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15 Copenhagen to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as it was leaving at the time we wanted and was going to some interesting destinations. As it was our first cruise we weren't sure what to expect. Overall we enjoyed ourselves....we found the food good to very ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was leaving at the time we wanted and was going to some interesting destinations. As it was our first cruise we weren't sure what to expect. Overall we enjoyed ourselves....we found the food good to very good, staff very friendly, accommodation more than adequate and very much enjoyed our balcony view. We were lucky that we had great weather and calm seas. The entertainment, for the most part, was very good. We didn't use the shore excursions as we were told they were very expensive, but we were very pleased to find hop on/hop off sightseeing busses with multiple language tapes available in all the big cities. Our only complaint was that the bus tour in Cadiz was substandard. Not many points of interest or information was given out in the taped narrative and it was the most costly of the tours we took. There were not enough hop on/hop off busses laid on in either Oslo or Lisbon, necessitating long wait times. Drinks on board (without a drinks or all inclusive package) were very highly priced. And there were only American beers available, constituting a very limited selection. Like a previous reviewer we found the coffee all over the ship (including the Java bar where one paid for the coffee) really horrible. We drank coffee at our destinations but not on board after several tries with disappointing results. We were overcharged, as were another couple we talked to......a 5x charge for the mini bar when we used it only once. We were told by the accounts department that we will be refunded. The overcharging did leave us with a bit of a bad taste in our mouths about ncl and we will probably try another company when we choose to cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Booked through RCI. This was a first time cruise and did no know what to expect. However it was a very good experience and will undertake another cruise in the future. Staff were well presented and polite and friendly. The ship was ... Read More
Booked through RCI. This was a first time cruise and did no know what to expect. However it was a very good experience and will undertake another cruise in the future. Staff were well presented and polite and friendly. The ship was very clean as was the cabin, Sheldon (Steward) from St Lucia was very good. The dining facilities in the Aqua and Versaille were very good, the waiters and waitresses were very attentive. However the Market Cafe area was not my cup of tea and not very good in my opinion. We were disappointed that several restaurants you had to pay for the evening meal which was not made clear on booking the cruise. Indeed having purchased a drinks package it did not include coffee on some parts of the ship. Again not made clear on booking the cruise. Excursions were expensive especially the Flam Railway, we booked our own at half the price. The entertainment was varied and catered for types. When tannoy messages were made you were unable to hear them in the cabin you had to open the cabin door. Overall fairly satisfied with the cruise and as stated previously will undertake a further cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I have been on 30+ cruises on numerous different lines from age 12 through to this week. We just debarked at Barcelona. This was my first time with Viking. I am platinum with Cunard and have also been on Carnival, NCL, Holland America, ... Read More
I have been on 30+ cruises on numerous different lines from age 12 through to this week. We just debarked at Barcelona. This was my first time with Viking. I am platinum with Cunard and have also been on Carnival, NCL, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and, as a child back in the 70's on Chandris- the old MS Victoria! Our trip was to have been 15 days from Bergen, Norway to Barcelona, Spain. The ship broke down the week before our cruise started and stranded it's passengers in the small port of Tallinn Estonia. This ship is brand new and was launched this spring. One of the engines burned out. We flew to Bergen, Norway as planned but did 3 nights in a hotel there and then had to do a charter flight to Copenhagen to catch the ship and transit the Kiel Canal and catch up with the advertised itinerary in mid-voyage. I want to be real clear that Viking offered a full money back refund with no strings attached before we departed. Once on board, I spoke with a high-level personage who kindly upgraded us to the biggest room on the ship, a large beast, with living room, dinning room, walk-in shower room and large private bedroom and 2 large screen flat screen TV's. This person also gave us an additional $200 ship board credit over and above the $500 the line gave in general. Positives: 1. The refund offer and the upgrade once on ship were greatly appreciated and earned Viking a second chance with me. 2. I think the staff was one of the nicest I have encountered on a line, they made an effort to get to know us personally and went out of their way to help in any way they could 3. The ship is IKEA modern and new and speaks to the high level of finish one would expect from a nice 4 Season or Ritz Carlton 4. The people on the voyage were nice, did not meet a bad apple during the 15 days, the crowd seemed to average in the 50's and seemed to be fairly well travelled. 5. My gay spouse and I felt welcomed by all 6. British Airways lost both of our bags and we did not get them back for 9 days and 3 days respectively. Damn BA and this was not Viking’s fault. I list this as a positive because Martha and the gang at Viking did everything they could to call and call and call BA and repeatedly get put on hold for hours at a time by BA and then hung up on when BA finally answered the phone. Viking traced and tracked our luggage and kept us updated on the progress daily. Damn BA. They took my luggage, took my $10,000 USD for business class tickets and did not give a damn about either! But that’s a story for a different review. Damn BA. Lufthansa for us next time! 7. The debarkation process was the smoothest and easiest I have ever experienced. They told you what you needed to do, when by and where to be. They physically walked you to the check in terminal for your departing flight and carried your bags for you, AND had a lot of cute Barcelona hotties around to help you with any questions. There was a visible Viking presence even after you left the ship, all the way up to when you were at the check in counter for your flight home where BA loses your luggage, collects your $10,000 USD business class airfare and doesn’t give a damn about either. 8. There was good, strong, free, wi-fi throughout the ship and it was very nice to keep in touch with back home. No hassles about data plans or minutes to purchase etc. 9. Enjoyed airline captain Lorimer Burn's lectures on flying. Negatives: 1. Much has been written about the heated floors in the bathroom and the heated towel rack, well, they are cursed. The floors and the towel rack can NOT be turned off and got so hot that people were having to put towels on the floor to avoid heating their feet- burning their feet would be too strong of a phrase, but just short of a burn- way too hot to walk on comfortably. ALSO, the towel rack got very hot like a radiator, our bath got up in the high 80's. It got so bad I had to have engineering come and physically rip it out of the wall and disconnect it-which took 2 hours for them to complete. The technician told me that 20 other people had called about this same issue. Why the heck they didn't just put an off and on switch in is beyond me. Keep in mind, the line is based in Norway so I am sure a nice hot bath is welcome in 60 degrees in Bergen, but when you are in the 90's in Barcelona et al, it is a curse. Whenever we opened the bath door, it was like opening a hot oven and it would heat up the rest of the bedroom for 30 minutes. You could grow orchids and ferns in that bath with no issue. And again, there is NO way to turn that heat off or down. 2. There are a lot of silos on the ship, the front desk, housekeeping and engineering do not communicate well and do not follow up with each other. I had to personally take time off of my vacation to oversee the work and make sure it gone done. It had not even been started and yet front desk was told it had been completed. 3. The AC in our largest room on the boat died on the 3rd to last day so we had to move rooms again- so 3 room changes in a 12 night cruise that had already been shortened by 3 nights because of the delay due to the broken engines the week before. 4. The engine burned out again on our trip, we got in to Lisbon 3 hours late. The ship slowed down greatly as we crossed the Bay of Biscay during the Beatles concert. I told everyone something was wrong with the 2nd engine as we were no longer trailing 2 rooster tails, only one. People laughed at me but sure enough, the next morning, we got the announcements of maintenance issues and 3 hours late in to Lisbon, this time was not given back either, we just lost the 3 hours 5. The "Included" ship tours are awful. Imagine going to Santa Monica and never being taken to or shown the beach! Imagine going to New York City but never being taken in to Manhattan! We took the "Included" tour of Gibraltar- it made no mention of the famous Apes nor did it take us to see them or to the top of the Rock. I had to spend 120 GBP to hire a taxi to take us after we got off of the “included” tour. We took the "Included" tour of Barcelona, we drove by La Sagrada Familia" for something like 2 seconds in a hot crowed bus and that was it. Also, the "Included" tours seem suspiciously timed to exactly coincide with the pay tours that do take you to the Apes on Gibraltar and the Sagrada in Barcelona 6. The entertainment was not popular with the guests, I speak specifically of the string quartet and guitar player who seemed to work four 2 hour shifts a day moving about the ship and wherever they were playing, there were no guests. The show entertainers were cute and young and pretty good singers and dancers. The real star of the entertainment was a massive Samsung video wall that ran the length of the stage and really gave the actors flexibility in their routines. They did a James Bond spoof which was great. 7. I thought there was a bit of false advertising. Viking advertised “2 days in London and 2 days in Paris”. Well, the ship was scheduled to get in to London one day at 10am and leave the next day at 11 am, so that’s really only 2 half-days spread across 25 hours. The same held for Paris. Of course, we lost all of the London visit because of the engine breakdowns and only got one day in Paris and the tours FORCED you to choose between 9 hours in Normandy or 9 hours in Paris. Lots of people were quite peeved that they could not do both, a lot of vets on the boat wanted to see Normandy and the wives wanted to see Paris and only one choice was possible. Also, you only found out these times AFTER you had paid for the cruise 100% and had passed the non-refundable stage. I spent 1400 euro to hire a private car and driver to wait for us at the dock at Rouen when the ship got in, to race us in to Paris that night before our next day tour to Normandy. After setting all of that up, I had to cancel it all once the engines broke down and they changed the trip and Paris was lost. I am sure there are probably tidal issues that affect the times the boat comes and goes but they should adjust for that. 8. After the first few nights on board it got boring, they really should get a small casino. 9. They had on demand movies and it is a total mystery to me why they had It Happened One Night, a 1930’s Claudette Colbert movie that made Clark Gable’s career, and odd 1950’s flicks like The 7 Year Itch and Singing in the Rain, but NO Maltese Falcon, Dark Passage, The Big Sleep, High Sierra, Casablanca etc. Come one Viking, put some damn Bogie and Bacall movies in the queue! 10. I am really concerned about the safety of this ship, I think Fincantieri built a lemon here. Folks, the worse thing that can happen at sea is fire. The second worse thing is to be in rough seas in the Bay of Biscay or North Sea and lose an engine! We were very lucky when we crossed the Bay of Biscay that we had sun and calm seas and the ship was very rocky even under those ideal conditions. I wondered if we had had a force 9 gale and 35 foot seas like we did when we crossed it on a previous voyage with Queen Mary 2, how well we would have fared. When we docked at Barcelona, the shipyard had a large group of technicians there waiting with what appeared to be 3 LARGE engines and crates of equipment that were being craned on to the ship, no doubt a replacement engine transformer and what appeared to be two back up units to keep on board, there is a bug here I suspect is a design issue. 11. Printing out boarding passes was a joke. Only 1 printer for 700 guests trying to print out their boarding passes and guess what, of course the printer didn’t work so it took a half day for the staff to save your boarding pass on a thumb drive and then print it out in the back office send to your room. They need to add about 15 more computers and 5 more printers. 12. There is no “front desk” as with a traditional ship. There is more of a bank lobby or living room where you wait for the next person at the desk and then you go and sit with them and work on your issue. The problem is there are only 3 of these people and they seem to get 50 phone calls an hour. When you are in your cabin, you can frequently never get these folks on the line, particularly late at night. I let the number ring 45 times on one occasion and no one ever answered. I wondered if I was calling to report a fire or a rape in progress or something, how safe that would be. I did not see a 999 or 911 number posted. 13. My last point will sound elitist but I must mention it. We were in a $25,000 room but it made no difference in any of the lines on the boat, quickness of room service, having a dedicated butler etc. We were in a large Century Suite on Celebrity Silhouette and had our own dedicated butler and he really was ours 100% of the time to cut us through lines for tenders, tours, tickets or whatever we needed. On Viking, the $699 discount cruiser gets the exact same service as the $25,000 guest. The only thing you get for all of that extra money is a bigger cabin. We paid $16,000 for our room which even without the generous upgrade to the biggest room on the ship, was still the 2nd highest level suite. All in all, given the engine trouble on 2 different cruises back to back, I would not go on this ship again unless she had 2 years of zero engine problems. Big rooms and new ships are nice, but if it is prone to loosing engines during the journey, it is not something to risk your life on. 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Sail Date August 2015
After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding ... Read More
After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding The ship itself was magnificent and when we (my wife and I) first saw it in Copenhagen we were impressed. Despite all the previous criticism we were dropped off by our taxi, had our luggage taken and tagged, showed the path to take to registration, received our information pack and cruise cards and on the ship within 15 - 20 minutes. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on deck 11 and it was very nice indeed - we actually had room to move in the bathroom!! Throughout the cruise we were looked after by 2 great cabin attendants and nothing was too much for them. I think the secret is common good manners, a good morning and good evening and a thank you - goes a long way. Yes they were not particularly good at English but it is amazing how patience, manners and a smile goes a long way. They spoke 3 languages - I only spoke English. I wonder who was the one who was really disadvantaged. Food and Food Service The food was one of my main concerns after reading the very poor comments. Perhaps we were on a different cruise line witha similar name because both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and generally the food service particularly from our 2 dinner waitesr who made our dinner time such enjoyable occcassions. Yes it was 3 back to back cruises so the menu was repeated on a number of occassions but regardless it was good with a good selection. We took the second 8.30 pm sitting and the menus were well presented and the food was good quality servewd by very nice staff. The maite'd came over to our table (and others) almost every evening to see how we were were going. We know for a fact that he replaced the waiter at the table next to us as they had concerns with him. The food in the buffet on the 13th floor was also very acceptable with a wide choice including Regional and a buffet of salads. One of the most memorable aspects of the buffet was the magnificent midnight buffets with bautifully presented ice carvings, butter carvings and well presented food and deserts. It was delicious. Land Tours We went on at least one land tour in each port and were mainly impressed with the quality of the guides and the locations. The Norway stops were absolutely breathtaking and there was so much to take in. ST Petersburg was memorable as was many of the other land tours. Cant fault MSC on these. The Ship We simply enjoyed coming back onto the ship and sitting for a while over one of their great cocktails in on of the numerous bars. We attended a variety of activities including cooking demonstrations, quizzes, wine tasting and a fashion parade. The ship was spotless and I was generally satisfied with the prices on the ship. Most of the crew were very pleasant and efficient but we did have run ins with some very rude security staff who thought it was their job to grunt as you went through with your cruise card. Fellow Passengers Generally we had no problems with the passengers and met some lovely people on the cruise. We only had real problems with one very large group of about 1,000 people from a particular country which borders the southern Baltic near Denmark. Talk about a complete lack of manners and so rude - we weren't the only ones who had problems with them. Improvement One area with we we really had problems was with the Accounting Dept and the main desk. They were unbelievable. You would get one answer from one person, then go back later to check and get a different answer. Incompetence seemed to be the rule of the day with them. We only found 1 person from each area that really knew what they were talking about. They didn't have movies during the day and they need to sort out their smoking policy. Having one side of a bar smoking and the other non-smoking does not work out. Overall We enjoyed our time on the cruse and actually I said to my wife I would be quite happy to stay on board and continue to cruise. Yes, you can find fault in even the best place but we did not take a cruise to find fault - we came to enjoy the cruise which we did. And by the way we have nothing with MSC other than being satisfied cruisers. Yes, we would do another MSC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was a semi repositioning cruise from Copenhagen to Barcelona. Embarkation was a breeze - we were on a very early flight from London and arrived in Copenhagen about 10.00 am - we were on the ship around 11.30! I would endorse heartily ... Read More
This was a semi repositioning cruise from Copenhagen to Barcelona. Embarkation was a breeze - we were on a very early flight from London and arrived in Copenhagen about 10.00 am - we were on the ship around 11.30! I would endorse heartily what Corinium says - excellent food, wine and ports. No complaints at all really, especially not about the staff, who were excellent in every way. Our cabin was familiar as we have been on Oceania a few times and this is an identical ship to theirs. We don't normally take part in many of the activities on board. However, my husband particularly enjoyed the recitals by the Classical Pianist. This was around our 20th cruise and one of the best. We have sailed with a variety of cruise lines from top of the range Seabourn and Silversea as well as a few less illustrious ones and would find Azamara hard to beat. The atmosphere was just right for us and our fellow passengers were delightful. Unlike Corinium, we did eat in Aquilina and Prime C - the latter I think we hit on a bad night but Aquilina was absolutely divine! We thought the choice of the half price wine selection each night was a good touch and used that a few times when the complimentary offer was not quite what we wanted. In fact, we enjoyed the Journey so much we have already booked to go again at the end of November! I only took one ship excursion (to Santiago de Compostella) which was fine - EXCEPT FOR THE RAIN - which was not the fault of the shore excursion staff! Because of the repositioning nature of the cruise, many of the ports are not listed so I have not commented on them individually - we particularly enjoyed Rouen and Bordeaux. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Cruise: Very good itinerary - repositioning from Copenhagen to Venice with stops in Amsterdam, Brugge, Le Havre (Normandy), Malaga, Cartagena, Malta, Split. Staff: We found the staff very friendly and helpful. The only exception was ... Read More
Cruise: Very good itinerary - repositioning from Copenhagen to Venice with stops in Amsterdam, Brugge, Le Havre (Normandy), Malaga, Cartagena, Malta, Split. Staff: We found the staff very friendly and helpful. The only exception was trying to get info on doing things on your own and the overall lack of knowledge of Cartagena. Food: Food was excellent, but lobster is no longer served on this cruise. Large prawns are served instead, and they did not meet the quality of the other meals we enjoyed. Activities: There were plenty of activities available. We enjoyed the Trivia, Name that Tune, and other such choices. Rock climbing is available on this ship and was very popular. Cabin: Our cabin had a full picture window on deck 3 (class H), centrally located. It was well maintained, but amenities are few. The TV is old, with few stations and limited American news and sports. There is also no daily newspaper on this ship to help keep you current with the world activities. Entertainment: The shows were all very well done. There was a magician/comedian that we found to be especially funny because he was so different from other acts we had seen. The Beatles Impersonation act was also terrific. Excursions - We did not use any ship excursions, preferring to do our own planning and adventures. See our port reviews for our activities. I was disappointed that the ship had little info on Cartagena. Disembarkation Day - Venice 9/24 - The disembarkation process went well. We were off the ship by 9 AM and spent an overnight in Venice and left the next day. Overall: We had a great cruise with a terrific itinerary. The ship is getting old and needs to be refurbished. The cabins need updating with more modern TV's, expanded stations, and other upgrades. I would still take this ship again, because the staff were great and the ports were wonderful. Malaga, Spain - Saturday - 9/18 Our ship docked far from town, but they provided a free shuttle to the cruise terminal, where you could pick up a shuttle to town for $6/$12 roundtrip, or walk the mile. It was a beautiful, warm day so we walked. The town is very interesting and was busy. There is also a beach near the port entrance. A Hop-On-Hop-Off bus is available for 15 euros. You can walk to most of the sites that we visited (The Malaga Cathedral, Alcazaba and Roman Theatre, Picasso' Birthplace, Picasso Museum, bullring, etc.). If you choose to visit Castle Gibraltar (great views and pictures from here), take Bus 35 (1.1 euros each way). You get the bus on Alameda Principal almost opposite City Hall. The Castle is a steep, long climb, and the euro's were well spent taking the bus. There is an internet cafe opposite Picasso's Birthplace that only cost 2 euro's per hour. As you walk the city, there are plenty of small stores and restaurants to have something to drink or eat. Cartagena, Spain - Sunday - 9/19 This was first time this ship and crew visited this port. Neither the Cruise Director or his staff had much information about the port. Since it was also Sunday, we were warned that many places could be closed. To our surprise, the town had started a 9 day celebration on Sept. 17th (the Romans versus Carthaginians Festival). People were dressed in costumes appropriate to both groups and there was music, dancing, fireworks, etc. to entertain everyone. We visited the Roman Theatre, Church of El Carmen, ruins and Carlos III Rampart near the Interpretation Center, and other nearby sights. There really is not much to do in this town, but we enjoyed seeing the people (who were very friendly) dressed in costume and we had some terrific sangria. If we stopped here again, I would probably look for a beach or something outside the city. Below, is the link to the town's brochure. http://www.cartagenaturismo.es/files/61-61-DOC_FICHERO2/generico_ingles.pdf Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Arrived in Copenhagen 1 day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Best Western Hotel City. Excellent Hotel and close to everything downtown. Took a cab to the cruise terminal cost about $26.00. Embarkation was easy even though there was ... Read More
Arrived in Copenhagen 1 day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Best Western Hotel City. Excellent Hotel and close to everything downtown. Took a cab to the cruise terminal cost about $26.00. Embarkation was easy even though there was a large crowd. Our room was a balcony suite on the Dolphin Deck. The room furnishing are dated, but acceptable. My only complainant was the mattress, it was very lumpy. The room Steward service was top notch. We ate in the Capri dining room and the service was excellent. I felt it was much better than the service on Holland America. The food was just as good or better than Holland America. Bar service was the best we've experienced. The bars have a "happy hour" after 8:00 PM, and certain beers and drinks have a reduced price. Princess does not supply a receipt for beverage purchases, so check your bill daily. We found on two occasions we were charged the non "happy hour" price for drinks, but that was corrected immediately. TOURS- numerous people were complaining about the confusion in organizing tours. We only took 3 tours but we did not encounter any problems. ENTERTAINMENT-was excellent DISEMBARKATION- Our ship was due to dock in Civitavecchia (Rome) at 04:00 AM, but it docked well before that. We had a flight leaving at 10:20 AM and some people felt that we would miss our flight. We used Princess transportation and we were off the ship at 6:15 AM and at the airport by 7:30. Overall this was an excellent cruise and after 14 days on a ship we had only 2 minor complaints. We were sorry we had not booked the cruise all the way to Venice Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen via Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. We were met at the airport by Royal Caribbean staff and a coach took us on a short drive through centre of Copenhagen to the port. Easy journey, no delays. ... Read More
We flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen via Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. We were met at the airport by Royal Caribbean staff and a coach took us on a short drive through centre of Copenhagen to the port. Easy journey, no delays. Security clearance and registration was also efficient and quick. Fantastic. The Ship The Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas was built in 1998. I was told that at the time it was one of the largest in the world. Now days, it's one of the smallest in the RC fleet. Looking at the RC website I was fascinated to discover it is 78,491 tons and the beam is 32.2m. Ok I wasn't fascinated and it probably doesn't help you either. I will try again. The ship is white. It is 23 double-deckers long and weighs the same as 17,063 African elephants. The passenger capacity is 2400. (1950 on our cruise). The Cabin My wife and I were on the lowest deck at the back. We were expecting the worst if truth be told. In fact, I had thought being so close to the engines would mean there was a distinct possibility that I would be asked to lend a hand. I don't know, perhaps to tighten a huge oversized bolt or something like that. Anyway it wasn't to be, the cabin steward proudly told me that there had never been any complaints from previous occupants and the lower down and further back you are, the more stable the ship is. Incidentally two of our dinner companions were also on the second floor but in the middle of the ship. When the ship used its side propellers the vibrations were so bad that my friend's watch bounced off the shelf above the bed and hit his wife's head. Luckily there was no damage. The watch was fine. The cabin was roomy enough and very clean. The dressing table and bathroom looked a bit dated but all in all, very pleasant. The cabin steward was friendly, changed the towels twice a day and provided us with animal shaped towel every night. Full marks for the elephant and the scorpion, I will admit to being less impressed by the headless monkey! The Facilities The ship was well laid out, the centre of the ship being a fantastic huge shopping mall like atrium which stretched vertically from the 4th deck to the 9th deck. The pool deck at the top had four hot tubs and a small swimming pool. There was also a solarium which housed another small swimming pool and two hot tubs under its glass roof. There was a gym and sauna, a two tier theatre, a casino and let's not forget the all important rock climbing wall. Talking of which, I would love to have been at that marketing meeting when they concluded that what customers really needed was a big jaggy wall with wee holes in it! (I used the wall several times and really enjoyed it, but it does make you think, what's coming next? What are they dreaming of right now in the RC board room? ......well maybe on second thoughts, we don't need to know). Food There were two restaurants, one formal waiter serviced and one buffet. There was also a room service option. Room service: There was no charge unless you ordered food in the middle of the night. And why would you do that? We used it three times for breakfast. First time they forgot a bowl, the second time they forgot milk. Third time, I had a croissant. Buffet: Good choice and good quality. There was also an endless supply of water, ice tea, lemonade and tea and coffee to wash it all down with. The desserts were a bit hit and miss. Also the buffet restaurant closed between 11am and noon. Not good for the late sleepers. Formal dining room: We were allocated a rather late 8:45pm dining time (the second sitting). We probably could have switched to the earlier sitting if we'd asked, or we could have paid extra for any time dining but 8:45 worked out perfectly. We were on a table with two American couples and it was great to meet up with them to swap stories and to have a laugh about the day's events. The menu was excellent every night- always a choice of about 8 starters, 5 or 6 mains and a few desserts. The rare steaks came rare, the fillets of fish came large. All dishes well seasoned and well presented. Our waiter Edvin was brilliant. He was happy to chat and he provided us with a number of little puzzles over the course of the voyage. He was good at his job too. Drink If you like wine with your dinner, a pre-cruise booked wine package is a must. Wine is very expensive on board RC ships (£25 and upwards). Choice is also an issue, the Argentinian Malbec ran out after the first 4 days, and when the waiter managed to track down suitable alternatives these inevitably ran out as well. This brings me on to the bars. There were 5 including the one in the casino. All alcohol was expensive, cocktails about £6 and pints of beer about £5.50. So if you consider yourself a moderate social drinker, (yes, your friends are heavy binge drinkers, but not you) then factor these prices in to your budget. If you are a heavy drinking compulsive gambler then you may as well put your budget calculations in the bin. Maybe you should wait until RC add Las Vegas to one of their itineraries, so you can really go for it (perhaps that's what they are dreaming of in that board room!...Las Vegas). Entertainment Excellent during the day, quizzes and dancing lessons were always popular. Evening shows probably worked out better for those on the first dinner sitting. For those on the second sitting some days the shows were before dinner (7:15) and other days after dinner (10:30), whichever way they did it, I always missed the start. The individual shows were of a high standard, but for me variety gave way to complete randomness. Elton John one night followed by a juggler the next! Entertainers are flown in for one night only, for a show that lasts an hour. I think the cruise director could improve things by interacting more with guests and by conducting a more coherent programme. The on board orchestra were excellent but I think I saw the singer/dancers once in thirteen days, so good ingredients, we just need a better recipe. Itinerary Copenhagen to Venice as you can guess is a transition cruise, the aim of course, to bring the ship in from the cold over winter. It makes for a fantastically relaxing holiday. Several days at sea, as well as the opportunity to explore a few well known destinations such as Amsterdam and Paris, together with lesser known places such as Cartagena and Split. We didn't go on any of the organised tours, simply because all of the places we wanted to visit were close to the ports. RC provide a lot of information on the ports and organised excursions via their explorations desk and their in house TV channel. They even had a dedicated port and shopping guide. But you should know that when the "expert" spends longer talking about where to buy Swiss watches than on the entire history of Paris, well you know he's about as much use as a (Swiss).... chocolate teapot. Unless of course you are one of that rare breed of people that finds the watch buying process so stressful that you need to build a holiday round it. The verdict RC offers a great product, but there were a few niggles along the way. Perhaps it's the commercial angle that you know RC are seeking to exploit from every available opportunity, perhaps it's the clipped impersonal language used by the cruise director and his staff, perhaps it was just the dining room staff dancing to the Royal Caribbean corporate song. I don't know. Rather than moan, which I would never do, maybe we should see it from their side. I mean how would you handle these actual customer queries? 1. How small does my face have to be for the mini facial? 2. Does this elevator go to the front of the ship? 3. The microwave in my room doesn't work? (It was the room safe!) 4. Does the crew sleep onboard? OK I take it all back. We were very well looked after throughout. Anyway all that a side, I have worked out the difference between what makes a very good cruise and what makes a great cruise. It's not the boat, it's not the itinerary and it's not the food. It's the people you meet, the people you have dinner with every night. We had a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Overall, we were very satisfied with the cruise. The itinerary was wonderful with great places to see. The staff on the Vision were terrific, food was great, and many activities were available. The ship is older and so the cabins (even ... Read More
Overall, we were very satisfied with the cruise. The itinerary was wonderful with great places to see. The staff on the Vision were terrific, food was great, and many activities were available. The ship is older and so the cabins (even though very well maintained by the staff) had old TV's, limited stations, and few amenities (e.g., no refrigerator). We had an oceanview with a full picture window. Some of the oceanviews come with a porthole or split window. We were traveling with another couple on this cruise and we divided the port research and plans between us. We embarked (9/11) from Copenhagen. Make sure you know which pier you are leaving from. We were at Frihavnen (Freeport). If you don't have too many bags, it is relatively easy to get to by train. Get your ticket (35 DKK per person - around $7) at the airport to the Nordhavn station (you will take the train from the airport to Oosterport station and change there for the train to Nordhavn - one stop past Oosterport). It is a walk of about 300 yards from the train station to the pier. Many people were doing this including the people disembarking in Copenhagen from the previous cruise. The other option is a cab if you can split the cost - around 400DKK - $80 depending on traffic or use RCCL shuttle (I believe it was about $36 per person). Embarkation was well run by RCCL, even though we arrived early (9:30 AM). We did get on board at 11 AM and our room was ready by 1 PM. Our early dinner seating (6 PM) was supposed to have linked our bookings so we would have dinner together. That didn't happen and the dining room management was unable/unwilling to move us so we could be together unless we wanted the late seating. The other choice was My Time Dining which we chose (you must prepay your gratuities with this choice), and which worked out wonderfully. We were able to have a 6 PM table for 4 by a window every night with the same staff who couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. The food was excellent, however, we were disappointed that this ship no longer serves Lobster. They have replaced that with extra-large prawns which we felt were subpar. The shows on the ship varied in quality. The RCCL dancer/ Broadway shows were average. The special entertainers (comedians, magicians, and a Beatles Impersonation group) were terrific. Excursions - For most ports, we did our own planning and arranged for our own excursions. The ship and crew (including the cruise director) had never been to Cartagena, Spain, and offered "that we would all learn about the port together". We also found it difficult getting information on doing things on your own for Split, Croatia. Disembarkation Day - Venice 9/24 - The disembarkation process went well as long as you followed the instructions. When you received your luggage tags the night before leaving, RCCL was very good about letting you change your colored tag for another so you could leave when you wanted. As they warned, luggage would only be available based on the time associated with your tag. The ship docked at 6 AM as scheduled. We left the ship around 8:15 AM, our luggage was found quickly, and we headed to the airport. A short walk from the cruise terminal, is the Venice People Mover. It costs 1 euro (there is a ticket machine that takes bills and gives change) and runs like a small monorail. You take this to Piazzale Roma. When exiting, you will see a central area with many buses. Make a left at the corner and you will see the ATVO ticket store where you purchase the ticket (3 euro pp) for the airport. We were going to Marco Polo airport which is the most popular. They also sell tickets to Treviso Airport, but only a few small airlines are there. When leaving the ticket store, go straight and to the right side of Piazzale Roma looking for stop D2. When the bus arrives (make sure it says Marco Polo), load your bags underneath and upon entering, validate your ticket at the machine by the driver. The bus ride to the airport took about 25 minutes and we arrived around 9:15 AM. Unfortunately, the Venice airport was a disaster. The escalator to Departures and Ticketing wasn't working and there are only a couple of elevators available. Eventually, the escalator started running again. When reaching the Departures and Ticketing area, it was a total zoo. Five cruise ships had disembarked that morning and the airport, security, and airline personnel were totally overwhelmed and unprepared. It was chaos! Crowds were everywhere, with no room to walk. Our airline (Lufthansa) would not allow us to check-in, until their earlier flight had departed. So they had everyone standing around, making things even more crowded and chaotic. If passengers had been able to check their bags and go through security, things would have been much better since the gate areas had plenty of open space and shops to keep everyone happy. The airline agents were rude, had little information, and showed no customer skills whatsoever. We were finally checked in and through security at Noon - our flight was 12:55 PM, but was delayed until 2 PM. We almost missed our connecting flight in Munich to the US. It was scheduled to leave at 3:20 PM, we boarded it at 3:05 PM and it left at 3:30 PM. I will say that both flights and plane personnel were excellent, just the staff and airport in Venice that were horrible. People we spoke to that day said they had never seen Venice airport like this. It is usually well run, but not on this day! Next time I will see how many ships are in port, and decide if its worth staying an extra day. The ship is going into drydock at the end of November for a 10 day overhaul. It sounds like many of the open areas will be refurbished - not sure about the cabins. Improvements that I would like to see are: additional or upgraded TV stations. Those provided on the ship have limited American news or sports information. Additionally, the ship does not provide the daily newspaper shorts that other ships have to keep us informed of world activities. Even though we never used it, after 9 PM, the only food available is in the Spa lounge and consists of pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs. I would suggest they also add a small snack like cookies, to be included in the offering. Also would like the return of the nighttime chocolates that we received on our pillows on other ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We decided to join Azamara Journey 2 days before departure from Copenhagen august 31, 2009. The only cabin not sold was an inside cabin - which we took. The cruise took us from Copenhagen to Barcelona and lasted 14 days. The boarding ... Read More
We decided to join Azamara Journey 2 days before departure from Copenhagen august 31, 2009. The only cabin not sold was an inside cabin - which we took. The cruise took us from Copenhagen to Barcelona and lasted 14 days. The boarding was the fastest we ever experienced, 5 minutes only. This was due to the fact that we printed our boarding pass online. Our cabin was as expected on the 8th floor. It was adequate for sleeping and shower, the only outside view you got was on channel 14 on the flat-screen TV showing the front of AZAMARA. The cabin service was just fantastic 2 guys took very good care of us during the whole cruise, our smallest request was fulfilled at once ( maybe it helped a lot - that I paid them 20 dlrs each within the first minute). I am a computer freak, the Internet on board are the fastest I ever experienced on any cruise. I could sit with my laptop all over the ship and use Skype with an amazing quality. The hotel-director Heike Cramer is a real champion. She is responsible for all the staff on board. Under her supervision and training they all act as "mini-Heike`s". The staff has been told that they are the face of AZAMARA, they all understood this. Always a big smile from everyone - trying all the can to please you in every aspect. If I had a cruise line, I would absolutely buy Heike to lead the staff - even at a costly price. The food on board was more than great, Azamara has two speciality restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C. No surcharge is paid to dine there, except 5 dlrs extra gratuity per person. The menu is out of this world, lobster, sea-bass etc etc. We dined in those restaurants 9 times out of 14 days. If this was in Copenhagen each dinner would have set us back 300 dlrs a head for sure. Being Danes we love real good coffee (not decaf), on 5th floor AZAMARA got the Cova Cafe. You got excellent service from 2 smiling girls. I am astonished to read in a review that a guy complained over paying 3 dlrs for the great coffee there, this guy should have stayed home. You get nice snacks with the coffee (free of charge of course). The passengers came mostly from USA, UK and Australia. I will guess that 80 percent was American - this made conversation very easy. I am a smoker, on AZAMARA you can smoke in the corner on Deck 9 - the pool deck and at deck 10 the Looking glass bar. We will for sure be back many times on AZAMARA Journey Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Azamara Journey Copenhagen to Barcelona September 2009 The ship The ship is a small R class ship carrying about 650 passengers, the majority of cabins have balconies, and there are some larger suites on deck 8. There are 6 ... Read More
Azamara Journey Copenhagen to Barcelona September 2009 The ship The ship is a small R class ship carrying about 650 passengers, the majority of cabins have balconies, and there are some larger suites on deck 8. There are 6 bars/lounges and one main dining room and 2 alternative restaurants. The very large library is a lovely room with fireplace (non functioning!) and a grand piano. There is one pool with no magradome cover, a gym and spa and a small internet room. There is WiFi coverage throughout the ship including in the cabins. Reception, tours and future cruise desks are all on deck 4 around the atrium, most other public rooms are on deck 5 including the two small shops, the casino and the show lounge. On deck 10 forward is the Looking Glass Bar a crow's nest bar with great views. The self service Windows Cafe is on deck 9 We were welcomed on board with a complimentary glass of champagne which was the first of many small touches like iced water every day in the cabin; coffee tea and juices available all day. The only negative from our viewpoint was the shuttle charge around $20 pp in two of the ports we visited. Cabin 6076 Butler Kusairi and his assistant Ryan. Cabin 6076 is a roomy balcony cabin, there are 2 full length wardrobes and 1 half length with 4 small drawers, a dressing table with 4 drawers and 2 shelves and bedside cupboards with 2 shelves. There is a small 2 seat settee and a coffee table. The shower room is small but adequate, one cabinet and 3 open shelves. Elemis soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided as are 2 Frette bathrobes and complimentary slippers. With our grade of balcony cabin we also got afternoon tea and canapEs if desired, a fruit basket topped up every day and breakfast service in cabin. There is no charge for room service. Electrical sockets 2 European 22o volt & 2 American 110 volt sockets available, high enough to get adaptors in without a trailing adaptor. Dining There is one main dining room with free seating and 2 alternative restaurants with a $5 pp recommended tip. Prime C is a steak House and Aqualina a mainly fish based menu. Everyone can book 2 visits to each alternative venue and members of the Celebrity Captain's Club can book once before the cruise. If there are tables available you can actually go more often. We visited both alternatives and had excellent meals and first class service. However the main dining room food was better than we have encountered to date on cruise ships so we were not tempted to book more than our entitlement. We never found a problem getting a table in the main dining room and after our first night the waiters suggested we ask for one in their area again which we did and this made life easier for them and us as they got to know our likes and dislikes. Mohammed and Anton were very attentive as was the female sommelier (Magdalena?) Breakfasts we had in both the self service Windows cafe and the Cova cafe in the atrium area where they had paid-for coffees and a great range of pastries and sandwiches later in the day. Entertainment We are not show goers so we did not visit the theatre at all. Diane Cousins, a Welsh singer/comedienne was one act we had seen previously, there were a couple of musicians as well as the ship's own theatre group. The other activities were some lectures relating to the itinerary; craft, language, computer and sport classes as well as sports tournaments. What suited us were the number and quality of various quizzes. The Activities director Kelsey and her team were all bright and intelligent and as a result the quiz questions and variety were extremely well done. Most were team events and we got to know a lot of people! For each event you got a stamp for turning up and extra stamps for winning, and at the end of the cruise your cards were redeemed against prizes dependant on the number of stamps collected. The evening trivia quiz was attracting about 100 people on our small ship. The itinerary did lend itself to this as there were sea days almost every other day. Staff The staff were, without exception, pleasant and attentive and seemed to be more plentiful per head of passenger than on our other cruises to date. As an example our first evening aboard we dined at the Prime C with friends who had arrived that day. The waiters, Frederick and Michael, saw a birthday card and gift and when the time came to order sweets they arrived with a birthday cake! This was indicative of the "extra mile " attitude onboard. Azamara arrange a cocktail party with drinks and canapEs for the Cruise Critic forum members (as long as there are more than 25) and some of the officers attended including the cruise director Tony. We also were invited to visit, with about 18 others in our group, the bridge, galley and engine control room. We were asked to keep this quiet as not everyone had been invited. We don't know what criteria were used but they were all enjoyable and we did notice at least one other group doing similar tours. Later in the cruise there was a coffee morning for the CC group attended by Heike the Hotel Manager, Scott the F&B manager, Liesl the Captain's Club Manager and Tony the cruise Director. The purpose was to receive direct feedback about our experiences; all of which were listened to with interest and we certainly got the feeling that the Azamara crew were really anxious to please. Staff we came into contact with regularly all made an effort to greet you by name and took time to talk to you for a minute or two. It seems like a very happy ship to work on. Ports Copenhagen We arrived for a pre cruise stop at the Marriott Copenhagen on the 27th August. We flew out with SAS the flight was fine, everything was on time we landed at 1.05pm and were in the hotel at 1.35pm so no complaints there! The room is fine: super king bed shower and bath, lots of space. After unpacking the few things we need for our stop we went out for a walk round in the sunshine. We are only about 5 minutes walk from Tivoli so we start there and then headed off into town. There is an International Food Market in Nytorv square including some British stalls, everyone seems to be doing good business. We have a nice Italian meal in the square behind the Cathedral and head back for an early night. Friday we head off for the station about 5 minutes walk from the hotel and buy the 24hr 120Kr transport ticket and get the train to Helsingore which takes about 45 minutes along the coast. Turning left out of the station we follow the pedestrian arrows for the 20 minute walk to Kronborg Castle. The castle is quite small and I am sure Hamlet wasn't ever really there, but it is interesting and there is a good view across a very narrow strip of water to Sweden. Helsingore itself has a nice old town centre and we have a wander round and go inside a couple of nicely restored churches then get another train to Hillerod where we get the 701 bus outside the station to Frederiksborg Castle. The castle is in a beautiful setting on a lake and has lovely formal Italianate gardens. It houses a museum about Danish history but we opt to just walk around the grounds. We then walk back to the station and get the train back to Copenhagen. That evening we meet up with old pals from P&O cruising and have a lovely natter and bite to eat in the hotel. Next morning we get the only taxi driver in Copenhagen who didn't know where Rosenborg Castle wss, so we showed him the map of the city centre to refresh his memory and get there in about 10 minutes! It has lovely baroque interiors and is home to the Danish Crown jewels which are very nicely presented. We then walk to Amalienborg Castle, look round the marble church and wait for the Royal Guard who have marched after us from the barracks at Rosenborg to change the guard at noon. We had a coffee in a lovely restaurant called Zeleste just off Nyhavn and then walked down Stroget to the Royal Copenhagen shop whose cafe was recommended for "Smushi" which are small smorgasbord open sandwiches, a very trendy place and hugely expensive, cost us £30 for 4 small sandwiches and 2 soft drinks! We carried on down Stroget and hid from a very brief thunderstorm in Il Condotori del Glace another Copenhagen institution where we were charged £20 for 2 coffees a cake and an ice cream! This is a very expensive city. That night we went to KrebseGaarden restaurant for Albert's birthday meal, this was a superb experience. Only 3 choices of starter, main and dessert, but beautiful cooking very fresh ingredients and excellent staff. We got a glass of Cava on the house to celebrate his birthday and had a super evening. Kiel Canal We started our transit of the canal about 7am so by the time we woke at 7.30am we were already well underway. The canal is surprisingly small and "domestic", it had the feel of a larger version of canals back home that narrow boats travel on. There were mainly fields alongside, although we did pass through some small towns and lots of people stopped to wave as we passed through, as not too many cruise ships go along the canal. We reached the final locks about 4pm and headed off towards Amsterdam. Amsterdam As Azamara is a small ship we berthed at the Passenger Terminal just 5 minutes walk from the Central Station, so we walked ashore and stopped for a coffee on our way to the Anne Frankhuis. We had pre booked tickets for the Anne Frank house online, which were for a one hour time slot and let us avoid the long queue waiting for tickets. The museum was well laid out and very moving. People seemed genuinely touched by what they were seeing. After this we found an Indonesian restaurant for a typical Dutch Rijsafel which is a little like an Asian tapas, small amounts of different dishes with a bowl of rice. We then walked around Amsterdam for about 3 hours before making our way to Pier 10 on the harbourside behind Central Station where we met up with our friends for a pleasant meal. Azamara was in port until midnight, but we slept through all our leave taking! Rouen In Rouen we had booked the ship's tour to Paris on your own. The coach did not leave until 9.30am so it was nearly 11.30 when we were dropped at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. We headed off to the first patisserie we could find (yellow awnings on Avenue de la Bourdonnais) which by luck was excellent, first class coffee and croissants and a sparkling clean toilet! We then walked back and took photos around the Tower and got on the hop on hop off Car Rouge bus tour (24€ pp) which gave a very good overview of the city. After a brief dash downstairs to avoid heavy rain we got off to explore inside Notre Dame. The church seemed to have been recently cleaned and restored on the outside and was a very busy area. We had lunch nearby which was OK but not brilliant and then walked to Sainte Chappelle but there was a long queue to get in so we got back on the bus to complete the tour as time was short. We headed back and got ff at the Trocadero behind the Eiffel Tower with some super views across Paris. The tour bus back set off at 4.30pm so not very long to see the sights but a good taster. La Rochelle There was a $15 dollar shuttle into town, but this seemed to have been organized by the port and they only sent 3 buses so there was quite a long wait for some people to get into town which was a 30 minute drive away. Then one bus broke down in the afternoon, so when we got back to the ship we were pleasantly surprised to have a letter advising that we had a full refund. The tourist information people provided a map and suggested walking tour of the historic town. La Rochelle itself is a beautifully maintained old town, with 4 towers guarding its ports one of which is now a very picturesque yachting marina. There are some excellent seafood restaurants around the old harbour where we had a lunch of fresh mussels and sardines before continuing our walking tour of the town. There were some lovely small shops in the galleried streets so a very pleasant place to while away a day. Bordeaux We were met at the port gate by Marjorie from the Bordeaux Taxi Assoc (contact@bordeaux-excursions.com ) whose services we had booked ahead of time via the Bordeaux Tourist Office. (Tour from 10am to 3.30pm for 4 people €280) She took us along the promenade and out to the St Emilion area, first stopping at the Petrus vineyard to see their grapes, unfortunately only professionals are invited to tastings there! We were booked onto a tour at the Franck Mayne winery, which is a beautifully restored chateau with about 45 hectares of land. Marjorie had told us a lot about the wine making process and this made it a lot easier to follow the tour. We went into the pressing area and into the old caves under the limestone plateau. This was followed by a tasting of two of the chateau's wines. Next we went to St Emilion for an excellent lunch at Chai Pascal where we had meats, pates, salmon and cheeses plus a bottle of excellent wine and 5 coffees for €64! Lunch was followed by a walking tour round the pretty town of St Emilion where we were lucky enough to see a very rare ceremony in the local church inducting two wine Chancelleurs who act as ambassadors for the area's wine growers. The town was very busy when we returned to the ship as it was Sunday and there were a lot of groups and families walking along the river or picnicking on the grass. Bordeaux itself will have to wait for a future visit to be explored. Vigo As we have visited Vigo previously on a number of occasions we merely had a walk around town and along the sea front in the sunshine, sat over a cup of coffee and went back on board for an idle day. Gibraltar Again we had visited many times before so intended only to stretch our legs, however it was Gibraltar's National Day, almost everything was closed and Casemates Square was packed with what seemed like the whole population bedecked in red and white and already very cheerful at mid morning, so we got a taxi straight back to the ship for yet another sea day! Palma We took a ship's tour to Valdemossa to visit the convent where Chopin and George Sands stayed. It was an early start and we reached the town in about 30 minutes so had a walking tour before the Convent opened at 9.30am, Then we had a tour round the cells that had been occupied by Chopin and a set of cells occupied previously by Carthusian monks. Our guide Julia was a very direct lady and was at pains to point out that Chopin had only been there for 55 days and that very little of what was displayed was his but it was an interesting experience and Valdemossa is a lovely village. We had a short time to wander round then we got off in Palma town and walked round there for a while, it was very busy being Saturday and the National Day of Mallorca! We took a taxi back to the ship as the shuttle cost $10 pp one way and the taxi was only €8. Barcelona Only too soon and time to to go home. We had opted for a direct flight at 8pm rather than going via Heathrow so we got to the airport at 8.30am collected our bags and took them to the left luggage area and got the bus back to Barcelona where we had an enjoyable lunch at Los Caracoles, a real rabbit warren of rooms that has been a restaurant since 1835 and you go through the kitchen to reach the dining area! A good recommendation from our fishmonger! Photos of the ship http://www.flickr.com/photos/jobloor/sets/72157622251229051/ Photos of the cruise http://www.flickr.com/photos/jobloor/sets/72157622250194275/ Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I consider myself an experienced cruiser, at the age of 44. This may have been my 12'th cruise or so (it becomes hard to keep count). It was my third cruise of 2009 and my first with Azamara. I have sailed with Celebrity many times ... Read More
I consider myself an experienced cruiser, at the age of 44. This may have been my 12'th cruise or so (it becomes hard to keep count). It was my third cruise of 2009 and my first with Azamara. I have sailed with Celebrity many times including my first two of 2009 on the Infinity and the Solstice, so I knew what the minimum standard would be when I booked with Azamara. I was not disappointed. This was my first cruise on a smaller ship. I'm more used to the flashy behemoths like the Solstice where walking from one end of the ship to the other is like a shore excursion in itself. I wondered, would I be happy on a smaller boat. Would I be happy on what I consider an older refurb? Would there be enough to do? Would there be enough to eat? The answer is yes. My scale confirms that. In a nutshell, the staff really were excellent all around. They do go out of their way for you. Executive chef Lisa...what a dedicated genius. She is clearly an inspiration to her staff and it is reflected in the quality of the cuisine all around the ship....in the main dining room, in the buffet and at Aqualina and Prime C specialty restaurants. Her multiple cooking demonstrations involving her staff who are usually behind the scenes is commendable. I love fine cuisine, and quite frankly I usually lower my expectations on a cruise ship compared to my at home dining experiences. However the food exceeded my expectations. Even the afternoon tasty savories delivered to your stateroom are miles ahead of the non-descript canapes that Celebrity serves to Concierge class and above guests. For 13 out of 14 nights, we had breakfast room service usually on the balcony. Always delivered when requested. My only complaint on food and beverage: as expected, the standard coffee throughout the ship is DREADFUL. It essentially forces you to stop by Cova Cafe to pay for your. Personally as a deluxe cruise company, they really should provide better standard coffee. Our stateroom service was excellent. Never in the way. Always impeccably cleaned. The rooms are well appointed. The beds are comfortable. Showers small and water pressure could be a little better. Fluffy big towels and Frette bathrobes. Good interactive (but small) flat screen TV, with minimal loss of satellite signal on this sailing. The gym had everything I needed (except liposuction treatments). The Azamara crowd tends to be older than us on average so don't expect the youthful craziness of a Carnival cruise. It seems most Azamara guests are frequent cruisers. If you live in North America, I recommend purchasing an Azamara or Celebrity Passages $100 deposit for an unspecified future cruise if you like the brand, while on board. You will get $300 on board credit on a 14 day cruise (less for shorter). Unfortunately previously the deposit was applicable for both Azamara and Celebrity. Now your purchase has to be for Celebrity OR Azamara (or as I did, one for both). In short, it was a terrific cruise vacation and was a great way to spend two weeks in Europe. Other ports of call: Rouen: city itself is rather boring. I did not go to Paris as the drive is not worth it for the few hours there. La Rochelle: Lovely little city but terrible port far from the city. Shuttle service was a disaster getting to town so Azamara politely waived the $15 shuttle fee. Bordeaux: Totally awesome with the ship docking literally on the downtown waterfront. No terminal building. Beautiful city to visit and a drive to St. Emilion must be done. Car rentals are at the train station which is about a half hour walk or a tram ride. They have a beautiful modern tram system there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Our wonderful cruise began with a short flight from Heathrow to Copenhagen, followed by a very easy and inexpensive 12 minute train journey to Copenhagen Central Station then an expensive taxi ride to Frihaven where the Journey was ... Read More
Our wonderful cruise began with a short flight from Heathrow to Copenhagen, followed by a very easy and inexpensive 12 minute train journey to Copenhagen Central Station then an expensive taxi ride to Frihaven where the Journey was berthed. We arrived around 12noon and although the seemingly local staff were well intentioned, they didn't seem to know what they were doing. They got us to fill in forms about whether we had recently been ill or not and then asked us to sit in groups for a while. Eventually they called us to join a long queue to check in, even though we are Elite CC members and there was a separate check-in, they still directed us to the long queue! Anyway, it still only took about 20 minutes in total and we were soon welcomed on board with a glass of pink fizz. Once on board, we were invited to leave our carry-ons for transporting to our room, before going up to the Windows Cafe for a delicious lunch. Our room was ready at 1.30pm and it was perfect. We had a 2A balcony cabin (room 6017). It was a good size, lots of storage space, a fridge that was actually cold, binoculars and umbrella to use, slippers and tote bag to keep. Everything was good quality - lovely thick bathrobes, constantly changed luxurious towels, great bed linen, comfortable bed. The bathroom is small, but functional, with constant hot water at all times. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap are all Elemis products. No shower gel is provided. The interactive tv worked very well and it was good to be able to see and check our on-board account growing rapidly day by day! We met our butler, Croox, who was really helpful, and immediately brought me a thin pillow, 40 extra coathangers and two wine glasses. You are permitted to bring on 2 bottles of wine at the beginning of the cruise but no more during it, unless you are happy for it to be confiscated until your departure. This seems a bit unfair as the cruise called at Bordeaux and offered excursions to various vineyards. I know this is a topic that has often been discussed on the boards, and I really think that they should allow one bottle of wine to be brought on board at each port of call. Okay, if you take it to the dining room, you can still pay the 25$ corkage fee. I don't think it would detract from bar sales on board either. We brought on our two bottles on arrival and we would have a glass with our evening canapEs on the balcony, but we still had cocktails before dinner, wine every night with dinner, and drinks in the bars following that. As 6017 is above the Cabaret lounge, we did experience some bass sounds from musicians practicing during the first afternoon on board. We thought we would have to ask to be moved but, fortunately, never experienced any problems after that. During performances we were always at dinner during the early evening show, around 8.15pm, and either enjoying the 10.15pm performance in the Cabaret lounge or would be doing something elsewhere on board. Everything was quiet by 11pm, so we never had to move. The ship is immaculately maintained, the food in all the restaurants is exquisite and the staff is Azamara's biggest asset. Their sole purpose in life on board seems to be to ensure that everything is as perfect as it can be for the guests. Nothing is too much trouble. We sailed on Journey 10 months ago and felt that it was the happiest ship we had ever sailed on and we would still say the same now. It was good to catch staff off-guard, chatting and joking with each other, so I really don't think the good humour was staged for the guests. We were staggered that some members of staff recognized us and even remembered our names from 10 months previously. How on earth do they do that? I'm sure we weren't that memorable, or troublesome! Entertainment and activities on board were very good. The guest artists were excellent, but the resident singers seemed to be somewhat immature, although most of them had fine voices. I understand this particular group was about to leave the ship. The Cruise Director, Tony Markey and Kelsey, the Activities Officer, did a brilliant job. There's plenty going on - something for everyone. No-one cajoles you to join in and there are no embarrassing, cringe-worthy games, but some excellent quizzes, cookery demonstrations, wine tastings and mixology sessions were held. We had a sea day between every port day during our 14 day cruise, and it was often difficult trying to fit in everything that we wanted to do and would often find we had missed something. The library on board is one of the best I've ever seen at sea and a beautiful place to chill. The enrichment lectures were really good. Most were loosely based on the ports of call but focused on history, wine, music, the arts etc and for once, not on shopping! In fact, there is no hard sell on anything on the Journey, which is an absolute plus for me. You really are treated as a guest not a cash cow. The ship was just about full and on some days there was a little difficulty in finding a sun bed around the pool /whirlpools but there is always the upper deck, 10. Pool service was good, with the staff constantly removing towels from the beds. Each afternoon they would come round with some little delicacy - sherbet and nuts or fruits, for example. There is no pressure to buy drinks and the pool staff will just as happily bring you a free coffee or juice as they will bring you a beer. Talking about coffee - there are some great self service coffee machines that grind the beans as you wait but others where it is obviously instant stuff - get to know which ones are which and you won't be one of those who complains about the coffee! Room service coffee is just the same - sometimes it was obviously freshly ground and other times instant. Food on board is delectable. Room service food always arrived on time and hot, with a phone call to let you know it was on its way. Discoveries, the main dining room is open for breakfast, lunch on some days, and dinner. We always ate around 8.30pm or later and never waited more than 3-4 minutes for a table, either for two or to share with others, if we chose. The food in Aqualina, one of the two speciality restaurants, is exquisite. The seafood platter is outstanding. It is served on a bed of crushed ice and contained half a lobster, green lipped mussels, snow crab, langoustines, clams etc. There is an excellent wine list too - different lists in different restaurants. You can always choose to have dinner in Breezas, which during the daytime is the Windows cafe. The quality of food is still excellent but the room could be made to look a little more inviting in the evening, perhaps by putting on tablecloths. The only noticeable change was a tea light on the table. One morning we were too late for the whole range of breakfast fare (it being past 10am) and my husband just commented to one of the waiters that we had missed it, but we would be happy with a late continental breakfast (available until 11am). "No problem, what would you like?" he was asked. His cooked breakfast was then promptly delivered to him. Just one example of the brilliant service on board. The afternoon canapEs, delivered to your stateroom, are also on a par - delicious little morsels. Those from our CC Roll Call met after muster drill on the first afternoon and quickly formed friendships. It was a great idea of Gary's to ask us to introduce ourselves and there was some hilarity when we had to give out the stupid names by which we are known on CC! On this 14 day repositioning cruise we sailed from the Baltic, across the North Sea, into the English Channel, out into the Bay of Biscay, around the Atlantic coast, before sailing into the Med. Each port day was followed by a sea day which provided a good opportunity to relax between exploring each new port of call. Our journey on 30 August began in Copenhagen, which was cooler than London but there was no need for anything more than a lightweight jacket. We left Copenhagen and sailed through the Kiel Canal, with people waving all the way. The Captain has one of those huge wavy hands that he responded with. He tooted the ship's hooter as people lining the canal called a welcome over their tannoys. It was great fun. In Amsterdam, the ship berths very close to the town centre and so it is an easy walk into town. We visited Anne Frank's house and had a canal ride, walking for around 5 hours before returning to the ship. We have visited Amsterdam a number of times and can recommend the Botanical Gardens. We have been wanting to visit the Maritime Museum for the past two or three years but restoration is taking much longer than expected. The next stop was in Rouen. It is a very interesting place and, of course, there is much to see in relation to Joan of Arc. As we had previously visited Rouen, this time we went to the Musee de Beaux Arts and Flaubert's House/the Musee de Medicine which also has a lovely physic garden. All my adult life I had wanted to visit La Rochelle and loved this beautiful little port with its ancient towers guarding the harbour. The harbour front was packed with fish restaurants and there was a complete street full of wonderful ice-cream shops. We spent an enjoyable hour or so visiting the Museum of Protestantism. The local brass band was on the harbour side when we arrived, they stayed there singing and playing all day long and only left when the ship did. I think we all knew their songs by the time we left, but it was so lovely and as we pulled away there were many towels, napkins etc to be seen waving to them from those on board. In Bordeaux the ship pulled right up to the quayside in the centre of town. What a beautiful city it is and I see that next year the ship stays in Bordeaux overnight. We went to the Zoo and just walked around, enjoying the parks, waterfalls, chocolatiers etc. The weather was lovely and warm and the sun was shining at last. In Vigo we took a ship's excursion to Santiago de Compostela. This was a great day out visiting the place where the relics of St James and his two disciples are contained. We saw pilgrims walking towards this ancient town and the cathedral was packed solid for the 12 o'clock mass. I think we were slightly shortchanged as our guide kept hurrying us on and telling us that time was short when, in fact, we were back on board an hour before we should have been. Next was Gibraltar. As it was their national day, the whole place was packed solid with tiny tots to great grandparents decked out in red and white. We enjoyed being a part of it all, though some of the young people did begin to look slightly worse for wear by mid afternoon. Our last port of call was Palma, Majorca. It was so hot walking along the waterfront but then we spotted a hop-on-hop-off bus and enjoyed a two hour tour of the city, all around the cathedral, shops, up to the old village, the castle etc, before heading back to the ship for a dip in the pool. Disembarking in Barcelona was so easy. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and waited for our 'colour' to be called and we boarded a coach for a tour of the city before being deposited at the airport for our short flight back to the UK. This was our second cruise on Azamara Journey and it was just as great as our first. If you are looking for a wonderful quality cruise where interesting itineraries, fantastic food, great lectures and a guest orientated staff are high priorities, I recommend Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We have cruised with Celebrity and Azamara before. This was our second cruise vacation on the Journey. We recommended the cruise to six friends and we managed to convince them to join us on this 14 day western Med. cruise from Copenhagen ... Read More
We have cruised with Celebrity and Azamara before. This was our second cruise vacation on the Journey. We recommended the cruise to six friends and we managed to convince them to join us on this 14 day western Med. cruise from Copenhagen to Barcelona. They all had a wonderful time (two of them are very experienced cruises, and the other four are "green-beans" to cruising. The Journey really stands out in its Food and Beverages department. Scott and Lisa "Brownie" and their teams are doing an excellent job in delivering an miraculous food experience. The staff on the Journey do not seem to know the word "no". They will always try to accommodate requests, even rather unreasonable ones. We requested Beef Wellington one night, and Lisa prepared it very well, we later on became known as the "Wellingtons". We had Escargot and roasted foie gras about 5 nights... No problems... We cannot compare the standard of the F&B department to what we experienced in May. This is perhaps slight worrying, as Azamara may be struggling with delivering consistency over time. we enjoyed all ports. La Rochelle was a rather interesting port as we were unable to leave the port on your own. This issue was swiftly resolved by the Hotel Manager offering one of the tour operators to take us in their car. There were some challenges with the pay-for shuttle bus service into town, but I understand that no guests were charged for this service in the end as it did not meet Azamara standards. A very professional way to win customer goodwill. The Journey is a perfect size ship. It never feels crowded and most facilities wee never over-used (including the gym). I only wish that they had a fresh-water pool on-board. Entertainment was a little weak for our age group, however, Philippe (the DJ) is excellent, and the bands are good. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was a repositioning cruise from the summer northern routes to the fall Mediterranean routes. There were four of us on this cruise (2 cabins), we are all Canadians in our mid to late thirties and have all cruised before. This was ... Read More
This was a repositioning cruise from the summer northern routes to the fall Mediterranean routes. There were four of us on this cruise (2 cabins), we are all Canadians in our mid to late thirties and have all cruised before. This was our second cruise on the Mediterranea having cruised on it in 2006 in the Eastern Mediterranean. You should also know that we are pretty laid back and not particularly demanding. We purchased the X1 drink package before the trip and it was great. We really got good value for money with it. Every night we had two bottles of wine, beer, soda and bottled water with dinner. Some people have complained about slow service with the X1 package but we had excellent service. Well worth the money! We do not usually attend the formal shows on the cruises so this review will not cover that aspect of the cruise. Also before this trip we had never taken a ship organized shore excursion, we like to explore the ports on our own. We finally did take one in Lisbon, more on that later. We flew into Copenhagen two days before embarkation. Copenhagen is a nice city but very expensive. $11 for a glass of beer is a bit steep in my opinion. It is a very pleasant city for walking around. I highly recommend the Carlsberg Brewery tour for any beer lovers. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around noon and were on board within a half hour. It was the fastest boarding I have ever experienced. They told us our rooms would be available at 1:30 pm but were ready when we boarded, our luggage arrived not too long after. All in all the embarkation was awesome. Food: I have read a lot of complaints about the food on board Costa but I just don't get it. The food on board was really good. We ate in the dinning room each night (early sitting) and found the food to be of excellent quality and taste. We did not like every dish served but when trying new things you should expect this. We ate at the buffet for a few breakfast and lunches. The food was good, not spectacular but decent. We had room service one afternoon, the menu is quite limited but the Caesar salad was awesome. Bars: We would get drinks from the Bars on Deck 2 and 3 at the back of the ship. The service there was always good. We did find that the drink specials were not always great. Laundry: We all used the Laundry service at some point. It was reasonably priced and the clothes were cleaned over night and back in the room the next afternoon. The Ship: The ship itself was immaculate. I think the layout of the ship is great, it never really seemed crowded, lots of space everywhere. It was a little smoky in some of the lounges, but you could easily find non-smoky ones. The Room: I was in room 5289 at the back of the ship. It was a balcony room. I loved this room, it was quiet and clean. The steward was excellent. First day was at sea, we just ate and relaxed. We borrowed a game from the library and had a few drinks while playing, a nice relaxing day. Bring your own dice if you want to play a game that needs it, all the games in the library are missing their dice! Dover: The first port of call was Dover, England. We went to the Dover Castle and took the tour of the World War II tunnels. It was an excellent tour, highly recommended! After that we just explored the town and were back on board with a few hours to spare before sailing. Le Havre: The second stop was Le Havre, France. If you are awake we coming into port it is quite something to see how close you get to other ships when docking. We rented a car (right at the port) and drove to the D-Day beaches. First stop was The Juno Beach Center, a small but very good museum about the Canadians at D-Day, I wish we had more time but we had a lot on the agenda for that day. Second stop was Omaha Beach, the US Memorial there is quite moving, we climbed down the hill to the beach, it was amazing to imagine what the soldiers went through. After that we had a nice lunch in a near by beach town and then back to the ship. Next day was at sea, again nice and relaxing. Vigo: At Vigo, Spain we took the train to Santiago de Compestella, the burial place of St. James. It was a lot of travel to spend 10 minutes in the church where he is buried. I don't think it was worth the effort, having to do it again I would rather have just explored Vigo. Lisbon: Lisbon was fantastic! We took our first ship organized shore excursion; it was a jeep tour of Lisbon and the surrounding area. It cost $60 Euro and was worth every penny. The excursion was well organized in getting off the ship and took only a few minutes. The jeep tour itself took us through Lisbon to the cliffs outside of the city and then into the hills (offroad) and finally to a nice little hill town. It was an excellent day. Cadiz: In Cadiz, Spain we decided not to go to Seville, it was a Sunday and we figured a lot of the town would be closed. We just walked around Cadiz and the headed back to the ship for a nice relaxing day. Malaga: We disembarked in Malaga, Spain. The cruise was continuing to Savonna, Italy but due to our travel plans we arranged to leave two days early. Disembarkation was a breeze, just walked of the ship with our luggage. Conclusion: I would highly recommend Costa to anyone, great food, service and interesting ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008

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