'll tell you. Was this cruise worth the money? Yes, it certainly was! Would it be at the projected cost increases for AZ Club Cruises? I doubt it. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the ship, the crew, the food, the ambiance, the ports of call, the friendly people we met on the islands, and last but certainly not least, our fellow passengers and new friends. I'd certainly give Azamara Journey a 5 star rating for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We had a wonderful 12 day cruise on the Journey. We boarded the ship a little after noon without any wait at all. Greeted with a glass of champaign and the chance to store our carry-ons. Exploring the ship we found it to be reminiscent ... Read More
We had a wonderful 12 day cruise on the Journey. We boarded the ship a little after noon without any wait at all. Greeted with a glass of champaign and the chance to store our carry-ons. Exploring the ship we found it to be reminiscent of the old cruise ships. Modern, but decorated in heavy wood with photos, paintings and other artwork throughout. I guess you could say it had the elegant look. An hour or two later we were in our cabin. It was an inside cabin, somewhat small but perfect for our needs. Mainly to change, shower and sleep. Since the ship is smaller than most, all the public rooms are to scale. Elevators are small, but we never waited long for one. Pool was small, but it was never crowded. The lounge chairs all had heavy conformable cushions. There was never a wait at the bar and waiter service was readily available. No one was pushing drinks. The poolside "diner" had great burgers, chicken wings, tacos and other food. My only complaint was that there was usually only one cook and even with two, service was slow. This was mostly due to the fact that they only have one fryolator. So if you wanted chicken wings or onion rings, you had to wait until the fries were finished. I found the buffet area to have a large variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. Omelets, waffles & pancakes made to your specifications. Many people took advantage of the smoothies. All kinds, and with fresh fruit. The coffee wasn't bad but the machines were very, very slow. Then I noticed a pot of coffee off the the side and it was full. Waiters were always available to fill or refill your cup. Lunch had a large variety and we loved their made to order sandwiches. At dinner there was plenty of variety, including sushi, and made to order pasta or stir-fry. Ice cream, cookies and other deserts were always available and are party responsible for the six pounds I gained. The main dining room was elegant and food very good. We always enjoyed drinks at the martini bar before dinner. Prime C was excellent but we canceled our reservation to Aqualina because we just weren't hungry. One day there was a pork roast put on by the officers. The shows were entertaining and never a problem getting a seat. The house orchestra, a trio that played at various parts of the ship, and a guitarist were all excellent. There was a guest lecturer who gave four lectures during sea days. They were on hurricanes, tides and tsunamis, sea exploration (who has rights to mine for minerals) and sea lore & fables. All were well attended and extremely interesting. The art auction was very poorly attended. The works available were interesting but only a few (less then a dozen) people ever attended and only a couple of buyers. The casino was to scale and I didn't have any complaints. I used the gym a few times and it was never crowded. I liked the outdoor walking/jogging track albeit it is 13 times around for a mile. I just wish people would learn jogging track "etiquette." You walk or jog in a counter-clockwise direction (all track & field events as well as car races go in that direction), stay to the inside to allow passing on the outside and please, please, don't just stop short or walk onto the track in front of a jogger. Tony, the cruise director did a fine job and he is one talented individual. Excellent singer. The officers were always around and available. Tours were given to the bridge, engine room and galley. I didn't go on the galley tour because I saw the movie Ben Hur and didn't want to get "recruited" to row. With the exception of Guadeloupe, we got off at all the islands. From the reports of fellow travelers, Guadeloupe was dirty and dangerous. Many people walked about a block or two, saw what it was like and returned to the ship. During a "Cruise Critic" reception everyone complained about that port and advised Azamara not to return. We took the Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran from St. Kitts to Nevis and had a wonderful time. Errol, one of the crew members from the tour department, went along and he is a riot. So was the crew. I am somewhat timid when it comes to snorkeling, but they gave me good instructions and put me at ease. We had an excellent barbecue on Nevis. We took a Virgin Gorda tour but wish we had just gone to the baths. We had only an hour there and it was so crowded we never had the opportunity to explore the grottos. St. Barts was really nice, of course, but expensive, of course. If you like to collect shells. They appropriately named Shell Beach and there are tons of them there. Here is a tip. Most people tell you you have to walk up a steep hill to get there. Go up Victor Hugo Rue till you get to the base of the hill. Turn right, follow that street to the end and left to the beach. No hill to climb. On St. Martin we took the Orient Beach tour and loved it. This is out third time on that tour and find it convenient. However, next time we will take a taxi, pay about $10 euro for a chair and umbrella and get to stay longer. Some of our friends went to Sunset Beach Bar to watch the planes come in. You can almost touch the big jets landing there. Also, regarding Orient Beach, there is an all nude section. Unfortunately, I again confirmed this year that there should be a law about some people taking their clothes off in public. On St. Lucia were booked a private tour and got to see a portion of the island. The cruise port is NOT a short walk to town, but it is a nice port and the city/town seemed cleaner than most islands. Disembarkation was quick and easy. In summary, this was a fantastic cruise. We met some wonderful people, had lots of laughs and felt the food and service were excellent. Although the drink prices tended to be higher than other cruise lines. Unlike many others who were on this cruise, we have never been on a "high end," "luxury" type vessel. We managed to get an excellent "deal" on the cost of this cruise and are grateful for the experience. However, it appears Azamara is raising its prices to a level beyond our means. I understand why they have to so it, but we are disappointed that we will be unable to cruise on this wonderful line. I highly recommend a Caribbean cruise on the Journey. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Having cruised on Oceanea's Regatta a year ago, we were keen to compare Azamara with them. We first sailed on one of the former Renaissance ships when flagged as Swan Hellenic's Minerva II. This ship is now with Princess lines ... Read More
Having cruised on Oceanea's Regatta a year ago, we were keen to compare Azamara with them. We first sailed on one of the former Renaissance ships when flagged as Swan Hellenic's Minerva II. This ship is now with Princess lines and will shortly move to P&O I believe, as the Adonia. We love the size and layout of these ships. Booking was easy through an online agency based in Texas. Their service was magnificent. I had praised their agent to her boss and, unexpectedly, was thanked with a bottle of wine in our cabin as a gift from the agency. We also managed to bring on, declared, the remains of a wine-box which we had bought in Heathrow's duty-free shop. We have few complaints about the cruise but the astonishing price of wine on board, especially after an additional 18% service charge, meant that we drank much less than we would have done. I suspect that the ship's profits would have increased if the price was lower. Embarkation was a doddle, by far the best we have ever experienced. We arrived at Terminal J and strolled straight on at about 1.30 p.m. Azamara's paperwork says to get there for 2 p.m. but this is wrong. People were able to board from about 11 a.m. Lunch was available, as were all public facilities. We wish we had known this. Our luggage arrived reasonably quickly, too. Our Oceania embarkation, in the very same terminal a year before, had been long-winded in the extreme. Standard balcony/veranda cabins are a bit on the small side on these ships but we are used to that and they are fine for us. Mind you, quite how some of the vast, unsightly, overweight passengers (mainly Americans) fit into the bathroom kept us guessing. We loved the flowers and daily replenished fruit bowl, both an improvement on Oceania. An easy-to-use safe was good. The flat-screen TV was fine but I should have liked a DVD player as well - which Oceania have. We sampled the free in-cabin canapEs one evening and very pleasant they were, too. Our 'Butler' and his assistant were excellent. The cabin was kept spotless and they were very friendly. We think the terms 'stateroom' for cabin and 'butler' for glorified steward are plain daft. We found plenty of people to talk to and joined up most evenings for dinner with very pleasant folk we had met during the course of the cruise. On the last night 10 of us were given the Captain's table for a final meal together. The ship had it's fair share of loud-mouthed amateur politicians, gossips, rumour-mongers and complainers (nearly all Americans) but they were easy to avoid. We visited 7 ports and they varied from excellent to awful (see below). As a former Port Lecturer on P&O, from the days (not so distant) that one gave lectures which encompassed many aspects of each port, such as history, architecture, places to get taxis and trains etc., rather than simply flogging the company's tours, I found the attempts by Azamara to cover this ground to be pathetic. Oceania, a year ago, were just as bad. Mind you, the port information sheets were better than Oceania's, although that is is not saying much. The TV presentations were so poor as to be an invitation to stay on board! We could have done without the ship's photographer (Oceania didn't have one) but he was not in any way overbearing and, let's face it, some people like posing! Azamara tries to do too much in its daily programme. The list which arrives in the cabin each evening is crammed with things to do, but they were generally of a pretty poor standard, with very few attenders. The daily general-knowledge-cum-trivia quiz, which on Oceania had over 100 attenders, was a very poor affair. The evening 'shows' varied from good to dire, not that this concerned us much. We sat at the back on the occasions we went and slipped away if appropriate. Essentially, Azamara is trying to put on a big ship programme with a small ship crew and budget. It doesn't work. However, the enrichment lectures, one on each sea day, were excellent. The food was tip-top throughout and, we would say, up to Oceania's superb standards. We met several people who also had experienced the rival brand and dining honours were declared about even. Each of the excellent special restaurants we had no difficulty booking into twice and the service and food was of a very high standard indeed. But we liked the main dining room just as much. The menu, service and food were all wonderful. The Windows buffet was tip-top too. Two grumbles in the food department. The main Discoveries dining room was not open for lunch on port days (it is with Oceania) and the 'Elegant Teas', served in the Aqualina Restaurant to the accompaniment of a harp, were a very long way from the wonderful offerings of Oceania, served in the forward lounge on deck 10, to the accompaniment of a string quartet. We made no use of the spa. I had to visit the doctor and this was quick and easy. I also spent a little time at the slot machines, coming out quits! We managed to resist the temptation to attend any art auctions, not least because almost all the pictures on show were hideous. One thing that the ship did fall down on was general maintenance in one or two areas. Where this showed was, particularly, in the tiling round the pool, which was shoddy, the pool-side whirlpools, which were clapped-out and in the care and presentation of some sun beds (wheels missing, clean but yellowing towelling covers). Disembarkation was simple. We wanted to be the last to leave as we were going on to a hotel in Miami for a few days, and knew our room would not be ready there. Well, we were among the last but this still meant we were off by 8.50 a.m. We chose Azamara over Oceania this year because, given virtually identical cruises, the price difference was huge. Quite what the effect of Azamara changing to 'Azamara Club' and putting up prices (to Oceania levels?) will be I do not know. Given the same cruise for the same price we would probably choose Oceania, but there's very little in it. However, since we have no intention of paying anything like the brochure price given in Azamara'a new dreadful 2010-2011 open-out 'brochure', it may mean we shan't be able to afford to travel with either again! This would be a great pity. The few petty grumbles above should not detract from an excellent cruise overall. We have no hesitation in recommending Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was the 32nd cruise for these two Seniors, whose home port is Miami. We booked through an internet agency and quickly learned that this 12 day Southern Caribbean was to be the last cruise of the Azamara Journey, sister ship to Azamara ... Read More
This was the 32nd cruise for these two Seniors, whose home port is Miami. We booked through an internet agency and quickly learned that this 12 day Southern Caribbean was to be the last cruise of the Azamara Journey, sister ship to Azamara Quest, under the "old plan" which basically was: buy your own wine, sodas, pay for specific shuttle buses, and perhaps a few more oft encountered items. Prices are to be raised accordingly, a small percentsge, according to what staff announced at one of two CruiseCritic meetings. According to management, this is to bring fares in line with prevailing "luxury" companion lines and ships. We quickly learned what sets Azamara apart from other ships of a less Luxe Category which we have sailed on. Having checked our two large bags, and both having carryons after a flawless and rapid embarkation, up the stairway to the boarding area, we found a welcome desk where we inquired where we might get lunch. We mentioned we would like to go to our cabin first and rid ourselves of carryons and were told we could leave them at the desk and they would be taken to the cabin for us. This extra touch, followed by the usual complimentary glass of champagne, began to set the them of exemplary service. But, you ask, and properly so, "Doesn't everyone now offer a glass of champagne?" Well, yes, but this was PINK champagne. We found our (now lighter) way to the Windows buffet style dining area on Deck 9, and though both remarking that it was an area of small seating capacity, in nearly all instances were able to find a seat, the rare exception being times when scheduling or events combined with a closed sit down dining room (titled Discoveries) threw more people into Windows than usual capacity permitted. There is a large outdoor area of seating, which is proportionately larger than usual. While we're "in" Windows, why not comment on food quality? Usually much much better than we have encountered on other lines (We have never done the UltraLuxe brands, i.e., Silversea, Seabourne, Crystal or Regent) At times, it was exceptional, especially for buffet service. Usual breakfast fare is outstanding for a smaller ship, with the usual omelet and pancake/waffle stations, but more frequently than not, with sides or "originals" not seen before to us. Ex.: For bagel toppings, six selections of cream cheese, one original, five with additions such as chives, et al. Oatmeal, two kettles, one with plain Oatmeal, another with milk and sugar already added for your convenience. There is usually a special side, such as peaches or pears poached with spices, and a selection of fresh fruit better by far than we have ever experienced, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Spot on ripe papaya, kiwi, pineapple and orange slices, the papaya and kiwi being the sweetest the BW (For the uninitiated or single, Beautiful Wife) Carol and I agreed to be the best we have ever tasted. Also of note: A coffee machine making fresh coffee of your selection, from conventional to DeCaf espresso and latte. The decaf espresso, a favorite of mine, is served with attractively trimmed, color wise, demi cups and saucers and, I quote: "This is the best espresso I have ever tasted...mild, nutty tasting and outstanding." I deeply regret this did not last, nor did the regular coffee offerings, seemingly deteriorating a bit each day until nearly undrinkable. Why? I have no idea. Could it be lack of daily cleaning? A shame. Perhaps most notable was a complimentary smoothie bar, open during breakfast only, staffed by two amazingly efficient and speedy young men, with an extensive array of various blendable fruits, juices and milks. (Regular, soy, yogurt and the like) You name it, it will quickly appear, literally. Accompanying the whimsical coffee machine an hilarious (though we have serious doubts the manufacturer meant it to be so) water and ice dispenser, which holds a secret of its own, fathomable to few on first, second or even subsequent attempts. Count me admittedly among the group termed "subsequent". You must hold the glass under the outlet and place the other hand in a certain specific position which entails a sensor plate, though this was unclear until near the end of our particular voyage, when an explanatory instruction plate appeared and solved the problem of the adjacent floor having continually been an unwitting ice receptacle, as a result of failed attempts by the desperate and thirsty among us. This area and machine quickly became the object of a great deal of colorful language and hands thrust into the air in full and complete surrender. Lunch was usually a fish selection, a chicken dish, both with vegetables, and sides, with the usual carvery station, and an extensive salad selection, as well as stir fry to order. One lunch was so outstanding that I wrote a personal note both to the Captain and to the Executive Chef, Lisa. Apparently no one had ever bothered in the past to do anything but enjoy, as the first time BW Carol and I dined in one of the two (absolutely outstanding) alternative restaurants (more later) we were greeted with three separate tableside visits to thank us for our kind remarks, the first by someone we took to be the Ass't head chef, the second by the Chef of the restaurant itself, and, to our amazement and near overwhelment (yes, we made that word up, so there) when I said to BW, "Well, what's next, the Head Chef herself"?, she, Lisa, did indeed appear expressing gracious thanks. Her assistant had even offered his personal extension" "If there's anything I can do for you, do please call me..." We did share the not so obvious question: "You have to wonder what the other diners must think of this impromptu parade of the chefs!" The main dining room, Discoveries, is single story, spacious and well thought out. Food was generally excellent and at times, truly outstanding. Chef Lisa and staff truly do themselves proud and are caring and extremely inventive and creative, and do an outstanding job. A dairy allergy was always well allowed for and taken care of by staff; we regret not having his name as he most assuredly deserves mention. Dining by reservation and not assignment, we nevertheless had the same waiter (Slobodan) and Ass't (Dogan) who were outstanding and quickly took care of our personal foibles. While we are on the subject, quick comment: The two alternative restaurants, termed "Aqualina" and "Prime C" are available to all passengers on a reservation basis, one each per voyage so that no one is denied the opportunity. To say more than that the food and service are exemplary and perhaps the best we have ever experienced may be an all too quick summary. BW applauded the hot mini Cinnamon donuts, served with three dipping sauces, and hot chocolate lava cake with ice cream. Another special touch...Baked Alaska desserts in Discoveries were individually made and served, and pronounced as, and I quote; "Out of this world..." by BW. Several poolside buffets displayed highly creative and appealing food, unfortunately not receiving the attendance it was absolutely worthy of. In Windows, meat loaf, served as individual portions in small dishes, rather than the "loaf" and tasting of only pure beef, not the usual adulteration of bread crumbs or the like. The requisite Lifeboat drill was quick and easy, as on our last voyage we were not required to don lifejackets, only to assemble in a comfortable public room, hear a safety address, and then for familiarization proceed to the designated lifeboat station. *The safety talk consisted of the usual: Please do not throw overboard cigars, cigarettes or disagreeable companions. If you are, during a drill or actual emergency, separated from your children they will be brought to you. If you receive the wrong children and like them better, you may keep them for the duration of the voyage, but no longer, as we have received complaints from both the authorities and disturbed grandparents. We ask that, in extreme cases, you refrain from the old trick of placing a paper with the name of another ship in your children's belongings or pockets as this seldom works out well in the end to mutual satisfaction and tends to upset responsible staff." In the same vein, our cabin (4035) had two different peepholes, one at eye level as well as a second at knee (crouching) level.*Inquiries having eliminated the possibility that the cabin had been previously occupied by the road cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, we learned from staff that it is placed so that wily parents may ascertain that the children are attempting to get back into the room and quickly extinguish the lights and lock themselves in the bathroom. A clever ploy indeed. * More on cabin, this was configured as a cabin for the disabled; we aren't but welcomed the extra bathroom spsce, even though it was an inside. Another luxe touch, each cabin has both a steward and butler (seldom used by us) available for a multitude of functions including a daily fruit tray of your choice, and fresh flowers as well. Butler will also serve afternoon treats if ordered and desired. Both Butler and Steward were exemplary and unobtrusive. Storage space was ample and well thought out and would be ample for the duration of any length voyage. Staff in general...outstanding and near impossible to get by without a smile and greeting. Even the Customer Relations desk, adjacent to our 4th floor cabin. NO one, and we mean No one, gets by without a cheery "Hello" being called out. Newspapers in several languages are posted here, as well as in the entrance to the Windows cafe. Another luxe touch, daily bulletins are printed in color, not the usual B&W. More staff comments? When a specific room situation was noted, during a CruiseCritic meeting, to Hotel Director Heike Berdos and manager Ngawhira Fleet, quickly stepped in and solved it to our more than complete satisfaction. A thank you note was written to both, and each responded personally. Surprise...another luxe touch, a daily sheet of all upcoming movies is delivered to your cabin. These may be shown either in your room, on a flat screen TV, or on a larger screen in an appropriate area of the 5th floor Cova Cafe. Cova also contains ongoing snacks of a high order, complimentary, though specialty coffee and teas are not. BW, a sweets devotee of the highest order, quickly pronounced the chocolate biscotti the best ever experienced, as well as another favorite, chocolate croissants. Cova was one of three venues, depending on scheduling and presentation requirements, for the veritable plethora of Trivia contests offered. Well and cheerfully presented by CD Assistants Katherine, Chris and Oleg, these were not heavily attended, even on sea days, but admittedly made for easier chances to win. Prizes are thankfully not given out each time, small trinkets as key chains, luggage tags and the like, but are distributed by total number of winnings as stamped on an appropriate individual "score" sheet. This is given after the last contest of the day prior to docking and makes for a more worthwhile and useful selection of keepsakes. Gym and Spa? The gym is well equipped for the ship's size, with most machines available and well thought out. Oddly, the gym seemed very lightly attended compared to what might be expected. BW had a facial, won at one of several promotional drawings, and pronounced it a pleasing and professional experience. She noted that she had to actually inquire how to tip her young lady, a ready example of the lack of pressure for "ancillary" costs. There were never photographers making the rounds at dinner or other times. In fact, when we wanted a photograph other than at the staged settings, we spoke to the Photo Department head and were assigned a very able young man to meet us in a mutually chosen location. We were far more than pleased with his work. (In fact, the manager was also, apparently, as he asked if they might use the spread for display, and we willingly signed a release to that effect...look for us, ha) Never at any time was there continual and annoying pressure for extra paid services; very welcome and first class. Well done, Azamara. Entertainment? Azamara has, we understand, not having space for full production shows, adopted as policy having high class solo artists. This being true ( on one occasion we were so pleased we attended a (billed as: "High Energy Pianist") second show and bought a CD). We were surprised at the usually sparse attendance. We generally sat in a particular bench style row, for a combination of comfort, sight line and lighting) and on two occasions there was only one other couple (another joined later) in the entire row. This often occurred when, due to port scheduling, there was only one show, where logic dictates the presence of double the audience number at two shows... Our ports were, in order, after two sea days from Miami, St.Johns, U.S.V.I.,Gustavia,St.Barts, Fort de France, Martinique, Bequia, the Grenadines, Roseau, Dominica,Basseterre, St.Kitts,Virgin Gorda, B.V.I. In Martinique we did not ashore as it was raining; in Dominica as it was hotter than we wanted to deal with. We took no tours, having been to most ports before, and usually just debarked to walk around the adjacent shopping or to visit the Post Office to mail cards, a the ship did not provided mailings from all ports. FYI, we had previously taken the St.Kitts Train Tour and found it enjoyable snd worthwhile. -- Debarkation was, as embarkation, smooth and unruffled, though we were in the last off group and there could have been ample opportunity for any line bsckup. Final luxe touch? BW Carol and I were both encumbered with now multiple handsful we had not boarded with and found the exit very difficult. There were three courteous staff members at the stairway who offered to help us and each took a share of our burden and helped us to the baggage claim area. Again, well done and extremely impressive. BW and I, Dean, agree that Azamara has done an outstanding job with this line, and this ship. We would not hesitate to sail again on it and to recommend it whole-heartedly to our friends. Despite the (and they are few) limitations of a smaller ship (31K+ tons)the pluses far outweigh the negatives; the pluses are easy to find and the minuses near non-existent. Once again, Azamara, staff, Captain, and management, a hearty well done. (Note: the * = "Just kidding, they didn't really say that...) Best wishes, Dean and BW Carol 30 Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
I travelled on the Journey on her third cruise in May 2007. She was covering the Cape Liberty to St. George and Hamilton, Bermuda, route that first season and she was the perfect ship for a perfect destination (wish she would do that ... Read More
I travelled on the Journey on her third cruise in May 2007. She was covering the Cape Liberty to St. George and Hamilton, Bermuda, route that first season and she was the perfect ship for a perfect destination (wish she would do that again). Just completed the March 20 Caribbean sailing. Choose this ship based upon previous experience and the seven (7!!) ports of call. Embarkation and Disembarkation were organized, easy and swift. The stateroom with balcony was fine but I had forgotten that the bathroom is smaller than on, say, the Celebrity Constellation or Mercury. Two corners were angled and reduced the amount of room. Fine for one person though. Am allergic to feathers and the butler immediately changed out the duvat and pillows. Did need an eggcrate cushion to bridge the gap when the two twins were placed together to form the larger bed configuraton. The ship is just the right size for getting to know both the other passengers, the crew and senior staff. As a solo traveller, this made for many groups of new friends with whom I could share experiences and activities. The size also made for easy navigation throughout. The ports of call were good: three were old friends and four were new: St. Johns USVI, St. Barths, Martinique, Dominica, Grenedines, St. Kitts and Virgin Gorda. Good to not be in the frenetic tourist zones. We tendered in four of the seven ports but the service and timing were excellent. Liked that there was no 'recommending' of island shops and the excursion talks did discuss on what the island had to offer along with slides of recent excursions. One of the reasons that I chose the Journey was my remembrance of the outstanding quality of food. Alas, I don't believe the main dining room was a 5+ plus, as it was on the 2007 cruise, but more a 4. Service was sporadic - always courteous but sometimes poorly paced (took 15 minutes for the waiter to arrive to take our drink and food orders on one occasion). The buffet was a 3 - not bad but not overwhelming. Food was sometimes undercooked (breakfast potatoes) and generally not hot (despite the quick turnover) and sometimes slow to be replenished. The entire staff, from top to bottom, was wonderful. Senior staff was evident throughout the ship at many functions. The activities group was young and energetic. The enrichment speaker (from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland) was marvelous and one of the best I've experienced. I witnessed the cruise director, physician and nurse responding to a medical emergency with professionalism and care. My major complaint is the lack of support for the Verizon network. Neither the US nor the International systems were functioning for Verizon. A fellow passenger had even checked with Verizon and Azamara prior to the cruise to determine if his service would function; he was assured that it would; but it did not. Verizon is the major carrier in the US so this is a significant problem. There is wear and tear evident (rubbed finishes on wood, missing tiles at the pool, missing railings, stained stateroom carpeting). Azamara has never been a discount line so this is not good; Azamara Club is looking to compete with the well-known luxury lines and its new pricing structure is evidence of that. What I forgive at the former pricing is not what I will forgive at a 30 to 50% premium. The ship needs to be spruced up now to compete. (On the last day at sea, the entire port side of deck 5 was closed for painting. This was my and several others favorite spot for snoozing and reading.) Need more deck chairs on either side of deck 5. As a non-flying traveller, I will not be joining the Journey again soon as starting in Spring 2011, the Journey does not embark from the continental US. That is a shame because, with the right pricing and Verizon service, I would travel on the Journey again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We arrived at the port and the Azamara/Celebrity/Royal Caribbean was the first parking structure. I pulled up to the terminal and was greeted by a friendly porter who asked our cabin number. We told him and he said I will take care of your ... Read More
We arrived at the port and the Azamara/Celebrity/Royal Caribbean was the first parking structure. I pulled up to the terminal and was greeted by a friendly porter who asked our cabin number. We told him and he said I will take care of your luggage. He escorted my wife to a seat to wait for me until I parked my car. I drove into the parking area. Parked and walked across the road to meet my wife. We entered the terminal and only one person was online. We were greeted by a friendly person who did the paper work and gave us our photo boarding passes. We walked onto the ship and were greeted by the friendly staff. They escorted us to our cabin. We were told the butler would meet us later. Ronald did and was friendly and informative. We proceeded to the beautiful buffet on deck nine. Everything looked good and tasted fresh. On the cruise: When we got to St. Barts everything was closed and there was no notification to the passengers. The parade was very nice and ran a little late. Passengers were afraid to stay to enjoy it. The time to depart could have been delayed for an hour. We were so close to our next port we could have made up the time. Religious services: It was Ash Wednesday. The town and the church were closed. Why didn't Azamara have church services for those who wanted to attend? This was very bad and those people will remember this and tell others. The Azamara cruise should have issued a notice before we went ashore in Fort De France aka MARTINIQUE that all the stores were closed for a holiday. We were at the dock that was about 1.5 miles from town. There was a dock right in town. Why didn't we dock there? The Fresh flowers in the room and the beautiful Orchards on the tables and all around the ship were a plus. The ladies were given a Red Rose on Valentines Day that was very nice. The buffet had a very good selection. We found ourselves dining up here most of the nights. I was very impressed with Michael Peterson the head chief of the buffet. I sent in a negative comment about the first Caribbean night. When he saw me at the buffet getting a stir fry he said, Hello Mr. Schecter how is everything. Again on the last night he asked me the same question. He also asked me about the next Caribbean night buffet. I told him the second Caribbean night was much better than the first one. Food was very good with many great selections and decorations that gave a nice ambiance to the theme. The guitar music was very good. The entertainment team and the band made it an unforgettable night. He thanked me and said he always try to improve his department. The decorations around the buffet were interesting. Ice cream was served in the buffet during lunch and diner was great. We think servers should wear gloves when they serve the ice cream cones. We were never told or discovered the soft serve ice cream until we found it by accident on the tenth day. More crafts are needed. Ladies love them on sea days. There was only one craft making Valentines cards. I believe everyone would like some good craft sessions. The movies and TV pre recorded programs were very enjoyable. Happy to be able to see some Olympic events on the TV. TNT is always a good movie channel. Room service menu had nice selections & servings were ample. Time from order to delivery was ok. Pedro did a great job cooking omelets in the morning at the buffet. We enjoyed eating on back deck with tropical breezes and panoramic views. We really enjoyed dining at Aqualina Restaurant. The seafood appetizer was absolutely delicious and presentation was excellent. The dining experience was outstanding. The matradi Daniel and our waiter Frederick were excellent and accommodating. As the head Chief Lisa adds a distinctive feminine touch to the presentation of all the food served. Her presence added more. I was also impressed by one of the chiefs at the buffet addressing me by my name. Sanitation aboard the ship was very good with Purell dispensers everywhere food was served and other places. At each place we boarded the tenders and after each tender ride there was always a person with a bottle of sanitizer but some of the bottled ones left our hands feeling sticky. The room butler Ronald did a great job keeping our room clean and neat. There was always fresh water and ice twice a day and new towels and soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I think it a very poor practice for a top cruise line to give badly worn and frayed bath towels. I have had at least four. They should be taken out of service and donated to Haiti or homeless shelters. We have cruised with every major and some minor cruise lines. We have cruised more than sixty times in eight years. The entire staff was friendly, courteous, helpful, etc. The bright spots are Tony; He is without a doubt the best cruise director we have ever met. He was eager to set up a Military Veterans meeting at my request. He provided coffee, tea, cookies and more. He is bright, energetic and talented. He did a great job of entertaining everyone at his one man show with the assistance of the Dan Redner playing the piano. He is an excellent pianist. Lisa the activities director is very warm and friendly. She does a great job and has a great staff helping her. Oleg was there helping and did a great job with the pantomime classes. All the entertainers were very good. The Mirage trio, the solo guitarist, and Carlos Avalon were very good. We really liked JamiIa, and Antonio Salci. We did not care for the magician and the classical music by McSweny. She was very good but not for our taste. The five singers were great. The music chosen was excellent every time and the performance was outstanding. We also like the big shows on the larger ships with the cast of talented performers. I feel I am qualified to judge the talent as I have seen the best in my lifetime. In addition my son is Jeffrey Schecter. He has been a dancer, singer, and actor and has been on Broadway in many productions as well as world wide. He has been on TV and in films. You may have seen him recently in the Broadway production as MIKE in "A Chorus Line." Also in the film "Every Little Step." Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We'd never cruised on a 30,000 ton ship and didn't know how much we'd miss the amenities and space of ships three or four times the size. We did miss some things but the camaraderie and atmosphere on Journey more than ... Read More
We'd never cruised on a 30,000 ton ship and didn't know how much we'd miss the amenities and space of ships three or four times the size. We did miss some things but the camaraderie and atmosphere on Journey more than compensated and we came away with happy memories of our 12 days on board. We will definitely try to return to Azamara on a future cruise. Hard to pinpoint but key to our enjoyment was the stress-free atmosphere created both by attentive crew and friendly, considerate fellow passengers. No formal dress, freestyle dining and simply fewer people all made big differences. We only saw 4 or 5 well-behaved children and a few young adults. The vast majority of passengers, like us, were "boomers" or older, not folk looking for a wild time. EMBARKATION AND THE SHIP: we arrived at the dock about 1 pm and were soon on board with glasses of champagne in our hands and directions to lunch while awaiting the green light to claim our stateroom. We were impressed with the unfussy, classic dEcor, attractive art work and some outstanding features like the library ceiling frescos. Unlike Solstice's, this is a real library with a good selection of books. We were surprised how small the buffet area was but soon saw there was a lot of variety on display and the plate (rather than tray) service system kept the diners moving. Our verandah stateroom was mid-ship on the port side of deck 7, close to a stairway and free of extraneous noises or motion when the sea got up. The cabin was small but livable for anyone under, say, 200 lbs or unusually tall or with more than 4 pieces of luggage to stow. There is a coin laundry with free iron on deck 7. Classy shampoos, creams and soaps are provided. Our butler Ronald and his assistant Chong kept the room spotless and added fresh fruit daily. They always had the room ready by the time we wanted to return. Not their fault, but some bath towels were in shreds and should be replaced. The verandah dividers weren't wide or high enough to create privacy which put us off eating out there. Though seating was often at a premium around the small pool, there was always a lounge chair free on the top deck, mercifully free of piped music, for a quiet read or gazing out at the ocean. We did miss the variety of shopping on board bigger ships and missed the customary Celebrity last sea day scrum around tables of half-price t-shirts and other bargains. A surprising disconnect was that though offered by the glass at the bar, we couldn't purchase bottles of Grand Marnier or Cointreau, and display space was taken up by 3 or 4 flavors of Baileys and vodka. DINING: We found the food outstanding in the eateries we tried, and were pleased that portions were relatively small. As recommended on the Roll Call, we reserved a table at Aqualina in advance and ate twice at Prime C., remembering as soon as we sat down to order chocolate and grand Marnier soufflEs. Halibut melted in the mouth and Colorado lamb chops were delicious. Bianchi's Argentine cabernet was a good buy. In Discoveries the maitre d' did an excellent job of satisfying requests, in our case often tables for two, and we never had to wait to be seated. Freestyle dining meant waiters couldn't get to know our individual food tastes, but we still managed to build relations with several servers and were always well looked after. There was a new menu selection each evening and standard "classics" always available. Fish and shrimp dishes were consistently excellent. The only disappointments were duck and pheasant. Lunch in the main dining room was a cool, relaxing escape from the tropical sun. The menu varied daily. Soups and burger of the day were particularly yummy. We ate healthy (well, fairly healthy, i.e. not too many eggs!) buffet breakfasts of plentiful fresh fruit, oatmeal, crisp bacon, and luckily enjoyed the strong coffee that some complained about. Fresh-brewed regular or decaf, espresso, cappuccino and latte, were available 24 hours from machines at Windows Cafe. Afternoon teas there and an Indian theme buffet were excellent. We didn't try Cova, the Pool Grill or any of the bars. ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES: We certainly missed Celebrity's cinema, big stage productions and more professional performers, but the resident band and small group of dancers/singers entertained with energy and style. We didn't see all the visiting artiste's shows nor get on the dance floor later at night. One lecture of the enrichment series was enough. Trivia sessions were fun. We didn't use the Spa, Beauty Salon, Fitness Center, Casino nor (thank God!) the Medical Center. PORTS OF CALL: The itinerary of small, relatively inaccessible islands was the main attraction when we booked. We went on two Azamara shore excursions and on independent tours elsewhere. In most ports we tendered, which was well organized and there were no long waits to get off or on the ship. The shore excursion staff on board was helpful and well-informed. Two of them came with us to personally share the experience and take notes. Errol was a "hoot" sorting the different tour groups, teasing and entertaining them prior to early morning departure. Local St John Azamara tour guide Wayne was well informed and amused us with his patter as we explored island highlights including magnificent views, the Annaberg sugar mill ruins and Trunk Bay Beach. In Martinique, Francoise led us on Azamara's "Historic Plantation & Gardens Tour" to little Sacre Coeur church, around magnificent Belata Gardens, and a banana farm. Then we tried and bought rum-based products at Clement Plantation. Especially for first time visitors, the tour was an excellent introduction to the island. Via the CruiseCritic Roll Call we pre-arranged private tours on three islands, all of which met or exceeded our expectations: On Bequia, 12 of us explored for 3 hours in two open safari taxis driven by Curtis Olivierre and his wife Sandra. Both have spent their lives on the island and know its history intimately, showing us all the main sites. We ended up with an hour snorkeling before returning to the port. Contact Curtis Ollivierre: challengertaxi@yahoo.com We were met at Roseau, Dominica, by Levi Baron of Bumpiing Tours, who took six of us on his guided "Roseau Valley Treasures" tour to mountains, gorges and waterfalls, after which we snorkeled at "champagne reef". Contact levibaron@bumpiingtours.com Waiting for six of us at Basseterre, St Kitts was Ilva Wallace who had guided us around the main island sights last year. This time she took us down South Peninsula to Reggae Bar on Cockleshell Beach and we enjoyed a morning snorkel in clear waters. Contact Ilva Wallace at ilvawallace_4@hotmail.com We decided to "wing it" both at St Barth's and Virgin Gorda. In St Barth's we wandered over to shell beach, window shopped the famous French boutiques, and picked up specialty foods and wine at an inexpensive supermarket right on the dock. At Virgin Gorda we hired a taxi for $45 to show us the views from various high points, the copper mine ruin and drop us at the top of The Baths. Be sure to allow at least an hour to see this justifiably famous rock formation and beach as it's a hike up and down and a scramble to get through the Devil's Cave. It would probably be too strenuous, by the way, for anyone with limited mobility. IN SUM: We had a grand time both on board and off exploring each island. For sure, we would like to return to cruise again with Azamara. The obstacle, alas, may be cost. As was expressed vehemently by CC members and discussed with senior ship staff in some detail at a coffee morning, there is strong resistance to Azamara's announcement of substantial fare increases. Many felt they couldn't afford to sail the Journey or Quest at the prices to be in effect from April 1 and, sadly, we may fall into that category. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My sister and l arrived 3 days early so that we could enjoy Miami and each other before our adventure at sea was to begin. Our arrival at the Azamara Schedualed hotel "The Epic" was better than we expected! They upgraded us so ... Read More
My sister and l arrived 3 days early so that we could enjoy Miami and each other before our adventure at sea was to begin. Our arrival at the Azamara Schedualed hotel "The Epic" was better than we expected! They upgraded us so that was a bonus. I think the $150/night charged to the cruise line was about half of what we paid for the room so booking yourself might be more economical. We were given free breakfast vouchers and only had to pay $8 to include the hot selections. It was very busy at all times so the free glass of wine before supper helped to take our minds off our wait. The shuttle to the cruise port was not well known to us so was shocked when l found out 30min. before it arrived that 11am was pickup time. If l hadn't called we would have missed it. The embarkation was a breeze! We were offered a sparkling Zinfandel on arrival and proceeded to the Windows Cafe for our lunch. Sudarto greeted us with his friendly smile and a muchacho (macchiato) and we laughed about that for the rest of the cruise! That was the beginning of a great first impression with all the staff. At first we were not pleased with our room as it was dusty and warm with a gnarly blue car blanket on the beds. Our butler was a little tardy about bringing us ice and so we never had water and wine on the rocks. One night he missed us all together, we did not like room 6078 so were moved to 7028 5 days later as the lack of sleep was getting to us. Hot and humid does not make sleeping comfortable. We had foamies put on our mattresses as we found the beds hard. Now as soon as we got to our new room the cruise started to pick up momentum!! We started to enjoy using our balcony as just opening the sliding door once would have meant 25C all day and night. We were actually able to keep the door open in the new room so that we could hear the wonderful music from the TV station with the web cam. We loved the Masterpiece Theatre channel too!! A little hiccup with the plumbing made for some stair climbing on our last night as toilets were not working. Breakfast on the veranda lost its charm after we discovered how amazing it was in the windows cafe. Even in the Discoveries it was boring as Herring, sardines and stinky fish is not what l eat first thing in the morning. Our supper in the discovery was the best part of the day esp when the desserts were served. I only gained 3 lbs as we made sure to walk the stairs and eat lots of delicious fruit and good for you oatmeal with ground flax in the mornings. We loved the lamb kabobs at the pool grill and found the staff very hard working and friendly. The ice-cream was so yummy and l ate sorbet at least 3 times a day. Fresh fruit and the excellent quality of food made for less waste and made guilt free foraging a daily adventure. The smaller ship was a first for me and it won't be my last. We met so many wonderful people and danced together and laughed till our faces and sides hurt! The Musical trio of Mickey,Larry and Dallas made the cruise so special as they entertained us by the pool and up in the Looking glass. D.J.Oleg helped us to work off our days feasting into the wee hours and his sweet demeanor and dance moves a great way to end the day. Our many friends laughed, visited, danced, ate, drank and made plans for the next day! Loved the ports, even the tenders! I think that all cruisers should experience the Azamara Journey so that they will have the chance to meet wonderful friends, friendly crew, listen to great music and dance, drink free specialty coffees with no hassles if you ask for soy milk!!! and get to know islands that are hidden gems. The front desk staff were very helpful and always attentive to our needs. So many activities on sea days made for a relaxing cruise. Now if there was a way to stop all the seat saving then everyone could enjoy basking in the sun! The sanctuary was great but there too was lots of seat saving so we just moved the books to another lounger. We enjoyed the shower in the sanctuary as our room was so hot.It was worth the $100 for a shower curtain that doesn't hug!!! I bought an underwater camera on board but was disappointed when l was unable to use my 20 free photo downloads as the picture machine was ancient. Ronaldo was very helpful and accommodating and should get cudo points for having to wear the dolphin costume our in the sun!!! Loved the feeling that l was on a non smoking cruise!! Loved Azamara! Loved Bequia, Gustavia, St.Johns, and St.Kitts!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We left Belgium a day before the sailing, because with the stopover in Newark coming from Europe we would never get there in time for the sailing at 5 PM. After some stories on cruise critic I was even a bit worried that we wouldn't ... Read More
We left Belgium a day before the sailing, because with the stopover in Newark coming from Europe we would never get there in time for the sailing at 5 PM. After some stories on cruise critic I was even a bit worried that we wouldn't make it in time just leaving Europe the day before (snowstorms....) But everything went just fine. Boarding was so easy, just a few other people around and within minutes we were on board. My husband loved it, sitting in a comfortable chair sipping some bubbly just minutes after arriving at the dock. We loved the size of the ship, my husband found it a cosy ship. He already told me he wants to travel on smaller ships all the time now. Being a smaller ship you can feel the movements of the ship much better, but we don't mind because we never get seasick. Even in bed I like it when the ship goes up and down, so we usually get a cabin a the front of the ship (bow??). We also liked the food on board, all day long there is always something nice to eat or drink, starting with the smoothie in the morning and the coffee from the machine (lavazza coffee some member of staff told us)which for us was much better than the coffee that they would serve out of the coffee cans. Most of the people on board were not very young anymore, but we met very nice people on board and always had nice company at dinner because we don't mind sharing a table. We also had a meet and greet for cruise critic members which was nice, it is always fun to meet the people you have talked to on the boards. We had several nice excursions, but no ship excursions. Sometimes we just went for a hike on the islands we visited. Our cabin attendants were always very helpful and the room was usually cleaned when we got back from breakfast. We liked most of the service on board, staff was always very friendly and trying to help. We would definitely sail again with azamara if the time and itinerary are right. We don't need big shows at night and like a laid back cruise, with excursions and some reading in a comfortable chair and some nice food and that is what we got on board the Azamara Journey. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Azamara Journey, January 31, 2010 This was the cruise that almost did not happen due to my wifes unexpected back Surgery just over 2 weeks prior to departure. We are normally very active and our normal cruising is go go go.... This trip ... Read More
Azamara Journey, January 31, 2010 This was the cruise that almost did not happen due to my wifes unexpected back Surgery just over 2 weeks prior to departure. We are normally very active and our normal cruising is go go go.... This trip was different, as it was a recovery time for my wife. We flew Delta first class the day prior from Milwaukee, via Detroit. All I can say is Deltas "first class" is worst class. The planes were dirty, worn and the food served in First class was comparable to what you would buy in the week old sandwich section of A "C" store. Our night prior to boarding was spent at the FLL airport Hilton. I booked this room in November on Orbitz at a reasonable rate. When we finally arrived After a Delta delay, the front desk told us they had limited rooms available and put us in #701 Why do I give the room number? Never accept this room or #801 as they are directly below all the elevator motors and equipment. I went to the front desk and asked for a different room, all they gave me was a comment you booked thru Orbitz and this is what you get. They actually gave us earplugs too. I can sleep thru anything, but did not thru the elevator noises. Sunday we were picked up by a private limo well worth the $75 charge to the port of Miami, Especially with my wife's back situation. Boarding was a breeze, and we were having lunch by 12:45 in the windows cafe. I have to say the Azamara staff went out of their way to accommodate my wifes in-abiltity to sit for any length of time. They got our balcony stateroom ready early for us so she could lay down, they brought different chairs to the dining areas for her and were very fast at serving us per our requests. This was our second trip on the Journey, the staff was as we remembered, kind, helpful and genuinely caring about their passengers. The captain was new and not nearly as Personable as the one we had last April He did like the specialty restaurants as he was there a lot. (His belly looked like it too!) I really think the quality of food was better on our previous trip in April, We had tough Steaks without much flavor in prime c. The food in Aqualina was quite good, Wife had the Sea bass and it was excellent. I had the lamb, it too was very good. Main dining food was very hit and miss. We made a habit of ordering apps via room service before we went to dinner. Normally we ordered 2 shrimp cocktails and one other "App. of the day". This made our dining room time much shorter with only a soup or salad and entrEe ordered. I think windows cafe needs a bit of a food upgrade, lunches were much the same cafeteria type food and after a few days it was hard to find something appetizing. Azamara must have gotten a deal on chicken as it was served in abundance! Two nights they had bbq buffets, both were very good, Pedro, the morning egg cook, Noon sandwich maker and evening grillmaster did an excellent job manning the charcoal grills. The shrimp and lamb were very good. I felt very sorry for him a number of times as a some passengers were rude, a please and thank you goes a long way! One observation we made was a cutback in quantity not quality of staff. There were times where they just seemed rushed and overworked. Ports were a non issue with us, especially the tender ones, we stayed on the ship, and relaxed. We did get off and do some shopping damage and have a few Piton beers in St Lucia. By the last few days of the trip, my wife made it to the casino a few times for some short spells at the blackjack table. All the dealers were friendly and helpful.. I have to comment on one bartender in particular. Angelburt is his name, he works the casino bar evenings. What a great asset you have Azamara! Angeburt, The "drainers and their friends miss you!! Overall, it was a relaxing time, The Caribbean may not be the best for the Journey as the sea days seemed overcrowded by the pool area with the chair hogs that Stake out a chair but rarely show up to us them making it worse. Entertainment was non existent in my opinion, the piano player by the cova cafe had a following but I suspect most of them were deaf. Since it was a Caribbean cruise, I did expect to hear some Caribbean Music, but all we got was one or two Jimmy Buffet songs. I was also surprised at the median age of the passengers which was ancient, in the Med It was a much more balanced age group. Condition of the ship was good, not as bad as some posts in the boards area, they do need some new furniture within the next year or so but overall the ship looked well maintained. I think we will try something different in the Caribbean in the future, however We do have 2 weeks booked in September on the Journey and a 2 week Asia cruise on the Quest January of 11 that we are looking forward to. We will then see how the "new Azamara " Stacks up to the old one. Hopefully the main dining room and windows get a bit of a needed food upgrade. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Hello: Had a great time on the Journey. Here are the highs: Great food, never had a bad meal and I feel the food has improved over last year, we sailed on the cruise Jan.'09. The activity staff made the cruise. Tony did an excellent ... Read More
Hello: Had a great time on the Journey. Here are the highs: Great food, never had a bad meal and I feel the food has improved over last year, we sailed on the cruise Jan.'09. The activity staff made the cruise. Tony did an excellent job as cruise director. The waitstaff in all the venues were excellent. A real funny guy was Ivo(sorry if I spell it wrong) he was the matre'd at Prime C his famous line, "if you have a compliment my name is Ivo, but if it is a complaint, my name is George", t was the way he said it that made it really funny. I just can't say enough about this crew. Now for the lows(and I had to search for this): The only thing I would say as a low, was some of the ports didn't have a lot of things to do if you didn't take an excursion. We like to just get off the ship and go for a long walk. The port we liked the best was not on this year's cruise. It was St. John USVI. They really did a great job of looking after us on the cruise. I would give this ship and crew a 5 star rating. Thanks for all your efforts. CanadianTom Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We had been on the Journey twice before [ 1)Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and 2) the Western Mediterranean] and it was fantastic. Weather was poor here in North Carolina and we saw that the Journey was in the Caribbean. We signed up ... Read More
We had been on the Journey twice before [ 1)Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and 2) the Western Mediterranean] and it was fantastic. Weather was poor here in North Carolina and we saw that the Journey was in the Caribbean. We signed up based on our previous experiences with Azamara, and the Journey specifically. We did not even check the itinerary until one week before the cruise. No sooner had we gotten on board, when two crewmen hugged my wife. "You're back, so glad to see you." It only got better from there. We encountered no problems and enjoyed the cruise thoroughly. We really didn't want to get off when we saw the weather back home. The food was great in the main dining area (Discoveries). We also ate in each of the two specialty restaurants (Aqualina and Prime C). The bartenders remember your preference after the first request. The ship's officers are friendly and approachable. We enjoyed breakfast on the veranda every day. It was served hot and to our specifications each day. The ship stresses cleanliness to prevent any outbreak of illness. We like that! We had tours of the Bridge, the Galley, and the Engine Control room. Every question was answered competently. The ports of call were interesting and a little off the beaten path. You weren't swamped by passengers from other ships. We thought the entertainment was not quite as good as our three previous Azamara cruises, but it wasn't bad. All in all, it remains our favorite Cruise ship and Cruise line. We look forward to our next voyage. Mostly because the crew makes you feel like FAMILY and goes out of their way to please you and make sure everything is done right. CarolBob from Greensboro, NC, USA Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My husband and I were on the Azamara Journey for this 12 day Caribbean cruise. I will tell you some of my observations without repeating what others have posted. Transportation: We started in Fort Lauderdale and had to find a way to get ... Read More
My husband and I were on the Azamara Journey for this 12 day Caribbean cruise. I will tell you some of my observations without repeating what others have posted. Transportation: We started in Fort Lauderdale and had to find a way to get to Miami. SAS Transportation was not able to help us. I reserved Michael Rozenbaum, www.US1TransportationService.com. He showed up, on time, in an immaculately clean Lincoln Town Car. He was well dressed and helped us with the luggage. I will use him again. After the cruise we used SAS Transportation, www.ridesas.com, to get from the ship in Miami to the airport in Fort Lauderdale. The driver, Tony, was waiting for us when we got off the ship. He picked us up and then picked up others from other ships. The trip went well and it was only $15 plus tip per person. Arrival: We got to the ship around 11 AM and walked right on. We gave them our luggage, they gave us some champagne, and we gave ourselves a self tour of the ship. As others have described it in other posts I will just say it is very nice. We were allowed into our cabin, around 2 PM. Cruise Critic: The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party was held on the first day at sea. All the officers were there to greet us, answer questions, and wish us a great cruise. The day before we left the ship there was another CC get together. This time they wanted to be sure we enjoyed the cruise and asked for input on how they could improve the Azamara cruise experience. We had very few ideas for improvements as the cruise was excellent. The Cabin: When you walk in there is a very nice bag on the bed to use on your port days. They do not leave little pieces of chocolate on your pillow at night. Instead they leave a plate with truffles, petit fours, chocolate covered strawberries or other delights. There is an interesting vase with some green stems in it in the cabin. As time passes the green stems turn into flowers which are still in their prime when you have to go home. The fruit bowl is kept full with ready to eat fruit. You don't have to wait until it ripens. Activities: Be sure to go to the raffles in the shops. You show up, they give you a raffle ticket, and then they pull a ticket. You may be a winner! Winners got jewelry and gift certificates. They have an asterisk by some of the activities on the daily program. When you participate in these activities you get the presenter to sign a special paper. On the last full day of the cruise you take your paper up to the Looking Glass and get rewards. The categories for rewards start at ten points and go up by tens. You get different things depending on how many activities you attended. The rewards include Azamara book marks, mugs, and tee shirts. The Experience: The best restaurant on the ship is the Aqualina. I had the best meal I have ever had there. You can go there more than once. They request a $5 gratuity per person. The officers are everyplace. They show up at the shows and greet you as you enter the theater. They are there in the morning when you get off the ship to wish you a good day. They pass you in the buffet and greet you. I figure they must work at least 22 hours a day! If you have any concerns they are addressed immediately. Part way through the cruise they asked for suggestions for improvement. I had a suggestion and the head of the relevant department called me to discuss it. This does not happen on the big ships. They make you feel like the passengers really matter to them. The Ports: There were seven ports in seven days. We went on shore every day except one. The sixth day, at Antiqua, the seas were high, the tenders were bouncing, we were tired, and we had been there before so we stayed on board. We had been to St. Martin recently so we just got off the ship and walked around for a while. In St. Croix, St. Barts, and Virgin Gorda we got a driver and toured the island. Each time we waited a little beyond the gangway until we had four to six people who wanted to tour before we hired a driver. They charge by the vehicle and not by the person so we all benefited by going in a group. All tour drivers spoke English and did a great job of showing us their island. Most tours were about $15 per person. In Dominica we found Oris Campbell, joca_57@hotmail.com. He took us around the island. He speaks English and did a good job of pointing out the highlights of the island. For St. Lucia we booked Cosol Tours, www.cosol-tours.com, before we left home. It was absolutely the best day of the cruise. Cosol drove our van and another man drove a second van. He showed us the island, fed us island food, took us to a snorkeling/swimming spot and generally treated us like royalty. If you go to St. Lucia you want to contact Cosol. The charge is $65 per person for a 5 to 6 hour day. It was well worth it. Conclusion: I have never seen a crew so eager to please the passengers. We really enjoyed our first Azamara cruise and look forward to going on another.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We're avid Celebrity cruisers and decided to try this upscale ship with a different itinerary. Well the cruise price didn't live up to the upscale. I believe Azamara needs to learn from Celebrity. I've never been a critic of ... Read More
We're avid Celebrity cruisers and decided to try this upscale ship with a different itinerary. Well the cruise price didn't live up to the upscale. I believe Azamara needs to learn from Celebrity. I've never been a critic of Celebrity( there was no need to) however I wouldn't cruise on this line until the ship gets more organized. The buffet food became boring with not near the selection Celebrity has. It's very busy since the line on each side comes close in the center your bumping into people etc. Then try to find a seat which when you do the food that wasn't very warm to start with is cold. Trying to find a waiter is another problem, since there aren't many around. With no trays to carry your food it tests your coordination skills. The reason is they said it makes it look like a buffet..DUH. The main dining area does a pretty good job on getting you seated. The speciality restaurants were one excellent ( Prime C )the other ( Aqualina) wasn't as good and the phony Osco Buco was salty and veal shank is what it supposed to be was pieces of veal wrapped with Prosuitto It was a want to be Osco Buco. Entertainment was not like anything you find on Celebrity unless your into piano's,opera,or string guitars. The band (thats a compliment) by the pool played for 45 minutes songs that I never heard of. No steel band on a Caribbean cruise? They didn't even look like they wanted to be there and the music supported it. The ports left a lot to be desired and the ship excursions were very pricey, make your own arrangements you'll see more for less $$. The cabins weren't upscale with less room (1A category) than any of the Celebrity's M class which we've been on all of them. The butler is a dressed up cabin steward. His service was excellent on deck 7. His name is Fazio and he was great. I'm not big in girth or height but the showers only accommodate tiny and small. At 5'6" 150lbs it was close for me. There are still chair hogs at the pool who drop a book or shoe and then leave for 3 or more hours.They are very nice lounge chairs. The best part of this type of cruise is the people you meet and get to know. We had a great time meeting people from all over. The average ages are in the 55 and up with a number of cruises. This was our 20th and there's many with more. Most said they wanted the different ports and to try this UPSCALE line which many also said that to be upscale they should start at Celebrity's level and go from there. I'm sure they'll make adjustments to become upscale,it was disappointing however expecting more and getting less. I've never wrote about any cruise's but this one at this point doesn't make the grade of Upscale! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Returned home on Saturday from a terrific time on the Quest 14 day Caribbean cruise. We're die-hard Celebrity cruisers and we have never really had any complaints about Celebrity's product. However, I have to say Azamara is a ... Read More
Returned home on Saturday from a terrific time on the Quest 14 day Caribbean cruise. We're die-hard Celebrity cruisers and we have never really had any complaints about Celebrity's product. However, I have to say Azamara is a step above Celebrity and certainly worth the extra dollars, in my opinion. Just the small size of the ship and attention to detail made a big difference. To summarize, we absolutely loved it. The ship was lovely, the staff went far out of their way to ensure we had a wonderful experience, and the food was to die for (let's just say my skirts aren't feeling particularly loose these days). For what it's worth, I'm 46 and my hubby is 51. IMPROVEMENTS OVER CELEBRITY Lounge chairs - The thickly-cushioned lounge chairs by the pool - especially the double-size ones. What luxury! Many times we went out to lie in the sun to "read" and ended up snoring instead. We also got two of the 30 coveted spa passes, which allowed us to use the private area at the front of the ship. Many times, we were the only ones out there enjoying the comfy seating and quiet (although the seats were just as comfy at the main pool). One day, they had free champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in the area. Let's just say I didn't let that go to waste. Of course, chair hogs were out in full force at the main pool, but we seldom had trouble finding four chairs together. One day, after an hour had gone by with someone's shoes split on two chairs beside our friends' chairs for over an hour, we moved the shoes to the floor behind the chairs, and sat. Even an hour after that, that person had not retrieved his shoes. There was always a blurb in the daily stating a 20 minute time limit for chair saving. At our Cruise Critic meeting, someone complained about the chair hog situation, but I think most cruise lines have this problem, and it is hard for them to solve without alienating certain passengers. I think we have to deal with this problem ourselves and feel free to move items. Even if it hasn't been 20 minutes, if it looks to me like a chair is being arbitrarily saved by a book or shoe or whatever, I'd have no problem moving it, and if the person came back in less than 20 minutes, I'd apologize and find myself another chair. I think this is a safe way to deal with this annoyance, even though we really seldom had a problem finding chairs when we wanted them. Food - oh boy! I wish it hadn't been quite so good. I just couldn't say no. Even the salads at dinner, which on Celebrity I've found a little dull, were very good, with little treats like seeds and fruit on top of greens, which I love. We dined in Prime C twice and Aqualina once, but the food in Discoveries was just as good. We also dined at Breeza once and loved it, but we just couldn't find another night to go, since there was always something on the Discoveries menu we wanted to have. A few nights, they had special sampler desserts which were very nice. At breakfast, the waffles were as good as Celebrity, with the added bonus of never having to wait for them. They were entirely too convenient. The made-to-order omelets were also very tasty, and made with particular flair. Coffee - I just love the coffee machines at the main buffet which grind the beans and make your choice of espresso, decaf or regular coffee. And the larger cups and drinking glasses are wonderful. I am a fan of very strong coffee and I used the grinding machines to have two shots of espresso and one shot of regular coffee, which fit in the new big mugs wonderfully, and definitely got me moving in the morning (the flavor of this concoction was similar to Starbucks extra bold-type coffee). They also had regular coffee urns which most people used. The coffee in the dining room was okay, but lacked the intensity of my custom morning mixture. On Celebrity, we often felt the need to visit the Cova for a decent cup of coffee, but the only time we had anything from Mosaic on the Quest, it was the cold mochaccino's, which were calorie-laden heaven in a cup. Lines - I really haven't noticed a lot of lines on Celebrity, but on Azamara, it became apparent by comparison that Celebrity does sometimes have line ups at buffets and other venues, which we seldom encountered on Azamara. The only line I really remember was the immigration line, and you can't do much about that. At least we were waiting in a comfortable lounge with coffee available. And I never saw a line-up for Discoveries, except just before it opened at 6 and then everyone was always quickly seated. Granted, we eat early, and maybe there were lines later, but when we left the dining room around 7:30, I never saw a line either, except perhaps on last Thursday's lobster night, when it seemed that everyone chose Discoveries over the specialty restaurants. I think making Prime C and Aqualina free, in addition to the yummy choices in Breeza, has eliminated any problems in the main dining room. Our service was very quick most nights, and we never felt we waited too long nor did we feel rushed to leave. We did perhaps miss connecting with assigned seating wait staff, but really, all the staff were so great, we never felt we were missing out on much. The maitre d's and head waiters were all charming and funny and we really enjoyed joking with all of them. Little treats - I loved the little bedside treats - the chocolates were much better than the regular Celebrity ones and I happily went back to the cabin every night to snarf back the daily offering. One day, instead of a treat, a rose was left on the bed. I believe the general reaction all over the ship that night was "Nice rose, but where's my chocolate?" We were also given a letter apologizing for the fuel surcharge, along with a nice flannel type travel blanket to bring home. Since our fuel surcharge was refunded, this was an added bonus for us. The daily canapEs are pretty much like Celebrity's - I like them but I guess I'm one of the few who does. They had afternoon tea in Aqualina, but we never went so I can't comment. I'm sure it was good. Mosaic Cafe had nice baked treats in the daytime, and starting late afternoon, they had Tapas, which looked great but we never had room for any, since we ate dinner early and that did us in for the night. Norovirus - I'm sure you're wondering how norovirus can be a good thing. We've never been on any of the Celebrity dreaded "bleach" cruises, but, although there was norovirus on our ship, the staff made sure our inconveniences were kept to a bare minimum. Whatever cleaning solution they used did not smell strong (and I have a very sensitive sniffer), and other than hand sanitizers (both liquid and wipes) being prevalent and the daily update from the bridge, you would never had known there was a problem at all. Staff did the serving at the buffet instead of it being self-serve, but we really barely noticed it - it certainly didn't slow us down in getting plates full of lobster ravioli and other delights. The precautions were in effect pretty much the second day of the cruise till two days before the end, but, although I'm sure the staff was very overworked sanitizing all the menus, soft and hard surfaces (and even the pens we signed our slips with), we barely noticed we were on a cruise affected with the virus. Kudos to the staff for making the best of a tough situation. I do feel bad for anyone that was quarantined, although, with the selection of books in the library (they filled the library full of new books a few days into the cruise), I probably could have kept myself busy in the cabin for a few days without too much boredom. The TV selections seemed okay - I didn't watch much but they had movies on TNT and another station that I would have liked to have time to watch. I did watch most of the movie "Basic Instinct 2" but, somehow, they switched to another movie or something just before the end so I don't know how it ended. Not sure what happened there. Small ship - This is the biggest difference between Celebrity and Azamara. These small ships ensured that you saw the same staff and passengers over and over and you really got to know them over two weeks. We had a great Cruise Critic group and it was nice to see these new friends all over the ship. As mentioned before, line-ups were virtually non-existent - I certainly never had more than three people in front of me waiting for anything and even that was rare. Service above and beyond - Too many instances to mention, but I will mention one. I went to Guest Relations and asked if they had some tape, as I had broken a strap on my sandal and just wanted to hold it together temporarily. Marion at the desk suggested I leave the shoe with my butler with a note requesting that he bring it to her, as she knew people on the ship who might be able to fix it. I left the shoe on the bed with the note before dinner, and when we got back from dinner, the shoe was back, fixed perfectly. Staff were always asking if there was anything they could do for us, and if they could make our experience better in any way. Truly, we could not have asked for better service. Our cabin staff serviced our cabin very efficiently - they always seemed to drop by during a few minutes we were away from the cabin, and have it spotless when we returned. They recycled our towels as we wanted (as the card to "Save the Oceans" suggests) which I liked. I've been places where you hang your towel to use it another day, instead of putting it on the floor, and staff gives you new towels anyways, which seems wasteful to me. Embarkation and debarkation were seamless. Dress code - This ship was perfect, in that you could be country club casual every day, yet some people dressed up and were not out of place. You could still bring nice gowns and wear them if you wanted, but it was not necessary. I did notice a few couples where the woman was dressed to the nines with a lovely cocktail dress and heels, while her spouse was wearing khaki's and a golf shirt. It's nice that everyone can wear what they like. We didn't notice anyone dressed sloppily, although we really didn't pay much attention. Free Microsoft Office classes - On Celebrity you have to pay for them. Not sure how many people showed up but it was nice to see it was free. I teach Office product classes myself and was considering going to the Excel class just to yank the instructor's chain by asking him some ridiculously tough questions, but he seemed like such a nice guy, I didn't have the heart. However, when I asked him whether they use Office 2003 or 2007, he told me they use Office 2000! Hello! Time to upgrade, Azamara. They could really shake things up by showing people the wonders and horrors of Office 2007. By the way, these computers are really locked down - no way to open NotePad or Word in order to compose an e-mail before sending it. Only e-mail and internet seemed accessible. I did want to print out some contact information from Word one day and the instructor was kind enough to log into the computer to allow me to open Word to print my page, but I enjoy the personal network profiles on Celebrity's computers that allow you to save documents and open them on any of the PC's without having to bother anyone. Smoke-free air - No smoking (other than two designated areas) - Heaven! Enough said. Cruise director - We love Becky Field - too bad she's heading to the Mercury after she takes a few months off. She's a doll and we had dinner with her a couple of nights. She's bubbly and diplomatic and just a very nice person. I think she had a tough job getting people to participate in events; many were cancelled due to lack of participation. The crowd on this ship just seemed to want to do their own thing, and wasn't much into participating in dance lessons or going on stage for the "Love and Marriage game" - they nearly had to cancel that because she couldn't convince anyone to go on stage, even though the prize was a couples spa treatment, and the other participants also got a prize. Trivia was very popular (we love it) and we got every prize the cruise line offers up, mainly just by playing trivia so often (and because we clearly watch too many movies and TV shows and know it all!) LITTLE NITPICKS Entertainment - The "party band", Cruise Control, really didn't' seem suited to a Caribbean itinerary. Although talented musicians, they were very low key and seemed to play mellow, jazz-like music more than anything tropical or peppy, particularly the lead singer who looked less than enthused to be there. However, as always, the orchestra was excellent, and the five "production show" singers were incredibly talented. We didn't go to see many of individual musician shows, but what we saw was good, and the comedian made us laugh as he made jokes about our ports of call. The rest of his act seemed recycled from other cruises, as he joked about line ups and other large ship woes that were non-existent on the Quest. I'm sure some people who are used to the big ships were disappointed in the low key entertainment, but I think that Azamara is concentrating on offering unique itineraries and many passengers (like us) will amuse themselves by chatting in the bars with other passengers, or making donations in the casino before turning in early to prepare for an early morning of sightseeing. Perhaps a few more games other than Scrabble, chess and backgammon could be made available in the library (ie. Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, Catchphrase, etc. - games that adults could have some fun with in the evenings if the shows aren't their thing.) People looking for big-ship entertainment will likely not be amused. Personally, I found there were more than enough things to do during the day. The naturalist who spoke on board about wildlife was very good, but I only got to see him once, as other things, like our Cruise Critic meetings, seemed to be scheduled when he was on. Buffet layout - It took me a few days to get the hang of how the buffet worked. I'm still not sure if you're meant to start at the middle and work your way down, or start at the prepared salads and work your way in. The hot food had two sides that were mostly the same, but the odd item would be on one side and not the other, and quite often I never saw a particular entree until I noticed someone had something on their plate. I think the salad bar, which was popular, could be more spread out - perhaps it could be expanded to where the desserts are, and the deserts could be moved to the side, mirror image spot to where the pizza is, in a cubby hole that didn't seem to be used for anything. Also, the juice and smoothie bar area, popular in the morning, didn't seem to be in use the rest of the day - perhaps desserts or ice cream could be moved there to make room for an expanded salad bar. Although really, the salad bar was fine, and other than having to get the greens served because they were too far back, it wasn't a problem. I just like a nice, roomy salad bar. Some people complained about the lack of trays at the buffet. In my opinion, the lack of trays was great, as I find them really awkward, and on Celebrity, as soon as I get to my table, I'm looking for somewhere to dump the unwieldy thing. They also remind me of a high school cafeteria. There were loads of staff around, and although they didn't seem to offer people help carrying their food, I'm sure any one of the staff in the buffet area would be happy to help someone who requested assistance. Really, we were constantly being asked if we wanted juice or a smoothie or more coffee; they would fetch anything you would ask for. Bar bill - Drinks were pricey, although they were definitely generous with the pours, and the bartenders are a great bunch. We especially enjoyed Michael Alvez who kept us amused with magic tricks. Beljania (sp?) and Gabriel in the casino bar were a lot of fun too. Tiny shower - Our friend remarked that the shower was the size and shape of a coffin. I found the shower extremely small and it was a challenge to find room to shave my legs. I finally found the best way was to open the curtain and prop my leg on the sink (probably something not everyone wants to try). The shower curtain always seemed to hang inward even though the bathroom door was closed. I can't imagine how larger people managed in that little shower (not that I'm particularly petite myself). The comic one night suggested larger folks soap down the walls and spin - not a bad idea. :-) Also, it was hard to maneuver around front of the cabin, between the bathroom door and the closet doors - and with the closet doors open, it was very hard to see into the closet because the light was blocked by the door. Also, the pegs on the bathroom door should be shaped more like hooks, so that the towels don't keep falling off. Small stuff, but on a very long itinerary, these things would grate. I guess that's why they make suites. A cruise cabin sure makes your house seem huge when you get home. By the way, we were in a standard verandah cabin. Ship motion - I'm not one to get seasick and generally like to feel the motion of a ship, but I must say, I really felt the motion on this one. Although I never felt sick, I did have trouble sleeping a few nights, although that may have been more due to the waiter refilling my water glass too often at dinner than anything else. I think perhaps the sea was a little rougher than normal most days, since there were two or three nights when I didn't feel the motion of the ship at all - either we were going much slower, or the sea had calmed down a bit. We had perfect weather on this cruise - sunny every day but one, but there was a bit of wind and choppiness a lot of the time. My husband said, as much as he loved this cruise, he would never take one of these ships on a transatlantic cruise. Anyone who is prone to seasickness might be wise to avoid these ships in favor of larger ships, like Celebrity's Millie class. Whiners - I guess you just can't get away from them. Although most people we spoke to loved this cruise, there are always a few just looking for something to complain about. We ran into a particularly unpleasant old buzzard at one of the ports, complaining that he couldn't remove his gratuities from his account, he couldn't bring hard liquor on board, and that this cruise was just awful in every way. He raged that he was on Crystal last year, for the same price, and they included so many more things and it was so much better. I don't doubt Crystal is more inclusive, but show me a Crystal cruise that isn't more than double what Azamara is charging. At our Cruise Critic meetings, there was also a bit of negativity - some about chair hogs which I think is a tough one to solve, and, of all things, about the quality of the paper towels in the restrooms. A few people at the Cruise Critic meeting were not message board members but just came in thinking it was a chance to complain. I guess you can't please everyone. I must say that the passengers all seemed to be very well traveled; I don't think we met anyone who had never sailed Celebrity before, and many people were very particular and expected absolute perfection, which may be a bit unrealistic - that's what the luxury lines are for, I guess. PORTS The main draw of Azamara, in my opinion, is the interesting, out of the ordinary itineraries. We chose this cruise because of the ports, and because we wanted to travel with Sue and Darren again, after we met them on the Galaxy last year and had such a nice time together. We were very happy to visit ports that we had not visited on other cruises, and for the most part, they all offered something interesting to see and do. Other than at Grand Turk, ours was the only ship at any of the ports on the day we were there. Miami - We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Sofitel in Miami, near the airport. We got a great rate by booking many months in advance (prices more than doubled by the time the cruise came along). The hotel was very nice and the meals we had at the hotel were quite good. Their shuttle from the airport to the hotel was quick and check in was fine. We booked our own transportation to the ship, figuring that cabs might be hard to come by on a Saturday morning in Miami, especially as the boat show and a big art show were also on that weekend. St. John - This was one of the few ports we had been to previously. This time, we took a cab from Cruz Bay to Cinnamon Bay, where we spent a very nice morning on the beach. Note to self: just because you have a snorkel doesn't mean you can swim, especially with no flippers. Let's just say I swam about halfway to the reef with Darren before it occurred to me I had nothing but a snorkel and a bathing suit, and I'm not a strong swimmer. I made it back to shore after a bit of hyperventilating, and decided to confine myself to the reef closer to the beach. Cabrits, Dominica - We went on a whale watching excursion. We saw a couple a spouts from a distance, and two tails, but in general, did not see much compared to Cayo Levantado last week. St. Vincent - Here we took a cab after deciding we'd like to see the Fort and the Botanical Gardens. The taxi prices are reasonable enough and our driver was knowledgeable. At both stops, as we got out of the cab, guides took us on a tour, pretty much without asking if we wanted one. We went along, and although the tours went a little longer than expected, particularly at the gardens where I think our guide would have personally introduced us to every plant in the place, they were nice and we were happy with the experience. If you go the private cab route and don't want guides at your stops, I would suggest telling your driver you'd just like to explore on your own, if possible. Tobago - This was an unexpected favorite. One of our Cruise Critic friends organized a tour with Hew's Tours, which included a glass bottom boat ride, snorkeling, and some general sightseeing. The beach at Pigeon Point is lovely, the forts were picturesque and Tobago seemed a little more affluent than some of the other islands. Our tour was to end at 2pm, but we didn't get back to the ship till after 3. They certainly gave us our money's worth; however, at one point I felt like saying to the driver "Hey! We're spoiled cruise passengers! We're not used to going 2 hours without food, let alone 6! We're dying here!" :-) St. Bart's - Now here's another place I could see myself spending a week. Very nice port. Unfortunately, as Sue said, it was the perfect storm of bad luck for a day in St. Bart's. It was a Sunday so most of the stores were closed, and the Oscars were on in Hollywood, so there were no Celebrities for us to stalk. Had a nice time anyways just walking around town. Virgin Gorda - Probably the most picturesque place I've been in the Caribbean. We took the ship's excursion to The Baths and Spring Bay, both of which were gorgeous. I took about a million photos. Cayo Levantado (Samana, Dominican Republic) - Here we did the ship's whale watching excursion and had way better luck than in Cabrits. We got very close to the whales and I got some great photos of the humpbacks, mostly of them slapping their giant fins on the water. Clearly, the same rules in place in Maui restricting how close you can get to a whale are not enforced here. Ponce, Puerto Rico - Other than Arica, Chile, I can't remember a port where we were made to feel more welcome. On exiting the ship, they gave away nylon drawstring bags with tourist literature; in town, they had a troupe of boys and girls dancing, and other entertainers, and everywhere in town, people would say "Welcome to Ponce" as we passed. Back after a few hours of walking around the city, they had a band at the dock, and a local lady leading a conga line. They had a string of tables set up at the pier selling locally made jewelry very cheaply. They also gave out free rum drinks - once again, we did not let that opportunity go to waste. We certainly found the best bargains of the cruise there. The people of Ponce did everything they could to make their port appealing for tourists, like going to the trouble of surrounding the band at the pier with potted plants and prettying up the port area for us. Cruise lines could definitely take the heat off San Juan by sending a few ships in this direction. Grand Turk - Ours was the only ship in any of the ports until we got to Grand Turk. We spent the morning on the Personal Miniboat excursion and when we came back, the Carnival Triumph was unleashing its hordes onto the pier. The Carnivalites invaded Margaritaville and before we knew it, the beach was covered with people, and they were having drinking contests at the pool. We bought some duty-free and headed back onto the ship. The mini boat excursion was a lot of fun - it would have been a bit more fun if it hadn't been quite so choppy (I did not attempt to snorkel). Our boat seemed to have some type of propulsion problem that prevented us from keeping up with the rest of the boaters. Not that I felt my hubby wasn't driving fast enough. It seemed plenty fast in those waves. My knees were feeling it when we got off the boat, and I've got bruises in all kinds of places. Fun stuff, though and I'd do it again. OVERALL CONCLUSIONS This cruise was similar to Celebrity, except that everything just seemed a little bit better. The small ship and low key entertainment suited us just fine, and I would not hesitate to book with Azamara again. The lack of crowds, the smoke-free rooms and fabulous service have convinced me that small ship sailing is my new favorite way to travel. If my husband weren't so bound and bent to sail the Solstice next year, I'd have us booked on another Azamara cruise already. We did notice that every passenger we met had sailed Celebrity previously, and that's where their customer base seems to be coming from. I was most interested to hear what previous Oceania customers had to say about their Azamara experience, and those I spoke to said that there was virtually no difference between the two. A few people said that they were the same, except that Azamara's food was a bit better. Most people I know have never heard of Azamara, and I hope Celebrity/RCI gets the word out about this gem of a cruise line. Perhaps they should advertise Azamara on the back of Celebrity brochures (not that I personally see many paper brochures these days, but I assume some people still book their travel old-school). This is definitely not a cruise line for children - I only saw two children on this cruise, and that was very briefly. I'm not sure how their parents kept them entertained but there really were no facilities at all for them. However, for experienced travelers who are interested in unusual ports, fine dining, and don't need poolside contests and loud entertainment to keep them busy, this cruise line should more than satisfy. This was a great cruise and we'd book Azamara again in a heartbeat. We loved chatting with our Cruise Critic friends, and hope to see many of them again on board another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Thought we'd add our review too, so people can have as much info as possible, as we are all looking for different things. We truly enjoyed our trip, and thought the Ship and Staff were just excellent! This was all a couple of notches ... Read More
Thought we'd add our review too, so people can have as much info as possible, as we are all looking for different things. We truly enjoyed our trip, and thought the Ship and Staff were just excellent! This was all a couple of notches above Celebrity (the food was several notch's above) and gave you a nicer experience without being too stuffy. So here goes... Azamara Quest Jan 5-Jan 19, 2008 To start, I think some background will help give you our perspective. We are both in our mid-30's, no kids and have been on 4-5 cruises, all Celebrity to the Caribbean and were on this vacation to "do nothing." The ports were not particularly important to us as we were not coming to experience the culture, but to relax and be warm for two weeks (we are from very Northern Maine, where the temp was -16 the day before we left and -30 the morning after we returned and we've had over 6 feet of snow so far this season.) Our one hobby outside of traveling is eating and we have been known to fly somewhere for a weekend for the sole purpose of eating at a particular restaurant. So food is important to us. We have only sailed Celebrity because we really like the brand. Every time we go we consider the other lines, but end up staying with Celebrity as we are worried we will be disappointed with the service/food on the others. Since Azamara was an offshoot of Celebrity we figured we'd be ok, and we were. So the Quest... Our trip down was fine. We used frequent flyer miles to get free tickets (always a plus) to Miami, and thankfully there were no problems with weather. We left on Jan 4, 2008 and had booked one night pre-cruise at the Marriott Biscayne Bay through Azamara. We arrived at the hotel around 7 PM and everything was in order for us. This hotel seems not to be walking distance to much, so at the hotels recommendation we took a cab to Bayside Marketplace to get dinner and do some last minute pre-cruise shopping (not to many shopping options in Caribou, Maine). We took the cruise line shuttle at 11:00 AM from the hotel to the pier, where we got a little nervous as there were several families with small children, but it turns out that the shuttle picked up for Azamara, Celebrity and RCCL, so only us a few older couples got off at the Azamara terminal. Phew! (There was only one child about 2 years old on our sailing, very well watched and behaved the couple of times I encountered him.) Embarkation was a breeze, sign-in, turn in express pass, get keys, set-up specialty dining for that night (apparently to take some heat off the main dining room for the first night all the suite passengers on our sailing were offered an extra specialty dining night the first night in addition to the other 3 you now get), sanitized our hands began walking on board, stopped for requisite photo and we were in. We were greeted as we arrived, handed champagne and told we could put our things in our stateroom, but that they wouldn't be really ready until 1:00-1:30 and to head to the lunch buffet that was ready and available in Windows Cafe, deck 9. We went to our room, a Sky Suite 8044, dropped off our bags and went straight to eat (we had skipped breakfast and were quite hungry.) At this point rather than a blow by blow account I think I'll describe each area (ie, food, spa, entertainment et cetera) with pluses and minuses (very few in our mind.) ATMOSPHERE The ship is beautiful. After having been only on Celebrity ships (and never Horizon or Zenith), this ship felt much smaller, but never crowded at just under 700 passengers. Our sailing was full. All the dEcor was very rich and tasteful, lots of nice little niche's to spend time in. During the day everyone was fairly casual, at night a whole range of dress was found, from shorts and polo's (up in the Breeza) to gowns and Tuxedo's. People seemed to enjoy being comfortable (whatever that meant to them). The staff were all so pleasant, greeting you in the halls, welcoming you back from shore, saying hi on deck. There was no waiting for anything really. Getting tenders was easy. I never felt herded anywhere (do have this feeling occasionally, especially on the M-Class Celebrity ships) and best of all, essentially no second hand smoke. The overall feel was quite quiet. Several evenings we went to the big Looking Glass lounge and found only a few people there. There was certainly not happening night life. The casino always seemed very busy. STATEROOM We had a Sky Suite. They are all on Deck 8 I believe and under the pool deck. The room itself is was similar in size to a regular hotel room (obviously a little smaller, but with the undersized furniture it still felt roomy). You could occasionally hear chairs being moved around up on deck, but never did it interfere with anything, or did it go on more than several minutes. The TV was a nice swiveling flat screen and we did have a DVD player. The satellite very frequently got the sound and picture out of sync with one another, sometimes it was only a little out and not bothersome, other times it was very, very out of sync and hard to watch, and sometimes it was right on. I had my laptop and used the wireless, expensive and slower than cable, but faster than dial-up most of the time...that said it was nice to have the service in my room. CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET It was actually a very nice get together, and there was not just the usual social hostess there, but the entire senior staff including the captain came. Everyone at the meeting agreed that we didn't know which ship all the other Quest cruisers had been on before us (referring to all the bad reviews), but we felt like it was all going great, people were very pleased, and quite surprised at the turn out from the ship staff to this event. One person requested that the breakfast remain open a little later on sea days so that they could sleep in more, and the next sea day, breakfast hours were extended out at the pool grill for one more hour to accommodate the really late sleepers. ENTERTAINMENT Our favorite thing was actually the Azamara Cabaret Singers, a group of five energetic performers who put on 3 shows during the 14 days. The Cabaret environment is much more personal and up close with the performers, but does limit the size of the productions. A pianist Naki Ataman was also excellent as was a Broadway singer Jordan Bennett. There was also a comedian, and a couple of other acts that we didn't go see so I can't comment. I heard from others that they were good too though. There was a full slate of all the usual cruise activities each day, trivia, name that tune, wine tasting, culinary demonstrations, lectures, games, table tennis, shuffleboard et cetera. THE SPA This was a very nice (and very expensive) place. The thalassotherapy deck up front is small, but very comfortable and great to get away from all the chair hogs on the main deck (yes, they were on here too, the species seems pervasive and irrepressible). I had two hot stone massages, that were awesome. The area is beautiful as the rest of the ship and kept up nicely. The fitness area is also here, and it had a few bikes, treadmills and elliptical sans well as several weight machines and a open floor for classes. There were also Spin bikes. All the classes )yoga, pilates, spin) were only able to take 5 -8 people and filled very quickly the first day. Again, as in the rest of the ship the staff is just great. FOOD The Windows Cafe/Breeza - The buffet area is small (everything is smaller on this ship) but had a nice selection. The set-up is buffet style, there are waitstaff all over the place, you can sit inside or out on the back deck. Waiters will usually come by and get your beverages for you, but if the person in your area is off getting someone else's beverage when you sit down or otherwise involved you can also get your own ( big minus = people sitting at their table in a huff ticked that no one has come to get them coffee when there is a coffee urn 3 feet from them and they can serve themselves) The waitstaff are very helpful and friendly, and if someone knows you from the main dining room they tend to go out of their way to be extra helpful. It only occasionally felt "very" busy in there, and maybe three times we had to wait to get a table cleared to have somewhere to sit. We ate there everyday for breakfast and lunch and 4-6 times for dinner. At breakfast there is a waffle/pancake station made to order, made to order omelette station, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, corned beef hash, selection of fruits (pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, apples, mixed fruit salad, berries) cold meats, cheeses, all kinds of pastries, yogurt, granola, oatmeal or cream of wheat and probably a couple of other things I am forgetting. At lunch there are 3 cold salads, 3 main hot entrees plus sides, a carving station, make your own salad station, soup, make your own sandwich station, pizza, desserts and ice cream. At dinner the place gets called Windows Breeza, but is same venue. There is pizza, made to order stir fry, 3 entrees plus sides, usually 2 soups, salad bar, pasta bar, sushi bar, and carving station. To drink for free there is lemonade, cranberry juice, orange juice apple juice, ice tea, hot tea, coffee and milk. (Varies slightly depending on meal) The major pluses for this venue, are that it is quick, easy and has the very nice back deck to eat on. In the evening we enjoyed sitting there to have a drink at the Sunset bar regardless of whether or not we were eating dinner there. The only minus (except for obnoxious lazy passengers who couldn't get their own drinks) was even though there was a nice selection of things that I thought were all pretty tasty it did get repetitive after 14 days (many of the cold salads repeated several times etc) particularly at lunch, when on Port days your only other option was the pool grill (main dining room was only open for lunch on sea days). Pool Grill - Was open from 12-6 everyday, had lunch there one day, all the usual grill stuff, plus tacos, and a side station with the same salads available in Windows. Taco was good, enjoyed a plate of fries as a snack many afternoons, yummy! Also, noticed nachos some days. Mosaics Cafe - This area sold high end teas and coffees to drink there or to go and had little bites available all day, pastry in the AM, little sandwiches from lunch through afternoon and "tapas" through dinner. This area was right in the center of everything and was frequently used during the day for various activities (trivia, games, name that tune, et cetera.) Discoveries Dining Room - Generally open for breakfast and dinner on our sailing, open for lunch on sea days only. Open seating. In the 5 nights we ate there only one night did we have to wait for a table for two. There was always a small line when we arrived (two or three other groups.) The Maitre'd took your room number and table preference and then sat you, so this could take a minute or two to accomplish for each group, but the wait was brief. Because each table in a section could be at a different point in dining, things are a little more hectic feeling with open seating, than with assigned seating (I think the staff like assigned seating better), but the food is mostly cooked al 'minute and is significantly better than on Celebrity in our opinion. Had heard some comments about the beef, being badly cooked, ours was always cooked to our order (mine med rare and hubby's medium), but did talk to one couple who had a "charred" piece. The major plus for this dining room is that it is open seating, you can go when you want, eat with who you want. The caviar service was excellent. The major minus is that it is open seating so if everyone wants to go at the same time and everyone wants a table for two someone is going to have to wait. The waiting was no problem for us (its that way at any chain restaurant in the US all the time, and most of that food is terrible to boot) but we heard many people complaining about this. The two specialty restaurants worked the same - Reservations needed, you got to pick the time. Prime C is a steak house and Aqualina was American with a Mediterranean flair. The menus are posted on CC and on Azamara's website. The service was very good. Atmosphere quiet and relaxed in both. We got to go to each twice with no extra charge. On the whole the food was excellent. We thought it was comparable to a nice restaurant (3 stars, certainly much better than say Olive Garden or that sort of thing). Particularly with 14 day itinerary it was very nice to have 4 dining selections each evening. There are as usual, bars all over the ship, and people circulating too. The nicest improvement from the last time we were on Celebrity, was that we didn't ever get pestered by the circulating drink waiters. By the pool, they just walked by and only stopped if you approached them. In the Cabaret and at dinner, they came by once, and left you alone. The last 2 times on Celebrity the circulating waiters were very bothersome, pushing the drinks. This was an excellent improvement. PORTS As I mentioned early in this overly long report, we didn't really care about the ports. In most of the places we got off the boat took a quick walk around and went back to chill out and read. The thing to know is that they were mostly "developing ports" so you definitely had to be a little more adventurous to get around and do things if you didn't take ships tours. It was refreshing to get off and NOT see a Diamonds International, Columbian Emeralds et cetera in every port. We did spend the whole day on St. John and on St. Barth's , both very nice islands with beautiful beaches and good food. St. John also has some nice shopping (and a Columbian Emeralds for anyone in withdrawal). St. Barth's has very, very nice shopping, like you are in Paris shopping, so unless you have lots of expendable cash (its all priced in Euros to add to the pain) its window shopping only. Even window shopping made my wallet catch on fire! OVERALL We loved it! Would go again in a heartbeat. By the end of two weeks many of the staff (not just you Butler, but bartenders, activity staff, waiters, security) knew you. It was relaxing to an extreme degree for us, everything on our time, our schedule, our way and we got lucky with great weather too. A truly wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
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