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37 Azamara Repositioning Cruise Reviews

This was our 5th Azamara cruise, the first in a suite. We were used to the excellent crew, atmosphere. dining and entertainment. Journey did not let us down. Without port days the cruise experience was focused on the cruise itself. Cabin- ... Read More
This was our 5th Azamara cruise, the first in a suite. We were used to the excellent crew, atmosphere. dining and entertainment. Journey did not let us down. Without port days the cruise experience was focused on the cruise itself. Cabin- nice with real bathtub, more than adequate closet space. Wonderful service from our Butler and Room attendant, never obtrusive but very efficient. Food was Azamara, high quality and service. Whether in Discoveries or Windows , Pool Grill or the specialty Restaurants. Because there were only about 350 passengers Aqualina and Prime C alternated nights of opening. This caused no problem that I saw. The free wine option provided excellent 'Boutique Wines' in copious Quantity. The lectures were interesting 'Discovery' and Animal Planet presenter Nigel Marven gave several lectures on his experiences with various wildlife programmes and showed examples, fascinating. A US District Attorney gave background to famous trials and a great speaker taught us to appreciate the enormity of the Universe, complete with nightime event on Deck 11 spying stars in the sky. There was Ballroom dancing classes, Watercolour painting and even Portuguese lessons. The multi talented Entertainment staff headed by CD Eric de Gray with 'sidekick' Chris provided professional shows assisted by guest singers and a comedian. The talented Dan Daly hosted Piano time in the Mosaic cafe even though I sang a song with him as 'Ethel Merman', special mention to Marcio DJ and a great Yorkshire lass Sara-Lou who put up with a lot of good natured geriatric ribbing with great tolerance and humour. If you want a professional, luxury experience with out the stiff formalities of Tuxedos and enforced mealtimes and Table 'Mates' Choose Azamara. Downside, the Hotel Director was almost invisible, not the ever attentive visibility of Heike or Philip, never saw him never made himself known. No one was at the gangway to say Goodbye and as a multiple traveler never got invitations to Dinner with the Officers, Tours of the bridge etc that we enjoyed on previous cruises, but really 'no big deal'. The Hotel PreCruise, the Fenix was central clean and comfortable and good value however the Cruise Air travel booked by Azamara was an absolute disaster. Bad flight planning gave us a connection in London that was impossible to make.After 7 hours rom Canada we missed our connection along with some other passengers, having to sit in London for 5 hours for the next flight. Arriving in Lisbon our, and others, bags did not arrive, there was no one from Azamara to meet us or transfer us. We did get the bags about 30 hours later after doing all the tracing etc ourselves. People arriving on the same route the next 2 days had th same experience. Several cruised without their baggage, one gentleman lost his custom wheelchair. The bus to the ship was supposed to be at 12 Noon, they arrived at 1-15, the hotel had no one to contact. Not a good experience. Leaving at San Juan we were taken in School type buses to the Airport, no room for bags that were to follow in a van, fortunately they did, though we had to wait, unescorted outside the Airport for them to come. Great Cruise line, my advice, handle the transfers and hotels yourself and have a professional Travel Agent at least review any air arrangements before accepting and dont expect any shore representatives to turn up or assist with problems. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We took Azamara Journey from Miami to Rome. This was our second trans-Atlantic. We enjoyed the first one so much last year (it was not on Azamara) that we were keen to do it again. Azamara lived up to and exceeded expectations. In this ... Read More
We took Azamara Journey from Miami to Rome. This was our second trans-Atlantic. We enjoyed the first one so much last year (it was not on Azamara) that we were keen to do it again. Azamara lived up to and exceeded expectations. In this case, the ship is the destination and it's all sea days. It keeps the cruise director and his staff busy and indeed, the program was so full that there could well be two events that you wished to attend which ran at the same time. There's lots of interaction with fellow passengers and you get to know them really well.The daily trivia contest was hotly contested and very well supported. Azamara DOES listen. Somebody suggested that if this was S**b**rn, there would be a barman on duty since we had over 100 people in the lounge. Next day there was. Another passenger suggestion was the old tradition of the 'noon gun'. From that point on, a name was drawn from the hat every day and a lucky passenger got to blow the ship's whistle at noon. Cute, eh? Thank you, Captain.Cruise Director Eric de Gray is one of the best at sea. He certainly must be the tallest. He is not only a talented entertainer, he can keep order with the loud-mouths during trivia and is lightning quick with creative and very funny one-liners in all situations.We normally have dinner in the main dining room on cruises but used it only three times on this occasion. We did Aqualina a couple of times and the gourmet dinner with wines in Prime C. Both superb. All the rest were in the Windows Cafe. There are white tablecloths in the evening and a good selection of buffet items. There was always a chef on duty to make the theme dish of the day for you - Indian, risotto, fish & chips, etc etc and he was excellent. It was nice to sit outside aft, look at the wake and watch the sun go down in the west behind you. Wherever you dined, the waiters would pass by with the wines of the day to top you up constantly. The wines are well chosen, not cheap and nasty, and we enjoyed them. Guitarist Steve entertained and would take requests.Dance instructors Sunny and Dave were superb, the best we have seen. It would have been nice to have more opportunities for ballroom dancing during the cruise. They were quite limited. The band was great, led by the personable and very talented Dan Redner. He also directed the Hi C's choir which was fun, for the participants at least.We were on Azamara Journey in the Baltic 18 months ago and it was nice to be recognized by some of the crew including our favourite barman at sea, Dale.We used the computer room every day and never had to wait for a machine. With very few exceptions the internet worked well.We made one stop in Gibraltar and took the ship's tour. It was an excellent day and turned out to be more interesting and enjoyable than we expected. Gib is so compact that after the tour we stopped on Main Street for a pint and fish & chips - old English tradition we are told but not old English prices - then walked back to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
To criticise this cruise would be difficult. It was the third Azamara crossing and the sixth transatlantic. They really have it right, my only concern is that it is too much of a bargain to last at the prices we paid. The Journey, ... Read More
To criticise this cruise would be difficult. It was the third Azamara crossing and the sixth transatlantic. They really have it right, my only concern is that it is too much of a bargain to last at the prices we paid. The Journey, now an old friend, was as comfortable and friendly as ever, the cabin comfortable, the dining excellent and the ship well kept and cared for. The crew were, as usual, attentive, polite, caring and well mannered. The entertainment staff headed by Eric De Grey, an eccentric but phenomenal entertainer, organiser and all round really nice guy assisted by James, Mark and Jodi, put up with the passengers silliness at trivia etc. The activities were really well organised, lectures by Jesse Weir on opera were fascinating, well presented and attended as were others on local ports. Dining was exceptional whether at Discoveries, windows or the Prime C and Aquilina, absolutely no complaints at all. The touted free wine was of good quality and unrationed, many of us just couldn't believe the quality of wine and service. A nice touch was the freeing of charge for the Cova Cafe (Now renamed Mosaic) It became a meeting place for afternoon teas, morning coffee and just socialising, nice touch. In former years it was not so well patronized. The Officers were visible and friendly especially the Captains small son who endeared himself to the Grandparents on board. Jason (The Captain) was very approachable and friendly. Ports were Rome,Cartagena (Blah), Gibraltar, Tenerife and Nassau. Nassau was a bit of a disappointment, lots of pestering by locals when getting on shore, needed a good rainstorm to just wash it down. We don't take ships tours as they are not good value and move at the speed of the slowest passenger but we enjoyed looking around the ports, on a Transatlantic the sea days are the draw. Embarkation was an absolute breeze, Debarkation a bit chaotic, not due to Azamara but the ever arrogant Immigration officers of the USA. If Azamara could avoid Miami it would be great, an old grimy terminal with circular winding concrete steps to navigate to get to your bags, the usual dead slow stop customs officials showing their power.The chaos of non marked Taxi and Bus stands. After 2 weeks of politeness and 'niceness' being exposed to that lot was a come down to earth with a bang!(Dont get me started on TSA in Miami Airport) After so much leisure and relaxation to be dragged out of bed for a 6 am meeting with Homeland Security who then kept you waiting till 7 am was just a contrast between Azamara Club and USA Inc. My concern is that as I was paying about the same as in previous years for a superior service, free wine and coffees and a $500 OBC I hope that Azamara have done their costs right and will be profitable!! To those many many passengers I met and whose company I enjoyed, thank you. To the couple of miserable English Women who perpetually moaned and rudely berated the crew that it 'wasn't Seaborne' there was a reason you dined alone!! Happy Christmas. Thanks Azamara Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was my husband's third and possibly final cruise. We had tried a trans-Pacific cruise on Celebritiy's Millenium and then a Pacific Coast/Sea of Cortez cruise with Holland America. My DH informed me that if this cruise was ... Read More
This was my husband's third and possibly final cruise. We had tried a trans-Pacific cruise on Celebritiy's Millenium and then a Pacific Coast/Sea of Cortez cruise with Holland America. My DH informed me that if this cruise was not any better than the previous two, he was not going to cruise anymore. I am happy to say that the Azamara Journey was a terrific experience (I knew it would be since I had cruised on this ship twice before) but was thrilled that my husband agreed with me. FOOD; The most important part of the cruise for my DH is the food, and the Journey did not disappoint. We tried all the options: Prime C, Aqualina, Main Dining Room, Windows Cafe, the Pool Grill, and room service. Great quality and selection is available in the Main Dining Room, and the specialty restaurants are top quality. The chilled seafood platter and seared foie gras in Aqualina are fabulous, and the lava cake in Prime C is its signature dessert. Because we were in a Continental Suite, our butler Pravin also served us hors d'oeuvres and shrimp every afternoon. We took advantage of the complimentary dining in specialty restaurants for suite guests, but the $15.00 per person service charge for non -suite guests is well worth it. The Journey also offers Connoisseur Dinners a few times each cruise, and we also took advantage of this. Chef Singh made a wonderful dinner for 10 of us (using Prime C large back table for location) and Boris, the sommelier made some great wine pairings to accompany each course. The charge for the Connoisseur Dinner is $60.00 per person. One new feature of the Azamara Club Cruises is the addition of complimentary wine with lunch and dinner. I was afraid that the wines would be of poor quality, but I was pleasantly surprised. We had everything from French Chardonnays to Oregon Pinots and Chilean Malbecs. In addition, each night the ship offers an additonal bottle of a red wine and a white wine that you can purchase for half-price. We did this some nights and were very pleased with the choices offered. ACCOMMODATIONS: Because we were in a Continental Suite, we had ample space for everything. There is lots of storage in the cabin, two closets, and an extra-large bathroom, including tub, not shower. The Elemis products are great, especially the bath and shower gel. I don;'t think a suite is necessary to be comfortable on the ship, but it's nice if you have it. The extra-large balcony with table, two chairs AND lounger was especially nice to enjoy beautiful views. LECTURES: We had great lectures for all tastes. For the adventurous, there was Nigel, an outdoors enthusiast who shared videos of his most dangerous moments in the wild, as well as some footage of pandas. For the gardeners, we had the President of the American Horticultural Society who showed beautiful slides of plants and gardens. For the seacruisers, we had a few presentations by (sorry can[t remember his name) an expert who gave the history of the sea trade and some famous women pirates. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to one of the two shows presented by the five-member Cabaret Cast entitled :"Sing It and Swing It". It was ably performed,but we thought the best entertainment was provided at the Cova Cafe by Dan Daly and his great voice singing the classics and by the Kristin Lee trio up in the Looking Glass. Her voice is a dead-ringer for Pasty Cline and she is versatile enough to sing country, the Louis Armstrong classic "It's a Wonderful World", and pop. SERVICE: The Hotel Director Heike appeared to be everywhere at all times. She runs a tight ship and the results are spectacular service delivered with a smile and grace. Our butler Pravin was amazing and seemed to appear whenever we needed anything. He was assisted by Alvin and Juan who kept our cabin spotless, Wherever you are on the ship, the staff is friendly and helpful without being phony. It certainly adds to the whole experience. SHIP: The ship can have as many as 700 passengers, but on our trans-Atlantic cruise there were 600. We enjoyed the spaciousness and lack of "cattleherding" mentality. The main areas used by passengers are the Cabaret Theatre (for evening shows and lectures), the Looking Glass (for wonderful viewing and some activities), the Cova Cafe (specialty coffees and teas, in addition to the evening piano playing by the talented Dan Daly), and the Pool area with Outdoor Walking Track. The ship is in very good condition, and while we were in port we noticed painters painting the exterior and workers revarnishing the wood rails and loungers (some of the most comfortable we have ever experienced). It is a clean and inviting environment. PORTS OF CALL: Normally a trans-Atlantic offers relaxing days at sea with ports of call that are minor distractions, but this itinerary offered some great ones. Our first stop was in the Azores and Punta Delgata, then on to Gibraltar, Cartagena, and La Palma, Mallorca, before reaching our final destination of Barcelona. We enjoyed all of the ports of call, and the ship's tours were reasonably priced and significantly lower than the ones from previous cruises I have taken with Azamara. ACTIVITIES: We took advantage of the many activities offered during the cruise including the Team Trivia contests, the Musical Challenges, and the Battle of the Sexes. In addition, there were craft classes, bridge games, and yoga classes. There was so much planned everyday that we had a hard time deciding what to do. OVERALL: I would unhesitatingly reccommend the Azamara Journey for anyone who wants a lovey cruise experience with personal service, good food and wine, and a smaller ship. The average age of the passengers was 60 - 70 years of age (though there were some younger couples), and there were no children on our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This ship is not comfortable for a trans Atlantic crossing. Compared to last year's crossing on the Solstice this one required my wife to take to our room and was like a cork in the ocean and add this to the extra 2 days to get to the ... Read More
This ship is not comfortable for a trans Atlantic crossing. Compared to last year's crossing on the Solstice this one required my wife to take to our room and was like a cork in the ocean and add this to the extra 2 days to get to the Azores. Besides being slow, it is also old although well maintained. Beware the rear cabins because the engine vibrations will drive you crazy. Activities were sparse but they do have a beautiful library. In fairness there were about 500 people on board and 400 crew. The entertainment was good considering and I do enjoy the ubiquitous Ms. Hamilton and her West End Cabaret. The Harpist seemed tired throughout the 2 weeks and the comedy was passable. The Stateroom was dated and had the smallest balcony I have ever seen. The bathroom likewise. Selection of TV programming was very small and the TV didn't swivel to a right angle to the bed. Now lets get positive and why I have booked again but this time for the quieter waters around St. Barts and St. John. in February. The service is to die for. No problem they couldn't fix. Nikki at the purser's desk was the best at her job I've ever seen (30+ cruises). Steward was very attentive. The friendly wait staff always anticipated your wants and needs and were there just as you were about to ask but were not intrusive. Evening meals were very well done, one overdone salmon fillet in 14 dinners and creme brule every night if you wish--not a bad percentage. The two complimentary wines were from a different country each night for a week. Most were very nice but if you wanted something else then the price was about half of other ships. Breakfast and lunch was also well prepared in the main restaurant. Room service had a good selection and was promptly delivered. The buffet was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment in quality and selection although my wife loved the smoothies with breakfast. I've read about the poor coffee and they were right however I switched to lattes and was happy. No Children--no children's program. Shore excursions were like any other cruise. Both getting on and off the Journey was a breeze with only 500 people on board. The free air from Toronto to Miami and back from Barcelona made this an incredible good deal. Finally the thing that made this cruise so special was the other passengers. This was the most interesting, friendly group that we have ever sailed with and I would like to thank all those that I met. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Contrasts between getting there and getting back via the Airline Industry and the cruise experience on Azamara were marked. British Airways from Toronto to Barcelona via Heathrow were their abysmal worst. Aged 767 with non operative ... Read More
Contrasts between getting there and getting back via the Airline Industry and the cruise experience on Azamara were marked. British Airways from Toronto to Barcelona via Heathrow were their abysmal worst. Aged 767 with non operative Audio/Video and funny food (We were in World Traveller Plus- an upgrade) Once again we were not treated to a visit to the fabled Terminal 5 in Heathrow but, after 7 hours, bundled like upright cattle into a bumpy bus that took us from the plane to the vicinity of Terminal 5. We were then switched to another similar packed bus that drove us back , past our aircraft, to terminal 3. After cooling our heels in Terminal 3 and buying Tea and Scrambled Eggs for $30, we were taken by bus to our Barcelona Flight where we stood in the rain and boarded our plane up steep stairs. Once in Barcelona it improved, new Terminal, clean, modern,.efficient. Taxi to the Hotel Onix Ramblas through heavy heavy traffic, arrived at about 2 pm. Woke up at 9.30 pm with a need for food. Fortunately Barcelonians are night owls so that was no problem. Next day we took the hop-on/Hop off bus from Placa Catalonia round the city, time for 2 routes and then a visit for a coffee at the rooftop of Corte Ingles, wonderful. People so polite and civilized! Then a taxi to the Journey. I wrote last year that 'Azamara is great but its not Oceania', well I now eat my words. It was the most fabulous, relaxing experience ever, and we have done some cruising! The ubiquitous Philip Herbert, Hotel Director has improved the experience so much it ran flawlessly. The cabins were the same size, but towels were bigger, Fresh Fruit (spotty last year) was lovely, Fresh Flowers. The cabin staff helpful, pleasant and hard working, as were all the shipboard staff. Special mention to Bar Waitress 'Maria' from Columbia who instantly recognised us from last years cruise and was omnipresent day and night with her friendly, happy demeanour. What a lovely employee, so typical of the HR policy of Azamara!! The fo0od was exemplary whether in The Discoveries Dining Room, no fixed dining times, tables for 2 through 10 so you could sit as 2 for Breakfast and enjoy the company of others for Dinner. Absolutely no complaints about the waiters, Maitre D's and Sommelier, we never had anything but friendly respect and wonderful tasting, presented and timely meals. We dined at Windows on occasion also at the Prime C Steak House, service and cuisine extraordinaire, as good as the best on shore restaurants. We4 did not try Aquilina but hearsay said it was excellent. The ship was lovely, in good shape and kept in great order by the staff constantly cleaning. Our Ports of call were interesting. Alicante, we had visited before so stayed aboard and stay in the sun and read. Gibraltar, an odd mix of Spanish and the UK of 25 years ago, Marks and Spencer, British Home Stores and Fish and Chips plus some excellent Draught Guinness and Murphy's Stout. Madeira was wonderful as was a revisit to La Palma , Canaries. We did our own tours at all spots as the Azamara Tours are just not value for money in any way shape or form. I think that was the view of most passengers judging by the turnout for the tour buses. We did visit Coco Cay Bahamas. It looked lovely but as a company owned Island with catering from the ship and 'Made in China' artifacts on sale was not enticing enough for us. We stayed aboard. Fortuitous as a storm came over and the tenders returning to the ship emulated the most vomit inducing rides at an amusement park. The tender returning the catering supplies finally gave up trying to return supplies to the ship after some jettisoning of tomatoes and cutlery. I was astonished to see all the waiters etc leaping in very large swells, without lifejackets of any sort. The entertainment was, in my opinion, for a ship of Journeys size good. A wonderful Orchestra, Max on the Piano in the Cova,a talented Harpist and a solo guitarist gave you music 'wherever you went'. a special word has to go to the Entertainment Staff, Kevin Coyne, Oleg from the Ukraine,Craig from 'Yorkshire' and a lovely newcomer to Azamara Katie Foster who was dropped into her first cruise at the deep end putting up with us at our constant trivias and similar games. She was beautiful, talented and read 'The night before Christmas' at the Christmas concert in a manner reminiscent of a young Julie Andrews. We had 2 Cruise Critic Receptions, a Greek Dancing Lesson from the Captain, a Passenger Choir, A Crew talent night (They are very talented especially Shirley, a lovely singer from HR) a Passenger talent night, 2 magicians, a resident crew of singers/dancers. Great, great ,great. Disappointing was a female fiddler (Violinist would be a bit pretentious) she lacked stage presence or real personality and the programme was a bit awful. We weer warned by others after the first show, we went to the second and left as it was a bit painful. The cruise director, John Howell, was a bit insincere, forever praising the Captain and the Orchestra and droning on and on and on oozing insincerity. He liked the sound of his own voice and was obviously reading scripts of the company 'line' However he didn't interact too often with the passengers unless standing with a microphone telling us of how he was a star on Broadway incessantly. One complaint only- Azamara, your coffee is awful, often undrinkable. The rest was fab, fab fab. We will return, most, if not all I spoke to were of similar opinion. They did 'Launch' Azamara Club Cruises' on board- main opinion was "Why spoil a good thing' nothing is free, local wines complimentary etc makes prices go up. The suites get one thing, the rest get less, starts a class system that would shutdown the 'extended family atmosphere' . However it must be good as John Howell was extolling it to the rooftops every chance he had to lay his hand on a mike. We arrived in Miami in a rainstorm, debarkation was best organised9sed ever, however the storm was so bad Air Canadas incoming flight to Miami got diverted to Nassau, it finally arrived 8 hours late at 6 pm. The captain had exceeded his hours so they had to fly another crew down from Toronto. We finally got to Toronto at Midnight 15 hours after leaving the ship. Air Canada gave us a bag Of Potato Chips and 'Free' coffee. The bags all arrived however. What a wonderful cruise, if they don't increase their prices I may not return to Oceania!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Background info: We have been on more than 10 cruises on such cruise lines as HAL (5), Princess (2), NCL (1), Celebrity (2), Cruise West (1), etc. After recently doing a cruise on Celebrity, we decided to try Azamara. The price was less ... Read More
Background info: We have been on more than 10 cruises on such cruise lines as HAL (5), Princess (2), NCL (1), Celebrity (2), Cruise West (1), etc. After recently doing a cruise on Celebrity, we decided to try Azamara. The price was less than Oceania - who we had previously looked at and offered several categories of discounts, including military, resident and senior rates, which made the price even harder to resist! Travel to port of embarkation: Because this was a Transatlantic cruise, airfare was cheaper through the cruise line than by me doing it independently. With some trepidation, I took air and transfers through Azamara. Our connections were very good and we made it to BCN without any problems. Azamara was at the airport to meet us. Luggage was taken to a motorcoach when we arrived at 8 am. Since we couldn't be boarded until at least 11 am, we went on a tour of the city - which we were very happy about. We got a great tour of the city. Would you believe some people complained? They were tired and wanted to go directly to the ship. We were tired also, but the guide pointed out the terminal was cold and they would have to wait for hours so this was their alternative - a tour of the city! We were grateful for the tour since it was all we would get to see of the city. I had tried to work out air and hotel for a few days prior to the cruise, but Azamara said they had none available. We booked back in mid-August and at a discount fare. Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal at about 11 am. There were separate lines for suites - one other couple was ahead of us so we went through quite quickly. We were given our room keys. Pictures were taken as we boarded the ship. As we walked through the terminal, we were able to buy our 2 bottles of wine. Once onboard we were greeted with glasses of champagne and told the rooms were not ready. We made our way to the Windows Cafe for lunch. The rooms were ready about 1:30 PM. We actually snuck down a little earlier because we were desperate to lie down - after the long flight. Stateroom: Our stateroom was very well appointed. It was a sky suite. The carpet and upholstery looked fresh and clean. The bed came equipped with many pillows of various sizes. The bathroom had a toilet, tub with shower and one sink. Shortly upon arrival, the toilet would not flush - even after several flushes. This proved to be a problem several times and had to be reported to the front desk. Only after the mid-cruise comment card, did it get repaired to our satisfaction. The balcony had a good-sized table and two chairs. The cabin was near the aft, but did not have excessive noise or vibration. No noise from the deck above, either. The beds were exactly like the beds on Celebrity - a bit disappointing for us. We were hoping for better. We requested an egg crate mattress after the first night and this made things better. They are due for new beds - hopefully after the first quarter of 2010. Food: The food was excellent in the MDR and in Windows. We also tried both specialty restaurants. Prime C was more to our tastes than Aqualina. I had prebooked Prime C prior to travel through Captain's Club and booked the other two visits on the day of embarkation. The variety and freshness of the food (Particularly on a 14 day cruise) was impressive. The salads were so fresh! It was as if the greens had just been picked. How they accomplish this is beyond me! The beef - mainly had fillet mignon was excellent - both in MDR and Prime C. Loved the Smoothie Bar in Windows. We were always able to request a table for two in the MDR and receive it. We usually went to eat at 6 PM. Entertainment: The entertainment was surprisingly good and we usually don't attend shows, but we did on this cruise. We went to the special nights when they had guest entertainers: Jacqui Michaels, a vocalist; Brett Cave, a pianist; Claire (forgot last name, a violinist. We also had a crew talent show and a passenger talent show that were fun. The last night, all the entertainers put on a special Christmas Holiday show that was excellent! Crew: The crew on Azamara is excellent - especially the upper management. Comments made on the mid-cruise comment cards were addressed by senior management and every effort was made to try to fix problems. That was very much appreciated. Hotel Manager. Philip Herbert was excellent. The Captain, Georgios Theodorou, was the most personable Captain I have ever met! He was everywhere! He even gave a Greek dancing class that was a complete success with all the guests. If there are any problems on your cruise, my impression was that all you need to do is let them know, and they will try to improve any problems. That goes a long way to making us want to return! Spa: I did have 2 treatments - a pedicure and a facial. Both were well done. I also purchased an individual pass to the thallo spa area. I was disappointed with this after the first visit. It was a large thallo hot tub, but seats did not go all the way around. There was a drain in the middle that stuck up that you could catch you toes on and the jets were not all working. Since this was a TA, there were several days when this area was closed off due to the roughness of seas and then there was an electrical problem which put the thallo pool out of order for several days. I called the spa manager to look in to a partial refund and this was done, which was very fair. I don't think I will bother purchasing another pass, however. Public areas: The ship is the most elegant ship I have ever been on - just beautiful and well- maintained. The chairs around the pool area are teak and have pads that must be 5-6 inches thick! They are very comfortable. There are many areas to sit and read. The fitness area is small, but comfortable. There is one self-service laundry on deck 7 which takes coins. Alicante, Spain: Our first port was just beautiful! We did our own thing and took the free shuttle in to town and then boarded the Hop On /Hop Off bus. It cost just a few Euros and gave a great overview of the town. When we finished, we walked along the waterfront and looked at all the beautiful yachts along the waterfront. Very nice stop! Coco Cay: Nice stop after a long TA cruise. Had many shady spots to sit. Many, many chairs. Not as nice as HAL's Half Moon Cay, but nice. Comments about coffee situation......   One thing that needs improvement is the coffee.  I tried coffee in every venue it was offered at.....MDR, specialty restaurants, from all 3 machines in the Windows Cafe ....I even purchased coffee in the Cova Cafe and it was the worst of all!  I found the coffee to be undrinkable, as did many of my fellow cruisers.  Many mentioned it on their comment cards.  I hope Azamara does something soon to address the coffee issue! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
It may sound like a clichE but we really did not want to leave the Azamara Quest after 24 days onboard. We have never had such a wonderful, relaxing holiday and home seemed a world away. Let me start with some information to put the ... Read More
It may sound like a clichE but we really did not want to leave the Azamara Quest after 24 days onboard. We have never had such a wonderful, relaxing holiday and home seemed a world away. Let me start with some information to put the cruise and this review into perspective. I am 54 and my husband 64. This was our fourth cruise and we have previously sailed on Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Constellation and Norwegian Sun. I understand that there were 650 passengers onboard with 130 British. We met a number of lone travellers but did not come across any groups of three or four in a stateroom. Obviously with a cruise of this length, the average age was probably fairly high but there were many people younger than me aboard. The range of nationalities was higher than we have met before on a cruise. There were a large number of North Americans, Australians and New Zealanders. Most western European nationalities seemed to be represented with a large number of Germans. There was a German film channel on the television and destination talks were given in French. There were also Japanese and South American passengers. A surprisingly large number of passengers were made up of couples of different nationalities or people otherwise living as expats. We had prepared ourselves for the cruise by staying at Singapore Raffles for three nights, never moving out of the hotel. This was a treat we had promised ourselves since our first visit to Singapore 17 years before when Raffles was being renovated and, if you can afford it, we would highly recommend the experience. We took the hotel classic Daimler to the cruise terminal where embarkation was really smooth with absolutely no queues. After choosing to eat in Prime C that evening, we went straight to our suite. Having studied as many photographs of the suites and ship on the Internet, there were few surprises. One pleasant surprise was noticing immediately that a number of minor problems noted on the Cruise Critic boards had been rectified: there was a new, analogue alarm clock; the slippers now had non-slip soles; and there were proper doormats in front of the balcony door to stop the soot being walked in onto the carpet. This was the first indication of how seriously the officers onboard received, and acted upon, any feedback. Our luggage was delivered within a few hours, during the lifeboat drill after which we met up with everyone from our Roll Call. Despite having four large cases of luggage, there was no shortage of storage space in our suite and, unusually, we did not have to request more hangers. Whilst unpacking, we requested Eyup, our head butler to come to see us and we explained our preferences - especially that I need to eat a large amount of fruit and drink a great deal of water each day. From this point onward, Eyup worked hard to exceed all of our expectations [and we were astounded to learn, on our last day, that he was only a temporary, acting head butler]. We really enjoyed dinner in Prime C on our first evening. The food and service were excellent and we decided, there and then, to book two evenings a week at Prime C. After our meal, we popped next door and did the same at Aqualina. No cruise ship can be perfect for everyone and one of the things we did not enjoy on Quest was the Discoveries main restaurant. We ate there on our second evening and really did not enjoy the experience. We requested a table for two and found the tables small and crowded. We may have had a better experience on a larger table. I, personally, found the menu not to my taste [and on the other the occasions that I checked, found the menu weird and I am an adventurous eater]. The service was rushed and imperfect. I request no Brussels sprouts with my main course but they were on the plate. When I request that they were removed, it took 15 minutes to return my meal to me. My husband ordered a coffee with his desert but it had still not arrived 10 minutes after we had finished eating and left. We truly believe that you should not judge a restaurant on one experience but decided that it was our holiday and we would rather not risk a similar experience on another evening. I know that many people enjoyed eating in Discoveries most evenings. We went immediately up to the 10th floor and booked a further evening a week each at Prime C and Aqualina. We left Wednesdays clear because we had long tours on two of those days. We never regretted this decision and had some wonderful meals in both Prime C and Aqualina. Over 24 nights, the menus could have been limited but both restaurants are more than happy to serve anything for which they have the ingredients onboard. During the cruise we had a wonderful "British meal" [really good smoked salmon, roast beef and the lightest ever bread and butter pudding]; a great curry meal [chicken and beef curries with all the trimmings] and a fantastic beef and mushroom pie [there was no kidney onboard]. My husband and I unfortunately had to spend two days in quarantine because he was unwell and the two assistant maitres d' of Prime C and Aqualina, Marias and Cristof, really looked after us, telephoning me 6 times to ensure that there was nothing I needed and providing room service meals [despite not being geared up to provide room service]. We had breakfast each morning in our suite. The poached eggs were excellent and I really enjoyed them combined with the corned beef hash until I realised that I was eating far too much! Other than the breakfast menu, I thought that the ship's room service menu was extremely limited and uninspiring if you did not want the menu from Discoveries so for lunch we usually had filled-to-order mini baguettes from the buffet until we discovered the really tasty cheese and ham rolls in the Mosaic Cafe. The roast beef from the buffet was excellent. After three meals a day, we really did not need the afternoon tea and evening snacks delivered each day to our suite but did give into temptation on a number of occasions. The snacks were really tasty and a huge improvement to the canapEs served on Celebrity ships. So, other than eating, what did we do onboard? To be honest, very little! Believe me, I am the sort of person who is normally incapable of doing nothing but the great thing about this cruise was that I could fill my day doing nothing. It was just so relaxing. We have never been to a show onboard or taken part in bingo or quizzes so cannot comment on these. There were a reasonable number of free video programmes as well as a large selection of pay-per-view films on the TV. Otherwise, we were obviously at the mercy of satellite zones for television channels and there were complaints when CNN was not available but we found it sufficient despite the length of the cruise. I went to the gym most sea-days and found that there was a treadmill free whenever I arrived although I found it difficult to predict when the gym would be busy. I also attended a few of the destinations lectures. I found them quite lightweight but they passed a little time pleasantly. I understand that the two other lecturers were better but I did not attend any of their lectures. My husband really enjoyed the cooking demonstrations and I found the jewelry talks more informative than on Celebrity ships. However, most of the time was spent simply relaxing. We usually had a chocolate or coffee each morning in the Mosaic Cafe whilst listening to the quizzes with friend we met onboard. Before this, we may have been to the TPool and lounged for a while in the shade. After lunch, we would lay and read in the shade on our balcony. I burn easily but we could usually find shade in one of the other location and, therefore, never used the Pool Deck. Our balcony had two loungers, two tables and four chairs with plenty of space to move around. Leaning on the rail and watching the wake was truly therapeutic. For a 24 night cruise with 15 seadays [including the Suez canal passage] we never once regretted splashing out on the Penthouse Suite. A proper dining table is important to us as we enjoy eating breakfast in our room. On such a long cruise, a separate bedroom [although a solid door would have been better], the extra space, the guest bathroom, the dressing area and the storage space were all worthwhile. The shopping onboard was disappointing. There was very little other than high-end merchandise [a US$130 tote bag, for example]. I appreciate that stock is often a problem on repositioning cruises and this was compounded by the expected delivery in Singapore being cancelled. I do not expect stock relating to ports only visited twice a year but there was limited Azamara branded stock. There were no Christmas tree decorations or postcards of the ship for sale and my husband was disappointed that he could not buy an Azamara thermal mug. It is the first time he has ever complained that there was nothing to buy. Others were disappointed that there was no gifts for children. There was very limited stock of the ever popular Bijoux Terner items. I feel that Azamara are missing a huge opportunity to part people from their money! Probably the best part of the overall experience was the officers and crew. It is they who can make or break a cruise, and the people on the Quest were excellent. You would never have known what a bad winter the ship had experienced: illness, bad weather, abnormal currents and obstructive authorities [all as reported extensively on cruise Critic]. We had anticipated a crew with poor morale but found everyone to be friendly, cheerful and happy. They smiled with their eyes and not only their mouths. Oliver and Melvin, our butler and room attendant, were wonderful as were everyone else we came into contact with. Officers and crew seemed intent on making our cruise the best. We have never spoken to so many officers nor spoken to any officer as often as on Quest. They all seemed genuinely interested in our opinions and we had numerous interesting discussions about plans for the future of both Azamara and Celebrity. As well as the problems over the winter, in the lead up to this cruise there had been pirates in the Gulf of Aden, terrorism in Mumbai and riots in Athens. For much of the time we had wondered if the itinerary would remain intact. In the event, the cruise went without incident. In Cochin and Mumbai, there was high security with armed guards on the ship but it is a sign of the times that this was reassuring rather than threatening. We also had an armed security guard on our tour in Egypt. We were kept well informed about the precautions taken in "Pirate Alley" and clear instructions were given in case of attack. This was not a port intensive cruise but many of those we did call at were highlights. We only took on ship's excursion, to the pyramids in Egypt. This was well planned and organized enabling us to cover a great deal of ground in just one day. Our guide briefed us well on how to avoid problems with the touts at the tourist sights. My husband was disappointed that our felucca did not actually cruise along the Nile over lunch but we still found it a pleasant interlude. There was the obligatory shopping stop at a high-end complex but there was little pressure to buy and, except for the silver and jewelry, the prices were reasonable. In India, we took private tours with Mumbai Magic and Kerala Voyages - both can be highly recommended. We found Malaysia disappointing and did not think that an overnight stay in Dubai was necessary. An extra day in Alexandria would have been more welcome. Disembarkation was smoother than our arrival onboard. We were off the ship in minutes and our prearranged taxi was waiting [despite us being early]. As it was a public holiday in Athens, we were at our hotel by 08:30. The Electra Palace is also to be recommended especially if you can stretch to a suite with superb views of the Acropolis. Two nights here softened the blow of having to leave Quest.At the end of the cruise we would have eagerly turned the ship around and made the return journey - and so would the others we spoke to in the last few days. We both had a tear in our eye as we shook hands with, and said goodbye to, Leif Karlsson, the captain, and Niyazi Korkmaz, the hotel director, as we left the ship. Our future cruises have a lot to live up to. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We drove down to West Palm Beach from Jacksonville, the day before, and stayed with friends we met on a prior cruise. We drove into Miami the morning of the cruise and parked our car near the airport, so it would be there when we flew back ... Read More
We drove down to West Palm Beach from Jacksonville, the day before, and stayed with friends we met on a prior cruise. We drove into Miami the morning of the cruise and parked our car near the airport, so it would be there when we flew back at the end of our trip. Although we had transfers from Azamara,(because we had their air for the return portion) we opted for a cab from the car park place. Only $23.00, and much less of a hassle, and we didn't have to wait for a bus on their time schedule, transfer luggage twice, etc, etc. Worth every penny extra. Check in was quick and flawless, and we were drinking champagne in no time. Yay! We were already familiar with this small ship, and snuck off to our room before it was supposed to be ready. We were immediately told it was NOT ready. OK, we knew that.(even though it was) Then off to lunch. Luggage came fairly quickly, unpacked, did life boat drill and then went to looking glass, where the online cruise critics were supposed to be. I didn't see a group, and never could identify anyone as such, so after a drink we went back to the room. The first night, there was a long line to enter the main DR, and my DH was not happy about standing in it, but after a few nights, people got their times organized, and the line was never really very long after that. Not a problem for me. The first night we had "Daniel" for our waiter, and every night we ate in that DR, we asked for him, and usually were able to have him. Sometimes, the Maitre'd, even put us at a table next to his area if he was full, and let him wait on us. Very nice. No request was ever a problem, and service was excellent. If I had any complaint at all, sometimes it was TOO quick. We like to dine at a relaxed pace, and didn't ever care about rushing off to a show. We NEVER had a bad dinner in the main DR. Food was always good to excellent, and usually the latter. WE LOVED Aqualina, and ate there several times. Service was a little more polished that Daniel, but just barely. We ate in Prime C once- had another reservation and canceled it. Not our cup of tea, so to speak, and the least good service and food of all 3 Dining Rooms. Not bad-just not us. Same usual games-trivia, bingo etc, which I enjoy, and played, though not every day. Sometimes we slept till 10 or 11am, as we kept losing an hour 5 or 6 times till we got to Barcelona. We didn't book any cruiseline tours, and mainly wandered around the ports ourselves, doing the hop on hop off bus, wherever possible. Nice little, typical, Spanish towns. Except for Lisbon, which was big and bustling. We tried to find the bus there, but the ship didn't give us good directions, and we walked for almost 2 hours, gave up, took a city bus, and then saw the Hop on thingy, and jumped on. Well, we need the exercise! All the crew was VERY friendly, and they did a very nice CC get together, with alcohol and food( not just cookies, like some ships) The shows we went to were nice. We're not really "show" people, but we enjoyed the comedian, very much. We didn't stay in Barcelona, as we had been there before, and we were taking the train to Madrid for a 4 night stay. Azamara let us switch our transfers from the airport to the train station, on board. Saved us a couple of bucks, and I thought it was a thoughtful touch. Would we cruise Azamara again? In a heartbeat. We had a great cruise. But then, I'm not sure I've ever really had a BAD one. Some are just better than others! Helaine Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Crossing the Atlantic with six days at sea had an appeal but also a certain dread about it.  My brother, with whom I traveled, had done the same crossing on Oceania two years ago so I was somewhat prepared for the kind of cruise it would ... Read More
Crossing the Atlantic with six days at sea had an appeal but also a certain dread about it.  My brother, with whom I traveled, had done the same crossing on Oceania two years ago so I was somewhat prepared for the kind of cruise it would be.   I had cruised earlier in the decade on the R2 and was acquainted with the smaller ship...actually little had changed from that ship to the Journey.  Previously, the R2 was my favorite ship and so I was curious to see what Azamara could do to improve on it.   My reaction, from check-in to departure, was totally positive!  From the moment we embarked the crew extended itself with outstanding service.  The dining was superb, albeit a bit longer in the main dining room than might have been necessary.  If one wants to spend a lot of time in the dining room, then I would recommend sitting at the tables for eight.  I found the service much more efficient at smaller table arrangements.  But, what the heck.  Where does one have to go in a hurry anyway?   The quality of the food throughout the ship was top-notch.  I am not normally impressed by the buffet room (Breeza), but the Journey delivered marvelously with broad and varied selection as well as little specials like fresh juices squeezed while you wait.  Never disappointed.   Main dining room (Discoveries) menus provided great variety throughout the cruise and my selections always tasted great.  The specialty restaurants seemed to have less consistency in quality and service than the main room.  Food was well prepared, but I didn't feel that it was much better than the fare in the main dining room.  Actually, I had a better prime rib in the main room than I did in Prime C which is the ship's 'steak house'.  Aqualina with its Mediterranean menu was a treat particularly with its choice of lobster.   Cabin service was excellent with Julio our butler and his assistant always available.  We didn't want for anything.  On one occasion, we returned from dinner to find our cabin TV was not working.  Within ten minutes, after a call to Julio, a technician was in our stateroom and the TV was fixed.  Amenities above standard.   The activities aboard were plentiful and varied.  Evening entertainment, for a smaller ship, was excellent.  One could say that the entertainers were more like a Vegas lounge act than the main room in a Vegas hotel.  I was surprised by the caliber of talent particularly a concert pianist who performed twice.   Was I happy I took the 16 day crossing?  Yes.  Was I satisfied with the service from ALL staff?  Yes.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I do it on Azamara?  YES!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and ... Read More
First things first, we loved this cruise! We are frequent sailors with Celebrity so some of the comparisons will be with our previous experiences. We began our journey with a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami. Hate flying and our flight didn't change that view. Everything was OK though as the flight was on time. It was a $22 flat rate taxi ride from the airport to the cruise dock. We arrived early for boarding (around 11 am) and found registration to be quite easy with no waiting what so ever. Unfortunately, not within the cruise lines responsibility, we could not board immediately. The ship was undergoing inspections by both the Coast Guard and Immigration so we were asked to take a seat and wait for official clearance. Less than an hour later they were cleared and we could board. Again, an easy process and quite quick. We had our photo taken for the Sea Pass and were given a glass of Rose Champagne. The rooms were not ready but that was to be expected since we boarded two hours before the suggested time. It gave us time to explore the ship and it's common areas. We had never sailed with Azamara and this was also our first small ship adventure. My first impression upon entering the ship was the ceilings were standard eight foot heights. If you love the soaring atriums and massive open spaces, a small ship like this is not for you. I quickly acclimated though and grew to love the smallness. One of our first visits was to Michael's Club which is on the tenth deck aft. On Celebrity, Michael's Club is a very nice bar with live entertainment. On the Journey Michael's Club is a very nice library but no bar. There was a grand piano which was occasionally used by passengers and as practice by one of the performers. This room was simply lovely with seating in club chairs and sofas and tables upon which you could play games. The book selection was great and the books were filed alphabetically by author. Best selection and best organization I have ever encountered on a ship. There was always a good selection of books available. Very impressive! Michael's Club was also used for various meetings like the Cruise Critic party, the Officer's Cocktail party, some religious gatherings (it was Christmas), and a meeting place for the Connoisseur Dinners (more on those functions later). Windows Cafe is the name of the buffet area located on deck nine aft. It was open for open for lunch and had the only operating bar at that time. We took a break, had a light lunch and a glass of wine while we waited for our room to be ready. The buffet is small but very adequate for a small ship. No trays, simply stacks of plates which you loaded from various stations. It worked on the scramble system where you pick the food station you desire. For the entire trip there were never more than three people in front of me. The food selection was fairly broad and I thought the quality was quite good. There was always a salad station, a cheese station, a dessert station, and a carving station. At breakfast there was cereal, fruits, eggs, a toasting station, an omelet station, and a waffle/french toast station. Full breakfast service lasted until 10 am and a Continental breakfast continued until 11. One of the great things was their coffee machines. There were four of them all located on deck nine. You could choose from regular or decaf coffee, double coffee (cafe american), or expresso from six different buttons. We always had the regular double coffee and it was excellent. The coffee machine also had a spigot for hot water for preparing tea with a selection of bagged teas with milk and lemon available. Next to the coffee machine was another machine with ice and water. And a third machine which had four spigots dispensing iced tea, orange juice, lemonade, apple juice, fruit punch and a tropical blend fruit drink. Only four spigots, so the choices varied with iced tea the only one which was always available. All these machines were available 24 hours a day. By the time we finished lunch, an announcement was made that cabins were now ready. Azamara follows the good policy of very few announcements. Once a day (at noon) was the Captain's report followed by the Cruise Director reporting on the days activities. Our cabin was on the seventh deck forward very near the forward elevators. We were worried about noise from people gathering at the elevators but were never bothered. The cabin was 172 sq ft with a 42 sq ft balcony which is a pretty standard size. It was well furnished and comfortable. The bathroom was quite small with limited counter space but with enough cabinet space to hold our various necessities. There were bottles of Elemis shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for our use. I have had small verandahs before but this one was made smaller because the furniture took up most of the floor space. There were two chairs and a 2' x 3' table which was just too large for the space. To stand at the railing you had to move a chair to make room. The furniture would have been perfect had the verandah been twice the size. Azamara advertises every room comes with a butler. After a while, ours came by to introduce himself and cover some information on our ship. We found the service to be excellent but the butler concept is really just a cabin steward in a better uniform. He was easy to reach via his cell phone and any time we needed something it was quick and easy to call. Our luggage was delivered in stages over several hours. There was more than enough storage space for our needs. The closets come with removable hangers and there was drawer storage in one closet and also in the desk. Azamara runs their dining room on open seating, no reservations required, and country club attire. We were tired after our red eye flight so we skipped the dining room and went to one of their speciality restaurants for a glass of wine and an appetizer. We didn't have a reservation but they gave us a seat at an upright table which worked perfectly. The speciality restaurants are side by side on the tenth deck aft. Prime C is a steakhouse; Aqualina is Mediterranean. The food in both was excellent and we had several meals there throughout the cruise. Because the ship is small, it is easy to get around. The ship's lounges were also miniature versions of the Cova Cafe and the Martini Bar but perfectly adequate for the smaller number of passengers. The Cova Cafe always had snacks available when open. The Martini Bar was an evening operation only. Both had live entertainment at various hours via a guitarist, a harpist, and a pianist who rotated between venues. The ship's main showroom was called the Cabaret and it too was small but nicely furnished and comfortable. It was basically one level with a show floor that doubled as a dance floor. Entertainers were good but limited by the size with no sets or costume changes for the performers. All together the entertainment was just good not being any where near the variety or extravaganza of the larger ships. So if you desire high level entertainment, the Journey is not for you. We were happy because we more enjoy the entertainment in the small lounges where you can converse over beverages. The main dining room is a single story, prettily furnished room which is supposed to hold the entire passenger load in a single seating. I thought the food and service was anywhere from good to excellent. But the room just seemed to be too busy and not conducive to relaxed dining. The food variety was quite good but I felt they needed more wine servers. Being open seating, you walk up to the maitre de and tell him the type of table you want, i.e., a single, table for six, etc. There was never more than a ten minute wait and that was only once at the popular 8 pm. The Martini Bar was at the entrance to the dining room and was a good spot to either wait for a table or for dining partners. As Elite members of the Captain's Club we received a schedule of events in our room. I was impressed as we attended the Captain's reception, the Officer's cocktail party, the Cruise Critic party, and the Captain's Club reception that each event had waiters with trays of hors'douevers and servers with cocktails and an open bar. Very nice. Plus the hors'douevers were excellent. Also excellent were the daily savories provided by our butler. We had this service previously on Celebrity and were totally unimpressed. So we delayed ordering thinking it would be the same. Big mistake. The savories were actually small servings of appetizers from the speciality restaurants and included things like tiger prawns, foie gras, grilled salmon, pate, and even slices of lobster. We will order every day next time. There were ten sea days on this cruise and each sea day there were two events we loved. Each sea day at 10 am there was a cooking demonstration and at 1:30 there was a wine tasting. The cooking demonstration was done in the Cabaret show lounge by the head chef from the speciality restaurants and mainly featured items from those menus. Delicious samples were served at the end. The wine tasting was done by the cellar master and consisted of five tastes from a specific region. We covered France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Pacific Northwest, and other regions. An excellent idea well presented and informative. In conclusion we loved the ship and the cruise. It was an upscale cruise for the food, wine, and a very nice group of passengers. We will certainly be looking for more sailing opportunities with Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We returned last week after a wonderful 15 day cruise from Barcelona to Miami, with stops in Alicante and Almeria, Spain, and four Canary Islands. On both cruises, we had the best food and the friendliest service we've had over the ... Read More
We returned last week after a wonderful 15 day cruise from Barcelona to Miami, with stops in Alicante and Almeria, Spain, and four Canary Islands. On both cruises, we had the best food and the friendliest service we've had over the past 30 years of cruising. Embarkation - both in Sao Paolo and Barcelona, embarkation was a breeze; on-board in less than five minutes, with plenty of staff to assist. A welcome glass of bubbly, a full lunch in the Windows buffet, and into our stateroom by shortly after 1 PM, although we had arrived before the designated time twice. On the most recent cruise, our luggage was in the room quickly and we were fully unpacked and into cocktails before the 4:15 lifeboat drill. Stateroom - we had a Sky Suite both cruises, which is a delight if available and affordable (we were upgraded for free the first cruise). Plenty of room, storage, good (but not great) in-room TV, excellent wireless internet access (for a fee), and fine service. I was surprised to read the review by Keefy, who had limited butler contact or amenities. We saw our butler at least daily (Pras), he was quick to respond to requests for extra ice, TV problems, laundry service, as were Ravin, the assistant butler and Michael, the assistant. Our flowers and fruit were changed periodically, as appropriate. Be certain to order the daily "savories," a beautiful and tasty array of four appetizers, available daily in the late afternoon. They were a highlight of both cruises. And room service breakfast has a menu surpassing most restaurants in selections, presentation, and quality. Don't miss it! Bathroom was adequate; we'd have liked a medicine cabinet but plenty of room under the sink. The rubber mat in the tub slips and slides if you don't push down to set the vacuum cups, but improves safety when you do. Toilet tissue was very thin; next trip we would bring a couple of rolls. The Elemis toiletries were excellent. Dining - Discoveries had a menu and presentation as good as the specialty restaurants on most lines. We especially enjoyed the crab cocktail, Caesar salad, combined broiled and thermidor lobster, and cherries jubilee, but there were excellent choices every meal. Service was exceptional, with friendly, patient, cheerful and helpful wait staff no matter where we sat. The Maitre d' knew us by name, always took us to a table for two when requested, and checked on our happiness regularly (Garan from Macedonia). Probably due to a change in chefs between our two voyages, Aqualina was the better specialty restaurant last spring, and Prime C this time, but both would have been $100+ a couple ashore for the quantity and quality of the food. Friends traveling with us ate in them most nights, but we enjoyed Discoveries so much that we limited ourselves to the three "free" nights in the specialty restaurants. Windows, the buffet site, has more choices than on other cruise lines, although the variety seemed a little less this time than last spring. Entertainment - fair to good. A magician, Alan someone, was average at best. The best shows were the three with the very talented and energetic five singers/dancers who comprise the onboard troupe. Don't miss the "Twisted TV" review which pokes wonderful fun at TV viewing. The last show, "Swing", was the weakest of the three production shows. Don at the piano nightly near the Cova Cafe was wonderful - excellent musician, fine conversationalist, and always entertaining. The harpist was very good, but harp music is not my favorite. We didn't go to the nightclub for dancing, but others seemed to enjoy it. The orchestra was exceptionally talented for a ship this size. Cruise staff - Contrary to Keefy's impression, we found Sue Denning, the Cruise Director, pleasant, available, and entertaining. She always had a "hello" even when in a hurry. Her daily TV introduction to activities is worth watching, although Kelsey, the Activities Director, tends to be too cutesy and interrupts too much. The entire staff of Journey are the friendliest, most cheerful, and respectful of any cruise we've been on; always stop what they're doing to smile and say hello. Spa - we thought the spa was good if not excellent. My wife had a facial and a pedicure and I had a deep massage. Prices were high but not outrageous, and staff was pleasant and capable. The gym/exercise room was very good for a ship this size. Shopping - limited, a little high-priced, but pleasant helpful staff. Casino - Ellen and I enjoy low wager gambling, and this was the best. As a small ship, it has only five blackjack dealers, and we got to know each of them and they us, asking after the spouse when only one of us showed up. Cheers to Madeline from Glasgow, Nina from Minsk, Jack from Capetown, Margaret from Australia, and Svetlana from Alberta (originally from Ukraine). Ports - Barcelona deserves a page of its own. Don't miss it. Best way to see it with limited time is to take the tourist buses which run on three intersecting lines with unlimited on and off. Alicante was pleasant but not outstanding, ditto for Almeria. We particularly enjoyed the free museum in the latter which houses the comical, realistic papier mache figures from their annual festival. The Canary Islands are outstanding. We worried about stopping at four of them, but each island is so individual in geography, views, and highlights that we would have enjoyed even more. Disembarkation - not as smooth as embarkation, but not bad. They should have signage to indicate where each color of baggage (matching the tags we applied the night before) were located, but we had our bags within five minutes. Unfortunately, porters didn't arrive until a few minutes after we dragged our carry-ons and four large bags through the line. Friends traveling with us have sailed Oceania a couple of times and thought Azamara equal, but with better service. We hope to find another itinerary on Azamara which appeals to us for a return. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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