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837 Azamara Journey Cruise Reviews

Background: 3 61-67 year olds, well travelled plenty of cruises under our belts with RCL, Celebrity, Azamara (10 years ago) and Oceania. 2 carnivores and 1 vegetarian. Picked the cruise mainly for the ports of call and visiting ... Read More
Background: 3 61-67 year olds, well travelled plenty of cruises under our belts with RCL, Celebrity, Azamara (10 years ago) and Oceania. 2 carnivores and 1 vegetarian. Picked the cruise mainly for the ports of call and visiting Tasmania overnight. Booked flights on Singapore/Air New Zealand, good service, food a mix of good and bad, plenty of leg room. Stayed at the Quest Apartments, Queen Street, very good for getting to buses, walk to Quay, etc, good breakfast incl. Booked through Booking.com. This is a long review ut hope it helps others decide on who to cruise with. Embarkation/ship We were supposed to leave from Princess Quay but due to two larger ships being in port, had to go from temporary marquee on Captain Cook's: when we arrived the marquee was already nearly full and staff were trying to find chairs for people, no water stand was set up (they were doing that just as we were called through security). We checked through security after a 40 minute wait and then had to go directly to Cabaret lounge to register, have photo taken for ID, even though we had done this online, only took about 5 minutes. The table for booking speciality restaurants was nearby and there was also one in Windows Cafe. The person booing ours was very quiet and did not smile. On first appearance Journey looks good from the outside, well kept, inside she needs some TLC chairs in Living room are worn and sunbed covers are stained. Lots of rust on railings when you look from balcony and rest all around edge of balcony floor, the windows on patio doors were filthy! We have been on Azamara Quest and Oceania Regatta so know we enjoy the small ship experience. Made our way to Windows Cafe, one good thing Azamara do is take your hand luggage and store it and deliver it to cabin, saves having to drag it around the ship! First impression of food for me, a vegetarian was not good, yes they had some salad items but only had rice (clogged together and cold) and tasteless Dhal, plenty of choice for meat eaters. Nice ice-cream and various taste less pastries! Our cabin was ready at 1.45 and our bags were outside the door when we arrived. Mostly over 70+'s onboard a few under 50's ut not many. CABIN- Club Continent Suite deck 8- Bottle of bubbly waiting for us, 4 bottles of Spirit Skyy Vodka, Bacardi rum, Johnnie Walker Whiskey and Bombay S gin Ice bucket was full lots of glasses and fridge full of soda. Be careful, the red wine and other spirits in fridge are charged for! Very pleased with the size of room and bathroom. Did not like the deep 'kitchen' style pan drawers for clothes you have to pile everything up and they are floor level so makes it hard to get to things. They also look cheap! Nice touch with light in wardrobe when door opened. Plenty of hangers for 3 people, if you doubled up items hanging on one hanger. Bathroom was very nice, although on rough sea days you can hardly stand in bath, not safe. Toiletries average and not that nice. If you are tall i.e, more than 6ft you would not be able to stand up, so bear that in mind and choose cabin with shower cubicle only. The sofa bed advertised is actually a chair and not very wide, in unfolds. Balcony small, just enough room to walk past table we had three chairs so it was squashed, lots of rust around edges of balcony. We did not use the robes or slippers, had plenty of towels, etc. Our butler and other room steward were very nice and kept everything clean and tidy, we did have a couple of roses in a vase but when they died I had to remove them otherwise they would have been left there. Bathmat was thick with mould, not nice! ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES - If you take part in quizzes and some other activities you get points and these can be exchanged for key rings, t-shirts, etc. There were two quizzes in the morning and two later in the day, always one music quiz. They had two speakers on our cruise, we did not attend any lectures, and an art teacher, I did go to one of the classes it is limited to first come first served and only 30 people can take part, unfortunately, not the teachers fault, we only had an hour instead of 3 due to another function taking place in the Aqualina, so everything was very rushed. They also have exercise classes, get togethers, etc. They have lots advertised in the daily insider paper- but many are unhosted, so unless you are very outgoing it is difficult. We would like to have played shuffle board but sunbeds were always tied up across the pitch. The usual talks on spa facilities, etc, we never went to any. Evening entertainment was good, the Smooth Sensations were very good. The resident singers and dancers were loud but good and put a lot of energy into their performances, some of the best we have seen on small ships. We also had Will Martin a singer who was good, Mandy Muden a comic/magician who was very entertaining and two other singers who we did not enjoy at all. The band led by Tina were excellent their big band night was fantastic, shame not more supported them, most of the shows were nearly empty for second sitting at 9.30, service for drinks in cabaret lounge is hit and miss very slow, we had to go and ask someone to take an order one night, they hardly ever come round twice. The drinks were good quality though. The azamazing evening was just that, well done Azamara for the slick organisation and wonderful classical concert with choir in Wellington Cathedral, a perfect evening a buffet was also put on for us on our return. SERVICE - mostly good the staff in Windows do help with plates etc and come around regularly with tea/coffee and juice, some days we were offered wine every few minutes and other days once. We did not use our butler service. Most staff were friendly but I can't say any more so than other ships we have sailed on. We did see the captain and other officers around, but none really stopped to chat, they all smiled and said hello. The security people were the friendliest always said good morning enjoy your day and welcomed you back on board by name. Shuttle buses were very well organised and all drivers good. This was done very well. DINING- this is where it goes downhill!! We have to agree with the review by Captain Povey in January. We did not have high expectations but thought it may have improved in 10 years, not so! The menu may look big but they have some dishes on all the time, they often then have them in Windows Cafe, we found the menu uninspiring, and three nights ate in Windows. The chefs recommend destination Lamb Kofta, had already been served in Windows on a previous day and was on as a special and on the main menu on the same night?? We found the portions small and Azamara, have you heard of vegetables?? Vegetarian food was quite frankly awful either loaded with so much spice it made me choke or tasteless, I have never had such awful food, I was given the wrong info about special meals off veggie/vegan menu, they do not serve them in main or speciality restaurants on first night, you have to book morning before so this service is not available on 1st night. I asked in Aqualina if I could have the Tiramisu for dessert we all had a dessert spoonful as a 'taster' but for some reason I could not have it as dessert? My main meal was dried pasta with pumpkin. The menu for veggie/vegan meals has a few starters, 4 soups and 16 'main' it may seem a lot but on a two week cruise it is not! They often repeated these meals in buffett. The buffet each day was rice & Dhal or curry (pumpkin) and steamed veg nearly always broccoli and cauliflower or salad. . All cold the only hot food I had was the freshly cooked fries in Patio-however they could not, despite having ingredients there, make me a cheese and salad roll, I was told by the manager vegetarians could have the burger or nachos. The burger was a mush of something with raw onion, just disgusting, and I do not consider falafel wrap (with yes...you've guessed pumpkin) or burger or some or the other options fine dining/luxurious, one night I asked for veg with my meal and got two small stems of asparagus. Azamara the service in main dining room is frantic, chaos and not enjoyable, and along with the food, it made for unpleasant evenings. The waiters have far to much to do as they also serve the wine. Most veggie dishes were pumpkin and eggplant or pasta. More fresh fruit in buffett would be nice, the frozen stuff is awful. And can more than a 1/4 strawberry be served. Sorry I could go on, but I would not book this if you are vegetarian or vegan I felt like a second class citizen Oh and two nights may main meal was served way before the other people on table as it had come from downstairs to Prime C- cold potato croquette with a sauce and no veg, this is NOT a main meal, the sides were dreadful 2/4 pieces of broccoli, liquid leeks in a sauce or liquid mash with lumps. This is not luxury or fine dining. My family did have one or two nice meals ,but other than that we often struggled to be inspired. However the pastry i.e. tartlets and quiche were wonderful especially the Canadian butter tart. The coffee and service in Mosaic cafe were very good as was the morning ginger energizer drink. Apart from a special night the cheeses were awful. The wines were drinkable, as was the sparkling wine. I must give praise to Philbert and Joseph waiters in main dining room, Gomer in Aqualina and also Kasih the hostess in Windows and Prime C she was a delight. PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS Auckland, did our own trip bby local bus to Memorial museum, for $50NZD you get entry to museum, which is fantastic and also to the Cultural performance, again lively and well worth seeing. We would around the grounds to the formal gardens and conservatory and then through the grounds down to the main road to get train back to Quay. The ticket for the bus was $3.70 which you could use most of day. Went up the sky tower and generally walked around this very vibrant city. Waitangi - Got shuttle to near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, walked about 750 yds to centre, very good museum and wonderful guided tour of grounds and cultural show, excellent the views are fantastic. $50NZD booked directly with centre online. Tauranga My husband did a self walking tour and climbed Mount Manganui, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Two if us booked ship excursion to Hobbiton, fantastic scenery on route and Hobbiton was magical, a little rushed and as we had 42 people it was hard to hear what guidee was saying, however it was a brilliant day out. If you cannot walk slops or for more than 2 hours this may not be for you, there is a short cut to meet guides but by doing that you miss 3/4 of the hobbit houses and gardens. We finished the tour at Hobbiton with a scone and a mug of beer. Napier- Got shuttle into town and walked around admiring the art deco lovely gardens and nice shops. Not a lot to see or do but still there for 3 hours. Wellington-ride on cable car to get great views of city, then walked back down through botanical gardens an old cemetery and rose gardens to the city, shuttle bus back to ship Azamazing evening fantastic!! Picton- organised our own tour with Mallborough Wine Tours visited 4 wineries fantstic guide small group, just 9 of us, 5 tastings at each winery, a wonderful day. Christchurch- ship tour to Willow bank nature park, took 40 mins to get there, disappointed that half the kiwi house was being renovated, saw the shadow of a kiwi and some other birds, it is all a it rundown. The cultural show was good fun. Spent far to long driving around Christchurch on way back 1 half hours out of a 4 hour trip. Dunedin-really lovely little town, we were lucky enough to be there on the annual street fair day, with local crafts food stalls and live music. Booed seasider train direct with company-very disappointing, lots of tall trees and shrubs blocked the views, just got a few glimpses of the scenery on way back you have to change seats with people on opposite side of train so they get views-very little to see one side, so not really worth the money, however Station is great, truly lovely building. Unfortunately a cyclone was in the way so could not carry on our advertised route, of course safety comes first and nothing could be done, Azamara did some ringing around and we went back on ourselves to Akaroa, a really lovely town, walked around and viewed the older houses, and went on the hop on hop off bus to giant's house, which was lovely, great way to spend an hour. We then went to Kai- Koura, had a whale watching trip saw two sperm whales and some orca, it was very rough and lots of people were ill, a real shame as it was a lovely day. We then went to New Plymouth got shuttle into town, this was the worse port, just a big town, shopping Mall, etc we only stayed for an hour and went back to ship. Then took three very rough sea days to get to Sydney. A real shame we could not go to Hobart, but the ship docked overnight in Sydney in White Bay terminal it takes about 30 mins to get into city, Azamara provided shuttle buses. While in Sydney on the extra day we went to the wildlife zoo, I am not a great fan of zoo's, but we did get to see 4 of the big 5 of Australia and it was very well done, had a walk around. Back on ship for the evening Debarking was the easiest thing we have ever done, walked off at 8am took taxi to city and stayed at Marriott on Circular Quay, taxi from white bay to city centre is $35NZ. Already booked Bridge climb which my family loved, I waled around the botanical gardens which are simply wonderful and free. Took a sunset cruise in the evening and had a meal on the quay, had an inside opera house tour. Sydney is very vibrant, just loved it. Azamara do some things very well, but due to the poor food quality and the awful vegetarian food, rushed and hectic main dining room in the evenings, do not consider this either luxurious or worth the money and for this reason we will not be booking with them again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Food was also above average in both Windows and Discoveries. I was unsure that Aqualina/Prime C was worth the extra money. We did splurge on the Valentine's Dinner in Aqualina, and that was incredible. I loved our waiters ... Read More
Food was also above average in both Windows and Discoveries. I was unsure that Aqualina/Prime C was worth the extra money. We did splurge on the Valentine's Dinner in Aqualina, and that was incredible. I loved our waiters (Philbert and Yolana) in Discoveries. Entertainment was fun. Loved Jessie on the saxophone but sad to hear she was a one sailing fill in. Azamara Evening with the Wellington Symphony and a local indigenous chorus was neat. Added to that is that we all got to sing along with the cruise director Danny in the cavernous cathedral while we waited for the return buses to load. Drinks on the basic plan for me were OK. Mostly gin drinks (they seemed to alternate between Beefeaters and Gordons depending on the bar. The wines in the basic were really inexpensive, but some weren't too bad. The sparkling and rose they had throughout the cruise were solid. Some of the others I could do without out, but some were good. We were in a wine group, so we had plenty of other wine to drink as well. Our stateroom stewards (Carlos and Russel) bent over backward to do everything for us. I did the "Insider's Tour," and that was well worth the $89 or whatever. We got to see the kitchens, environmental, storerooms, laundry, engine control room, and the bridge (where we were served sparkling wine and a snack and allowed to stay as long as we cared to. Captain Johannes was always gracious and even had a get together for other (airplane) pilots one afternoon. Amusingly we ran into him ashore in McLaren Vale about a week after the cruise. Weather and high seas caused us to lose our trip to Milford Sound and Tasmania. But the three additional ports added were neat as well and got to see a few things we wouldn't have seen otherwise like the Giant's House in Akaroa or the opportunity to eat Kuora in Kai Kuora. We also got small refund on our accounts that had something to do with the port changes. Weather also forced the White Night to move into the cabaret. I was less than impressed with the buffet offered for that.use Expedia organized a wine group on it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 4th Azamara cruise and our third on the Journey. In the past, we liked Azamara because of the small size of the boat, food and service. With 690 passengers, you never feel like you're being herded around. You will get ... Read More
This was our 4th Azamara cruise and our third on the Journey. In the past, we liked Azamara because of the small size of the boat, food and service. With 690 passengers, you never feel like you're being herded around. You will get to know a lot of our fellow passengers. Most, like us, are in their 60s and 70s and seasoned travelers. But, our tastes have changed. The veranda cabins are too small. This is an old boat. Refurbished, but not to modern standards. What was telling were Captain Johannes' comments in a Q&A on one of the last days. He likes the small boats, but he wishes the company would build new boats to compete with the competition. Frankly, we would be happier with veranda rooms with either Oceania or Regent (on their smaller ships). Johannes is an interesting guy - very personable, a sense of humor, and he is visible a lot. Something you will not find on larger boats. We found the service to be first rate as before. We found the food to be a cut below what we experienced before. We had the standard drink package. Two white wines and two red wines each day. Not enough variety, but that was OK. Beer and liquor was OK. Dining - Waves is the buffet and you can always find something there you will like. The Sunset Bar is next to it on the back of the boat and nice to have drinks and/or dinner there when pulling out of a harbor. - Discoveries is the MDR and it was a mixed bag. Two thirds of our main courses were good, the others not. Only half of the appetizers were good. New Zealand - This is the most beautiful place on earth: great ports, uncrowded, wonderful beaches, great small port towns, friendly people, and great weather. Go there if you can! A Little New Zealand History - Nothing to do with Australia, which is 1500 miles away. It was formed by volcanoes - it's in the Pacific ring of fire. Still lots of active volcanoes, like While Island which blew up recently. Australia was populated by Asians 50,000 years ago. New Zealand was inhabited 800-1000 years ago by Polynesians. Our Cabin - We booked cabin 7000 which is a standard sized veranda room, but right in the front of the boat. We thought it would be cool to see 180o coming into port. It was, especially coming into Sydney. Downside is that you get more ship movement than mid-ships. Don't bother if you get seasick. We don't and use patches and were OK. Enrichment Lectures - We were disappointed. Not enough and not the best quality. We had two special interest groups on the boat. One was a golfing group run by Perry Golf. They got six rounds in. The other was a wine group which had multiple visits to NZ vineyards. Ports Of Call - Supposed to hit about ten stops in NZ, then two nights in Tazmania, and end in Sydney. A cyclone prevented us from going around the fjords at the southern tip and stopping in Tazmania. Nothing you can do about that. Auckland - We came in two days early and toured the city. Lovely harbors with restaurants (try "Soul", and make reservations), marinas, and museums. Be sure to visit the Maritime Museum and the Auckland War Memorial and Museum. Auckland downtown is mass construction - subway and new buildings. Hard to get around. The Skytower is worth a visit. All the towns we stopped at had wonderful parks by the ocean. Clean and beautiful. And, restrooms all over the place. Nice. People are friendly. Hardly a smoker in sight. We never used NZ or AU cash - just credit cards. This idea that the Journey is a small boat and it can literally dock downtown wasn't true for this cruise. We docked in commercial ports, most with security, with a 10-30 minute shuttle to the town center - where there was always an info center with helpful people. Tauranga - We took a six hour van excursion to see a kiwi fruit farm and Te Puia where we saw the Pohutu geyser, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere as part of this geothermal area. Followed by the Maori Maka dance. Worth a trip. Napier - Took the shuttle into town and walked 20 min to the aquarium. A waste of time. But, a nice day. Wellington - Took the shuttle into town and toured the Te Papa museum. Very good. Picton - Walked to town. Nice shops and restaurants. Had lunch at local bar. Found some reasonably priced shirts and tee shirts. There was a ferry arriving when we walked from the ship. Fifty + people took the ferry into Picton and rented cars to take off into the mountains. Christchurch - This town was damaged by two earthquakes ten years ago and you can still see open lots and rubble. We took the shuttle and walked to the botanical gardens - worth the trip. Dunedin - Took the Taieri Gorge train into the mountains to see old mining areas. Also saw large lumber areas. Akora - Headed back north and stopped at Akora. Stayed on the ship. Kaikoura- Took the shuttle into a very nice town. Worth a trip. New Plymouth - Our ship excursion was cancelled after waiting an hour. Took the shuttle to town. Nice museum, but I had seen too many at that point. Town not that interesting. Sea Days - two to Sydney. Weather was rough. We had patches and were OK. BTW, you cannot buy patches in Australia. Sydney - We sailed in around 8am. We had breakfast in the room and a beautiful view of the harbor, the opera house, and the bridge. Docked about 15 minutes from downtown. Immigration came aboard. Took about ten minutes. We disembarked the next day - a piece of cake. The ship had an optional tour of Sydney - saw many neighborhoods, the opera house, and Bondi beach. Were dropped off near our hotel. We stayed four days in Sydney. It's a beautiful city with bays, tourist areas, vibrant downtown, and lots of traffic. Worth seeing are: - Bondi beach - Sydney bridge - you can walk across the arch! - Opera house (get a tour) - Sydney Wildlife Zoo (check the talk schedule) - Maritime museum - Skytower - Darling Harbor Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We are experienced cruisers and have tried a number of different cruise lines over many years. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise despite the disappointment of missing Raratonga due to the poor weather and conditions too dangerous to permit ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers and have tried a number of different cruise lines over many years. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise despite the disappointment of missing Raratonga due to the poor weather and conditions too dangerous to permit safe tendering. But the food was a huge disappointment and on the basis of that alone I do not expect we will ever choose Azamara again. At the outset we should praise all the crew with whom we came into contact for their friendliness, helpfulness and evident wish to please. This almost certainly derives from the lead given by the Captain who was very much in evidence around the ship interacting with passengers and staff. There were no cases this time of averted eyes when one came across maintenance and other “back-room” staff: all confidently said hello, or more, with a smile. The Cruise Director and his assistant - Danny Turner and Emily Love - were both excellent, particularly as we understand they are both relatively new to their roles; and the entertainment overall was good given the size of the ship and its limitations. Cruise lines are as much logistics companies as they are tour operators and by and large they excel at it. But at their best logistics should be invisible to passengers. Rightly or wrongly, on this cruise we got the impression that the demands of logistics at times trumped the good experience of the passengers. One example was the Azamazing Evening which was overall an excellent musical event. The programme we were given was cut short by one significant piece for no good reason other than, we suspect, the need to work rigidly to the timings agreed in advance with the coach company or the theatre. A second example was the White Night Party. This was the best we have experienced, not least because of the enthusiasm engendered by Danny any Emily, but it was abruptly cut off short at 10pm, we suspected because there was an agreement to end it before leaving the port which was timed for 10pm. And now for the very disappointing food. We did not use the speciality restaurants, partly because we resent being expected to pay extra but also because when we tried them on our last Azamara cruise we did not think them sufficiently better than the main dining room. Overall the food on this cruise was marked by poorly devised menus, too much reliance on cheap produce, and poor execution and standard of presentation. This was apparent in both the main dining room and the Windows Café. The main dining room menus appeared to offer more choice than they really did. For example, snails and prawns appeared every day on the supposedly changing list of appetisers meaning there were really only three items to choose from. On more than one occasion we simply could not find a single main course that appealed to us and we are used to enjoying a very wide range of dishes both at home and on cruises. The daily specials were almost always deeply underwhelming and really not any different to the rest of the rotating menu. There was a lot of reliance on cheap ingredients - I had to return a simply inedible dish made of chicken livers. Salmon seemed to appear a lot - surely among the cheapest fish available. The food, when served was not really up to scratch. The soups were lukewarm and two pasta dishes we tried (in desperation at finding something appealing on the menu) were both poor, having clearly spent too long under a heat lamp. There was also a dearth of vegetables with the main course dishes and no side dishes offered. The waiters have so much to do that the whole atmosphere is one of rush and controlled panic - certainly not conducive to a relaxing meal. There appear to be no supervisors or Maître D’ anymore, so nobody is responsible for ensuring overall satisfaction for diners or picking up on mistakes. The Window’s Café was a curate’s egg. By and large breakfasts were good but it beggars belief that there is nobody in Azamara that knows how to cook and serve English bacon or what constitutes an English ‘Banger”. Similarly, there must be an Azamara pastry chef that has experienced a proper French croissant and therefore realises how poor are the ones served on the Journey. Croissants are very fattening and are only worth eating if the pleasure they give outweighs the guilt! More generally, the quality of the bread on offer was variable. We cannot comment on lunch because we only ever had a snack, but we did miss the pasta and pizza stations available on other cruise lines. It would be good if these could be added to the offering in the Patio. The dinner offering in Windows was very poor. The themed evenings were particularly disappointing with a bizarre assortment of dishes, some only distantly related to the theme of the evening, making it very difficult to put together a satisfactory meal. Once again, the emphasis seemed to be on cheap ingredients, cheaply prepared. Too often the food itself was lukewarm or cold, and we never saw anybody check the temperature of the food sitting under the hot lamps. Perversely, whilst the food was lukewarm the serving spoons were often very hot indeed. When we twice pointed this out all that happened was that a member of staff used the spoon to serve us and promptly put it back again for somebody else to burn themselves! And now the cheese. Never before have we experienced such poor cheese as in the Café and main dining room. Both the range and quality were dreadful. The example labelled English Cheddar bore no relationship to anything like proper Cheddar cheese, even being the wrong colour. Edam is not made in California! It was a very poor imitation of the Dutch cheese. The only blue cheese on offer seemed to be Danish Blue, or something like it, which must be the cheapest blue cheese available. The cheese biscuits also lacked variety and quantity. What makes this all the more galling is that at the White Night Party some really excellent local New Zealand cheeses were served, never to be seen again. So, you must know full well that the regular offering is incredibly poor and feel you can get away with it. The free drinks included in the cruise were all of a perfectly acceptable standard and variety; and particular thanks go to Benjamin, the Barman in the Spirits Bar. Overall, a good cruise badly let down by the food. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise because we were interested in seeing the South Pacific and New Zealand and the package deal we got included airfare, unlimited internet and trip insurance (important, as my husband and I are in our mid-60s). We missed ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were interested in seeing the South Pacific and New Zealand and the package deal we got included airfare, unlimited internet and trip insurance (important, as my husband and I are in our mid-60s). We missed our flight and the ship's sailing from Tahiti, so had to board in Bora Bora, the second port on the itinerary. Checking in was fast and efficient - everything was ready and waiting for us, which we really appreciated. We asked to move from our first cabin on deck 6 because of noise from the band practice in the Cabaret, directly below us. The young lady at the customer service desk, Adina, was so helpful with our request and our second cabin was perfect - no noise at all. The deck 7 balcony cabin was comfortable, had plenty of storage, a small but well designed bathroom (with a shower curtain that was heavy enough it was never clingy) and enough room on the balcony for a table and two chairs. As for dining, we ate at the extra fee Prime C restaurant once, and very much enjoyed the Chateaubriand for two and attentive service; however, we found the service and most of the food equally good to excellent in every dining area. Personally, I found the dining at the Patio outdoor restaurant by the pool, where we had lunch nearly every day, to be really outstanding - their seared tuna wrap and grilled meats, especially the lamb brochettes, were some of the best I've ever tasted. We also very much enjoyed visiting The Living Room on Deck 10 for a glass of wine and selections from their delicious tapas, which were available starting at 5pm every day, and were impressed by the wonderfully authentic German Buffet Lunch, complete with a polka band (I hope this gives you a good idea of how delicious and varied the ship's food offerings were - everyone we talked to enjoyed the food as much as we did.) For such a small ship, The Journey has amazingly spacious public areas including an extensive Library, the previously mentioned Living Room, and the Mosaic Cafe, where you could sit at a small table and enjoy excellent specialty coffees and pastries. As well, a big plus to this cruise were the many people we had great conversations with - the 600 passengers included Americans, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and a few Germans and Danes. Most passengers were very friendly and outgoing - even when we thought we would just sit at a table for two and enjoy a quiet meal, we would get to talking to the people at the table next to ours and have a wonderful time. The pool area was very nice and offered plenty of seating, although typically you had to scramble a bit to find shaded seating (there were lovely double wicker seats where we spent lots of time during our 6 sea days). We attended most of the Cabaret shows, which ranged from really entertaining to same-same. The two entertainers brought on board from Rarotonga were both outstanding - a stand up comic, Steven Scott, who was very funny, and a young man who did song and dance routines, Paul Hazel, who was very talented. Highlights of the cruise were the always interesting guest lecturers, talking on subjects ranging from volcanic activity to colonialism in the South Pacific, the White Night event (which was really fun and had some great Maori folk entertainment), and the Azamazing Evening (where we went to the Wellington Opera House to hear the Signature Choir sing selections accompanied by the Wellington Symphony Orchestra - it was just marvelous). We have cruised with similarly upscale Oceania Cruises in the past, but considering how much we enjoyed this cruise, we definitely will be sailing with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out ... Read More
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out of LA, high winds and high seas, but on the whole Journey handled it well, even if sleeping was somewhat like dozing off on a roller coaster. The staff are really friendly, officers stop and chat, waiters go the extra mile and stewards keep the cabins ship shape. Staterooms are on the small size compared to other ships we have been on, especially the shower/WC. Bedding is excellent. There is no theatre so evening entertainment is in the cabaret lounge and therefore very much “up close”. Band was great, singers and dancers - excellent, cruise director and assistant, both of whom performed solo evenings were first class. (Eric left is in Hawaii leaving Danny and Emily to run the show). The guest speaker, Dr. Jay was fantastic, so interesting and making his subjects so accessible. The weather in Hawaii was not kind to us, a lot of rain. A number of sea days were also wet so one had to make the most of the interior spaces which despite this never seemed very crowded. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try ... Read More
In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try harder to exceed your expectations. We took this cruise because it was my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday and Tahiti has been on her bucket list since she was a child. We’ve been looking for a good itinerary to visit Tahiti and this cruise through Hawaii fit the bill. ----- Ship Review ----- Embarkation. Standard and quick. The only delay was waiting for a wheelchair for my mother-in-law to board the ship. We waited over 20 minutes and another couple tried to walk in after waiting 30 minutes. It really took much longer than it should have and was not a good first impression of ship services. As we were boarding the ship about 1230 the announcement was made that the cabins were available, so that allowed us to drop luggage in our cabin and go to lunch. There was a table at the entrance to the buffet to buy multi-night packages and make reservations at Prime C or Aqualina. Service. Not quite as impressive as our last cruise on Azamara 12 years ago, it was a bit of a mixed bag this time. Some waiters seemed particularly eager to serve. Others were less enthusiastic. We were surprised by the lack of a “can do” attitude from room service and also surprised (as in woken up from a deep sleep) when they showed up 30 minutes early for breakfast (EVERY TIME). All room service waiters just dropped the trays on our table and ran. No attempt was ever made to set the table or inventory the food. Perhaps they were just extremely busy, but it was a shocking lack of service compared with the apparent standard for this ship. Our room steward was adequate, but not impressive. (As we were packing at the end of the cruise and checking to make sure we didn’t leave anything, we found an old pair of somebody else’s underwear behind the nightstand.) Clientele. 80% have cruised Azamara before. 200 of the almost 686 passengers were continuing on the next leg (apparently a record). Over 90 Cruise Critic members aboard. Azamara prides itself on listening to customer feedback and that breeds high loyalty. The length of this cruise was not well suited for those still working, so the crowd was quite senior. I think we only saw two children onboard. Captain. It is clear that Azamara is hiring captains for their personalities and technical expertise. Most have been with Azamara for years. He went out of his way to be involved with guests and anything important happening on the ship. The two most outstanding captains we’ve ever experienced were both masters of the Azamara Journey. Cruise Director. We started with Eric and he was fantastic—in a league of his own. His show was spectacular and filled the theater to maximum capacity. He’s a hard act to follow, but he left mid-cruise for vacation. Danny took over and while he did a fine job, the cruise just wasn’t quite the same after that. Hotel Director. Heike was very involved, especially with serving during special events. I enjoyed her presentation during a sea day. While I believe she is doing a good job, her enthusiasm isn’t filtering down like it should. The service doesn’t quite have the sparkle I thought it would. Entertainment. The show lounge is quite small, so that limits the entertainment options. However, it was very good for small ship entertainment fare—guest singers, comedians, small production cast, etc. The tango show was outstanding. Food. This is the category where Azamara really excelled this cruise. They said their food budget was higher than anything else in the RCCL fleet and it shows. We were very impressed with the overall food quality. The main dining room has local and chef specials every night that adds variety to the otherwise standard rotation of menu items. We have critiqued many ships for not having local specialties. Azamara is the only line we’ve sailed that has been responsive to that customer request. Our four experiences at the specialty restaurants were excellent, but we had friends who were less impressed with their steaks in Prime C. I have mixed feelings about charging a premium to eat in the restaurants and then providing a bill with a place to add a tip at the end of the meal. Seems like a mixed message to the guests. Here’s a tip I learned the hard way. They will give you a wine list with bottles you can buy for an extra cost, but all the house wines are also available for free if you ask. I still love the panini and smoothie bars at the buffet! The Windows evening buffet changes themes every night which provides a lot of variety. They frequently have specialty buffets with crew officers serving and they were outstanding. The Polynesian dinner buffet and German lunch buffet were especially well done. They also had a late night chocolate buffet in the midship lounge area that was quite impressive and very well attended! Dress code. Every night was “country club casual.” Wear what you would wear to a nice restaurant and you’ll be fine. My wife actually saw the dress code being enforced on a few occasions, which makes it nicer for everybody. You might want to dress up slightly for the specialty restaurants—many people do. Internet. Like most ship-based internet, it was slow and expensive. I usually burned up more than 10 minutes every time I wanted to sync just two email accounts. Unlimited package pricing was outrageous. I had some free minutes because of our status and used cell phone connectivity while at the ports in Hawaii. Here’s another tip. The price of the unlimited package is per day, so wait until the last possible day to sign up. Expend all your free minutes first. With 50% off (due to our status), I got the unlimited package for only $69 for the last 9 days of the cruise. Photographic services. Available, but not in your face—except at the premium restaurants, where they really want to “capture that special moment” for you. I bought a USB with the destination photos and a video of the AzAmazing evening. The photos were not that professional and they never had a chance to produce the White Night video. Ship Décor. We love the classic R-class styling. We’ve been on many R-class ships by now, so this feels like home. It could really use some updating and time in dry dock that it will get this fall. Fitness Center. Pretty good for a small ship. Gift Shop selection. Why does everybody think a ship is the place to buy jewelry? I don’t get it. I’d rather have a much better selection of branded merchandise that can only be purchased aboard to remember my cruise. Special Events. This review would not be complete if I didn’t take time to mention some of the special events that set Azamara above their competition. We saw something like an AzAmazing Evening with Regent, but the 40’s themed night at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum was much better executed than anything we’ve seen before. Azamara’s signature deck party “white nights” was in Bora Bora. Unfortunately, we missed all but the show because we had reservations in Prime C. The Polynesian cultural show was fantastic and it was a wonderful event until the skies opened up and soaked almost everybody. Crossing the equator celebration was fun and well done. All inclusive? I need to spend a few lines to discuss this issue because it is a source of great confusion among guests. “No tipping?” What were people doing tipping their waiters at dinner last night? Sometimes drinks are included, but the beer at the German buffet was an extra charge. How much? Don’t know. Didn’t see a price posted or on the ticket I signed. There are two levels of wine packages and two levels of spirits packages, but some of both are included, particularly at some events. There is a priced menu of drinks at the shows. Two thirds through the cruise I was told by a friend that there is a back page of the menu that has all the complementary drinks listed. It’s a fairly comprehensive list—I just wish I had known about it sooner. Thank goodness all sodas and sparkling water are included. Well, to be more precise, Costco brand and Mexican sparkling water were included. Perrier and Pellegrino are both extra. While we enjoy wine with dinner, we are not big drinkers. When I heard Azamara made a change to their “all-inclusive” policy to include tips and wine with dinner, I liked the concept. It appeared to match our needs to have wine included with dinner (even if it is a limited selection), while charging for other alcohol, but the implementation seems very schizophrenic. How do you keep track of what is or is not included? Critiques. We got an early cruise feedback form for us to identify any issues we saw so they could be fixed immediately, instead of waiting for the end-of-cruise feedback. About midway through the cruise we filled out the form to identify service issues in the observation lounge. We got a phone call and personal visit about the issues we observed and they were fixed the very next day. Azamara is trying to be resource conscious, so they send a link to an online critique rating form instead of giving you the traditional paper survey. Head’s up. That link expires in one week! When we finally got time to sit down and do the survey after we got home, the link had already expired by a few days. That’s unfortunate because we really wanted to recognize a couple of waiters that were going above and beyond. I completely understand what they are trying to do by keeping everything electronic. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to provide our feedback. In summary, we enjoyed this cruise. We always enjoy the ambiance of R-Class ships. Based on our previous experience with Azamara, we had very high expectations. I think the cruise leadership was doing everything they could to meet those expectations and were very responsive to guest input. However, not everyone on the crew was as enthusiastic about their job so we were not as AzAmazed as we expected we would be. ----- Port Calls ----- Azamara prides itself on being port intensive, but that wasn’t exactly true for this cruise because it was more about repositioning toward Australia. We spent 11 of our 18 days at sea crossing the Pacific. I’m not going to try to review the individual ports or offerings. I’ll try to keep my comments more generic. Azamara has two critical things I look for from high end cruise lines during port calls--shuttle busses to downtown areas of interest and local experts onboard in port who provide maps and ideas about what to see if you want to explore on your own. Sometimes you don’t want to spend a fortune on shore excursions to see a port. I like having the low cost option and flexibility to come and go as you please. I also like to see water, juice, and cold towel stations on the dock (tender or port). We may have missed them, but those services were available at some, but not all, port calls. Some of the shore excursions were expensive and others were just outrageous! Arrangements for private vehicles at over a thousand dollars for a few hours just seems absurd to me. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was a 5 day cruise from San Juan. We wanted to try another 5 ½ star ship. We had to turn in our rental car at 9 so we got to the ship early. It was not docked in old San Juan but at the other port. We were able to carry our ... Read More
This was a 5 day cruise from San Juan. We wanted to try another 5 ½ star ship. We had to turn in our rental car at 9 so we got to the ship early. It was not docked in old San Juan but at the other port. We were able to carry our luggage onto the ship enabling us to board very early. They took our luggage to our cabin freeing us up to eat lunch and explore. This was one of the most beautiful ships I have been on. Lunch was at the buffet and was poor. The roast was tough and very fatty. Another day we ate at the pool side grill and the waiter was very rude, wanting me to get my burger off the steam table rather than having it made fresh. I refused and got a much better burger. The food was ok. We ate at both specialty restaurants. The Prime C was better than the Italian. The entertainment was ok. The male piano /singer at the bar was just bad. The singers were good. The white night after party was fun. We also did Christmas caroling. There was little to do during the day. This ship was nickeling and diming you. In cabin movies were $12.00, alcohol in the cabin was a fee, but at any bar was free. We would just go get a glass of wine and sit on our balcony. They also had a coffee bar that charged extra. You could go to the buffet on 9 and make your own specialty coffee. There were two sea days with little to do. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We've had the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) islands on our radar for quite some time but just never found the right cruise to take. Azamara altered their Fall 2019 itineraries earlier this year after cruises were banned from ... Read More
We've had the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) islands on our radar for quite some time but just never found the right cruise to take. Azamara altered their Fall 2019 itineraries earlier this year after cruises were banned from Cuba, and one of those new itineraries visited the ABCs. The cruise was a late addition to the schedule and I presume wasn't very popular as prices kept dropping. In mid September we found a pricing oddity where it was the same price for a Club Continent Suite as for a Balcony Cabin. We asked friends and family who wanted to join and one nephew and his wife were in. So we booked two adjacent Suites for a bargain fare. We used American Express Platinum card benefits, with each cabin getting $300 in onboard credit; a premium bottle of champagne; and tours of the Bridge, Engine Control Room, and the Galley. So our good deal got even better. The cruise departed and returned to San Juan with stops on St. Maarten, Curacao, Bonair, and Aruba. There were two days at sea on this seven day voyage. We found nice things to do at all of the ports. We've sailed on Azamara once before, visiting the Black Sea and the Crimea peninsula before Russia annexed the Crimea. So we sort of knew what to expect, though we'd never had suite privileges. Our expectations are fairly high. This cruise was good but not great. Cabin -- GOOD Service -- GOOD Specialty Dining -- GREAT Regular Dining -- GOOD Entertainment -- OKAY Shipboard Activities -- GOOD Itinerary -- GREAT Cabins -- We had cabins 8064 and 8066. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom large enough, and there was enough storage for our week's worth of clothes. The room was quiet, and we did spend some time on the respective balconies. The temperature of the room was good, though one cabin was much warmer than the other and maintenance was called to chill down the warmer room. As this was a suite, we had a chilled bottle of Sparkling Wine to welcome us and we were given 4 0.5 liter bottles of Alcohol -- Rum, Vodka, Gin, and Scotch. We were able to trade in 2 0.5 liter bottles for a 1 liter bottle of something else. Suites also include on bag of laundry for each 7 days of cruising. The bags are quite small. We we were able to roll up all of our dirty clothes and fill the bag mid-way through the cruise. Service -- Cabin service was good. We actually had 3 different people serving us in our cabin. First there was the Butler. Apparently 3 butlers are shared between all Azamara suites. The Butler is who we met first, and he offered to help us with anything we might need, like switching out the bottles of alcohol, planning a party in the room, or booking you into a specialty restaurant. He briefed us on our suite privileges, including ability to dine at no charge in specialty restaurants, to have high tea in you suite any afternoon, and to use the Sanctum Spa Terrace -- a quite place to sun and lounge. He was assisted by two cabin stewards. While the service was fine, I didn't get to really know any of the three folks who serviced our room. We did have tea and scones on the first full day of the cruise, and again on the last full day. It's quite a spread they give you, complete with finger sandwiches and a choice of teas; I only wish they had some proper clotted cream to go along with those scones. Specialty Dining -- Both specialty dining restaurants were fantastic. We dined in the steak restaurant twice and in the Italian restaurant once. All of the meats were cooked perfectly in the Steak restaurant. The Italian restaurant had a great succession of starter, pasta course, and meat course. We'd gladly pay to visit these same restaurants where we live. The service in the restaurants matched the food. Regular Dining -- We had a range of experiences, from Fantastic food in the Main Dining Room for dinner to okay lunches in Windows Cafe or The Patio outdoor grill. Breakfast is often my favorite meals, and the food was okay but not great. At breakfast even the made to order items, like sunny-side up eggs, were just okay as the oil the eggs were cooked in just seemed a bit off. Sadly, the sushi was one of my favorite items on the lunch buffet, and the sushi was not nearly as good as I get in my at-home sushi restaurant. The White Nights party/deck buffet was fine....I had hoped for some grilled lobster other cruise lines I've take in the Caribbean (Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Windstar) seem to feature grilled lobster tails; none was served on the Azamara Deck party. One day at sea there was a German Buffet in the Dining Room, complete with a band playing om-pah music; even then the food was just okay. Entertainment -- The entertainment seemed aimed at a different demographic than us. The individual performers were all talented. Other passengers raved about the entertainment. We went to two shows, one of which we left after about 10 minutes. Hopefully those of you reading this will enjoy the entertainment more than we did. Shipboard Activities -- There was enough to do on days at sea, with different activities scheduled just about every hour. We were happy to have our AMEX tours to attend. The galley tour was particularly interesting to me as on this ship the galley is one floor down from the restaurant. Waiters carry trays of food from the galley to the dining room via an escalator. I'm sure it's quite a sight every night when the dining room is full. We did attend the Dollar Origami session and converted Dollar Bills into Peacocks. Itinerary -- the itinerary was great, with long visits to each port. We made the best of each stop. St. Maarten -- we booked a "Cross the Boarder" bike ride with TriSport. It was a 21 mile journey from the Dutch side to the French Side and back. There were several hard climbs with 1,900 ft. elevation change over the journey. We had standard bikes, though were we to do this again, we'd pay for the "assist" bikes to give you some power as you go uphill. All of us walked up one or more of the steepest hills. The guide was on time with nice well maintained equipment. We even stopped by Maho Beach to watch the jets take off and land. Yes, crazy people did hold onto the fence and get sand blasted by those big jet engines. We'd considered visiting Sunset Grill and Bar in the afternoon when the large European flights arrive/depart but we got a taste with the regional jets and there were so many people at the bar and beach we just knew it would be packed when the big planes were arriving/departing. Curacao -- in the morning we'd booked a "free walking tour" with Kevin. It was interesting, insightful, and useful to hear the stores and learn about the island through a local guide. Kevin was there on time, and we had a private tour for 4. He even took us to a local food court and got us samples of two dishes -- one featuring Goat and one featuring Okra. We also hung out on the floating bridge that connects the sides of Curacao. We stayed on the bridge for one of the short openings, when a small boat needs to enter the harbor. and the bridge closes to foot traffic for about 10 minutes. In the afternoon we took a tour with Azamara to see items Made in Curacao. There were 3 stops -- an Aloe Farm, a Brewery, and a Blue Curacao Liquor Distillery. Each were interesting, though three in our group really like beer, so we enjoyed the brewery the most. There were four ships in Curacao this day (apparently there are NEVER four ships in port at the same time), and the downtown area was quite busy. We were the last ship to leave the port that night, after 10pm. Bonaire -- Bonaire is known for its diving. It's one of the few places where you can dive great sites directly off the beach; no need for a boat. We hired two dive masters and equipment so that we could dive Bonaire. We used BonScuba. Two of us are certified divers and two had never taken a dive. BonScuba provided all the equipment and they transported us to the selected dive site. Two of us went with one Dive Master for an hour tour of the local reef, and two had some lessons then did an introductory dive on the same reef. The equipment was well maintained but not new. The diving was good. We found a walking tour online before we traveled to Bonaire and did a short walk around the town in the afternoon. Other passengers on the ship commented that there was nothing to do in Bonaire. We found it small and very laid back. We would have been board without the diving. Aruba -- We booked a half day Landrover Adventure with Azamara. 13 people were seated in something that resembled a safari jeep, but enlarged to seat up to 16 folks. We stopped at several sights, including a (fallen) sea arch, a lighthouse, and a beautiful chapel. The undeveloped part of Aruba is quite beautiful. We were surprised as how many people we saw in that undeveloped part on horses, dune buggies, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, and all sorts of other vehicles. The tour stopped at a beach for about 30 minutes of sun/sand. In the afternoon, we took a 30 minute walk down to the Reflections Beach Bar for some cocktails/beer and free wifi. Reflections is on a quite beach and they provide chairs, umbrellas, food, and drink for a reasonable price. This evening in Aruba, we had our Azamazing Event. On our previous Azamara cruise, the Azamazaing Evening transported us to a Winery in Ukraine, where we dined and tasted their wines while watching local dancers including the awarding winning Russian Sailor Dance; that was amazing. The one in Aruba was not so. The event was held on the ship. There were two shifts -- Eat then see the entertainment, or vice versa. We chose to Eat later. The steel pan band was okay and the dancers were good. But the show just went on too long. When we were finally released, the next shift was lined up all through the ship waiting to get into the theater. I understand the show was shortened for the 2nd shift. The Azamazing Evening Dinner was Caribbean style food, served buffet style in both the Dining Room and in Windows Cafe. The food was unremarkable. San Juan -- we stayed in San Juan the night before the cruise. We also had a full day in San Juan after we disembarked, so we spent some time about town. For dinner the night before the cruise, we visited Lote23. It's sort of like a permanent food truck roundup. We had some great local food there along with nice craft cocktails that feature local ingredients. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for someplace different to eat. On disembarkation day, we did a self guided walking tour and had lunch at Barrachia -- the supposed birthplace of the Pina Colada. Barrachia is also the place where, for the cost of a tip, you can check your bags for the day. So that's our week trip. We particularly liked the ports, the food in the specialty restaurants, and the suite privileges. The ship was in good shape. We'll travel with Azamara again, but only on for a unique itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Azamara Journey 11-30-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean ... Read More
Azamara Journey 11-30-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean Highlights Voyage” followed by the “7-Night Caribbean Breezes Voyage” was available at a terrific price and with nice booking incentives. As we had always wanted to try Azamara, this seemed like the best “Plan B” to use our planned vacation time. This review picks up in San Juan PR as we return to the Journey for this segment of our B2B cruise. The Uber driver returned us to the Journey and other than maybe a ten minute wait to get through security we were soon back on board. Lunch was enjoyed on the patio and we returned to our cabin to store the rest of our things. We had our complementary laundry bag ready for our room steward to pick up and took our laundry bag of “Special items” (mostly lightweight Columbia wear) to the laundry room to do ourselves. We were surprised to find we were not the only back to back cruisers who had this idea that this was a great time to do laundry, but we had no problem getting two washers and then a single dryer to clean everything. This was the first time ever that we were excused from the muster drill. Walking around the ship we just keep telling crew members 'In transit guests' and they smiled and waved us on. The cruise critic meet and greet was set for 6:30 PM. We attended and met the roll call members we will be touring with on a few of the islands. One couple asked if they could join us for dinner so we headed to the dining room and were able to get a four-top in Shaad's area. Arriving late (at 7:00) on a very busy dining room night and with our needed special orders, it took nearly three hours to complete dinner. We did not intend to attend Eric's welcome in the showroom of the show of “Come sail away” which we saw last week, so at this point we wandered past the shops and called it a night. Sunday, December 1 - At Sea A truly beautiful day as sea sums up this Sunday. We slept in until after 7:30. DW took the time to do her PT exercises, and I went to get some tea. There is a dining room brunch today so we waited on breakfast. Eric hosted a non-denominational church service in the Drawing Room. About 20 attended and Eric had some really good stories to tell. We also learned that his father was a Presbyterian minister. Following the service we enjoyed brunch and were able to sit in Shaad's area. We then went up to the pool area and I was only able to find one lounger in the shade. I took that one as DW wanted to look over the shops (nothing new) and sign up for the complimentary afternoon “Ladies Pamper Party” hosted by the spa. Shortly after DW came up the pool deck the couple next to me relinquished their loungers so DW took the one next to me. We stayed there reading and listening to the sounds of Vibz. We had a light lunch at the Patio and also moved lounger seats to stay in the shade. The couple we had dinner with last night told us that the price for the internet package is based on the number of days, and therefore it goes down each day. By tomorrow, if we haven't used our complimentary minutes, those minutes would pay for the package the rest of the cruise. We will certainly check that out! DW attended the 3:00 Ladies Pamper Party and really enjoyed the complimentary mini-facial. I returned to the cabin to clean up and get ready for the evening. I brought my log up to date. We visited the Living Room for the start of the Starlight Trio's set and then went to Discoveries at 6:00 for dinner. Guest Entertainer David Knight, a hypnotist, gave a really good show. Getting audience volunteers took him a while, and then about half the volunteers tested out, but it was a good & 'clean' show. After the show we visited the Living Room and listened to Vibz a while. We also danced. Then it was time to call it a night as we have a full day tomorrow! Monday, December 2 – Bridgetown, Barbados Our tour today booked through the ship is a photography tour with a local professional photographer, but it does not meet until 1:00. So despite at least three previous visits to Barbados, we never went downtown to Bridgetown, so we made that our morning excursion. We began the day with breakfast in Discoveries. About 8:45 or so we made our way outside, walked to and through the cruise terminal (which you have to walk all the way around so as to pass all the vendors who have paid for space there), and out the distant “Independent” doorway. We found a cab and for US$2 each caught a ride into Bridgetown. The driver offered to take those of us going to town to the 'far end' of town so we would walk back along the main shopping street. We did that, and actually found the 'far end' had more sights to see, including Independence Square and the parliament building. There is also a marina with several bridges crossing it, near the main bus station. We enjoyed exploring the town for about 2 hours, having purchased one shirt. We caught a cab back to the port and looked around the outside vendors. At the first one (furthest from the actual terminal building) we found a shirt for me and a nice Caribbean dress for DW. These will make an appearance at tonight's Caribbean party. We then went back to the Journey with just enough time for some lunch before heading out to our tour. There were 18 on the tour and gratefully this was in a bus built for 30 or more. Our guide was excellent and our tour took us far from the port to the rarely visited by cruisers area on the Northeastern coast of Barbados which they call the “Scotland” district. Everything here is very green and lush. We shot a great deal of photos of both man built and natural elements. The last stop of the tour was at the Atlantis hotel where we each enjoyed a superb Jamaican Rum Punch while watching the waves crash of the rocks. We returned to the Journey at about 5:20 and rushed to get ready for the Caribbean party as we were to attend the 6:00 show. This performance was not as enjoyable as the one on the first leg of the cruise. It was totally different but the emphasis here was less our cup of tea. The final segment, featuring a man on stilts in the showroom, was certainly the best part of the show. We had 8:00 reservations at Prime C. We went a little early and were seated all the way aft by the rear windows. Before 9:00 the skies opened up so that certainly showed that the staff made the right decision having the Caribbean event in the Cabaret. Dinner was very enjoyable but after this exhausting day it was a challenge to stay awake. We called it a night after dinner. Tuesday, December 3, Castries, St. Lucia, also DW's birthday. Early start to the day so we had a quick breakfast in the Windows Cafe. We saw our touring friends there and they actually were at our meeting spot before we were! I had already received an e-mail from our tour guide, Kurt of Island Man Taxi & Tours confirming our meeting spot, just outside the terminal building. Two other ships in port with us, the Queen Mary 2 (tendering – a long tender ride) and the Summit. We met Kurt before 8:30 and walked a few blocks to his van, parked in the garage of a Massy supermarket. Off we went with Kurt. First stop was an overlook high up with a great view of Castries and the surrounding area. Next we headed south down the West coast road. Kurt explained that nearly the only sign one sees is the “Hairpin curve ahead” sign. He was sure right about this. Between the windiness and the condition of the road (not the greatest for sure) I believe the average speed was no more than 30 KPH. Kurt did seem to know where the many potholes were and missed 98% of them. The next stop was a slow drive through one of the coastal villages. When climbing the hill on the far side, he stopped at an overlook where someone he obviously knew had a small shop. While there his friend, with a guitar, serenaded DW with a “Happy birthday” song. Back in the van, Kurt said that this fellow is the St. Lucian “Bob Marley” and knows just about any song one can imagine. We continued on driving through the coastal rain forest and another coastal village. We stopped at an overlook of the city of Soulfriere. This was again another great view and was also our first really good view of the famous Pitons. From here we could also see the steam from volcanic hot springs a little inland from the Pitons. We drove through Soulfriere and Kurt pointed out the Hummingbird beach area we would visit later. We then drove up hill from the town to the entrance of the Tet Paul Nature Trail. This trail took us past many native plants including both flowers and fruits. We saw pineapple growing, one per plant. Our guide explained that each plant produces one pineapple per year. There were great overlooks over country villages and we had unbelievable views of the Pitons and surrounding seas. The boats down on the sea looked so small from our vantage point. Just like the Piton trail, going back down was harder than going up. We need to take care on the high steps going down so it took a while. Reaching the ticket booth area we found many mini-buses parked and large groups just starting off, about a dozen per guide. We felt very blessed we were just a group of four! Back in Kurt's van, he gave all of us a Rum Punch made with St. Lucian rum. We next drove to the Toraille waterfall, where the two men went bathing directly under the waterfall. This waterfall was easily 75 feet high, and when standing right under the main part, it really beat up on the skin it was so forceful. From there, we headed to a great restaurant in Soulfriere for a seafood lunch. Lunch was very enjoyable and very reasonable at about $10/pp. From here, we went to the beach. We all went swimming and spent about an hour at the beach. Then it was time for the return to Castries, which took over 90 minutes of twisting and turning road. Kurt dropped us off at the terminal and handed DW a birthday gift, which was much appreciated and unexpected! Back on board, as it was now 4:30, we needed to get ready as quickly as possible for the 5:00 Club Voyage party. Dinner followed in Discoveries and was again very good. The show was “Jump, Jive, and Swing.” Even though we saw this last cruise it was so good we again attended. The staff changed the show some from last week and those changes made it even better. After the show we listed to Vibz in the Living Room for a few songs and called it a night. Oh, and the captain told us at the Club Voyage party (followed by a ship wide announcement) that tomorrow's call at Dominica had been canceled due to violent protests ahead of their Friday elections. We were headed to Martinique instead. I sent an e-mail to our tour guide in Dominica, Nature Isle Explorer Day Tours, asking for a refund of our tour deposit. Wednesday December 4 – Fort-De-France, Martinique (re-routed from Roseau, Dominica) All best laid plans sometimes need to change, and this is one of those days. We were not able to put together a literal 'last minute' tour so with some e-mail hints from our friends who were on last week's cruise, we walked the 3500 steps (each way) to the ferry boat landing. Fortunately we walked with the friends from our St. Lucia tour as my credit card would not work in the ticket machine and they didn't take debit/ATM cards. Tickets purchased we took the ferry across the bay to Anse a l'Ane. In talking with locals they said the beach was normally very nice but recent storms had kicked up a lot of rocks. They assured us the water is tested and safe. Looking back we are not so certain. In any case, we paid $5 each for beach chairs (in the shade) and I did take a swim for about 30 minutes. There is a lot of leaves and stuff in the water until you get quite far out, where the water became more translucent. After about 2 hours we decided to head back as the ship's wine and lunch were calling. Soon enough the ferry appeared, we rode across, and walked the 3500 steps back to the ship. Why so far? Being a last minute port, we were docked at the Tourelles Cruise Terminal rather than the one right downtown. We certainly enjoyed lunch and found the pool looked rather crowded. We ended up retreating to our cabin for a bit of a rest as we want to stay up for Eric's show tonight. We listened to the Starlight Trio a while before dinner. We dropped off the note to the couple we are renting a car with tomorrow, and enjoyed dinner in Discoveries. We opted to see the Piano entertainer, Peter Rossetti, in his main stage show “Rocket Man meets Piano Man.” The music is good but I had a hard time staying awake. I worked on my log between shows, and then Eric de Gray came on with his “Broadway Showstoppers” show. This is a terrific show and was just as good as the prior week. Better in fact as we had better seats this time. This is a 75 minute show and the time flies by – no problem staying awake either! After the show we called it a night. Thursday, December 5, Charlestown, Nevis – St. Nicholas Day (Netherlands) The Journey was right on time and tenders began at about 8:00 heading over to the small island of Nevis. We had arranged through cruise critic to share a rental car with another couple. The main road around Nevis is pretty good and can be driven in about one hour. We decided to drive it counter-clockwise so our first stop would be the Botanical Garden. It took quite some doing to reach the garden as the main route was blocked by road construction. The gardens are very nice, with a decidedly Asian theme. In fact, the restaurant in the gardens is a Thai restaurant. We spent about two hours at the gardens, including about a 5 minute shower. From the gardens we continued on our drive trying to reach the rocky beachfront near the lime kiln we saw on the map. We could not reach it, but did spend about 10 minutes with some local children who seemed transfixed that we had happened on their road! We continued our circuit and stopped by the ruins of a sugar plantation. Much of the equipment was still in place and this is now a historic site. Great views were available from nearly every vantage point on the island. Further along we stopped at a beach immediately 'behind' the airport affording incredible views of nearby St. Kitts. By this point we were getting pretty exhausted and sitting in the back seat bouncing around was taking it's toll. We asked our touring friends if they would mind dropping us back at the tender pier and they were most accommodating. We headed back to Journey and had a late lunch recovering from our circuit adventure of Nevis. That evening was the White Night party. We had our dinner in Discoveries and then proceeded up to the pool deck. We sat with friends and nibbled a little before the entertainment began. This was essentially the same show we had seen on the previous cruise segment however the feeling was quite different being out on the open deck. We truly appreciate the amount of work the crew has to invest in changing over the entire pool deck to have this event! What an incredible time. One of the photographers took our photo dancing and that photo ending up becoming our Christmas card photo – appropriate as it is St. Nicholas day! We called it a night after the party. Friday, December 6 – St. Barts The only repeat port on the two cruises was St. Barts. This time we took our time going over and brought our snorkeling gear. We walked to “Shell beach” and quickly discovered that the snorkeling there was best on the left side, by the rocks. I saw thousands of fish of many types and really enjoyed snorkeling there. After having more than our fill of the water, we cleaned the sand off everything and began walking back to the tenders. We met a number of guests along the way just heading to the beach. We told them what we could to enhance their experience. We had a nice conversation with the crew member handling refreshments at the tender pier while waiting for the tender. Everyone onboard is so friendly. Back on board we found two shaded chairs and relaxed with some soft drinks and wine. We enjoyed a swim in the pool, being the only ones in the pool. We enjoyed a last lunch at the Patio, and relaxed a little more in our chairs. Later that day we packed a good portion of our stuff for the return home the next day. The Discovers Club Voyage event was at the aft bar on deck 9 for sail-away. We had a very nice time at this event. The last dinner of the cruise in Discoveries was terrific, and the chocolate buffet had many items different from the prior cruise. We talked some with the pastry chef about his creations. This last night the entertainment team presented “Just Dance.” We missed this show on the first segment and greatly enjoyed everything about it. We then went back to the cabin to finalize the luggage and put it out for pick up. Saturday, December 6 – Disembarkation and return home We woke before the alarm went off. We left our cabin a little after 7:00 bringing our carry off bags with us to the Windows cafe so the cabin team could ready our room for the embarking guests. We had a nice breakfast with all the crew members thanking us for sailing with them. Shaad stopped by and wished us safe travels home. At about 8:40 we headed out with our carry-off bags to find the captain, hotel manager, and Eric De Gray, along with a few other officers wishing everyone safe travels and come back again! With no rush of guests it was nice to stop and chat for a few moments. We found our luggage with no issue and had no wait at all at customs. So nice not to have a line, and the agent asked how our cruise was. We headed outside and dropped our luggage and got into the bus to transfer to the airport. Our driver was entertaining but dropped us at the wrong spot, assuring us our luggage would arrive. After a few minutes DW noticed luggage down at the other end of the terminal and sure enough all the luggage for those in the van was down there. Summary: We have cruised about 35 times. The majority of cruises are on Celebrity and Holland America, with a few other lines occasionally. Really enjoy the smaller ships. Favorite ship was HAL Prinsendam but it was sold. New favorite is the Journey. A few years ago I wrote in a review “I guess the days of 5-star cruising are history.” Well, that is not true. I feel that Azamara gives a five star experience. When we can, if the price fits into the budget, we would happily cruise on Azamara again. The food and service are great! Love the more inclusiveness of the fare. The thing that was very unexpected is the quality of the entertainment. It is hard to remember a cruise where we enjoyed every bit of the entertainment as much as we have on these two cruises. Some of the shows were repeated during the second segment. They are so good we went to see them a second time! So 5 stars for the good ship Journey. May she and her outstanding crew have a long and happy life! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I would say this is one of the best cruises I've been on, if not THE best. Some background. I traveled with my husband. We have been on about 37 cruises each and this was our first Azamara cruise. We have sailed on Norwegian, ... Read More
I would say this is one of the best cruises I've been on, if not THE best. Some background. I traveled with my husband. We have been on about 37 cruises each and this was our first Azamara cruise. We have sailed on Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. At first, I had concerns about going on a ship this size, having recent been on the gargantuan Allure of the Sea and Anthem of the Sea. I kept saying, "This ship is so small!" But it turned out that what it lacked in size it more than made up for in personal service. I mean, where else do you find a ship where the hotel manager and the food and beverage director personally serve you at the chocoholic buffet? Embarkation was a total breeze. As suite guests we were 3rd and 4th on board. The who check-in was as simple as simple can be -- no lines, no crowds, and the ship's hotel director was even there to supervise. The ship is beautiful and easy to get around. They definitely make the most of what they have. For instance, the showroom is really a cabaret space so there are no props and scenery, which puts more focus on the entertainment. The library (the Drawing Room) is a large and beautiful space with a multitude of books. This ship was never crowded, there were always plenty of tables in the patio and we were usually the only people in the elevator.s. As far as activities, there wasn't really a lot to do onboard, but I had to get used to that. Many of the activities in the daily program were self-led and others were sales pitches from the spa. For those who want gambling, this is not the ship for you and for those who want good shopping onboard, there are only 2 shops. In my mid-cruise customer satisfaction survey, I noted that there was not a lot to do and this was noted by the cruise director, who actually stopped me after one of the shows one evening and told me that he had tried to introduce audience participation events and games you might find on other ships, but this was a different crowd. I appreciated that there was a representative from the port who either came onboard or stayed at the pier to advise us as to where to go in port.Also, the Colors of the Caribbean event (a substitute for the AzaMazing Evening we would have had on the original Cuban itinerary) was phenomenal and truly entertaining! The White Night party was very well done, and the food was beyond delicious! If you love sushi, this cruise is for you. The service on this ship is beyond comparison! Everyone, and I mean everyone, goes out of his or her way to please you! I must give special thanks to our cabin steward, Kusairi, assistant steward Rowell and butler Alfie; and waiter Godson for fabulous service. Alfie brought us room service on time, and every afternoon we would come back to our room to find wine, fresh flowers, cheese and crackers, hors d'oeuvers, and prosciutto and melon. I also want to mention a wonderful encounter I had with a cleaner named named Sam from the island of Kalimantan in Indonesia. Sam was so proud of his country and literally gave me a speech on the geography, nature and tourist spots in Indonesia. We purchased several shore excursions on this cruise since we had a lot of cabin credit. In Barbados, we went to Harrison's Cave -- not the best cave we've been to but fascinating nevertheless. In St. Lucia, we went on a coastal cruise to the Pitons, which was very picturesque and well worth it. In Nevis, we went on a snorkel trip, also very lovely. In San Juan, we had time to kill before heading to the airport so we took the El Yunque rainforest tour, which I highly recommend. Our cabin was beautiful and super-comfortable. We had a Club Continent Suite, which is not a suite per se, but let's say, a cabin with lots of legroom -- almost like a small hotel room. It came with slippers and robes (which we never used) a bathtub, and of course, a butler. We truly felt spoiled. Dining was amazing. The buffet, although quite small, had a wonderful selection. We like the fact that the waiters came around with coffee and juice, unlike other cruise lines where you have to go to a machine to get your own. Everything in the main dining room was delicious and beautifullly plated. The outdoor Patio restaurant was a great place to eat when getting back late from shore excursions. And we loved the food in Aqualina and Prime C, the specialty restaurants. I'd say this ship had some of the most memorable cruise ship meals we have eaten. I give the entertainment very high marks! The singers and dancers are energetic and full of talent. Eric De Gray, the cruise director, is extremely talented. David Knight, a hypnotist, performed and I was in the show. The live music on board is fabulous. I wanted to mention what a pleasure it was to talk with fellow passengers -- all of whom were well traveled and smart -- and very down to earth! In summary, I have to say that it would be difficult for me to go back to a megaship now that I have been on Azamara Journey. I appreciate the smaller size and the warm, gracious, personal service i experienced on my "Azamara Journey"! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Azamara Journey 11-21-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean ... Read More
Azamara Journey 11-21-19 We booked the Azamara Journey 12 days before embarkation as our planned Galapagos adventure on the Celebrity Xpedition was canceled by the cruise line. This back to back cruise, the “9-Night Caribbean Highlights Voyage” followed by the “7-Night Caribbean Breezes Voyage” was available at a terrific price and with nice booking incentives. As we had always wanted to try Azamara, this seemed like the best “Plan B” to use our planned vacation time. Wednesday, 11-20-19. We left our Pennsylvania home at 5:45 AM. Our neighbor who drives for Uber picked us up and took us to the Philadelphia airport, arriving just after 6:30. We quickly checked the bags, breezed through “Pre-check” security, and were ordering breakfast from Chick-Fil-A by 6:45. Our flight to Miami boarded promptly and departed on time. We landed in Miami 40 minutes early (!) but it took 25 minutes of waiting before we could park at a gate. By the time we reached baggage claim (quite a walk!) the bags were coming out and literally within two minutes we were on our way to the transportation center. As we were meeting friends we were cruising with in Fort Lauderdale, we took the “Tri-Rail” to the FLL station ($5/each, 40 minute ride) and then walked to the nearby Fairfield Inn. After leaving our bags in our rooms, with our friends we visited the famous “Jaxson's Ice Cream parlor” for an ice cream lunch. We stopped at Dollar General and Walmart for a few needed items that were too hard to pack for air travel. Driving along A-1-A, we noticed the water levels on the inter coastal seemed extremely high, in fact, there was some flooding along the side roads. Finally we stopped at a dive shop for travel fins to use when snorkeling. After a brief rest at the Fairfield, we went to meet cruising friends at the “Big Fat Greek Restaurant.” We were not rushed and had a very nice meal and the plus two hours passed too quickly. Back at the Fairfield we agreed not to set a meeting time for morning. As the Journey was just arriving from a trans-Atlantic, Azamara has asked guests not to arrive much before 12:30. We did agree to set up an Uber XL for an 11:30 pick up the next morning. Thursday, November 21 – Embarkation We enjoyed a good night's rest at the Fairfield. Arriving for breakfast at 8:10, likely about the peak time, it was a little chaotic. All was fine though and we enjoyed breakfast with our friends. We then took an excursion to Hollywood Beach. Being early on a weekday no problem finding on street parking. We enjoyed a nice walk and took pictures along the beachfront promenade. We visited the Margaritaville resort, walking around taking photos of the unusual decor. At 10:30, it was time to head back to the car and return to the Fairfield. We had just enough time to gather our things and wait for our Uber ride. Mr. Uber arrived with a well traveled but clean Grand Caravan for our transfer to the Miami cruise port and the Azamara Journey, arriving there at about 12:10. The porters took our luggage, we checked in (no wait), arranged for specialty dining reservations, checked in with the front desk on DW's special diet needs, and were seated at the Patio ordering lunch by 12:45. Due to the Coast Guard inspection, cabin availability was delayed until about 2:00. After enjoying a lunch of fresh Grouper, we walked around exploring the ship. We really like the layout of “The Living Room” (Crow's nest area) as it is a wide open space with lots of seating, some of it unusual in design but comfortable. While sitting and chatting, an announcement was made that the cabins were available, so we headed down to our outside stateroom, #4029. I took my traditional cabin photos before moving any of our things in. One of our two checked bags had also arrived. No time to unpack as we attended the 2:30 “First time Azamara cruiser” gathering in the Cabaret (showroom). Very nice beverages and Hor d'oeuvres were passed around before Eric, the cruise director, welcomed all the first time folks to Azamara. We returned to the cabin to unpack, and found our other suitcase waiting for us. It took about an hour to put everything away. We went to find the “Swirl & Top” ice cream station and had a small bowl of soft-serve. We took that by the aft bar on deck 9 and enjoyed a beverage while waiting for the 5:00 muster drill. We attended the muster drill, which seemed to take a long time to start due to one missing cabin in our section. After the muster, we went back to the Living Room for “Dancing with the Starlight Trio,” along with Tapas and beverages. There were actually Tapas I enjoyed (dates with bacon and nice chicken nuggets). At about 6:30 we headed down to the Discoveries restaurant for dinner. We were seated at a table for four by a window. Service was terrific as was the food. They took very good care of DW's food sensitivities. I enjoyed shrimp cocktail, Grilled turkey breast (something new for me – it was good but not as good as traditional turkey), and Red Snapper (excellent). Dessert was gelato. We left dinner walking past the Mosaic Cafe (coffee/tea/snack shop) and headed to the Cabaret for the cruise director's welcome and the opening show, “Jump, Jive & Swing.” No boring time before the show sitting around in an silent showroom, the house band was playing numbers while waiting for showtime. Very impressive. “Jump, Jive, & Swing” is a”Magellan award-winning” show. This was certainly full of energy and I was impressed with the performers. The show went until about 10:15 at which time we called it a very full day. Friday, November 22 – At sea It is certainly good to be back on the ocean, as it's been nearly 5 months. We sure did sleep well. I ventured out around 8:00 to the Mosaic Cafe to bring some tea back to the cabin. Almost too hot to carry! I stopped at the front desk as the welcome aboard information asked guests to stop in if they were staying on for the next cruise, as we are. Back at the cabin, DW was ready about 8:50. On the way to breakfast we found the desk for the “Colors of the Caribbean” event tickets had opened early. We were able to get our tickets and also for our cruising friends, so we returned to our cabin to drop them off and delivered our friends tickets. They asked us to save them room at our table for breakfast in Discoveries. Breakfast in Discoveries was very nice, although it took a little long. Maybe it's just the first morning. They have a buffet set up, you can order off the menu, or mix it up. We mostly ordered off the menu but did look the buffet over and I had a small amount of Blueberry cobbler from the buffet. Else my ordered fruit plate and omelet were delicious as well! The cruise critic gathering was at 10:00 in the “Drawing Room.” This delightful library area on deck 10 mid ship has a warm feeling with a painted ceiling like you would see in famous Italian places. Eric the cruise director introduced many of the staff, and had us go around introducing ourselves. About half in attendance were on their first Azamara sailing. We left there to check out the shops, and then toured the suite that is being offered as a prize for the 12:15 bingo game. We thought the suite (8068) was not all that impressive. We headed up to the pool deck and got a table near (but not in) the Patio to listen to the 12:30 session of “Music by Vibz.” They are really good. Not one, but two – 45 minute sets with just 15 minutes between. We enjoyed it all, at times, while in the pool, Lunch was very enjoyable as well. We did a combination of the Windows cafe along with the Patio offerings. The ladies left to attend a “Smartphone photography class” At about 3:00 everyone headed down to relax a while – this cruising can really wear you out! We had dinner reservations at Prime C tonight. Beforehand we enjoyed the Starlight Trio again in the Living Room. A much larger crowd was there this evening. At 6:30 we went to Prime C. We had a most excellent meal and we were very impressed with how well they took care of DW's special food sensitivities. They even made her a crab cake with Almond flour. We left Prime C at 9:10 and headed straight for the Cabaret for the Captain's welcome toast. The Captain has quite a sense of humor and plays well with cruise director Eric. The show was assistant cruise director Meg Young in a solo show “Get happy.” It was okay. We left during the final costume change simply because by 10:30 we were too tired. Tomorrow is our first port call of Labadee, Haiti. Saturday, November 23 – Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean Private resort) Another very good nights rest to the slight motion of the sea. Up a little after 7, I went around taking photos a little after 8:00 as we were sliding by a tree-covered portion of Haiti off the starboard side. I ran into our friends on the pool deck and agreed to meet them aft of the Windows cafe for breakfast. We met up for breakfast and really enjoyed our seats at the aft rail, until the Journey arrived at Labadee and needed to turn for docking so we were then in the sun. Breakfast complete, we headed back to our cabins to prepare for a day at the beach. At 9:15 the clearance to go ashore was announced and off we went. We caught the tram and took that to Columbus Cove, where we were provided 4 beach chairs in the shade. Clean restrooms and a calm sea made for a very pleasant morning. I got out my snorkeling equipment but as this was purely a sand bottom there was nothing to see. At about 11:30 we decided to move and headed over to the Town Square by tram. They were setting up the lunch and again we were provided four beach chairs in the shade. A waiter appeared immediately offering drinks. As Azamara cruisers, we had the same beverages included on Labadee as we have on the ship, a very nice benefit. We enjoyed lunch and I then headed into the water to snorkel. I swam past the “Floating bar” and put on the equipment. There is an assortment of small coral like brain coral in the bay, but visibility was likely two feet or less. I did see a few very small fish, but nothing to photograph. Heading back to our chairs I took a walk with one of our friends to the jetty to watch the waves crashing. We saw a few folks take advantage of the zip line, which claims to be the longest zip line over water. Returning to our chairs, we all got drinks and carried them out through the water to the Floating bar. This is quite a unique feature and it would have been really neat had it been staffed. We certainly understand how not every feature was “Open” as this port is built for 5,000 or more guests and the Journey is only 650 strong. But it sure was nice having the run of the place and never having to wait for anything. By 2:30 we had enough and packed up to head back to the ship. On the Journey, three of us headed to the pool and hot tubs to relax just a little. Then after cleaning up from the day, we all met on the pool deck for sail away tunes by Vibz. I also downloaded all our photos to my Surface and brought this log up to date listening to Vibz. Dinner was enjoyed in Discoveries. We went early attempting to make the 8:15 show (which we just made). A nice window table would have been really nice if it wasn't already dark outside! The waiter and dining room manager took very good care of DW's special needs. The 8:15 show was “Out at sea,” a journey around the world without leaving the ship. The show was excellent. We tried the piano entertainer but found he was just not as enjoyable as others. It was also getting late so we called it a night. Sunday, November 24 – At Sea What a beautiful sea day this is! Absolutely perfect weather, mostly sunny and 80 degrees. No whitecaps, a deep blue sea and sky. After we had a light breakfast delivered by room service, we visited to Lido for another cup of tea and sat out aft at the rail watching a number of birds following the ship. I am pretty sure I spied some flying fish as well. The shops were having a “Black Friday sale” and we found two clearance items at an additional 20% off. That takes care of the “Non refundable OBC” that Azamara gave us for booking. Today was a Sunday Brunch in discoveries, with music by the Journey orchestra. What a truly delightful event this was. The food was excellent as well. We headed up to the pool deck as the Starlight Trio was playing two sets beginning at 12:30. We enjoyed their performance greatly, sitting at our favorite shaded table. We left for the 2:00 scavenger hunt. The four of us, with a quickly determined team name of AzAmazing ended up winning the hunt with 138 points! We had tight competition from a group of youngsters that had 134 points. 3:15 brought the Captain's presentation and Q&A session. Speaking of the Captain, we have seen him and the senior staff “Out and about” interacting with guests all the time. Holland America could take some lessons from Celebrity and Azamara in this regard. We went to get ready for the evening and visited the Living Room for the Starlight Trio set. Dinner was in Discoveries and our waiter, Shaad, does a terrific job keeping the wine flowing of our favorite South African red. He also watches over DW's special food sensitivities. We are asking for Shaad each night. We thought we went early to the Cabaret for the 9:30 show, cruise director “Eric de Gray” with his show from “Vegas to Broadway.” Wow, what a show! A standing ovation ended the performance. After Eric's show we called it a night. Monday, November 25 – Gustavia, St. Barts This was our first visit to St. Barts, an island well know as the playground of the rich and famous. Just our opinion of course, but it is not set up to be friendly for cruisers. 95% of the information I gather from Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor seems accurate, the information on St. Barts was not. How anyone could possibly report the walk from the ferry terminal to the Eden Rock resort and beach as being 35 minutes and “Mostly flat” they must have had way too many rum punches! In any case, we did make the walk, up over the mountain and down past the airport to Eden Rock. The water was murky and snorkeling didn't allow any visibility. Besides, after that hike over to there, much of which on narrow roads with no sidewalks, I was too exhausted for much exertion in the water. We had a pleasant enough time swimming and floating in the delightful water, then walked down the beach to watch a few airplanes take off or land on the very short runway. We walked back to the airport and caught a cab back to the tender landing. Due to my own error, we did not have any Euros and the cab mark-up for US dollars was 50%. Ouch. Back on board we enjoyed lunch on the Patio and took a dip in the pool before getting ready for the evening. The Starlight Trio was playing in the Living Room and we enjoyed dinner with Shaad as our waiter. Our friends went to Aqualina, the Italian specialty restaurant this evening. After swallowing too much salt water during our outing, I wasn't feeling the best at dinner but by the end of the meal, after eating very lightly, was feeling much improved. At 8:30 there was a deck party, “Cherries Jubilee & Dancing” with Vibz on the pool deck. We were able to get a table for the four of us and really enjoyed the music. We were even able to dance a few numbers. We did not make the one-time show of “Just Dance” at 9:45 as it was a long day and we have an early start tomorrow. Tuesday, November 26 – Saint Maarten We were up early as we had an 8:15 meeting time with our friends so we would be on time for our reserved “6 Hour sailing/snorkeling tour” with St. Maarten Charters. We had a quick breakfast in the nearly empty Windows Cafe at 7:40 and met our friends at exactly 8:15. Off we went, taking our time taking photos in the dock area before following our instructions to walk towards town to Chesterfield's restaurant where we were to meet the Spellbound catamaran for our tour. Our instructions were very specific that the meeting time was 9:00, and we were there a few minutes before nine. We were welcomed by the captain and reviewed DW's dietary sensitivities with the very nice lady on board. Some time after 9:00 the captain told us that he was waiting on seven others and was unsure where they were. At about 9:20 we viewed a very large Carnival ship slowly pulling into port. It turned out that his other guests were on this ship. By 10:00 we were still waiting. I'm sorry, but by nature I am a punctual person and there are few things more precious that port time. Waiting an hour after an agreed meeting time is just not right, at least for those who are on time. We ended up leaving while our friends stayed*. We made our way back to the port, against quite a bit of foot traffic from those heading into town from Carnival. Wow, that is a big ship. We looked around a number of shops at the port complex and headed back to Journey. Once on board, we used the pool and while talking figured out this would be a great time to do our laundry in the self-serve and complimentary laundry. We started our two loads and went to the Patio for lunch. They specially prepared a meal for DW and I very much enjoyed their wings and grilled Grouper. We put the laundry into the dryers and enjoyed some relaxation time in the shade on the pool deck. I looked through Trip Advisor on my phone and found a likely outing for Antigua. I sent them both text messages and filled out a booking form, hoping to hear from them later in the day. I did not hear from them until after 10:00 the next morning, too late to join their tour. We enjoyed the pool deck until about 3:00, relaxed a little and got ready for the evening activities. Tonight is Azamara's first-ever “Colors of the Caribbean” event. We had arranged for 6:00 dinner followed by the 8:00 show. Beforehand we enjoyed Vibz playing in the living room. This event was designed to replace Azamara's “Aamazing evening” on shore, which they claim no venue in the Caribbean could be found large enough to host. This is all new to us anyway, but I will just say that without question this was the 'worst' dinner of the cruise. Most of the 'hot' items in the dining room Caribbean buffet were at best lukewarm. I understand why they went to buffet style in order to move half the passengers through in less than two hours, but the execution needs improvement. We went up to the Windows Cafe at about 7:35 to reach the back of the long line for entry to the pool deck. At 7:40 the doors were opened and we were seated. Nice Caribbean hand foods were available and these were quite nice. We were told the show would not actually start until 8:20, to allow time to enjoy the foods and beverages. A few local artisans also had their wares on display. The show itself was quite enjoyable and ended up with the finale being a conga line at about 9:00. This wasn't intended to be the finale, but the skies unexpectedly opened up and with the electronic equipment, and slick deck for the dancers, they needed to call the show at that time. All in all we had a very nice time, but during the next week's event we will attempt to dine in Prime C if it is open. Afterwards, we called it a night to get ready for the next port, as we now have six in a row! Wednesday, November 27 – St. Johns, Antigua. With no early plans we went to the main dining room about 8:00 and had a leisurely breakfast. I ordered the “Steak and eggs” for the second time this cruise and really enjoyed it. Just as we were finishing up our friends came in so we stayed and talked while they had their breakfast. We left the ship about 9:30 to join the masses leaving from three large ships in port with us. Two of them were on extended voyages round trip Europe, a P&O ship and a “Mein Schiff.” Additionally there was a large RCCL ship, so likely about 14,000 cruisers. Working our way through the many drivers offering island tours, we wanted to visit the local market. Well, the market opens at 5:00 AM and by 10:00 AM many of the vendors are long gone. We did find a number of vendors still at the nearby craft market and made a small purchase. We walked passed the bus station and back along Market street to the town center. After a while the smells were getting to us so we headed back to the Journey while our friends did a little more shopping. Back on board we enjoyed the pool and lunch. After lunch the two ladies went out to look over a few other ships near the other quay, while the men stayed around or in the pool. The evening included a “Discovers” event on the forward open deck on deck 11. This was an extremely nice with all the senior officers greeting their repeat cruisers. We spoke at some length with Eric, the cruise director and entertainer. Dinner was very nice in Discoveries although tonight it seemed the dining room was unusually busy. In fact, we did not see an empty table. Thru a combination of things dinner ended up taking nearly 2 ½ hours, but the wine kept flowing! We went straight from dinner to the Cabaret and secured good seats for tonight's one time show, Eric de Gray's “Broadway Showstoppers” & tribute to Abba. What an absolutely incredible show. Very likely the best show we've ever seen on our 35 or so cruises. The show wasn't over until 10:30 and at that point we called it a night. Thursday, November 28, Thanksgiving Day (US), Basseterre, St. Kitts. We had a plan for the day. The plan included leaving the ship by 9:00 to head to South Friar's Beach. We just wanted an hour on the beach to swim and then planned to return to the ship for lunch, then going out to see some things in town. That was a good plan, but the weather had other ideas. From 8:00 – 9:30 or so it was raining buckets. So when it appeared to let up just a little we did venture out with the Azamara room umbrellas. It soon did stop raining to we visited Independence Square, the Cathedral, walked over to St. George's Anglican Church hoping to climb the bell tower (it was not open), and then headed back towards the port. All-together this was nearly 7000 steps. Back in the port complex we went directly to the Caribelle Batik shop. On our last visit here we were at Romney Manor, where this process is actually performed, creating unique apparel in a multi-step dying process. I ended up buying a shirt and we also obtained a gift for someone back home. After this stop the men returned to the ship while the ladies visited a number of the other shops. As the Journey is the only ship in port they had the stores largely to themselves. We all enjoyed lunch and then the ladies went back out to see the shops. It had become a beautiful day but the beach had much less appeal with the early afternoon sun, so the pool deck was very welcome. We watched the crew work very hard to decorate for the “White Night” party this evening. The ladies returned and it was soon time to get ready for the evening. We had a 5:00 “Back to Back” cruisers meeting in the Cabaret. There are nearly 90 staying on board for the next 7 day round trip San Juan cruise. We met with the dining host to reserve Prime C for the Caribbean night (Barbados) as we thought that was the least satisfactory meal on this cruise. During the meeting much to everyone's dismay it began raining. On our way back to our cabin Eric made the announcement that the White Night party was being moved indoors to the Cabaret. The Thanksgiving deck buffet was moving to the Windows Cafe. Our plan was to dine in Discoveries where the menu included traditional Thanksgiving options such as Turkey and Ham. However, all four of us opted for the Chilean Sea Bass. Wow, that was incredible Sea Bass! In all honesty, it was a great menu overall this evening. We told Shaad that we wanted to be finished by 8:00 to get to the party in time to get seats. The dining room ended up being completely packed out with folks waiting. We were out of there at 8:05 and were able to get seats we liked for the White Night party. During the warm up for the party three members of the senior staff were making Crepes Suzette in the rear of the Cabaret. They were also really into the party atmosphere dancing along with the DJ's tunes. The party itself was a lot of fun. The entertainment staff went all-out, non-stop, for nearly two full hours without a break. They succeeded in getting a great number of folks involved on the dance floor. We took advantage of most of the slower numbers. When the party was over, we were more than ready to call it a night! Friday, November 29 - “Black Friday” (US), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands This was our first visit to Virgin Gorda. The unique feature this island with a population of 3,500 is best known for are the “Baths.” These unique rocks along the southwest coast of the island are deep-earth rocks propelled through the air by volcanic eruptions at some past time. The winds and sea have sculpted them over the centuries and they have created a unique set of coves, tide pools, and caves just waiting to be explored. Explore we did! We first met in Discoveries for a breakfast of “Steak and eggs” at 7:30. By 8:30 we were heading for the tender. We ended up tendering with three tour groups from the ship. We managed to stay just ahead of one of them upon arrival at the baths. We were instructed to take the path towards Devil's Bay beach and then go through the caves to the baths beach. This was certainly one of the most unique things we've done in the Caribbean in many years. I hope we make it back to Virgin Gorda in the future to explore some more. We also made good use of our snorkel equipment at the bath's beach. With all the submerged and semi-submerged boulders, that became a great spot for coral to grow and many fish congregate there. I shot quite a few underwater photos. Getting out of the water DW was pushed by the waves into a few submerged rock ledges and she and our Around noon we tried to go back into the caves to more fully explore a swimming area in the cave but we were told that the path through the caves was “One way” due to “Two ships being in port.” (We did not ever see another ship...) We were not up to climbing the hill and beginning the process all over again, although looking back a few days later, maybe we should have tried. We did peruse a shop at the parking area and a couple of “Clearance” shirts were acquired as a reminder of our great time at Virgin Gorda. We were directed to one of the open air converted van taxis for the ride back to the marina. It took quite a while to get moving, and we arrived at the marina to quite a line of folks waiting to return to the Journey. We were able to obtain a few cups of cold water and about 15 minutes later we were on the tender back to Journey. Back on the ship we dropped our bags in our cabin and headed up for lunch at the Patio. The staff there take such good care of us, keeping our favorite wines flowing along with 'safe' foods for DW. We enjoyed a little pool time before getting ready for the evening. Dinner in Discoveries was greatly enjoyed with the premier dish tonight being “Surf & Turf.” Most of us had some variety of this. Also this last evening was the “Infamous Chocolate Buffet.” Very reminiscent of what Holland America used to do on each cruise, there is an incredible abundance of Chocolate of every variety, cakes, gelato, etc. My personal favorite was the dark-chocolate covered marshmallows. We bought a few photos at the gallery. Then we agreed to one final nightcap at the Spirit's Bar before heading to our cabin for the final evening. We passed on the show this evening of the guest entertainer, David Knight, a hypnotist. Saturday, November 30 – San Juan, PR, USA The Journey docked very early (before 6:00) as this is disembarkation day for all but 90 of the guests. Our cruising friends were leaving the ship as they are flying back to Florida on Monday. Despite the early docking, no one was allowed to leave the ship (even the walk-off guests) until all the luggage was unloaded, which was not until after 8:30 AM. Sure glad we do not have an early flight next week Saturday! We packed up our non-hanging clothing and toiletries to be moved three cabins to #4023 for the next 7 day segment. We met our friends in the Windows Cafe at 7:45 and enjoyed a last breakfast together on board. At 8:35 we returned to our cabin to find that the housekeeping team had already moved everything into #4023 except for our safe items. We took care of that and secured that material in our new cabin. We took advantage of the time to put most of our clean clothing into drawers in 4023, and then left the ship with our friends at about 9:05. We took many photos along this walk and while approaching the El Morro fortress, our friends heard a bicyclist take a tumble. They tended to this man and called 911. It took 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. This happened when we had left them to find water, which we purchased bottles from a vendor nearby for $1/bottle. They ended up using the water we bought for them for the injured man. There is very little shade near El Morro but I did retreat to the shade of a monument. We were all back together and headed to the beverage vendor to obtain four more water bottles. We then walked toward the main pier area as we wanted to visit CVS. On the way, we saw there was a handicrafts market at the La Princesa Promenade so we did view the various vendor's goods. As we neared CVS we did notice an increase in the breeze and some dark clouds approaching. We obtained what we needed in CVS and by then the skies had opened into a downpour. As is typical in the Caribbean, this did not last long, but it was long enough that it delayed us from our planned walk back to Plaza Colon to take the complimentary shuttle back to the Journey, so we called an Uber for the $7 ride. We bade farewell to our good friends who we hope to see during a Florida visit in February. Summary: We have cruised about 35 times. The majority of cruises are on Celebrity and Holland America, with a few other lines occasionally. Really enjoy the smaller ships. Favorite ship was HAL Prinsendam but it was sold. New favorite is the Journey. A few years ago I wrote in a review “I guess the days of 5-star cruising are history.” Well, that is not true. I feel that Azamara gives a five star experience. When we can, if the price fits into the budget, we would happily cruise on Azamara again. The food and service are great! Love the more inclusiveness of the fare. The thing that was very unexpected is the quality of the entertainment. It is hard to remember a cruise where we enjoyed every bit of the entertainment as much as we have on these two cruises. Some of the shows were repeated during the second segment. They are so good we went to see them a second time! So 5 stars for the good ship Journey. May she and her outstanding crew have a long and happy life! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
SUMMARY: It is very easy to recommend Azamara as their exceptionally attentive service will make any cruise a very pleasant experience. Their prices may be higher than RCCL, Celebrity, or Princess but the extra cost will be forgotten ... Read More
SUMMARY: It is very easy to recommend Azamara as their exceptionally attentive service will make any cruise a very pleasant experience. Their prices may be higher than RCCL, Celebrity, or Princess but the extra cost will be forgotten once you've enjoyed their exceptional service. People may ask how Azamara compares to Oceania. While both are Premium “Smaller Ship” Cruise lines, our choice would be Azamara given similar itineraries. HITS & OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT HITS: • Service on the Azamara Journey was exceptional throughout our cruise. George, our cabin attendant was very efficient as well as being very friendly. Our servers in the Main Dining Cabin (JR & Oliver) were also excellent. • The Captain was very visible and cordial. The cruise director was very personable plus was a featured entertainer in several shows. • The shows were all excellent an unrecognized value of any cruise. Live Entertainment was much better than might be expected for a small ship. The ship's band/orchestra was excellent and the on deck band was equally entertaining. The Cabaret Lounge had ample comfortable seating. • Living Room was our favorite place on the ship to hang out and relax or read. It is quiet, had ample comfortable chairs and couches. There is also a bar with finger foods in the afternoon. • Azamara’s complementary self serve laundry was very useful and convenient. • Embarkation and Disembarkation were both very quick & easy. This is understandable since there were less than 700 people to process. AREAS WHERE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEEDED • Service in the Patio Café was not as attentive as in the Discovery Dining Cabin or the Windows Cafe. • The cabin had a curved large chair / very small love seat that. It was too small for 2 people and the curved shape was a poor use of space in the cabin • TV was disappointing because the content was quite limited. Pay movies were very overpriced at $11.95. • The refrigerator cabinet in the cabin needs venting in order to work efficiently. We had to keep the cabinet door open in order for the refrigerator to get cold. It would be better to simply remove the door to allow adequate airflow that allows the refrigerator to work properly than keeping the door open which was a tripping hazard. • Internet was $19.95 for 60 minutes or $24.95 per day. Logging on or off was same as other cruise lines which many guests found to be confusing and lost their precious few minutes as a result of not completing the process properly. Fortunately, Adriana at the Reception Desk understood this issue and cheerfully restored the forfeited minutes. DETAILED OBSERVATIONS Day 1 - EMBARKATION: Azamara check in was very fast because Azamara's Check In process was very quick and easy because we has pre registered our personal information and we arrived about 11:45 (which was well ahead of the crowd) Lunch was at the buffet with the usual first day confusion. Our baggage arrived just after we had walked around the ship exploring. The mandatory life boat drill to explain the safety procedures was held soon after sail away activities. Our first dinner onboard was excellent with very attentive service. Day 2 - AT SEA: We explored the ship. The weather was warm so many people were in the pool area. The Azamara Journey is not a large ship. We got more familiar with the public areas of the ship. These are named "Living Room, Cabaret Lounge, Den, Patio, etc. The Living Room was our favorite place to sit, view the ocean, read, and relax. They have a small band in the evenings. DAY 3 - LABADEE: The weather could not have been better. A few clouds and 80 degrees. I had pre booked a Kayak Tour of the bay. It was OK but nothing more than a guided Kayak Rental. I also had a nice lunch at the Labadee cafe and a great nap on a nearby beach lounge chair after the excursion. My wife has booked a harbor cruise tour. Regrettably, she felt unwell and did not go on her excursion. DAY 4 - AT SEA This was our second (and final ) at sea day. More rest and relaxation. The evening’s entertainment was fantastic. The 8:00 show featured pianist Peter Rossetti playing a fine rendition of Billy Joel and Elton John hits. The 9 15 show featured the Cruise Director, Eric who sang a medley of Broadway show songs. His voice is equal to Josh Grobin's! We then stayed up well past midnight chatting with new friends. DAY 5 – St Barts This is a small island just over 8 square miles in area. It is too small for many cruise ships so it remains relatively unspoiled. (Pictures attached) The Sea Dream Yacht Club (Sea Dream 2) was the only other small cruise ship in harbor. The weather was typical for the Caribbean during November, mid 80s with partly cloudy skies. I thought it was quite pleasant but it was a bit humid for My wife. We hadn't booked any shore excursions for this island because we didn't see anything that interested us. Since we had a very late night, we took the morning slow by relaxing on the veranda enjoying the view and catching up on this trip report. My wife did a load of laundry in the complementary self service laundry too. Later in the day, we took the ship's tender into the town of Gustavia. The town was named after the king of Sweden during the 1600s when St Barts was controlled by Sweden. The Swedish government gave St Barts back to France in exchange for some French territory during the late 1700s. DAY 6 - St Maarten Beautiful weather. My wife really enjoyed her island tour that visited the Dutch and French sides of the island. Her tour traveled to parts of St Maartin that had not been rebuilt after the devastating 2018 hurricane. She recommends this tour. I booked the Catamaran sail with snorkeling and beach excursion. The boat was well staffed with a friendly, attentive, and compete crew. The snorkeling stop was not the most interesting in the world but still adequate. The beach stop was enjoyable. One unexpected treat was a short stop at the St Maartin airport right under the famous low altitude airplane landing approach. (Picture attached) I would recommend this excursion for people looking for an active activity. Caribbean Nights show was onboard (in place of Azamara’s Azamazing Evening) was a good effort but not really to our liking. Day 8 St Kitts We booked the St. Kitts Scenic Railway excursion. This Narrow Gage train was built nearly a century ago to transport sugar cane from the fields to the sugar mill in Basseterre. We really enjoyed our trip in double deck rail cars that gave us a panoramic journey that circled the entire island of St Kitts. (Picture attached). DAY 8 St Johns Antigua Paraphrasing my Father in Law, "It's another beautiful day in the Caribbean" as Antigua is a beautiful island. My wife enjoyed her city tour of St John. I had booked a more active tour Hiking, snorkeling and kayak excursion that was located on an outer island in St John Bay. Needless to say, I was exhausted after my tour. We can recommend either tour depending on your desired activity level. The evening’s entertainment was the Cruise Director singing Broadway songs. He is a great entertainer. Day 9 Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands We didn’t see any excursions that we were interested in so we spent the day relaxing and the afternoon repacking our bags for the 11 PM Luggage pick-up. Day 10 DISEMBARKATION San Juan Puerto Rico: Azamara’s disembarkation process is similar to most other cruise lines, (instructions and luggage tags issued the night before with Luggage in the hall by 11). The main difference is that there were smaller groups of guests in the customs hall so we were able to find our luggage in under a minute. The Customs & Immigration officers in San Juan were very quick and efficient so we were through their process in under 5 minutes. We completed the entire process well before 9 am. We had booked a San Juan city tour with airport drop off. The 3-hour tour covered the "Old town" as well as "New Town" San Juan. Our driver/guide was very interesting and informative so it is easy to recommend this tour as a way to see the city sights before a late afternoon flight. Earlier flights (not recommended any earlier than 11am) should go directly to the airport which is a 30 minutes ride from the San Juan Cruise Terminal. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise as the price was reduced significantly with lots of onboard credit due to the cancellation of Cuba itineraries. We were on this ship 9 years ago and amazingly had the same captain and cruise director -both of whom are ... Read More
We chose this cruise as the price was reduced significantly with lots of onboard credit due to the cancellation of Cuba itineraries. We were on this ship 9 years ago and amazingly had the same captain and cruise director -both of whom are wonderful. We are diehard Princess fans with around 100 total cruises, but we wanted to give Azamara a try. We enjoyed our earlier cruise and read so much about how upscale this cruise line was. It is hard to beat the small ship experience and we have many cruises on the new Pacific Princess which is an identical ship. So much so you may forget which line you are on. There are a number of nice little touches provided such as shoe horn, umbrella, clock, large tv, fresh flowers etc. We had an inside room which while bigger is quite awkward. Would not book again. Toiletries which last time were Elemis, this time were brand x. We ate in the MDR where food was fully acceptable as well as the buffet - our preference for a much quicker meal. We are not foodies. You can order from the outside grill in the buffet which has an extensive evening menu. The night we did - with 5 other tables occupied it took 45 minutes to get our entree. Our biggest disappointment was the wait staff particularly in the buffet and patio. They range from indifferent to downright surly and rude. And not just one or two, but many. You get the feeling you are in their way and don't wish to be bothered. Not quite as bad as the MDR - but there we waited one night for one hour for our first course. Entertainment is almost entirely ships staff. In fairness, however, Eric the cruise director is one of the finest entertainers we have ever seen. But, what happens when he is not there. We had one guest hypnotist - not our favorite type. The singers and dancers are hard working, but it is tiresome seeing them over and over. In short, it simply is not for us. Others in our traveling group were quite happy with the experience. So to each his own. Give it a try and reach your own conclusion. For us we are looking forward to our Island Princess cruise in 2 weeks! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We booked this crossing as we were headed back to the States after a long holiday in Europe and the departure and arrival ports fit our plans. This was our 35th cruise and our 5th time on Azamara. The best part of the trip were the ... Read More
We booked this crossing as we were headed back to the States after a long holiday in Europe and the departure and arrival ports fit our plans. This was our 35th cruise and our 5th time on Azamara. The best part of the trip were the people we met on board. We had many fun evenings over drinks in the Living Room before dinner and dancing after dinner. We booked a large suite and were very happy there enjoying the vast amount of space and amenities. We had continental breakfast each day in the suite and spend a good part of the day working on our hobbies there. Suite service was impeccable. Staying in the suite gave us unlimited access to the specialty restaurants so we dined in one of the other almost every night. Excellent food there, although we did get a bit tired of the menus. We took advantage of the special Indonesian Rice Table and loved that spicy food. Lunch each day in the buffet or on the Patio was quite good with lots of quality to choose from. Our one time in the Discoveries main dining room was not a success. Good service on board and the staff try very hard. Often there was a problem with a server unable to understand us and a number of requests or orders got mixed up. I think the problem is too many staff have limited English language skills, and this creates problems. There was also too much upsell such as in the spa/salon and in the specialty restaurants where the wine servers tried to talk us out of the wines we bought and tried to sell us a more expensive selection. That was truly annoying. There was a lack of quality activities on board. Just about everything going on was down market or a sales pitch, so after many sea days, I got bored. AZ is not the right line for those who crave high brow activities on sea days; they just don't happen. Most of the entertainment was mediocre cruise ship fare. The exceptions were the White Night (great fun) and a guest comedian who was quite clever. We walked out of many shows and avoided the rock band who were just not very good. I went to the fitness center everyday and it was OK. They need to buy another recumbent bike as the 2 are often in use and I had to wait my turn. My biggest disappointment is the demise of the black jack tables with human dealers. They currently have ugly machines where one can play black jack or roulette,, and these will eventually be removed along with the slot machines. These big machines were so unpopular that they created a negative buzz and as a result the whole casino area was empty day and night. On a long crossing this was deadly dull. Playing black jack is one of my favorite activities on board a ship, so I am not sure I will return to AZ with the demise of the casinos. Overall this was a mass market experience was a few perks like free gratuities and free cheap wine. If we had not met so many nice people and had not had such a comfortable suite, I would have been unhappy. And as I wrote, as the casinos to away, I will probably go away as well. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We had never cruised because the thought of a floating city with 1000s of people sounded like a nightmare. We liked the idea of a smaller ship and the longer times on shore really appealed to us. We also liked the ports of call. We were ... Read More
We had never cruised because the thought of a floating city with 1000s of people sounded like a nightmare. We liked the idea of a smaller ship and the longer times on shore really appealed to us. We also liked the ports of call. We were pleased beyond our wildest expectations! From our cabin steward to the captain, including the hotel director, Cruise director and Assistant cruise director, the singer/dancers, the amazing gentlemen who ensured we always had a cappuccino or coke zero in hand, every single person greeted us with big smiles, kind words and excellent service. The food was heavenly. I dont metabolize sugar well, so I was thrilled to find no sugar added treats at every meal. Cheesecake. Cookies. Cream-filled pastries. Fruit-topped custards. And, of course, gelato. We originally thought we would skip the onboard entertainment. I'm so glad we didn't! The music and dancing were lively and very well done. The entertainers seemed to love what they were doing. The cello concert in Old Dubrovnik was complementary. It was beautiful. Very well organized, as well, considering our ship was using a public town square cordoned off for our entertainment. We loved the White Night Party. The hotel director and food/beverage director were making crepes while dancing to the live music. The energy and fun were contagious.A huge MSC ship was moored next to us and many passengers were watching our party. I will never forget our Italian captain announcing, " We have made jealous the ship next door"! Bottom line: we are going on a 2nd Azamara cruise 9 months after our 1st. As our daughter said, we have become "people who cruise." Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
There were 6 of us on this cruise, one couple with 4 other women. We started our trip with 3 days in London. Some of us had been on the Journey before and looked forward to coming back. Those new to it loved the cruise. We choose this ... Read More
There were 6 of us on this cruise, one couple with 4 other women. We started our trip with 3 days in London. Some of us had been on the Journey before and looked forward to coming back. Those new to it loved the cruise. We choose this for the ship and the itinerary. The service was excellent as expected. We loved "welcome home" every-time we returned to the ship. Embarkation was slow because of a technical problem. Our first stop was Bruges. We did it on our own, took a train into town, the station was right at the dock. Lots of walking but a beautiful place. Next Amsterdam. We did a ship excursion to the countryside to see windmills. Lots of rain all day, but we enjoyed the scenery. The amazing evening was at a maritime museum, we enjoyed the music and the canal boat ride. The next day some of us went to the Rijksmuseum on a ship excursion and others enjoyed the city on their own. The next day was the Kiel canal. It was like a sea day, but so interesting to go through the locks. We did a ship excursion to Berlin. It was a long bus ride (3 hours) and our driver forgot to make a comfort stop. Near the end of the drive they announced that there was a bathroom on the bus for emergencies. Glad I saw Berlin, but was not my trip highlight Next was a sea day. Always enjoy these and we had a wonderful brunch in the dining room. Helsinki was the next stop. We did not do a tour, but enjoyed a nice little marketplace at the dock. The next 3 days were in St. Petersburg, the highlight of the trip for me. We did a tour with ALLA tours and loved it. Only 12 people on a small bus and so much to see. Great guide and lunches were included. The white night was in St Petersburg. The food and entertainment was great but the weather was cold so it was not as enjoyable as it could have been. Tallinn was next. We enjoyed a tour from our travel agent of the old town and visited a manor home in the country where we had a wonderful meal. Our last port was Stockholm and we stayed 2 extra days. We visited the Vasa museum and Old Town. Enjoyed Stockholm except for the rain. There were many tourists everywhere since it was August. So glad we did tours or ordered advance tickets to most places. The cabin worked well for us - plenty of storage space. The bathroom is small, but not an issue. Better internet service would be welcomed. I love Azamara cruises. This was my fourth - 3rd on the Journey. It has been a few years and i wasn't sure if it would be the same. The service was still wonderful and it was nice to see some familiar faces. I enjoyed the Living Room area, but it did fill up at times. The food was still excellent and I enjoyed the included wine. We had several amazing buffets during the trip. The Chocolate buffet was unbelievable. We ate mainly in the dining room; did not do any specialty restaurants. Breakfast was either Discovery, Windows or room service - all were good. We had one lunch at the Patio and I really enjoyed an Azamara burger and onion rings. Entertainment was good, but not as good as I remembered. Cruise director Eric was not on this trip and I missed him although Danny and Lee were good. Captain Johannes was always around greeting people and letting us know what was happening. I still love Azamara and in several weeks I will be on the Azamara Journey around Spain. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We sailed in July with Azamara for the second time. Our first cruise with Azamarawas on the Pursuit in the Autumn of last year. The only real difference we could see between the ships was the Casino, when that is removed and the Lounge ... Read More
We sailed in July with Azamara for the second time. Our first cruise with Azamarawas on the Pursuit in the Autumn of last year. The only real difference we could see between the ships was the Casino, when that is removed and the Lounge becomes bigger it is a definite improvement. However The Journey is a lovely ship, we did not notice any shabby areas, she gleamed! Add to the experience the wonderful crew, a Captain who was so personable and who made in scheduled ‘stops’ so the chef could source local Norwegian berries and cheese and you have a recipe for a fun time. We even did an oil rig safari! Not many can say that! The food, service and overall holiday was first class. We are already booking two back to back cruises with Journey in November, can’t wait. Caribbean here we come! Thank you Azamara for Azamazing holidays Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked this cruise to get a comparison of our extensive experience with Viking. We’d lost our affinity for Viking due to a nasty situation regarding a cancelled cruise credit due us. So, we felt Azamara might be our next logical ... Read More
We booked this cruise to get a comparison of our extensive experience with Viking. We’d lost our affinity for Viking due to a nasty situation regarding a cancelled cruise credit due us. So, we felt Azamara might be our next logical choice to try. Embarkation: We landed at 7:00 am in London, waited in a crowded seating area for other passengers to board a bus to Southampton. That was okay, but upon arrival at Southampton we were given instructions to sit in a large waiting area. No estimated time of checkin, no information at all. The soon to become oft-vaunted suite passengers were invited to line up for security and checkin. The remaining dross like us were cattle called into a lengthy line for security, the somewhat shorter numbered lines for checkin. Checkin took three hours from arrival in Southampton. Had I known, I would have booked a private transfer after snoozing in the Virgin Revival lounge available to Delta One passengers. We booked the near-lowest cabin class - an Oceanview Stateroom. Much has been said about the tiny bathrooms and it’s all true. What’s hilarious is you have to upgrade to a suite to get an adequate bathroom. I would have been livid to pay a veranda stateroom price for that same shower that cannot comfortably contain a size 8 woman. The finishes were fine and the toiletries on offer were equal to a two star hotel. We were in 4002 and had no problems with noise from the Caberet Lounge above. We did have some bow thruster noise, but overall, a quiet cabin. Bed quality was just fine. Our stateroom was everything promised - in distant, low-res pictures. Upon closer examination, the noted “full refurbishment” of 2016 has had a hard life, based on our observations. The furniture in our cabin was nicked and worn. It was also mismatched. The carpet was worn and grimy to the point I wouldn’t walk on it without slipper or shoes. It was interesting to note our nightstands didn’t match. There was no clock available except on the standard def tv. This provided extra fun as I used my phone for an alarm in oft-changing time zones, depending on having an Internet connection to update my phone - no luck there, more later. Storage was adequate, the bed was comfortable, it was easy to control the cabin temp in the cool Baltic weather, and the room cleaning was adequate if not terribly speedy (we’ve seen Viking staterooms cleaned in less than a half hour). Wi-fi service was an expensive rip-off. I spent endless hours simply connecting to the network. I’d log on, move to a new location (once as short a move as two deck chairs) only to be dropped. We never had this issue on Viking except some intermittent issues at sea. All our problems with Azamara’s network took place both in port and at sea. Don’t buy it. Most ports on our cruise worked just fine. We logged onto a giant MS ship in port. Food was generally excellent. Service in the restaurants ranged from ok to terrible. The specialty restaurants were a waste of money. They offered nothing superior to what we could get in the main restaurant and the Italian Aquafina served us the two worst meals we had. Book your own excursions. Azamara’s were expensive and offered poor value. For the most part guides didn’t use the popular headphones/receivers and they had to have us crowd in to hear. One plus was plenty of room to spread out. Azamara’s air booking is fabulous compared to Viking. You get to choose your preferred itinerary and price based on the buying power of Royal Caribbean. Public areas on the Journey were uneven. The furniture in “The Living Room” was grimy and worn. Most windows had eroded finishes and uncared for brasses. Entertainment was okay and varied. I don’t cruise for the floor shows. Once again I think Viking takes this whole category - all finishes are crisp and new looking. The entertainment is geared more toward informational lectures applicable to ports visited. I wish I could take the two lines and pick and choose the best of each to come up with a great value cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Azamara folk are incredibly loyal and proud of their ship, and that’s just the guests! (Well, the staff are loyal and proud too). This was our first Azamara cruise, so I’m barely qualified to write this review, surrounded as we were by ... Read More
Azamara folk are incredibly loyal and proud of their ship, and that’s just the guests! (Well, the staff are loyal and proud too). This was our first Azamara cruise, so I’m barely qualified to write this review, surrounded as we were by guests cruising Azamara for their fifth, tenth, even twentieth time in its ten-year history. The Captain set the tone, sociable, warm, and happy to show us Norway through his eyes. Our two (three?) sets of cruise directors brought enthusiasm and warmth to the trip. Entertainment maybe leaned too heavily on Broadway, but we appreciated the effort and I really liked the house band and the lounge performers. The cultural lectures were pertinent and valuable to appreciating our all-Norway itinerary. The cooking demonstrations were enjoyable and offered a peek at the professionalism and mutual respect that exists among the kitchen crew, which surely is not always the case. The AzAmazing evening featured a brilliant concert in Trondheim’s Nidaros Cathedral, and the White Night gave us an opportunity to cheer for the staff as they paraded through. Shore excursions were hit-and-miss and overpriced as usual, but we followed the pre-cruise Roll Call here on CruiseCritic and had a good mix of internal and external bookings. Well done Azamara! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because, during a previous World Journey cruise, we were told that the Baltics was where we should go next. We have found that, even though we think we are well traveled, those we spoke with on that cruise made us ... Read More
We chose this cruise because, during a previous World Journey cruise, we were told that the Baltics was where we should go next. We have found that, even though we think we are well traveled, those we spoke with on that cruise made us feel we never left our state. The reason that we keep coming back to the Azamara Journey is because of the intimacy of the experience. The crew continues to make us feel like family. Under the direction of Heike Berdos, they perform flawlessly. Nothing is a problem, but rather a pleasure and a challenge to keep raising their individual bar of excellence. The food was spectacular as normal. We ate in the specialty restaurants most nights, but enjoyed the outdoor grill on a regular breakfast. The Butler service with afternoon canapes and morning breakfast was deal winner for us. There is a "Best of the Best" dinner that shows the imagination of Chef Iwan made the cruise special. Probably the thing we loved the most is the small size of the ship and how we were able to dock only a couple blocks from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. We saw the other ship docked very far away from city when we visited Peterhof. I would not like that experience. We will be on again in November after drydock and anxious to see what other improvement they have made. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because ... Read More
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because of an upgrade, we were staying in a Club Continent Suite as opposed to our usual Veranda 2. We really enjoyed the extra space, but did not utilize all the perks associated with the Suite. One of the perks was complimentary dining in the Specialty Restaurants, a choice we made for four of the 14 nights. For other dinners, of course, we ate in Discoveries (the main dining room), and on the Patio. Most breakfasts we frequented Windows, the buffet area. We were very pleased with the food in all the venues, especially the attention paid to certain food intolerances that limit some of our choices. One of the attractions for us on Azamara is the friendly and attentive service on board..From the room stewards to the waiting staff in the dining areas, this cruise was no exception. The friendliness is true of most officers as well. Although not noted for entertainment, in this case Azamara provided some of the best we have enjoyed. From The Azamazing Evening to more casual events, we found a lot to enjoy. Hard to pick out a port that was more enjoyable than the others. Because of our travelling through four countries, each port provided some interesting contrasts. As we sailed further North the weather cooled and rain became a sometime occurrence. That added to the variety of experiences on this itinerary. We participated in only two shore excursions. The trip to see Bayeux and its famous tapestry was well worth the cost. The walking tour of Cadiz was good but not amazing. In both cases we were travelling in relatively small groups. Most of the ports were quite accessible for those who wanted to explore on their own, and Azamara provided free shuttles where needed and appropriate. As part of that service, usually there was a guide at the drop-off points with maps and helpful suggestions. After sailing up the Thames the previous day, disembarkation at Greenwich was a little more complicated than at most ports. But the staff on the ships had it well under control, and there was a surplus of attendants on shore to assure that you made your connection with taxis for the airport, for travel home, or for extended stays in London. For the reasons above, out of 18 cruises this was one of our favourites. Although the itinerary is not one of the common ones offered, we think others should give it serious consideration. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night ... Read More
Ship is nice with a good itinerary. The idea of spending the night in a few ports was attractive. However, the itinerary changed 3 times after we had booked and we booked only 100 days out. These changes actually took out an entire night in Rouen, France which changed the ability to spend an evening in Paris which was our plan. Azamara's goal is to make this a boutique cruise catering to a smaller group of people. Our ship was to capacity with 690 guests on board. The attempt is a good one and the entertainment is definitely top notch. However, to compare this line to Windstar or Seabourne on anything but entertainment would be a disappointment. The crew is friendly, food is good, not exceptional, staterooms are small and the bathrooms are tiny. The idea of all inclusive beverages is a bit misleading as they up sell 2 different drink packages to include certain mixed drinks and certain brands of liquor. On the included drink package if you want to order say a mojito, you must specifically ask for the basic liquor or they charge you for it. There is a very basic list of drinks that can be ordered on the regular package anything that differs from that list, if you don't specifically ask for the included liquor package, will be charged to your room. It cheapens the experience. On other boutique cruise lines all drinks are included unless you specifically ask for the top shelf liquor, then you are charged for a top shelf liquor. On the positive side, they have a wonderful smoothie bar in the buffet every morning. All food in the buffet is labeled for gluten,dairy,vegan etc. Some of the staff are better than others when it comes to accommodating dietary needs. Gluten free was a trick for many and by the end of the cruise I gave up asking for GF items ie bread as it seemed liked too great a challenge and just ate the items I knew were GF. We had a balcony state rooms which was nice. Smaller than other ships but adequate. The bathroom is a joke. Literally, no room for 2 people to stand in the space. To brush our teeth while the other person was brushing theirs, one of us would have to get in the shower to accommodate for space. (We're not large people). Entertainment was by far much better than other boutique lines. Cruise director Eric is extremely talented and ran a fabulous entertainment department. I would sale on Azamara again but I would consider it a nice cruise line not a luxury boutique line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise due to ports we were visiting for the first time. It was our first Azamara cruise on a smaller ship. We have cruised with Princess and royal Caribbean on our previous 9 cruises without too many complaints. We Just ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to ports we were visiting for the first time. It was our first Azamara cruise on a smaller ship. We have cruised with Princess and royal Caribbean on our previous 9 cruises without too many complaints. We Just loved the ship size, we agreed that it was such a relaxed feeling for both passengers and crew. The service was great, a big thanks to all the crew for enhancing our vacation experience... thanks to Pitoon in the casino bar for your professional service, cheers mate! As has been described many times the azamazing evening and white night were fantastic events. We will definitely cruise Azamara again in the future thanks to all crew from chefs to cleaners for service with a smile. Surprisingly we found the food to be an equivalent quality to previous cruises, but not as many choices. All in all really good food. We really enjoy eating in the dining room, but was disappointed when themed buffet style food was offered in both the dining room and the buffet at the same time. Why remove the dining room choice? If I wanted buffet food I would go to the buffet? Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I just enjoy getting away on my own from time to time and cruising is my favorite way to escape. It is always more fun to have my travel buddies with me but it’s not always possible and cruising is a way to make new friends or hang out ... Read More
I just enjoy getting away on my own from time to time and cruising is my favorite way to escape. It is always more fun to have my travel buddies with me but it’s not always possible and cruising is a way to make new friends or hang out alone, if you prefer. For some reason, “all in the same boat” seems to be the perfect motto for single travelers and the reason to travel that way. Azamara ships are the perfect size for me. Small enough to navigate easily, super friendly staff and management and this last trip, GREAT entertainment! I know you can get bigger shows on bigger ships (with bigger audiences) but this group were out of New York and outstanding! There was a particular young singer/dancer that I believe will be Broadway bound name Michael Bradley. Not only can he perform, he helped Marcio with our iPad classes. Those were so much fun and I learned a LOT! I hope they have them on all their cruises in the future. Of course, the ship is ready for a “face lift” and having been on the Persuit this summer after its rehab, it’s going to be a big improvement. Yes, the showers are still small and will be after the renovation but some big men showered in the spa shower...just a hint. The “White NIght” was, as always, a highlight of any Azamara cruise. Everyone had a grand time and our cruise director who is also outstanding kept everyone on their feet.Eric deGray is one HUGE talent! The Chef’s table dinner with another special evening..additional, naturally. All in all, I believe I got my moneys worth and will certainly be back with Azamara soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Azamara Journey Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 1.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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