This is one of my only ship reviews I have posted, I am very active on the roll call boards, but never felt the need to comment on a cruise ship before now. We sailed on the Journey for a 12 night sailing. The itinerary and the price was the main reason for doing this trip. The Ports were Amsterdam, Vlissingen, Antwerp (3 nights), Bruges, London (docked off of Greenwich, 6 miles from London City) and Rouen, France (one hour train ride from Paris), disembarked at Southampton, England. This was our second time on Azamara, we had sailed on the Quest about 4 years ago doing the Best of Italy for 14 nights, wonderful is all I can say. We have sailed on Celebrity, Royal, Princess, NCL and Carnival before and we have enjoyed each cruise and each line as they are all different in their own ways. As you can see we haven't been loyal to anyone Cruise Line, we go for the itinerary and time of year. I keep looking into land tours but keep coming back to cruising as you don't have all that packing and unpacking. I must admit I now feel that Azamara is the best Cruise Line we have done to date. I have always said I don't care which cruise line we go on, but now I have to admit that Azamara is far and away the best of the best. I will now go out of my way to look for where they are going to see if it meets with our needs to travel with them again. We are in our early to mid-fifties at time of writing. So that all being said I'll go ahead and put down some of the things we enjoyed:
1. They serve a red and white wine at lunch and dinner, complimentary. Now you'll say it's included in the price of the cruise, well at the deal we got I'd have to say no.
2. Mosaics is the specialty coffee house on deck 5, also complimentary. They had cookies, finger sandwiches etc. to munch on. Great place to meet before exiting the ship, if you're not tendering you disembark on Deck 5. Tenders exit on Deck 4.
We stayed on the Journey and had Cabin 6068, class: V2. The cabin is Mid-ship on the Port side of Deck 6 and was very quiet. Liked the convenience of being on deck six. The ship docked in every port but one and you exit/enter the ship from deck 5 when docked. The main dinning room is also on Deck 5. The next important deck is deck 9. We never had to wait long for an elevator. As far as the cabin itself, it is a typical Balcony of an "R" class ship, maybe around 170 square feet with a balcony. The balcony is about 4.5' wide and had two plastic chairs and a small glass top table. The view is unobstructed. The cabin had enough storage space and wooden hangers. The bathroom is small but had just enough shelves etc. for a 2 week cruise. Everything in the cabin worked and was in my opinion was in vary good condition with a comfortable bed and pillows.
This tour we were still docked in Antwerp, which is centrally located for day tours to other cities. Our tour to Ghent and the Flemish countryside was again provided by our favorite George Depoorter. We drove into Ghent then walked around the city which is the best way to see Ghent. Visited the castle, the Cathedral and saw the Mystic Lamp painting. George again explained all the sites and showed us wonderful pictures and maps on his I-Pad, very great idea he had using the I-pad. Loved this city and all the sites again. It really helps to have a private guide, there was only six of us. We were able to ask questions about the sites and best of all how people live, their politics, their thoughts about the USA etc. George of course always knew where to eat and what beer to order. Loved everything about Belgium. Would love to return sometime.
Our tour of Brugges was given again by our Buddy George, which by this time was getting the hang of us. Let his hair down a little and we had the best time. We did a canal cruise of the city and a walking tour. Beautiful city. George even set up a private tour of a working Windmill given by the owner, a great tour and very interesting. Again visited all the major sites. George even took us to an inexpensive liquor store so we could restock our cabin. Enjoyed the hell out of Brugges. Can't say enough about our tours to this point, enjoyed them all. We got to see and do so much more then the ship tours as people on board told us when we compared tours at the end of the day.
Our ship docked outside the city of Rouen, the ship provided bus service into the town as it was way to far to walk to Rouen. The weather was getting very warm now, in London it got as high as 90 degrees. Today we toured the Normandy Beaches. Normandy is about a 2 hour drive from Rouen and is not really possible to get there by train so you must drive. Our guide for the day was Dominique Eu Dier (www.guide-normandy-tours.com. A wonderful lady. She explained the invasion and the battles that took place. We toured a small museum that she hadn't toured before as the large tour buses can't get in there and park. A great display at the museum of armaments, uniforms, tanks, jeeps, pictures etc.. She said she will now include this museum in her private tours. Toured the cemetery which was very moving. On the way back we stopped to see the Bayeux Tapestry which was very interesting. When we returned, Dominique offered to show us Rouen as we hadn't had a chance to see the city yet. Very nice and interesting city with a lot of history and beautiful sites and buildings which Dominique explained very well.
On our second day we rode the train to Paris, which is about 1 hour and ten minutes by direct rain. We purchased our train tickets on line in advance. We had arranged for two taxis to pick us up at the ship for the six of us. The cab company screwed up and no one showed on time. So I had to run back to the ship and have them call the cab company, they said their cabs can't hold 6 people (which we knew and that's why we ordered 2 cabs)and because of that they just weren't going to show up. The ship concierge explained it to them and they showed up in about 10 minutes later in time to make our train. We met our Guide as we got off the train. Genevieve Beauchard was again great. Such a bright,lively and wonderful person. E-mail: email@example.com. Paris is just a wonderful city and has so much to see and we will definitely go back some day and spend several days there. Of course we saw all the major sites. Genevieve was even able to get us into a Holiday Inn hotel to their six floor bar (reserved for guests of the hotel only)which offered terrific views of the city as it's the tallest building in that area, not to be missed. Out tour involved walking and using pubic transportation. We ordered our public transport tickets on line in advance. We rode buses, the trains and every worked out very well, great way to get around the city. We ended our tour at the Eiffel Tower (we again purchased tickets on line in advance), having tickets in advance was the best way to go as the line for tickets was over 2 hours long. Genevieve told us we were very lucky to get these tickets as they stopped selling them in advance. Loved Paris and Genevieve was the right person to show us this beautiful city. The sites, the food, just the Vibe of the city was a great experience. After the Eiffel tower we walked around a little and then took the underground back to the train station for the train back to Rouen. When we arrived in Rouen we did have to wait quite a while for a cab back to the ship. Other then that it is a great day.
Our ship docked here at 6:00am and we got off the ship at about 9:00am. Azamara arranged the bus back to Heathrow airport which took about 90 minutes. Everything went off like clock work. What did catch us off guard was that Virgin Atlantic no only had us weigh our check in baggage but also our carry-on bags, we were limited to 14 pounds in our carry-on bags and 50 pounds for our check in baggage. So we had to rearrange our thinks and even had to leave a few unimportant items behind. The flight back was long but Okay.