This was my third curise with Azamara, all on this same ship. I enjoyed both of the cruises I had taken previously (as I have just about all of the nearly 30 cruises I’ve been on over the years) which is why I booked this cruise two years ago and a major reason for why I looked forward to it ever since booking. I must say that Azamara did not disappoint me and that I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who is looking for an ocean cruise. The realitively small size of the ship allows it to go to ports that larger ships can’t and allows them to stay in those ports for longer periods; for example, the Journey was able to sail all the way into Bangkok, which Princess and other lines with larger ships cannot, and this allowed us to have two half-days and one full day to explore the city and surrounding areas, as compared to having to bus for hours each way and then pay for a hotel if an overnight or two was available.
But that is not what makes an Azamara cruise special. It starts with the quality of the staff. From the wait staff to the stateroom attendants, the bar tenders to the casino staff, and all of the entertainment staff, the attention to detail, the respect, the friendliness, and the dedication to the cruisers’ comfort and enjoyment is always evident. These people are intelligent and demonstrate a sense of humor many cruise staffs do not. We only had a couple of bad experiences with the ship’s staff. The first involved the conceierge who was abrupt and rude when we tried to ask about transportation from the ship to our hotels when we hit Singapore; she cut us off before we finished the question and just said “Taxi”…no further information (cost, availability, do they take credit cards or American money, etc.). A dirth of information. The next bad experience is when my wife filled out an early survey and included a complaint about the movies on TV; the free movies were not being shown when scheduled and the “on-demand” movies were only available for a charge (unlike Princes and other cruise lines where on-demand movies are free in the staterooms). They called and, in a condescending voice, said that if we couldn’t work the movies we should ask a steward who could show us how. Really? How about getting someone who can actually read to review the surveys?
The final bad experiences both involved Geeta of the Guest Relations department. The first of those experiences came when we had an issue with a charge for a service that was supposed to be complimentary. We brought the proof down to her and she said that we didn’t need it and it would be taken care of. Three days later the charge was still there so we brought the proof down and spoke with another Guest Relations person…the charge was reversed within a few hours. The other Geeta experience involved getting our passports prior to going on a private tour in Bangkok. We went down to get them at the time they were supposed to be ready, but she didn’t have them and told us to come back in 3 hours…didn’t take our names down, didn’t ask for our room numbers, didn’t offer to call us when they would be available. We came back some 6 hours later and she still didn’t have them, but she did have passports for people who had given her peers their room numbers and names. Evidently the port people were taking a long time to process the passports, but those who had a need to retrieve them could be expedited if they knew of the need. Needless to say we had to insist she take down our name and room number and, lo and behold, they were available bright and early the next morning.
We got upgraded to a suite and were very impressed. The room was comfortably large and the bathroom huge compared to what we've had on previous cruises (including the mini-suite on Princess). The ship had recently gone through an interior redo and it showed. The service was great and, with the suite, came with an English Butler. The service was even better than the cabin.