Baltic Cruise on Azamara Journey: Azamara Journey Cruise Review by iceclutz

Azamara Journey 5
Member Since 2012
39 Forum Posts

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Baltic Cruise on Azamara Journey

Sail Date: June 2012
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Stockholm
My husband and I recently returned from the 6/27 Baltic cruise on the Azamara Journey. Overall, I enjoyed the cruise very much. Now I will tell you what I liked and didn't like.
My biggest complaint was the guest relations desk. At any time, there was only one attendant serving a line of guests. But the bigger problem was that I received incorrect information each and every time I asked a question. Other guests told us they had the same problem and then we overheard still other guests complaining that guest relations was either always wrong or simply did not know. The worst of this occurred when I tried to book transportation from our debarkation point in Copenhagen to the airport. Note that I called Azamara several times before the trip to try to get this information, but was told that guest relations would be glad to arrange it. I needed to leave the ship at 5:00AM. Guest Relations told me that cabs should be waiting at the pier and that it would be no problem. (By the More way, when we finally did leave the ship, there wasn't a cab in sight). I wasn't really comfortable with that because I had no way of knowing whether that was really going to be the case based on previous misinformation. I asked if they could arrange a taxi in advance so that I could be sure. They said they could and the price they quoted me was "between $70 and $80", she was not sure, but it would be more expensive than if I simply went out and grabbed a taxi on my own, which would cost between $70 and $80. (Wait, does that sound correct? One would be more expensive, yet the prices quoted were the same??). So I said that yes, I would like them to arrange a taxi and gave her my room information. She said that she would bill it directly to the room. Fine. The next day, I was chatting with another couple, who had received different information. Both annoyed, we went together to Guest Relations and spoke with the 'manager', who informed us that the information that we both received was incorrect. She confirmed that yes, an independent taxi would be between $70-$80, but that they could not call one for us in advance. They COULD, however, arrange for a private car to pick us up and that COULD be billed to our room and would be exactly $137. Also, it would be big enough for the 4 of us so that was perfect. Yea! I received a confirmation letter in my room (the other couple did not), informing us that our car had been arranged and to please meet him at Guest Relations at 4:45 so that he could personally escort us out. We were not even surprised when he never showed up. At 5:00 we simply walked off the ship, very annoyed with the whole customer service process.
Towards the end of the cruise, my husband contracted the norovirus, despite all of our attempts to sanitize and not touch handrails, doorknobs, etc. He became violently ill, too sick to even go down to the medical office, so he self-quarantined for the day. I stayed out of the room for the entire day. That evening, I asked the stateroom attendant if he would kindly open the sleeper sofa so that we were not sleeping right next to each other. He told me that it was not a sleeper sofa and that it could not be opened. Wrong. We opened it ourselves, only to find a soiled sheet (looked like someone urinated on it). Rather disgusting.

Finally, booking a cabin on the 8th floor directly beneath the pool area is a mistake. At about 5:00 AM every morning, they would start dragging the deck chairs around, I guess to clean. It sounded like a freight train was going through our cabin every morning. In the evening it is often rearranged into a cocktail table setting, so around 10:00 PM you are again subjected to what sounds like lead weights being dragged and dropped above your head. Don't count on going to bed early or sleeping late. In addition, if you do sleep late the housekeeping crew starts banging the doors next door and making a lot of noise to wake you up. Early one morning, the crew was actually WELDING something across the hall and sparks flew out and hit me as I walked by!

Aside from the above, I actually really did enjoy the ship and the cruise. I liked the size, the decor, the friendliness of the staff, and the food was excellent, equivalent to the specialty restuarants on Celebrity. I really enjoyed the poolside buffets since the weather was so nice and the food was good. I never waited for a drink and I was helped with mostly anything I needed. I liked that there are tablecloths on the tables at the dinner buffet and that waiters will carry your food to your table for you. I love the plaid, wool blankets on the outdoor chairs, nice touch. I liked that the wine, soda, water, etc. was included, as well as the shuttle service into port and the gratuities. I hate being 'nickel and dimed' so this was a refreshing change. Our room was pretty and clean, the fresh fruit, which they replenish each day is a nice touch. That said, some of the public areas (11th deck and pool) seemed a little 'tired' but I was told that the ship is scheduled for an overhaul in January. If you are planning on using the complimentary laundry facilities, good luck! It's like war in there! People guarding the machines etc.

I do enjoy the midsize ship. It was so easy to meet and chat with other people and we really had a nice time.

We also seemed to be following the Celebrity Eclipse around the Baltic. I was surprised that they were docked so much closer to the cities than we were in many cases. I was told that one of the advantages of the Azamara smaller ships is that you can usually dock right in town. This was not the case.

I would consider travelling on Azamara again. We have taken 2 previous Celebrity cruises and 2 RC and we really liked this cruise the best. Less

Published 07/07/12

Cabin review: 1A8027

8th floor cabins are subject to the noise of the pool deck just above. They drag the chairs around to clean very early in the morning and late at night.

Port and Shore Excursions

Beautiful city. We managed to cover most of the sights in one day. Also, the canal tour is a nice way to see the city from a different perspective.

Easy city to walk around. As with the other Scandanavian cities, it was very clean and the people were friendly.
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Catherine Palace

Magnificent palace, but due to the recent popularity, was horribly overcrowded. Our private group of 16 had to literally push through the crowd that was waiting on line. The tour guide said that it was becoming so unmanageable, they were thinking of dropping it from their itinerary. But, it was truly beautiful, especially the Amber Room, and I am glad we got to see it, even with the crowds.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Beautiful church, great history.

City Tour

St. Petersburg was amazing. Book a tour with a private company (SPb, TJ, Denrus, Alla). There are several companies and they all offer the same deal, same vehicles, etc. We literally followed each other around both days from venue to venue. The advantage over the ship's excursion is that it is much smaller (16 people max), less waiting in lines, a more complete itinerary, and longer days of touring. They also handle the visa, which is included in the fee. This is important, since you cannot get off the ship without one and they are expensive. The cruise line will try and tell you that you must book with them to get the visa, but that is incorrect. The tour guides are waiting right at the pier, and it is very simple to find them. They don't even ask for payment until the 2nd day.

Hermitage Museum

Two hours was not enough, but we did manage to walk through a great deal of the museum. Unfortunately, it, like most of the venues, was so crowded, that even if we had had the time, we could not have 'strolled' through. It's a beautiful museum.

Peterhof Palace

We walked through the gardens, which are impressive and beautiful. We arrived there by hydrofoil, which was included in our tour. We did not go inside since we were going to Catherine's Palace next.

Yusupov Palace

This was a palace of a private citizen and is where Rasputin was killed. They have a very cool 'vignette' showing the scene.

I was very surprised to find that Stockholm was such a pretty city. Lots of water and gardens, very easy to get around. Vasa museum is worth the stop.

Pretty medieval city.
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Pretty medieval city.
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