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20 Azamara Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as our wine shop was sponsoring the trip for customers. We had 46 people in our group. We were in Cabin 8052 which was right next to the elevators and stair well midship. We had our doubts as to the possible noise ... Read More
We chose this cruise as our wine shop was sponsoring the trip for customers. We had 46 people in our group. We were in Cabin 8052 which was right next to the elevators and stair well midship. We had our doubts as to the possible noise level for the location, but it was never a problem, we had no noise at all from the elevator and stairwell traffic. The room itself was very good with lots of storage and plenty of room to move about without any problems. The only issue is if you are not agile the tub presents a problem as it is a high step into the tub. Once in tub area to shower your head is practically touching the ceiling, I am 5'8" and clearance was about 1 inch, so if you are over 6' you will have to scrunch down. Otherwise the bathroom size is good. The Club Continent Suite comes with a stash of free liquor, Bombay Gin, Sotli Vodka, Rum, and Johnny Walker Red. The balcony was a bit tight but not an issue. I suggest that when you board, if you have a Club Continent Suite or higher the specialty dining is free, you book the specialty restaurants for every day you are on board, then cancel the day(s) you do not use on those schedule days, otherwise you are on a wait list the whole trip. The food is not spectacular on board, but very good. The surprise restaurant is the The Patio, poolside. Order a bone in sirloin steak that was as good as the steak house specialty restaurant Prime C. The menu at The Patio is very good. The best food of the entire cruise occurred on White Night when the food is superb everything from lobster, pork, steak, frog legs, calamari, etc. is available. Tons of desserts, too. Entertainment on board is good, nothing to write home about. The singers, magicians, and band are fine, good way to spend an hour relaxing on board. For dancing and drinking the Living Room is the place to be where they have a DJ and combo for entertainment. My favorite location was the Spirits bar in the Den which seems to be the gathering place on the ship most nights, cocktail lounge atmosphere with piano player. The bartenders were exceptional at the Spirits bar, but I learned they are not permanently assigned but rotated through the ship. The bartenders we had were Alex and Vlad, Alex was assigned to work the Mosaic Coffee bar and Vlad the pool bar on the next cruise, too bad as they are truly good at the bar. We booked three tours on board. We were very disappointed with 2 tours and loved the 3rd tour. This is hard to judge for future cruises as they rarely return to the same ports, but keep moving across the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. So it just could have been the locations we chose to see. Look into Viatour or local tour companies in port. Staff was friendly and helpful throughout the cruise. One nice feature is fewer passengers so embarkation and disembarkation at ports is never crowded, easy on and easy off was nice instead of waiting in long lines. The ship is small so navigating decks and going to bow to stern takes no time at all in getting around the ship. Would I do Azamara again, yes, now that I "know my way around and the tricks" The ship does not attract the younger crowd, families with children, or serious partiers so the atmosphere is laid back for people in the 50's and over age croup Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We love Azamara. Travel is what you make it. We enjoyed bridge lessons tremendously and the individual entertainers were phenomenal. Personnel on board are VERY accommodating and trained well to take care of every possible need we could ... Read More
We love Azamara. Travel is what you make it. We enjoyed bridge lessons tremendously and the individual entertainers were phenomenal. Personnel on board are VERY accommodating and trained well to take care of every possible need we could imagine. Wasn't crazy about some of the ports, but that always happens. Was surprised to see negative ratings about this voyage as everyone we talked to and met were very happy with this cruise. Came down with a bad cold on board and the doctor couldn't have been better. Some accompanying symptoms necessitated us being confined to quarters for a day, but we received free TV movies and any food we wanted from the room service menu or Discoveries Restaurant, only served on paper plates, not real dishes. We understood the necessity of this. Imagine our surprise several days later when we received a letter from the staff saying we would be comped one day on our next cruise to make up for the missed day we spent in quarantine. WOW! That's service! Best of all were the people we met on board and that's really one of the main reasons why we travel, to meet people from around the world and share conversations with them. Places are wonderful but people are even better! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We had always wanted to try Azamara as they are the upscale product of RCCL and Celebrity, and our loyalty status transfers over equally from Celebrity. The ship is small - 30,277 tons and accomodates up to 694 passengers. Azamara ... Read More
We had always wanted to try Azamara as they are the upscale product of RCCL and Celebrity, and our loyalty status transfers over equally from Celebrity. The ship is small - 30,277 tons and accomodates up to 694 passengers. Azamara caters to an upscale, sophisticated cruising crowd. There were no children on this crossing and a large percentage of the guests were retired. The ship's public areas are nicely furnished and kept clean and tidy. There are two small retail shops with high end merchandise and a small casino which got limited use on this sailing. The Discoveries Dining Room is "open seating" for all meals. Service was inconsistent and slow until we found a great waiter and assistant. Food was generally good, but not what we were expecting. The Windows Cafe and the Patio both served quality food and had a nice variety to suit most guests. We enjoyed the entertainment and the Cruise Director, Tony Markey, was one of the best that we have encountered. There were two guest speakers on board discussing history and forensic science. I can't say enough about the fantastic crew! From the Captain to the dishwasher, everyone tried to please the guests. Azamara's "White Night Party" held in Hamilton, Bermuda, was amazing. Wonderful food and entertainment. The ship's officers even served food in the buffet line. Small ships have positives and negatives. We had about 24 hours of rough seas, which you really feel, but we were able to dock in downtown Hamilton, Bermuda. Small ships also make it easy to meet other interesting passengers and mingle with the entainers and crew. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise because of itinerary. Unfortunately due to hurricanes in the Caribbean 2 scheduled stops were changed but can't blame Azamara for the weather. We sailed from Barcelona having had 5 days in Barcelona prior to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of itinerary. Unfortunately due to hurricanes in the Caribbean 2 scheduled stops were changed but can't blame Azamara for the weather. We sailed from Barcelona having had 5 days in Barcelona prior to cruise. We stayed at Avenida Palace hotel which was very good and a short walk to all the sites. Embarkation was not as smooth as previous boardings with Azamara. Took a while to line up through customs ( not Azamara fault), but then a lengthy walk to ship and another line up in the Caberet lounge to be issued ship passes etc. this was our first trip on The Quest our other 3 cruises have been on The Journey. We noticed pretty well immediately, as did a lot of other passengers, that the crew did not seem as happy as they should be. For the first 5 or 6 days service from bar areas was slow, tables on the 9 deck area were not cleaned very often. Service in the windows cafe was very slow or non-existant - there was 2 mornings where we were not offered water,tea or coffee! After the first 5 or 6 days though things improved in these areas and staff were very attentive and "on the ball" for the rest of the trip. The food, staff and service in the Main Discoveries dining room and the 2 specialty restaurants were outstanding. Special mention of Afley in Discoveries- he was excellent. Our cabin attendants were wonderful, very friendly and helpful without being intrusive. The trivia games and other activities were fun and well run but sometimes overlapped so you had to miss something. Especially on sea days perhaps more thought could be given to scheduling. We did not do any of the offered shore excursions preferring to go out and about at our own pace. I have given an average score for entertainment- this is only because we have seen all but 1 of the guest acts and crew performances before - that said we did see most of the shows and even though it was 2nd or 3rd time around, we enjoyed the shows and they are certainly professional. Debarkation in Miami was slightly delayed but again no fault of the ship, everyone is at the mercy of USA customs and immigration. When we could debark it was quick. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. We love Azamara and look forward to our next trip next year Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the pricing, OBC, and itinerary. The Azamara Journey crew worked hard to prevent a ship wide outbreak of a GI virus and were successful. Someone(s) foolishly ate some street food. As always the rooms and public areas were clean, the food was delicious, and the land excursions excellent. Every night a different cuisine was served in Windows, the buffet restaurant, giving guests a chance to try different foods. The best place for evening dining is The Patio with table service but one can also visit the buffet line from there. We were able to get to know the different countries we visited. We were delighted to see Eric, the Cruise Director, again. He is so much fun and so entertaining. Standard drinks and tipping are included in the cruise price which means you aren't trying to drink your way through a liquor package and you don't need to worry about tipping too little or too much. They still need to improve their Wi-Fi connection. This was another wonderful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Our most recent journey took us on the Journey on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise from Singapore, through Thailand, Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. Our flight arrived late the night before, so we only had half a day to explore ... Read More
Our most recent journey took us on the Journey on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise from Singapore, through Thailand, Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. Our flight arrived late the night before, so we only had half a day to explore Singapore before boarding the ship later that day. We have been to Singapore many times before, so a short stay was adequate. I will say that if you have not been there before, the city is spectacular, especially Orchard Road at night during Christmas. We arrived at the Harbourfront Cruise Center mid-afternoon, and embarkation was a breeze. It was not crowded, the associates seemed to be well trained with the process, and were friendly and efficient. The ship had recently been refurbished in drydock, and looked brand new. Our cabin, a Club Continent Suite, had been remodeled without a tub, but had a very large shower and a marble/granite (or look-alike) sink. The room was very comfortable, had more than enough storage space with a good size balcony. This was the first time we had butler service, and still not sure what we could have asked for. He was instrumental in getting our dinner reservations in the specialty restaurants, which for suites is complimentary, but must be reserved because they do fill up, especially toward the end of the cruise. The ship is small compared to today's standards, and I do not believe we sailed full because upgrades were available in all categories by paying a reduced fee at the front desk. Breakfast....for the first time, I can honestly say that the buffet breakfast was better than the dining room. The dining room breakfast on the first two days was less than poor. Menu was uneventful, and food had no presentation at all. Waitstaff were not very attentive, possibly not experienced enough. The dining room was not busy, so service should have been better. The buffet had a good selection for the size of the ship, and had a made to order fresh waffle station, and made to order egg station. You could place your egg order and it would be delivered to your table by friendly attentive staff. The waitstaff were available to bring you most varieties of specialty coffees (no charge) and the fresh squeezed orange juice was wonderful. you could also order any variety of breakfast smoothie created on the spot. But...even better than the buffet was room service. The room service menu included items you could not get in the dining room, or the buffet (i.e.steak and eggs). We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony two times, complete with tablecloth and cloth napkins, delivered on time by our butler. Lunch.... in the dining room was a little better than breakfast, but again nothing to write home about. We were in port many days, so lunch was off ship. The few days we ate in the dining room, again not crowded, service was hit or miss. They did have a fresh cooking station which one day had tuna, another salmon, and the third time we were there, pasta with fresh clams. These items were very good, the rest of the menu seemed to be lack-luster. Wine was served with lunch, but getting a refill had to be asked for. Dinner.... We were fortunate to have Aqualina and Prime C as an option because we sailed in a suite. In both restaurants, by far, the best beef we have had on any ship, consistently every night. The lobster salad and lobster bisque were both outstanding, and memorable. All dishes were very well presented, delivered at the right temperature. Every dish was very good, and enough variety on the menu that for 10 days we did not tire of the choices. However... the service again was hit or miss. Such a shame, because the food was really outstanding. Wine was served as usual, but a refill had to be asked for, unless you ordered a wine that was not on the complementary list. The wine stewards were more attentive to the tables that requested those wines. Service should not suffer if you choose to drink a wine included in the meal. Bar service was also hit or miss. Many inconsistencies in the quality of the drinks. Fortunately, the drinks are all inclusive, and you can always order another, but you hate to be wasteful. Entertainment was good for the size of the ship. No big production shows. The casual musicians throughout the ship were very good, and the music level was just enough to enjoy it, and still be able to make conversation wiith your fellow travelers. Eric, the Cruise Director was always very visible (I guess being 6 1/2 feet tall would also help). He was very talented, took part in the production shows, and also had a show of his own. The guest entertainers were fun, the two we saw were a comedy musician, and a comedic violinist. The cruise ship singers and dancers also doubled as the activities staff, and were frequently late to their assigned activities. We enjoyed most of the trivia, the hardest part was not the questions, it was trying to understand the member of the activities staff and their pronunciation. One of the best benefits of a small ship, especially in the Asian ports, you get to dock right downtown. The sail up the rivers to these destinations is wonderful. On some of our past cruises with the same destinations, we were sometimes docked two hours away from the city. Staying in port longer and later was also a plus. Shuttle service was still provided, but you could walk with no problem. We chose a ship excursion to the Royal Palace in Bangkok. The country was still mourning the death of the King last October, so the Palace was more crowded than usual. The tour was good, but because of the crowd, it was hard to keep the group together, and difficult for the guide to explain what we were seeing. The tour would have been better if we were in smaller groups. We chose to go to the floating market the following day, again a ship excursion. This excursion was outstanding. We had a great time navigating the canals on the way to the market where we had plenty of time to people watch and to shop for trinkets..(i.e. more crap to pack!!) The highlight of the whole trip was the AzAmazing Evening held in Saigon, and it was just that...AzAmazing!! After a great buffet in the dining room all the passengers that chose to go were taken by bus to the event. We arrived and walked through some gardens where artisans were available to do calligraphy, caricatures, clay figures, etc. We were seated at small round tables on a lawn in front of a raised stage. The entire area had been covered with circus type tents because of the potential rain, an extra step they had not planned on. The performance highlighted the different types of music and dance from the different regions of Vietnam, and ended with a modern fashion show. We were served beer, wine, soft drinks, juice and water along with many plates of various finger food, most native to the area. The waitstaff was attentive, but not intrusive, and only served between the performances, very well done. The enrichment speakers onboard were very professional and had good presentations. One was from the WWF, World Wildlife foundation, and spoke about food waste, a great topic for me since I am in the retail food business. The other speaker was from Nasa, explaining the future of manned space travel back to the moon and beyond. The seminars were not very crowded, disappointingly, the speakers were very good. So, there were many highlights, but also many lowlights that need to be addressed. We did get a very good deal on this cruise, and feel we did get our money's worth. Paying regular price...we would think twice. Would we return...yes...we have two more booked for 2018, but again, we did get a great deal on those. With some new companies emerging into the small ship luxury market, Azamara may need to look closer at their service level, and some dining room meals, these were clearly not AzAmazing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Enjoyable but certainly not 5 star. Embarkation was a shambles & upset a lot of people before they started their vacation. Come on Azamara - it's not rocket science and you must be able to do better than this. Staterooms were very ... Read More
Enjoyable but certainly not 5 star. Embarkation was a shambles & upset a lot of people before they started their vacation. Come on Azamara - it's not rocket science and you must be able to do better than this. Staterooms were very comfortable although a bit small, however I think the bathrooms were the smallest we have experienced on any ship, particularly the showers. However, having said that they were spotlessly clean & well maintained. Very comfortable bedding & lovely décor throughout the ship which certainly gave it the club-like feel. Staff were generally quite friendly but this was not consistent. Food was of a consistent high standard in the main Dining Room and was certainly 5 star in the speciality steak restaurant. Entertainment was average but there were two or three stand-out artists. The Azamara evening was certainly amazing. Overall it was an enjoyable & relaxing experience after a hectic 10 days in India. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Embarkation was speedy but there was no food available and we had missed lunch. The patio area was not open at about 3.30 pm when we boarded despite indicating it was in "Pursuits" Crew were helpful and accommodating. ... Read More
Embarkation was speedy but there was no food available and we had missed lunch. The patio area was not open at about 3.30 pm when we boarded despite indicating it was in "Pursuits" Crew were helpful and accommodating. Service with a smile. Dinner in the dining room was very good in terms of quality and choice. Breakfast and Lunch in Windows cafe was a little repetitive and no sushi offering at lunch. We did not eat in Windows nor use the other 2 restaurants (Aqua and Prime)any evening.. Ports were interesting Entertainment was poor. We don't go to shows preferring music while we have a pre or post dinner drink or coffee. Guitarist and piano player were both poor and repetitive.. Can't comment on the shows as we don't do shows. Wifi is expensive and poor. Azamara need to address this as it could be a deal breaker for us TV entertainment is extremely poor. We were on-board for 17 days and films from 1st week were repeated on the second week. Some cruisers spend time in their cabin and like to relax and watch a film, not so on this ship. Offering was really poor unless you wanted to pay for a film. Some passengers don't want fancy shows but prefer quieter entertainment. Communication in "Pursuits" needs to be a bit more forward thinking e.g. "no bus into port a Salalah" needed to be communicated well ahead of the night before we docked. This resulted in a rush to book a tour for those that wanted to go ashore after 4 nights at sea. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
With a little more planning and attention to detail by the Cruise Director and his team, this could have had a five star rating but opportunities were missed. The inadequacy of planning was most noticeable in the failure to ensure ... Read More
With a little more planning and attention to detail by the Cruise Director and his team, this could have had a five star rating but opportunities were missed. The inadequacy of planning was most noticeable in the failure to ensure that lectures about port information were given before the port itself was reached. Quite why some sea days had no port lectures scheduled, resulting in them being shoe-horned in on days when we were in port, remained a mystery. So far as attention to detail was concerned, an obvious failure was the scheduling of activities in unsuitable spaces. There were times when I felt the Audio-Visual team were deliberately sabotaging events. It ought not to beyond their ability to prevent a curtain from straying across their projected stage backdrop! The activities themselves were pretty humdrum and repetitive withe the exception of the "Iron Chef" event. On the plus side, the food was of very high quality and service in both the main dining room and the buffet was exceptional. Indeed the buffet should not be considered a self- service restaurant as waiters are at hand to bring anything required. The ship is exceptionally well staffed both in terms of their numbers and importantly, their quality -- by far the best I have come across in 20 years of cruising. Staterooms are surprisingly small for a ship operating in the upper- market sector. There was barely room to pass each other within the cabin. Two chairs (non-reclining) and a dining-height table took up practically all the space on the small balcony. The smallness of the ship also put walking space at a premium -- there is no wrap-around promenade deck. An upper deck is kept free of deck chairs but at 13 circuits to a mile is a pretty tight space. To compensate there is a reasonably equipped gym. The ship lacks a dedicated cinema -- the " Calypso Lounge" has to to be used for this as well as being the Showtime venue, the Lecture theatre, and a Quiz Room. The lack of raked flooring makes cinema viewing particularly difficult. A good point, at least for me, was the lack of announcements on the PA system. Azamara caters well for those wanting a peaceful, comfortable cruise. The high volume of returning passengers suggests that the Line has a successful formula. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our fourth cruise with Azamara, in fact the only cruise line we have ever been on. We decided on a transatlantic, because what could be better than cruising into the old port of Montreal where we live! My father also did a similar ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Azamara, in fact the only cruise line we have ever been on. We decided on a transatlantic, because what could be better than cruising into the old port of Montreal where we live! My father also did a similar trek ages ago when he came to Canada from Ireland. We did not stay in Southampton before the cruise began, we flew into Heathrow, and taxied to the ship. We were booked in the Spa suite, one of the new suites added on during dry dock renovations. The spa suite is beautiful and spacious. There are a few things I will suggest to the company though, the table they had in the room originally, is too small. we love to eat breakfast in our room, alone. So I asked them for a bigger table and they brought one up right away...a beautiful mahogany table, perfect size. They need a bigger table on the balcony as well, which I will suggest as well. I know the soaking tub took up room on the balcony, but it is still big enough for a nice size table. I found the spa music a nice touch, the only problem was the music would start playing all of a sudden, and whenever the captain addressed the ship all we could hear was the spa music. They did have their electrician come in and fix the issue. The double sink vanity was superb. i am not a fan of the modern sinks being on top of the counter and not sunk in, but this one worked! All they need for the older women is a magnifying mirror. We did have one major issue with the shower door. First the good stuff, the shower is amazing, the rain shower and side jets, just wonderful. Now our cruise was a little rough in the north Atlantic, there were two tropical storms churning away, making for a rough ride. Our shower door had a very small magnetic strip to hold it closed, well that little magnetic strip failed miserably. I had to call the maintenance crew more than once to try to fix it, it never really was fixed by the way. I had to rig the door closed when not in use with a chair, our camera bag and a towel. This door was swinging open and slamming closed and I thought it would break at one point, not to mention it was loud as well. We did complain to the hotel manager and he was very generous with a settlement. The ports of call were well planned out and the excursions well done. The entertainment on board was just excellent. Their cruise director, Russ, is a super sweet, very knowledgeable and friendly person to chat with, his entertainment crew were fantastic. I would absolutely cruise with them again, not a trans ocean cruise though. The food, we ate only in the specialty dining rooms, their chef, Iwan pennings is absolutely amazing. The flavors and the quality of the food was perfect.The sommeliers were excellent in anticipating what wines we would like. All in all, we enjoyed this experience and we will cruise with Azamara again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We booked this cruise almost 23 months before sailing, as the ship was being repositioned to Montreal for a Charter. We paid for an inside cabin, but were upgraded to a V2 balcony cabin. Although we rarely used the balcony due to poor ... Read More
We booked this cruise almost 23 months before sailing, as the ship was being repositioned to Montreal for a Charter. We paid for an inside cabin, but were upgraded to a V2 balcony cabin. Although we rarely used the balcony due to poor weather on the Atlantic crossing, it was useful for taking early morning photos when we arrived in port. The weather in all ports of call was good, more than be said for mid Atlantic. The Captain took a south west course towards the Azores, to avoid Tropical Storm Ian. This he did successfully, but had to go through the tail of the storm before arriving in St John's Newfoundland. I am Lactose Intolerant and was well catered for. I pre ordered my food the night before and the menu was adapted accordingly, except for sweets, which could not be pre ordered. Eventually, after speaking to the Maitre'D, I was made 'specials.' I found I was searching for things to do on Sea days, as I am not interested in quizzes and there was an overload of these. There were enrichment lectures, mainly on the Solar System, Planets and Weather Forecasting. These I found rather beyond my understanding, but they were well illustrated. As the first 4 ports of call were immediately after leaving Southampton, there was no opportunity to hear port lectures on these. The port lecturer had pre recorded these for viewing on the stateroom TV, but there was no time to view them, as we were in port! I found the Land Discoveries programme to be very expensive, so we didn't take any ship's excursions. Instead we DIY. Honfleur We took the free ship's shuttle and walked around for 3 hrs on a pleasant sunny market day. I did however find the cobbles difficult to negotiate. Mont St Michel Here we took a private tour, arranged through ACSM tours. They were excellent. St Peter Port Here we took the ship's tender into the port. We did a bit of shopping and then took the road train which went around the port. Cobh As we had been here before, we took a tour arranged by a fellow passenger via Butlers bus tours. This was to Lismore Castle gardens. Another great day. St John's Newfoundland. A great welcome by the towns folk, who were lining the cliffs. It was good to put our feet on dry land again, so we took the opportunity to walk around and take pictures. I had read that there was a road train which went around the town when cruise ships were in port, but I didn't see any evidence of it. Saguanay The Captain first told us of beluga whales in the entrance of the Saguanay river, then he stopped the ship near the statue of 'Our Lady of Saguanay' on Cap Trinite. We then had a wonderful greeting by townsfolk, who served bilberry pie and juice to us. Quebec City We took a taxi tour out to Montmorency Falls. These are higher than Niagara but not as wide. The weather was excellent, so we took wonderful photos. We then returned to the town, to be given a tour, before being dropped off near the Funicular railway. This took us down into the Old Town, which was very similar to Mont St Michel streets. Montreal Unfortunately, we were in the commercial port, as the passenger port is being renovated. We were taken by shuttle across railway tracks and less touristy areas into the port for the old town. I must say I wondered where on earth we were being taken. We then spent the morning looking at the Cathedral and those shops that we could get into by stepping across road works. Disembarkation. This was very well organised, we had been allocated bus 15 and outside we were lined up to await the arrival of the bus. We were taken to the Marriott hotel, whose ground floor was part of the airport concourse. This made life easy, a simple walk into the airport, which made waiting for the pre arranged transfer bus unnecessary. For more information go to : http://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2406441 Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our 19th cruise on about 8 different lines. We generally take transatlantic crossings as a way to get to or from Europe. Fourth time on Azamara (AZ). We had a good time, highly enhanced by a group of extremely friendly ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise on about 8 different lines. We generally take transatlantic crossings as a way to get to or from Europe. Fourth time on Azamara (AZ). We had a good time, highly enhanced by a group of extremely friendly passengers. I'm not sure what AZ does to attract such friendly positive people; they are so much more outgoing and welcoming than on many other lines. If you like to socialize and meet new people, you will have unlimited opportunities. No snobs on board. The embarkation and dis-embarkation were a breeze, as were the processes of getting off and on at all ports. This is a complete pleasure after some nightmares on a couple of other lines. Very well done AZ! Service was almost always perfect, friendly, and personal. We were well taken care of. Most of the officers and top staff are around the ship, so you will have the opportunity to meet them and chat. They openly request feedback. The Journey recently came out of dry dock and there were some issues on the first cruise afterwards, but most of them have been resolved. The big transformation was the Looking Glass to be changed into the Living Room. This is the big observation bar on the 10th deck. It's now a gorgeous multi-purpose space and a big success. Otherwise you will find new carpets and some new furniture and new interior design in the cabins. A part of the retrofit was an incredible amount of re-wiring. We had hoped that it would improve internet speed and band width, but alas, we noted no difference from a crossing on the Journey in November, 2015. I was very happy in the Fitness Center almost everyday. I was concerned when I noticed that one of the recumbent stationary bikes was broken, but since the Center was so empty, I never had a problem getting my workout in. Beverage service was always perfect. We found the daily complimentary wines to be quite good, and often asked for a wine that was served on a previous day that we had liked. The selection of complimentary beers and soft drinks is very very limited. Food is very important to us, so I tend to be quite picky. We had many meals in the specialty restaurants which were all very good, although we got tired of the menus that never changed. One night in Aqualina we successfully built our own past dishes and were pleased. One of our best meals was a special rijsttafel, an Indonesian banquet, absolutely superb. I remember that they charge $25 per person. Food quality at the Windows buffet was adequate, a step above mass-market lines but below luxury lines. Sad to report that the food quality and selection in Discoveries, the main dining room, has slipped noticeably from a couple of years ago. It's now in the mass-market category, much like what you would find in the dining room on a Celebrity ship. The Patio is set up as an al fresco dining area at night, lovely space but the food quality is mediocre, nothing special. Entertainment was OK, but really no different than on most modest-sized ships. AZ uses many of the same guest entertainers you find on other lines, and you may have seen them all before. Talented people, but shows that one finds only on cruise lines. The big shows, which included talented dancers and singers, were carbon copies of what one finds on other lines, and not to our taste. AZ's biggest letdown, IMHO, is in their destination preparation and enrichment areas, and in the lack of variety of activities on board. Since this was a crossing, many passengers looked to be engaged or entertained during the day. Not much going on except lots of trivia contests, art auctions, napkin folding, the usual simple stuff. Guest lectures were not very challenging or interesting. Worst was that AZ offered very little preparation for our 5 ports, just some printed basics with the daily bulletin. No lectures or slide shows to prepare us. We stayed in stateroom 6088, which I will attempt to review below. There were lots of unresolved issues from the dry dock. The staff got an earful of complaints about these issues from the PAX in similar-sized staterooms. Last very positive note: The Cruise Director and Guest Relations Director hosted 2 LGBT get togethers which were both well-attended. They personally welcomed us, told funny stories and related that the AZ CEO is reaching out (wisely from a marketing point of view) to the LGBT community. These meet-ups were followed by hosted LGBT dinners in the dining room. Very nice touch. Nothing close to this on any of the other lines we have sailed. Thank you Azamara! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We did the TA repositioning cruise for our 25th anniversary and enjoyed it alot. If you like "sea days", then this is the type of cruise for you. We were a bit nauseous with some ocean waves the first day, but got comfortable ... Read More
We did the TA repositioning cruise for our 25th anniversary and enjoyed it alot. If you like "sea days", then this is the type of cruise for you. We were a bit nauseous with some ocean waves the first day, but got comfortable quickly. Very nice cruise company and service was fantastic ... always with a smile and a "Hello, Mr and Mrs A". Food was B+ to A-, so do not expect a 3 star Michelin food, but it was tasty, plentiful and the variety was excellent. Shows were good. Do not expect to beat the house in Bingo or in the Casino, but it is fun to try. Aqualina and Prime C were very good, but we liked the Windows buffet the most. The gym, spa, pool, track and hot tubs were all used and appreciated. Mostly we relaxed, but of course, we ate too much. Port stops were good and I was surprised that we could be back on board only about 30 minutes before departure ... I was thinking it might be 90 minutes. Drinks were good - no complaints. Wines of the day were good and a nice selection of varieties ... my wife and I are wine experts and found the selections to be good. The crowd was "senior", so do not expect alot of raucous partying and craziness. All in all, I would say we felt it was a great cruise for the money and we would recommend Azamara to all our friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first cruise with Azamara having cruised around fifteen times with other companies. Embarkation was seamless with no queues at all - we arrived at the ship at 1230 for an 1800 sailing. Disembarkation was slower that seemed to ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara having cruised around fifteen times with other companies. Embarkation was seamless with no queues at all - we arrived at the ship at 1230 for an 1800 sailing. Disembarkation was slower that seemed to be caused by USA immigration procedures. The cruise started in Barcelona with stops in Gibraltar, Huelva (Spain) then St Maarten, Virgin Gorda before reaching Miami. As a stop Huelva is somewhat limited and we decided to take a bus to Seville (journey about 70 mins one way), other stops were fine with lots more local opportunities to visit. I would say that as this was a small ship the facilities were limited for a cruise which included 8 consecutive sea days as well as 3 other sea days. That said and as stated above, overall the cruise exceeded expectations particularly with food and service. However, the entertainment was a great disappointment to us and it seemed that the company relied on the in-house team in the main with limited other 'acts' being provided in support (the ventriloquist was very good as was the male entertainer who played sax/clarinet and tap danced). This may have been sympatamatic of the number of sea days not allowing for a frequent change of performers. Whilst the in-house team were very enthsuiastic the production was far less impressive than all other cruises we have experienced and to a point the ever present and hard working cruise director in my view seemed rather overbearing to the rest of the entertainment team and in my view he was used too often. That said I think that my view will be in the minority given the euphoric reaction the CD received whenever he performed or even walked around the ship, particularly from the older Canadian and American guests. The captain was very approachable as did the remainder of the crew who often mingled with passengers in all areas of the ship. In summary we will definitely do another Azamara cruise but will choose one with not so many sea days which hopefully should allow for more variety with entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We had a great time on this transatlantic crossing. IMO Azamara (AZ) does a fine job delivering to a special niche market that is neither mass-market nor luxury. As a result, most aspects of the crossing were very good, with a few things ... Read More
We had a great time on this transatlantic crossing. IMO Azamara (AZ) does a fine job delivering to a special niche market that is neither mass-market nor luxury. As a result, most aspects of the crossing were very good, with a few things exceptional and a few areas that need work. One exceptional area is the fact that the Captain, Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, and entertainment staff are out and about, greeting the passengers and responding to their concerns. If this is important to you, you will be pleased with AZ. Another outstanding aspect is the friendly attitude of the passengers. Passengers are very outgoing and open to conversations. Passengers seemed happy and enjoying themselves. There was little of the picky complaining that one sometimes finds on other lines. If you like meeting folks and get your energy from other people, then AZ is for you. But if you want to be alone and are looking for a private or secluded getaway, you will have a problem finding it on this somewhat crowded busy ship. The crossing was fairly smooth in lovely weather with only one day and night of memorable motion caused by high waves. There were only 4 ports in 16 days, so lots of sea days. The Journey is attractively designed like a boutique hotel. It's very clean and in good shape, although there is little about it that will take your breath away. It is due to be redone in early 2016, which will be welcome as there are some tattered pieces of furniture and a few worn areas. We paid for an upgrade to an owner's suite, which I will review below. Embarkation was a breeze, quick and easy. Disembarkation in Miami was problematic due to delays from US customs & immigration. The Cruise Director kept us fully informed of the causes of delay and AZ's strategy to deal with them. Getting on and off the ship in ports was also simple and painless. Since this was a crossing and the ports were not particularly intriguing, the AZ Land Discoveries program offered only a few excursions, all of which were fairly high-priced. One can find lower cost options on line. We took one Land Discoveries excursion to Sevilla that was good, but not exceptional. Opportunities for exercise are very important to me as I struggle to avoid gaining too much weight on a cruise ship. The Journey delivers well in this area as there are a full walking track and a very good fitness center. I was always able to find an available bike in the center during my late afternoon workout. Service was very good with only a few rough edges in Discoveries restaurant and the Windows buffet. Cabin attendants were amazingly cheerful and seemed to actually enjoy their jobs. Most food and beverage staff were equally cheerful, and some got to know us and our preferences. The beverage service was very good on this all-inclusive crossing. There are lots of places to go for hot and cold drinks, plus waiter service in many areas. We are wine drinkers and found the included wines to be good. Remember that you can request a wine served previously that you enjoyed, as it often continues to be available. Coffee drinks in the Mosaic Cafe and in the restaurants were excellent. Included alcohol met our demands. But note that the included beer selection is thin, and there is a limited variety of sodas on board. Now on to the very few areas that IMO need some improvement. As suite guests we were fortunate to have access to the Specialty Restaurants, which we enjoyed. However the few meals we had in Discoveries Restaurant (the MDR), were disappointing. On previous AZ trips were were wowed by Discoveries, but not this time, as the food quality fit the category of "average cruise ship," in other words nothing special. The menus were dull and the execution mediocre. I would have enjoyed some higher level of activities on board, especially since there were so many sea days. While there is a lot going on, most of it falls into the simple inexpensive category such as trivia (6 contests per day, everyday!) and ping pong tournaments. We went to one destination lecture and saw another on TV, and found them only superficial. AZ could improve the quality of its enrichment program. In the area of entertainment, I admit that we are oddballs, preferring stripped-down performances to the glitzy big shows. AZ's offerings were what one seems to find on all cruise ships, lots of reviews of bits and pieces of pop music. Performers were talented, but the material was often lacking. We most enjoyed the small shows with a single performer and there were a few of those, and they were of fairly good quality. I admit that this is an area where my tastes are probably very different than other AZ customers. Who we are: We are 2 retired gents from Northern California who love the explore the world, mostly in land-based travel. We use ships primarily as a means of transportation, but can be seduced by a good itinerary. This crossing was our 18th cruise taken on 9 different lines. We will be crossing again on the Journey in April as we like AZ very much and the itinerary fits our travel plans. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My husband and I have travelled a lot. Approximately 30 cruises. 20 on Princess then decieded to give the other cruise lines a chance. This was our second Azamara cruise and we thouroughly enjoyed it. We ate at the speciality ... Read More
My husband and I have travelled a lot. Approximately 30 cruises. 20 on Princess then decieded to give the other cruise lines a chance. This was our second Azamara cruise and we thouroughly enjoyed it. We ate at the speciality restaurants and signed up for the new Asian dinner as well as the Chef"s Table. Food was delicious. Highly recommend it. We had a great time in the Disco most evenings getting to know the staff and fellow cruisers. We enjoyed the white night the most. Eric and the other performers were fantastic. Loved the music. Never did so much dancing. Relaxing by the pool during the day without many announcments was nice. Very relaxing. We have booked our 3,4 and 5 cruise with Azamara. I quess we are converted. Great staff, I cannot say enough on how the made you feel like family. See you in April 2016. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Our first cruise was with HAL nearly 20 years ago. Our experience was so positive that we remained exclusively loyal to them for many years & many cruises. We only strayed to take specialty cruises on expedition ships or traditional ... Read More
Our first cruise was with HAL nearly 20 years ago. Our experience was so positive that we remained exclusively loyal to them for many years & many cruises. We only strayed to take specialty cruises on expedition ships or traditional river cruises. About a year ago, we started to explore our cruising options beyond HAL. We were seeking an upper-premium product so we decided to try both Azamara & Oceania. We chose 14-nite transAtlantics on each - westbound Barcelona to Miami on Oceania Regatta (Nov/09) and eastbound Miami to Barcelona on Azamara Journey (April/10). This was our first experience with transAtlantics as we usually prefer port-intensive cruises. But our investment (or risk) would be minimal & we'd get an excellent impression with so many days at sea. I previously reviewed our Oceania cruise at http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=61359 so these comments will focus on our Azamara experience, although direct comparisons are inevitable. EMBARKATION We made independent air (FF) and hotel arrangements & stayed 1-nite pre-cruise at Sofitel Miami. We took a taxi to the cruise port about 12:30 pm & were efficiently processed by shoreside staff. We traded our passports for our Azamara Seapass, swiped our credit card & proceeded to board Journey. Once across the gangway, we were welcomed with a glass of sparkling rosE. Since staterooms weren't ready yet, we went to Windows to check out the embarkation buffet. We grabbed a slice of pizza & were barely seated when a server appeared with complimentary wine. Off to a good start! We soon learned that our sailing had only 491 pax (70% capacity) with 404 crew. Pretty similar to our reverse sailing last fall on Oceania Regatta which had 520 pax (76%) with 397 crew. STATEROOM We intentionally booked an identical verandah room in the identical location (swapping port for starboard) as we had on Oceania Regatta a few months ago. It was conveniently located on the 7th floor near the forward elevator. Other than the sounds of crashing waves, our room was very quiet. The room was configured much the same as Regatta with ample closet space, drawer storage and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. Perhaps it was the dEcor, but the room was not as bright & airy as on Oceania. Our bed was in rather poor condition & nowhere near as comfy as those we've had on either Oceania or HAL. The mattress had obvious dips & depressions. Bed linens were luxurious & in excellent shape. We knew to expect a tiny bathroom so there was no surprise. It was functional & clean although the shower curtain showed signs of mildew along the bottom edge & the shower drain was sluggish. Some towels & facecloths were frayed & in dire need of replacement. Elemis soap & toiletries were replenished as we used them. The 40 sq ft verandah was noticeably smaller than on Regatta. Who knew what a difference 10 sq ft could make? Balcony furniture was 2 upright chairs & a glass table that seemed inappropriately large for the very tiny space. The privacy barrier between balconies was made of opaque glass that had gaps of about 6-8 inches at each edge. This was not sufficient for total privacy. It was impossible to sit outside & not be visible to our neighbors from some angle. But the weather on this crossing was so poor that we rarely had the opportunity to use the balcony. We had cool temps & overcast skies for most of the trip. The Captain did all he could to outrun back-to-back storms after leaving Miami but we still experienced angry seas with 15-22 ft swells for several consecutive days. DINING Food is an important aspect of cruising for us. While we don't cruise specifically for the food, we won't sail on a line that has mediocre food. After reading many reviews about food on Azamara, we set our expectations lower than Oceania but higher than HAL. This made sense since HAL caters more in the larger mass market while Oceania fancies itself as the cruise line for foodies. Even with lowered expectations, we were disappointed with the food on Azamara. Our dining experience on Journey ranks close to the bottom of our 27 cruises. Not only did Azamara fail to reach the level of Oceania, in our opinion they did not even come close to HAL. We were disappointed in the main dining venues: . ordinary menus with limited selections . obvious repetition of ingredients . indistinct flavors with many items tasting similar . heavy use of salt to enhance flavor . little evidence of fresh herbs, spices or seasonings . sauces & gravies (and some soups) had starchy consistency . poor execution of many items: overcooked or undercooked . hot food often served lukewarm . less choice cuts of meat & fish for principal entrees . no fresh berries, only soggy defrosted available . very limited cheese selections . homemade ice-creams & sherbets often contained ice chips. But there were bright spots: . Smoothie Bar in Windows . fresh squeezed OJ & mouth-puckering lemonade . tasty burgers & kabobs, albeit very greasy, at Pool Grill . special themed nites in Breeza (Spanish Tapas, Asian Stir-Fry & Indian Curry) . Cova Cafe is a little gem for specialty coffees & tasty tidbits . food presentation was consistently superb in MDR . complimentary wine with lunch & dinner. Bottom line, dining on Journey was hit-or-miss for us. Over time, we learned how to increase our odds of a better meal. Apparently the trick was to make the right selections! We did manage to have a few good meals but they were the exception. I realize that food is subjective & palates vary greatly. I also appreciate that food on any cruise line can vary from ship to ship & even from sailing to sailing on the same ship. Maybe the food we had on Journey was not representative of Azamara. Maybe there were provisioning problems on this transAtlantic. Maybe the food budget was reduced & lower quality items had to be substituted. Maybe the galley crew were exhausted or out-of-sync. And maybe it's unfair for us to make an assessment of Azamara food based on a single sailing, but we trust our own palates & instincts. YMMV. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS We were entitled to 2 guaranteed reservations at each of the 2 specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina, at a price of $15 pp per meal. Since we had no prior status with either Azamara or Celebrity, we were unable to make reservations on-line before the cruise. So we made it a priority upon boarding. We were surprised to learn that both restaurants were operating on a fixed schedule: early (6:00-6:30 pm) or late (8:00-8:30 pm). We tried several times to make a reservation at either restaurant for 7:30 pm. No can do. Nevertheless, we were eager to try them so we accepted the pre-set times. We enjoyed both specialty restaurants. Elegant atmosphere, attentive service, creative menus, flavorable food. We preferred Aqualina over Prime C. ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES Journey offered many games & activities for our 9 sea days. Golf putting, shuffleboard, ping pong, social bridge, bingo, team trivia, arts & crafts sessions, improv acting classes & ballroom dance lessons. Captain Theodorou even taught a jam-packed room of eager passengers to dance the Greek Korba. Opa! There were culinary demos, afternoon tea, wine & martini tastings ($), food & wine pairings ($), photo & computer workshops ($), wellness seminars & fitness classes. There were 3 enrichment lecturers on-board, making for diverse & interesting presentations. Recent movies were available on in-room TV but the rotation schedule made it virtually impossible to watch many during normal waking hours. Azamara still has an Art Director on board. He gave a few presentations & staged several silent auctions. On Azamara, loyalty has its privileges. Members of Le Club Voyage were invited to participate in a range of published & unpublished activities, including galley tours, bridge tours, engine room tours, Happy Hour, cocktail parties, connoisseur dinners, wine & specialty coffee tastings. Since this was our first Azamara cruise & we had no prior history on Celebrity or RCCL, we were excluded from these events. However, because of our involvement with Cruise Critic, we did receive invitations to the galley, bridge and engine room tours. Azamara arranged a couple of Meet & Mingle sessions for CC members. They trump both Oceania & HAL for hosting these events. Cruise Director Tony Markey announced that our group of 60+ was the largest they had on board this year. We enjoyed complimentary cocktails & hors d'oerves and met several senior officers. Hotel Manager Heike Berdos attended both CC parties. She's the real deal - very approachable & around the ship constantly. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in what CC members had to say. ENTERTAINMENT Who said a small ship can't deliver top-quality entertainment? Kudos to Azamara for providing excellent after-dinner shows in the Cabaret Lounge on Journey. There was a featured vocalist, pianist, violinist, guitarist, comedian as well as several performances by an Azamara 5-member resident cast. All superb. Pre and post-dinner music was provided by a harpist, guitarist, cabaret singer & musical trio. There was also pre-show ballroom dancing as well as an after-hours disco. SHORE EXCURSIONS We are independent travelers who tend to make our own shore arrangements. However, on this cruise we had a generous OBC so we chose to take a few ship excursions. Journey shorex team was among the best we have encountered on any ship. They were well informed, enthusiastic & helpful. And unlike many shorex staff who become harried on tour day & bark out orders to passengers, the Journey staff remained easy-going & helpful throughout. We took 2 shore excursions that were excellent. Interesting itineraries, informative tour guides, great value for money. PUBLIC ROOMS We thought Journey was clean, nicely appointed & well maintained. It has the underpinnings of a great ship. But it seemed to lack the warmth & vibrancy on either Oceania or HAL. Something intangible was missing. In our view, Journey needs a bit more love & careful attention to the little details. Journey has the same footprint as Oceania R class ships, yet there are noticeable differences in how the space is used. The casino on Azamara is larger & slot machines take up space that Oceania uses for its delightful Martinis Bar. Azamara does have a bar near the casino, but with a large screen TV & uncomfortable seating, it lacked the ambiance that Martinis exudes on Oceania. Cova Cafe is a lovely addition on Azamara. It is the perfect hang-out where we enjoyed many a specialty coffee & light meal. There is nothing similar on Oceania. The on-board shops are virtually identical on both lines, although the nod goes to Oceania for better product selection & merchandising. On Azamara, the Art Director had a desk on the 5th floor opposite the Cova Cafe. Art works were often displayed for sale around this area, as well as in the hallway outside the casino. The ship photographer & his photo gallery were also located here. This gave a slightly cluttered & commercial feel to the overall area. The Library was our favorite room on Oceania. On Azamara, it was still lovely but something was missing. It's as if nobody really cared about this space. Furniture was often scattered haphazardly about the room, seating was mismatched & lighting was poor. The "take a book, leave a book" section was usually in disarray, permanent books were often misfiled & there were no subscription magazines. The Library felt more like a forgotten rec room than the elegant space it can be. Looking Glass on Azamara is Horizons on Oceania. This is the spot where passengers gather to enjoy forward vistas thru the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows. But on Journey, the centre views are somewhat obstructed by equipment for the on-board band. Nearly half of the windows were blocked by a grand piano, large speakers & synthesizers. But to their credit, Azamara hasn't converted outside public space on the top deck into revenue-producing private cabanas as Oceania has done. So the best forward vantage points are still available for all to enjoy. But neither Azamara nor Oceania can come close to the wide-open public spaces on HAL, its gorgeous wrap-around teak promenades and unrestricted bow access for scenic cruising. DISEMBARKATION We experienced a well organized disembarkation off Journey. As on Oceania, breakfast hours & menus were limited. We were instructed to vacate our room by 8:30 am & wait in a public lounge for disembarkation. This was in marked contrast to HAL where breakfast is not restricted & all passengers can remain in their rooms until they disembark. We arrived in Barcelona at 6:00 am & disembarkation began about 7:30 am. As independent travelers, we had the option of several timeframes to leave the ship. We chose 8:15 am. The Hotel Manager & Cruise Director were waiting on the exit ramp to bid farewell to departing passengers. Nice touch. We retrieved our luggage inside the terminal & grabbed a taxi to our onward destination in Barcelona. FINAL THOUGHTS We have mixed feelings about whether we would sail Azamara again. We like many of their future itineraries as well as their focus on destination enrichment. We're thrilled with the included amenities & we're now members of Le Club Voyage with all its rights & privileges. We love the small ships & have rarely sailed with a friendlier crew than on Journey. There is much to like about Azamara. Yet we hesitate, primarily because they failed to deliver on an important aspect of cruising for us. We can't ignore our disappointment with the food in virtually all dining venues on Journey. Maybe it would be better on another Azamara ship. So we'll continue to watch the future roll-out of Azamara & maybe we'll hop aboard again. Either way, we wish them success going forward. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Azamara Journey Transatlantic December 4 - 18, 2009 Air: We were fortunate enough to be able to use employee passes to travel from Los Angeles to Houston to Amsterdam. The "non-rev" gods were with us and both flights were ... Read More
Azamara Journey Transatlantic December 4 - 18, 2009 Air: We were fortunate enough to be able to use employee passes to travel from Los Angeles to Houston to Amsterdam. The "non-rev" gods were with us and both flights were made in the forward cabin. Nearly 40 years of seniority does have its rewards. We spent two great days in Amsterdam (NH Amsterdam Centre Hotel) before again flying on passes on KLM to BCN. On board with had excellent service in the economy cabin on an immaculate airplane. Sandwiches and complimentary wine were served. We were were lucky enough to have a seat mate who lives in Sitges but who had worked for HP in the Bay Area for years. He gave us lots of advice on things to see and do in Barcelona. We hope to follow his tips for exploration beyond the city next time. Barcelona: Upon arrival at the stunning new terminal at BCN we fairly quickly picked up our checked bags and took the Aerobus into the city. Fare was 5 euros pp payable in cash to the driver. The busses are new and the service is fast and dependable. We got off at Placa Catalunya and had an easy two and a half block walk to our hotel. We had booked rooms online at Hotel Onix Ramblas. This hotel is a jewel located a couple of blocks above Placa Catalunya. It is a small property (perhaps 40 rooms) but the rooms are large and comfortable. A full buffet breakfast was included in the 80 euro per day rate (for a "Shhh" room located on the back of the hotel overlooking the terrace.). Breakfast included scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pastries, yogurt, cerals, fruit, coffee/tea/cocoa. There was also free internet access in the room but no wi-fi. We used the red "Hop On/Hop Off" busses to get acquainted with the city. The blue busses run similar routes but the hotel had coupons that basically gave us a second day free on the red. We also booked a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter through the tourist service at Placa Catalunya. Our four days in this incredible city went far too quickly. We ate well, drank well, and saw as much as we could in the limited time we had. We will be back! Boarding: Our time in Barcelona came to an end far too soon but we were ready to head to the ship. Two friends joined us for what turned out to be a 45 euro cab ride to the port. That included asking for a mini-van, luggage charges, port charges and a tip. It was worth it! (As a bonus I finally got to speak some Spanish. I found that people in Barcelona either wanted to speak English or Catalan.) We arrived at the port at about 11:30AM and there was virtually nobody in the boarding area. Checking our bags (even without preprinted tags) took less than five minutes and the actual process of getting our Sea Pass cards took another ten. (Another reviewer had a problem with only getting one leather card holder. We had the nicer soft leather ones from Celebrity so were not bothered by this. We also were not bothered by being asked for a credit card to cover onboard charges. This is pretty much standard procedure with cruise lines or hotels world wide and is spelled out in the pre-boarding documents.) We were greeted by two ships officers and champagne. We were also directed to a desk where we were able to leave our carryons. They were delivered to our cabins later. We did a quick walk around the ship and were impressed by the maintenance and decor. This was our first time on a smaller ship and it felt much like we would imagine being on some wealthy person's private yacht. They were in the process of putting up Holiday decorations with two Christmas trees in the main foyer and a Menorah. We had a light lunch at the buffet and Bloody Marys and headed to our cabin when they were announced as being ready at 1:30PM. Cabin: We were in Stateroom 7020, a category 2A balcony on the port side just forward of the forward elevators/stairs. This was very convenient and we used the stairs more than we would on a larger ship and seldom had a very long wait for the elevator. We were usually alone in the elevators. That doesn't happen much on larger ships. We had been forewarned by friends who had sailed on Journey and by postings on Cruise Critic that the cabins might seem small. While they are smaller than what you might be used to they are laid out very well. We made a few small adjustments (put the balcony table crosswise and it works much better!) and were quickly settled in. The beds were comfortable, the service from our "Butler", Derrick, was unobtrusive, and we generally were as pleased as we have been in any cabin on any ship. There was a nice gift of a tote bag waiting for us and two bottles of Champagne. Neither had cards but we think we sorted it out. Main Dining Room: We had no trouble getting a nice table for four for dinner when we arrived at the Main Dining Room. There were a few glitches (Menus were not correct. The "Everyday" side was for the wrong day on two of the menus. This only affects the featured wines and this caused a problem with an inexperienced wine server.) The food that night and on subsequent nights was very good to excellent. We tended to end up with the same servers on many nights and they quickly knew what our tastes were. One of the sommeliers, "Mac" should be especially recognized. She not only knows wine and people but has a great sense of humor! We did note that there didn't seem to be a lot of coordination of service. On several occasions we had two different people ask us what drinks we wanted. The service areas didn't seem to be very well defined. (Inconsistency was a problem in other areas as well. At the CC gathering some people were able to get complimentary cocktails and others weren't . The "Loyalty Ambassador" didn't seem to have a clear understanding of what was expected at these events. You could ask two different people the same question and get two different answers. Perhaps there were staff that were new to the ship and the company?) A hint: We never had to wait long for a table in the MDR. The secret, we think, is to go at an off time, e.g., 7:15PM as opposed to 7:00PM or 7:30PM. And it doesn't hurt to establish a relationship with the folks at the front desk early on. Buffet: The Buffet at dinner (we tried it twice) was generally a disappointment. It seems to be a training ground. The staff was anxious to please but really didn't have a great deal of knowledge of food or service. Choices were limited with some being left over from lunch. It seemed to us that the only way to get good fresh green vegetables was to go to the stir fry station. There were, however, a couple of good wines offered as nightly specials at $5.00 a glass. We especially enjoyed the Portuguese Red. Lunch was usually good to very good. By combining choices from the Pool Grill and the buffet we never felt that we missed a good meal! Room Service: We used Room Service mostly for breakfast. The food quality was usually quite good but there was a real problem with getting the orders right. Much of the problem seems to be with ordering anything outside the "tick the box" menu. Each morning we ordered virtually the same thing. "Two orders of two poached eggs on wheat toast". Some days we got six eggs, some three, some days on toast, some days not. When we mentioned this we got an immediate call from the manager of room service and an offer of a bottle of sparkling wine in our cabin or at dinner. (We demurred but ended up with both!) We enjoyed sharing the wine but the eggs never were right.. Perhaps they need to go to an extended menu with places to check what your want as Celebrity does in Concierge Class. On two occasions we used the Interactive menu on the TV to order lunch/mid-day snacks. The service was very slow on one day (45 minutes to be delivered) but quick (20 minutes) the next. The food quality was excellent. We never used the interactive menu to order from the Main Dining Room menu and were not aware that that was an option. We did speak with one person who asked their butler to get them a copy of the main dining room menu and they ordered from that by phone. Specialty Restaurants: We ate in Aqualina once. it was a very good meal. Service was a bit confused but that didn't detract from the experience. We ate in Prime C four times and each time was outstanding. The food is wonderful and the service impeccable. The Bartender is from the "Old School". He knows his liquor and he knows what service and hospitality are. He also did a great job of keeping us happy during the morning cooking demonstrations. We never had difficulty getting into Prime C. One night we ate, by choice, at one of the bar tables. Spa: When we did a tour of the Spa area before sailaway my partner bought a package that was to allow access to the Spa, one of the 29 private lounges and use of a private whirlpool tub. It quickly became obvious that the tub was not working properly. Only one of the jets was working and it was never really hot. After speaking to three different staff members in the Spa an agreement was reached where they refunded the unused days (9). We spoke with at least one other person who had the same problem and was, finally, able to resolve it in the same manner. The Sauna was never turned on or hot until well after the Spa opened in the morning. Activities: We were, much like a previous reviewer, disappointed in BINGO. We ONLY play on ships! We played only one game on this cruise after we discovered that it would be $20.00 for a single game and that the prize would only be paid if a full black out was completed in 42 numbers or less. When I asked if all the games would be that way the only answer I got was "That's how we do it here". They need to see how things are done at RCL or Celebrity. More games and a few simple prizes bring in large crowds (and more revenue). We had a lot of fun playing Trivia on the sea days. There were, predictably, a few people who took it way too seriously. The staff, though, made it lots of fun and we made some good friends as we played. We also participated in several other games and enjoyed them. This was the first time we encountered the system of having an activity card signed to get prizes at the end of the cruise. Why not just give a few simple prizes (caps, key chains, pens, tee shirts) as other cruise lines do? I misplaced my card early on so don't really know what the prizes were. Entertainment: This is not a big ship so you really can't expect "spectacular" entertainment. There was some very good music and several good variety acts. Think "Cabaret". A real highlight was the staff talent show. Internet: We brought our laptop and used it to receive e-mail and then to send messages composed off line. We had no trouble at all using it in the cabin. The shipwide wi-fi worked well for us. We did not use the full amount of time we purchased. We did hear some people who were unhappy with the "free" minutes offered to Elite members requiring a purchase of time. My understanding is that this was waived on an individual basis. Ports: All of the ports, except Gibraltar, were new to us. We enjoyed each in its own way. We did a mix of independent tours and ship's tours. Probably the highlight was the ship's tour of Gibraltar which included a wonderfully gifted guide. She made the history and life of this "bit of England" come alive for us as we wandered through the tunnels and paths of "The Rock". Shopping is not high on our list of activities but we found places that were open in each port. The exception was probably Gibraltar where we were picked up at the entrance to the dock and returned there and really didn't have much time in the town itself. It was nice to have Coco Cay to ourselves. When the weather took a turn for the worse we were very impressed by the ability of the Captain and crew getting us all safely back on board early. Disembarkation: This was probably the smoothest we have ever seen. We were off the ship early and had our bags in hand in about fifteen minutes. Sadly, a serious weather front was moving over Miami and we, like many others, had substantial delays getting out of town. Over All Impression: This was a very good cruise and we want to thank the Officers and crew of Journey for being so visible and available. You made 14 days pass very quickly. Philip Herbert, the Hotel Director, is a true professional. Captain Theo is a Captain I would go anywhere with. Lisa and the galley staff do an incredible job of feeding some very demanding people. Richard, the Food and Beverage Manager is a remarkable young man. The size of this ship is probably its strongest point. It took us a couple of days to change our usual habit of leaving ten to fifteen minutes early for activities, dinner, etc. Nothing was very far from any location on board. The Specialty Restaurants which, at this time, were complimentary were especially enjoyed. We always doubled the suggested tip. That said, however, there really wasn't a tremendous difference in the service levels from what we have experienced on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland-America. It will be interesting to see what the new, "improved" Azamara Club Cruises is like. We would miss the complimentary specialty restaurants. The complimentary house wine at dinner and lunch will be a function of how good a selection there is. We are also interested in how the new "Club Voyage" (The name seems a tad pretentious.) compares with Captains Club. Will we still enjoy Elite Status? Will the onboard ammenities be raised to match those on Celebrity and the Diamond level at Royal Caribbean? Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My first cruise on a ship with more than 40 passengers was a 16-day affair on Azamara Journey from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal. We had stops in Aruba; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; and in Huatulco, ... Read More
My first cruise on a ship with more than 40 passengers was a 16-day affair on Azamara Journey from Miami to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal. We had stops in Aruba; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; and in Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas , all in Mexico. We arranged our own airfares and hotel in Miami in order to use air miles points. Aeroplan hammered us for 200,000 points for the flights alone and we reserved weeks in advance. Aeroplan loves to rob its customers. I was told that Azamara was a small, luxury ship with great service—a 2:1 ratio passengers to staff—-fine food and excellent entertainment. One out of three isn't bad, I suppose, it is a small ship. And speaking of small, the sole swimming pool in minuscule, but that's OK I guess. I did expect more. We arrived at the docks on time and the boarding process was relatively smooth although I got in to Russia without showing my passport as many times as I did boarding Azamara Journey in Miami. Once aboard, we found our stateroom (#6077) with a private balcony to be cozy and well appointed. The toiletries supplied by Azamara were very good. The bed linens were excellent as was the mattress. The towels were over-sized, thick and absorbent and the robes splendid but heavy. No slippers were to be found, nor binoculars! Our stateroom attendant, Alexis, was the best; hardworking, pleasant and courteous. He often ran ahead of my wife just to open the door for her. Other staff was largely attentive and smiled a lot, but too many of them were hopeless at their jobs. Their English was often lacking and many were untrained in the service industry. It must be said, though, that some were excellent, Roxanna in the Discoveries dining room, Maria a wine server with a constant smile who never stopped moving, and a couple of young women in the Aqualina dining room were exceptional including Ludmillia (spelled somewhat differently)and her wine steward. The entertainment crew, Eric Brouman, Ron Hollywood,and Geny Alie, were worth the price of admission both while working and while just mingling with the passengers. The harpist, Mary Amanda, was wonderful to listen to and charismatic to boot. The male piano player, Dan, in the Cova Cafe was a great entertainer. Otherwise, the entertainment was sub-standard. One performer, a woman with a ventriloquist's dummy whose mouth moved less than hers, was beyond description, I fear. A female piano player and a violinist were hardly from the entertainment A list The food was OK, but not up to the descriptions by Azamara. If salt is what you like in huge doses, you'd love this stuff. My biggest complaint, however, was that the kitchen had no idea how to do a steak. While my rib eye was done properly, four filet mignons were unbelievably under- or over-cooked. Christmas dinner was dreadful. It was advertised as mid-western turkey with seasonal vegetables. I'll bet the meat had never seen the mid-west, or even a turkey, for that matter. It was, I'm sure, processed meat. The main seasonal vegetable was asparagus—a spring veggie where I come from. Over-all it was hopeless. But New Year's Eve dinner topped it. We had a table for 10 and were led to the captain's table—minus the captain, which is fine with me—by the head man in the food section. A fine young fellow named Scott. That was the end of the good stuff. We waited 20 minutes without so much as a glass of water and nary a suggestion that a server was assigned to our table. I was able to locate an assistant manager of Discoveries to ask what was going on. Unbelievably, he said the waiter who looked after our table was off sick. That was it. I asked him whether we should wait until the waiter recovered or would someone be assigned to us. He said he'd serve us. About five minutes later the menus were distributed and the waiter vanished for a further five minutes. When he came back, we got some water and one of our fellow diners ordered wine that was available in an upstairs dining room, but not in Discoveries. No problem, said the waiter, I will see to it—perhaps the $65 price tag, plus the 18 per cent gratuity helped. Alas, 10 minutes later, Maria, the wine lady, showed up and asked for our wine order. Told that the waiter had said he'd look after the special order, she said he had just passed it on to her. I then ordered a bottle that was on Discoveries' list—also $65 plus the ubiquitous 18 per cent. They arrived together another 10 minutes hence, although the bottle from upstairs was the wrong one. We kept it because by now the hour was getting late and we were thirsty and hungry. Then the ordering started. When asked what came with the veal, the waiter said he didn't know. And he didn't offer to find out. And so it went. No apologies. Nothing. Had that happened in a good dining room there would have been hell to pay. However, despite reporting our displeasure to a higher-up, we heard nothing. The fitness and recreation facilities were fine. My wife enjoyed the stretching classes, the yoga sessions, especially when they gathered on deck, and occasionally pilates. She thought the instructor Dicky, a Dutch girl, was very good. The fitness facilities, too were adequate and well maintained. We didn't go on any organized excursions, which we thought were a little pricey and we didn't travel all that way to spend hours on a bus. We did manage to travel around in hired vehicles with local guides. So what did we think of the cruise over-all? We had a great time because of the people we met on board. Thanks to the ship's small size, we met a good number of people, 90 per cent of them terrific company. The other 10 per cent? They probably didn't like me any more than I liked them. It was Hanukkah and some Jewish people invited us to the candle-lighting ceremony. We had a brilliant time. We socialized with Brits, Americans, South Africans and Canadians. Would I cruise again? I'm not sure because I can't imagine meeting such a great group of people again. If we did go on another cruiseand I suppose it's likelyit would be on a small ship. Cruise Beginner13 Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Journey was practically identical to Regatta except it looked a little tired and in need of care. The wonderful lounge and Piano Bar on Regatta had a whole extension from the Casino in its place on Journey.This left their midships ... Read More
Journey was practically identical to Regatta except it looked a little tired and in need of care. The wonderful lounge and Piano Bar on Regatta had a whole extension from the Casino in its place on Journey.This left their midships 'Shopping Mall' as the locale for Trivia, Piano Sing along etc, not enough seats, no bar and limited service. They took away tables that were in place on Regatta on the outdoor area at the stern at the 9th deck buffet and installed a bar on Journey. The bar was rarely open, the seats were chipped and in need of stain and varnish. At night they had a barman but no waiters. The service level EXCEPT in Discoveries was poor, not enough wait staff in any of the Bar areas. In the Buffet (Windows) they had specialty cooking station but only one chef leading to long line ups for specialized fish, Asian, Indian Entrees. Your dirty plates could sit around for quite a while as there was no help to move them. Water or drinks were your own responsibility. The same criteria applied at the Grill on Deck 9 Poolside, one cook doing custom work. Discoveries was impeccable with a MAitre'D who remembered your name after DAy 1, great service, great selection and perfect cuisine. If Journey could apply the principles of Discoveries to the rest of the ships management they may catch up with Oceania. CAbin Service was poor. The much touted Butler Service was just a Housekeeper with a Bow Tie. we got Fresh Flowers Day 1 and they were never replaced. The Fresh Fruit was only replacing as and when they felt like it. If you like attention, towel figures and all that forget it. We never saw the Butler after Day 1. When our door lock failed neither they or Customer Relations helped, I had to seek out the Engineering Officer (SAfety) who fixed it for us. Just a lack of commitment and organization. Always polite but it was largely superficial. The Entertainment Staff were Bizarre. Events on Board were carried out by a very energetic DJ/Trivia King Ron 'Hollywood' a very hard working energetic individual with help from Eric Brohman a would be magician and trivia host. Both friendly and fun. Whenever you asked a question though the answer was "We don't know what we are doing any day until late the evening before" Hence a Presentation was cancelled as they had not done a dry run on their computer. This happened several times with AV equipment, no rehearsal apparent, flying by the seat of their pants! The Pianist, Dan, was brilliant, talented and should have been Cruise Director as he was also so people oriented, the lady harpist was talented and great fun. Both of them said many times that they hadn't a clue what was expected from them on a day to day basis. Seemed a little 'devil may care' despite their great talent. The 'Events Organizer' Kelsey was hard working and very pleasant but was always being overshadowed by her boss. The Cruise Director Sue Denning was the most incredible example of square peg in a round hole. On most cruises the Cruise Director is thew 'Passengers Friend, Organizer, liaison etc. This lady had an ego the size of the ship itself but without the managerial abilities to match. Sue had talent, belted out a good song and was quite the Comedienne but didn't know when to switch it off. She was very much a 'Legend in her own mind' and contributed little to events on the cruise.She was aloof, lacking eye contact, running hother and yon but never getting directly involved in anything. All questions were answered with "Sorry, Luv, I'm too busy" Consensus of many I spoke to was she was not really sophisticated for her role but may be good on a lesser class of ship as one of the Acts. Her lack of Motivational skills showed up in the attitudes and planning of the staff reporting to her. The ship was nice but not as nice as Regatta, the Crew nice but impersonal. To be told to tip an extra $5 for Service in Prime C after already being told to pay a staff gratuity was a bit cheap. The debarkation started early on the 15th , for the 18th arrival!! First we got our customs forms and instructions 15th, lecture next day by Sue in 'Bossy Boots' mode . The fruit went from the room on the 17th as well as the slippers we were supposed to keep. On the 18th , following Instructions we breakfasted at 6 am, waited till 7.40 for our time for Customs and Immigration. That started at 8 am and it was a free for all, no organizing at all. We then dutifully waited for our 8.50 call for our luggage tag only to get Sue shouting to the crowd in the SHopping Mall area "I know you are in a hurry to get off, try and observe the sequence but if you don't want to just don't shove your way out" Once again another free for all. Eventually we worked our way through a chaotic baggage claim to waiting buses that sat forever it seemed , organized by no one from Azamara. The driver left about 10-15 for the Airport, the driver , Lovell, making a pitch for tips on the intercom. It was a nice cruise BUT if I have the choice its still Oceania for me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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